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NCAA Tournament Recap

Well that was a fun NCAA tournament!  You simply couldn’t have asked for a better ending, that’s for sure.  Just when I thought Marcus Paige accomplished the impossible with his double clutch 3 to tie the game with 4 seconds left, Villanova’s Kris Jenkins went down and put a dagger in the hearts of Villanova fans.

I wasn’t mad about it.  I followed Jimmy’s free pick and took Villanova +3 since he rolled all year in NCAA basketball.  In fact, he kept pounding the Wildcats all tournament long and I couldn’t blame him.  He loved them against Oklahoma since they had shut down high volume scorers all season long.

He picked them over Kansas, thinking their discipline would keep them in the game.  He loved them against Iowa since the Hawkeyes were such a hot mess coming down the stretch.

Right after selection Sunday he even said Villanova at 18/1 was his favorite of the NCAA tournament odds to win it all.

Look, take nothing away from North Carolina.  They had an impressive run.  They beat a very good Indiana team fairly handily.  They did get lucky and get to face Notre Dame as the 2 seed Wisconsin and the 3 seed West Virginia both went out early.

Brice Johnson is a very dangerous player and he should have a long future ahead of him in the NBA.  Paige was fantastic all tournament.

How many great games were there though?  Syracuse coming back and beating a very, very good Virginia team was one of the best for me.

Watching UNI blow their late lead against Texas A&M was heartbreaking, and it’s something that people won’t forget any time soon.

Gonzaga impressed me.  They might not have did enough to win an at large bid if they didn’t win the WAC.  Then they go out and beat the Big East champs Seton Hall easily.  They completely dominated Utah in the second round, then played Syracuse tough.  This team easily could have made the Elite 8.

The East Region was full of nail biters and great games.  Stephen F. Austin pulling the upset over West Virginia, Wisconsin beating Pitt and Xavier.  Notre Dame by one over Stephen Austin and then by five over Wisconsin.  Indiana and Kentucky was a battle.

The West was characterized by blowouts.  Oklahoma handled Oregon, A&M, VCU pretty easily.  Oregon beat Duke and St. Joes’ without much fight.  The only great games were the two UNI played in and the Baylor/Yale first rounder.

The south was pretty much the same.  Iowa won on a buzzer beater against Temple, but other than that Kansas rolled through Maryalnd and UConn before going down to Villanova.  The Wildcats embarrassed Miami and Iowa.  Miami took care of Wichita easily.  Hawaii didn’t put up much of a fight against Maryland.

Then the two Final Four games were blowouts.  I’ve never seen anything like what Villanova did to Oklahoma.  But then the tournament finished on a spectactular note with the buzzer beater.  The game was close for the entire 40 minutes.

North Carolina shot lights out the first half, came back to reality in the second.  It kept going back and forth and you knew who ever touched it last was going to win.  Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, that team was Villanova.  I couldn’t be happier.

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2016 MLB Predictions

The 2016 MLB season is almost here and what better way to prepare yourself than to read up on some predictions on how the teams will do this year?

Let’s start with the Cy Young Awards.  Who has the best chance of winning in each league?

National League

I’m going with Clayton Kershaw.  He’s been absolutely dominant the last few years and there is no reason suspect he’ll be anything less this season.  A couple of guys who will contend with him are Jake Arietta, who pitched superbly in the second half, Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer and Jake deGrom.

American League

The AL isn’t as clear cut to me.  I like David Price.  He’ll be pitching in Boston.  The Red Sox should be improved.  But there is a lot of competition from the likes of the Indians’ Corey Kulber and Carlos Carrasco.  There is Chris Archer for the Rays.  Chis Sale for the White Sox, and don’t sleep on Felix Hernandex for the Seattle Mariners.  He had a down year but should be motivated to prove he’s still one of the top aces in the business.

Let’s move on to the MVP award and who is likely to win those.

NL

Is this a clown question bro?  Bryce Harper seems to be getting better and better every year, and he wasn’t too bad last year.  He’s my top pick.  How about if Giancarlo Stanton can just stay healthy?  Nobody has the power that he has.  Andrew McCutchen wasn’t 100% last year, but if that’s a down year he’s a player to be mentioned in this race every season.  Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks is someone else to keep an eye on.

AL

You know that Mike Trout is going to be right there in this conversation every year and since he didn’t win it last year I’m going with him this year.  Last year’s MVP was Josh Donaldson and while he was a good player, I think he’s going to take a step back.  Miguel Cabrera is only 32, but everyone is writing him off as past his prime.  Expect a return to glory in 2016.

World Series

There are some good teams in the NL this year.  Everyone is big on the Chicago Cubs.  I don’t disagree that they will be good, but give me the San Francisco Giants.  They have proven year after year that they can get it done not only in the regular season but also in the playoffs.  The Mets won’t surprise anyone this year and they’ll have tough competition in the Nationals.  I think the Dodgers will be right there too.  San Fran though is the team to beat.

Moving over to the AL side of things I’m going with the Red Sox.  Sure they were terrible last year, but I like that David Price signing.  I also like their young players like Mookie Betts.  The Blue Jays and Royals will both be tough, and the Astros aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year.  All those teams I liek to make the playoffs along with the Indians.

Overall, I’m sticking with the Giants.  Tough pitching, timely hitting, and guys who show they can just win when games matter the most.

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NCAA Tournament Preview

The teams have been set and it’s time to start filling out your brackets for the 2016 NCAA Tournament.  If you want the best chance of winning your bracket then I recommend using the Vegas odds to your advantage.  Basically, let the experts tell you how far to advance each team in your bracket.

Let me know you figure out what that means.

Overall champions: Kansas, Michigan State, or North Carolina.  These are the three favorites to win it all.  You are going to be better off having one of these teams cutting down the nets in the end.  That means the championship game should feature Kansas and either Michigan State or North Carolina.  What other team makes the Final Four?  It’s a toss up between Oregon and Oklahoma.  Personally I would go with Oklahoma.

South

It’s pretty easy to slot Kansas at least until the Elite 8.  The odds say you should take them in the Final Four.  Who else has a chance?  Villanova and Miami.  Cal is likely to make the Sweet 16 too.  Wichita State could be a sleeper.  I would imagine they are favored over Arizona.  Iowa is big favorite over Temple but will be a big dog to the Wildcats.

West

Oregon and Oklahoma are likely to make the Elite 8.  Duke and Texas A&M are the next teams on the list.  There is a good chance those teams will all be left in the Sweet 16.  VCU might be a 10 but they are favored over Oregon State.  St. Joe’s and Baylor are also favored to advance.  Texas has a slight edge over UNI, but if you need another upset this could be a ripe spot for one.

East

North Carolina is a big favorite, but Kentucky isn’t too far behind.  If you are in a large pool and need a sleeper title contender the Wildcats would be a good choice.  The odds see Providence winning in the first round, Indiana losing to Kentucky in the second, Notre Dame losing to West Virginia, Wisconsin over Pitt and then Xavier over Wisconsin.  West Virginia is favored over Xavier so I would advance them to your Elite 8.

Midwest

The two-seed Michigan State is the popular choice to advance here, followed by Virginia.  Butler is favored over Texas Tech, Purdue over Iowa State in the second round, Gonzaga over Seton Hall but then they get beat by Utah, Syracuse upsetting Dayton are how the rest of the bracket plays out.

Does playing the odds give you a better shot at a $1 billion perfect bracket?  Probably not.  But it does give you the best chance to maximize your point total and beat all of your friends.  However, the larger the pool that you are in the more you have to go outside the box in order to take home the first place prize.