Here we go...
Kansas State's Curtis Kelly, left, falls back after trying to get a shot off as Utah State's Brady Jardine (22), Tyler Newbold (24) and Morgan Grim (21) look on during a Southeast Regional NCAA college basketball tournament second round game Thursday, March 17, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz. Kansas State's Shane Southwell (1) looks on at left. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
NCAA madness indeed
Sweet Mother of Bobby Hurley that was some weekend of college basketball. Is there anything in sports as certain to entertain as the opening weekend of college hoops? It's like the opposite of New Year's Eve, which always seemed to be a letdown.
There can be blowouts in Super Bowls or college football bowl games or even NASCAR and/or horse races, but the two best, surefire bets for entertaining sports are the first weekend of the NCAA tournament and the last three hours of Sunday at Augusta. There will be no discussion about this.
The 5-at-10 is as bummed as anyone that the college basketball regular season has almost become an afterthought, but Holy Danny Manning's Hightops, the first four days of this NCAA tournament was outrageously entertaining. And we haven't even started to discuss BYU's super shooting star Jimmer Fredette, who is part Steph Curry, part Mark Price, part John Stockton and part Kemba Walker. Those are some nice parts, by the way.
We could spend today's complete 5-at-10 here, but there's too much to cover. Let's do a mini-top 5 limited to 10 words each (a 5-in-10 inside your 5-at-10, now that's a bargain, right?):
- Kyrie Irving, Duke: The freshman may be the best player out there.
- Richmond represents: Read ace TFP columnist Mark Wiedmer's spot-on take here
- Best sign (as in a poster) of the weekend: BYU fan's "We came, we saw, we Jimmer-ed." Nice.
- Best sign (for college basketball fans) of the weekend: Chuck Barkley and Co. in studio were honest and awesome.
- Best sign (for a repeat in the next rounds) of the weekend: Power programs mixed with underdogs — let's get ready to Jimmer.
Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl walks the sideline in the closing seconds of the second half of a West Regional NCAA tournament second round college basketball game against Michigan, Friday, March 18, 2011, in Charlotte, N.C. Michigan routed Tennessee 75-45, to send the Volunteers coach to an early offseason of uncertainty. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
If you had Tennessee plus-29 on your teaser, well, Bruno will be around on Tuesday
UT athletic director Mike Hamilton's ill-advised comments about Bruce Pearl's job security being unknown were taped last Tuesday. That means today is... (we need some dramatic, old-school TV news lead-in music here, like, a dum-dum-dum-DA) PEARL WATCH, DAY 7.
The general consensus after Pearl's Vols were humiliated by Michigan 75-45 in their NCAA opener Friday was that Pearl would be done as soon as today.
There was even talk about Pearl possibly resigning.
Now, a quick call to arms by the fans and the natural reaction from the players has rallied some momentum behind Pearl.
Will it be enough to save the record-setting coach who is in big-time NCAA timeout for lying to investigators? Well, we'll cover this more in Tuesday's TFP, but the forecast still appears dark for Pearl.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (10) hits s home run in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets Saturday, March 5, 2011 in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Braves update, Volume 2, Chapter 1
Sweet Mother of Mike Lum, have you seen L-Dub's numbers? Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones, the Atlanta Braves third baseman who we fondly call L-Dub, is flat raking in spring training. He's at .420 (21-for-50) with team-highs in hits (21), doubles (7), homers (3) and RBIs (11).
Earlier this spring the 5-at-10 made the case that a healthy L-Dub was the key for these Braves. Well, that was with reasonable expectations of Jones hitting in the affordable neighborhoods of .280 with 15 homers and 80 RBIs in 400 ABs. Now, L-Dub is raising the bar — he looks as goo as the 1999 NL MVP version by all accounts.
Plus, the starting pitching has been great, close to "Oh My Sweet Rick Camp" levels of great. Of the top six starters in camp, Jair Jurrjens' 3.60 ERA is the highest. Read that again, and now know that Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson each have ERAs below 2.00.
As for Dan Uggla's less-than-stellar spring, well, we'll cover that Tuesday.
This March 1, 2011, file photo shows former baseball player Barry Bonds arriving at a federal courthouse in San Francisco, A federal judge has barred the jury from hearing angry voicemails Barry Bonds' left with his mistress during their stormy nine-year relationship. Prosecutors wanted to introduce the voicemails at the slugger's perjury trial starting next week to show that Bonds was experiencing so-called 'roid rage when he left the messages demanding to know the whereabouts of Kimberly Bell. But U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston said Thursday, March 17, 2011 that the voicemails had little relevance to proving Bonds lied when he denied knowingly taking steroids. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Barry Bonds gets his day in court
It's been more than seven years since Barry Bonds appeared before a grand jury to discuss steroids, and today the U.S. government is prepared to make its case that Bonds lied to them.
ESPN has well-documented this entire story, and the 5-at-10 has little to add about Bonds.
There is very-little-to-any doubt he used something — look at the pictures from his days with Pirates in the 1990s and his record-setting days with the Giants in the early 2000s. Plus, there are not many baseball players that are setting all-time career bests and MLB records after they turn 37 like Bonds did. It just doesn't pass the smell test, perjury or not.
No, what the 5-at-10 is hoping for is that the courts find a way to force Bonds and/or MLB to release the whole list. Let's see the names and move forward.
Otherwise this will forever taint this generation of players — heck, it may anyway — but let's let the guilty carry the burden. If Player X did use something — and it may not have been against MLB rules at that time; against the law of course, but not MLB rules (Chicks dig the long ball, after all) — then let that affect his legacy and his Hall of Fame credentials.
As we stand this morning, there's a shadow over everyone.
Well, everyone except Tony Gwynn. And Roger Clemens. (Kidding, kidding about that last one.)
Tony Kanaan, left, of Brazil, talks with Danica Patrick during the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis on Friday. The 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race is today at 1 p.m. (AP Photo/Tom Strattman)
This and that
— Last week we covered the 5-at-10's prediction that Louisville could wreak havoc on a bracket — good or bad. Want another great prediction? Well, Dr. B's call on SportTalk almost two weeks ago about Danica Patrick having to "grow a pair" to race at Bristol may as well have come from a burning bush. In case you missed it, DanPa was clipped by Ryan Truex in Saturday's Nationwide race, and her meltdown was awesome in its awesomeness. Before throwing out your woman-driver joke, know that Truex claimed fault for the wreck. Still, the meltdown included a fiery radio response (DanPa allegedly has one of the foulest mouths throughout racing) and a fist-waving move on the inside of the track. Turn your head and cough, huh, Dr. B?
— Other than DanPa's theatrics, the NASCAR weekend at Bristol belonged to Kyle Busch, who ran by, over and through all comers for another sweep. He's won five straight starts at Bristol, where the crowd booed him long and lustily. This is good in a lot of directions — NASCAR needs that Black Hat, that bad guy, and if it's Kyle Busch, then so be it. "Gentleman and Kyle Busch, start your engines." Yeah, that has a nice ring to it.
— College football in the spring means two things: Waiting for spring practice updates and watching the police blotter. Two more big-time names — Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd (DUI) and Alabama safety Mark Barron (hindering prosecution) — were arrested over the weekend. College kids doing dumb things is not huge news or even surprising. And it's not like it was the War Eagle Four — the four Auburn players who quickly dismissed from the program after they were arrested on multiple felonies from a less-than-thought-out armed robbery earlier this month. So it goes.
— As for the Over/Under bracket challenge, well, let's just focus on our ability to spot overrated-ness, OK? Great. After going a combined 0-for-25 in underrated picks — and with three double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16, it's not like we didn't have our chances — the most picked No. 1 seed dropped Saturday when Butler bested Pitt in a finall-second foul-fest. Here are the pickers that are tied for the top spot (we'll come up with a tie-breaker later this week, and as always, suggestions are welcome):
scole023 — Pitt/Tennessee
EC — Pitt/Georgia
Bigbearzzz — Pitt/Georgia
Pretend Al Davis — Pitt/Oakland
5-at-10 — Pitt/Wofford
BIspy4 — Pitt/Utah State
OTWatcher — Pitt/Old Dominion
ThatIdoKnow — Pitt/Missouri
Charlie S. — Pitt/Princeton
Chris Goforth from "The Show" on Fox 1310AM — Pitt/Belmont
Quake from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Belmont
Dr. B (He's a doctor after all) from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Pitt/Utah State
Darrell Patterson, Channel 9 sports anchor — Pitt/Utah State
The best of the rest
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Ohio State/Michigan State
Cowboy Joe from SportTalk on 102.3 FM — Kansas/Memphis
BeachBum — Duke/Utah State
snakemb134 — Ohio State/Utah State
Weena — Ohio State/Michigan State
EtsuBuc20 — Duke/Belmont
CelticVol — Kansas/Villanova
Dr. Bracket — Duke/Missouri
Chas9 — Ohio State/Missouri
Nick Bonsanto, host of the "Nick Bonsanto Show" on 105.1 FM — Ohio State/Belmont
Keith Cawley, WRCB Channel 3 sports anchor — Kansas/Missouri
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...
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