Monday, March 30, 2015

Recap of the McDonald's All American Game Dunk Contest

The McDonald's All American Game held their annual Powerade Jam Fest tonight.  They kicked the night off with both boys and girls competing in the skills competition and three point competition.  Villanova commit Jalen Brunson ended up winning the skills competition and Luke Kennard shot the lights out on his way to the three point championship.  Kennard displayed his amazing shooting ability that Coach K and Duke will feature greatly in their offense next season.  The greatest event of the night came last.  The Slam Dunk Contest.  Below are Vines of each dunk of the competition.  That is if the player actually got a dunk down.  Dwayne Bacon ended up winning the dunk contest, but Stephen Zimmerman gave him a run for his money.  If Ronal McDonald could have thrown him a good alley-oop, Zimmerman may have stolen the crown.  But all credit goes out to Dwayne Bacon from Oak Hill Academy.  Their will be a live televised scrimmage from the McDonald's All American practice tomorrow and the game will be on ESPN Wednesday night.

First Round 1st Dunks:

First Round 2nd Dunks:

Second Round Dunks:

The Final Round Dunks (Zimmerman vs. Bacon):

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Top Recruit Diamond Stone Commits to Maryland

McDonald's All American Diamond Stone has committed to the University of Maryland.  Stone is ranked 7th out of all high school seniors in the country by ESPN.  

Stone, a 6-10, 250 center, dominates players in the post.  Although he does not have the greatest jump shot, he punishes opponents with powerful post moves.  This season at Dominican High School in Wisconsin, he averaged 24.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game this season (Via FoxSports).  

UConn, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma State had all also offered the 6-10 big man.  A crucial factor that affected Stone's commitment was Maryland's connection to Under Armour.  His AAU team and high school teams were both also sponsored by UA and it seems he wants to carry on that tradition.

Diamond Stone will bring Maryland another top recruit to help boost their program.  This year their freshman guard Melo Trimble helped lead the Terps into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  Although they fell short to West Virginia they still had a great team.  Assuming that Trimble and fellow NBA prospect Jake Layman stay at school,  Maryland will have a loaded team next year.  

As the college season winds down, expect more and more of the top recruits to start committing to the college of their choice.  Many players wait to see if the college teams will lose talent to the upcoming NBA Draft, but Diamond Stone feels confident that Maryland is the right place for him next year.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wrap Up of Thursday's Sweet Sixteen Games

ND's Connaughton Drives Against
 Wichita State (Via ESPN)
With both teams acquiring wins in their Sweet Sixteen matchups tonight, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are heading to the Elite Eight.

Notre Dame's big five helped push the Irish past Wichita State 81-70.  All five of their starters finished the night in double digits in points, except for Jerian Grant who had 9 points and 11 assists.  Pat Connaughton had another huge game tonight with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  During this post season he and Grant have stepped up their games together and have helped lead the Irish on their tournament run.  Although the Shockers of Wichita lost, Fred VanVleet still had a great game.  He finished with 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.  While Notre Dame moves on to the next round, Wichita State is getting ready to head home and prep for next season.

A little while after Notre Dame punched their ticket to the Elite Eight, Wisconsin followed suit.  The Badgers played a close game with UNC, but held on late to win 79-72.  The big man duo of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker led Wisconsin tonight.  Dekker finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Kaminsky had 19 points and 8 rebounds.  After being tested by a great UNC team tonight Wisconsin looks ready to make their push to the Final Four.

While both teams must be excited to make the Elite Eight, fans wonder if they even have a slight chance of winning the championship.  While the teams celebrate their wins tonight, Kentucky is cruising past West Virginia on their way to the next round.  There, they will play Notre Dame.  Although Kentucky may be tested at first, there is no way that Notre Dame will beat them.

Wisconsin's Sam Dekker Slams
 One Home Over UNC (Via ESPN)
After their win, Wisconsin is getting ready to watch Arizona face off against Xavier.  Like the Kentucky game, this one is easily predictable.  Arizona will most likely defeat the #6 seed Xavier tonight.  If they do so, they will play Wisconsin this Saturday.  Even though the Wildcats are much deeper than the Badgers, they often play down to the level of their opponent.  Against Wisconsin, they can have no margin for error, and the energy they bring to the court will be crucial in wether or not they can win.  Assuming Arizona wins tonight, Saturday's game is set to be one of the best Elite Eight games in recent history.

Although it's easy to look into the future and see the end of the season coming up really soon for both teams, both Wisconsin and Notre Dame hope to extend their seasons as long as they can.  While Wisconsin has a great chance of making the Final Four,  Notre Dame has an almost impossible feat ahead of them, Kentucky.  Even if Wisconsin wins, they would have to play Kentucky too. It seems neither chance has a great team of making the title game, only because of Kentucky though. Before I get to ahead of myself though, congrats to both teams for making it to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Overtime: Kentucky demolished West Virginia 78-39.  Their win was the first time a team had doubled their openents score in Sweet Sixteen history.  Another interesting fact, the Wildcats could have gone scoreless in the second half and they still would have won.  Now onto Notre Dame as predicted.

Arizona skated by Xavier in a nail biter last night.  Early in the game Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went down with a knee injury.  Although he came back into the game, offensive responsibilities were handed to Stanley Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, and TJ McConnell.  Johnson finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds.  Tarczewski battled with Xavier's Matt Stainbrook all game long and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds Xavier's big had 17 points and 10 rebounds.  At times it looked like Xavier was the better team and that they were going to win.  But late in the game they started to fall apart. Although they did lose, Jalen Reynolds dunk over Kaleb Tarczewski made noise all over social media.

Once again Arizona played down to the level of their competition.  Late in the game they showed their strength and senior guard TJ McConnell (17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists) helped the Wildcats pull away with a 68-60 victory.  They now await an Elite 8 matchup with Wisconsin, they must bring their A+ game in order to beat the Badgers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Khris Middleton Saves the Bucks With Less Than 1 Second Left

Khris Middleton threw up what many consider a prayer. But luckily the basketball gods were listening to him. With only a second left Middleton threw up a 3 point buzzer beater to push the Bucks past the Heat 89-88 last night. Middleton finished with 13 points while three other Bucks had double-doubles to help lead the team. While the Heat lost a tough one last night, they look to bounce back tonight against the Celtics in an important game for the final playoff spot in the East. The Heat are 32-38 while the Celtics are 31-39.  The two teams currently hold the 7th and 8th spots respectively, while with their win last night the Bucks are the 6th seed with a 2 1/2 game lead over the Heat. The final few weeks of the season will surely be crazy in the Eastern Conference.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dayton Rallies Late and Escapes the First Four Against Boise State

Last night it was the battle of the 11 seeds in the First Four, Dayton vs. Boise State.  As in all tournament games, the game should have been played at a neutral site.  Instead, the game was played on Dayton's homecourt and the energy of the home crowd helped them rally late in the game.

Late in the first half Boise State went on a 17-4 run and it looked like they were going to pull away with the game.  Dayton's Jordan Sibert was on the bench with foul trouble, and without him they lacked a good offensive tempo.  But as always, Sean Miller and Dayton made adjustments and rallied back.  In the second half Dayton clawed their way back into winning contention.

The game went back and forth between the two teams in late minutes and was finally decided with only a second left on the clock.  Boise State's Derrick Marks heaved up a 3 at the buzzer, and seemed to have gotten fouled.  As the ball soared through the air and fell short of going through the basket, no whistle was blown.  Marks was not fouled according to the refs, and Boise State's tournament run was over.

Sophomore Kendall Pollard led the Dayton Flyers with 17 points and helped direct the team while their star player Sibert was on the bench.

With their win last night, Dayton has now won their last 22 games at home.  The Flyers next move on to play the 6th seeded Providence Friars on Friday.  Although this game won't be played in their home arena, it will still be played in Ohio.  Maybe the home state crowd will energize Dayton a similar tourney run to the Elite Eight appearance they made last year.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Notable Things to Catch on Your Bracket

March is upon us again, and every March everyone in the country is fixed to their computers and television sets rooting for teams to help out their bracket.  In order to avoid those anxious feelings of tracking scores and biting your nails off, make sure to catch these things while filling out your bracket:

1. Everyone is going to pick Kentucky -
Kentucky is by far the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.  There is no question.  But why aren't they my pick to win it in my bracket?  Every single person is going to pick Kentucky, if they lose then everyone is doomed.  But if you have another team beating them in the national championship you only lose points for one game if UK still wins.  But if they lose you can gain a nice advantage over your opponents in the last possible game to get an edge.

2. Don't be fooled by Wichita State's ranking - 
It was just a few weeks ago that Wichita State was ranked top 10 in the country, now they are a 7 seed in the bracket... Don't fool yourself, the Shockers are still one of the nation's top teams.  They have an experienced core led by Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.  If they play Kansas in the second round a 7-2 upset is probable.

3. Ohio State is going to upset VCU in the second round -
Led by star freshman D'Angello Russell the 10 seed Buckeyes are bound to upset 7 seed VCU.  OSU has more talent and Russell will dominate the backcourt matchup.  Although this game may be close at first, I expect Ohio State to pull away from VCU at the end of this game and the Big Ten will prevail over the smaller A-10 conference team.

4. The East side of the bracket has must watch games -
First round matches of #8 NC State vs #9 LSU and #7 Michigan State vs #10 Georgia make this side of the bracket hard to predict.  These games are toss ups and will most likely go down to the final seconds to decide a winner.  Another awesome first round game on this side of the bracket is #6 Providence against the winner of Dayton vs Boise State.

5. The South region is filled with inconsistent teams - 
The southern quarter of the bracket is filled with teams who have failed to be consistent all season long. Be careful when choosing from teams like Utah, Georgetown, Iowa State, Iowa, Davidson, SMU, San Diego State, and St. John's.  So yeah, the whole South.  Plus, Gonzaga has failed to prove how good they are against a weak schedule this season, so they also may be prone to an upset or an early exit of the tournament.

6. Wow, 8 vs 9 match-ups are hard to predict - 
#8 Oregon vs #9 Oklahoma State is another hard game to pick.  Ultimately, I would go with Oklahoma State because they have experience in LeBryan Nash and Phil Forte, plus they had to battle a tough Big 12 schedule all season.  Compared to Oregon who had an easier Pac-12 conference to cruise through.

7.  Both, Maryland and Notre Dame are really good, but can they beat Kentucky? - 
No, neither ND or MD will beat Kentucky, but I think both will play them and have their championship aspirations crushed by Coach Calipari and the Platoon system.  Maryland is led by the backcourt of Melo Trimble and Dez Wells, but neither will be able to last long against UK's backcourt.  Also, Notre Dame has a great team 1-5, but after they get tired, Kentucky has another 5 to run all over ND's bench players.

So, what does my bracket look like? Here you go, feel free to use this as your guide to the "perfect" bracket.  Good luck though, considering there is a little over 9.2 quintillion possibilities.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Russell Westbrook Dominates in a Win Over Chicago

Russell Westbrook continues to dominate the NBA.  He almost put up a triple double today in the Thunder's 109-100 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Westbrook finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.  He also grabbed one steal to seal the Thunder's win late in the game.  He now has 6 triple-doubles in their last 9 games, but in every game he is a difference maker.

Not only did Russ play well, but Enes Kanter and Steven Adams helped anchor the paint for Oklahoma.  Kanter finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds while Adams had 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Although Westbrook had a huge game, the production from OKC's bigs was the difference maker in today's game.  Especially when they toss Pau Gasol around like this:

The Thunder have another big game Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.  While the Mavs are trying to salvage their playoff hopes, OKC will do anything it takes in order to make the playoffs.  Maybe Westbrook will notch another triple-double Monday (isn't it crazy that you can say this and not sound crazy), but only time will tell.

Kentucky Continues Their Undefeated Run With an SEC Title

Kentucky continued their undefeated season today with a 78-63 win over Arkansas.

This win not only preserved Kentucky's undefeated season, but it also crowns them as Southeastern Conference champions. .  Early in the game both the teams were tied at 19, but it was over after that.  Willie Cauley-Stein helped lead the Wildcats to their win with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks.  Andrew Harrison also had 15 points and put together another great scoring game.

With their win, Kentucky is the 19th team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated, but only 7 have them have gone on to win the title (Via ESPN).  Although this is an interesting fact, it's hard to see any team knocking off Kentucky.  If a team can beat their first line of players, then Coach Cal goes to the second line of players and beats the team with that platoon.  Trying to beat an all-star team is a tough task, especially when it's late in the season and they are playing their best basketball

At this point, it seems meant to be and something wild will have to happen for Kentucky not to win the title.  But then again this is March Madness and anything can happen in March.  Just ask both the Kentucky and UConn teams from last season.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jump on the Marvin Bagley III Bandwagon Now

When 6 foot 10 Marvin Bagley walks into the gym, jaws drop and eyes immediately like at Corona Del Sol of Arizona's roster.  This is when their eyes light up and they look back up at the most talented and promising 15 year old basketball player in America.  Then, they get to watch the monster go to work.  Bagley is not like any other 6 foot 10 high school player, his body is filled out and he can bang down low with big men already as a freshman.  Not only does he bang down low, he hustles up and down the floor and plays with a high motor.  After you get to see Bagley play you can look him up and find out he has a 4.0 GPA and already has offers from Arizona, UCLA, and UConn.  In a few years, if not sooner Kentucky, Duke, and all the other top teams in America will be knocking on Bagley's door and begging him to go to their school.  But for now watch highlights from Bagley's season below.

P.S. Marvin Bagley and Corona Del Sol also won the Arizona state title this year.  You can only think there is a few more of those to come in the young boy's future.

"Bulldogs, Not Underdogs" - Yale Cliches a Share of the Ivy League Title

Tonight's Atmosphere was bottled up in this picture of
Corbin Miller (Right) and Makai Mason (Left) battle
for a lose ball. Picture Via. ESPN
The atmosphere in Cambridge Mass. was amazing tonight.  Harvard's small gym was packed with excitement and nerves, as the winner of their game clinched a share of the Ivy League title.

As always with Harvard games, the heckling of opponents started early.  Students, from Harvard lined the bleachers and chanted out, "safety school!" to the Yale players during warmups.  What happens when your safety school beats you though?

Yale pulled off what some may consider an upset tonight over the reigning Ivy League Champs.  The Bulldogs won 62-52.  Although some may consider this an upset, it is anything but.  Yale has been playing great basketball all season long and they finally proved themselves tonight.

Harvard struggle shooting all night long which was one of the key reasons they lost.  In the first half they were 0-8 from three point land, and the second half wasn't too much better. In the last 20 minutes  they only shot 2-9.  Surprisingly, Harvard team filled with sharpshooters and NBA potential players only shot 11.8% from 3 tonight.  That was the difference in a game that went all the way down to the final minutes.  All the Crimson needed was a few threes to drop and the game might have been theirs, along with a share of the Ivy League title.

Another difference maker in tonight's game was Javier Duren.  He finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists for Yale tonight.  Each time Harvard tried to make a run, Duren helped the Bulldogs hold onto their lead.

Although Harvard lost, Steve Moundou-Missi had one of his best games that he has had all season.  When the outside shots aren't falling, it's always wise to pound the ball in the paint.  Each time Harvard dumped the ball into the paint, the 6 foot 7 senior forward picked apart Yale's defense.  He finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds and was the only Crimson player that was consistent tonight.

Although Harvard lost, they still have a chance to win the Ivy League title.  To do so, they have to win tomorrow against Brown, and Yale has to lose to Dartmouth.  In this case, the two teams would then play each other again in a winner takes all Ivy League Title game.

Many people considered Yale underdogs coming into tonight.  But as a Yale fan expressed with his sign tonight, they are, "Bulldogs, not underdogs."  This new motto may fuel Yale up for a run in the NCAA tournament.  This year it seems that Harvard's run in March Madness is over, it's now time for a new team to represent the Ivy League.  Well, that is if Yale can hold on tomorrow night at Dartmouth.  Only time will tell, but for now it seems that the Ivy League title is Yale's to take.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The New Look Celtics Almost Upset Golden State

The new look Celtics and Isaiah Thomas were ready to give Golden State their best shot tonight.  They came out on a red hot start and eventually jumped out to a sixteen point lead in the first half.  But as always, the Warriors came back and Steph Curry gave an MVP like effort.

After leading 65-49 at the half, the Celtics lost their lead to the Warriors.  Down the stretch each team traded buckets and the game was anyone's to win down the stretch.  As it has been many times this season, the Celtics started great but could not hold on late against the NBA's best.

After Marcus Smart hit a huge three to boost the Celtics to a 99-98 with little time left, but after that it was all Warriors.  They eventually went on to snag a 106-101 comeback win.  Steph Curry finished with 37 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.  

Although the Celtics lost, they still learned a lot about their new team tonight.  As always Brandon Bass gave a valiant effort and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.  He also had one huge poster dunk over Andrew Bogut.

Isaiah Thomas continued his success with the Celtics tonight with another 20 point game.  He finished with 20 points and 5 assists.

Jae Crowder also had a huge game for the C's.  He finished with 17 rebounds and 9 points.  These stats go to show how Crowder loves to hustle and grind games out.  After being traded to the Celtics the team has started to match his intensity on the court.

Although the Celtics lost tonight, they are still in the hunt for the 8th spot in the East.  That's crazy isn't it.  In the West the Pelicans and Thunder are battling it out.  But in the East teams like the Celtics, Pacers, and Nets are chasing the final spot.  With the addition of Isaiah Thomas and the flourishing Marcus Smart, the Celtics may just end up battling for a playoff spot all the way until the end of April.