A three-way is the best way to describe Big Ten basketball here in 2011-2012. The Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans and the Ohio State Buckeyes are tri-champions on the hoops floor. Michigan took care of business at Penn State with a 71-65 victory. They boarded the plane, landed in Ann Arbor, and watched the end of the MSU-OSU game at the athletic facility. One must wonder how hard it is for a Wolverine to root for the Buckeyes. It was Michigan’s only shot for a title, so rooting for Ohio State was a must.
The Breslin Center was loud and rocking as expected, as MSU was looking for the Big Ten title as outright winners. MSU was taking its second swing at accomplishing this feat. The loss at Indiana set up this huge showdown against the Buckeyes. Remember, it was just two weeks ago that the Spartys smacked down the OSU boys in Columbus in a dominating performance. Would the Spartans repeat the smackdown once again? If the game ended after the first 10 minutes, I would have answered, yes! MSU jumped out to a 19- 7 lead and looked dominating doing it. They went into halftime up close to double digits. Then the shot heard around Columbus and Ann Arbor happened with one tick on the clock. The only Buckeye senior on the floor, William Buford, hit the shot and you could hear a pin drop at the Breslin Center. It was a tough and emotional loss for all the Sparty faithful.
Hey, on the positive side, MSU is still Big Ten champs, too! The Wolverines hadn’t tasted a title since 1986. Talk about a long drought for the Maize and Blue.
The Big Ten tournament takes place this weekend and MSU will be the number one seed, Michigan the number-two seed, and the Buckeyes the number-three seed. I have to believe the Spartans would love another crack at the “Yuckeyes” of Ohio State. I think I would like to see it myself. The Big Ten tourney could decide who gets a number-one seed in the NCAA “Big Dance.” Could the Spartys and Big Blue meet again? If they do, that means they both are in the finals. The Big Ten will send six teams to the NCAA tourney — the three champs and Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin. The two teams on the fence are Northwestern and Iowa. I don’t see eight teams getting in from the Big Ten. I am pulling for Northwestern, which has never been invited to the NCAA party in their lifetime. That, my friends, is a long drought! There will be so much college hoops on the television this week I’ll be seeing the color orange in my sleep. Small-conference tickets will be punched and I love watching those kids’ dreams become a reality. March Madness has arrived and the next four weeks will be a Steppenwolf Magic
Carpet Ride! Who will be this year’s Butler or VCU? Who will have dreams crushed by being left out? The selection show is Sunday and I am looking forward to it! Bracket Mania will begin.
The NFL off-season is picking up headlines, good and bad. The combine is over and young college players have showed off their talents to the NFL teams. Some players moved up, while others moved down. The franchise tag has been tagged on some NFL stars. The most notable, so far, are Drew Brees, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Brent Grimes and DeSean Jackson. These players have a nice chunk of dough coming to them. Brees $14.4 million, Forte $7.7, Rice $7.7. Grimes $10.4 and Jackson $9.5. Someone please tag the Fat Guy, and I don’t mean a game of frozen tag. Why these players complain about receiving the franchise tag, I don’t understand. Are you listening, Cliff Avril?
How about this NFL bounty controversy? Gregg Williams will meet the NFL security officials this week. It is unknown whether he will meet Mr. Goodell. Personally, I think he will. Mr. Williams seems to pay his defensive players for big hits and knocking out opponents. That’s an NFL no-no, especially in today’s game, where player safety is involved. Hey, Gregg, how smart are you? Answer is, not very smart! There is no way you could keep this bounty stuff under the radar in the NFL. Heck, you did it in Washington years ago and players are coming out and saying it’s true. I feel as though the Saints need to be fined and Williams suspended by the NFL for his actions. If you are going to fine the players for late and unsafe hits, then Williams needs a hefty fine too!!
It’s Spring Training and the Tigers hit nine homers against the Braves! Verlander made his first start Monday.