final four


V.23 No.14 |
SportsNation Poll

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2014 NCAA Final Four Set

When UNM was tossed from the NCAA Tournament, the Big Dance didn't stop. Last weekend, the tourney was whittled down to the Final Four. The University of Florida Gators, the Wisconsin Badgers, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Connecticut Huskies are the the last four teams left in Division I college basketball. Of these last four teams, there is only one number one seed left: the top team overall, Billy Donovan's crew.

Kentucky has proved the pre-season hype to be justified, defying the odds of an 8 seed. Coach Calipari has coaxed the most out of his powerful, notably Aaron Harrison. Harrison knocked in a 3 ball with 2.3 second left to upset 2-seed Michigan on Sunday night. The Wildcats entered the season with hefty expectations but failed to live up on them for the majority of the slog. With 10 losses, the season could have been seen as a letdown; until March Madness began. After knocking out previously unbeaten Wichita State and intrastate rival Louisville, the team seems to be playing their best ball at the perfect time.

The Connecticut Huskies, on the other hand, may have also been ranked for much of the beginning of the season, but never had the expectations of Big Blue foisted upon them. UConn, content to fly under the radar for much of the season, dominated trendy pre-Tourney pick, Michigan State on Sunday. While the final margin was only six points, UConn seemed to be in control of their destiny for the majority of the game. This has been the case since they needed overtime o take out St. Joe's in the first round of the Tournament. Shabazz Napier, the senior guard from Storrs, has put the team on his back, and his free throws seemed to clinch the game.

The aforementioned, overall number one seed Florida cruised past the previous upset-minded Dayton Flyers. This is nothing new for the Gators, who won it all in 2007 and have been to the Elite Eight for the last three years in a row. Florida's coach, Billy Donovan, has been here before and seems poised – at least mathematically – for a run to the championship.

However, the team that the majority of the nation has rallied around by far is Wisconsin. The Badgers have shown tremendous tenacity and the play of Frank Kaminsky is a big part of their overtime victory against the West Region 1 seed Arizona Wildcats. Although Wisconsin entered the post-season as a 2 seed, most pundits overlooked the team in their predictions of who would be left standing at this time of the year.

The semifinal matches will be played on Saturday night, with both games televised on TBS. The final matchup, for the national championship, will take place on Monday, April 7. If your bracket is busted, take comfort in the knowledge that so is everyone else's and enjoy some quality basketball.

V.22 No.21 | 5/23/2013

sports

NBA Conference Finals Begin

Spurs go up 1-0 in Western Conference Finals

In the National Basketball Association, the country may not get quite as mad as the NCAA Tournament, but we are down to the final four, and there is plenty to pay attention to. The NBA Playoffs have delivered their fair share of surprises (The Bulls taking game one against the Heat) as well as caveats and disappointments (Russell Westbrook's injury in the series against the Houston Rockets), but they've wound down by this point to the Conference Finals.

On Sunday, the Memphis Grizzlies got smacked around in their first game at San Antonio against the Spurs. The Grizz had a tough path in making their very first Conference Finals, taking down the Los Angeles Clippers in round 1 and the Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder in round 2. Their defense, touted all season, has looked strong and will give the Spurs a serious test. The Spurs, meanwhile, defeated the disappointing Los Angeles Lakers in a round 1 romp and the upset-minded, young star-studded Golden State Warriors in round 2.

In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat have rolled through the Playoffs as most suspected they would. After blanking the Milwaukee Bucks in round 1, they were surprised by the Chicago Bulls for a game, but ended up sweeping the remainder of the series. They'll start the conference finals on Wednesday against a team that is the Eastern Conference mirror of the Grizz, the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers haven't made the Conference Finals since 2004, and many did not figure them to be back here this year, with the absent Danny Granger and his uncertain status during various points of the season. However, the Pacers have clearly found their way forward without their star player, recommitting to defense and grinding games out that may not be beautiful, but give them the win. They defeated the Atlanta Hawks in round 1 in 6 games and then did the same to the New York Knicks. In each series for the Pacers, home-court advantage has seemed to matter. They will not have it against the Heat, and the vast majority of sports pundits are picking LeBron James and company to beat the Pacers.

So the probable match-up is the Spurs vs the Heat. This would be a callback for James, as the first Finals he made, while he still played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, was in 2007, against the Spurs. Those Spurs destroyed that Cavs team, sweeping them out of the Finals in an unceremonious manner. James certainly remembers that and may use it as motivation if the two teams do meet. However, a player of his caliber is certainly not over-looking his current series and it's worth thinking about the possibility of the Grizzlies and the Pacers meeting. Memphis and Indiana are first and second in defense respectively and they'll both give their opponents more than a cursory spat in their Conference Finals games. San Antonio, known for its defense for seemingly decades, sits at a mortal 11th place in that category this year, but is balanced by the fourth-ranked offense. Again, the Spurs are the favorite in their Conference Final. But sitting above all other teams, in both esteem and odds, reign the Miami Heat. With both the fifth-best defense and offense they look, at times, unstoppable.

We'll find out about the Heat and the Pacers tomorrow. The Grizzlies and the Spurs, meanwhile, are off to a terrific start. All of the remaining Western Conference games can be seen on ESPN, while the Eastern Conference games will be broadcast on TNT.

V.21 No.12 |

news

The Daily Word in our Alaskan hottie, our favorite sport, our alien artifacts.

The Daily Word

Sarah Palin is both attractive and smart.

It is estimated that 10% to 20% of the country of Mauritania’s 3.4 million people are enslaved.

Theaters are pushing to up the prices of regular movies to bring the prices of 3D movies down. Mmm mmm motion sickness.

New Mexico is the armpit of the sadness of the horse-racing world.

10 things you may not know about the health care reform law.

Area 51 Museum displays authentic alien artifact.

School officials kill teenager's porn star prom dreams.

AFD is upset about nude photo shoot featuring one of their trucks.

Hunger Games opening sets new records.

James Cameron returns safely from the Challenger Deep.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Final Four.

North Korea has transported the main body of a long-range missile in preparation for launching a "satellite ... to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung."

V.20 No.11 | 3/17/2011

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sports

NCAA Tournament: Start!

The brackets are out. The games have started. There are now 68 teams and the National Championship will be played on Monday, April 4, in Houston.

The No.1 seeds, as previously discussed, are Ohio State, Kansas, Duke and Pittsburgh. Ohio State was rewarded with the overall No. 1 seed and seems to have consensus among experts to make the Final Four.

Pat Forde does a good job of bringing up some of the more interesting stories that will make up this tournament (as well as some minutia), but one of the most fascinating stories he skips over is that of Steve Fisher. With San Diego State rolling the way it has through this season—and the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the Fab Five debuting this week—plenty of people are going to have Michigan on the mind. Fisher was fired from the University of Michigan amidst plenty of controversy relating to the Fab Five and NCAA infractions. The selection committee chose to put Fisher's former school—Michigan—on the same side as his new school—San Diego State. The Aztecs only lost to one team all season long: both away and at home against BYU. Of course, in order to set up this theoretical revenge, Michigan will have to get past Duke. The Blue Devils may not have won the ACC, but they beat up on UNC in the ACC Tournament to grab some serious momentum running into the Big Dance.

The First Four—as the newly expanded NCAA Tournament is calling their new play-in games—started yesterday night and the for-real tournament gets raring mañana. Regardless of filling in your brackets amongst your work colleagues, it's really worth taking some time to watch the games as they're taking place, especially in these first few days. There's very little to match up with the magic of an unsuspected team catching fire and knocking off a perceived threat. There's a reason it's nicknamed March Madness and the madness is setting in.