(4) Louisville vs (1) Kentucky
The Cardinals continue their run as they head into a battle with their cross state rival. Louisville got past Florida thanks to a huge second half comeback. They were led by Chane Behanan’s 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. They will need to get better production out of Kyle Kuric and Peyton Siva who combined for 17 points and were in foul trouble most of the game. Russ Smith provided a scoring punch off the bench and will need to continue to step up for the Cardinals. Michael Kidd Gilchrist can do a little of everything for the Wildcats, he scored 19 points and 5 rebounds in their win over Baylor and was a handful for the Bears all game. Inside the paint, the Wildcats have the ultimate stopper in Anthony Davis, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks against the Bears. The Cardinals need to get to the basket and try to get him in foul trouble and take him out of the game early. Louisville has had a great run in the tournament but the Wildcats are too talented to be stopped in this one.
Kentucky 75, Louisville 70
(2) Kansas vs (2) Ohio State
Both of these teams had the honor of knocking out the one seeds in their region. They both were tied at the half and had big second halves to take control of their games. The Jayhawks have a fearsome inside-outside game with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, who combined for 40 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. They will be matched up against Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft, which both will be spectacular to watch. Sullinger was in foul trouble most of the first half against Syracuse, but was a terror inside in the second half scoring 19 points and 7 rebounds. Aaron Craft was somewhat quiet in the game against the Orange, but is one of the best perimeter defenders in the country and will have his hands full with Taylor all game. This game will come down to who can control the paint to set up the perimeter game. I like Sullinger to step up against Robinson and Craft to contain Taylor enough to pull this one out.
Ohio State 74, Kansas 71
Baseball season gets underway as the Oakland Athletics host the Seattle Mariners from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The two game series gets underway bright and early Wednesday morning at 6:10 am EST / 3:10 am PST. The series will wrap on Thursday March 29th at 5:10 EST / 2:1o PST. Die hard Mariners & Athletics fans will be forced to sacrifice a night of sleep should they wish to catch the games live on the west coast. The opening series in Japan may not be convenient for fans in America but it does present a unique opportunity for the rabid baseball fans in Japan.
Some people have a problem with America’s game beginning overseas, specifically with it taking place in such an inconvenient hours. I personally have no issues with it as it serves as a great promotion for the game of baseball in Japan. The Japanese people are passionate about the sport and will fill the house with the now rare opportunity to watch their fellow country man Ichiro Suzuki who left Japan for America in 2001. He had played his way into being a future MLB Hall of Famer.
Ichiro Suzuki – Career Statistics
MLB.com – Series Preview
Brandon McCarthy - Athletics Opening Day Starter
Felix Hernandez - Mariners Opening Day Starter
Check back in the next week as the, “Sports With Balls” crew makes their 2012 MLB picks in the 2012 MLB Season Preview. Until then…….Play Ball!!!
-With the opening series in the books here are some links to help you catch up.
3/28 Seattle 3, Oakland 1 (11 innings) Boxscore – Recap
3/29 Oakland 4, Seattle 1 Boxscore – Recap
(4) Wisconsin vs (1) Syracuse
The loss of Fab Melo has not seem to hurt the Orange much yet. Both of these teams can shoot the three well as Syracuse shot 67 percent in their win over Kansas State. Wisconsin won a grind it out game against Vanderbilt led by Jordan Taylor’s 14 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds. The Badgers will have their hands full inside with Rakeem Christmas and Kris Joseph who had 16 combined rebounds in their 3rd round win. The Orange must take better control of the basketball against a very good Wisconsin defense, who forced Vanderbilt to turn it over 12 times. The inside presence and the depth of the bench will lead the Orange to the elite 8.
Syracuse 72, Wisconsin 65
Rakeem Christmas's inside presence could be an issue for the Badgers.
(4) Louisville vs (1) Michigan State
The biggest issue going into this game for the Cardinals will be finding a way to stop Draymond Green. Green had 16 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists against St. Louis. Gorgui Deng had a nice game scoring 6 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in their win over New Mexico, but will need to stay out of foul trouble guarding Green. Kyle Kuric can help on the boards, slip out and shoot the three and at 6’4 he is a match-up nightmare for the Spartans guards. The battle between Keith Appling and Peyton Siva will be fun to watch as they both are very athletic and can score. When it gets to this point in the tournament Tom Izzo just gets more out of his teams than most, the Spartans move on.
According to multiple reports, Chase Utley has left Spring Training to see a doctor for his troubling knees. He hasn’t played in any Spring Training games and will likely begin the year on the disabled list. Rookie Freddy Galvis, who was supposed to begin the year in the minors, is probably going to be your starting second baseman on Opening Day against the Pirates. Many scouts feel that Galvis is a major-league ready shortstop defensively, but many questions still remain about his offense. All during Spring Training even when Utley didn’t play, GM Ruben Amaro expected Utley to be ready for the season and now that’s doubtful. The Phillies will begin the season with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL, so just how much will the offense struggle?
My take: This is tough to swallow, but it seems like Chase Utley’s knees will prevent him from being the great player he once was. I wish Charlie would have sat him more often, but there’s nothing you can do now. Hopefully when Howard and Utley do eventually return, Charlie is much smarter when giving the veterans more rest days. I’m not doom and gloom with this season though. The fact of the matter is this team was second in the National League in runs scored after the All-Star Break. The pitching staff will keep this team afloat until Howard gets back and they’ll still win their 6th NL East title in a row.
1. Chicago Bulls 38-10- Who needs Derrick Rose? The Bulls are 9-4 in his absence.
2. Miami Heat 33-11- Not a great road trip, Lost two in a row and almost blew a 27 point lead against Philadelphia.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder 34-11- Simply average since the All-Star break with a 6-4 record.
Peyton Manning has chosen Denver as the next stop in his NFL career.
While contract negotiations are just underway, Manning has informed San Francisco and Tennessee that he will negotiate with the Broncos.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Manning has directed his agent to “get a deal done with Denver.” Expect an official announcement quickly.
Peyton Manning career statistics
#18 jerseys will start to take over #15's in Denver
The next question out of Denver will be, what happens to Tim Tebow?