[1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 30. Headed down to Key Biscayne to columnize off women's tennis final. Quiet, please! 2) Pictured right: Mr. T playing hockey. Just because. 3) Thanks again to ESPN SportsCenter for having us on this week to discuss Heat streak and Canes' NCAA run. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat streak ends, Dolphins new logo/poll, Heat Big 5@70, Madness, Tiger Woods, men's tennis. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
Dolphins sign CB Brent Grimes: He's 29, only 5-10 and coming off an injury, but if healthy Grimes, the ex-Falcon, is a starter-caliber guy capable of replacing departed Sean Smith. I see him as Miami's third biggest free-agency get of this offseason after WR Mike Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe. Having said that, given his age and the fact he signed only a one-year contract, Grimes feels like a temporary mend at cornerback rather than a real answer.
Marlins' betting odds (they ain't good): Bovada's final preseason MLB odds find Marlins 200-1 to win the World Series; only Astros at 250-1 have longer odds. Favorites are Nationals at 7-1, Tigers/Blue Jays both 8-1, and Angels/Dodgers both 9-1. NL East odds are Nats 5-6, Braves 12-5, Phillies 3-1, Mets 15-1 and Marlins 40-1. Over/under on Miami wins: 63.5.
RILEY FIRES BACK AT LEBRON CRITICISM: Heat beat Hornets on road last night 108-89 to clinch top seed in Eastern Conference behind LeBron James' 36 points -- but that isn't the story. The story is Heat president Pat Riley firing back at Celtics prez Danny Ainge for calling it "embarrassing " that James complained abot officiating and hard fouls in the loss at Chicago. "Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team," Riley said in a statement. "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing..." Think about that. Riley telling a contemporary to "shut the f--- up." In a statement released through the club. You go, boy!
CANES COLD EARLY, CAN'T RECOVER IN LOSS TO MARQUETTE IN SWEET 16: A really disappointing ending to the season last night in the Sweet 16 for the Hurricanes, in a 71-61 loss to Marquette. The final score flattered Miami, which came out cold and never could recover. Marquette couldn't miss, shot 54 percent from the field, while UM shot a clanky 35.5%. (Durand Scott, Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown were a combined 8-for-35). Very tough to overcome a 16-point first half at this level, on this stage. Second-seeded Miami was a scant 5-point favorite in Washington, D.C. I liked the Canes and did not feel the knee-related absence of center Reggie Johnson, who had become a role player, would be a key factor. But cold shooting sure was. Congrats to Miami for only the second Sweet 16 run in school history, but this is not how, or when, a No. 2 seed envisions going out. ..... My bracket's wishes: Thursday night--Wanted wins by Miami, Ohio State and Indiana; did not have a dog in the Wichita State-LaSalle hunt. (If you did, bless you!) Last night--Needed wins by Louisville, Michigan, Duke and Florida. I have five teams left in the Elite Eight, but Indiana losing was the ultimate bracket killer for me; I'd hunched Hoosiers winning it all. I am forked.
Last night's Sweet 16 quartet:
* No. 1 Louisville d. No. 12 Oregon, 77-69; in Indianapolis, Ind. Louisville was favored by 11. Cardinals roll on, if not quite comfortably.
* No. 4 Michigan d. No. 1 Kansas, 87-85 (OT); in Arlington, Tex. Kansas was favored by 2. I liked Meechigan (that was for you, Mandich) in a slight upset and nailed it, if luckily, and late.
* No. 2 Duke d. No. 3 Michigan State, 71-61; in Indianapolis. Duke was favored by 2. The Diablo Azur and Coach K repping the ACC.
* No. 3 Florida d. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, 62-50; in Arlington. Florida was favored by 14. Like Gators to win but not cover. Cinderella FGCU, led by coach Andy Enfield's wife, Amanda Marcum, did not go dwn without a fight. Eagles led big early before fading.
Thursday night's results:
* No. 3 Marquette d. No. 2 Miami, 71-61; in Washington, D.C. Miami was favored by 5. Canes shoot 35.5%, pick a very bad time to be Ice Ice (Cold) Baby.
* No. 2 Ohio State d. No. 6 Arizona, 73-70; in Los Angeles. OSU was favored by 3 1/2. Buckeyes needed a 3-point basket with 2 seconds left to avoid overtime.
* No. 4 Syracuse d. No. 1 Indiana, 61-50; in Washington. Indiana was favored by 5 1/2. Marquee game of night found Hoosiers following Canes path with early hole, poor shooting.
* No. 9 Wichita State d. No. 13 LaSalle, 72-58; in L.A. Wichita State was favored by 4. Mutt game of the night except to the involved schools.
Natonal championships represented by Thursday's four games: 10 -- 5 by Indiana (1987-81-76-53-40); 1 each by Syracuse (2003), Arizona (1997), Marquette (1977), Ohio State (1960) and LaSalle (1954); 0 by Miami and Wichita State.
National championships represented by Friday's four games: 15 -- 4 by Duke (2010-01-92-91); 3 by Kansas (2008-88-52); 2 each by Florida (2007-06), Michigan State (2000-79) and Louisville (86-80); 1 each by Michigan (1989) and Oregon (1939); 0 by Florida Gulf Coast.
Elite Eight matchups: Tonight--3-Marquette vs. 4-Syracuse and 2-Ohio State vs. 9-Wichita State. Sunday--1-Louisville vs. 2-Duke and 3-Florida vs. 4-Michigan.
DOUG GOTTLIEB'S AWKWARD WHITE MOMENT: CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb found himself on the set alongside four African-American gentlemen during last night's NCAA coverage and introduced himself thusly: "I'm just here to bring diversity to the set. Give kind of the white man's perspective on things..." He is pictured here in the midst of burying himself. It was awkwardly received with what sounded like nervous, forced laughter. Gottlieb later apologized. With Twitter blowing up against Gottlieb, Charles Barkley, during the broadcast, defended Gottlieb by saying the panel was not offended, and that listeners should "get a life" and move on. As a spokesman for the White Community, I was not offended, either.
WHY STREAK ENDING IS GOOD THING FOR HEAT: Dwyane Wade after the loss in Chicago halted Miami's win streak at 27 games: "Now that's it over, I'm glad it's over. See you all in the playoffs." Wade is pictured right with that things-are-looking-up attitude. Perfect. It would be disengenuous to now claim the record (Lakers, 33) didn't matter to the Heat, but it never mattered most, or even close. As coach Erik Spoelstra said: "It has never been about the streak. We have a bigger goal in mind." Now the pressure of an historic streak disappears. The incessant questions about the 1972 Lakers cease. And the Heat can start focusing again on being the best/healthiest/most rested and ready team it can possibly be when the playoffs begin. Winning 34 games in a row to break a long-standing NBA streak record would have been special. But winning four games in the NBA Finals in June -- again -- would be better by a lot. As a bonus, Heat fans, too, can now return to their normal rhythm, which had been rudely interrupted by two months of perfection. Time to dust off our nit-picking nature, Miami, and wonder and worry anew whether the Heat has the rebounding necessary to repeat.
Quantifying interest that Heat streak generated: Sun Sports tells us that Miami-Fort Lauderdale ratings during the streak averaged 9.1, a 30 percent spike over the season average of 6.95 --itself a Miami-area record for Heat ratings. The highest-rated game was March 18 vs. Boston, drawing a 12.2. Last night's streak-ending loss at Chicago was the sixth straight game in which a Heat telecast on Sun (10.6) out-rated ESPN (6.6) head to head in the South Florida.
HOW THE RICH AND FAMOUS ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU AND I (one in a series): When we have a birthday, maybe it's a quiet dinner out with a few friends or a Carvel ice-cream cake from Publix. When Chris Bosh of the Heat has a birthday, it's a "Moroccan-Style" bash at Miami's Briza on the Bay featuring belly dancers, fire breathers and a live camel named Henri. Oh, and it is "presented by Remy Martin V." Of course it is! The exotic soiree will April 3 as Chris turns 29. My rejected theme for the party: "No Drama -- Just Dromedary!" Bosh is pictured right in the official poster for the party (the parties of the rich and famous have official posters). At left, members of the camel community kvetch and snipe over why Henri (of all camels) seems to gets all the celebrity gigs.
Poll result: Mixed reviews for Dolphins' new logo: We asked in the previous blogpost if you prefer the new Dolphins' logo over the current one (you may still vote) and support for the new logo (47.4 percent) was lagging narrowly behind loyalty to the current one (52.6%). By the way, how would you like to be newly signed Dolphins guard Lance Louis? You make your big free-agent announcement yesterday but nobody is paying attention because everybody is talking about your new team's bleepin' LOGO!
SUPER BOWL SCAM TRACED TO BROWARD MAN: Oh, the shame! Oh, the sham! A Broward man, Robert Pham, 37, of Coral Springs, has been arrested as the culprit who bilked two 49ers fans out of $5,900 on Craigslist. Story here. Instead of mailing the fans two Super Bowl tickets Pham allegedly mailed them a taunting note that read, Go Ravens! LOL! Talk about mean-spiritedness.
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