This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 03/24/2008
A - A.J. Price. Of all the players I have seen so far in the NCAA Tournament, I feel the worst for UConn's point guard. He hit the ground hard under the basket eight minutes into the first half of the team's first round game against San Diego, and you knew right away that it wasn't good. It ended up being a torn ACL. The Huskies lost the game because of sloppy play and a lack of desire and not because of the loss of Price, but he will be haunted by what happened for years.
B - Beasley, Michael. The K-State star was the clear victor in his showdown with O.J. Mayo. He had a great game, and teammate Bill Walker was spectacular, as his Wildcats easily dispatched the Trojans. The Badgers were up next, and that didn't go nearly as well. Beasley had a fairly solid game yet again, and Walker was decent, but the Badgers completely shut down every other aspect of K-State's game to cruise to an easy 17-point win and to assert themselves as real contenders.
C - Curry, Stephen. What is there to say other than wow? Davidson is in the Sweet 16 after upset wins over Gonzaga and Georgetown, and it's all because of their tiny guard with NBAer Dell as a father. Curry has 70 points in two games, including 55 in the two second halves, and he has pretty much single-handedly led his team to the promised land of the second weekend. The Georgetown game was particularly impressive - he got two quick fouls and couldn't get anything going in the first half, but he regrouped in the second half and scored 25 in the half to lead his team back from a 17-point deficit.
D - DeAngelo Hall. We have proof that the Raiders' brain trust has lost their minds. Not that we needed it. Hall is unquestionably a talented cornerback, but by trading for him from Atlanta, the Raiders have added a guy who isn't exactly a team player to a position that isn't their primary need, and are bound to him at great cost thanks to the seven-year, $70 million contract that they inked with him. If it works I will admit I am wrong, but I don't see this being a better investment than any of the other lousy investments Oakland has made this decade.
E - Ejected. Stanford squeaked out a last-second, overtime win in their second round game over Marquette. If they hadn't pulled the win off, coach Trent Johnson would have likely taken the brunt of the blame. Johnson was tossed from the game in the first half after receiving two technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct. He looked like he was channeling Billy Martin as he argued a foul call with the refs and refused to leave the court when ordered to do so.
F - Federer, Roger. I'm not going to panic, but I am writing about losses by Federer more often than I should be these days. This time it was Mardy Fish, the American ranked 98th in the world, that upset the struggling superstar at Indian Wells. Federer has yet to reach a final this year. That would be no big deal for anyone other than the greatest player in the world. It's probably costing bettors a good deal of money, too.
G - Georgetown. The Roy Hibbert era ended with a bit of a whimper on Sunday. The Hoyas were up by 17 in the second half against Davidson and were cruising to the Sweet 16 until the floor fell out of the bus. The Hoyas did a lot of things right - they shot the lights out for much of the game, and they shut down Curry for the first half. In the end, though, Georgetown couldn't stop the Davidson train once it got rolling, and they showed the same lack of heart that has plagued the talented team all year.
H - Harris, Larry. In one of the least shocking developments of the NBA season, the Bucks have fired their general manager. Harris wasn't offensive or outwardly ignorant like some of his peers. He just wasn't very good at his job. Harris has gone through three coaches in less than five years, signed some ugly contracts that he can't escape, struck out on the trades he has made, underperformed at the draft, and generally failed to accomplish the kinds of things you need to accomplish to keep your job unless you work in New York.
I - Indiana. As much as I like both Eric Gordon and D.J. White, I was relieved to see the Hoosiers lose to Arkansas in the first round to end their season. Thanks to Kelvin Sampson a very promising team and season turned into a train wreck. I couldn't turn away from the wreckage as it got worse and worse, so this way we just don't have to look at it anymore. The loss was like putting a three-legged dog out of his misery.
J - John, Tommy, Surgery. Chris Capuano, the Milwaukee pitcher, did something that would seem to be almost impossible last year when he went 22-straight starts without a win. As hard as it may be to believe, Capuano may be looking back on that season as the good old days - at least he was pitching. The 29 year old injured his elbow against Seattle on Monday, and is likely going to need his second Tommy John surgery. That will wipe out this season, and may very well end the career of the talented but inconsistent starter.
K - Kansas. As we would expect from a No. 1 seed, the Jayhawks have gone about their business with efficiency and relative ease. They won and covered against Portland State and UNLV, and only huge fans of the two losers would have believed for a second that Kansas was ever threatened. That's nine straight wins, and six covers in their last eight, and they have a pretty favorable draw next game out in Villanova.
L - Louisville. Late Sunday afternoon, North Carolina won big, but that was expected. Less expected, and therefore more impressive, was the way that the Cardinals totally dismantled the Sooners. I was a little bit concerned that Oklahoma would give the Cards a bit of a challenge. Not so much. Louisville won by 30, and made it look easy. Add that to an 18-point win over Boise State, consider the smothering defense they played both games, and you have a talented team that is in top form. Their second weekend will be very interesting.
M - Mario Manningham. As a big Michigan fan I was mystified when Manningham had a dismal performance in the timed and measured drills at the NFL Combine. The results would drop him down the draft board, and cost him millions and the respect of a high pick. It was with a great deal of relief, then, that I saw Manningham post much more impressive times at Michigan's pro day this week. He lowered his 40 time from a pedestrian (for a receiver) 4.59 to a solid 4.38, and he added three inches to his vertical. Former Wolverine Braylon Edwards is a great pro in Cleveland, but I'd take Manningham over him if I had to choose.
N - Nowitzki, Dirk. The news is not good for the Mavs. The Jason Kidd experiment hasn't been a disaster by any means, but it hasn't been an overwhelming success, either. More concerning, Nowitzki went down in an ugly spill on Sunday and could be out at least two weeks with a leg injury. I don't know about you, but I don't remember a lot of big guys that have come back from leg injuries sooner than expected. That's bad news for Dallas, but great news for a Denver team that has won five of seven, is within striking distance of the Mavs, and is hungry for a playoff spot.
O - Ore, Branden. We're not hearing the whole story out of Virginia Tech, but all is not well with their football program. Coach Frank Beamer dismissed running back Ore this week instead of welcoming him back for his senior season. Players get released all the time, but it is far less common when that player is the leading rusher for the team and he is healthy. Discipline problems with a (former) Hokie star - what a shock.
P - Pryor, Terrelle. The most hyped recruit of the college football year finally chose a school this week - he picked Ohio State over finalists Michigan, Oregon and Penn State. The decision seems like an odd one for the ego freak QB - he'll have to sit for a year behind Todd Boeckman, and then the offense will have to be tweaked to suit his style. Given Pryor's obvious love of Pryor it will be very interesting to watch his career and see if he is able to live up to his obvious and enormous potential.
Q - Quit. The Heat should just quit playing, forfeit the rest of the season, and try again next year. They reached a new low in this season of pathetic lows on Wednesday night when they lost to Toronto while scoring just 54 points. It was the third fewest points scored in the shot-clock era, but it wasn't a real surprise given the stats - they shot just 20-for-78 from the field. That's .256, and that's just not very good.
R - Rockets. After 22-straight wins, Houston finally lost on Tuesday, and they did it in style. They were destroyed by the Celtics. Boston won by 20 points, and did it behind a defensive effort as good as Tracy McGrady says he has ever seen. Losing was an unfamiliar feeling for the Rockets, but they obviously liked it - they lost by 21 to New Orleans the next night, and the fell again to the Lakers on Saturday.
S - Sixty. 50 goals in a season is a real accomplishment for an NHL player these days given the style of play in the league. It would have seemed almost impossible for a guy to get to 60, but Alexander Ovechkin managed it this week, and he's not done yet. With two goals on Friday he became the first 60-goal scorer since two guys named Jagr and Lemieux did it in 1996. Two scary things about Ovechkin's accomplishment - he still has six games against relatively easy opponents to add to his total, and he's only 22 so he's just getting started.
T - Tampa. There was something truly crazy going on in the hometown of the Bucs. Four tournament games were played there on Friday, and all were crazy. Two No. 12 seeds - Western Kentucky and Villanova - and two No. 13 seeds - Siena and San Diego - all won in perhaps the wildest single site in tournament history. You take out Tampa and it was really a pretty formful first round. Sadly, the second round in Tampa was as dull as the first round was fascinating.
U - Utah. If I had written this column before last Thursday then the story would have been that the Jazz had won 19 straight at home. On Thursday, though, the wheels fell off. Behind a typically solid game from Kobe and a better than average game from Lamar Odom, the Lakers rolled into town and left with an 11-point win. It's tough to see a streak like that end, but it didn't really matter - the Jazz are solid at the top of their division, and they started a new streak on Saturday against Seattle.
V - Vanderbilt. I'd been saying for a while now that the Commodores were overrated. A lot of other people were saying that Vanderbilt was deeply flawed. We were all proven right. I wasn't surprised that Siena was able to beat Vandy. I was very surprised, though, that they managed to do it by 21 points. It looked as if Vandy didn't even care. To make matters worse, Siena came out and looked totally out of place against Villanova, a talented but very young and inconsistent team, in the second round.
W - Wildcats. I'm talking about Villanova, not Arizona, Davidson, Kansas State or Kentucky. This team has been a pleasant surprise at the tourney. They have no seniors on the roster, but they have found a way to win two games handily despite barely making it into the field. They were the lowest seeded at-large team, but their success isn't a total surprise - despite being 14-17 ATS on the season they are 9-3 ATS in their last 12. So their game has clearly been stepped up lately.
X - Xavier. I am thrilled that the Musketeers have advanced to the Sweet 16, and not just because it means I have something for the letter X for at least another week. Xavier has two wins and two nice covers, and they have a tough but winnable matchup against Joe Alexander and West Virginia. The team has improved significantly over how they were playing in the weeks before the tournament, and the biggest reason has to be that the ridiculously tiny Drew lavender is finally healthy for the first time in a long time. Losing early in the A-10 conference may have been the best thing that happened to the team, because it gave him an extra day to heal.
Y - Yikes. What the heck happened to Notre Dame? They looked very good in their first round win over George Mason, but they were absolutely awful in scoring only 41 points while losing by 20 to Washington State in round two. The nice thing would be to give all the credit to the Cougars, but I can't. They played extremely well, but the Irish threw this one away. They had as many three-point shots as the Cougs, and only one fewer field goal attempt, but you don't win many games while going just 3-of-17 from deep, and shooting 24.5 percent from the field. Pitiful.
Z - Zzzzz. For the most part it was a pretty solid, entertaining first round, but one game that I had high hopes for was just plain boring. I liked what I had seen of South Alabama, and I had new respect for the Sun Belt after watching Western Kentucky beat Drake, so I thought the Jaguars would go to war with Butler. Nope. South Alabama lost by 20 and they looked totally outclassed and defeated from the start.