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March 14, 2013

It's UM-UNC in ACC title game!; plus March Gladness: Early Christmas for Dolphins' Tannehill, Heat hit 21, USA out in WBC, Jeff Gordon & more

HAIKU ADVISORY! You didn't think I forgot did you? Our blog's annual March Madness Haiku Challenge is coming very soon. Stay tuned!


 

[It is SATURDAY, MARCH 16. Those new Notre Dame basketball uniforms (right) remind me of a glowstick 1aa1damehad as a kid. 2) Pope Francis I in power three full days now and still no perceptible change in the Catholic Church! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/Mike Wallace, Heat 20th straight, Welker, Marino, new pope, World Baseball Classic, Spoelstra's girl. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Dolphins stock rising: New Super Bowl betting odds from Bovada show Dolphins have rocketed from 60-1 to 35-1 because of free-agency moves. Updated favorites are Broncos and 49ers at 7-1 and Patriots at 15-2. Champion Ravens have fallen 14-1 to 20-1.

GREAT SCOTT! DURAND'S 32 LIFTS CANES TO ACC TITLE GAME VS. UNC: Miami's Durand Scott popped a career- 1aa1acchigh 32 points this afternoon and UM beat North Carolina State, 81-71, in the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. That puts Canes in their first ACC championship game, tomorrow vs. North Carolina's Tar Heels, who beat Maryland 79-76. Canes were 2-0 vs. UNC this season, winning 68-59 and 87-61.

MERRY MARCH CHRISTMAS, RYAN TANNEHILL. UNDER YOUR TREE: WEAPONS!: Dolphins made the splash of free agency in landing the Steelers' Mike Wallace. Yesterday they added Brandon Gibson, a 51-catch guy for Rams last year, and tight end Dustin Keller, the ex-Jet. They spent big to re-sign their own Brian Hartline. And Davone Bess returns. [Click on Money Man for the recent column by me on how the Dolphins are hoping -- and paying as much as praying -- that Wallace is for Tannehill's career what the Marks Brothers were for Dan Marino] When all of the free agency dust has settled and the pluses and minuses are weighed, this will be clear: Miami set out to make QB Ryan Tannehill's second season easier than his first, and they have. Jake Long and Reggie Bush won't be easy to replace, and holes such as cornerback remain on defense (Brent Grimes visited yesterday), but the Dolphins have bull's-eyed their priority, which was to give Tannehill more and better targets. (In the better category, consider that Keller had 241 catches for 2,876 yards in 72 games for Jets, vs. Fasano's had 177 for 2,104 in 76 games for Dolphins.

HEAT MAKE IT 21 STRAIGHT!: Heat won its 21st straight victory last night at Milwaukee, comfortably, 107-94, and an interesting subtext was that the Bucks (as No. 8 seed) would be the Heat's opening playoff opponent if the standings hold. And that seems very likely, with Miami all but locked in as the top seed and Beer Town all alone for now at eight. Milwaukee had split two games with Miami this season. Last night might have been an indication how hard the Heat will have to work when the playoffs begin, and if so, the indication is the first round could be the breeze we suspected. LeBron James and Chris Bosh each with 28 last night. Dwyane Wade had shot better than 50 percent with 20-plus points in 11 straight games, the longest streak by a guard since some guy name Michael Jordan 1995-96. He got his 20 last night (right at 20) but narrowly missed the 50 shooting number at 8-for-17.

EMBARRASSING!: U.S. OUSTED IN WBC: [Update: U.S. falls last night to underdog Puerto Rico at Marlins Park, 4-3. P.R. advances to World Baseball Classic semifinals in San Francisco along with Dominican Republic. Americans are eliminated, making it a third straight WBC with the country that invented baseball not even reaching the final. Abner Doubledlay is up in heaven kicking over chairs]. Adapted original post: Our poll result directly below is mirrored in 1aa1amerprU.S. television ratings for the World Baseball Classic, which are modest at best. But this isn't about us, folks, hard as that sometimes is to wrap our heads around. The WBC's reason for being is to grow the sport where it isn't as big. So it is far more important to MLB that a Japan vs. Chinese-Taipei game in this tournament drew a 43 rating on Japanese TV -- A U.S. Super Bowl-type rating. It is far more important that the games are embraced avidly in the Dominican and Puerto Rico, target spots for long-range expansion. And it is far more important that WBC successes by countries like Netherlands and Italy have planted seeds of interest there. Meantime, I was unabashedly cheering for the U.S. team. I was watching on TV, bellowing jingoistically for the Americans. Came close to breaking out a "U-S-A!" chant at some point, although that typically requires a few beers.

Poll result: Minimal interest in World Baseball Classic: We gave you four choices to describe your interest level in the WBC. Only 9.9 percent had "strong" interest, 21.1% "moderate" and 26.9% "minimal." The other 42.1% called their interest "non-existent."

1aa1gordonjJEFF GORDON'S TEST DRIVE: Seen this yet? It's brilliant. A spoiler-alert wouldn't help because as soon as you click on the video RIGHT HERE the secret is out. NASCAR star Jeff Gordon -- in disguise -- takes a Camaro out for a test drive and scares the holy s--- out of the (supposedly) real-life salesman in the passenger seat (pictured) who (supposedly) doesn't know he's being punked in an ad/stunt for Pepsi Max. I have since heard that the salesman was an actor and that Gordon doesn't even do all the driving in the video. No matter. It's fun. The good stuff starts about two minutes in. Enjoy.

Poll result: Strong excitement/support for Dolphins signing Mike Wallace: We invited you to describe your feeling about the signing and Wallace's talent, and 44.5 percent said "excited/elite," with 37.7% "happy/very good," 10.4% "satisfied/pretty good" and only 7.4% answering "unimpressed/overrated."

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

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