5-at-10: Beautiful dance, Cuban criticism, Braves and who won the weekend

5-at-10: Beautiful dance, Cuban criticism, Braves and who won the weekend

March 24th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Hey, another hard freeze a-coming. Yep, that figures.

From the "Talks too much" studios, with all apologies to Mel Brooks' King in 'The History of the World, Part I' it is good to be The Conz.

Enjoy the dance

The Madness did not disappoint. From the flurry of upsets that ended everyone's billion-dollar dreams roughly 30 hours into the tournament and with barely a third of the games being played.

The weekend was great - better than that really - and reminded us why we love college basketball. It also reminded how blah-tastic the regular season has become. Wow. We wrote a column on it in Saturday's paper, thanks to those of you for the positive feedback.

There's no way to replicate the stakes and the energy and the drama of the dance over a four-month regular season. That's not feasible - unless you are major college football and had a manipulated title system that crafted a three-month long season into a pseudo-playoff structure, which produced the greatest regular season in sports but a hollow championship game - in hoops, especially now that this glorious tournament has become a 10-figure toothpaste that CBS covets and it is out of the tube.

So this is less about lamentations and more about the glory that is the dance. Keep dancing friends, dance like the wind. She's like the wind. Gone with the Wind. Wind Talkers. Where were we? For this day, we'll refrain from discussing the problems with college hoops and focus instead on the magic that has been the last four days.

Basketball tile

Contest update: After a late-morning flurry Thursday, we had only three out of almost 44 entries with Wichita State and a double-digit seed that is still alive. The trio is scole023 (Wichita State; Tennessee), Billy in Brainerd (Wichita State; Tennessee) and JordanRules (Wichita State; Stanford). Stay tuned, and remember our glory's last shot sharpshooter contest. Pick the two players that you believe will score the most combined points from Thursday through Sunday. For scole and BiB, if needed, the results of the sharp-shooting shoot-out will serve as a tie-breaker if needed.

Side note, No. 2 - Little FYI for your eye: Here are the TV times and announcing teams for the next round of NCAA games, according to CBS -

Thursday on CBS: Stanford vs. Dayton (7:15 p.m.); Florida vs. UCLA (9:45) with Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller (who has been aces so far in the tournament, although assigning him to a game that includes his alma mater is curious)

Thursday on TBS: Wisconsin vs. Baylor (7:47 p.m.); Arizona vs. San Diego State (10:17) with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr

Friday on CBS: Michigan vs. Tennessee (7:15 p.m.); Louisville vs. Kentucky (9:45) with Jim Nantz and Greg Anthony (who has been a little sketchy so far, including spending five minutes defending a referee's decision to spend five minutes reviewing a shot-clock question because Anthony said it could mean extra time late in the second half. Greg, the shot clock resets on each possession)

Friday on TBS: Iowa State vs. UConn (7:27 p.m.); Virginia vs. Michigan State (9:57) with Uncle Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery

And remember we'll have our Monday Press Row feature of "Who won the weekend?" today from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM.

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Cloudy future

We were intrigued about Mark Cuban's comments Sunday night that the NFL is 10 years away from an 'implusion.'

The NFL is the be-all, end-all of sports in America. Heck, it's the king of pop culture in this country too, considering that it dominated the TV ratings and even postgame wrap up shows cracked Nielsen's top 10. What's the phrase we use to describe the pinnacle of something? It's the Super Bowl of that genre, and what's the Super Bowl of marketing? The Super Bowl of course.

Cuban's comments to reporters were as follows:

Mark Cuban

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

"I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

"I'm just telling you, when you've got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That's rule number one of business."

Cuban was referring to the expanded TV plans specifically, even comparing the expansion to a former game show that captured the country's attention over night before flaming out just as quickly.

"They're trying to take over every night of TV. Initially, it'll be, 'Yeah, they're the biggest-rating thing that there is.' OK, Thursday, that's great, regardless of whether it impacts [the NBA] during that period when we cross over. Then if it gets Saturday, now you're impacting colleges. Now it's on four days a week. ... It's all football. At some point, the people get sick of it."

"They put [Who Wants to be a Millionaire?] on every night. Not 100 percent analogous, but they handled it the same. I'm just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."

Let's set the baseline. Cuban is wicked smart. And when it comes to TV and the public - avenues where he made billions- dude is WICKED smart. He also has a vested interest in hoping that the NFL decreases in popularity. So there's that.

But in addition to the TV saturation questions, which are certainly short-term sure bets but should be viewed with long-term focus for Roger Goodell and Co.

It's also worth mentioning that the TV viewing experience and its impact on attendance will be the biggest question for sports leagues and teams in the coming decade. And when Goodell is already projecting a $25-billion a year model by 2027 - and with ticket prime prices in the four-to-five figure range per seat per game - Cuban's points are even more interesting.

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Braves update

The news from Braves spring training has been mixed.

Their record is terrible, but not unlike the college basketball regular season, it's meaningless.

Their bats have been better than expected, but that could be a big chunk of getting fat against guys with numbers in the mid-to-upper 70s with fastballs to match.

Their starting pitching has been decimated by injury, losing pencilled in No. 1 and No. 3 starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgeries.

So what do we make of this bunch a week before the season starts for real?

It's impossible to know, but here are three hunches:

Dan Uggla will get a very short leash. There have bee multiple new names with the '2B' next to their name in the box scores this spring, and for the most part the no-named cats have been better than expected. If Danny Struggla, who has been around a respectable .260 most of the spring, starts averaging 1.3 Ks a game, he'll be out of a job.

The bullpen will be nasty. But protecting that strength will be paramount. And that means, there's a real chance the Braves will lose a few 15-4 games, especially early.

Freddie Freeman is going to have a very good year. Call it a hunch. Call it an educated guess based on his start to the spring and his confidence and his place as 'Da Man' in the locker room - and the accompanying nine-figure contract extension - but we believe dude is going to be a .310-20-120 guy.

Thoughts?

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This and that

UTC linebacker Gunner Miller (11) wears black paint on his face before the game.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

- Hoping to get an update from OG about Gunner Miller's raslin' debut this weekend. Mr. OG to the white courtesy keyboard please, Mr. O-G to the white courtesy keyboard.

- Despite all the craziness that was the first round of the NCAA tournament, there was one dude named Brad that went 32-0 in the first round - a state not matched by the tens of millions of folks in Warren Buffett's billion-dollar challenge or the similar number in the ESPN.com pool. Look at the big brain in Brad. Sadly, in the next round, Brad missed six of the next eight games. Sunday morning coming down indeed. (God bless you Kris Kristofferson.)

- PGA journeyman Matt Every won at Bay Hill on Sunday. Well, he was the one they handed the trophy, the big check for $1.1 million and a Masters invite. The actual decision maker Sunday was Adam Scott, who bungled a big lead on the final round for the second time in the last six events.

- The L.A. Dodgers opened the baseball season with two wins over Arizona in Australia. Good times. The key stats from the weekend were: 2 - number of Dodgers win; 1 - number of times manager Don Mattingly has got upset with the antics of Yaisel Puig. Here's the story, and at this pace, the multi-talented and heavy-footed Amnicola Highway speedster will have 81 altercations with his team/manager. That would be a new league record.

- In the go fast, turn left world, Kyle Busch won at California, easing by Kyle Whoshishelmet. Kyle Petty was not invovled in the action, Kyle Chandler (aka Coach Eric Taylor) did not watch and Kyle Macy was unavailable for comment.

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Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin reacts in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Today's question

We'll have the crow, fried, with some extra hot sauce and a 'Co-Cola' please. Yep, that's Mr. Cuonzo Martin in the Sweet Sixteen, the same guy that the 5-at-10 wondered whether he could ever make the tournament, much less advance.

And as Weeds wrote over the weekend, and as Jomo has been preaching for a while (although his position is as much about his love of needling Johnny Vols Fans as it is any belief in The Conz), dude deserves to bask in the limelight of "How you like me now?" (which is either the anthem of Socrates or Kool Moe Dee, we get those two mixed up a bunch).

Our first question is, what would the odds have been in mid-February for The Conz getting an extension?

We'd like to know who you think won the weekend - other than The Conz of course.

As for who lost the weekend, well, meet Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver who makes $6 million a year and decided to forfeit his credibility for the price of two season tickets. Here are the details.

Follow along. Roddy is a Duke hoops fan and was talking a little smack on the Twitter. One of his followers told him Mercer was going to drop Duke. White replied and said no chance and if it did happen, he would buy the Mercer believer two season tickets on the 50 on row 1.

Well, we all know what happened. And then Roddy said he's only going to buy the dude one ticket to one game. Roddy, Roddy, Roddy. You have chosen poorly.