From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
Kentucky remains the class of college basketball, and before we get to our Elite Eight - the eight teams that are built and position to have the best chance to win the whole thing - let's review a local weekend that would hardly be considered elite on any level.
First, the UT Vols went to Alabama and had their four-game winning streak ended. Barring an unbelievable and near-impossible turn of events - a run to the SEC final that would need to include a win over UK - the Vols' loss put to rest any lingering hopes about an NCAA bid. That said, we're still on board with Cunzo "The Conz" Martin and the magic he has worked with this bunch in his first year. The Vols are in position to make the NIT, and while that normally carries the energy of a trip to your Aunt Edna's house for fruit cake and punch that could give a Cigar Store Indian diabetes, for these Vols an NIT trip is a reward. And it could be quite valuable for a team that will return a lot of pieces and is finding an outside shooter or two in an effort to replace Skyler McBee's mustache from being really stout next season. (Side note: What to know how popular Skylar McBee's wispy mustache - When you Google "Skylar McBee" - the Vols' shooting guard - references for Skylar McBee's mustache come up even before references to Skylar McBee. So there.)
Next, the UTC Mocs went to McKenzie Arena and lost to The Citadel. Barring an unbelievable and impossible turn of events - a run through the SoCon tournament, and through the opening Tuesday night of the NCAA tournament, continuing through the first weekend of the tournament and on to the Sweet 16 - the Mocs' loss put to rest any lingering doubts that this will be the worst UTC basketball season in its 30-plus-year history in Division I. The Citadel was the eighth-worst team in the country, according to the RPI. And it won. AT McKenzie. Against a senior-laden team that was picked to win its division. Maybe the fact that expectations were high has contributed to the level of angst and disappointment for Johnny Mocs Fans everywhere, but there's no way to sugarcoat how bad this team is playing. (The Citadel? Really?)
OK on to the Elite Eight:
1) Kentucky - Wow. The talent level of this bunch is off the charts. Granted, a team has to win it all before any team can be listed as the "Best ever at..." any place, especially a place as prestigious as Kentucky basketball. There likely are six first-round picks on this UK roster. That said, as far as overall talent, this team will rival the 1995-96 UK roster that included eight players that spent some significant time in the NBA. (Those eight by our count were Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Derek Anderson, Ron Mercer, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner and Nazr Mohammed.)
2) Syracuse - Depth and defense make the Orange awfully tough. Plus, if they get a draw that is full of Domes (making outside shooting even tougher) they are going to be an extremely tough out.
3) Michigan State - Draymond Green has entered the player of the year conversation. (Relax, Chas9, he's not going to beat your boy Anthony Davis or even Thomas Robinson, but Green deserves mention). Green is putting up monster stats and looks like he'd be a lot of fun to have as a teammate.
4) Kansas - We're higher on Kansas than most, but that's OK with the 5-at-10.
5) Ohio State - Tough road losses happen in tough leagues to even the toughest of teams, but the Buckeyes are still mighty strong.
6) Missouri - Dangerous offensively, according to ESPN college basketball ace, the Tigers are averaging a nation-leading 1.2 points per every possession. Wow, that seems mighty impressive.
7) UNC - The Heels are supremely talented, but a team that relies this much on transition baskets could have a tough time in a one-and-done tournament setting.
8) Georgetown - Athletically, the Hoyas are very good. Defensively, they can be elite.
Wow, welcome back speed demons. It's good to have you back.
Carl Edwards looked strong, taking the pole for next Sunday's Daytona 500. It's a strong answer to the lingering questions about how finishing painfully close to a points championship last season would affect Edwards, who clocked the fastest qualifying time in more than a decade.
It was the cap to an exciting weekend that started with Kyle Busch edging Tony Stewart in a Bud Shootout that was one part Mulachi Crunch, one part 200-mph ballet and one part adrenaline cocktail.
We're glad its back.
As for our next contest, it's here, the Ricky Bobby if you're not winning you're losing challenge. Pick the winner and get three points, pick the last-place finisher and get one point. We'll work on some tie-breakers and tweaks and be back this afternoon with more.
Combine the streams
An underrated quotable movie is "Ghostbusters," which among other sage advice gave us the gem that is "Don't cross the streams." Which is valuable knowledge in almost all walks of life.
Anyhoo, our UTC football ace John Frierson tells us that Mocs quarterback and local-hot shot-made good BJ Coleman is ready for the NFL combine, which starts this week. You can read John's story here (UTC Moc's quarterback B.J. Coleman ready for NFL combine test).
We believe B.J. is going to steal some headlines this week, especially after what NFL analyst Mike Mayock told Frierson in the story.
"He's going to test OK, and he's going to look pretty good throwing the ball," Mayock said of Coleman. "I think the important thing for him to be able to do is look people in the eye and come across as impressively as possible as a student of the game and [having] a passion for the game."
For anyone who has every talked with B.J., there are two things that you take away from the encounter. 1) What an impressive young fellow that looks you in the eye and has a passion for the game, and 2) Wow, my hand hurts. (Seriously, Coleman can put a handshake on you that you feel in your feet.)
So if Mayock, who is a student of the NFL, thinks Coleman's chances depend on how he comes across in the interview room, B.J. may be drafted earlier than we think. (P.S. We love the draft. You know this.)
This and that, expanded version (now with Beta-complex 12)
- Don't you love when some food adds the new and improved version with extra Ribo-flavin. What is Ribo-flavin and why do we need it, never mind an extra serving of it. Alas, let's get to what turned out to be an insanely busy sports weekend.
- NBA comings and goings. We're back in. And we're back on board the S.S. Kevin Durant. Wow, was he amazing last night. He went for 51 points in an overtime win over Denver and most impressively, he did it on just 28 shots (making 19). As great as LeBron is - and we'll cover this later this weekn, because right now he's destroying folks at a historical level - and as many headlines as Jeremy Lin has grabbed - he did score 28 with 14 assists Sunday - Durant is so much fun to watch. Durant is on pace to join some rarified Air. If he continues on this streak he'll be the league's scoring champ for the third consecutive year. Only 11 players have done it in back-to-back seasons, and in the last 50 years, the only players to do it for three or more consecutive seasons are Wilt (seven straight, 1959-60 to 65-66), Bob McAdoo (three, 73-74 to 75-76), George Gervin (three, 77-78 to 79-80) and MJ (seven, 86-87 to 92-93 then baseball interlude, then three more from 95-96 to 97-98).
- Did you see our prep ace Stephen Hargis' story about Hamilton County schools looking to do away with transfers? If not, you have our permission to peruse it now (Inner-city coaches welcome no-transfer rule). Good story - and Stephen got a big assist from education ace Kevin Hardy who was all over this story from the start.
- Did you see our SEC ace David Paschall's story on the SEC TV schedule, and how Tennessee-Florida may not be a headliner game for the first time. If not, you have our permission to peruse it now (TV changes due for bigger SEC). Wow, who would have ever thought that UT-Florida could end up as the Jefferson-Pilot game of the week?
- Did you see our wrestling guru Ward Gossett telling the story of Baylor's Zach Watson winning his fifth state title? If not, you have our permission to peruse it now (Watson five-time state king). Wow, could you imagine winning enough state titles that you'd have rings on each hand. Congrats Mr. Watson on your Mr. T starter set of jewelry and a shoutout to the rest of the area's state champs in Tennessee and Georgia that Ward and our Georgia prep ace Lindsey Young reported on all weekend.
- Another thrilling finish on the PGA Tour that ended with Bill Haas edging Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the second hole of sudden death, left the 5-at-10 with three hard golf beliefs. 1) Tiger Woods will never be back to being Tiger Woods because now there are too many guys out there that can beat him. 2) This rejuvenated Mickelson run - he won eight days ago at Pebble and made a 25-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole just to get into the playoff - has been highly entertaining. 3) Sweet Buckets of a Tradition Unlike Any Other, the Masters is going to be big-time fun. (Have we mentioned lately that we played the course last year? OK, just checking.)
- Lin-sanity has claimed its first victim. An ESPN.com editor was canned for using a racial slur in a headline about the Jeremy Lin, the breakout star point guard that has jumpstarted the New York Knicks and captivated the sport world. We're just relaying the news without comment.
- Wow, what would they have done if it had been .....? Karl Hess, an ACC official, ejected two fans with less than seven minutes left in N.C. State's loss to Florida State on Saturday. It turned out that the two dismissed fans were Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani, only two of the best N.C. State players ever. Wow, what would they have done if it had been Rodney Monroe or Todd Fuller? Somebody's got some 'splain' to do.
We talked last week about Allen Iverson going through more than $150 million and now he has mounting debt to the point that the 36-year-old former All-NBA point guard has said he'd return to the NBA developmental league. Iverson even received an offer from a minor league indoor soccer team - $20,000 per game and $5,000 per goal - to finish the season with the Rochester Lancers.
Sad story all the way around really. There always seems to be one every few years - that former superstar who made nine figures in sports who is now staring bankruptcy in the eyes.
Iverson, Antoine Walker, T.O. has overwhelming financial hardships. And the stories are eye-popping. Mike Tyson made $300 million as a boxer but filed for bankruptcy in 2003 (Holy "Can you hear me now?" - Tyson reportedly spent $230,000 on pagers and cell phones from 1995-97. Read that again.)
It happens to other celebrities too, and the reasons are just as hard to believe. (After rising to the apex of the music world, MC Hammer's free fall to bankruptcy was at least aided by the fact that he had a home with a 17-car garage, he had a stereo system so big it needed 22 miles of wiring and he bought solid gold chains for his four Rottweilers. Hey, Hammer's pit bulls need to be "2 Legit 2 Quit," too, right? Hey, hey.) Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson and Nic Cage have each gone to the top and fallen to the broke bottom.
We were wondering who you think is next? Actor or athlete, who will be the next name that flashes across the ESPN ticker or the Yahoo main page with "facing bankruptcy" tagged in the sentence?
We'll start with everyone named Kardashian, Charlie Sheen, Kayne West, Jamarcus Russell and almost every boxer you can name other than Oscar de la Hoya.