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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Must See Sports - First Week of March 2012

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record: 1-6

Must See Sports 2012 record: 30-22

Nostradamus I am NOT! Whatever roll I was on went up in smoke last week. Time to pick myself up and try again!

Saturday, March 3

NCAA Men’s Basketball

North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils

Duke beat North Carolina on an Austin Rivers three point shot at the buzzer. North Carolina had a hearty lead in the final three minutes of the game. They haven’t forgotten and they are coming to Cameron Indoor to take one.

Both teams are on fire. Both teams only had one loss in the month of February (VERIFY). This game, most likely, will decide the ACC regular season champion.

On paper, North Carolina is the stronger team – better ball handlers and movers…much tougher under the glass (though Duke is good), with the second highest scoring offense in the country at 83 points per game. Still, Duke, by all measures, is in the same league as UNC, statistically. Duke is at home and they have simply gotten the better of the Tar Heels over the last four years.

Advantage: Duke

If you are a fan of either team, this image of Austin Rivers says enough. 5

(12) Georgetown Hoyas at (7) Marquette Goolden Eagles

This game could decide the runner up in the Big East. That will be significant because of seeding in the Big East Tournament. Big East Tournament seeding will be significant because the performance of every team, without a mascot called the “Orange”, will probably have its tournament seeding (or tournament invitation) influenced by Big East Tournament performance.

The winner of this game will lock up the second seed in the Big East. Marquette could have lockup up 2nd place, themselves, by extending their five game winning streak with a win over Cincinnati last night. But the Golden Eagles fell behind early and never recovered. Marquette will need a big effort from Jae Crowder (17 PPG, 8 RPG) to put the lid on Georgetown.

The Hoyas are waiting for Hollis Thompson (13 PPG, 6 RPG) to snap out of his sleepwalk. Thompson has not scored more than 13 points in a game since February 1. However, the Hoyas' Jason Clark (15 PPG, 4 RPG) has helped cover ground when Thompson has been so-so. Clark has scored in double figures in each Georgetown victory since late December.

In spite of Marquette's hiccup against Cincy, they will be at home and they have been more consistent over the course of the Big East schedule. If I had to place a wager, it would be on the Golden Eagles.

Advantage: Marquette 

Sunday, March 4


Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers

This is as star studded a game as one will see all weekend. The Heatles vs. The Lake Show…Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace against The King, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. L.A….Staples Center…stars sitting courtside…oh yeah, it’s ON!

Scroll to 1:23. You have to see it to believe it. 7

The Lakers have been nipping at the heels of the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Clippers for the last month. They’re going to probably continue nipping after this game. The Lakers are very physical with a solid defense. Their offense, in the clutch, is often not so solid.

The Lakers have not been able to get a firm handle on ball movement all year. Bryant can help move the ball, leading the team in assists. He can put up a lot of points. He cannot do both. LeBron James can do both. So can Dwyane Wade. And the Heat are on fire right now, pun intended.

Advantage: Heat

D. Wade should prepare for payback from..."The Black Mamba-aaaaaaa-ah!". 6

Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers

Chicago is on fire. They have been all year. After withstanding late challenges from the San Antonio Spurs last night, and, of all teams, the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night, the Bulls have a championship contender-esque quality about themselves, just a half game back of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

The 76ers, on the other hand, are a resurgent group of no names. They might be the first professional team in many years for whom the casual fan could name the head coach (Doug Collins) before any of the players, like Andre Iguodala (12 PPG, 6 RPG, 5 APG) and "Sweet" Lou Williams (16 PPG, 4 APG). Regardless, the Sixers are for real, in first place in the Atlantic Division.

What is also real is Philly's latest slump. The Sixers, after blowing a comfortable, late lead last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of the NBA's best record, have lost six of their last seven games. Most of those losses were against teams that we can expect to see playing in May. Still, the Sixers are in a bit of a fragile state and the Bulls are poised to take advantage.

Advantage: Bulls

Reigning MVP Derrick Rose and the Bulls may bend, but won't break. 4
NCAA Men’s Basketball

Kentucky Wildcats at Florida Gators

If you have read my opinions on Florida Gator basketball over the last two years, you need not read further because you know what I am about to say. If you aren’t familiar with my take on Gator hoops, you’re probably in the vast majority. Kentucky is going to win this game.

Besides the fact that Kentucky looks invincible, their team, whose starters may all be in the NBA one day (three next year, for certain), is gelling. Kentucky fell behind the 8-ball earlier in the year at Indiana and lost. Since then, they trailed Tennessee on the road by eight in the second half and Mississippi State by double digits at halftime. They rallied to win both games.

Florida is still Florida. They are very hard to beat unless their opponent is ranked higher than they are. I expect no difference in this regular season finale.

Advantage: Kentucky

Anthony Davis (14 PPG, 10 RPG, 66%, 5 BlkPG) 3

(11) Ohio State Buckeyes at (5) Michigan State Spartans

SHOWDOWN. Michigan State snapped Ohio State’s 39 game home winning streak last month. The Spartans continued to ride a big winning streak of their own following that win. The winner of this game will have the top Big Ten regular season record.

I think Michigan State is a more balanced team and playing better team defense right now. They are also at home. I like the Spartans for this game and the Big Ten regular season championship.

Advantage: Michigan State

Michigan State's Draymond Green (16 PPG, 10 RPG, 4 APG), left, and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger (17 PPG, 9 RPG), right. 2
Monday, March 5


Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder

The incumbent at the front-runner.... OKC has the best record in the league, and has for much of the year. The Mavericks are in sixth place in the Western Conference, but in large part because they stumbled out of the gates early in the season. They've also stumbled of late, losing three in a row. The Thunder have won six straight and are at home. By the way, Dirk Nowitzki (20 PPG, 7 APG) had to leave last night's game after just 10 minutes played with back problems. 

Advantage: Thunder

Looks like Dirk (left) and his back took a real pounding from Marc Gasol (right) and the Grizzlies. 1

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