Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day Three: Must Avoid Stadium Food

Yesterday was unbelievable. From the Evan Turner - Manny Harris duel goin' down right in front of our noses to the stunner that Minnesota, behind frosh Devoe Joseph (16 huge points, carried the Gophers in the 2nd half and OT), pulled on Michigan State, it was a wild-a** day of basketball action.

This is just a quickie because we have to leave B-Town again and get on up to Conseco (home away from home) Fieldhouse, but I'll just leave you all with this.

(3) Donatos pepperoni pizzas
(1) Loaded baked potato (butter, cheddar, broccoli, bacon, southwestern corn salsa, sour cream, pretty sure I put some other stuff on there too but it was a long day, and that thing gave me the -itis real bad, it was just about naptime a few minutes after finishing.)
(2) Popcorn tubs
(1) Brat (AVOID - they're much better in Chicago)
(1) Giant twisty pretzel
(1) two-scoop Ritters waffle cone

I suspect there's more that I'm forgetting.... but you get the idea.

Today I'm rooting hard for Minnesota and against Purdue's horrible, whiny fan base. And (why not) for Illinois too. I will have much more on the fans and teams of the Big Ten Tournament 2010 later.

What a great baked potato.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day Two: Tonight We Dine In Hell

Okay, so yesterday was a grind. Today we have FOUR games on tap at the lovely (albeit slightly rainy) Big Ten Tourney. I'm about to head up there, definitely need to get myself a nice healthy breakfast at some point, my system is reeling from barley, hops, and Kilroys steak overload.

First up, Ohio State vs. Michigan. Then we've also got Wisconsin vs. Illinois (a must win for the Illini against what is definitely a top-25 type squad in the Badgers with Leuer), Purdue vs. Northwestern, and Minnesota vs. Michigan State.

I see upset potential in those last two games. Of course, I'm biased, but still. Minnesota played really well against inferior competition yesterday, and Michigan State hasn't exactly been on a tear to end the season. It'll be interesting to see how motivated the Spartans are.

And for the record, it's going to be about TEN HOURS of basketball today, not counting break time (tailgate) and travel. That's a freakin' marathon. Can't wait.

Adam Rittenburg's Big Ten Blog at ESPN had some very interesting insights on the NU vs. Indiana game yesterday as well as on the tourney as a whole.

Check this out. Directly related to what I was saying last night.

"After scoring only three points in an ugly first half, Thompson exploded for 13 in the final 20 minutes and really provided a lift from beyond the arc (four 3-pointers). The man nicknamed "Juice" didn't have much of it early, but an elbow to the throat from Indiana's Tijan Jobe early in the second half changed that.

Though the elbow wasn't intentional, no foul was called and the 5-9 Thompson let the 7-feet Jobe know about it. Thompson got in Jobe's face and the officials called double technical fouls with Indiana leading 35-29 and 17:08 left.

"He felt like the big guy was trying to bully the little guy," Wildcats guard Jeremy Nash said. "He was like, 'I'm not having it. I'm going to show you how big I can play.'" Thompson did in the final nine minutes, sparking Northwestern with his shooting and showing emotion rarely displayed.

"That really got me going," he said of the altercation with Jobe. "It gave me a lot more energy to make me want to go out there and play hard. It was just me being small and him trying to move me out the way. "

Basically, IU lost thanks to Tijan being out there flailing around blindly. Awesome.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Ten Tourney Day One

I just got back from a three-game stretch in Conseco, and thought I better throw some thoughts everybody's way. Here's three observations from each game:

(8) Michigan over (9) Iowa

1 - This was actually a very entertaining game. We got in at halftime and it was 32-23, I believe? Anyway, it was fast paced and both teams played decent defense.

2 - Iowa's Cully Payne played well. He may be a better prospect as a frosh PG than Indiana's Jordan Hulls.

3 - Does Michigan have a chance against Ohio State tomorrow? I doubt it.

(7) Northwestern over (10) Indiana

1 - Michael Thompson was clutch in this game. His second half barrage of treys doomed Indiana.

2 - Starting Tijan Jobe? Really? I understand him being a senior and a hard worker in practice, and Indiana really didn't play badly until 28 minutes in, but still. Jobe hasn't done anything all year. He didn't do anything today. Start Elston or Capobianco, or even Pritchard.

2a - I made a few quarter bet victories on Pritchard finally scoring in the second half. Devan Dumes didn't help me out nearly as much.

3 - Once again, Indiana falls apart down the stretch. It was really, really hard to watch this team in the second half. Just very little offense, and even less defense. It's hard to be truly optimistic when your team can't stop anybody.

(6) Minnesota vs. (11) Penn State

1 - I thought, just maybe, that Penn State could give Minny a run here. Not so much.

2 - Damian Johnson, the super-athletic forward from Minnesota, is one of my favorite guys in the entire Big Ten this year. On a team where the "name" guys are Lawrence Westbrook, Ralph Sampson The Younger, and even *bleeping* Blake Hoffarber, I think Johnson is really the man to watch.

3 - Poor Talor Battle. I guess he has an NIT title to show for his four years at Penn State. Still, without much to say for his pro prospects, it would be hard to feel good about going to PSU right now if you were Battle.

I'm pretty excited for tomorrow. It's a busy slate and should be an intense day of basketball. Let me know if there's anything you guys want from the insider (balcony) perspective.

And no, they're not selling beer at Conseco. Because the Big Ten and Indiana are full of idiots.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Derek Anderson Keeps it Real

Most of the time, when athletes are angry at their organizations or fans, they keep to the standard PR lines. Well, Derek Anderson let loose on Cleveland today following his release.

Anderson wrote he will never forget that Browns fans cheered when he was injured on the field. He called them "ruthless" and said he hopes when he comes back to Cleveland with another team that "we roll them."

Just for the record, wherever Derek ends up holding a clipboard next year, the odds were already extremely good of "rolling" the Browns. Mangini Year Two: Where magic happens.

Great Article On Ozzie Guillen

Gene Wojciechowski wrote this great article on my favorite person in Chicago Sports Ozzie Guillen.

Northwestern's Head Coach Bill Carmody Chatting on Wed at 11 CST

Just wanted to give everyone the heads up that Northwestern's Head Coach Bill Carmody is Chatting on Wed at 11 CST. I think this will be an interesting read for Hoosier fans as well as Wildcats fans because of the two schools' first round matchup.

Indiana to the Final Four.......of the Big Ten Tournanment

You all might think I'm crazy, but I think Indiana has a realistic shot of making it to the Final Four of the Big Ten Tournament this weekend. While I was looking at the bracket trying to find the start time of the game tomorrow (Listed as 25 min after game 1, so roughly 5 pm ET on ESPN2) I started looking at the Hoosiers match ups.

The Hoosiers first game is a rematch of Saturday's game against the Northwestern Wildcats. The Hoosiers won that game in overtime despite giving up a sizeable lead over the last 4 minutes of the game. The Hoosiers were in control for most of the game thanks to Hulls' three point shooting, but made some inexperienced mistakes to allow the Wildcats to stay in the game. If The Hoosiers clean up these mistake and ride the emotion of the quasi-home crowd in Indanapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse they should be able to win this game.

If the Hoosiers do succeed in beating the cardiac cats, they're second round opponent will be none other then in-state rival Purdue (6:30 ET on BTN). I know what your thinking, isn't this the same Purdue team that handed the Hoosier's a 74-55 the game before Northwestern? Yes, this is the same team, but I still feel like the Hoosiers can win. During their last meeting, it was Purdue's Senior Day and their last home game of the year. They came into the game with more emotion then the Hoosiers and it showed. This match-up will take place in a neutral court (both teams should be equally represented in Indy). Indiana played Purdue close in their game in Bloomington and had a chance to win it on a prayer from VJIII that was not answered. If the Hoosiers play like they did in Bloomington, they could beat the Hummeless Boliermakers.

If the Hoosiers win that, who would they play next? Most likely Michigan State. I'm not even crazy enough to predict the Hoosiers in the title game.

If the Hoosiers do get one or two wins in the Big Ten Tournament, it would be a great jumping off point for next season. The Hoosiers need a successful season next year or Hoosier fans might stop being patient with Crean. This season has had it's ups (Beating Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden) and downs (losing to Iowa twice) but the team has shown a lot of promise. They played a lot of close games but couldn't win them. When the game was on the line last Saturday against the Wildcats, there was 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore on the court. Yes the team is young (led the nation in % of minutes played be freshmen) and inexperienced, but if they can grow on this season, the future could look brighter in Bloomington.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ben Roethlisberger's Alleged Sexual Assault

As most know by now, Ben Roethlisberger is accused of sexual assault. Isn't this the second time that this sort of thing happened to him? Wasn't it only like a year ago that he was accused of the same crime? If so, shouldn't we, the fans, be viewing this as guilty until proven innocent? While I understand that he probably can get many women, and probably does, it's possible that he is enjoying the feeling of superiority that rape is said to produce in the perpetrators.

An interesting question I have is this: if Ben Roethlisberger did sexually assault this girl and he goes to jail for a few years will we treat him the same, worse, or better than we treat Dog Killer Vick? If he is proven guilty realistically, shouldn't we treat him worse. Unlike Vick, these aren't animals that don't know better. This would be a person that has to carry around that shame and guilt for the rest of her life. This person would probably suffer from trust issues if he did do what she is alleging.

Another interesting question is: Do we give Ben Roethlisberger more of our benefit of the doubt simply because he is white? I'm not someone who likes to bring up races in this manner, but it seems apparent that perhaps we are giving him more of a benefit of the doubt than we do for someone like Ray Lewis, who has been found innocent of the murder that he might have committed. Many people felt that Kobe Bryant was guilty of sexual assault as well. So, are we treating these white athletes better than the black athletes? I'd really like to know this. My brain says no since I don't want it to be that way, but my heart says realistically, we are.

The last question I have is this: How would Ben look in the color orange? And will he play a game similar to that in The Longest Yard (is this the movie with Adam Sandler?) where he has to take down the prison guards? I think that could be some pretty cool entertainment.

Joe Nathan Done for the Year

It appears that Joe Nathan is going to have season ending elbow surgery. So, what does this mean for the White Sox? In my opinion, a much easier opponent in the Minnesota Twins. This may be the most significant of all possible pitcher injuries in the AL Central in regards to the positive impact it can have for the White Sox. Who becomes the Twins Closer? My guess is it will be someone who is somehow dominant as well (as this always seems to happen to the Twins), but my hope is that it is someone who sucks. This injury may actually make the White Sox the division winners by mid-September, maybe even earlier.

I don't usually like to celebrate injuries to an opponent. I'd rather beat them fair and square. But after playing for years in that damn dome, it's about damn time they had to play with a handicap. So this year the Twins will face the uphill struggle of playing outside, in a smaller ball park, in the freezing cold in April, without the benefit of arguably their best pitcher. Meanwhile the White Sox will be lining up arguably the best staff in the MLB with a darn good bullpen and some solid pop through out the order. Things are looking better and better for your 2010 Chicago White Sox. The same thing cannot be said for the Cubs... only because they are the Cubs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Notre Dame vs Maryland in Washington D.C. Why Can't Chicago get games like this?

Over 100,000 spectators attended the 1926, Army/Navy Game at Soldier Field

It was announced today that Notre Dame will play Maryland in Landover Maryland at the Redskins Stadium. Now this isn't that huge of news since UND had already announced plans to play there. The thing that jumped out at me in the article was the number of big games being played there.

I already knew about IU vs Penn State (as discussed on ACSS here) but they also are getting Boise State vs Va Tech, Cincinnati vs Va Tech and Army vs Navy.

I know Chicago used to get these types of games played at Soldier Field (I went to a Northwestern vs Oklahoma kickoff classic once), but what happened, why don't we get them anymore?

Chicago has a defacto home team in Northwestern which allows us Chicagoans to go to a game relatively easily. But, what if I don't want to watch NU (sorry Fodor)? I also know that Iowa played NIU at Soldier Field a few seasons ago. I don't want to see Big Ten teams play mid majors. I want to see big name colleges come in like what is happening in Atlanta, Dallas and now DC. We are one of the unofficial homes of the Big Ten, why couldn't we bring some of the elite teams. Offer a big pay-day, and a prime time date. I know there's enough college football fans that there would be no problem selling out the 60K+ seats in Soldier Field.

Or another idea that could work. Instead of making NU vs U of I a one time thing at Wrigley, have Wrigley be the host site for these games. We know the new owner is looking to turn a profit. This is another way to make money on a stadium that would be going unused at the time.

Maybe I'm crazy and maybe it's just me, but I would love to see major college football come to Chicago every year. Maybe you disagree or could care less about college football, but I think this would work in Chicago.

Sports and Hollywood: Chicago Sports most Famous Fans

While watching Hollywood congratulate themselves last night during the Academy Awards my mind started drifting towards sports, as it usually does. When Demi Moore walked on stage, one of the first things I thought of was her and Ashton Kutcher going to Bears game. This thought then lead me down the path of, who is the most famous fan for each team in Chicago (I’ll throw in IU too, if Ryan wants to add Illinois, Fodor NU etc.)

Chicago White Sox

I’ll start off with the easiest team first. The White Sox most famous fan is the First fan, President Barak Obama. After Bernie Mac died, the void for famous fan was quickly filled by President Obama. On the campaign trail, when asked about Cubs or Sox, he didn’t give a political answer, he gave the typical White Sox answer of, People on the south side watch the game, northsiders go to have a good time. When he threw out the first pitch of the 2009 All-Star game, guess what jersey he was wearing, yup White Sox. Other famous White Sox fans: Simpson Creator Matt Groening

Chicago Cubs

As you all know, I am not a Cubs fan, so I could be way off on this. The Cubs most famous fan is, Bill Murray. Bill Murray regularly attends games, and occasionally watches them from the bleachers. I have him beating out John Cusack because of clips like the SNL debate where Bill Murray asked that candidates how they will prevent the Cubs from losing again. Other famous Cubs fans: Vince Vaughn, Ferris Buehler,

Chicago Bears

I believe Ashton Kutcher is the most famous Bears fan. He can be seen at multiple games a year with Demi. He wears his Bears hat around Hollywood and even to Lakers
games that he attends. I’ve heard him on national Sports shows, where all he will talk about his entire segment is Bears and not about a movie he is trying to pitch. Other famous fans: Demi Moore, but more because of Ashton. Vince Vaughn, Jim Belushi (is that a good thing?)

Chicago Blackhawks

This was a tough one, but in the end I went with Vince Vaughn. He is probably Chicago sport’s most famous fan right now, because he seems to attend more games then everyone else. He has been seen at multiple Blackhawks games, we already knows He likes hockey (link).

Chicago Bulls

Even though he’s not around as much anymore it’s has to be Michael Jordan. Since he is a GM/Owner of another team, he might lose this status. But anytime Michael was in attendance at any game, it was a story. The TV camera’s stay on him as much as the action on the court. He is a larger the life person in Chicago.


Has to be John Cougar Mellencamp. We all know the story, he grew up in a nearby town of Seyborn, and started playing at the Bluebird before he made it big. He still regularly attends games which always gets applause from the crowd. Other famous fans: Mark Cuban, Doc Rivers, Stephen Noffke, Mark Fodor

U of I

I’m going to throw My U of I pick out there too. I say MJ, but I only saw him once at that was at the Maui Invitational and we are still unsure if he was there to see his son, or if he happened to be playing golf there while his son was playing. I do find it funny that MJ, Bobcats GM, is too busy to come to Illini games, while Doc Rivers is coaching the Celtics and has showed up to so many games that I got sick of the, Did you know Jeremiah is Doc’s son? Storylines. Other Illinois fans, Hugh Hefner, but he doesn’t come back to Chicago/Illinois often if ever. He does have other distractions so I think it’s ok.

I’m sure I missed tons of fans, and probably a big name or two, but weigh in with your thoughts below.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Indiana Basketball: Finally, a Win!

Every year when Northwestern and Indiana play each other, I have to make the difficult decision of which team to root for. Grew up in Evanston, a Bloomington resident and IU student... you all know the story by now.

Anyway, Northwestern had already played its way out of the NCAA conversation and is firmly in NIT-land. And Indiana, riding that eleven-game, demoralizing losing skid, desperately needed a win to make this season less painful for the team and the fans. On Senior Night at Assembly Hall, the Wildcats and Hoosiers battled it out for forty-five minutes before the youth and depth of Indiana came out on top.

But I'm not here to do a game summary. I'm here to figure out if getting to ten wins in 2010 is enough for Indiana and Tom Crean to be proud of their efforts. Is it enough to propel this program forward into contention in the Big Ten, and soon? Talking to Indiana fans around town, it's becoming clear to me that a lot of people are very fed up. Crean haters have come out of the woodworks, and hard-working players like Devan Dumes and Tom Pritchard have become the subjects of ire because of their struggles this year.

Though attendance at the Hall has remained solid, I think a lot of the patience and optimism of last year is gone. Losing eleven in a row, the last nine by large, snooze-inducing margins, will do that. Does beating Northwestern on senior night to get to four Big Ten wins cure the IU Blues?

I'd be curious to know how my fellow Superstars feel about this. I know that 4 conference wins is quadruple what the Hoosiers had last year. They beat Michigan, Penn State, Northwestern, and Minnesota this year. One of those wins was on the road. A quality win against Pitt was probably the season highlight, but that was before Maurice Creek went down.

Those heartbreakers at Illinois and against Purdue really proved to be the season's turning point, where Indiana's best effort was just barely foiled by the slimmest of margins, leading to a steep decline into slaughter-rule purgatory.

Honestly, I'm just not sure how to feel about this season. With the Big Ten tournament coming up in less than a week, is there any reason to hope for a Cinderella-type run? Help me out here, guys.