March 20, 2014

Sun pm 3-23: NCAA Cinderell-O-Meter at 27.1% entering Sweet 16, my bracket, Gators; plus Heat rips Heat, Moreno, haiku winner & more

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 23. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with March Madness, but not the kind you think. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): March Madness Haiku Challenge entry portal, our Top 5 Pats/Patricks, Dolphins free-agency grade/Super Bowl odds & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Gators whip Pitt, 61-45, reach Sweet 16: I'm up in Orlando with the Florida Gators in their NCAA Tournament regional and Florida looked and played more like the No. 1 seed it is today in easing past Pittsburgh, led by Scottie Wilbekin. Click on Problem Turned Solution for my column off the game centering on Wilbekin. I'd filed this column off Thursday's perfunctory opening win over 16th-seeded Albany. UF was top-ranked, had just won a 27th straight game and yet had more to prove. They're very good. But are they great? They looked closer to that today vs. Pitt. 

1aa1acinderellaUPDATED: NCAA CINDERELL-O-METER (PATENT PENDING) AT 27.1% AFTER 48 GAMES: Excluding the four even-seeded play-in games, which I try to ignore at every turn, there have now been 13 upsets (by seeding) in 48 NCAA Tournament games thus far, or a Cinderell-O-Meter reading of 27.1 percent. That includes all Thursday/Friday games and Saturday/Sunday games. We'll be updating the Cindy Meter here throughout March Madness. Ranking all 13 upsets thus far based on seed differential:

1. No 14-Mercer (over 3-Duke; +11)

2. 10-Stanford (over 2-Kansas; +8)

2. 11-Dayton (over 3-Syracuse; +8)

4. 8-Kentucky (over 1-Wichita State; +7)

4. 12-North Dakota State (over 5-Oklahoma; +7)

4. 12-Harvard (over 5-Cincinnati; +7)

4. 12-Stephen F. Austin (over 5-VCU; +7)

8. 7-UConn (over 2-Villanova; +5)

8. 11-Dayton (over 6-Ohio State; +5)

8. 11-Tennessee (over 6-UMass; +5)

11. 6-Baylor (over 3-Creighton; +3)

11. 10-Stanford (over 7-New Mexico; +3)

13. 9-Pitt (over 8-Colorado; +1)

UPDATE: MY BRACKET AT 35-13 WITH 9 ALIVE IN SWEET 16; YOU?: I know that I wrote a Curmudgeonly Anti-Bracket Column last week (somewhat in jest), but I do have a bracket in an office pool. Just one. I opened a nifty 13-3 on Thursday, my wins including two nice little upset picks with W's by 12-Harvard and 11-Dayton, and a third upset if you count 9-Pitt. I rallied Friday to also go 13-3 for a total of 26-6 entering the weekend. My most notable upset pick Friday was an advance by 12-Stephen F. Austin. I was 5-3 on the survival meter in Saturday games and 4-4 on Sunday. As we pause and await the Sweet 16, I have nine teams still alive in my bracket: Florida, UCLA, Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa State, Arizona, Wisconsin, Louisville and Michigan.

"WE SUCK." LEBRON, BOSH RIP HEAT: Heat loss to Pelicans last night was Miami's seventh in past 11 games, and I'm not sure what's more shocking. That slump. Or there being an NBA team named "Pelicans." OK, it's that slump, and the slumpers aren't taking it well. I haven't heard words like this out of the Big 3-era Heat since 2010-11. "We suck," said Chris Bosh. "There is no passion. There's nothing." LeBron: "Too many excuses. Everything is an excuse. It's very frustrating. We're all frustrated." Coach Erik Spoelstra may have understated it in saying, "Our lockerroom is angry."

1aa1akmorenoLOVING DOLPHINS' INTEREST IN MORENO: Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas might be OK, may be good enough. But I love that Miami thinks it can do better at running back and is looking at Denver free agent Knowshon Moreno, who visits today. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 TDs last season. Yeah, it helps when defenses are so consumed by Peyton Manning that stopping the run is seldom a priority. Still, Moreno is good. He's compact, built for short-yardage conversions. He's in his prime at 26. He pass-blocks well. And he's a dual threat who caught 60 passes last year. Hope they get him. (Interesting Fins didn't target LeGarrette Blount instead, since GM Dennis Hickey knew him from their Tampa Bay days).

VOGELSBERG IS MAYOR OF BRACKETVILLE: Scott Vogelsberg is the winner of our blog's 9th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. His winning entry: "Beware Ides of March * Et tu Brutus the Buckeye * Bubbles pop for all." The judges appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, liked the nod to the Roman calendar, loved the link between Ohio State and Shakespeare, and also enjoyed the double entendre on bubbles popping. Three Honorable Mentions go to Hukk (Madness Flies Away), Michael (Furious Study) and J.C. (White Whale). Special mention as well to 3Pete, Big Baby, Frydad4, Neal S. and Original VT, all of whom also placed haikus in the final round of consideration. Aside to Mayor Vogelsberg: Email me at gcote@miamiherald.com with your choice of prizes listed in the previous blogpost. Thanks to all for playing. Even those of you who were confounded by the idea of 17 syllables, and others of you who veered from the template and waxed haiku-ish on the Dolphins and other unauthorized subjects.

1aa1asprite6mixLEBRON JAMES IS DOC PEMBERTON OF NBA: Historical aside. Dr. John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola. Now Coke product Sprite is rolling out a limited-edition soda called "Sprite 6 Mix by LeBron James." Picture LeBron in a white lab coat painstakingly experimenting with various flavor combinations before hitting upon the winner: Sprite's traditional lemon-lime flavor but with hints of orange and cherry. "I never imagined I would have my own flavor someday," said James. Dream big, King. Dream big.

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March 16, 2014

Wed pm 3-19: March Madness Haiku Challenge: We have a winner!; plus Top 5 Pats/Patricks, Dolphins' FA grades & more

1aa1apatrick

WE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: And the winner (and runnersup) will be announced in a new blogpost tomorrow/Thursday morning. Stay tuned. Thanks to all. Maybe the best year yet for quality entries.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19. Hope y'all had a beery I mean merry St. Patrick's Day! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the onset of March Madness. 3) !n The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins free-agency poll, Heat sky falling, Tiger's error, Canes hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Selection Sunday now done, bracket is set, office pools on ... HAIKU!" --Greg Cote

Haiku prize list revealed: Our 2014 Haiku Challenge winner will receive his or her choice of four prizes: 1. Dolphins 2013 Postseason Guide: Which may or may not be a collector's item, considering the team did not make the postseason. 2. Heat 2013-14 Media Guide: It's 496 pages of champion, baby. 3. Meet-n-greet with Dan Le Batard Show: And chance to sit in-studio with us during a Tuesday segment. 4. Eurythmics 1986 album "Revenge": Vinyl, unopened, mint. 

NCAA Tournament betting favorites: Bovada sets the faves as Florida at 11-2, Louisville 13-2, Michigan State 7-1, Arizona 9-1, Kansas/Virginia/Wichita State all 10-1, and Duke 12-1.

MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE: FREE YOUR INNER POET. ENTER CONTEST NOW!: This is the official entry point for our blog's ninth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. The contest stubbornly 1aa1ahaikuchallengesurvives despite sometimes tepid response owing to too few inspired souls able to see and appreciate the natural marriage of American college basketball mania and Japanese short-form poetry. This a "boutique" contest, meaning its relative unpopularity makes your odds of winning fairly good should you dare to delve. Contest rules? Simple:

1. Haikus must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament or postseason 1aa1ahaikuexample(men or women, Miami-themed or national, serious or funny) and must be in
haiku form, or 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing is preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your call, but only entries of exactly 17 syllables will be considered. An example of haiku is shown above.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only one entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment here in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced soon for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Chances are it will be a crappy prize, with a strong possibility that I'll procrastinate getting it to the winner and perhaps forget altogether. Don't delay because we plan to shut off entries and announce winner in a few days.

1aa1ahaikufigurine 1aa1ahaikuvitale


Defending 2013 Haiku Challenge champ is OC Dolphin with his winner: "Miami, home of roundball * Heat, second to none * Canes, joining the fun." The judges overlooked a lack of 5-7-5 phrasing, charmed by simplicity and use of the quaint 'roundball.'

Our CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL: 2013--OC Dolphin; 2012--Frydad4; 2011--OC Dolphin; 2010--I Am Kazaam; 2009--r.duke; 2008--Tococane; 2007--Bruce and David Tucker (tie); and 2006--Kurt from Boca.

Now, don't be scared. Have fun. Ready ... set ...haiku!

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THE LIST: GREATEST PAT/PATRICKS: The Dolphins just sigbned the greatest active Irish name in sports -- Cortland Finnegan -- but in honor of St. Patrick's Day we bring you the top five greatest Pats or Patricks in South Florida pro sports history:

1. Pat Riley, Heat coach/president, 1995-present

2. Patrick Surtain, Dolphins cornerback, 1998-04

3. Pat Rapp, Marlins pitcher, 1993-97

4. Pat Cummings, Heat forward, 1988-90

5. Patrick Cobbs, Dolphins running back, 2006-10

Note: No Panthers made the top five after the Pat Committee rejected the surname Fitzpatrick.

Dolphins latest Super Bowl odds: Bovada has updated odds today reflecting the first week of NFL free agency, and Miami remains 50-1, tied for 23rd of 32 teams. Betting faves are Seahawks at 6-1, Broncos 7-1, 49ers 15-2, Patriots 9-1 and Packers 10-1.

Heat beats Rockets: OK so the sky isn't falling, after all. That was just a metor shower.

Poll result: Strong grades for Dolphins' early free-agent signings: We asked in the previous blogpost, a great response followed, and y'all came in throwing bouquets at new general manager Dennis Hickey. Tha vast majority thought the Dolphins' early FA work was good (57.6 percent) or excellent (30.1%). Another 10.6% called it fair, and only 1.7% thought it poor.

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

March 22, 2013

Breeze! Canes win big, Heat hit 25. What's bigger right now: UM in NCAAs or Heat streak? Poll. Vote; plus Haiku winner, Madness update, Serena & more

[1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 23. Ultra Music Festival continuing in downtown Miami. Like most genres of sound but admit electronic music not one of my favorites. Don't like a group needing a laptop in their performance. 2) Click on Duke Johnson for a 2-minute ESPN video interview with the Canes' running back. Around the 1:30 mark it sounds like the interviewer calls him Eric, but I may be wrong. 3) In the Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat miracle rally, my bracket, betting on Canes, Oreo cat. 4) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

OC Dolphin wins March Madness Haiku Challenge!: Congratulations to blog-community giant OC Dolphin for his champion haiku: "Miami, home of roundball * Heat, second to none * Canes, joining the fun." The judges overlooked a lack of classic 5-7-5 phrasing, charmed by simplicity and use of the word 'roundball.' Runnerup: I Am Kazaam (bandwagons). Honorable mention: Sean Millerick (three -ologys), Redsky (twisted testes) and Brian S (pots and pans). Thanks to all! Aside to OC Dolphin: Email me at gcote@miamiherald.com with your prize choice: 2012 Heat championship book, 2013 Dolphins media guide, or segment in-studio on Le Batard radio show on 790 the Ticket.

SEISMIC: TITLE-CHASING CANES WIN OPENER, RECORD-CHASING HEAT WIN AGAIN: Probably should have called yesterday Fantastic Friday, but wasn't in an alliterative mood. The Hurricanes opened play in the men's NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed (winning easily; see below), and later the Heat returned home in search of its 25th consecutive victory and got it -- moving ever closer to the Lakers' venerable 1971-72 NBA record of 33. It was the ultimate smorgasbord doubleheader for a Miami basketball junkie. And it's a close call (at least to me) which is the bigger story right now: the Canes' school-record high entry into March Madness, or the Heat's run at history? Let's set the table on each, after which we offer a poll for your vote:

1aa1hurricaneNo. 2 Hurricanes d. No. 15 Pacific, 78-49 -- Miami was a comfortable 12-point favorite, but two No. 15s won in this round a year ago, and yesterday No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast won. (They do call this Madness, remember). Having said that, I couldn't imagine UM losing, and they made it look easy with Durand Scott's 21 points leading the way in Austin, Tex. I eschewed homerism, but admitted my beleaguered bracket was rooting for a Canes win. Up next: UM vs. Illinois on Sunday. Pictured: Yesterday's official alert for the people of the Pacific region. (Our two other state teams also debuted, both last night: No. 3 Florida handled Northwestern State, 79-47, also in Austin; and Florida Gulf Coast stunned -- stunned-- Georgetown, 78-68, in Philadelphia).  

1aa1heat25Miami Heat d. Detroit Pistons, 103-89 -- Detroit stinks and had lost nine straight. Should have been a rout, but you know how that goes. Miami (and its fans) could have used one of those drama-free routs after recent coronary-inducing comeback wins at Boston and Cleveland. They sort of got that. Detroit led into the third quarter before the Heat took over, and convincingly. So the streak goes silver at 25, lending a new meaning to the club's (pictured) anniversary logo. Click HERE for my column off last night's latest win.

Now, the poll!: Remember this is not a favorite-team poll and not asking whether you'd prefer the Heat set the streak record or the Canes win a national title. This is asking which is the bigger story right now: Heat making the most serious run ever at a 41-year-old record some thought would never be broken? Or magical Canes season continuing as No. 2 seed in NCAAs? Vote and say why. (I know. It's apples 'n oranges and you hate having to choose, but, c'mon. It's just a blog poll!)

FLORIDA GULF COAST!?! MADNESS BY THE NUMBERS (entering Saturday play): A daily tracking of upsets and my bracket in the men's NCAA Tournament. Upset watch: Total games played so far--32, excluding play-ins. Upsets by seeding--9 (28.1%). Biggest upsets by seed: 15-Florida Gulf Coast d. 2-Georgetown, 14-Hahvahd I mean Harvard d. 3-New Mexico. My bracket: Teams eliminated so far--12. Ouch. Biggest losses--Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Georgetown, which I had all winning in next round, too. 

SERENA HAD IT RIGHT ALL ALONG: I was pleased to be down on Key Biscayne for tennis this week, and 1aa1serenaproduced this column off Serena Williams' opening match. Critics have hit Serena hard over the years (me included) for her outside interests that seemed to convey a lack of devotion to tennis. But those outside interests and the pace of her career are what have kept her fresh and elongated her prime. She won her 14th and 15th majors just last year. She has become the oldest women (at 31) to be ranked No. 1. She neither sought nor needed vindication, but has earned it anyway.

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

March 18, 2013

8th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge: Entries now closed. Winner announced later today; plus Heat, Dolphins, Canes, tennis & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20. No surprise that Jake Long is a former Dolphin, now a St. Louis Ram. A few seasons of living up to the No. 1 billing, then a pretty fast decline. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's Basketpalooza! Canes win ACC title, Heat win 22nd straight, NCAA Selection Sunday. 3) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

* Heat streak at 23 after win in Boston: Enormously impressive 105-103 Miami win for 23rd straight, now alone for second-longest streak in NBA history, with LeBron James leading the way with 37. Trying to make it 24 tonight in Cleveland.

1aa1dologo* Dolphins' new logo?: Pictured is the likeliest evidence I have yet seen of the Dolphins' new logo to be unveiled next month. In other Dolphin news, Miami and Dallas will kick off 2013 NFL preseason Aug. 4 in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O. And club has been given extra 5th- and 7th-round compensatory draft picks for last year's free-agent departures of Chad Henne, Will Allen and Kendall Langford.

* Hurricanes 7th-best national-title odds: Miami is 14-to-1 to win NCAA national championship, says new Bovada odds. Favorite Louisville at 19-4. Florida Gators 7-1.

* UM women in Big Dance, too: No. 8 seed Miami opens Sunday vs. No. 9 Iowa in women's NCAA's.

* Tennis, anyone?: Annual ATP/WTA event on Key Biscayne has begun. Click on Paradise Found for my latest column, an ode to the Tennis Center of Crandon Park, the oasis on the island.


8TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!

PRIZE-LIST REVEALED: Our new Haiku champion -- to be chosen on Wednesday -- will get his or her choice of the following three prizes: A Miami Herald commemorative coffee-table book celebrating the Heat's 2012 championship ..... a 2013 Dolphins media guide (available in August) ..... or an opportunity to sit in for a Tuesday radio segment on the air with Dan Le Batard, Stugotz and myself on 790 the Ticket/FM 104.3. Enter now! Time running out...

ENTRIES CLOSED; WINNER REVEALED BY MID-AFTERNOON TODAY!

FREE YOUR INNER POET. ENTER HAIKU CHALLENGE NOW: This is the official entry point for our blog's eighth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. The contest illogically endures despite sometimes tepid response owing to too few inspired souls able to see and appreciate the natural marriage of American 1aa1haikuchcollege basketball mania and Japanese short-form poetry. I call this a "boutique" contest due to most folks running scared from haiku as if it were a rabid dog chasing them. In other words your odds of winning aren't bad should you dare to delve. Contest rules? Very simple:

1aa1haiku131. Haikus must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament or NIT (men's or women's, Miami-themed or national, serious or funny) and must be in haiku form, or 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your call, but only entries of exactly 17 syllables will be considered. An example of haiku is shown.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only one entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment here in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize for the best, most original or inventive haiku; see above for the three choices. Enter soon because we plan to shut off entries and announce a winner Wednesday.

The defending 2012 Haiku Challenge champion is Frydad4. Winning entry: "My bracket's busted * Like Sara in accounting * Who might win it all." The judges noted the 5-7-5 phrasing, enjoyed the cheeky yet ambiguous reference to Sara's bosom and also liked the nod to office pools.

1aa1haiku3 1aa1haikujapOur CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL: 2012--Frydad4; 2011--OC Dolphin; 2010--I Am Kazaam; 2009--r.duke; 2008--Tococane; 2007--Bruce and David Tucker (tie); and 2006--Kurt from Boca.

Now, don't be scared. Have fun. Ready ... set ...haiku!