Will Leitch, senior writer for Sports on Earth, columnist at Bloomberg Politics and founder of Deadspin, discusses the upcoming 2015 MLB season.
Lana Berry on Twitter and the old vs new media. Plus, the Final Four in Indianapolis and are the New York Yankees and MLB really ready for an Alex Rodriguez renaissance?
I miss Carmelo Travieso. And Lou Roe. Marcus Camby too. But mostly I miss the days when you got to know the individual players on a college basketball team. Today, in the era of one and done, it is much harder to develop a familiarity with most top 25 college basketball programs. And for fans like myself, who either didn’t go to a BCS school or aren’t from a tradition rich state, following college basketball has become an increasingly difficult proposition. For every Ashley Judd and dialysis patient out there going crazy about their ‘Cats, there are an equal number of people like me who will watch these games Saturday night because that’s what sports fans do and it would down right unpatriotic to not watch the Final Four.
As far as predictions go, I thought it would be best to determine the winner of March Madness by putting the 4 remaining teams through a little hypothetical game involving current NBA players from each school.
Kentucky vs Louisville – 6:09 PM
Starting Five – Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince, DeMarcus Cousins
Bench – Eric Bledsoe, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, Nazr Mohammed, Josh Harrellson
Starting Five – Francisco Garcia, Jerry Smith, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels
Bench – Derrick Caracter*, Preston Knowles*
I had no idea how few recent NBA players Louisville has produced. Where have you gone “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison? The Bluegrass State turns its lonely eyes to you. You know the Louisville pros are in trouble when their starting shooting guard Jerry Smith made it onto the squad only because he recently signed a 10 day contract with the lowly New Jersey Nets. To steal a line from Rick Pitino’s pregame speech before Saturday’s semifinal in New Orleans, “Clifford Rozier isn’t walking through that door.”.
As for this roster of Kentucky pros, put them together on a single team and they certainly would be able to beat the Washington Wizards. Take it to the bank Stan Van Gundy!
Kentucky 110 Louisville 75
*currently playing in the D-League
Ohio State vs Kansas – 8:49 PM
Starting Five: Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Evan Turner, Kosta Koufos, Byron Mullens
Bench: Michael Redd, Greg Oden
Starting Five: Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Paul Pierce, Markieff Morris, Nick Collison
Bench: Drew Gooden, Xavier Henry, Brandon Rush, Marcus Morris, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich
Kansas is kind of like the opposite of Louisville in the sense that I had no idea just how many Jayhawks players were in the NBA today. And the list goes on. (Josh Selby anyone?) What has always been amazing to me is how Bill Self, and Roy Williams before him, is able to recruit 5 star high school players to choose Lawrence, Kansas as the place where they want to spend their college year(s). But who am I to pass judgement on anyone else’s choice in college towns as Waterville, ME continues to have some of the highest rates per capita for both prostitution and fast food.
I’d like Ohio State’s chances that much more if Greg Oden weren’t busy recovering from his 3rd microfracture surgery. If either Jim Jackson or Lawrence Funderburke were still in the league then it would be an entirely different story.
Kansas 90 Ohio State 85
Championship Game: Kentucky 94 Kansas 90
Everyone has an opinion/statistical breakdown on who will tonight’s college basketball National Championship between Butler and UConn. Taking a slightly different perspective, I thought it would be appropriate to project a winner based on the order in which a starting five would be selected for an everyday average Sunday morning game of shirts/skins. The beauty of this analysis is that it doesn’t rely on statistics or talent but rather pure instincts and guile.
Pick #1: Shabazz Napier – Ultimate distributor of the basketball. Doesn’t look for his own shot unless wide open. Would be the most popular player in a pickup game because chuckers love playing w/ pass first teammates who would also guard the opponents best scorer. Remember, in pickup basketball nobody wants to play defense.
Pick #2: Matt Howard – Howard already looks like he belongs in a recreational league so the transition from big time NCAA hoops ought to be seamless. He would be so frustrating to play against because he hustles and rebounds, two things no hungover college student wants to do on a Sunday morning.
Pick #3: Kemba Walker – Most talented, accomplished basketball players goes third in this pick up draft because, like any scorer, he shoots a ton and nobody want to play with someone who hogs the ball because all anyone else wants to do in these kind of games is look for their own shot. I have a feeling that Kemba would fair really well going against the heavy knee brace/rec spec set.
Pick #4: Shelvin Mack – Mack loves to throw up deep 3’s and in a pickup game that’s ok as long as his teammates haven’t crossed half court yet. If there is one thing Sunday morning heroes hate it’s not being rewarded for the effort.
Pick #5: Ronald Nored – Defense. As I have already mentioned, nobody wakes up at 730am on a Sunday morning to play defense.
Pick #6: Roscoe Smith – Is it just me or does Roscoe always look he has a black eye? Has there been an incident reported? Could be an intimidating player for a lot of pickup first timers to go up against.
Pick #7: Andrew Smith – Because there would be about 5 different Andrew Smiths’ playing in the game. That and nobody wants to guard a sweater.
Pick #8: Tyler Olander – Because nobody wants to get elbowed in the face by an errant, uncoordinated elbow.
Pick #9: Shawn Vanzant – Sounds more like a member of a crime syndicate than a rec league basketball player.
Pick #10: Jeremy Lamb – Arguably the breakout player of the 2011 NCAA tourney, and future NBA lottery pick, goes last in this Sunday morning game of pickup because, based on tired appearance alone, there’s a 75% chance that Lamb doesn’t even make it out of bed in time to play.
So according to this Sunday morning rec league draft, I’m giving Butler the slight edge in the National Championship tonight. Final score: Butler 62 UConn 58. Of course, if things don’t work out, we would be happy to have these players join us for a little game of pickup next Sunday.