Archive for March, 2012

Random Late March Thoughts

Posted in Yankees on March 28, 2012 by sammywestside

Will Freddy be in or out of the Yankees rotation next week when the season starts?

Today I will talk about a few different New York and national sports topics, starting with the NCAA Tournament.

This year’s NCAA Tournament has kinda been a dud. Not to say that people aren’t watching, but it hasn’t been a classic year. The final four has no cinderella, and the tournament has lacked any instant classics. With that said, it’s still the greatest tournament of the year and I’ve enjoyed watching it. The final four is not too surprising to me as I picked three of the four, but Missouri and Duke losing to 15 seeds was very entertaining. Kentucky has looked like the best team so far and is most likely to take home the title. I will not be rooting for the Wildcats though, as they are my least favorite of the final four teams. I picked Ohio State and will stick with that pick, to advance to the finals to face Kentucky. We’ll see what happens this weekend, my hope is that the tournament will give us three very exciting games.

Jim Nantz will be on the Mic this weekend, but his wonderful voice will be more readily used next week at the Masters. By far the greatest golf tournament of the year at the prettiest course, this year’s Masters is due to be epic with the current state of the PGA tour. Tiger Woods has finally broken through and looks poised to be the favorite but Rory McIlroy is playing just as well and will look to revenge last year’s collapse.

In New York the sports scene is getting pretty exciting these days. The biggest story this week was the trade of Tim Tebow to the Jets. It’s hard to not believe they did this for the publicity, but at the same time Sanchez isn’t exactly Peyton Manning. I predict that Tebow will start for the Jets by midseason due to the pressure to replace Sanchez who will have his share of struggles. This works out well for  a Giants team as well, who are happy to have the crosstown rivals receive all the attention for a third straight year. The Giants free agency saga has lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, but their departure shouldn’t be too big a deal. The Giants will return multiple players from injury on defense, as well as a deep and well renowned defensive line. The Offensive Line needs help and a big time Tight End would be nice. The Giants will look to address some issues in draft as well as the remaining free agency period. While the Giants won’t be favorites to repeat, they should be considered one of the top NFC contenders for next season.

The Knicks are back on the upswing after Mike D’Antoni’s departure, and this time its due to defense. While the offense has been inconsistent, a renewed energy on the defensive end has led them to a 7-1 record since Mike Woodson took over. Jeremy Lin has continued to perform but will miss a second straight game tonight against the Magic due to a sore knee. Amare Stoudemire is now going to miss 2 to 4 weeks and this is a cause for concern. He had just started to turn the corner, but now the bulging disk in his back could cause him to be out the rest of the way. Carmelo is going to have to step up and start scoring more efficiently, while the rest of the team does as well. The Knicks face a tough schedule the rest of the way and must continue to win to just make the playoffs. If they can continue to play well and get healthy then perhaps they could make some noise come playoff time.

The Rangers are even closer to the playoffs now and they’re battling for the top seed in the east. The second place Penguins are only 3 points behind with 6 games to play. Falling behind the Penguins would drop the Rangers to the 4 seed and a likely matchup with the tough Flyers. Either way the Rangers need to find their flow again and try to make sure they are playing at a high level come playoff time. The Sabres are currently in the 8th spot and are firing on all cylinders and would be a big challenge for the Rangers as well.

Finally baseball season is right around the corner, and spring training is wrapping up this week. The Mets are in trouble this year as they are arguably the worst team in a tough division. Their training camp has been quiet so far, and the expectations are the lowest they’ve been in a while for the Mets. Maybe they have a little surprise in them, and that will have to start with good pitching and situational hitting. The Yankees biggest headlines have centered around their rotation. The spring has been good for the starters and the decision will be tough who will get the nod. I’m not sure who I want to see out there, and Andy Pettitte’s return in a month or so should complicate things even more. Injuries might end up working things out, but we’ll see what happens soon enough. The Yankees are looking the best they’ve looked in a long time coming out of spring training and if things can mold then this could be the AL favorite. The Red Sox, Rays, Rangers, Angels and Tigers all look like good teams too though, so we’ll see.

My 2012 Bracket

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 13, 2012 by sammywestside

This years bracket had a lot of potential for upsets, but the way things matched up were a little disappointing in my opinion. The seeding weren’t as bad as last year but some teams got shafted. Creighton got an 8 seed when they should have been around a 6. BYU and Iona were unfairly matched at the 14 seed line. I don’t understand how if you’re the last 4 in you could be a 14 seed. Lamar and Vermont should have been left out of the play-in match ups and should have got strictly 16 seeds. I thought Colorado got a generous seed at 11 considering they weren’t even in contention for an at large before winning the Pac 12. St. Bonaventure and Belmont perhaps deserved a 13 seed instead of 14.

Anyway onto my bracket…

– You’ll notice I chose my favorite coach in the world to win it all, John “Cheater” Calipari. I honestly don’t think he is a great coach and could easily lose, but this year Kentucky has less flaws than anyone else.

– Kentucky is my only 1 seed in the final four but the other three are 2 seeds, so nothing crazy.

– My elite 8 isn’t controversial either with only one team (Baylor) as a mild upset.

– I’m actually pissed that my bracket has so few upsets and I have been working hard to try and convince myself of some. This hasn’t worked that well, but majority of my upsets you’ll see in the Midwest region.

– Belmont and Cal in the sweet sixteen might be stretching it, but these are two very underrated teams.

– The upsets that I didn’t pick but came close are the following: Iona over Marquette and into the sweet 16, NM St over Indiana, Ohio over Michigan, Harvard over Vandy, LB State over New Mexico, and St. Bonaventure over FSU

– Of teams I think could really surprise Wichita State is at the top of the list. I have them in the sweet 16 losing to Kentucky, but this team, with better match ups, is capable of a very deep run. I think they are much better than Butler or VCU from the last two years, and of course are seeded quite well.

Early Thoughts on the Bracket

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 12, 2012 by sammywestside
Tim Cluess and Iona are Dancin'

Tim Cluess and Iona are Dancin'

Last night we were revealed the brackets and unlike last year, the controversy wasn’t overwhelming. The only surprise and gripe most people had was with the inclusion of Iona over teams like Drexel or Seton Hall. Personally I have absolutely no problem with Iona being in, I was just a bit surprised. I was happy to see them in, and I instead would have replaced USF with Drexel, a team that played unbelievable the last 27 games of the season. They had their top shooter out the first part of the season when they started 2-4, and they should have considered that. There are 3 trends we have seen now over the last few years in how the committee picks teams:

1. RPI DOES MATTER: Seton Hall, Drexel, and many other bubble teams had much lower RPI’s than Iona and I think that helped them get in over them. RPI is a reflection of who you play and who you beat. Personally I am a much bigger fan of the KenPom rating system which takes into account the efficiency of how a team performs on both ends of the floor. Historically ranking systems are designed in order to give the most accurate representation of how good each team is, and a team ranked lower would lose on a neutral court. The RPI doesn’t do this nearly as accurately as KenPom rankings does. The committee should rethink if RPI is the best system. Still said, Iona deserved to get in and I was excited to see them make it because they were the better team.

2. Strength of Schedule is a big deal: Look no further than who you play as a big indicator of where or if you’ll be seeded. A team like Missouri missed out on a 1 seed likely because they didn’t do enough tough scheduling non-conference despite racking up a better record than UNC or Michigan State. Strength of schedule is the best way to manipulate RPI too. Teams every year that schedule tough (and lose) reap more benefits than those who schedule easy and roll to victories. Personally though, it’s best to find some middle ground. Losing a game a team you’re supposed to is fine, losing a game to a team that is a bad loss isn’t. With the struggle for teams at the bottom of the ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC (and the entire Pac 12), bad losses were easier to come by for big conference schools.

3. Being a Mid Major on the bubble is actually better now: Last year it was VCU, this year Iona. Teams most people didn’t have in but they got in. The question is why go halfway with this new trend and include a very mediocre USF instead of Drexel. I am all for getting more mid majors in, but most years didn’t have the depth this year did. Many teams that weren’t even mentioned on the bubble should have been there and lost in their conference championships. To name a few teams that a really legit but in NIT include: Middle Tennessee State, Marshall, Weber State, Oral Roberts, LaSalle, St. Joseph’s, Denver, Akron, Wyoming, and Dayton.

One of my favorite annual traditions is to fill out the brackets. I always do a predictions bracket, but I also do a bracket of exactly what I’d like to see happen. In general you should know a few things:

1. I’m rooting for Creighton first and foremost as Clemson and St. John’s are not in the tourney this year

2. There are a series of teams I dislike in general even though they will unfortunately be winning many games. This includes Duke, UNC, UConn, and any team coached or previously coached by John Calipari. 

3. I love seeing upsets, so in this fun bracket I will have absurd ones and a lot of them.

So here it is! Click Below…

Fun Bracket 2012

East Side Ryno’s Bracketology

Posted in College Basketball on March 12, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

As we all know, sammywestside is the bracketology expert here at 5BS. But I figured I’ll show you guys my picks for this year’s tournament for the hell of it. If you’re trying to win some money, please don’t listen to me. I am completely biased when filling out a bracket and I always go with the Jesuit schools in the first round (aka the “Burke Golden Rule”). You can click on the picture above to see my full bracket, but here are some bold picks I have for the 2012 tourney:

– Baylor will beat Kentucky and head to the Final Four:

Kentucky has the best talent in the tournament but I hate picking teams that are full of freshman. Anthony Davis will win Player of the Year, but Baylor’s experience will be the reason they will head to New Orleans.

– New Mexico will go to the Sweet 16:

Steve Alford’s group in Albuquerque are on fire. They just beat San Diego State in the Mountain West championship on Saturday. Looking for them to stay hot and take care of business against Long Beach State and Big East champion Louisville.

– Watch out for South Florida:

USF is a solid defensive team who has the ability to knock off their first three opponents. First, they should easily beat Cal in their play-in game. Then they have Temple, who lost in the semi-finals of the Atlantic 10 tournament and then possibly Michigan, who I believe is overrated.

– When in doubt, pick Tom Izzo:

No matter what seed Michigan State is given, Izzo goes to the Final Four. This year, the Spartans have great depth and experience. PLus, they’re getting hot at the right time. Look for them to win a close one against Syracuse in the finals.

And now I leave you with Gus Johnson:

Final Bracketology

Posted in College Basketball on March 11, 2012 by sammywestside

#1: Kentucky, Syracuse, UNC, Michigan State

#2: Missouri, Kansas, Ohio State, Duke

#3: Baylor, Marquette, Michigan, Louisville

#4: Georgetown, Wisconsin, Indiana, FSU

#5: Wichita State, Murray State, Vanderbilt, Florida

#6: Notre Dame, New Mexico, UNLV, Creighton

#7: Memphis, St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Temple

#8: Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas State

#9: UConn, St. Louis, Alabama, Purdue

#10: Virginia, Harvard, West Virginia, California

#11: Southern Miss, Colorado State, VCU, Texas

#12: Long Beach State, BYU, Xavier, USF, Drexel, NC State

#13: Davidson, Belmont, St. Bonaventure, Colorado

#14: Montana, New Mexico State, Ohio, South Dakota State

#15: Long Island, Detroit, Lehigh, Loyola Maryland

#16: Western Kentucky, Vermont, Mississippi Valley State, Lamar, Norfolk State, UNC Asheville

Last Four: Xavier, USF, Drexel, NC State

Last Four out: Seton Hall, Iona, Washington, Miami FL

Greetings from the Garden

Posted in Knicks on March 11, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO


If anyone was wondering, Linsanity is over. Let’s all get over it.

Bracketology: March 6th, 2011

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 6, 2012 by sammywestside

#1: Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, UNC

#2: Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Missouri

#3: Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Georgetown

#4: Baylor, Wisconsin, Murray State, Temple

#5: Wichita State, Florida State, UNLV, Florida

#6: Louisville, Creighton, Vanderbilt, St. Mary’s

#7: Notre Dame, New Mexico, Gonzaga, Iowa State

#8: San Diego State, Kansas State, Purdue, Virginia

#9: Alabama, St. Louis, Memphis, Southern Miss

#10: Cincinnati, West Virginia, UConn, Harvard

#11: California, Colorado State, BYU, Washington

#12: Xavier, Northwestern, Seton Hall, Miami FL, Mississippi St, Texas

#13: VCU, Long Beach State, Nevada, Belmont

#14: Montana, Akron, Davidson, South Dakota State

#15: Loyola-Maryland, Valpo, Bucknell, UT-Arlington

#16: Savannah State, Stony Brook, Miss Valley State, UNC Asheville, Long Island, North Texas

Last Four In: Seton Hall, Miami FL, Mississippi State, Northwestern

Last Six Out: South Florida, NC State, Iona, Drexel, Oregon, Tennessee


#1: South Florida, NC State, Iona, Drexel

#2: Oregon, Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Arizona

#3: Dayton, Oral Roberts, Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss

#4: UCF, Marshall, New Mexico State, Illinois

#5: Colorado, LSU, Arkansas, Weber State

#6: UMass, Northern Iowa, Ohio, George Mason

#7: Cleveland State, Buffalo, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

#8: LaSalle, Denver, Illinois State, Pennsylvania

CBI and CIT Prime Candidates:

Iowa, Oklahoma, TCU, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, Indiana State, Missouri State, Evansville, Drake, Tulsa, UAB, Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, Utah State, Idaho, Butler, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Detroit, Yale, Princeton, Old Dominion, Georgia State, Delaware, Oakland, Kent State, Fairfield, Manhattan, Mercer, SC-Upstate, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Lehigh, American, Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Wagner, Robert Morris, UCSB

Top 10 New York Sports Rivalries (in the last 20 Years)

Posted in Top 10 New York Sports Rivalries on March 6, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO


It’s been a while since our last countdown, so let’s start one. With great success, comes great rivalries. In New York, our sports teams have had some memorable rivalries against teams from all over the country. So for the next couple of weeks, we will bring you our list of the best rivalry matchups this city has seen in the last twenty years.

Starting with…

#10. Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks (1992-1996)

In 1992, Pat Riley became the head coach of the New York Knicks and immediately changed the image of Knicks basketball. With the way Riley demanded toughness on the court, it was easy for NBA teams to hate the Knicks. Every game was physical, and in every playoff game a fight was expected. From 1992-1996, the Knicks and the Chicago Bulls matched up in the playoffs four times. In 1992, New York took over as being the “other” Eastern Conference powerhouse since the Pistons and the Celtics diminished into mediocrity. The Knicks were the only team who could match up against the Bulls.

1992 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:

In the previous season, the Bulls swept the Knicks in the first round while on their way to their first championship. But in 1992, the Knicks were finally good enough to go head-to-head with the beasts of the East. The series went to seven games, but once against Chicago prevailed at home in Game 7 winning 110-81. This series kick-started the rivlary.

1993 Eastern Conference Finals

In the 1992-1993 season, the Knicks surprisingly finished ahead of the Bulls in the regular season and had home court advantage. New York would go on to take the first two games at home with Game 2 having the memorable moment of John Starks dunking over Michael Jordan and Horace Grant. But in Game 3, the Bulls would trounce the Knicks 103-83 while John Starks was ejected for fighting. The Bulls would go on to win the next three games and the series 4-2.

(Gets Physical at 06:50)

1994 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:

With Michael Jordan retired, the Knicks were finally the favorites coming into the Conference Semi-Finals against Chicago. Once again New York would take the first two games at the Garden. But when the series went to Chicago, the rivalry exploded. In Game 4, Knicks guard Derek Harper shoved Bulls’ guard Jo Jo English into the first row causing a bench-clearing brawl. Harper would be suspended for two games, while English was suspended for one. The series would go to a seventh decisive game at the Garden. With an 87-77 victory, the Knicks were finally headed to the NBA Finals.

1996 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals:

With Michael Jordan back with in basketball, the Bulls finished the 1995-1996 regular season with the greatest record in NBA History: 72-10. Not surprisingly, Chicago would trounce the Knicks in the conference semi-finals in five games. The Bulls were headed for another three-peat.

Championship Week in College Hoops

Posted in College Basketball on March 5, 2012 by sammywestside

Who will be cutting down the nets this week?

We are now a little over six days away from the selection show and some tickets are already officially punched. This weekend Murray State, Creighton, UNC Asheville and Belmont won their conferences, as favorites. Now lets go through the conferences and see who is on their way to the big dance:

ACC: The top two seeds UNC and Duke are in position to compete for a #1 seed if they can win the ACC. Virginia and FSU are both in, but can improve their seeding with a run in the tournament. NC State and Miami are currently on the outside looking in, but favorable first round match ups, and winnable second round games will give each the opportunity to play their way back in the field in Atlanta this week. Maryland, Virginia Tech and Clemson could be NIT bound if they perform well during the tournament.

America East: Vermont and Stony Brook will play for the conference championship this week, securing the league’s only bid.

Atlantic 10: St. Louis and Temple are the top two seeds for the A10 tourney and are solidly in the tournament. Xavier is currently on the bubble and can’t afford a bad loss. They could still make it with a semi-final loss to St. Louis. If someone else wins the conference then they would steal a bid from the bubble.

Big 12: Everyone is pretty comfortable in the Big 12 this week. The only team with concerns is Texas, who currently sits on the good side of the bubble. Iowa State and Texas play in the second round, where a victory for the Longhorns would solidify their position, and a loss for the Cyclones wouldn’t push them out.

Big East: This tournament will have a lot of effect on the bubble this year. The Big East has 10 teams in contention for bids, but a lot of bubble teams. UConn and Seton Hall must win their first round games against lesser competition or else they could fall out the field from the bad loss. The other teams should be protected from bad losses with byes, but if one of the lower seeds did break through they could knock out teams like Cincinnati, West Virginia, or South Florida.

Big West: Weber State and Montana are the prohibitive favorites and will face off in finals if they both make it through their semifinal match ups tonight.

Big 10: Northwestern and Purdue face critical first round match ups against Nebraska and Minnesota, losses would likely push they out of the tournament while a win could be enough to dance. Ohio State is primed for a top 2 seed along with Michigan State,  but they could be pushed off the 1-seed lines even with a tournament title.

Big West: Long Beach State is the huge favorite to win this conference, but they lost their first and only conference game last week. LB State probably needs to win the tournament to make the big dance despite an pretty impressive resume and a team that really passes the eye-test.

CAA: VCU and Drexel will be playing for the conference championship tonight, but the loser will really have to sweat it out on Sunday. At this point I don’t think the loser will get in, but you never know. Last year VCU wasn’t going to make it and they did, and made it all the way to the final four.

CUSA: Memphis and Southern Miss seem pretty comfortable right now, and would both feel good if they made it to the CUSA championship. They want to avoid some potential bad losses, but I expect to see both selected on Sunday.

Horizon: Valpo and Detroit will play for the conference championship, but neither has an at-large shot. Valpo comes in playing quite well and are the favorites. A 14 or 15 seed seems like a good guess for the winner.

IVY: Harvard is waiting on the outcome of the Princeton-Penn game. If Penn falls Harvard will get the bid, if not they will have a one-game playoff after splitting the season series.

MAAC: Iona was a favorite to win the conference but they got upset yesterday and are now likely NIT bound. Loyola-Maryland and Fairfield will play for the championship now and are looking at about a 15 seed.

MAC: Akron is the conference favorite but this is a one-bid league. Akron would get an NIT bid if they fail to win the conference.

MEAC: Savannah State and Norfolk State are the favorites in this one-bid league, Savannah State would earn an NIT bid if they fail to win the conference. The winner will likely get a 16 seed.

MWC: This conference could get four bids, but Colorado State needs to win their first round matchup against TCU. A second round loss to SD State would not hurt them, but a win there would seal them a bid in my opinion.

NEC: Wednesday Long Island, the favorite, and Robert Morris will battle for the conference championship with a likely 16 seed on the line.

Pac 12: This tournament could be very interesting. A bid steal here is very possible with the relative weakness of the conference. Arizona, Washington, Oregon and California are in the mix for at-large bids. Cal and Washington can probably afford to lose earlier than the others, but aren’t guaranteed a bid either. Oregon and Arizona need a run deep into the tournament to earn back that at-large bid. The four teams are the top four seeds and really would be silly to lose a second round game to a lower seed. In the end I think the league will get 2 bids, but which two teams I do not know.

Patriot: Lehigh and Bucknell will battle for the bid on Wednesday night with the Bison as the favorites. Bucknell could earn a 14 seed with a victory.

SEC: Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Florida and Mississippi State all are currently in, but the Bulldogs seem the most precarious right now. If they fall early in the tournament they could fall out and might need at least one if not two wins to feel decent about their chances. Tennessee has suddenly emerged after finishing second in the league, but they still have a lot of work to do. They might need to win the SEC tournament, but a run to the finals would give the committee plenty to think about.

SoCon: The big favorite Davidson will play Western Carolina for the title and with a victory could earn a seed as high as 12 or 13. The Wildcats seem dangerous come March but a loss in this one would keep them out of the big dance.

Southland: Texas-Arlington is the favorite to win this tourney which starts Wednesday and the winner will likely get a 16 seed.

SWAC: The weakest conference in the country was dominated by Mississippi Valley State and the winner of the tournament will likely play in Dayton in the first four games.

Summit: Oral Roberts is in the semi’s and might have to get through an underrated South Dakota State squad to reach the tournament. They could earn a 13 seed next week.

Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee dominated all year but was shocked by Arkansas State yesterday. They will now go to the NIT, and the new favorite is third seeded Denver.

WCC: St. Mary’s and Gonzaga will jockey for seeding position in the conference final. BYU should feel pretty good about earning a seed as well in this three bid league.

WAC: Nevada and New Mexico State are the favorites in the WAC but both teams are out of contention for an at large bid. The conference tournament starts on Thursday.

Check back later on for an updated Bracketology to follow…