Friday, April 30, 2010

BCS Championship Odds: Alabama And Who Else?

The early odds have been out for a while now, but are now changing more frequently as action picks up with the end of spring practice changing depth charts. Here is a quick look at the updated odds to win the 2011 BCS Championship.

Top 6
Alabama 4.5:1
Ohio State 5:1
Florida 10:1
Boise State 12:1
USC 12:1
Nebraska 12:1

A little surprised Alabama is not higher. The gap between them and Ohio State is not very much at all. Boise State looks great right now but I see their odds rising the closer we get to the season. Nebraska tied for fourth is interesting considering they lost Suh.

Rest of the SEC:
LSU 25:1
Arkansas 30:1
Georgia 50:1
Auburn 80:1
All Others 100:1

The Razorbacks are a chic pick in the SEC this season and gamblers are following suit.

Virginia Tech 15:1
Miami 30:1
Georgia Tech 50:1
Florida State 75:1
North Carolina 80:1
All Others 100:1

Va Tech's schedule will vault them into the title game if they go undefeated. Miami is a popular team with a brash following so I am not surprised to see them fairly high.

Other Notables:
Texas 15:1
Oregon 25:1
Iowa 30:1
Oklahoma 30:1
Penn State 50:1
Notre Dame 80:1
Field 100:1

I think Oregon is way too high without Jeremiah Masoli. The QB is so important to the spread option attack. I like Iowa as a sleeper pick at 30:1. They are not flashy and will not grab a lot of attention from casual bettors. Notre Dame listed above the field is strictly pandering to the ever optimistic Irish fan base.

Slideshow of teams from the AJC (they have slightly different odds for some reason).

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can Georgia Tech Baseball Finally Break Through?

Georgia Tech defeated in state rival Georgia 6-4 on Tuesday night to move their record to 35-7 on the season. The win over the Bulldogs gave the Yellow Jackets a season sweep, their first over UGA since 1994. It was also just Tech's second win in eight games against Georgia at Turner Field.

Although UGA is not having a good season by any means, a sweep of the Bulldogs is big for a Jackets club that has been failed to put away lesser teams from Athens over the years.

But can the Jackets finally break through in the post season this year with a trip to Omaha and maybe a national championship?

Manager Danny Hall has brought consistency to Atlanta over his 16 seasons at the helm. Georgia Tech will be making its 10th appearance in 11 seasons in the NCAA Tournament this season. The Yellow Jackets have eight seasons of 40 or more wins and three of 50 plus wins.

Ga. Tech is in line for a top eight national seed which would mean hosting a Super Regional. But the Jackets have lost five series at home over the past 10 seasons including two Regionals and three Super Regionals at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Tech has had some of the best hitters in the nation come through Atlanta and this season is no different; GT is third nationally in runs per game at 10.2. The missing ingredient most of those disappointing years was a lack of quality pitching depth.

Last season, Ga. Tech had a team ERA of 4.65. So far this season it is 3.76

Leading that improvement is Deck McGuire considered one of the top pitchers in the nation. Also, Hall's mid week starter Mark Pope is undefeated on the season and would come in very handy in an extended series.

Good pitching beats good hitting is an old baseball adage. Georgia Tech hopes it has enough of both to make a run in Omaha this season.

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Favorite Links of the Week

A little bit of Spring Football, a little bit of Joe Biden, a little bit of Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson. Click 'View All' to see more.

Links can also be found here anytime.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Georgia or Georgia Tech: Who Made The Better Defensive Coordinator Hire?

Neither Paul Johnson nor Mark Richt Will Settle For Mediocrity

The Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets both hired new defensive coordinators in the off season.

One move was expected after a disappointing 8-5 season where many blamed the decline of the defense over the past few years. The other was a little more of a surprise considering an 11-3 record.

Georgia upset Georgia Tech by holding the Yellow Jackets to just 24 points and 205 yards rushing. A far cry from the 45 points and 409 yards rushing a year ago. But that performance was not enough to save Willie Martinez's job along with two other defensive assistants dismissed by head coach Mark Richt the following week.

UGA tried to lure some of the top defensive names in college to Athens. John Chavis of LSU said no thanks as did Bud Foster from Virginia Tech. The Bulldog Nation thought they had their guy when they approached former player Kirby Smart, the DC at Alabama. But Smart also spurned Georgia and stayed with Nick Saban at Alabama.

The Bulldogs finally landed their guy in Todd Grantham, the defensive line coach at the Dallas Cowboys.

The Yellow Jackets decision to fire Dave Wommack was a little more surprising, but looking more into the statistics you saw a defense that was living off the success of the offense. Wommack's defense did not force a punt in several games this year including the Georgia loss.

Georgia Tech's search was a little more low key and focused. Head Coach Paul Johnson brought former Virginia head coach Al Groh in during preparation for the Orange Bowl and passed it off as a farewell tour for the Cavalier coach.

Groh also considered the Miami Dolphins DC job, but decided to stay in the college game saying he like the atmosphere of the college game.

Both coordinators will be installing a 3-4 defense in their new jobs in hopes of improving woeful units last year. Both guys have had successes and failures along the way.

Grantham has been a position coach for some of the best units in the NFL recently, including the Dallas Cowboys that were second in the league in points allowed last season. Before the Cowboys, he was DC for the Cleveland Browns for three seasons before being fired.

Groh was a LB coach on the 1990 Super Bowl winning New York Giants under Bill Parcells. Groh spent 13 seasons with the Big Tuna following him to New England and then to the Jets. But Groh was never able to sustain success at his alma mater Virginia finishing 59-53 in nine seasons.

I have no doubt both guys will improve their defenses in the first year, but most the success will come down to talent and experience.

The Bulldogs lost some of their top defensive players from a year ago including their leading tackler Rennie Curran. Also gone are two defensive lineman and safety Reshad Jones. But UGA has recruited very well over the last few years.

Georgia Tech the ACC defensive player of the year and first round draft pick Derrick Morgan as well as ball hawking safety Morgan Burnett.

The biggest challenge in Athens is finding a viable pass rusher an area Georgia has really struggled in the last few seasons. Groh's biggest challenge in Atlanta will be finding that all important NT that can control the line of scrimmage. Quality depth on the defensive line has been an issue at Tech for years.

Groh knows many of his opponents he will face this upcoming season well, but they also know him.

Grantham may have to struggle with a new QB on the other side of the ball, while Groh will have the luxury of having a third year starter whose offense has improved each of the last two seasons.

I think both are good hires, but the final judgement on who is the better hire will come on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Sanford Stadium.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is The Coastal Division Taking Over The ACC?

Clemson came up short twice against Georgia Tech last year

Preseason magazines will soon begin to adorn newsstands with predictions for the upcoming season. Those magazines will very likely have at least three and maybe even four teams from the ACC in their top 25, and all will likely be from the Coastal Division.

When the ACC expanded in 2004, it set up two divisions to have a championship game like the Big 12 and SEC. The conference office wanted to balance the divisions as much as possible and started with separating who they thought would be the two best teams - Miami and Florida State.

The ACC also wanted to keep certain rivalries going each year keeping Duke and North Carolina in the same division as well as Virginia and Virginia Tech.

We don't really know how exactly the conference office split the teams up beyond that, but at the time the divisions looked very even. Atlantic members NC State and Maryland had just come off some of their best seasons in their history. The first two ACC Championship Game winners were from the Atlantic.

But since then the Coastal Division has taken over the conference by storm. Virginia Tech is now a fixture in the top 25 and has played for the conference crown four times. Only Texas can match the Hokies in terms of consecutive 10 win seasons.

Georgia Tech has made the other two ACCCG appearances and is the defending champion. Head Coach Paul Johnson has raised the bar in Atlanta winning 20 games in two seasons. Despite losing four top players to the NFL Draft, the Yellow Jackets will very likely have a top 20 preseason ranking.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are a program on the rise under Butch Davis. His recruiting efforts helped the Tar Heels win eight games last year and a large portion of the team returns for this season.

Miami is working their way back to the top and this could be the year they take a big leap. The Hurricanes banner recruiting class from 2008 will be juniors this season and want to get the 'Canes to their first ACC Championship Game. Only a tough schedule may knock Randy Shannon's team out of the top 25.

Even programs like Duke and Virginia are looking up this year. The Blue Devils have had marked improvement under David Cutcliffe and the Cavaliers hired Mike London who won a FCS title two years ago at Richmond.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic questions abound as to who can rise to the top. Clemson won the Division last year, but managed just an 8-4 regular season. The Tigers will likely be the favorite again this year, but that could change greatly if QB Kyle Parker decides to go pro in baseball.

Florida State has not been to an ACC title game since the inaugural game in 2005. The Seminoles will be under a new coaching staff this season after legendary coach Bobby Bowden was forced out last year. The last few years under Bowden were in stark contrast to most of his tenure when FSU graced the top 5 every year.

After the 'Noles there a lot of questions. Can NC State and Wake Forest get back to a bowl this year? Can Maryland improve on a dismal 2-10 record a year ago? What about Boston College? How will they fare in the second year under Frank Spaziani?

None of these teams are expected to be top 25 fixtures this season, but due to the parity in the Atlantic they all could compete for the division title.

If the Coastal continues to get better and continues to dominate the Atlantic in the Championship Game, will the conference office make a move to even the playing field?

There have been rumors of Boston College and Georgia Tech switching divisions to help with travel from the Eagles, but no discussions have ever been confirmed in the conference office.

With Beamer at Va. Tech and Johnson at Ga. Tech, I do not see the two Techs taking a step back anytime soon. This annual matchup could become the defacto Championship Game for years to come.

Can a team from the Atlantic step up and challenge them?

Just in case you need a refresher on who's who in the Divisions

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A New Page

I have set up a new page here. I am envisioning it holding my favorite links in addition to the "Other Blogs I Read" section on the right hand side. Hopefully I can update this once a week (or once a month) with some of my favorite links. Here is a sample.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Who Is Alabama's Toughest Opponent In 2010?

Nick Saban May Have His Toughest Job Trying To Repeat in 2010

Alabama's Spring Practice culminated in the A-Day game Saturday with the work already begun to repeat as national champions.

Nick Saban's club will be favored in every game next season and likely by at least a touchdown each time they take the field. So just who is Alabama's toughest opponent next season?

Penn State? I would not bet on a new starter winning his first game in Bryant-Denny.

LSU? The Tigers return a solid core of players, but questions on the offensive line and quarterback remain.

Florida? Maybe, but the Gators too have a new QB and who knows how well Urban Meyer will handle this season.

Alabama's toughest opponent in 2010 will be....Alabama. The Crimson Tide have already had three months to read their press clippings from the BCS Championship and will have five more months to read and hear about their preseason number one ranking.

Last season, the 'Bama players were motivated all year long by the two season ending losses in '08, especially the SEC Championship Game. You saw that motivation when the Tide came out in Atlanta clearly the hungrier, more focused team.

Where does the Tide's motivation come from this year?

In 2004, Saban led the defending champion LSU Tigers to a 9-3 record. His style is known to be tough and demanding.

After the 2008 title, Meyer put his Gators through their toughest off season yet to try and keep them on top. But you could tell Florida was not enjoying last season nearly as much as the season before. It was as if they were carrying those expectations as a burden every week.

Hopefully for Tide fans Saban learned from that 2004 season, but it will take his best coaching job yet to end 2010 holding another crystal ball.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Zach Mettenberger's Dismissal Ends The QB Competition At Georgia

Zach Mettenberger will not be handing off for Georgia this season

I was just getting ready to write a story about how Georgia's Spring Practice may have created more questions than it answered.

And then this story broke.

All of sudden the UGA QB battle got a lot thinner and Aaron Murray better win it in the fall. The redshirt freshman from Florida was thought to be the leader heading into the Spring. But the staff in Athens was largely tight lipped as to who was leading the battle.

Logan Gray had the most experience of the three, but could not beat out Joe Cox last year in one of the worst years by a UGA quarterback in recent memory.

But it was Zach Mettenberger who impressed the most in the spring game going six for ten with 150 yards passing.

The redshirt freshman bounced back from a rough beginning to spring practice where he was arrested near Valdosta in an alcohol related offense.

Shortly after his arrest, Head Coach Mark Richt announced Mettenberger would be suspended for at least the first game of the season. It was thought at that time that Murray would assume the starting position. But after Mettenberger's performance on G-Day the debate raged on as to who should be under center.

His dismissal clearly opens the door for Murray to become the starter. But a statement by Richt he wants to be more involved in the QB meetings this season is a reason for pause.

Why would the head coach need to step back into the meetings after handing over control to OC Mike Bobo back in 2006? Richt says it is because he misses the coaching aspect with QBs. My gut tells me he not completely happy about what transpired last year and feels with another first year starter some things need to change at the position.

How good the highly touted Murray is remains to be seen. If he struggles, then UGA may have lean on Gray who spent most of last year returning punts.

But then again, if the Bulldogs run the ball like they did in their final two games of 2009 they may not need a quarterback.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Georgia Tech Spring Update: Nesbitt's Injury May Be A Blessing In Disguise

Paul Johnson casts a steely gaze on Jordan Luallen

When your starting quarterback misses time because of surgery, normally it is a bad thing. But that may not be the case in Atlanta where the Yellow Jackets have been operating in spring practice without last year's signal caller Josh Nesbitt;

Nesbitt (who will be going by Joshua this season) has missed the spring after undergoing off season ankle surgery due to an injury he suffered in the regular season. The missed time in practice will not have much of an effect as he is entering his third year as the starter.

But being in an option offense like Tech's, Nesbitt takes more hits than a quarterback in a drop back offense. That makes the need to develop a capable backup very high on the Yellow Jackets to do list before the season.

That need was put into over drive when last year's backup Jaybo Shaw announced his plans to transfer to Georgia Southern where he would be eligible next season.

All of sudden, Georgia Tech did not have a healthy QB who had taken a significant snap in college.

Redshirt Sophomore Tevin Washington came out of the gate as practice began working with the first team. Entering his third year in the system allowed Washington to have a much greater grasp of the offense and how to make the correct reads under center.

He is being pushed by two redshirt freshman who present different styles. David Sims is a bruising runner with great athleticism, but lacks accuracy in the passing. Jordan Luallen has shown a strong grasp of the system for only his second season in it and a capable arm, but he is not as effective running the ball as his counterparts.

Each of the three have had highlights this Spring with Washington taking the early lead with some slippery runs in the open field and his overall command of the offense. Sims attitude and hard work was commended by Johnson during the first week. And most recently Luallen has impressed the staff in the passing game.

The battle will likely continue into the fall when Nesbitt is back. But the reps they are getting now are invaluable to their development. If one of the three can emerge as a capable backup then Nesbitt's injury may actually be a blessing in disguise.

Georgia Tech's Spring Game is set for this Saturday at 12:30.

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NFL Draft: Systems Make Ga. Tech Offense, Alabama Defense Tough To Scout

Thomas took this play to the house, but can he do it at the next level?

That is according to In reviewing some of the top prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft, scouts have a difficult time evaluating players who play in certain schemes, one of which is Demaryius Thomas playing in Georgia Tech's spread option attack.
"Georgia Tech is the most extreme example of a system so unique that it makes scouting difficult. Even veteran scouts have a hard time separating the player from the system when watching such an unusual scheme. For drive-by draftniks like me, the flexbone offense makes precise scouting impossible. We can absorb the basics -- Thomas is tall and can adjust to passes in the air -- but it's hard to appraise a receiver's route running ability when he only runs three routes, or a back's vision when the hole opens right up for him."
The site goes on to discuss how Nick Saban's defensive coaching abilities can mask weaknesses of a player in his system, but that Rolando McClain appears to be the real deal.
"Rang cites similar problems with the Alabama defense. "Nick Saban does such a spectacular job of coaching up defensive players that he is often able to mask their individual weaknesses. Rolando McClain certainly looks like an exception this year, but if you look historically at his linebackers and defensive backs, many of them earned lofty pre-draft billing and then either slipped on draft day or haven't fared as well in the pros."
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Friday, April 16, 2010

SEC Baseball Weekend Previews: Georgia Hopes To Bounce Back Against Arkansas

SEC Baseball Weekend Previews are up at The College Baseball Blog. Ole Miss-South Carolina is probably the marquee series of the weekend. Also, it will be interesting to see how Georgia bounces back from a rough mid week game with Georgia Tech going on the road to Arkansas.

Their lead in...
The SEC enters their fifth week of play with South Carolina leading the East Division by one game over Florida while Arkansas leads the west by one game over LSU. The marquee series this weekend sees the South Carolina Gamecocks hosting the Ole Miss Rebels. We also see LSU hosting Alabama, Georgia going to Arkansas, Auburn at Vanderbilt, Florida at Kentucky and Tennessee at Mississippi State. The best pitching matchup of the weekend is on Friday night between Ole Miss LHP Drew Pomeranz and South Carolina’s Blake Cooper.
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ACC Baseball Weekend Preview: Georgia Tech-Clemson Highlights Action

The College Baseball Blog gives their preview and predictions for this weekends series. I happen to think Clemson at Georgia Tech is a bigger series, but they follow it more than I do.
From The College Baseball Blog...
The ACC enters another week of action with the marquee series taking place in Charlottesville Virginia between the #29 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies and the number 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Two other series this weekend feature ranked squads facing off with #17 Clemson visiting #5 ranked Georgia Tech and #21 ranked North Carolina visiting #14 ranked Miami. The rest of the action sees #8 ranked Florida State visiting Duke, NC State at Maryland, and Boston College hosting Wake Forest.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Georgia Tech Dominates Georgia: What's Wrong With UGA?

UGA spent a lot of time looking to the bullpen in a 25-6 loss

Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 25-6 on Wednesday night in Athens dropping the Bulldogs to 11-22 on the season.

Dave Perno returned 19 letterman from a team that played in the NCAA Tournament going 38-22. UGA has gone to 3 College World Series and 2 SEC Championships this decade, but 2010 is shaping up to be by far their worst under the Georgia alum.

UGA walked 14 batters and allowed 25 hits using 10 pitchers to finally put the Yellow Jackets out.

The College Baseball Blog listed Georgia as "by far the biggest disappointment in the SEC" this year. But with the parity in the conference they still have a chance to play in the conference tournament (only top 8 play).

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech rolls on to an important series this weekend with Clemson coming to town. The Yellow Jackets are fighting with Miami and Virginia for the Coastal Division lead.

They have a chance to sweep their in state rivals with the final game being played at Turner Field on April 27. Good news for Georgia as they lead 6-1 in games at the Ted.

AJC: Some numbers from last's night Yellow Jacket win

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NFL Draft: SI's Top 10 Running Back Prospects

VCC stands for Victory Christian Center on Spiller's eye black

SI has another great slide show up this time of the top 10 running back prospects in this year's Draft.

The SEC has a strong presence with 4 backs in the top 10 led by Miss State's Anthony Dixon.

CJ Spiller of Clemson is the number one prospect followed at number three by Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech.

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Georgia-Georgia Tech: Clean, Old Fashioned Hate Baseball Style

UGA and Tech will meet for the 349th time or the 202nd time depending on who you ask

Georgia takes on the fifth ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Athens on Wednesday. Ga. Tech won the first meeting of the season 6-5 back in March. The Bulldogs lead the all time series 196-150-2.

But it wouldn't be Clean, Old Fashioned Hate if there wasn't some discrepancy in the records. Georgia's athletic website says the Bulldogs lead the "all-time series with Tech 110-91 in records dating back to 1950"

Georgia is having a disappointing season at 11-21, but a win over a top five club and in state rival would cure some ills. Tech is hoping to rebound after their first series loss of the season to ACC leader Virginia.

Mark Pope (4-0, 4.05 ERA) is expected to start for the Jackets while David Perno is expected to send out Junior Eric Swegman (0-2, 13.50 ERA).

The two will meet one more time this season at Turner Field on Tuesday, April 27.

AJC: Tough Times For UGA Baseball

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Friday, April 9, 2010

ACC Baseball Q&A With The College Baseball Blog

Part II of the Q&A I did with The College Baseball Blog this time featuring the ACC. Brian Foley gives us his take on the ACC including some surprising Regional projections.

Q: I count six ranked teams for the ACC. Are they the best conference in the country?
A: I still think the SEC is stronger as evidenced by the fact they have seven teams ranked this season. The surprising conference this season has been the Pac-10 with UCLA and Arizona State being the last two undefeated teams in the country. Even the Oregon program has stepped up their game this season with a couple of big wins over Cal-State Fullerton, Arizona State, and Long Beach State to name a few.

Q: Who is the most surprising team so far and why?
A: My biggest surprise in the ACC has been the NC State Wolfpack who are 20-10 overall and 5-7 in ACC play. They have series victories over Virginia,

Q: Who is the most disappointing team?
A: I would have to say Boston College who enters the weekend with a 13-15 overall record while being 4-8 in ACC play. The biggest disappointment is the fact that the strength of the team was supposed to be the pitching staff which has a team ERA of 6.85. They will also be missing number 1 starter Pat Dean this weekend which is the second weekend he has missed in the last four.

Q: Virginia started out the season very high and is now ranked number one. Are they the favorites to win it all in Omaha?
A: I think that Cavs are the best bet from the ACC this season with the strong pitching led by Danny Hultzen and a very strong offensive lineup which goes 11 or 12 deep.

Q: Georgia Tech is another highly ranked team, but they have had disappointing finishes in the post season as of late. What do the Yellow Jackets need to do to get over the hump this year and into Omaha?
A: The biggest question with Georgia Tech is the rotation after Deck McGuire. Once you get to the NCAA Tourney, you are going to see a couple of high quality starting pitchers who should be able to keep the games low-scoring thus putting the pressure on the pitching staff to do well. I don't think that the Yellow Jackets have the depth to do that when the pressure is on.

Q: Who do you see coming out on top in the Atlantic: Clemson or FSU and why?
A: Clemson has been hammered with injuries in the last couple of weeks but are leading the division right now. FSU has been up and down recently losing two out of three to Virginia Tech last weekend. If I had to pick one, I would say the Tigers.

Q: Is FSU the best program to have never won a CWS?
A: For the amount of talent that the Seminoles have had, then they are by far the best program to never win a CWS title.

Q: Who is your player and coach of the year at this point in the season?
A: Coach of the Year: Jack Leggett because of the excellent job he did with rebuilding the pitching staff this season.
Player of the Year: Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech

Q: As we approach the halfway point, who do you see hosting Regionals?
A: I have four teams hosting in my most recent regional projections with Clemson as the number 5 overall seed, Virginia as the number 7 seed, Miami and FSU hosting

Q: How many teams could you see getting to the College World Series?
A: I think Virginia and Florida State get to Omaha this season.

Brian and his staff have a preview up of this weekend's series, including a top 5 matchup when Georgia Tech travels to Virginia.

ACC Weekend Preview

Here is the SEC Q&A

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SEC Baseball Q&A With The College Baseball Blog

LSU is looking to defend the national title

In case you have not noticed, the college baseball season is underway and moving into the meat of the conference schedule.

Brian Foley, Editor of The College Baseball Blog, answered some questions about how the SEC is progressing and how he thinks the conference will do in the post season.

Q: Eight teams are ranked right now in the SEC. Are they best top to bottom conference in the country?
A: Absolutely as Kentucky knocked off Louisville this week and the Wildcats are unranked.

Q: Is LSU's strong start a surprise? I see you had them 3rd in the West in the preseason?
A: Nope, LSU played a very weak non-conference schedule and has started the SEC portion of the schedule with 2 one-run wins over Arkansas, a sweep of Tennessee, and taking two out of three against a bad Georgia program.

Q: Is Georgia the most disappointing team in the league thus far?
A: Yep, and that is an understatement.

Q: The West looks very strong with four teams in the top 20. Who do you see coming out on top?
A: I think Arkansas will take it by the end of the year as LSU is still not at the top of their game.

Q: Florida likes the top team in the East right now, but who could make a run at the Gators for a top seed in the SEC Tournament?
A: South Carolina is the only team that I can make an argument for to give the Gators a run for their money in the division. Vanderbilt had a tough series in Gainesville this past weekend which put them behind the 8-ball to take the division from the Gators.

Q: Who is player and coach of the year at this point?
A: Player of the Year: Drew Smyly of Arkansas
Coach of the Year: John Pawlowski of Auburn

Q: Is there a coach on the hot seat who needs to make the SEC Tournament and/or the NCAA Tournament?
A: N/A as I don't think anyone is at that level right now since all the new coaches are doing fine and Coach Perno isn't in that much trouble yet.

Q: How many teams do you see tournament bound and which ones will be hosting regionals?
A: I see the SEC getting either 7 or 8 teams in the tourney this year with South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama with Mississippi State being a question right now

Q: How many teams do you see making it to Omaha?
A: I say we see three SEC teams in Omaha with Florida, Arkansas, and LSU making the trip

Brian and his staff have a weekend preview up for the SEC matchups
SEC Weekend Preview

ACC Q&A With The College Baseball Blog

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke Outlasts Butler: Some Final Thoughts After A Thrilling National Championship Game

1. I think this Coach K’s best coaching job of his career. He has had teams with much more talent not even make it to the Final Four much less win it all. This group was the definition of a team; guys who knew their roles and how to execute them.

2. Even with the majority of their team coming back next year, Butler will be very hard pressed to make it back to the Final Four. The Bulldogs will get everyone’s best shot next season.

3. Two calls late both went for Duke that could have changed the outcome of the game. The charge drawn by Jon Scheyer was a very close call that went against Butler and took a basket away. Also, the clear out of Matt Howard by Zoubek on the offensive rebound attempt could have been the Senior’s fifth foul. Zoubek was the guy harassing Hayward’s potential go ahead fade away on Butler’s next possession.

4. Speaking of Zoubek, I thought he was Duke’s MVP on the Tournament. Kyle Singler got the Most Outstanding Player (MOP), but it was Zoubek’s improvement that won Duke the title. The leap he made defensively from Junior to Senior year was gigantic.

5. Finally, who would have thought after two early exits in a row to teams with much more athleticism that Duke would win the title a year after losing their two most athletic players – Gerald Henderson and Elliot Williams?

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Duke-Butler Prediction: Keys To Victory

Many have pegged this Duke-Butler National Championship game as ‘David vs Goliath’. I see it more like little brother versus big brother.

If Duke looks in the mirror 25 years ago, they see who Butler is today; A small school, with a young coach trying to challenge the big boys for national supremacy.

Let’s get straight to the keys to the game.

Duke Will Win If:

1. Hit Threes

The Blue Devils were 13-25 on Saturday behind the arc. If they attempt more than 15 and hit 40% or more they are the national champions.

2. Control The Boards

Duke has a huge size advantage inside with 7-footer Brian Zoubek, rugged Lance Thomas, and the Plumlee twins. The biggest difference for Duke this year in the Tournament has been using their size on the boards getting second chance shots which many times open three pointers.

3. Score Inside

If Duke can get significant scoring from their post players (20+ plus points) then only an awful shooting night from their Big 3 would keep them from winning

Butler Will Win If:

1. Play Their Tempo

Butler has not allowed a team to score over 60 in the Tournament this year. Even if Duke comes out hot hitting threes, they cannot allow themselves to be sped up and play a style they are not comfortable with.

2. Use Smaller, Quicker Lineup To Their Advantage

Gordon Hayward is the ultimate mismatch at the 4 position for Duke defensively because he can shoot outside and take you off the dribble. Either Lance Thomas or Kyle Singler will have to match up leaving the other in a mismatch. Butler has to force their opponent to adapt to them not the other way around.

3. Get To The Free Throw Line

Free throws are easy scoring opportunities against an otherwise tough Duke defense.
When teams fall behind on Duke they tend start shooting threes to get back into the game and stop taking the ball to the basket. Butler is a good free throw shooting team and must continue to attack the rim like they did Saturday night.

I think Duke has too much size on the inside and too good of shooting on the outside for Butler to continue their streak of holding teams under 60 points. That will force Butler to speed their game up and start taking ill advised shots from the outside. And if Butler cannot grab some offensive rebounds then they have to shoot an extremely high percentage, something they did not do on Saturday.

Duke 67 Butler 60

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

More Proof Of The Dilution of Talent In Colllege Basketball

1996 Kentucky was the last great team according to SI

SI Photos has a slide show up of the top 10 college basketball teams of all time. UCLA has multiple teams on the list, which comes as no surprise, and neither does the lack of teams over the past 10 years - 0.

The 1996 Kentucky team is the most recent to make the list. It is more than just coincidence the exodus of players from high schoolers and underclassmen to the NBA began to occur around this time. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant started the trend for the prep stars and Chris Webber and Stephon Marbury started it for the collegians.

Hopefully the NCAA and NBA can work together in the next few years to get a rule similar to college baseball where players can go directly to the pros after high school, but if they do attend college they must stay for three years. I think the rule would benefit both.

And that '96 Kentucky team sent nine players to the NBA. I highly doubt we will ever see that again under the current rules.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

SEC Baseball Weekend Preview From The College Baseball Blog

"The SEC enters their second weekend of conference play with some intriguing matchups. The best series is #5 Florida visiting #19 Ole Miss while #20 Alabama visits #16 Arkansas is also a matchup between Top 20 schools. #26 Kentucky heads to #23 Vanderbilt in the only other conference series to feature ranked squads..."

SEC Weekend Series Previews

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ACC Baseball Weekend Preview From The College Baseball Blog

"The ACC heads into the fourth weekend of conference action with Georgia Tech leading the Coastal Division while Clemson leads the Atlantic Division. Georgia Tech will host the Duke Blue Devils this weekend as they look to continue their strong start to the conference season. Clemson will host Boston College after the Tigers lost two out of three games at Virginia last weekend...."

Weekend Previews

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Final Four: Who Are These Guys And Where Did They Come From?

The Final Four in Indy Has A Large Hoosier Presence

Literally, where the Final 4 participants getting their players from?

Duke, located in Durham, NC, has just two players from the Tar Heel state (Blue Devil fans just cringed reading that description). One is sitting out this year after transferring (Seth Curry) and the other is a little used freshman named Mike Kelly.

The Blue Devils big three hails from all over: Northbrook, IL, Medford, OR, and Upper Marlboro, MD. The Plumlees are from Indiana about two hours from Indy and Brian Zoubek is from New Jersey. It remains to be seen whether Big Z will appear on Jersey Shore this Summer.

For all the fanfare Michigan State got playing in front of a home crowd in Detroit last year, most of their top players were from Ohio. This year the Spartans have a distinct Michigan feel with top players Kalin Lucas (injured), Draymond Green, and Durrell Summers all playing in their home state.

But Tom Izzo has gone to six Final Fours in 10 years and done mostly without McDonalds All-Americans. Especially as of late having gone four straight seasons without one.

As one would expect, Bob Huggins is not recruiting a whole lot of in-state talent to West Virginia. In fact, the only Mountaineer on the roster is little used Cam Payne who averages 2.5 minutes per game.

The Mountaineers have hit up the fertile recruiting ground of New York City bringing Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler from the Big Apple. Kevin Jones hails from Mount Vernon, NY and Joe Mazulla is from Rhode Island.

Jerry West, the University's most famous alum, is a native of the state and his son Jonnie plays on the team.

The hometown team Butler, whose Hinkle Fieldhouse played host to the famous high school basketball game spawning the movie Hoosiers, is just 6 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium site of the 2010 Final Four.

The Bulldogs are a small, private school making their first Final Four appearance in their home town have a distinct Hoosier flavor with 10 players from Indiana. Star Gordon Hayward hails from Brownsburg and starter Matt Howard is from Connersville.

Brad Stevens' club possesses no McDonalds All-Americans, but did somehow manage to keep the talented Hayward away from Purdue and Indiana, and plucked Shelvin Mack out of Lexington, Kentucky.

By State Count:
Indiana: 12
Michigan: 8
New Jersey: 5
Ohio: 4

New York: 4

Pennsylvania: 3
Georgia: 3
Maryland: 2
Illinois: 2
13 states with 1 player

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