Saturday, March 14, 2009

Doing My Homework

Now, don't get excited, Mom.

(at least I know someone is reading this!)

What I mean is, this is crunch time, and I am busy watching as many games as possible at the same time right now. Baylor, I feel, deserves to get into the tourney whether they beat Mizzou in the Big Twelve Championship game or not. Also on is Duquense vs. Temple in the A-10 title tilt.

Temple is surprisingly good. I had forgotten about Dionte Christmas (pictured above), who has 29 points tonight. It's too bad we couldn't get him and Indiana's erstwhile student manager Mike Santa on the same floor at some point this season!

I want to link to Luke Winn's blog over at, which is full of good links and tourney speculation.

More coming as the night continues. My plan for the evening - cook out (just got a grill for twenty bucks at Walmart), watch basketball. You just can't get a whole lot better than that! Now is the time when you see as much as the tourney teams as you possibly can, so that when we're all filling out our brackets tomorrow, you can convince yourself that this pick or that pick is somehow halfway competent.

Of course, three weeks later, we're all getting killed by the girl that picked based on cutest point guard. But that's the way it goes.

UPDATE: Tim Floyd's USC squad beat Arizona State to steal a bid. It's starting to look like the Big Ten will only get six or seven in. Sorry, Penn State/Wisco/Michigan!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Few Links Before Work

Man, that looks like a great Weekend Watch. Sadly for Poor Old Mark, I made the mistake of signing up for shifts both tonight (5-close) and Saturday (11-4) down at Mother Bear's. These will bring me to a grand total of fifty hours on the week, and no, we don't get overtime pay.

Hey, if you're a good tipper living in B-Town, hit me up!

Seriously though, I have a few links for y'all.

From Bleacher Report:

Lovie Smith: The New Dusty Baker - I know, we're not Cubs fans here. But the comparison of these two coaches definitely struck a chord for me in terms of their game-day demeanor. Can't you see Lovie with the toothpick? Anyway, pretty good article.

Mock Draft: Trades That Actually Make Sense
- Tab Bamford has put up twice as many mocks as's Don Banks. (PS: Banks is awesome) My boycott of Mel Kiper Jr. continues this year. I love the guy, but refuse to pay money to view his content on when there is equally good analysis all over the Internet for free.

Chicago Tribune (non-sports):

Illinois has begun to consider legalizing medical marijuana. The measure passed its first step and is now being considered by the state House of Representatives. Just read the comments on the bottom of this article.

These guys crack me up. I can't think of a harder job than standing outside all day in West Lafayette figuring out how to compliment every passer-by, but they seem to really be enjoying themselves! Check out the interview with the hat guy for a taste of solid Purdue nerd-dom.

Finally, in the sports section, both David Haugh and Steve "D-Bag" Rosenbloom comment on the Bears' signing of former Nebraska and Saints safety Josh Bullocks, and it ain't looking pretty.


Thanks to Bryden Cory via F-book for this one. My discussion of Hoosiers basketball is coming soon, but until then, read Gene W's (yeah, that's right, not even goanna look up the right spelling! take that!) piece on the worst season in IU history. I couldn't agree more with the tone of the program right now, and I know a lot of staunch Indiana supporters feel the same.

Meanwhile, Albert Haynesworth just got himself arraigned for some reckless driving. Considering he already had a ticket for going over 100, you'd think he would, I dunno, GET HIMSELF A DRIVER WITH SOME OF THE 100+ MILL DAN SNYDER IS PAYING HIM?!

Dear Albert: I am a ninja delivery driving master. I will happily chauffeur you around Tennessee and Washington, 24/7, in whatever ride you deem appropriate. My contact information is on this page. Please call me. I will treat you like the finest pizza and deliver you to your location legally, with the quickness.

That's all for now.

UPDATE : Haven't touched this story yet, but had to post this.

Weekend Watch 03/13/09

First of all did you see the UCONN ‘CUSE game last night? I didn’t I turned on my radio heard about it and realized, I need to check this out. Absolutely insane; Just google it or go to you can’t miss it. Fantastic! [MF - Yahoo article here]

Also I have had a bunch of people asking me, how are you enjoying March Madness without ESPN tv? Well yes I have missed some good Big East and ACC games. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Pac-10 tournament on CSN. Plus a lot of the big games are about to switch to CBS.


While I was searching over the NCAA schedule I came across a nice little tracker on the top of college basketball scoreboard;

53 College tournament games yesterday; now there are 38 games today!!!!!! Now I know it only shows 2 games for Saturday, that’s because the games have not been set yet.

Anyways yes I am in full blown March Madness Mode!

Minnesota vs (6) Michigan St. 12 ET ESPN

This could be a really good game or it could be a blowout. The reason I circled this game is that with Minnesota beating Northwestern yesterday (Sorry Fodor) experts feel that they should qualify for the field of 65. Getting a win over MSU would all but secure the bid. MSU has an outside chance at a #1 seed in the tournament, especially with Pitt and UConn going down early in the Big East tournament. If Michigan St can avoid their fate they could get that number 1 seed.

Who I want to win: Michigan State
Who I think will win: Michigan State

Virginia Tech vs (1) North Carolina 12 ET ESPN2

This could be another game that could be close or be a blowout. These two teams always seem to have good games when they face off. We can also see if the revolving door of number 1 ranking continues. [Lawson isn't playing, by the way.]

Who I want to win: UNC
Who I think will win: UNC

Bulls at 76ers: 8:30 ET CSN

Bulls are again virtually tied for the 8th seed. They need every win they can get and this is a possibility for them. 76ers are the 7th seed. So either team wins gains an important game up on the other. The Bulls have been more up and down then any team I have seen in the NBA. Can Vinny find something else to relax them, cause clearly, bowling didn’t work.

Who I want to win: Bulls
Who I think will win: 76ers

Baylor vs Texas 7 ET ESPN360

As I child of two Valparaiso alumni and a cousin of a current Valpo student, and a fiancé to a former Valpo resident, Valpo basketball is pretty close to my heart. Scott Drew, former Valpo coach and son of current and legendary Valpo coach Homer Drew, is current coach at Baylor and watching what he has done there to transform the school has been unbelievable. When he first took over, Baylor was unable to play out of conference games. I hope he continues to grow the program. They are coming off the upset of Kansas and maybe they can keep the Big XII run going by beating Texas. Texas has been very up and down this year so it should be a good game.

Who I want to win: Baylor
Who it think will win: Texas

Blue Jackets at Blackhawks: 8:30 ET CSN+

The Blackhawks have been on a little bit of a slide as late. Can the big shootout win from Wednesday help propel this team back to a win streak. Khabibulin is making his return appearance. He will probably be a little rusty, so let’s hope he shakes that rust off pretty quick. Columbus needs this win to help secure their spot and to gain secure their spot and to gain spots in the playoffs.

Who I want to win: Blackhawks
Who I think will win: Blackhawks

West Virginia vs (20) Syracuse: 9 ET ESPN

Both teams have been ranked number 1 in the country at some point! This will be their third meeting as they fight for a number 1 seed in the tournament! Pitt, UCONN in the Big East Tournament, NEXT!

Errr wait. Ugghh I mean West Virginia vs Syracuse. Not the dream match up I think the Big East was hoping for but it still should be an exciting game. I love watching Devin “IU called me too much, so now I play for WVU” Ebanks play. I also want to see how Syracuse plays after their 6 OT game.

Who I want to win: West Virginia
Who I think will win: West Virginia


I went a little long winded on Friday since I do not know who is playing in these games.

C-USA Championship Game: 12:30 ET CBS

Memphis' insane conference winning streak will most likely still be going strong. I would like the theater if they lost though.

Who I want to win: To see Memphis streaks end.
Who I think will win: Memphis

Big Ten, ACC and SEC Semifinals: Approx 2:30ET-6ET CBS ESPN ESPN2

I will be flipping between all these games. I will probably watch more of Big Ten and ACC then SEC, but whatever games are most exciting is what I’ll be watching.

Big XII Championship: 6 ET ESPN
Watching 40 minutes of hell is a treat. I hope Mizzou makes it this far. As stated before you know I’ll be tuning in if Baylor makes it.

Who I want to win: Baylor
Who I think will win: Missouri

Pac-10 Championship: 6 ET CBS

I find 3 of the final four teams enjoyable to watch so it should be a good final to watch. The winner of the LA showdown (USC vs UCLA) will have “home” court advantage.

Who I want to win: Washington
Who I think will win: Washington

Big East Championship: 9 ET ESPN

The tournament started Tuesday with Depaul winning it’s first Big East game of the year. We already know two of the top teams are out. Who is going to win the one of toughest conference tournaments? Should be good

Who I want to win: West Virginia
Who I think will win: Louisville


SEC Championship: 1 ET CBS

Will there be a team out of nowhere like UGA last year? That was a fantastic tournament with the tornado and the half empty Georgia Tech gym only allowing friends and family in. I will be happy if this year’s final is half as good as last years.

Who I want to win: Alabama or South Carolina
Who I think will win: Tennessee

ACC Championship: 1 ET ESPN

Tobacco road showdown? A surprise team coming out of nowhere? FSU basketball finally taking the next step? All these are possibilities. The ACC is very top.

Who I want to win: Boston College
Who I think will win: UNC

Big Ten Championship: 3:30 ET CBS

I do love how there is one championship game that comes so close to the selection show. I would just like to see what happens in the war room if somebody like Iowa or Indiana made the final. They have almost no time between the final buzzer and the final brackets.

Who I want to win: INDIANA!!! I know I know. Michigan State
Who I think will win: Purdue.

NCAA Selection Show: 6 ET ESPN

Cue the music!!!!!! (Dunt dunt dunt dunt da da da) This is the single greatest non-sports sporting event of the year. Who’s in, who’s out. Who’s got the number 1s. How fast can I fill out my brackets! Just the BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!!!!!

Check out the site tomorrow for a statistical breakdown of how you pick your bracket.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Party At the Garden!

The Big East Tourney is on right now. Marquette is crushing St. Johns, while DePaul lost earlier. (Side note: DePaul may stink, but I love those uniforms.) Not exactly exciting yet, but this is such a ridiculously long tournament that you're bound to have sleepers as well as killer games. Tonight, Notre Dame plays West Virginia and the Fighting Irish are pretty much headed to the NIT if they lose.

I wasn't going to post right now, but then I read this quote at's blog regarding the DePaul/Providence game:

This is the classic battle between a team with nothing to lose and a team with everything to lose. The DePaul fans are having a good time; the Providence fans look as though they're about to have a group colonoscopy. - Dana O'Neil

Gotta love that. I expect both sides to look similar to Providence fans during the Minnesota/Northwestern game tomorrow.

By the way, Virginia Commonwealth and their senior stud guard Eric Maynor won their way into the tourney. I will always love VCU after they knocked off Duke in the first round of the Big Dance two years ago. Any midmajor that gets rid of Coach K in the first round is all right with me.

Hoosiers Pro Day

Here’s a good read for the class.

This discusses the players who were at IU’s Pro Day. It mentions four guys, Andrew Means, Austin Starr, Marcus Thigpen and Greg Brown, that really impressed scouts with their numbers and times.

Means did really well, which was expected. The article mentions what he plans on for his future in baseball. I was glad to hear this as I have been wondering this for some time now.

My question is, does he like football better then baseball? I know he played baseball last summer and took less money to be able to play football again. I am wondering if he likes football more, or if he thinks he can make more money in the sport? I personally think I would choose playing baseball over football (like Samardzija chose) because of the longer career life. Maybe he will be the next two sport athlete like this guy (BTW, this is my all time favorite link this site has ever posted, heck probably my all time favorite youtube clip, I have watched this thing probably 30 times in my life and I really want this shirt. )

Alright back to the article.

Starr was apparently hurt all of last season, which could take some blame for having such a terrible Senior year after a fantastic Junior year.

The one that really impressed though was Brown. The article says that he ran a 4.45 shuttle. I have heard (and maybe armchair superstar’s draft guru Fodor knows this) that the fastest DT shuttle time in Indy at the combine was 4.84. Nowhere close to Brown’s time.
[MF- According to, a 4.45 would have put Greg Brown just outside of the top 10 in defensive linemen 20-yard shuttle. Still damn good!]

Even after workouts I don’t expect any IU players to go higher then the 5th round (and even that might be a stretch); but it’s good to hear that all of Indiana’s NFL prospects did well. I believe Tracey Porter or James Hardy was disappointed with their pro day last year but I may be mistaken.

Anyways I just wanted to recap some of the highlights of the article, but you should read it, it’s a quick read.

Lastly as the article points out, Indiana RB Bryan Payton was at the Pro Day and is a blogger himself, so keep an eye out on his blog for any more updates from today.

Hurricanes at Blackhawks 7:30 CST

I'm off to the see the Hawks again tonight. I will be rocking my Toews jersey again but i will be in the 3rd level 4th row up. Should be a good game. I'll give a full recap tonight or tomorrow.
Lets Go HAWKS!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Northwestern: Not Dead Yet!

The Wildcats play Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament this Thursday. Despite the backbreaking loss to Ohio State Sunday, apparently NU isn't quite dead yet, according to's Seth Davis.

Article here. And to think, I had basically resigned myself to the NIT!

UPDATE: Here's a shameless plug for the Carmody Cardiac 'Cats by USA Today's Mike Lopresti. I love it.

Can you name all the Bears QBs since they won the superbowl?

I got 23 of 27 and felt angry cause I probably should have gotten 2 more. Let me know how you did

Try this

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sports Stigmas

Disclaimer: This is just a commentary on the landscape of sports and is no way supposed to be taken as an attack on any individual or group of individuals. This is supposed to be a sociological view on the world of sports.

This article is going to look at two stigmas that are prevalent in sports today. The first stigma is that white players play with more heart while black players are more athletic. The second stigma is why certain sports are less racially diverse then other sports.

So a few weeks back my fellow writer Mark Fodor wrote a quick piece on Michael Jordan. In this article he linked this article written by Michael Lewis for the NY Times. If you have not read it yet, it is a fantastic article for anyone to read not just NBA fans. (You might recognize the name Michael Lewis from the book Moneyball which he wrote with Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane; which is another fantastic read.)

In the piece he made a very thought provoking comment, “Is it a coincidence that many of the things a player does in white basketball to prove his character – take a charge, scramble for a loose ball – are more pleasantly done on a polished wooden floor than they are on inner-city asphalt?”

It is a very good point when you think about it and I would like to take it a step further. How come we look at reigning NCAA player of the year Tyler Hansbrough (white player) as a player who plays with more heart and intensity on the court then anybody else? Why is it that we look at his teammate Ty Lawson (black player) and everybody raves about how fast he can get down the lane and how high he can jump? Are these two players really that different?

Does Hansbrough really try that much harder then Lawson? Are we saying that Lawson doesn’t’ try as hard or work as hard to be at the top of his game compared to Hansbrough? Is Lawson really that much more athletic than Hansbrough?

This stigmas are not just in Basketball, they also appear in football. If you watched the NCAA Football National Title game, you noticed the love fest around Tim Tebow. He is another player who plays with heart and intensity and passion unmatched by any of his teammates. The other star player on UF’s title team was Percy Harvin. He was commonly talked about being insanely fast and their most athletic player.

Again I ask, is Tebow really that un-athletic? Does he really try that much harder then Percy Harvin? Does Percy Harvin not have to try because he’s so athletic, or is it that he’s so athletic because he tries harder?

How did this stigma’s get attached to white and black players?

Are all white people bad athletes? Well even though I’ve ripped him before, the “Greatest Olympian Ever,” Michael Phelps is white. Doesn’t it take athletics to compete in the Olympics?

Are there any black athletes that are play with heart? What separates Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan from the Phil Michelson’s and Charles Barkley’s of the world? The extreme passion they have for the game and their unwillingness to loose; Isn’t that the same as playing with heart?

Along with the stigma that white players play with more heart and black athletes are more at athletic is the stigma about certain sports being less racially diverse. For example, basketball is that the league is all black? Why is that?

Well we do know that yes there is a much higher percentage of black basketball players than white basketball players. To help answer this question I think we should look at another one of the big four sports that is dominated by one side, Hockey. Why does hockey have so many more white players then black players?

Here’s my theory on why these two sports have the racial makeup that they do. It all comes down to kids and money. Kids don’t have a lot of money to spend and yet they want to be active. So the kids get active by playing sports.

In the warmer parts of America or warmer countries (traditionally with higher black populations) would it be cheaper to have a kid play hockey or to play basketball? Hockey would require an indoor facility that has a frozen surface and colder air which is not cheap to do. Transportation to and from the facility is also required. In contrast, basketball only requires a court, which can typically be found by most playgrounds (or even driveways), and a ball. Since it’s cheaper, a higher percentage of kids will be playing basketball and learning the basic skills needed to eventually excel at higher levels.

In the cold weather parts of America or cold weather countries (traditionally with high white populations) would it be cheaper to play hockey or to play basketball? Basketball would require the manual labor of shoveling the court as well as playing in big winter jackets that can restrict and hinder the shooting motion.

Another, more expensive, alternative to this is to have an indoor facility that is heated. Again transportation to and from the facility is also required. On the other hand, it makes sense to play hockey in big winter coats, giving an extra layer of padding, that are often required to be outside in the cold weather. Frozen ponds, lakes and rivers are much more common so all that is required to play is a pair of skates, a stick, some kind of puck and some kind of goal (trash cans work well). Again since it’s cheaper, a higher percentage of kids will be playing hockey and learning the basic skills needed to eventually excel at higher levels.

Kids like playing what they know and if they are started at a young age could become pretty good at their sport by the time it starts becoming organized competition.

Are there exceptions to my theory? Of course: there are hundreds of exceptions.

Do I have all answers to why these stigmas exist? No, of course not. It is just something to think about next time you hear what great hustlers Tebow and Hansbrough are or the next time you hear that the NBA is a “thug league” and too black.

Stigmas are what people make them. Changing stigmas is never easy but just because a stigma is attached to a player or a sport does not make it true.

Please leave your comments below if you agree or disagree with what I said in this article.