From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
The Kentucky Wildcats were the best college basketball team all season, so it's fitting that this morning they are the champs.
It's not fitting however, how this season ended.
By the time Kentucky's 67-59 title game victory over Kansas got interesting most of America had either closed their eye or turned the channel. We were genuinely excited for this game, but a hodgepodge collection of turnovers, stellar defense and questionable calls made this one tough watch unless you're the most ardent Jayhawks or Wildcats backer.
In fact let's breakdown the title game, spaghetti western-style. That's right, the new and improved "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" - NCAA-title version.
The Good: Defensively, Kentucky may be the single best team we can remember. Seriously, there is no easy shot when Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis are on the floor at the same time. And allegedly there's this thing called second-chance points, but if you watched Kentucky play defense all year, you would say offensive rebounds are the basketball version of the Loch Ness monster and Big Foot. (Side note: UK's starters consist of three freshmen and two sophomores, and the fact that they play extraordinary defense with supreme effort is easily the highlight of an underrated coaching job by John Calipari this season. And now, Cal can breath a little easier as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/03/john-calipari-gets-no-1-ncaa-title-finally/. In fact, Cal can pass the "Best coach in the country not to win it all" title to Thad Matta.)
The Bad: When did the officiating become the college hoops version of Upward Basketball, where everyone gets a turn. Those three yahoos last night were the best in the college game this year? Seriously? And if that's not how the officials are picked for the title game, then that's just silly. (Side note: If there's not a merit-based way of picking officials, then we can make a serious argument that that is every bit as big an injustice as the BCS popularity contest.)
First during the semifinals, it was a charge-fest as Weeds shares with us here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/03/officials-still-adjusting-to-block-charge/. Then in Monday night's title game, it was brutal in the paint. Hey, if you're going to let them play, then let them play. But don't go four minutes swallowing you whistle then call three nickel-and-dimers. Be consistent, Stripes, that's all we ask.
The Ugly: It could have been easy to go with the UK celebrator who was shot during the unruly partying in Lexington, but let's stay on the court. Wow, Kansas just didn't look ready for prime time, you know? Sure, Kentucky's defense had a lot to do with that, but even when Kansas found ways to get good shots, the Jayhawks bungled them. In fact, Kansas missed two dunks during critical moments earlier in the second half when it was trying to make a run. And one of those - Jeff Withey's missed one-handed slam attempt off an alley-oop - could have came at a time that Kansas was really make a run.
It was a great year with the best team winning the title. But the subpar title game in our view was like reading a good book by your favorite author, who had to throw together the conclusion because of late changes. In the grand scheme of things, it's still a good book that you enjoyed, it just ended poorly.
Our man Da'Rick Rogers and the Vols have made up. Yay. Read more about it from our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown here.
Our man B.J. Coleman looked sharp in his pro day workout before NFL scouts - and a couple of position coaches - at UTC on Monday. Hooray. Read more about it from our UTC football ace John Frierson here.
Here's our brief (we're trying, really) recap of each scenario:
As for Da'Rick, we feel that this may be the final hiccup with the former Calhoun (Ga.) star and the top returning wideout in the SEC. Seriously. We had a conversation recently with someone who knows Da'Rick and we were told that Da'Rick has always been one to "stir things up." Simply put, he loves the drama. But, we get the feeling that some folks inside and outside the UT program have explained to him that if he wants to be a first-round pick in April 2013 - and don't kid yourself, the kid has that kind of talent - he needs to cut back on the playin' and get to playing.
As for B.J., we have been under the impression that he was going to be an NFL quarterback since his sophomore year at McCallie. He just has 'it' - that rare quality pro athlete have that you can't define, per se, but you know it when you're around it. Whether that means he'll be a starter or even have a multi-year career is hard to know because there is so much talent and competition. (Steve Bartkowski said last week when he was in Chattanooga that "Pro sports are the only business that as soon as they sign you they start looking for a cheaper replacement.") The biggest thing for B.J. is getting with a team that fits - meaning a team with some open spots throughout the depth chart. All of the teams - The Steelers, Falcons, Bears, Seahawks, Dolphins and Vikings - that sent QB coaches to Finley on Monday seem like good fits.
Have we mentioned we love the draft? Do you know this? (We missed the Jon Gruden QB Camp with RGIII last night. Did anyone catch it?)
OK, let's get this out there right now: Tiger Woods is the favorite at Augusta this week. You know it, we know it, the golf world knows it.
Now that's not to say the rest of the field is going to pout in the corner of the IHoP on Washington Avenue and let him cruise to his fifth straight jacket. Not even close, bud.
Woods may be the favorite like he was every year before his Thanksgiving 2009 car wreck/personal life implosion, but he's not the intimidating presence, the course-stalking monster that he was then. He knows and the rest of the field knows it.
That said, he's going to be in your picks (well, most everyone's, but not Spy's because he's not a fan and would rather lose with his guys than win with Tiger). And we feel he's going to be in the hunt, too - he's always going to be a threat to win at Augusta because the course is perfectly set up for him. Who knew that Tiger-proofing a course actually helped the guys that hit it a ton?
We'll trot out our five sometime tomorrow - deadline is 7 a.m. Thursday, and we'll give you the three guys who
- Matt Cain and Joey Votto each agreed to nine-figure contract extensions Monday. Wow. Just flippin' wow. Remember this day the next time baseball's collective bargaining agreement comes up and the owners are complaining about out of control salaries. Well, they wouldn't be out of control if we were giving Matt Cain the biggest contract ever afforded a right-handed pitcher. (Somewhere John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux just spit up in their mouths.) And if Matt Cain is worth $120-plus million, what is Justin Verlander worth?
- Brittney Griner and Baylor likely will cap a 40-0 season tonight. Are we going to watch? Well no, but 40-0 is still something pretty special. (Side note: How great would the storylines have been if Pat and the Lady Vols were there tonight? Sigh.)
- Raise your hand if you think Sean Payton's appeal has the same chance as the 5-at-10 posting up Anthony Davis. Yep, it's going to get swatted.
- Sad news about the foliage at Augusta. Apparently, the unusually warm winter has caused the azaleas and the dogwoods to already bloom.
- Some interesting odds on UK's win (from friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com): Kentucky was a 6-to-1 pick to win it all before the season and 3-to-1 before the tournament; in the last 28 years, 18 champs have been No. 1 seeds; Vegas projects that UK would be a 30-point underdog against the Washington Wizards on a neutral court; Odds to win it all next year - Kentucky is 6-to-1, Baylor is 8-to-1, Louisville is 9-to-1 and Indiana, Ohio State and UNC are 10-to-1.
- The Braves lost another spring training game Monday, falling 8-2 to the Mets. The very good news was Tim Hudson extremely sharp in his first two innings of the spring. Hudson allowed an infield single and fanned two without a walk. The bad news Monday was that Brandon Beachy continues to get hit hard. Beachy allowed seven hits and four earned runs in six innings and has a spring ERA in the mid-5.00.
- OK, the Braves's opening day roster is taking shape. Tyler Pastornicky has won the shortstop tete-a-tete. The Braves traded for Livian Hernandez (yes, he's still alive) and infielder Juan Francisco last week to fill in some spots. Hernandez is pegged long relief (some might say long-in-the-tooth relief, but alas) and Francisco gives the Braves options at third base while Chipper Jones' mends. We'll have way more on the Braves on Wednesday and Thursday, but looking at the roster, we FLOORED by the fact that Livian Hernandez is less than five months older than Tim Hudson. That can't be right, can it?
Here are the final standings for the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition:
Jones - 69 - Doron Lamb (32) and T-Robinson (37)
Mrs. 5-at-10 - 69 -Doron Lamb (32) and Thomas Robinson (37)
BlueOval - 61 - Thomas Robinson (37) and Anthony Davis (24)
scole023 - 61- Thomas Robinson (37) and Anthony Davis (24)
Player A - 61 - Lamb (32) and Taylor (29)
Weena - 61 - Anthony Davis (24) and Thomas Robinson (37)
5-at-10 - 57 - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (20) and Thomas Robinson (37)
McPell - 53 -Tyshawn Taylor (29) and Anthony Davis (24)
JordanRules - 53 - T. Taylor (29) and A. Davis (24)
Fred - 49 - Tyshawn Taylor (29) and MKG (20)
Here are the winners to date so far this year:
Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition - Jones (Jones got the tie-breaker over Mrs. 5-at-10 because, well, 1) we're not very smart, and 2) if one of the 5-at-10's immediate clan ties for the win, the tie goes outside the compound.)
Underrated/Overrated challenge - ThatIDoKnow
Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout - scole023
Ricky Bobby "If you ain't first you're last" Challenge - VolBacker
Now seems like the perfect time to trot out the "5-at-10 Masterfully Masters Mastered pick'em challenge."
Here's a rule recap: Submit your top five players (order on the entry is not important) points will be awarded as 10 for first, 7 for second, 5 for third, 4 for fourth and 3 for fifth and one point for each of your golfers that made the cut but did not crack the top 5; perfect score is 29. Whoever has the most points will get a Masters trinket or something (we won't bring you back a pimento cheese sandwich, but don't expect the moon either - the 5-at-10's on a tight budget).
Whatcha' got? (And we're sure SportTalk's Cowboy Joe and the gang at 102.3 will be in, especially since Joe - he's a cowboy after all - has to defend his title.)