What a night for NCAA Baskeball as the Nation was treated to not one but two terrific games. First up, No.3 Texas Tech pulls an upset by knocking off the No.1 seeded Gonzaga 75-69. Many basketball fans picked the Bulldogs to win this year’s NCAA Tournament but it was not to be as the Nation’s most prolific Offense came up short against the Nation’s leading Defense. Texas Tech put on a defensive show with seven blocks, nine steals, 16 forced turnovers and held Gonzaga shooting to a dismal 42%. It was only the 4th time this season the Zag’s were held to less than 70 points.
So the dream match up between Gonzaga vs Duke dissipated into the night along with many Bracket Pools and analysts who were convinced Gonzag would reach the Finals, including yours truly. Credit Texas Tech who proved once again, that Defense Wins! Now they are off to the Final Four.
The most thrilling game last night had to be Virginia’s overtime win over No.3 ranked Purdue. Avenging last year’s early knockout to a 16th seeded team, Virginia needed a buzzer beater from Mamadi Diakite to send the game into overtime allowing them to hang onto a 80-75 victory over Boilermakers.
Purdue’s Carson Edwards was a one man show nailing 3PT after 3PT finishing with an impressive 42 points. He was unstoppable until overtime when he missed a critical 3 pointer and committed a turnover which eventually lead to a game clinching foul shot by V.T.
This was an outstanding game that at times looked as though Purdue would run away with the match with the long 3 point darts being fired at the Cavaliers. Fortunately, for Virginia Tech, the Boilermakers could not sustain this onslaught allowing the Cavaliers to catch up with strong rebounding ending with a 18-10 advantage in second chances which proved to be the difference in the game.
So there you have it. Four great teams, two fantastic games and two winners – Virginia Tech and Texas Tech . Congratulations to both teams who now advance to the Final Four!
I was out late last night but arrived home in time to watch the exciting finish in the Duke vs Virginia Tech match up which was a nail biter with Duke prevailing 75-73. This was indeed a thrilling game with the lead changing hands throughout the contest. With 1.1 seconds on the clock the V.T. Hokies drew up an inbound play with the ball going to Amhed Hill who quickly pivoted to the basket. With the eyes of the basketball world looking on, Hill’s lay up failed when the ball refused to drop and with it North Carolina’s dream of moving on to the Elite Eight. As for Duke, they survive another scare. Lady Luck, it seems, is on their side.
Auburn Tigers, pulled off the first major upset of the tournament knocking off #1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels 97-80. Going into this game it was a given that the Tar Heels would use their explosive run and gun offense and shooting weapons, at will, to overcome their opponents. Instead , it was Auburn that used a flash and dash strategy along with razor sharp 3 point shooting to out gun North Carolina. It did not help that the Tar Heels were horrible at 3 point conversions , making only 7 of 28 attempts. Let’s face it folks, this won’t cut it in Basketball and neither will North Carolina get to cut the net in this season’s NCAA Tournament.
There were two other games last night. Michigan State easily beat LSU 80-63. In another exciting match up Kentucky’s Hero hit a three pointer with 25.8 seconds on the clock to defeat Houston.
There you have it. Another terrific night of Basketball. Now I can go and gets some much needed sleep!
Reporter On Story: Rex Tee.
Area: Saint Petersburg, Florida
We witnessed a basketball classic Sunday afternoon as the Duke Blue Devils overcame a four point deficit to defeat the University of Central Florida 77-76 in a thriller. This was a back and forth affair with UCF matching point for point throughout most of the game with the lead changing hands . No one was in total command right up to the final buzzard. But it was a game for the ages. There are so many highlights to cover in this game but the most thrilling moments were in the final 90 seconds.
With time running down on the clock UCF held a three point lead 76-73 and in possession of the ball . Two UCF players sprung loose and broke down the court with only one Duke defender. The ball carrier spots his UCF partner and passes off to him for what appears to be an easy layup shot for two points that would have given UCF a commanding lead of 5 points. Inexplicably , the UCF player misses the shot and Duke quickly recovers and races down the court, 22.3 seconds and counting. It looked like Duke was setting up for a three pointer with time running out but the looks were not there . They were getting desperate. Tacko Fall , with four fouls and in jeopardy of fouling out with a 5th foul was parked under the basket using his giant 7 foot 6 inch frame to bat down any ball within reach of the rim. With no choice but to go for two points star forward Zion Williamson punched his way through a crowd and lunged forward at the basket . With Tacko Fall trying to block Zion Williamson’s shot he inadvertently foul him just as Williamson was releasing the ball . Result- two points for Duke, Foul for Fall- which immediately takes him out of the game; and gives Duke a free throw on the foul and a chance to tie the game with 11 seconds on the clock! The score now is 76-75 UCF still leading.
Here we go! Williamson standing at the free throw line- takes the shot and MISSES- OH NO! And UCF is thinking – OH YES!. But wait. The ball hits the rim and goes directly to R. J. Barrett who dunks it in the basket. Duke takes the lead 77-76. Now with 8.1 seconds on the clock UCF calls a time out . Suspense is building to a feverish pitch. A basket for UCF and we have a HUGE upset in the making folks.
UCF in bounds the ball to B.J. Taylor who dribbles the ball for a few more seconds to get into a good position to make a shot and basket. He sees an opening and charges to the net…he goes up to deliver a layup shot….hearts in the stadium are racing at break neck speed in anticipation…Duke side line coaches, players and fans agonizingly watch….UCF Coaches , players and fans smell victory. The ball hits the back board and what do you know, it immediately comes to a UCF player and with less than two seconds on the clock he instinctively slams it toward the basket … start the victory march UCF…but wait! The ball instead circles three quarters around the rim- time seemed to stop right there. AND SO WE WILL STOP TIME RIGHT HERE , RIGHT NOW.
Think of it, the #1 NCAA team in the tournament. Favored by Millions in their basketball bracket pools. Darlings of the media. Having the best four starting freshman in many decades. Now on the verge of elimination. Central Florida was about to send the Basketball world into a state of shock!
Back to the game. The ball hung on that rim for what seemed like eternity. But it refused to drop and Duke secured the win…just barely. Hats off to the University of Central Florida. They played their hearts out. Duke lives and moves on to the Round of 16.
The biggest winner? You the fans. Let’s all applause for we got to see one hell of a basketball game.
Hockey is a national pastime for millions of Canadians and enjoyed by millions of others around the world. Hockey Moms and Dads sacrifice weekend sleep to hustle their children to the cold ice pads housed in arenas throughout the Canadian landscape. While most do it for the love of the game, many young boys aspire to be the next Sydney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Wayne Gretzy or Bobby Orr. And on Saturday evening millions of Canadians sit by the television or streamline on their ipads to watch the iconic Hockey Night in Canada (HNC) hosted by Ron MacLean and Don Cherry. It is a ritual of sort because hockey is in our DNA and HNC is one of the most watched TV programs in the past 40 years. Many of the players on the Humboldt Broncos Junior A Hockey Team would have surely tuned into HNC on Saturday April 7th, 2018. It was not to be!
Humboldt is a small city with a population of 5,500 situated in the province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a prairie province with large tracts of flat lands and fertile soil to grow Wheat and Soybeans . It has large beef cattle ranches similar to those you would find in Texas. It gets cold in Humboldt in the winter and I mean very cold with temperatures at times at -30F below zero. Great hockey weather! Humboldt has a high Scandinavian population with over 57% of German descent and a strong contingent of Irish and Ukrainian. They love their hockey.
The Humboldt Broncos Hockey team is group of young men ages 16-21 playing at an elite level of Junior Hockey . They are supported by Coaches, Trainers, Equipment Managers and legions of fans in this small rural community. Like most their age, they were chasing their dream playing this beautiful sport. On April 6th , 2018 this dream came to a crashing halt.
They were travelling buy Coach Bus to a rival town of Nipawan , two hours northwest, to play game 5 of a best of seven series when they entered an intersection and were T-Boned by an 18 wheeler Transport Truck. The truck ran a Stop Sign. 16 of 29 on board the bus were killed including- bus driver, general manager, assistant coach, radio commentator, a volunteer , the club’s female trainer and 10 players. News of the crash received National and International News Coverage. Condolences from dignitaries, Celebrities, The Queen of England, The President of the United States along with millions of Canadians. The horror and shock of this tragedy was felt throughout the Humboldt Community and Hockey World. Lives shattered and lives lost but it’s effects resonated across North America and indeed the world. This accident could have been any team, in any league, on any given day and in any given sport. It’s bigger than the game, it’s about community and family.
Out of this tragedy came an amazing out pouring of love and compassion for the community of Humboldt. There is grittiness and practicality in these people. The struggle for life and the effort to being sustained is in the DNA surrounding Humboldt and it’s loss. They are resilient citizens and while they are one year removed from this tragic accident they carry on day by day with the will to overcome the grief and pain that left it’s ugly stain on the community.
So much has been written, So much has been said; So many hearts broken. So many tears shed. Yet in their hour of darkness, The light of the world shone; With gifts of Compassion, FOREVER- HUMBOLDT STRONG!
Kansas ( #4), Maryland (#6) and Villanova (#6) all went down to defeat on day three of NCAA Basketball tournament. Gonzaga, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, Central Florida, Purdue, Auburn and LSU advanced to the round of Sweet 16.
The day’s most exciting match up saw Wafford Terriers give the Kentucky Wildcats a scare for much of the game and had Terrier’s sharpshooter, Fletcher Magee converted at least three of his 12 attempts the outcome might have been much different. Instead Magee set an NCAA record by missing 12 three-pointers allowing Kentucky to advance to the next round.
LSU Tiger advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round for the first time in 13 years defeating Maryland in barn burner 69-67 on a last second lay up by Tremont Waters.
Two great teams Auburn ( 28-9) and Kansas ( 26-10) battled it out with Auburn prevailing 89-75.
The boys from Michigan and Michigan State continue their strong showing with Michigan beating Florida 64-49 and Michigan State over Minnesota 70-50.
Finally , Florida State won easily over Murray State 90-62.
Duke and Central Florida meet on Sunday and this is a must see game with Zion Williamson the TOP player in the NCAA vs TOO TALL Tacko Fall who is a giant of a man standing at 7 feet 6 inches.
Having plenty of food and beverages on hand and enjoy the games!
It was the Zion Williamson show Friday night in front a packed house of 18,000 cheering fans as the Duke Blue Devils started their quest for a National Title in Men’s College Basketball at the NCAA Tournament opening round in Columbia , South Carolina. The 6 foot-7 inch 285 pound freshman led the Duke Blue Devils to a convincing win over North Dakota State 85-62. Williamson, NCAA Player of the Year scored 25 points and was a dominate force through out the game. Duke’s other freshman phenom, Canada’s R.J. Barrett led Duke in scoring with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
This dynamic due showed everyone why they are considered to be among the top three players’ in this year’s National Basketball Association’s Draft later this spring. Barrett and Williamson gave Duke two players with 20 points or more in a NCAA Tournament debut for the first time in over 35 years. Duke Coach Mike Kryzyzewski liked his team’s effort in the second describing it as beautiful basketball.
Duke, winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title, started four freshmen perhaps accounting for the sluggish start as Duke led by only 10 points at half time 37-27 over the 16th seed NDS. But after that it was the Zion Williamson and R. J. Barrett show.
How good is Zion Williamson. Just ask North Dakota State Head Coach, David Richman. “Probably one of the best athletes I’ve seen with my own eyes”.
Duke will play UCF on Sunday March 24th for a spot in the Sweet 16. It should be a dandy, setting the stage for College Basketball’s most dynamic player against College Basketball’s Giant Tacko Fall standing at 7 feet-6 inches tall. Now that is a big man!
College men do not have a monopoly on March Madness. There is another equally as important basketball tournament event taking place starting March 22nd through to April 7th,2019. It is the College Women's National Basketball Tournament. It promises to be just as exciting as the men's tournament.
Top contenders include Baylor, Notre Dome -the 2018 Champions, U Conn, Mississippi State, Oregon, Louisville and Stanford. Similar to the men's tournament structure, there are 64 teams competing and only one will get to 'cut the hoop' on April 7th at the Amelia Arena in Tampa Bay. Like any tournament there are bound to be upsets and believe me these young women athletes possess every bit of determination to win a championship as the men. Which brings me to an interesting phenomena. Why is it the women basketball players do not get the attention they deserve?
Over the years women's basketball has endured unwarranted stereo typing. In fact in a recent episode aired on SNL the show decided to do a sketch on a viral tweet called ' GOLD DIGGER OF WNBA' a parody about professional women's basketball. Some of SNL's best known women comedian , including Cecily Strong and Leslie Jones, played WNBA athletes by portraying them as tall giants with deep voices who reject the advances of men gold diggers in favor of women. This sterotypical assult on women basketball players is demeaning in many ways. Besides, such mockery has nothing to do with their status as basketball players.
These women are gifted athletes. They train hard for years to become elite college players in their sport. You will be amazed at the level of skill they display game in and game out. It is true NCAA men's tournament garners most of the attention. To all sports fans I challenge you to watch a few games of the NCAAW Tournament over the next few weeks. You will NOT be disappointed.
Remember the Championship game will be held at the Amelia Arena on April 7th as : ALL ROADS LEAD TO TAMPA!
March Madness is officially upon us starting March 19,2019. I am talking about the NCAA Basketball tournament. Sixty Eight teams in Two Conferences – East and West- battle it out for College Basketball supremacy over a three week period with the winner decided on April 8th.
The East Conference is split into East and West. The West Conference is split into South and Midwest. The final bracket rankings for both conferences are decided through a series of tournaments leading up to the NCAA final tournament . But before the official rankings are published a National Independent Committee sits down to scrutinize results of Regional Tournaments to determine outlier or Bubble teams. A Bubble Team is a team that has a very good season but did not fair so well in a Regional Tournament. Let’s say a team with a 25-6 record going into a Regional Tournament meets up with a lower ranked team and gets beat. This will impact their overall ranking. On paper they may still be ranked at or below the cut off number of 68, however the National Committee will take a closer look at their regular season play to decide whether or not to include them in the National Tournament.
Now that the final 68 teams have been ranked and the final brackets determined, let’s see who the pundits have picked to win the big NCAA basketball tournament. The odds makers have DUKE as the favorite to win with 11/5 odds. Closing in on Duke are Gonzaga and North Carolina. Florida State University ( 27-7) enters the tournament for the third successive year as the 4th ranked seed in the West Region. The Seminoles will meet 13th seeded Vermont ( 27-6) Thursday , March 21st in Hartford , Connecticut.
For those of you who really want some in depth analysis I have included a Bracket Tips video below. This a great overview and these gentleman will give you their predictions.
I am rooting for FSU. But my pick to win it all is the University of Duke Blue Devils. Who do you think will win it all?
Tampa Bay Lightning- A BOLT to the NHL
What a fantastic season it has been for the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey team. On Monday night they defeated the Arizona Cyotes 4-1 to capture the President’s Cup as the top team in the National Hockey Leagues. Sitting currently with 53 wins and 116 points they have dominated league play like no other NHL hockey team in the last two decades. You would have to go back to the Detroit Red Wings with 62 wins and of course the great Montreal Canadians 1976-77 who hold the record for most points in a single season of 132. There is no denying this hockey team is not only good , they are great! There are many reasons why I think the BOLTS will win Lord Stanley’s Cup – this year!
Let’s start with the current roster. Leading the pack is the Captain of the Team Steven Stamkos. He is a pure sniper when it comes to putting the puck in the net. And his slap shot has been clocked at over 100 mph. Next on deck is Russian Nikita Kucherov who currently is the leagues scoring leader at 117 points. With a name like Brandon Point how can you not rack up the points. He currently is ninth in NHL scoring. Turning to the defense, the Lightning probably have the best defensive corp in all of hockey. They a big. They are fast. They are mobile. They deliver crushing hits. And they put up a wall against other teams’ forwards. The last line of defense of course is the Goal Tender. At six feet , three inches tall, Andrei Vasilevsky has the most wins in the league at 35 and second most shut outs at 6. He is an acrobat at times the way he can move laterally post to post. If you get a chance,watch on youtube some of his heroic saves. While the team is built to win it takes great coaching and John Cooper certainly has my vote for Coach of the Year.
No Pro Sports team can be successful without a great ownership. Jeff Vinik who bought the team in 2010 has built a class organization. He has surrounded himself with exceptional talent from top to bottom, inside the arena and out. One of the shrewdest moves the organization made was hiring Steve Yzerman in May 2010. Yzerman was a Hall of Fame hockey player with the Detroit Red Wings having played 23 years and capturing three Stanley Cups. He is responsible for building Tampa Bay Lightning into a perrennial contender year in and year out. He stepped down in early September of last year to be closer at home with his young family. His contribution to the Bolts hockey team has been nothing short of spectacular. He will be missed at the palace they call Amalie.
The Amalie Arena in the heart of Tampa Bay is one of my favorites. I am Canadian and it gets damn cold here during the winter months. I have to say it is a pure treat to go to a hockey arena that has outdoor movie screen, surrounded by Palm Trees serving cold beer. Now that’s my kind of sports entertainment. Seriously, this is a great sports facility and the fan base that support the team is second to none.
The playoffs are just around the corner and the excitement is building throughout the tri-city area of Tampa, St. Petersburgh and Clearwater. The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize. I cannot say with certainty the Lightning will go all the way. But I will say, this is one of the BEST Hockey Teams in the world! They are indeed a BOLT TO THE NHL.