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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Must See Sports - Fourth Week of February 2012

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record: 4-3

Must See Sports 2012 record: 29-16

Thursday, February 23


New York Knicks at Miami Heat

It is the last night before the All-Star break and Linsanity takes it show on the road to face the Heatles. This should be good. Unfortunately for Jeremy Lin (15 PPG, 6 APG) and the Knicks, the Heat are healthy and almost impossible to beat at home. I don't see the Knicks being the fly in the ointment.

The Heat have wrestled first place in the East away from the Bulls. The Knicks improved, overnight, with the rise of Lin. Even Carmelo Anthony (22 PPG, 6 RPG) back in the lineup (on a limited basis thus far) I think the King (28 PPG, 8 RPG, 7 APG) will keep his Eastern Conference crown through the weekend.

Advantage: Heat

Yeah right! Maybe the Micheal Jordan who just turned 49 is posing as Jeremy Lin (which would probably still be pretty damn good)! The "Linning" is in jeopardy tonight at the Heatles World Tour.

NCAA Men’s Basketball

#4 Duke Blue Devils at #16 Florida State Seminoles

Big ACC matchup. The winner pulls into a tie with #7 North Carolina for first place in the conference. The loser is behind the eight ball in the ACC race.

Duke is the superior team on paper, except for one caveat: Florida State beat Duke earlier this year. In addition, the Seminoles are on fire, winners of 10 of their last 11. FSU limped into conference play and since then has been a force to be reckoned with. the Noles have been winning with defense, defense, defense. Bernard James (10 PPG, 8 RPG), the 27 year old senior forward has brought his maturity and leadership to the forefront, grabbing six rebounds and blocking three or more shots in his last three games.

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski has his machine rolling. Duke has won seven of eight and its one-two punch of Austin Rivers (15 PPG, 3 RPG), who made the game winning shot at North Carolina, and Seth Curry (14 PPG, 3 RPG) has made the Blue Devils very difficult to keep up with. Still, Florida State had the Blue Devils' number in on-the-floor matchups last month. They're hot and they're at home. I like them in an upset.

Advantage: Florida State  

Duke hero of the first North Carolina game, Austin Rivers (son of Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers). 2

Saturday, February 25

NCAA Basketball

#3 Missouri Tigers at #5 Kansas Jayhawks

BIG rematch in the Big XII. Kansas let a late lead slip at Missouri, powered by the demonically focused shooting of Mizzou senior Marcus Denmon (17 PPG, 5 RPG). The Jayhawks can ill-afford a relapse. The winner takes over sole possession of first place in the conference and is in the driver's seat to win the regular season Big XII title.

Were it not for teams from the state of Kansas, the Tigers would be only have one loss this season, but not because of the Jayhawks. Kansas State and coach Frank Martin have swept Missouri, beating them, for the second time in this season, last night. Perhaps some of that mojo will travel cross-state from Manhattan to Lawrence. Kansas is riding a five game winning streak. Junior forward Thomas Robinson (18 PPG, 12 RPG) has been a major factor in the hot streak. In fact, Robinson, with one more rebound against Kansas State and two more boards against Texas Tech, would be riding a streak of seven consecutive games with a double-double.

Kansas lost a heartbreaker last time. They are at home. However they are not Kansas State and I can't wrap my mind around Missouri losing back-to-back games. It hasn't happened all year.

Advantage: Missouri

Can recent history repeat itself? 3

Sunday, February 26


2012 NBA All-Star Game

Western Conference All-Stars at Eastern Conference All-Stars from Orlando, Florida

I enjoy the NBA All Star game. I love watching the best in the game partake in pure, unadulterated offense. Alley oops, trick dunks...everything a basketball fan could want to see and long as that fan does not want to see defense. Whatever the over/under is, bet the "over"!


NCAA Men’s Basketball

#15 Wisconsin Badgers at #9 Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State was as hot as any team could be and, two weeks ago, appeared to be a lock for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. A loss to Michigan State and a loss to Michigan later, and a sense over urgency has cast its shadow over Columbus, Ohio.

The Badgers have been a model of consistency against any team without a ranking in front of its name, 18-1 against unranked opponents. Their 2-6 record against ranked opponents, including Ohio State, does not bode well. In addition, their team leader and top scorer, Jordan Taylor (14 PPG, 4 RPG, 4 APG) continues to struggle with shooting. Taylor's field goal percentage is under 40%  on the season, including an abysmal, combined 7 for 25 from the field in his last two games.

Wisconsin could propel itself back into the Big Ten regular season race with a win. However, the Buckeyes are at home, where a loss is extremely rare. Unless Taylor has a breakthrough and snaps out of his season long shooting slump, I think the Buckeyes get back on track in this conference matchup.

Advantage: Ohio State

Monday, February 27

NCAA Men’s Basketball

#18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at #8 Georgetown Hoyas

The Big East isn’t the concentrated powerhouse it was last year. That doesn’t mean they aren’t really good. Nobody is likely to catch Syracuse, but seedings in the Big Dance and Big East tournament are still at stake. An Irish win will keep them in second place with Marquette, holding the regular season tiebreaker. Georgetown, currently 2 games back of Notre Dame and Marquette, can vault itself back into the race for Big East runner up with a win.

The secret to Notre Dame’s success has been good ball movement and taking care of the basketball. Multi-faceted players like sophomore guard Jerian Grant (13 PPG, 5 APG) patiently set up scoring opportunities and don’t turn the ball over very much. The Irish are currently riding a nine game winning streak. During that streak, beginning with the stunning upset over then-#1 Syracuse, Grant has scored in double figures in all of those games, with five or more dimes in seven of those games.

Georgetown is somewhat living off of their name. The Hoyas got off to a red hot start, but appear to have cooled in conference play. They’ve lost two of their last four. The loss in overtime to #2 Syracuse was understandable. The drubbing they took at Seton Hall is not. Want to figure out how the Hoyas’ night will go? Watch Hollis Thompson (13 PPG, 6 RPG). When the junior forward scored 15 or more points, the Hoyas are 8-1. Four of their five losses on the season have come when Thompson does not break that threshold. A big game from the big man will go a long way in helping his team win.

Bottom line? The Irish are hot. The Hoyas are not. Thompson has not exceed that 15 point threshold since February 1st.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Jerian Grant, left and Pat Connaughton (7 PPG, 5 RPG), right. 5
Tuesday, February 28

NCAA Men’s Basketball

#6 Michigan State Spartans at #24 Indiana Hosiers

Michigan State is playing its best basketball of the season when it counts the most, late in the season. After a head-scratching, low scoring loss to Big Ten bottom feeder Illinois at the hands (almost single handedly) of Illini guard Brandon Paul (15 PPG, 5 RPG), the Spartans have ripped off six straight wins and not looked back.

The streak includes wins over archrival #22 ranked Michigan, a shocker at #3 Ohio State, and #17 Wisconsin. Illinois has not won since upsetting MSU. Michigan senior forward Draymond Green (16 PPG, 10 RPG) has stepped his game up in February, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds during Michigan State’s undefeated month.

Indiana is an enigma. They are as streak a ranked team and one can find. They have won four of their last five after having lost five of the prior seven, which came on the heels of a 15-1 start to the season. That fast start included wins over (rankings at the time) #1 Kentucky, #2 Ohio State, and #13 Michigan, with the lone loss coming against #17 Michigan State. Since then, the Hosiers have dropped games to unranked Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Its last win over a ranked opponent was January 5th.

Expect a solid performance from the consistent freshman forward, Cody Zeller (16 PPG, 7 RPG). Expect Michigan State to keep on rolling.

Advantage: Michigan State

Wednesday, February 29


Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs

Happy Leap Year...Day...I suppose!

The young versus the old…. Vitality versus experience…. It’s Chicago at San Antonio.

The Spurs are doing the same old thing with the same old starters and the same old coach. There’s a good reason. They usually experience the same result: winning!

The second evening back from the All-Star break brings us the blockbuster matchup of the teams with the second best records in their respective conferences. The Spurs had their 11 game winning streak snapped by the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday. Did I say “snapped”? I meant “vaporized” in a 40 point blasting at The Rose Garden. However, Tim Duncan (14 PPG, 9 RPG, 33 MPG) and Tony Parker (20 PPG, 8 APG) did not play; they rested. They’ll be getting even more rest this weekend. Bulls fans need not get too excited.

While the Spurs, whose starters average age is 29, have to make adjustments for lengthening of the tooth, the Bulls have a stockpile of young guns. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose (22 PPG, 8 APG, age 23) is back from his back injury and appears to be close to his old, dominant form. In spite of Rose’s extended absence, Chicago has still won nine of its last 11 games. On paper, I think the Bulls are a slightly better team, on any given night. However, since the Spurs are at home and will be very well rested, I like San Antonio in this contest.

Advantage: Spurs

San Antonio: WINNING! 6

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