Saturday turned out to be a banner day for west coast basketball fans. Gonzaga and Oregon will be representing this side of the country next weekend at the Final Four. With the NCAA Tournament's main event taking place in Glendale, Arizona it's safe to say both schools will be heavily represented as far as the fan base goes.
Hats off to the Ducks, who had to overcome what amounted to a virtual home court advantage for Kansas. Oregon head coach Dana Altman's guys executed their half court defense to near perfection. The Jayhawks appeared confused on offense throughout the game and ended up settling for three-point bombs that were mostly rushed and frequently contested. There was a brief anxious moment when Kansas narrowed the margin to six points fairly late, but the Ducks refused to rattle and they're now heading to the promised land of college hoops.
As for Gonzaga, the Bulldogs made the most of the physical advantages they owned over Xavier, and there just wasn't much the ...
So Florida is ahead 68-56 with about five minutes remaining, and the Gators have the ball. And it begins. I noticed it right away and immediately tweeted (@davecokin) the following:
"Run your offense Florida. Don't play the clock game. Way too soon for that."
This drives me absolutely nuts. It's basically the same reaction I have in football when coaches decide to play that ridiculous prevent defense. It's a horrible strategy. In college basketball, ever since the 30-second shot clock came into existence, we now have the prevent offense, and it's also an absolutely awful strategy.
This is the ultimate in overcoaching. I'll say it really simply. If your team is rolling and the offense is clicking, then why the hell would you mess with that? It's not like there's penalty that's going be assessed for trying to expand the league.
And yet game after game after game, coaches insist on milking the clock. In the process, their teams frequently get out of synch and leads disappear. ...
The final two 2017 MLB Divisional previews will be posted over the weekend. Today's blog will focus on one of the NCAA Tournament Friday battles.
My Thursday was not good, as I dropped both NHL underdog plays and was only able to split my Big Dance calls. Purdue was a big wrong side as the Boilermakers were totally outclassed by Kansas after the first 15 or so minutes. Fortunately, I was on Xavier and the Musketeers prevented the evening from being a disaster. Bounce back time today with two tournament plays, with one of those being the daily free play. So let's get right to it!
873 SOUTH CAROLINA vs. 874 BAYLOR
Take: BAYLOR -3.5
I'm looking at this game from a matchup perspective and the more I break it down, the more I see advantages for Baylor.
South Carolina is a great defensive team, but it's not like they have an enormous edge on that side of the court. Baylor is clearly superior offensively, and it's not close on that count.
The Gamecocks played out of their ...
I've still got two more divisions to cover as far as the 2017 MLB previews are concerned. I'm expecting to have the AL West set by tomorrow, so expect that rundown in Friday's blog.
My Wednesday was a wash. Coastal Carolina was a comfortable winner in hoops, but I missed on two of the three MLBx plays, getting done in by some shoddy bullpen work. As for Thursday evening, I've got two Big Dance Sweet 16 sides, plus a couple of NHL plays. One of the hockey selections is today's free play.
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So much for that 76ers cover streak against winning teams, as the Wednesday free play got buried. As noted, ...
It's time to get back to the baseball previews, and I'll do that today with a look at the NL Central Division. I don't think there's any question about the team that will win this division. That's the easiest pick on the board this season.
The Chicago Cubs are far and away the best team in this division. The Cubs are just plain loaded. In fact, the greatest challenge for manager Joe Maddon will probably be having to figure out how to get everyone a fair share of at bats. I suppose one can make a case the Cubs might be a shade below average in center field, but that's a stretch. The rotation is strong, and if Wade Davis is healthy, the bullpen will be lockdown material. I don't think the Cubs will win 103 games this season as everyone will be fired up to face them, but this divisional race looks like a complete runaway.
I'm seeing some doom and gloom predictions for the Cardinals, most notably the always controversial Baseball Prospectus Pecota projections. They have the ...
This was going to be NL Central preview day, but I have to rant on something, so I'll postpone that report for another day.
I'm all for experimenting with rule changes that might enhance any game. For instance, I think I like the college hoop rules that are being used in this year's NIT. I understand there's hardly unanimous consent on this, but that's okay.
What isn't okay is a stupid gimmick that almost everybody seems to hate. Welcome to this utterly ridiculous extra inning joke of a rule that we're witnessing in the WBC. If the game gets to the 11th inning, the last two hitters from the prior inning are placed at first and second base to start the new frame. There are no words strong enough to describe my exasperation with this lunacy. I have yet to talk to even one individual who likes this rule. Please, make it go away immediately and never ever consider using this in a Major League Baseball game.
Here's an idea, MLB. Stop screwing around with the game in an effort to ...
One of the perks that comes with being my own boss when it comes to this website is that I can call my own shots. I'm exercising the owner's option to change things up tonight. I was going to write up my NL Central preview, but to be honest, I'm about fried at this point. So I will put that preview on hold for one more day.
Meanwhile, the Sunday recap was 3-2, +0.8. Should have been +1.8, but I managed to talk myself out of playing Georgia Tech, so naturally passing the game cost me a win. Nevertheless, black ink for the day and no beefs with that.
I've currently got one college game for Monday, one on the ice that I'll use as the daily free play, plus another play in the NBA. For info on my March Madness deal that will be running all month, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply purchase securely using the dropdown menu on this page.
Wrong side with Duke as the Sunday free play, so that ends the modest winning streak on the daily comps. I'll look to start a new one with an ...
Back to the MLB previews on Monday with the NL Central Division up next. I'll take a shot and assume that everyone knows who I'll have on top. The rest of that division is pretty interesting. More on that tomorrow.
My Saturday ended up 2-3 with a really awful decision to back Leonard Hamilton in a game that mattered. Florida State was easily the worst tournament play I've made. The irony is that in the first line of the analysis I wrote on the game, I expressed that my biggest concern was the coaching mismatch. The rest of the Saturday slate included an OT NHL loser, a split on two baseball games and an NBA winner. On to Sunday.
The Rockets squeaked home thanks to another amazing performance by James Harden, including two critical free throws with just a few ticks remaining. Three straight free play winners, and I'll go with one of the Big Dance games for the Sunday comp.
719 DUKE vs. 720 SOUTH CAROLINA
Take: DUKE -7.5
The Blue Devils will be tested here by a very ...
Next up on the MLB preview schedule is the NL Central, but I'm still sizing up a couple of the teams in that division, so I'll likely post that rundown in the Sunday blog.
Meanwhile, a Friday recap and the Saturday free play. Friday was very good here, with a 5-1 finish and a net +3.3 gain. The only loser was SMU, but the good news is that Mustangs head coach Tim Jankovich still has three time outs at his disposal. It wasn't going to matter as far as my bet was concerned, as I was on the wrong side, but I honestly have no idea what Jankovich was thinking in the roughly final ten minutes of the game. And I sure have no clue why he didn't take a virtually mandatory time out on that final SMU possession. In any event, everything else won and it was a terrific day.
The March Madness deal covers a full 30 days, and includes every play I have, as well as the daily Pros vs. Joes reports. Purchase securely via the dropdown menu on this page. Or for more detailed info, shoot me an ...
It's time to pick up the pace with the 2017 MLB team previews. So I'm going to condense the analysis to some extent, and that will enable me to get these all wrapped up in plenty of time for the regular season. Today, I'll close out the American League Central Division with looks at the Tigers, Royals and Twins.
I'll start with the Detroit Tigers. I don't think there's much word about this team's offense. This remains a dangerous lineup. The only real trouble spot among the position players is center field, which looks like a real problem. My concerns with the Tigers are on the mound. Verlander is fine at the top with Fuller as the #2. Zimmermann's health is a worry, and the fact he's having a terrible spring isn't exactly alleviating concerns. Norris could be a surprise as he appears to have nailed down the #4 slot and he's got talent. Your guess is as good as mine as to the #5. I'm also not bullish on the Detroit bullpen. The O/U prop on the Tigers is 82.5, maybe 83. In spite ...
MLB previews will resume tomorrow and I'll be starting to cover multiple entries on most days. Due to the basketball workload, I'm a bit behind schedule on the baseball breakdowns, so that's the best way to catch up.
I sure have no complaints about spending the extra time on the hoops. The tournaments have been terrific thus far. 3-0 in the colleges last night. The only blemish was a half unit loser on the NBA Timberwolves. It couldn't be much better than it is right now.
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The NBA free play on Wednesday was my only red mark on the card. I'll try to nail a better result with tonight's pro hoops comp.
703 THUNDER at 704 RAPTORS
Take: 704 RAPTORS -2.5
I like this ...
Baseball previews continue today with a look at the Cleveland Indians, the reigning American League champions. The Tribe just missed winning it all in 2016, and there's little doubt they're strong contenders to get back to the World Series for a second consecutive season.
Cleveland has a loaded pitching staff, a dynamic infield and one of the game's best managers in Terry Francona. There really aren't any glaring weaknesses on this roster, and management showed this winter that they're in go for it mode with a big dollar signing.
That expensive new blood is Edwin Encarnacion, who will slide into the spot vacated by Mike Napoli and has to be considered an upgrade. Encarnacion will primarily function as the DH, although he will also be able to spell Carlos Santana at first base. Santana has developed into an on base machine thanks to his discerning eye, and while his batting average might not be sensational, the switch-hitting Santana is a definite asset.
Jason Kipnis and ...