This Week in Betting, A-Z
by Trevor Whenham - 3/8/2010
A - Awesome Act. The latest stop on the trail to the Kentucky Derby was the Gotham at Aqueduct, and the winner was an unlikely but intriguing one. Awesome Act, who was a hard charging fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last time we saw him, won the race handily in his first start on dirt. Trained by Jeremy Noseda in England, the horse will stay in the States now and be aimed at the Woo Memorial as his final prep for a hopeful Derby start.
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B - Big Red. This past weekend was when the first automatic bids for the NCAA Tournament got wrapped up. As usual, the distinction of the first bid went to the winner of the Ivy League - the only league without a tournament. Cornell cruised to a 16-4 record to win the Ivy for the third straight year. They capped the season by shooting the lights out against Brown - going 20-of-30 from three-point range. No one will have Cornell as in their Final Four bracket, but they are a tough team that's always fun to watch.
C - Cromartie, Antonio. The Jets have taken a gamble, but if it pays off they will be impossible to throw against. They acquired former All-Pro corner Cromartie from the Chargers for a third round pick in 2001 that could become a second. Cromartie is a real talent, and he could pair with Darrelle Revis to become one of the best backfields ever. The problem, though, is that Cromartie is a real piece of work. He has seven children from five different women despite being just 25, and San Diego grew tired of his immaturity and his declining play since his 2007 All Pro effort.
D - Delhomme, Jake. The now-former Carolina QB has become the first victim of an uncapped NFL season. If there was still a salary cap then the Panthers likely couldn't have afforded to cut Delhomme loose and eat his monster cap hit. It will be strange to see Carolina without Delhomme, but a fresh start is the best thing for both sides after a couple of rough years. The biggest concern in this for me, though, is Carolina's seeming decision to go with Matt Moore. He finished strong last year, but he still hasn't proven that he's a keeper to me.
E - Edwards, Carl. The guy may be able to do fancy back flips when he wins a race, but he really needs to learn to control his psychotic tendencies. The guy had a very rough day at Atlanta on Sunday. Brad Keselowski bumped Edwards into Joey Logano early in the race and sent him to the garage for repairs. Edwards returned to the track 156 laps down, and instead of just trying to stay out of the way and finish the race, Edwards hunted Keselowski. Driving 190 mph, Edwards caused Keselowski to spin and then flip. Even classier, he showed absolutely no remorse for causing the accident.
F - Freedom Hall. One of the grand old buildings in the Big East enjoyed a swan song on Saturday. Louisville is moving to a shiny new building downtown next year, but they had one last game against a No. 1 team - Syracuse - in the old digs. It went very well - for the second time this season Louisville beat Syracuse. Kyle Kurick was the star for the Cards - he scored 22 points off the bench in the second half. The win still doesn't make Louisville a tournament lock, but they don't need to worry too much anymore.
G - Giants. The Giants had a major need for a safety after being hit by injury woes last year, and they filled it with a bang on the opening day of free agency. They signed former Cardinal Antrel Rolle, and made him the highest paid safety n the NFL in the process. Rolle signed a five-year, $37 million deal which includes $15 million in guaranteed money. The Giants know well what Rolle can do - he made Eli Manning look ridiculous with a late interception to seal an Arizona upset last season.
H - Halladay, Roy. Spring training doesn't usually tell us much about what's to come in the regular season - especially for veterans. Still, Phillies' fans have to be excited about what they saw from their expensive new pitcher in his debut. Halladay was nearly perfect in his first start - in two innings he allowed no hits and struck out three. The only base runner he allowed was as a result of an error. There is a bit of an asterisk beside this one, though - the game was against the Yankees, a team Halladay knows well from his former life.
I - Irish. Notre Dame looked to be out of the tournament mix for good after losing Luke Harangody to injury. Instead, they have turned their act around and are now in decent bubble shape. They finished off their regular season by wining four straight, including UConn and Marquette this week. Harangody returned for the last game, but had little impact in limited time off the bench, and likely won't be a factor the rest of the way. Notre Dame probably can't afford a first round exit in the conference tourney, but beyond that they should be in.
J - Julius Peppers. All that whining in Carolina finally paid off - Peppers has a new team and a fat new contract. The pass rusher became the biggest free agent signing of the season when he joined the Bears with a six-year contract worth more than $90 million, with $42 million guaranteed. The Bears were very active early, signing running back Chester Taylor and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna to help out Jay Cutler on offense.
K - Kansas State. The Wildcats had a good look at a No. 1 seed in the tournament, but they blew it with a horrible last week of the season. Losing at Kansas was unfortunate but not unpredictable, and certainly acceptable. Losing to Iowa State at home is an entirely different story, though. It was only the fourth conference win of the season for the Cyclones, and it still left them at below .500 overall. It was the first win against ranked teams in 22 tries for Iowa State.
L - Longhorns. What a bizarre, ugly season for Texas. On Jan. 18 they were 17-0 and received 57 out of 65 first place votes in the AP poll. The next day they lost their first game - at Kansas State. Now, seven weeks later, they have fallen out of the rankings entirely. They are just 6-8 since starting undefeated, and are playing some pretty terrible basketball right now. Rick Barnes has gone from a Coach of the Year candidate to the most confused guy on the planet.
M - Misremembered. Misremembered, a four-year-old colt, won the Santa Anita Handicap - California's biggest race for older horses - on Saturday by half a length over Neko Bay, and he past $1 million in earnings. Bob Baffert was the trainer. He also, uniquely, was the breeder and owner of the horse. He bought Misremembered's dam for just $4,500. That's not a bad return on investment - especially when you consider what the mare is worth now.
N - NHL Trade Deadline. This year's version of the busiest deadline in sports featured the most deals ever, but very few that were particularly interesting. For the most part, teams traded spare parts away for draft picks, or teams gambled on talented players who aren't yet living up to their potential and need a change of scenery. There were higher profile deals rumored, but for whatever reason the triggers just didn't get pulled.
O - Ouch. Brian Bowles can no longer call himself the undefeated WEC bantamweight champion. He lost the title and tarnished his record after eight wins when he didn't answer the bell for the third round of his title fight against new champ Dominick Cruz. Cruz had a height and weight advantage and might have won the fight anyway, but it wasn't a fair fight - Bowles broke his hand on the first punch he threw, and was obviously never the same after that.
P - Parker, Tony. Tough break - pun intended - for Mr. Longoria. The Spurs have lost their point guard for about six weeks after breaking his right hand in a game against Memphis. He was fighting for the ball in a scrum when it happened. Losing a point guard is never good news for a team, but at least the Spurs - who are still fighting to hold on to their playoff spot - have had experience playing without Parker this year as he has struggled with a collection of minor injuries.
Q - Quit. Big Ben desperately needs to learn to use his brain and avoid trouble. I'm in no position to know if this sexual assault charge has any merit, or the last one for that matter. All I know is that either of these situations, or the motorcycle incident, should have been enough to cause him to smarten up, keep his nose clean, and concentrate on winning more games and more championships. At this rate he's sooner or later going to get himself into a situation he can't get out of.
R - Ravens. Joe Flacco must be about the happiest guy on the planet right now. He's had two pretty solid offensive seasons, and he's done that without top-level talent around him. That changed as soon as the the Ravens made a trade for Anquan Boldin, the talented malcontent from Arizona. Boldin is easily one of the top five or 10 receivers in the league, and he instantly makes his new team dangerous in a whole new way. The price was right on the deal, so it was an unquestioned and major win for Baltimore.
S - Stuckey, Rodney. There was a scary, scary moment in the Pistons' game on Friday night, but it thankfully seems to have turned out okay. Point guard Rodney Stuckey came off the floor for a timeout, sat down in a chair, and slumped over unconscious. Play was halted as he was loaded onto a stretcher, given oxygen, and taken to the hospital. It arose images of Hank Gathers and others, but thankfully Stuckey was out of the hospital the next day and should be back in play soon.
T - Terps. Maryland locked down their own tournament spot and threw a kink in Duke's pursuit of a No. 1 seed on Wednesday night. That's a pretty good night of work. Maryland defended their home court with a seven-point win over Duke, and they did it on the back of Greivis Vasquez, their stunning star. Vasquez had a mortal 20 points in his last home game, but he was at his best late to seal the victory and cause the court to be stormed one last time.
U - UNC. I've talked about the Tar Heels more than a below average team deserves this year, but we aren't used to seeing a defending National Champion collapse like this team has when it is so well coached, so I can't help myself. Their second last regular season game of the year was a perfect cap to a dismal season - they lost by 32 miserable points at Duke to drop to just 5-11 in the ACC, and 16-15 overall. Incredible.
V - Vanderbilt. The Commodores are a tournament lock, but they didn't coast on that distinction when they traveled to Florida on Tuesday. Instead, they got another nice road win to pad their record, and put Florida in a much tougher bubble position. The Gators are desperate to get back to the tourney after a two year absence. Standing between them and that goal is a potential second round SEC Tournament showdown with Mississippi State. The loser of that one would likely fall off the bubble for good.
W - Williams, Steve. Tiger's kiwi caddy made a rare appearance on TV to give an interview on the New Zealand version of “60 Minutes” this week. In it, he claimed that he had absolutely no idea that his boss was a cheating hound dog. What did we learn from that? That Williams is a major liar. Are we really supposed to believe that the guy could have spent years traveling everywhere with the most visible guy in sports and yet not even gotten a hint of what was going on? Color me skeptical.
X - Xavier. It was another big week for the mascots of our column. They won their last two regular season games this week to move to 14-2 in the A-10 and stretch their winning streak to seven games. That was enough to tie them for first in the conference, but Temple got the edge because they won the head-to-head matchup. Despite missing out on that, Xavier is a total lock for the tournament regardless of what happens in the A-10 Tournament, and they could be in some position to do some damage once they get there.
Y - Yikes. This is where I whine for a little bit. At this point that's all there is left for me to do. Coming into the season my beloved Michigan Wolverines were ranked 15th in the country, and optimism was fully, and justifiably, abounding. A few months later they limped to a pathetic 14-16 record, they didn't have a single player who improved from last year, and it's hard to find one thing to be positive or confident about. At least we have our football team. Oh, wait...
Z - Zack Greinke. Kansas City's ace jumped out of the gate and never really looked back last year en route to his first Cy Young Award. We won't know for a while yet if he can do it again, but his first spring training start was certainly a step in the right direction. Greinke struck out three in three innings and didn't walk any. The only blemish was one hit, but it was only a single. Greinke was terrible last spring as he worked on his changeup.