Monday, February 21, 2011

Mid-Major Madness Part 4

Here's the final edition of Mid-Major Madness. You should be recovered from the Bracketbusters now. Hopefully you got to see some quality action and teams that a lot of casual basketball fans missed. The conference tournaments start next week for some of the teams and it's your last chance to find that upset gem and cash in during the Big Dance. Here's some games that we won't miss this week and why...

Indiana St. (15-13) at Northern Iowa (19-10)
Both teams are 10-6 in the Missouri Valley and the winner is looking at the 3 seed for Arch Madness. The Sycamores won the first meeting by 25 points so the Panthers are looking for revenge in their final home game. It's also your last chance to see the famous "Interlude Dance" at half time.

Colorado St. (18-8) at BYU (25-2)

The Rams are firmly on the Bubble Watch and a road win over the Jimmers would be huge. BYU walked out of Fort Collins with a 9 point win in January.

Milwaukee (16-12) at Cleveland St. (23-6)
Cleveland St. leads the Horizon League standings at 12-4 and there are three other teams within a game, including the Panthers. The top two teams in the league get byes into the conference tournament semifinals.

Morehead St. (21-8) at Murray St. (21-7)
The Ohio Valley leader board has cleared up slightly and the Eagles and Racers find themselves at the top with 12-4 records. The Eagles feature the nation's leading rebounder and most likely the OVC Player of the Year in Kenneth Faried. The dude is a monster.

Western Illinois (7-20) at Centenary (0-28)
This Summit League showdown is a must watch game for a different reason. The Centenary Gentleman are looking for their first win of the season and this is their best chance of getting it and avoiding futility. The Leathernecks are 2-14 in the conference and did notch a victory over Centenary in December 57-51.

Gonzaga (19-9) at St. Mary's (22-6)
Neither team is a stranger to the Big Dance the last few years but both are on the bubble this season and a loss could burst it. The top team teams are awarded byes into the conference tournament semifinals and both teams would like the automatic pass to breathe easier. St. Mary's leads the Zags by a game for the regular season crown.

BYU (25-2) at San Diego St (27-1)
#7 vs. #4. The Aztecs are looking to avenge their only loss of the season, somehow stop Jimmer, and prove the Cougars are a one-man team.

Wichita St (22-6) at Missouri St. (21-7)
The winner takes the Missouri Valley title. Both teams are 13-3 in conference action and are looking to rebound from key Bracketbuster loses. An at large bid to the Dance is a slim hope and both teams could use another quality win. The Bears beat the Shockers 59-56 earlier this season.

Charleston (22-7) at Western Carolina (16-13)
The SoCon South Division leading Cougars don't have a lot to gain in the regular season finale but Western Carolina is tied for the North Division lead. A win and a division title will help the Catamounts' seeding for the SoCon tournament.

Enjoy the week of games and get ready for the mass chaos of conference tournaments next week. And by the way, theSportStew will be invading Vegas for the first week of the action.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mid-Major Madness, Part 3

We’re in the middle of February and you know what that means? Bracketbusters! Yay! It seems like we forget that ESPN’s Bracketbusters was created for money reasons but it has become a great TV event to get some good small conference teams some exposure. Let’s not forget there are still some pivotal battles early in the week that may set the table for a conference tournament run though. Here are some key conference games to keep an eye on and the top Bracketbuster matchups as a bonus…

George Mason at VCU
Two of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association square off. George Mason has racked up 11 wins in a row. Both teams have key Bracketbuster games later in the week.

Kent St. at Miami, OH
The leaders of the East Division of the MAC do battle. Kent St was won 6 in a row while the Redhawks have a 4 game win streak. The Golden Flashes hammered Miami in their first matchup 78-57.

UAB at Memphis
UTEP at Southern Miss.
Conference USA is a mess at the top of the standings. These 4 teams are soundly on bubble alert and could use a win to gain some separation and momentum.

Valparaiso at Milwaukee
The Horizon League is another conference with a scramble going on with 4 teams within a game of the lead. Valpo is looking for the season sweep over the Panthers

Richmond at Temple
Here’s a key Atlantic 10 fight. Temple is probably done enough to make the Big Dance and is riding a 6 game win streak. Richmond’s resume has a few holes that another quality win could help plug.

East Tennessee St at Belmont
The top two teams in the Atlantic Sun face off. Belmont leads the conference with a 15-1 record while the Buccaneers are 14-3. The Bruins won the first matchup of the season by 10.


VCU at Wichita St.
Utah St. at St. Mary's
Vermont at Charleston
Missouri St at Valparaiso
George Mason at Northern Iowa
Montana at Long Beach St.
Cleveland St. at Old Dominion

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mid-Major Madness, Part 2

Here is the second part of Mid-Major Madness. We're taking February to look at some of the teams that may be able to make some noise next month in the Big Dance. If you had the chance to check out some of last week's featured games, you saw some doozies and it's only getting better as the teams battle to improve their seedings for their respective conference tournaments. Here's what to watch this week...

American U (16-7) at Bucknell (16-8)
While neither of these teams will be given much chance in March Madness, this game features the top two teams in the Patriot League. Bucknell walked away with upset wins in the first round of the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament and are currently on a hot streak winning 14 of their last 16 games. The Bison are led by sophomore big man Mike Muscala, who in among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. American U couldn't stop Muscala in their first meeting this season, as he slammed them with 33 points, 10 boards, and 5 blocks. Vlad Moldoveanu is the leading scorer for the Eagles at 20 ppg but was held to a season low 7 points against Bucknell earlier this season.

Florida Atlantic (18-7) at Denver (11-12)
This match up will showcase the Sun Belt's East Division leaders, the Owls, and the West Division leading Pioneers. The Pioneers are hoping to drastically improve from their last outing when they shot a measely 25% from the field and only managed 35 points. The Owls are 10-1 in SunBelt play and have a 3 games lead in the East Division.

Northern Colorado (13-9) at Montana (16-7)
You will get to see the top two teams in the Big Sky Conference in this game. The Montana Grizzlies were the pre-season favorite and went 2-0 against the Pac-10 in their non conference schedule. Northern Colorado has a one game lead and pounded the Grizzlies in early January by 18 points. The Bears are led by guard Devon Beitzel (19.2 ppg).

Wichita St. (20-4) at Northern Iowa (18-7)
Last week was bad for the Panthers as they lost their leading rebounder, Mr. Hustle, Lucas O'Rear. The Panthers beat the Shockers 77-74 last month and need some outstanding play from Valley Player of the Year candidate Kwadzo Ahelegbe to keep their razor thin at large hopes alive. The Shockers lead the Missouri Valley with a record of 11-2 and are riding a 5 game winning streak. The Panthers sit in third place, two games back.

Don't miss these either...
Mon, Feb 7
Austin Peay @ Tennessee Tech
Tues, Feb 8

UNI @ Evansville
Thur, Feb 10
Wright St. @ Butler
Tennessee Tech @ Murray St.
Fri, Feb 11
Jacksonville @ East Tennessee St.
Sat, Feb 12
Oakland @ IPFW
Old Dominion @ VCU
Texas Southern @ Jackson St.
James Madison @ George Mason
Southern Miss @ Memphis
Wright St @ Valparaiso
St. Mary's @ San Francisco

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Gambling Gameplan

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. You’re a few hours from game time. Your team isn’t playing so you really don’t care who wins. How do you keep interest in the times between the new commercials, which you know a couple will be instant classics? I’m in this boat. Being a Bears fan, I despise the Packers and my dislike of Roethlisberger sours me on the Steelers. So what should I do? Well, the answer is gambling. The Super Bowl has a plethora of prop bets to keep you interested in the game. You can wager on the number of punts, who scores a touchdown, or the longest field goal to name a few. After committing way too much time to the cause, I have come up with a game plan. I narrowed the props down to ten that are spread out over the game. My plan is to take these ten bets and, win or lose, have some fun. Here are the prop bets I like and their odds…

Coin toss = Heads -101
1st score of the game = Any other score (no TD) +140
1st turnover of the game = Interception -140
Will game be tied after 0-0 = Yes +110
Will either team score 3 times in row = No +150
Shortest TD of game = Over 1.5 +105
Last score of the game = Any other score (no TD) +160
Number of different players to attempt a pass = Over 2.5 +180
Team with most penalty yards = Steelers -155
Will team that scores 1st win = No +140

Friday, February 4, 2011

UFC 126 Silva vs. Belfort

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday and the Ultimate Fighting Championship is doing their part to help make this one hell of a weekend. On what is already one of the biggest weekends in Las Vegas, UFC 126 will take place at Mandalay Bay the day before the Super Bowl. Dana White is presenting a stacked card and probably one of the best since UFC 100. The headliner is the much anticipated fight between Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva. Belfort has battled injuries that resulted in this bout getting pushed back. “The Spider’s” last few fights have been lackluster and he needs a good performance to silence his critics. Silva is one of the best pound for pound mma artists around but if he lets down his guard, Belfort’s power will add another knockout to his resume. Two fan favorites meet in the co-main event as Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin collide. The recently merged WEC will get to display a couple of their most popular fighters with “Cowboy” Cerrone, Miguel Torres, and the drastically improving Chad Mendes all making their UFC debuts. Whoa, almost forget about the scrapper that I’m most looking forward to: Ryan Bader versus Jon “Bones” Jones. Both of these fighters have looked awesome in their recent bouts and have very bright futures. Bader is a power house with great wrestling and “Bones” is so unorthodox you never know what is coming. This should be a barn burner. I can’t wait. Here’s who I see leaving victorious and enjoy the fights everyone.

Belfort def. Silva by TKO
Franklin def. Griffin by TKO
Jones def. Bader by submission
Ellenberger def. Rocha by unanimous decision
Torres def. Banuelos by choke
Mendes def. Omigawa by unanimous decision
Yamamoto def. Johnson by TKO
Cerrone def. Kelly by choke
Pierce def. Robertson by KO
Taylor def. Ruediger by choke
Kingsbury def. Romero by unanimous decision

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mid-Major Madness, Part 1

Well it's finally February and that means that Madness in getting closer, especially for the smaller conferences. The Big South Conference and the Horizon League tip off their conference tournaments on March 1st to start almost two weeks of "Championship Week." With ESPN announcing the Bracket Buster match ups, it's a great time to start Mid-Major Madness. It's a four part series that points out some games that you will want to check out to see some mid-major teams before they surprise you in the Big Dance. Everyone knows the Big East is loaded, hell the experts say the whole conference should be in the NCAA Tournament. We've all watched Ohio St, Texas, and Kansas pummel folks. Now is when you find that George Mason, Northern Iowa, or Davidson team that is going to be this year's Cinderella. Here's 5 games worth checking out and why...

Wichita St (9-2) @ Indiana St (7-4)
This is a rematch of a 3 ot thriller 10 days ago. The Shockers, the pre-season pick the win the Valley, won and started Indiana St.'s current 3 game skid. Wichita St is a strong candidate for an at large bid in March with their only non conference losses to UConn and San Diego St. The over achieving Sycamores have already beat co-leader Missouri St and Northern Iowa.

Hofstra (8-3) @ George Mason (9-2)
The Colonial Athletic Association has 4 teams within 2 games of the conference lead. Hofstra is lead by Charles Jenkins who averages 23.3 ppg and he lit up George Mason for 32 in their last meeting, a 13 point win for the Pride. George Mason is riding a 7 game win streak in which the Patriots have by an average of 18 points.

Liberty (10-1) @ Coastal Carolina (11-0)
The top 2 teams in the Big South by a wide margin. Coastal Carolina won the first battle 70-67. The Chanticleers are one of the top shooting (49%) and scoring (79.4 ppg) teams in basketball. The Chanticleers have an 18 game winning streak and haven't lost since Georgetown defeated them way back on November 18th. John Brown stars at guard for the Flames averaging a double-double, and that's rebounds not assists.

Oakland (11-0) @ IUPUI (7-3)
Oakland could make some noise if they can avoid an upset in the Summit League tournament. The Golden Grizzlies are ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA in scoring (84 ppg) and shooting (49%) with one of the toughest schedules. They took on Purdue, Ohio St, Illinois, Michigan St, West Virginia, and Tennessee in non conference action so the Grizzles should be battle tested. The Jaguars have the leading scorer in the conference, forward Alex Smith and it fun to say IUPUI, pronounced oo-wee-poo-wee (at least by me).

Murray St (7-3) @ Austin Peay (8-3)
The Ohio Valley Conference race is a mess right now. Five teams are within a game of the lead and another is 2 back. Murray St was our pick to take the OVC crown after their run in last year's NCAA Tournament. Austin Peay boasts the league's leading scorer in TyShwan Edmonson at almost 19 ppg.

Other games....
Wed, Feb 2
San Diego St @ Colorado St
Thur, Feb 3
Wofford @ Charleston
Valparaiso @ Cleveland St
Belmont @ Jacksonville
Murray St @ Tennessee St
Fri, Feb 4
Iona @ Fairfield
Sat, Feb 5
Old Dominion @ George Mason
VCU @ James Madison
Buffalo @ Ball St