5-at-10: NCAA's new reality, Pacers-Heat and celebrating the anniversary that started the Madness

5-at-10: NCAA's new reality, Pacers-Heat and celebrating the anniversary that started the Madness

March 27th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, we have an open spot or two in Friday's mailbag. Whatcha got?

From the "Talks too much" studios,

Game changer

In this Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, right, speaks while College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma listens during a news conference in Chicago.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

By deciding that the Northwestern football players are employees, Peter Ohr has opened a Wal-Mart-sized trunk of questions about college sports.

And, if his decision is not overturned on appeal, he has delivered a clear and single sentence: College sports will never be the same.

Ohr's decision is directly applicable for athletes at private universities such as Northwestern across the country. As for public universities like UT, UGA and UTC, well, the state's laws on unions for public employees would govern different schools. That in and of it self makes for head-spinning controversy, since the various laws differ and the variances in Right to Work states limit union opportunities. (Side note: Most of the schools in the SEC are in Right to Work states, so this may not directly apply in a legal sense. But if private schools such as Northwestern or Stanford or even Vandy are offering better 'working' conditions as in worker's comp for injuries, input on practice schedules and negotiations about how the program and employees interact or potentially wages, how long before the 'recruiting' worm turns.)

In fact, while the unknowns clearly outweigh the knowns about the future of employee-athletes, if this is not overturned, we'll add this prediction to the equation: This is will be remembered as the first punch in the slugfest that killed the NCAA.

This completely derails the entire foundation the NCAA has constructed. These guys are not legally viewed as student-athletes, which is the shroud under which the NCAA operated. That shroud may have been a facade for more than a decade, but it was still the cover that everyone acknowledge. That blanket was burned Wednesday.

Now that the Northwestern football players are considered employees, the other lawsuits in the works against the NCAA - the class action suits suing the governing body of college sports for everything from using players' likenesses in video games to concussion suits to suits claiming back wages - get a huge lift since there is precedence about employees suing people as opposed the unknown interpretation of student-athletes trying it.

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Game time

We'll post the contest entries we have received so far this afternoon.

There's still time to play. Send us the two players you think will combine for the most points between tonight and Sunday. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

As for the games, well, we're stoked for the two games in Indy tomorrow night. We have interest in tonight, but it's more casual. Here's some of the latest odds from our guy RJ Bell of Pregame.com. Enjoy.

Updated Sweet 16 point spreads:

Florida -4.5 over UCLA

Stanford -3 over Dayton

Wisconsin -3.5 over Baylor

Arizona -7.5 over San Diego State

Iowa St -1.5 over U Conn

Michigan St -2 over Virginia

Michigan -2.5 over Tennessee

Louisville -4.5 over Kentucky

Updated Title Odds:

FLORIDA 7/2

LOUISVILLE 5/1

MICHIGAN ST 11/2

ARIZONA 6/1

VIRGINIA 10/1

WISCONSIN 16/1

MICHIGAN 18/1

KENTUCKY 20/1

UCLA 20/1

BAYLOR 25/1

TENNESSEE 30/1 (200/1 before tourney)

IOWA ST 30/1

U CONN 30/1

SAN DIEGO ST 50/1

STANFORD 65/1 (300/1 before tourney)

DAYTON 90/1 (500/1 before tourney)

Since the start of LAST season, Louisville has been favored in 73 of 74 games (including 45 straight)!

Perfect bracket:

Odds against picking perfect so far in tournament (picking winner of 48 out of 48 games)

Based on Vegas odds of each game: 6.44 BILLION to 1 (!!!)

Percentage Chance:

77% chance at least ONE #1 seed will make the Final Four

68% chance either Florida, Arizona, Michigan St, or Louisville wins the Title

61% chance that the Final Four team's seeds added together has a sum of OVER 12.5

50% chance the largest margin of victory during Sweet 16 round will be over 14.5 points

39% chance at least TWO #1 seeds will make the Final Four

33% chance a team with a double digit seed will make the Final Four

MVP Favorites:

Scottie Wilbekin (Florida) 7/1

Russ Smith (Louisville) 9/1

Adreian Payne (Mich St) 10/1

Gary Harris (Mich St) 10/1

Nick Johnson (Arizona) 12/1

Patric Young (Florida) 15/1

Casey Prather (Florida) 15/1

Luke Hancock (Louisville) 18/1

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Game on

The Pacers beat the Heat 84-83 on Wednesday night in a game that was physical and competitive. And while the Pacers prevailed and took a large step toward securing home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the real winners were the folks who like the NBA.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts after bing fouled while playing the Indiana Pacers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The Pacers won 84-83.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

A real rivalry is developing. A real bitterness that screams dislike and aggression and the physical aspects of the old-school throwback NBA rivalries that made casual games fun and playoff games must-see.

The Pacers-Heat are very close to that point, and if the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals - and let's be honest, the East is so bad it would be a major shock if they don't - the emotion and intensity will match the stage.

A generation of AAU stars that have grown up playing against each other have turned 90-percent of the NBA into the world's richest pick-up game. There are pregame hugs and postgame after parties for each side. These guys were playing among friends and until something happened to make someone mad, it was casual and light.

That was not the case Wednesday night in Indianapolis, where the Heat and the Pacers traded hard fouls and animated displays. It was fun and it only hints to more of the same when these teams meet again.

This was more Pistons-Bulls, circa 1988-92, than the celebrity horse games the current NBA regular season can become.

One caveat, though. The next time these guys get together, can we get the varsity officials in the building. That game was in a lot of ways decided by the officials, and that's the worst scenario. Lance Stephenson was tossed because Dwyane Wade tattled on him. LeBron was whistled for a Flagrant 1 on and a drive to the basket.

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This and that

Jon Gruden

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- The Gruden quarterback camp starts tonight with Jon Gruden sitting down with Johnny Manziel. We'll give that a watch.

- Colts owner Jim Irsay has $29,000 cash with him when he was arrested on a handful of felonies for possessing a bunch of prescription drugs. The Indy Star reported the amount of cash on hand and that Irsay was arrested on his way home. Which of course makes us wonder, "How much money did he take our with him if Irsay was returning home with close to $30K?"

- Terribly sad news about Jim Kelly, the former Bills QB who has had to cancel cancer surgery because the doctors believe it would not eliminate it. Great quarterback and guy. Is he second on the Rushmore of best quarterbacks without a Super Bowl?

- What in the name of nut job Americans going abroad is going on here? First Dennis Rodman is an ambassador to North Korea. Now Steven Seagal is an advisor to Vladmir Putin. Are we too far from seeing Screech Powers and Mr. Belding in an envoy to Afghanistan? Some get Lawrence Taylor in diplomacy school stat. What's Mike Tyson up to these days, may be he can lead the peace talks in the Ukraine.

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Today's question(s)

Have you enter the final college hoops challenge? Need all entries by 7 p.m. tonight.

We have two questions for you and they both deal with the news that happened on March 26:

1) Finish this sentence, in 10 years, the NCAA will be __.

2) On March 26 35 years ago, Michigan State beat Indiana State in the NCAA title game that really started the Madness. Some kid with a cool nickname like Magic and some bushy-haird hick from French Lick stole the show. That game became the rivalry that saved the NBA and birthed the greatness that has become the NCAA tournament. What other NCAA tournament games are on the Madness Rushmore? Discuss.