5 at 10: SEC spring football, NBA playoffs and a Talladega photo finish

5 at 10: SEC spring football, NBA playoffs and a Talladega photo finish

April 18th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Wild weekend. The response last week was strong, and we loved the questions about our next contest. Well, we're committed to something involving the Kentucky Derby, but we're looking at something in the next week or two on an event that's near-and-dear to our heart. More details later this week.

Here we go...

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) hands the ball off to tailback Tauren Poole (28) during the Orange and White spring NCAA college football game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

Spring football has sprung

Across the South - and the country - spring football scrimmages were everywhere Saturday.

There were like 40 - seriously - this weekend, and that means there's no way to go around the horn and cover them all. One general theme that has appeared, though, is coaches are not naming a starting quarterback unless there is a super-clear-cut leader. Makes sense, too, for a few reasons.

One, there's nothing much to gain from naming a QB1 in May when no one's getting official reps until August anyway. Two, if you have two guys that are close, you want to keep each of them motivated through the summer. Three, if you have two quarterbacks competing for the gig and there's a good-sized drop after those two (or if you're waiting on a freshman to arrive in the fall), you have to be careful about losing one of them to a transfer.

That said, let's do a quick, 10-word-or-less, spring football scrimmage top-3 (yes, a 3-in-10 by the 5-at-10)

3. Spring's top dogs often are fall's forgotten: Quick, who led your team in rushing Saturday?

2. Open doors: Primetime spots still open with hotshot freshmen coming

1. Spring stats may be meaningless but: Wow, Tyler Bray's 5-for-30 must have Johnny Vols Fan perplexed

Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, center, celebrates their win with teammates Marc Gasol, left, of Spain, and Darrell Arthur after an NBA playoff basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, April 17, 2011, in San Antonio. Memphis won 101-98. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

NBA playoffs

The 5-at-10's interest in the NBA is climbing toward near-1980s levels.

And this weekend did nothing to disappoint. Wow, across the weekend and regardless of seeds, there was drama and high-quality basketball.

The Memphis Grizzlies pulled of a huge upset, downing top-seeded San Antonio. New Orleans topped L.A., too. It was not only in the West, either.

The Hawks went to Orlando and won (rather convincingly, too), and the Bulls, Heat and Celtics each held off tenacious lower-seeded opponents.

There may not be the truly great teams of the 1980s, but the league is flush with young studs. From Carmelo and LeBron (those two are still in their 20s) to the new breed of D-Rose to Kevin Durant to Rondo to Chris Paul, the league has a lot of star power.

It's an entertaining game right now - something that could not be said in the last couple of decades. Now, if they could find a way to crown a champion before Independence Day.

Jimmie Johnson (48) crosses the finish line slightly ahead of Clint Bowyer (33) to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Todd Warshaw, Pool)

NASCAR and the power of two

Sweet Lee Petty's Lugnuts, that two-car tango stuff was unbelievable at the end of Talladega. Granted the first three-plus hours was akin to watching ballroom dancing, but those made-for-drama-restrictor-plate finishes are crazy.

As soon as the 5-at-10 gets up to grab a frosty mug (or a Frosty, depending if we get that Wendy's sponsorship deal - hey, it's NASCAR, after all), the race turns into two-car bobsledding at 200 mph.

Jimmie "Maverick" Johnson, with Dale "Goose" Earnhardt Jr. as his wingman, went from fifth to first on the final turn (yes, the final TURN) and passed Clint "Iceman" Bowyer, who had Kevin "Viper" Harvick as his wingman. Johnson won by about a foot - or roughly 0.002 seconds - to match the closest finishing in NASCAR history.

While Dale Jr. extended his winless streak to 101 races, he earned the teammate award for pushing JJ to victory lane. Of course, someone needs to remind Junior that NASCAR is an individual sport, and here's saying the sponsors are not all that jazzed about being the back-end of the sporting world's newest tag-team craze.

Johnson even presented him with the checkered flag afterward as a thank you.

Hey does that count as a win for Junior? No, well OK.

The 5-at-10 also believes that Dale Sr. would have wrecked everyone in sight to get to the front and would have told JJ to shove that checkered flag right up the exhaust pipe of the No. 48 Lowe's condescending Chevrolet.

NASCAR needs to be very careful about this tandem stuff. Dale Jr. waited (yes, WAITED, in a NASCAR race) in his pit stall for drafting partner JJ to get a little extra work done on his makeup or his car (one or the other) so they could return to the track together. Yes, it's sweet and all, but nothing screams good ol-fashioned racing more than waiting for your buddy to get done with his tune-up before returning to the track arm-in-arm and fender-to-fender.

Contributed photo LSU's Patrick Peterson

NFL Draft

The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.

The 5-at-10 thinks Patrick Peterson is the best prospect in this class - and it's not close. You know this, too.

So, as we head to the big day - the NFL draft starts a week from Thursday - we're going to look at a particular question each day. Today, it's "Who would you target after the first round?"

Great question 5-at-10, glad you asked.

Depending on position of need (first round should be about impact guys, from there need has to be taken into account, especially since the lockout has prevented free-agent signings), there are some gems to be taken after the first day this year.

Here are three names that currently do not have first-round grades but have first-round talent:

- Randall Cobb, Kentucky: How many times have you been reminded about how nobody wanted this kid coming out of high school? Well, same theory applies. Dude simply makes plays, and he does it from any number of positions. At worst he's a poor man's Hines Ward, who will be an NFL Hall of Famer, so that means a productive 10-year NFL career.

- Marvin Austin, North Carolina: Guy's a beast, and if it were not for off-the-field issues, he'd be a top-10 pick.

- Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame: Big-time size (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) and ability. Missed most of last season with the Irish because of injury, but by far the best tight end on the board.

Atlanta Braves' Eric Hinske reacts after striking out in the eighth inning of a major league baseball game against the New York Mets Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

This and That

- The Braves fell to the Mets on Sunday, making a few mistakes in a sloppy 3-2 loss. Now Atlanta heads West to L.A. so that arguably the league's two most disappointing clubs can go at it. First team to three runs wins.

- From the land of "NO way, Internet gambling is corrupt?" On Friday the three largest online poker sites - PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker - were brought up on Department of Justice charges for bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering. Stunning, right? Anyhoo, if any of the gang out there was a regular on any of these sites, give the 5-at-10 a shout.

- Cheyenne Woods, niece of Eldrick (that a little "Lord of the Rings" feel right there), won the ACC golf title by seven shots this weekend.

- Did you see the latest on Kemba Walker? This from SI: And in his travel pack is a copy of New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, a book that [academic counselor Felicia] Crump encouraged Walker to read as part of an independent study class on racism in sports. Before the Final Four, Crump suggested that Rhoden's book would be the first that Walker had ever made it through cover-to-cover. After the win over Kentucky, Walker confirmed this. "That's true," he said. "You can write that. It is the first book I've ever read." Walker is set to graduate from UConn next month. Nothing else to add here really other than locating a Kemba bobblehead has now become an absolute must.

Until tomorrow.