March 21, 2011

Sweet! Gators, Duke top Thursday schedule as the real Madness starts (with poll); plus UM women and men, Chad Henne's Bahamian adventure & more

1aa1lizt [Note: Live chat returns next Wednesday. Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Results of our March Madness Haiku Challenge may be found in post directly below this in blog. And R.I.P., Elizabeth Taylor, true Hollywood legend].

1aa1ncaa PRETENDERS GONE. NOW LET THE REAL NCAA TOURNAMENT BEGIN!: I wait for the wheat to separate from the chaff -- not exactly sure what chaff is, but it's bad -- before fully tuning into the men's NCAA Tournament. That would be now, at the Sweet 16, with the bloated original field of 68 down to four regional quarterfinalists.

TONIGHT: 3-UConn vs. 2-San Diego State; 2-Florida vs. 3-Brigham Young; 1-Duke vs. 5-Arizona; and 4-Wisconsin vs. 8-Butler. 

My bracket has 10 teams still alive. I'm not bragging. I am in second place of 28 in my pool with 55 points, and with Ohio State oiver Kansas in my final. OK I guess I am bragging.

Three No. 1 seeds (Ohio State, Duke, Kansas) survive, while one No. 1 (Pitt) already is out. Survivors also include BYU, which pleases me because I was looking 1aa1mormon2 for an excuse to use the T-shirt photo pictured. Of statewide interest, second-seeded Florida and 10th-seeded Florida State are among Sweet 16'ers. Joining the Seminoles as surviving double-digit seeds are Marquette (11), Virginia Commonwealth (11) and Richmond (12). VCU, the only surviving play-in winner, feels like the Cinderella.

Which brings us to upsets. Rule 1: "Almost" doesn't count. "Ooh Michigan almost beat Duke Sunday!" Well, they didn't. OK? They didn't. Rule 2: Upsets by direct-neighbor seeds (like a 9 beating an 8 or a 5 beating a 4, et cetera) are such negligible upsets they barely count.

On the men's side, with the Sweet 16 now set, 12 of the 48 games played so far -- not counting the four play-in games between even-seeded teams -- have been upsets, based on seedings. That's 25 percent. But that includes two neglibles, a 9 beating 8 and a 5 over 4. Biggest legit-stunners so far, based on seeding differential: 13-Morehead State beating 4-Louisville, 11-VCU beating 3-Purdue, 11-Marquette beating 3-Syracuse, 10-FSU eliminating 2-Notre Dame, 12-Richmond ousting 5-Vanderbilt and 8-Butler shocking 1-Pitt.  

In the women's tournament, with the Sweet 16 now set, 13 of 48 games played so far have been upsets based on seedings. That's 27 percent. But that includes three neglible 9-over-8 results and three 5-over-4s. Biggest upsets so far based on seed differential: 11-Gonzaga over 3-UCLA, 11-Gonzaga over 6-Iowa, and 7-Louisville over 2-Xavier.

I'd give you the NIT upset stats, but I really don't care about the NIT. It's March Mildness. It's where wallflowers not invited to the BIg Dance pretend to be having a good time drinking fruit punch. And I'm screaming the next time I hear a coach in the NIT speak about having a chance to play for a championship. (I'm talkin' to you, Frank Haith). UM had a decent run, winning twice to reach the quarterfinals before losing last night to Alabama).

Poll time! You must place your life savings, right now, on one and only one regional to produce the national champion. Where's your money going and why?

1aa1shenisej HURRICANES WOMEN FALL SHORT TO END GREAT SEASON: I was up in Charlottesville, Va., with the UM women, who on Sunday won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1993, but Tuesday night fell to Oklahoma to fall short of the Sweet 16. Pictured is ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson, who had a terrific two games. Click on Magic Team for my column off Sunday's win, on Feeling the Joy for the column in advance of game 2, and on Dream Deferred for the column off last night's loss.

1aa1chadh CHAD HENNE: PARTYING BOOB: TMZ Sports reveals that Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, apparently unbothered by either the NFL lockout or his shaky job status, spent some recent time drinking and partying in Nassau. Nothing wrong with that. He's grown. But he's also showing some pretty shaky judgement, in this age of everything-you-do-gets-known-and-shown, by putting two blown-up balloons under his shirt, as pictured. What a boob, indeed! I would say this: The beleaguered Dolphins franchise gets nationally embarrassed enough on its own, by its own management, without added help from the starting QB.

DANCING WITH THE HEAT: Click here for a YouTube video from the Heat's annual weekend Family Festival. The highlight, for me: Starting late in the video, club president Pat Riley is shown dancing on stage in the background, looking every bit as white as me at a wedding reception. I think there might even be a little Rat Pack-esque finger-snapping in there! And click here for LeBron James' on The Ellen Show, including a little aerobicize. Wooooo!

LAWRENCE TAYLOR GOLFING!: The notorious L.T., newly sentenced to six years' probation in the mater of his having sex with an underage girl, was an honored invitee at a recent Dolphins golf tournament benefitting Nat Moore's foundation. Hmm. Dear golf tournaments: I know Taylor is a "name." And the guy does love him some golf. But if Tatylor hasn't become persona non grata at your event, your event maybe needs to rethink the term.   

MARLINS MISS ON CASTILLO: I see the Phillies signed the released Met Luis Castillo. I think he would have provided solid utility insurance for the Marlins at the right price. Would have been nice for him to end his career back in Florida, too. If you combine tenure and accomplishment, Castillo -- not Jeff Conine, not Mike Lowell -- is probably this franchise's Mr. Marlin.

DOG FOOD NEWS: Kibble & Bits has come out with a new line of canine chow called "Bistro Meals." Seriously. Yeah because when it comes to food, dogs are such a selective, discerning breed!

Click back. Will be adding more stuff, of a non-college basketball variety, to this new blogpost later...

THE LIST: UM WOMEN IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This marks Miami's seventh appearance in the women's NCAAs. The history:

Year   Results

1989   Lost-Oklahoma State

1992   Won-North Carolina, Lost-Vanderbilt

1993   Won-St. Peter's, Lost-Western Kentucky

1998   Lost-Clemson

2003   Lost-New Mexico

2004   Lost-Maryland

2011   Won-Gardner Webb, vs. Oklahoma Tuesday

Note: UM women also have made five NIT appearances, in 1990, 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

February 22, 2011

Knicks saying hello 'Melo complicates Heat's dynasty dream (with poll); plus Shockey to Dolphins?, 'Housewives' of Miami, D-Wade's fashion & more

[Thanks to all of today's live chatters. Do it every Wednesday 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to join us live then, to read transcripts or to post questions any time. Also, follow at Twitter.com/gregcote]

1aa1hellomelo KNICKS LANDING 'MELO COMPLICATES HEAT TITLE DRIVE: New York loves stars and big headlines, media as much as fans, and pictured is the New York Post splash welcoming Carmelo Anthony in the mega-deal completed late last night. The Knickerbockers, pairing Anthony with Amare Stoudemire, think they have joined Boston and Miami (OK, and Orlando and Chicago) as NBA Eastern Conference power-brokers. Maybe. But if NYK in turn can now sign Chris Paul this coming 1aa1isiaht summer, which becomes much more likely now, then yes. A Big 3 is all the rage now; every team needs to have one. The point is the Knicks suddenly are in position to be a team to be reckoned with, another big, neon obstacle to Miami's dynasty dream as the league's power continues its West-to-East shift. This trade's impact on the Heat isn't the only interest to South Florida. There are plenty of indications that former NBA star and current FIU coach Isiah Thomas (left) helped lure Anthony and broker this deal behind the scenes, as a presumed precursor to Knicks owner James Dolan now bringing Thomas back to the Knicks in a president/GM-type role. Have the Knicks become a major rival to the Heat's title hopes? Take a dip in our poll.

'THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MIAMI': The show debuts tonight, and I feel like Sally Field in Absence of Malice 1aa1housewives stealing papers off lawns, except I want to steal televisions so nobody can watch this. I dare say the real housewives of Miami will be embarrassed by The Real Housewives of Miami. Why would anyone agree to appear on this most shaming franchise in all of not-really-reality TV? Better we should return to the days when the negative connotation of Miami involved murder and cocaine. The six housewives, pictured, are a six-pack of vapidity begging two questions: 1) Aren't there any black women in Miami? Not even one? Or is it that all the black women in Miami had too much pride to agree to be on this show? 2) I don't think Marysol Patton, second from left, has had enough work done. If those lips were any wider or less real looking she'd be Heath Ledger as The Joker. Ooh, too mean? Sorry, Marysol and you five others, but the exchange for your new piss-ant, Snookie-esque celebrity is that you are under now under a microscope that exposes every pore. I have a feeling the hardest-working man in show business is going to be the guy applying the makeup for this show.

SHOCKEY TO DOLPHINS?: Fox's Jay Glazer reporting the Saints have terminted the contract of tight end Jeremy Shockey, the ex-Cane. Let's start some Shockey-to-Dolphins momentum. He's still better offensively than what they have at that position.

1aa1dwade WADE NBA'S TOP FASHION PLATE: Sports Illustrated polled 136 NBA players, asked, "Who has the best fashion sense off the court? " and Heat's Dwyane Wade won big with 29 percent. Next: Kobe Bryant 13% and LeBron James 11%. Pictured left: Wade, being extremely fashionable. [Updated NBA championship odds, via Bodog.com: Heat favored at 11-5, then Celtics 7-2, Lakers 4-1 and Spurs 9-2. For MVP it's LeBron James 2-1, Derrick Rose 5-2, Kevin Durant 5-1 and Amare Stoudemire 11-2. Over/under on Carmelo Anthony's scoring average as a Knick: 27.5].

1aa1bayne TREVOR BAYNE SAVES NASCAR: The five years of the Jimmie Johnson reign have been no remedy for NASCAR, which has seen attendance, sponsorships and TV ratings dip during his unthrilling (except to his fans) dominance. A resurgence by popular Dale Earnhardt Jr. would work wonders as the sport's ultimate tonic, but his winless streak has stretched to 94 races now. Vladimir and Estragon waited for Godot less time than we've been Waiting For Junior. NASCAR is looking for a savior, and may have found one in Trevor Bayne (pictured), Sunday's youngest-ever Daytona 500 champion, fresh face personified, one day past his 20th birthday. I have socks older than him. Click here from my column off the race from the Speedway.

A QUESTION FOR DOG OWNERS: This does not apply to me because my old dog Sandy surveys and sniffs her own fenced-in backyard before choosing where to take a crap. But, to the people who walk their dogs so they can crap on other people's lawns: Isn't it true you carry that little plastic bag just for show and that you only pretend to scoop up Fido's gift? I think so. I think you do a quick glance to see if anyone is watching, do the bend-n-pretend, then walk away with a secret grin. Busted!

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this new post throughout the day...