Thursday, February 26, 2009

The VFSS Elite Eight

Before I get to the rankings a quick word on how they work. I, like many sports fans, love power rankings, its always fun to see people arbitrarily who is better than who. As such I wanted to include my own NCAA power rankings, but with a twist. I will only be ranking eight teams, and the logic behind the rankings is a little different. Instead of directly ranking who is playing the best right now my rankings are the teams most likely to be in the elite eight, per my opinion. Without further ado, the premiere of the VFSS Elite Eight.

1) Connecticut- After initially sputtering a bit after losing a valuable scorer in Jerome Dyson, Uconn pulled off a big road win at a very solid Marquette team. While they aren't perfect (but who is this year?) they seem to have enough depth to make a title push and actually do play defense. That second part elevates them over UNC for now.

2) UNC- In his ESPN blog (yes I am jealous) rap wordsmith and apparent sports watcher Lil' Wayne said the following "I really believe that Carolina has the character to win [the NCAA tournament]." While I think they can win it all too and appreciate Weezy's support of the Tar Heels, character has to be the last reason they are going to win it all. UNC's talent is unmatched and I still think they have a very good chance to win it all, but i don't think character is your strength when you occasionally decide playing offense is more fun and just don't play defense. Also Lil' Wayne claimed that Mike Tomlin should motivate the Steelers next year by claiming they don't get enough respect as indicated by their lack of involvement in Campbell's Chunky Soup ads (I'm not making this up).

3) Pittsburgh- Pitt may be the most complete team, and while they have a little less talent than UNC, they are much better defenders and have just as good a forward as Hansbrough in Dejuan Blair. However I can't put them in the top 2 until they prove they can win a sweet sixteen game (which they haven't done since 1974).

4) Louisville- Louisville has a talented team that underachieved early but has gotten some big wins and has the talent and coaching to go far. I put them over the Oklahoma Blake Griffin's because they are a deeper team and can hurt you in a larger variety of ways. Last year with comparable talent in a much stronger field they got it together in March and gave UNC a run in Charlotte in the elite eight. I think they can at least make it as far as that this year.

5) Oklahoma- The Blake Griffin's looked merely average without their namesake against top 25 level competition this past week. Blake Griffin really is the George Costanza of Oklahoma, with him they are elite without him it still may be good but not among the best. Once Griffin comes back he should make them a legitimate elite 8 threat, but I really can't see them beating a deeper and more balanced team late in the tournament.

6) Michigan State- I really don't know why they are in here. But apparently they are in the top 10 and have been winning more games recently. However, it seems likely that they have enough talent to sneak through the first few rounds in March. Plus I'm wary of UNC playing them, simply because of how bad UNC beat them early this year. I feel like UNC would revert into the "We're probably going to win anyways so let's just each try to outscore each other" mode which could lead to an upset more humiliating than when the team with all their stars back from strike got beat by Keanu's team in The Replacements.

7) Duke- The Blue Devils looked destined for another early tournament exit, which in turn would have led to smugness towards the dookies on my part. Then Coach K. actually decided to play his 5-star guard over Greg Paulus after letting him strategically sit on the bench for 2/3 of the season. Honestly, I though Duke people were supposed to be smart. Anyways now they are probably elite 8 material, though without any semblance of a talented frontcourt no better than that.

8) Memphis- I really didn't want to include them in this list as every top team they have played has resulted in a loss. Bragging about going undefeated in Conference USA is like bragging about making the final four of the NIT, you just look like an idiot when you do it. However, Wake is completely streaky and can't be expected to put together 3 straight wins against quality teams and Mizzouri is playing great, but way overachieving their talent level.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ACC Receivers Help Draft Stock at the Combine

Let me start off by saying that the NFL combine is one of the most overblown events in the NFL scouting process, specifically the 40 yard dash. While I understand it is very important for skill position players to be able to quickly accelerate and have good speed, the 40 does not always measure for these things right out of the gate. For instance in the 2004 draft Larry Fitzgerald ran an unimpressive 4.63 in the 40 while Reggie Willams, who had similar size ran a quicker 4.52. Willams has been a bust and Fitzgerald in now among the best 3 receivers in the league (and didn't look too slow on that 60 yard TD in the Super Bowl).

Nevertheless team scouts and draft evaluators put a large emphasis on the 40, so doing well can improve a skill position player's stock (as happened to Chris Johnson after his blazing 4.24) or really drop a player's stock (as happened to Chad Johnson after running a pedestrian 40, causing him to slip into the second round).

The wideouts are working out today in Indianapolis and Darius Heyward-Bey of Maryland along with Hakeem Nicks of Carolina may have both improved their draft stock with impressive 40 times. Heyward-Bey, who has a reputation as a burner turned in a 4.30, the quickest of any of the receivers, which should help solidify him as a first round pick. Personally I think he may be a bit of a bust as a first round pick as his porduction was never great in college and he accumulated most of his yards just by being faster than everyone else. It may take him a while to learn to run routes and get seperation from NFL corners.

Nicks ran a 4.49 in the 40, which at first glance seems merely average. However, many were questioning his speed and thinking he may run in the mid 4.5's or 4.6's. He showed he has enough speed to be in the NFL and also may have solidified first round status. Unlike Heyward-Bey, Nicks is a polished route runner with an abilitiy to go up and get the ball much like Fitzgerald. While he lacks Fitzgerald's height, the man has some of the most best (and largest) hands in college football ( He also is very tough for smaller corners to bring down in the open field. Additionally, production wise, he was the best receiver in the ACC this year and the top in UNC history.

One player who hurt himself in the 40 was Jeremy Maclin, who was one of the quickest and most dangerous playmakers with the ball the past couple seasons. Maclin only ran a 4.45, when he was espected by some to break a 4.30. He'll have to try and improve on his pro day but the slower time may cause him to drop out out of the top 20 selections. That said he was more productive in college and a more polished receiver than Heyward-Bey and is still a first round talent in my mind.

An Open Letter to Albert Pujols

Dear Al,

In the wake of the A-Rod steroid scandal (who was honestly that surprised), you are the best hope of breaking Barry Bonds* home run record some day. You are one of the classiest players in the MLB and put up consistently amazing numbers every year. I really want to believe you have never done steroids and am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. So please don't ever use them. Even if your numbers are going down and you can't break the record, avoid the juice and enjoy the comforts of a clean conscience and a normal sized head. Keep my minor interest and faith in baseball alive.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

General Grevis Sinks UNC

I really didn't want to write about UNC losing for my first post but when someone puts up a triple double to beat one of the top teams in the country, it probably merits a post, especially when I can call him General Grevis (all rights reserved ESPN). Senor Vasquez put up 35 points and 11 rebounds and 10 assists, against UNC's pioneering "we really just want the ball back to play offense, so you can go ahead and shoot" defensive scheme. Honestly, how is Ty Lawson the fastest man in college basketball, and yet only decent at sticking with his man on defense. Oh and Tyler Zeller looked like a seven foot version of Bobby Frasor minus the defense. And if you don't know who Bobby Frasor is, that just proves my point. In the end the win is much bigger for Maryland as they may avoid a second appearance in the dubious Not Invited Tournament come march.

Also Oklahoma lost to Texas, a upset that could be seen from kilometers away (pre-med has indoctrinated me to the metric system). With the Oklahoma Blake Griffin's, UNC, and UConn falling in the past week it looks like Pittsburgh Panthers will now take the number one spot. While the Panthers look like one of the more complete and disciplined teams in the nation I'm really not sure I can take them seriously until they make it past the sweet 16 in march. Ultimately, since UNC let go of the number one spot after falling to BC no one has really seemed to want to say there long (maybe it has herpes). Either way this March is shaping up to be virtually unpredictable. And given the Arizona Cardinals made the Super Bowl, anything is possible this year in sports (Except UNC losing at Duke).

Misson Statement

What better way to start off a blog about sports than the same way Jerry Maguire started out; with a mission statement. Before I get to that I want to let you all know a little more about myself. I am currently a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I have always enjoyed watching sports and despite my tragically average athletic ability did play four years of varsity tennis in high school.

This blog is meant as a venue for me to share my thoughts on the world of sports. And I mean my thoughts. I will never claim to be an unbiased perspective, because personally, I think if you really can cover sports in an unbiased manner, you don't care about sports. I am a huge fan of UNC (obviously) and a lifelong diehard Steelers fan, so don't get mad if I come across biased because I am saying right now I am. That said, I'm going to try and be as fair as I can and give props and criticism where they are deserved. Overall, I really want to have fun sharing my opinions on sports and for you to have fun reading them.