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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Must See Sports – Fourth Weekend of March 2014

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 5-1
2014 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 19-16
2014 Advantage/Disadvantage Record (series only): 0-0

March Madness is here!!!

Thursday, March 20

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

East Region – Second Round

(10) St. Joseph’s Hawks vs (7) Connecticut Huskies

Connecticut has Shabazz Napier at point guard and has played solid D all year. Give me UConn.

Advantage: Connecticut

Midwest Region – Second Round

(12) North Carolina State Wolfpack vs (5) St. Louis Billikens

N.C. State got red hot in the ACC Tournament. St. Louis has been ice cold of late. N.C. State forward T.J. Warren (25 PPG, 7 RPG) has been on fire lately and will bring it to a Billikens team that is ripe for an upset. Still, I like the Atlantic 10 regular season champions and their defense. The late coach Jim Valvano is not walking through the door and I think the Wolfpack’s Cinderella’s run is over.

Advantage: Saint Louis

(10) Arizona State Sun Devils vs (7) Texas Longhorns

Texas has been all brawn and no skill all year.  Simply put: they can’t shoot. They can clobber inferior opponents in the paint on both sides of the court. Arizona State is a bit more balanced offensively and tested against tough Pac-12 competition. Their greatest weakness is against strong shooting teams. Texas is not that. Give me the “underdog” 10th seed.

Advantage: Arizona State

UConn will go as Shabazz Napier goes. 1

Friday, March 21

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

South Region – Second Round

(10) Stanford Cardinal vs (7) New Mexico Lobos

This game could swing either way but I find that Stanford is often reliant on taking jump shots set up by isolation without a strong offensive rebounding component. New Mexico is a patient defensive team that moves the ball around on offense. They take their fair share of jumpers also, but get their fair share of second chance opportunities and give up very few. The Lobos have also taken two of three against top 10 ranked Mountain west Conference rival San Diego State. The Cardinal is 1-2 against the top 10.

Advantage: New Mexico

(12) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs (5) Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Both of these teams like to press and trap their opponents on defense and both do it well. I like shooters in mid-major contests and Jacks wait patiently to take smart shots and shoot the ball well. I like this potential 12-5 seed upset because SFA is just the kind of team that a recent Final Four team like VCU could overlook and underestimate, notwithstanding the proven coaching skills of Rams coach Shaka Smart.

Advantage: Stephen F. Austin

Midwest Region – Second Round

(11) Tennessee Volunteers vs (6) Massachusetts Minutemen

Tennessee is going to get a glimpse of the ball-attacking defense and up tempo offense of UMass, led by point guard Chaz Williams (16 PPG, 7 APG). Tennessee will depend on junior forward Jarnell Stokes (18 PPG, 13 APG) to clog up the lane a pick up second half points for the Volunteers. I think Massachsetts is ultimately going to prove to be too athletic for a Tennessee team that had to scratch and claw just to get into the Big Dance.

Advantage: Massachusetts

Can Shaka Smart coach the Rams to the Final Four, again, now that VCU is the hunted and not the hunter? 2

Saturday, March 22

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – Third Round

Check with the Hat Trick on Saturday morning for Third Round NCAA Tournament previews.

Sunday, March 23

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – Third Round

Check with the Hat Trick on Saturday morning for Third Round NCAA Tournament previews.

Tuesday, March 25


Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks

The contrast between Eastern Conference and Western Conference NBA basketball is striking. The Mavs winning percentage is close to .600 and they are battling for the final playoff spot in the West. The New York Knicks were 21-40 earlier this month and now are only four games back of the final spot in the East. Life is not fair.

As much as point guard Monta Ellis (19 PPG, 6 APG) has injected into the Dallas offense, returning this recent NBA champion (2011) to relevance, the Thunder are just too hot and too loaded for the Mavs right now.

Advantage: Thunder

Monta Ellis, left, has been the catalyst to spring Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs back into the playoff picture. 4

Wednesday, March 26


Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers

If the Heat are intent on catching the Pacers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they will help their chances by winning their last two matchups against the Pacers in the regular season.

Unfortunately for The Heatles, the Pacers are ridiculously good at home. Should Andrew Bynum (9 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 BlkPG, 18 MPG) be back in the lineup for the Pacers by next Wednesday, the Heat will have an even steeper hill to climb as Miami struggles in the paint as it is.

Advantage: Pacers

The Pacers cheerleaders have had no reason to fake their enthusiasm this year. 3

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