Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jacob Davis

Every year, I pick one team at the bottom of the Big Ten and root for them. Every year, this team is Northwestern. And every year, they don't quite have the resume to make the tournament. There's a trend: they beat one or two ranked teams, come close on others, win the games they're supposed to win, watch as the same four or five Big Ten teams make the tournament, and then sigh in disappointment when one atypical team is picked from the Big Ten Conference and it's (again) not them. Two years ago, it was Michigan. Last year, it was Minnesota. It appears that this year, that team might be Penn State.

You might scoff, but I think that Penn State has a legitimate chance to make the NCAA tournament come March, if they continue playing the way they're playing right now, which comes as a bit of a surprise when you look at the first half of their season. Prior to conference play, Penn State was 7-4; not a bad record, except when you check out who they played and who they lost to. Who they played: absolutely nobody. Who they lost to: absolutely nobody. Mississippi (4th in the (really quite bad) SEC), Maryland (tied for 6th in the ACC, having lost their beloved Vasquez), Vermont (also tied for 6th in the ACC), and Maine (I was unaware until this moment that Maine had a basketball team).

So what's so great about this team, then? Why do I think they will be the team that Northwestern watches make the NCAA Tournament over them? Their Big Ten record. 5-4. 

Yes, I'm serious. Admittedly, 5-4 is not a great record. But, again, it's who they've played and who they've beaten. Their losses thus far come to Michigan, Purdue (twice), and Ohio State. All but the Michigan game is acceptable and predictable. However, that second loss to Purdue was by 1 point and that loss to OSU (at OSU) was by three (and completely given to the Buckeyes by the refs, FYI. Skip to about 5:25 in that clip). Who've they beaten? #19 Michigan State (though that's looking less and less impressive by the minute), #16 Illinois, and #15 Wisconsin. Talor Battle is having a great season and when he isn't playing like the best player in Penn State basketball history, his teammates Jeff Brooks or Tim Frazier are. Ed DeChellis has been in the running for Big Ten Coach of the Year for the last few years and hasn't won, but he's making a good argument for himself this year. So, yes, I am serious. This is a team of champions. NIT champions, but champions nonetheless. I like to see Big Ten teams in the tournament so, from here on out, I'll be rooting for the Nittany Lions in all but three games: at MSU and both against Northwestern (I can still hold out hope for them, right?).

Last blog, I questioned the top five teams in the nation. The results can be summed up accurately as follows: not as good as their ranking (Syracuse), as good as their ranking (Pitt and Kansas), and undecided (Duke and the Ohio State Luckeyes).

The title of this blog is Jacob Davis. He's not a star nor does he have any heartwarming feel good stories (that I know of, at least). He's not even an athlete. Jacob Davis is some kid who goes to Texas Tech who really wants to see the Packers play in the Super Bowl. However, he's found the tickets to be a little pricey ($2,200) and is trying a different approach.  He's offering to grace someone with his presence in their suite in Dallas at the game by selling himself on eBay. Yes, someone will be paying to take him to the Super Bowl. Yes, that really is as strange and disturbing as it sounds. I don't know how it works, but when I heard the story he already had 4 bids (hence he is blog entry number 4). If you're interested in giving some college kid the extra Super Bowl ticket you happen to have lying around, here's the link to his eBay page.

Other than that football game later this week, take a look at this video from (the) Ohio State University. Not as good as this one last year from Washington, but entertaining to see the (almost guaranteed) freshman of the year singing Miley Cyrus. This is what college basketball players do when they're bored.

The Sports Nerd

Monday, January 17, 2011

Darien Brothers

I apologize for the lack of blog entries this week. However, if I hadn't waited this long, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to write about this weeks topic, so it all works out. (I'm going to ignore the obvious fact that this is false and that I could have just written more than one blog entry this week, meaning this one and some other one with more glorious sports insight. Ignoring.)

According to this week's AP Poll, the top 5 men's college basketball teams in the nation are as follows:
1) Ohio State
2) Kansas
3) Syracuse
4) Pittsburgh
5) Duke
The Coaches Poll is the same, except Pitt and Duke are switched. I'd like to take a closer look at each of the five 'best' basketball teams in the country.

1) Ohio State
(The) Ohio State University is the first team to dissect. There are some facts I can't dispute. They're 18-0, 5-0 in the Big Ten. They're shooting 50% as a team and they have probably the best freshmen in the country. (Warning: Video may cause nausea, head aches, stomach cramps, and suicidal thoughts). That being said, they may also have had the easiest schedule in the country to this point. Yes, prior to the Big Ten season, they were blowing out their competitors by an average of 26.9 points per game. Of those 13 non-conference games, one team was ranked. Wow, that's impressive! Now, looking at their Big Ten games thus far, they've played: Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota. One of these teams is ranked and the other four make up the bottom four of the Big Ten ladder. This isn't tOSU's fault, just bad (or good?) scheduling by someone. However, despite the fact that they've played these teams, they are now winning by an average of 6.6 ppg. They'll be challenged soon, though. They're next game is against...whoops, my bad, it's against Iowa. After that they'll be challenged at Illinois. I'm not denying that OSU is good; I'm just curious as to how good they really are.

2) Kansas. 17-0. They're shooting even better than OSU, 51.8%, leading the nation. Actually, they're in the top 25 for points per game, assists per game, and rebounds per game as well. They've played exactly one ranked team (Memphis - won by 13) and 3 road games, including an over time victory against Michigan. (It goes against everything I stand for but, I admit, I rooted for Michigan. And they let me down. Shocker.) As I write this, the Jayhawks are pummeling Baylor. They're next game is against #11 Texas, which should be a real test for Kansas.

3) Syracuse: Prior to today, the Syracuse Orange (Oranges?) hadn't left the states of New York or New Jersey. They're so called 'neutral' game was in Madison Square Garden (that's in New York) so they had an obvious advantage and were set up to win. Anyway, they left their comfort zone today and played Pittsburg AT Pitt. And lost. Case in point.

4) Pittsburgh. They're 18-1 (only loss to #13 Tennessee by 2). They are leading the country in assists per game and are second in rebounds per game. Thus far.... they're actually pretty impressive. They've played 5 ranked teams and beaten 4. However, they've only played 2 away games. I guess that kind of balances out.

5). Duke. They've played 2 road games and lost 1 of them. But, Florida State kind of has their number: This is the 3rd time since 2002 that FSU has beaten a #1 ranked Duke at FSU. That being said, Duke is good. Krzyewski's good. And if Kyrie Irving comes back this season, they'll be toeing the line of greatness.

So there you have it. Don't get me wrong. All of these teams are good. I'd just like to see them challenged and prove how good they are.

This blog's entry is titled Darien Brothers. He's a 6-3, 195 lb sophomore who's averaging 8.7 ppg and shooting 42% from the 3-pt line. Why am I writing about him, you ask? Because he plays for the Richmond Spiders men's basketball team. This is one of the colleges that I have been accepted into so far this year and I figure I should probably be informed of my potential new (2nd) favorite team. Fun fact: Richmond is the only college basketball team in the nation whose mascot is a spider. And, really, who isn't afraid of spiders? Even more fun fact: They beat Purdue earlier this season.

Bye for now,
The Sports Nerd

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two Point Conversion

Because I'm new to this blogging thing, I reserve the right to change my mind a bit. I think that the last things you readers want to read about are the headlines since, presumably, if you're already here, you know what they are. The great thing about sports is that there are more stories to tell than ones just about the box score.

....That being said, this story is related to one of those headlines. Kind of. Today, the lowly Seattle Seahawks (previously 7-9) upset the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints, in what some sportscasters are already calling the biggest upset in the playoffs. Ever. What I don't want to talk about is how they pulled this off (but in case you're wondering, 4 touchdown passes from Matt Hasselbeck and a 67 yard run by Marshawn Lynch is how). What I do want to talk about is the man behind it all: Coach Pete Carroll.

Most sports fans know who Pete Carroll is. He coached the Jets, the Patriots, the USC Trojans, and is currently the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He has an outstanding resume (including two AP national championships, three consecutive Rose Bowl wins, two BCS championship game appearances and one win, blah blah blah; he's a good coach) and a not-so-clean recruiting and management record (Reggie Bush and Pete Rodriguez). Here's a story about Pete Carroll you might not know.

Ryan Davidson was diagnosed with brain cancer at age six, which he fought valiantly for 9 1/2 years before passing away on February 19, 2009, his 16th birthday. He was a passionate Trojans football fan throughout it all. When Pete Carroll heard about Ryan, he contacted him and brought him to California in 2004. He gave Ryan a tour of Heritage Hall, he brought Ryan to a quarterbacks meeting, had Ryan attend practice, and, at game time, carried Ryan on his shoulders into the locker room, singing, "Fight On" (Ryan's motto, adopted from the Trojans). Throughout the next few years, Pete Carroll made Ryan a member of the USC team, dubbing him their 'good luck charm'. A few months before his death, Ryan was made an honorary captain, leading the team out of the tunnel and doing the coin flip at center field. After his death, Pete Carroll flew to Wisconsin to speak at Ryan's funeral.

Ryan Davidson was an amazing person. He was brave, funny, and almost unbelievably optimistic. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. Pete Carroll was a wonderful friend to him. If only for that reason, I will continue to root for the Seahawks. 

Since we're on the topic of football, I thought I'd mention the importance of the two point conversion. Not to insult your intelligence, but in case you need a reminder a two point conversion is a play in football where, instead of kicking a field goal for 1 point after a touchdown, a team attempts a play for 2 points in addition to the 6 points of a touchdown. If the play fails, they get the touchdown and nothing more. A lot of times, they make or break the game. Since we're in the playoffs right now, a good two point conversion will be the thing to watch for.

On a completely different note, RIP to all those killed in the Arizona shootings. My prayers go out to the families of everyone involved as well as the victims in the hospital. 

That's all, folks!
The Sports Nerd

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kalin Lucas

If you're reading this, then I probably know you, and you're reading this because you're being nice. Thank you. If I don't know you, you might as well keep reading since you're already here. Maybe you'll learn something. Probably not, but you won't know until you finish. I'm writing this because I need somewhere to talk about sports. My family is sick of listening and my classmates just don't care.

Let me elaborate on that. The majority of my senior class, composed primarily of boys, wouldn't care about sports even if all the athletes looked like this. Instead, they watch Star Trek and talk about Macs. And that's okay. Strange, but okay. I have a class full of nerds. They know it, I know it, and none of us have any problems with it. What I do have a problem with, though, is what they think of me and my appreciation of sports. In most schools, a 17 year old girl who watches football with a bowl of chips and yells at the refs during basketball games might be someone worth talking to. Here, I'm a nerd. A sports nerd. After three years, I still fail to grasp this concept. Sports and nerd are polar opposites. Black and white. Cat and dog. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. They just don't go together. Nevertheless, if such a thing actually existed (which it doesn't), I guess I'm one.

Basically, I'm going to use this blog to discuss sports events that are happening right now. Like football coach Rich Rod being fired from the University of Michigan. Not a surprise, but, personally, I liked what Rodriguez did with the program. Of course, both of my parents graduated from Michigan State University and since the Spartans beat them every year under Rich Rod and his poor recruiting has led to better in-state recruiting for MSU, I might be a little biased. (I'll try not to let that influence me too much. I think I'm doing well so far; I resisted the urge to refer to them as scUM).

Which brings me to the football flop of the Big Ten. This year's resolution? Don't think National Champ or more teams in bowl games. Next year, the Big Ten should just aim to not be outscored 268-198. Originally, I thought that Nebraska joining would be a good thing for the League, but since they lost 19-7 to Washington, maybe that won't help too much after all.

You might notice that this entry's title is Kalin Lucas. That's because it's the first entry and Kalin Lucas, the point guard for the Michigan State basketball team, is jersey number one. That's how I'll be titling these - chronologically random jersey numbers of players with some random statistics and facts about them. Eventually, they'll be more relevant to recent events but for now I'll start with my favorite player on my favorite team. Anyway, some stats and facts : Lucas is the senior starting point guard, averaging 14.4 ppg and 3.6 apg. He's coming back from an achilles heel injury and he stuttered when he was a kid.

Things to watch: The most obvious would be the National Championship game between Auburn and Oregon on the 10th. It'll be interesting to see Cam Newton play. I'm hoping for some creative chant about cheating other than just saying, "Cheater." I'd suggest something, but I'm not that creative, which is why I'm hoping the fans at the game will do come up with some for me. Something else to watch: This guy. If you like him, you could listen to him during the Cleveland Cavaliers games, since they just offered him a job (they're probably hoping Cavalier fans will tune in to hear him and forget about how bad their team is playing).

Until next time,
The Sports Nerd