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Who’s #1?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 15, 2009

Louisville, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Connecticut have all received #1 seeds in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

NCAA Men’s brackets have been announced today and Rick Pitino and his Cardinals are the number one overall seed in this year’s tournament. 

Though I’m not a Big East fan, I must admit that this is their year. Three of the four overall number one seeds are out of the Big East. 

Louisville made it clear that they deserved to be the number one this year after going 28-5, 16-2 in conference play, and destroying all challengers in the Big East Tournament: 73-55 against Providence, 69-55 against Villanova and 76-66 against Syracuse in the championship game. Louisville will the the number one seed in the Midwest Region, playing their games in Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh had a strong case for the number one as well. They were the regular season number one for three months during the 2008-2009 season. until they lost to Louisville 63-69. But after a 28-4 season (15-3) they were recognized as the second best team; not only in the Big East, but in the tournament as well. Pittsburgh has been awarded the number one seed in the East Region, playing their games in Boston.

Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina and UConn all been seeded number one in the 2009 Men's Basketball Tournament.

Louisville, Pitt, North Carolina and UConn all been seeded number one in the 2009 Men's Basketball Tournament.

 

North Carolina, the only number one team not from the Big East was the number one team during the regular season as well. In the highly competitive ACC, The Tarheels were dominant. In route to winning the ACC, Carolina posted the best record going 28-4  (13-3). The second place team in the conference, (Wake Forest #4 seed) went 24-8 and 11-5 in conference play. With the way Carolina handled the ACC this year; beating the #2 seed Duke twice during the regular season, they are more than deserving of a number one seed.  

Carolina will be the number one seed in the South Region hoping to make it to the regional championships in Memphis.

Last but not least, another former regular season number one: UConn. 

Connecticut fought hard this year in the Big East going 27-4 (15-3). The first, second and third place team in the Big East are all number one seeds this year, a testament to the dominance of the conference this year. 

The Huskies played games against both Louisville and Pittsburgh this year, beating the Cardinals 68-51, and splitting their series with Pitt, losing 76-68 in February. But the Huskies rebounded in March, beating the Panthers 70-60.

UConn rounds out the tournament with the number one seed in the West Region.

Though their seemed to be more parity last year, it doesn’t seem as if this year’s tournament will be much different than last year’s. 

The number one seeds look to be the most dominant teams, and will probably advance to the final four. 

The tournament is losing its parity, in the last few years Non-Power Conference teams are losing “At-Large” bids. 

Five years ago in 2004, there were twelve.

Last year there were six, this year, four. 

Remember the excitement of the 2004 tournament? 

St. Joseph’s led by  guard tandem Jameer Nelson and Delonte West making it to the Elite Eight?

Manhattan knocking off SEC power Florida in the first round 75-60? 

Nevada beating Michigan State and Gonzaga to make it to the Sweet Sixteen?

Seton Hall beating Arizona in the first round? 

Alabama upsetting Stanford and Syracuse to make the Elite Eight?

It truly was Madness in 2004, and in 2008 as well. 

Remember Siena’s upset Vanderbilt?

Davidson’s upset Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin to make the Elite Eight.?

Western Kentucky’s upset Drake, and beat San Diego in route to the Sweet Sixteen?

San Diego upsetting Connecticut in the first round?

Now there will only  four Non-Power Conference teams thanks to the Selection Committee. 

I’m excited for the tournament, but in the future will it actually be “March Madness” ? 

-Nate 

(Bracket’s coming soon….)

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On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 7, 2009

Welcome to Minneapolis, Minnesota!

The state of 10,000 lakes, the city with flaky fans and the team void of quality quarterbacks.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, home to both the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings.

First things first I would like to issue a notice to all Minnesota residents: Support your local football team!

Minnesota had not made the playoffs in four years.

The typical reaction to a team achieving success after continually losing is for fans to jump on the bandwagon.

Not in Minnesota.

Defensive end Jared Allen had to beg Minnesota fans to buy playoff tickets to prevent the game from being blacked out by national broadcasters. Even with his plea the Vikings had to be granted a 24-hour extension before selling out the stadium.

Seriously?

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota. Lack of ticket sales almost prevented the home playoff game from being televised.

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota; lack of ticket sales almost prevented a home playoff game from being televised.

Can you imagine a team in the playoffs unable to sell out a home game?

Get on your job Vikings fans.

With that being said the 2008 Minnesota Vikings did a great job making something out of nothing.

Along with the lack of public support, the Vikings also fought against the ideal that to be a winning football team its a necessity to have a good quarterback. Never mind that in the last ten years, six of the Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Owner Zygi Wilf said to heck with a quality quarterback and proved NFL experts wrong by winning ten games in 2008.

But those miffed experts were rejuvenated on January 4th when the Vikings took the field for the NFL Wild Card Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Three hours and 71 yard screen pass for touchdown later, the Philadelphia Eagles advanced, defeating the Vikings 26-14.

And they were off!

Sports writers thrashed about on their laptops. Posting articles dripping with with sarcasm; citing quarterback Tavaris Jackson’s interception in the second quarter, his fumble in the fourth quarter, and his paltry 42.8 completion percentage as the reason for the Vikings’s loss.

Though they are right, let’s address something many of them chose to ignore: Jackson is not the sole reason for the loss.

How does the NFL’s sixth best defense allow 26 points?

How does a defense that allows 292.2 yards per game, allow Donovan McNabb to throw for 300, and allow the Eagles offense to produce 350 yards?

True Jackson struggled, but with a defensive output like that, the third year man out of Alabama State was practically playing Russian roulette with a Derringer.

It is not myth, rumor or urban legend,to be a successful football team you need a quarterback.

It is also well known that Minnesota has not had one since Daunte Culpepper’s amazing 2004 season. Tavaris Jackson struggled not only the entire 2008 season but the year before too; his performance in the Wild Card game should not have come as a shock.

In 2007 Jackson played in 12 games; he threw for 1911 yards, 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately for Jackson he is athletically gifted, making him a dual threat as well. To compliment his mediocre passing Jackson ran for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns.

But he also had 5 fumbles.

His numbers were terrible, but he was selected as a developmental player, so as with most developmental players the Vikings believed time would cure all Jackson’s inability.

Sadly it didn’t. Which is why in 2008 when Jackson’s stats began to mirror those of 2007, he was benched.

For journeyman Gus Frerotte.

The Vikings had a developmental player at quarterback who had made no substantial progress in two years, and they get Frerotte to replace him?

The Vikings spent the 2007 off season half-heartedly trying to find a replacement for Jackson.

After Green Bay refused to deal Brett Favre to an opponent in the NFC North, Minnesota ended its quarterback search. Matt Schaub and Jeff Garcia were both available free agents, yet Minnesota ended its search after they couldn’t get Favre. It causes other NFL teams to question how interested the Vikings truly were in replacing Jackson.

Surprisingly Frerotte led the Vikings to an 8-3 record. The Vikings looked like a playoff bound team, that is until Frerotte hurt his back and the controls were returned to Tavaris Jackson and Vikings season quickly came to a close.

What happened next is what makes me question Minnesota’s desire to win.

Gus Frerotte expressed his desire to be the Vikings starter for the 2009 season.

A week ago they cut him.

Frerotte is not an all star quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but the numbers can’t be debated. 2157 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight wins. Keep this in mind, the Vikings had ten wins in 2008.

Frerotte had eight.

After going 8-3 as a starter the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (right) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson despite Jacksons dissapointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

After going 8-3 as a starter in 2008, the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (12) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson (7); despite Jackson's disappointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

So they released him?

Do the Vikings like to win? This should be the question Christopher Nolan has the Riddler ask Bruce Wayne in the next Batman movie.

There are two possible reasons for the Vikings actions.

The first is the one I have already suggested, they simply enjoy losing.

The second is that they are potentially, and hopefully planning to draft a quarterback in the 2009 Draft.

It’s unlikely they will select one in the first round though. They have concerns at both Right Tackle and Cornerback.

After the position switch of Ryan Cook, Minnesota now lacks depth at tackle. Also, Antoine Winfield appears to be the only intimidating corner in the secondary; but after a 90 tackle season by Cedric Griffin I think the Vikings will pass on a corner, hoping that 2008 was indication of Griffin’s progression.

If the Vikings select a tackle, either Eben Britton (Arizona) or Max Unger (Oregon) seems to be the choice. I’m not a fan of drafting linemen in the first round, but based on the quarterback I’m suggesting for Minnesota, picking Britton or Unger will be a good choice.

At 6’6″ 309 pounds, Britton offers a solid frame to anchor the Vikings right side of the line.

Unger is no slouch either at 6’4″ 309 pounds. He brings a little more to the table than Britton due to his ability to play all five positions on the offensive line. If the Vikings are looking for a tackle, either pick would be fine.

The moment has arrived though, so lets head to our seats and be quiet as Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium.

With the 54th pick in the 2009 Draft the Minnesota Vikings should select: Curtis Painter

I have already made the argument for Painter in earlier posts. In short he is a big quarterback, extremely accurate and does not turn the ball over.

Sounds like everything the Vikings don’t have.

If by the grace of god the Vikings land McNabb, then the situation changes completely. Draft a quarterback in the much later rounds, either 5th or 6th.

It’s safe to say though that McNabb won’t be in Minneapolis any time soon, so the Vikings should go ahead and draft Curtis Painter.

Curtis Painter's ability to throw the ball accurately and efficiently will help improve the Vikings offense. After a poor senior year Painter will be overlooked, making him available to the Vikings in the second or third round.

On the clock: Tampa Bay

-Nate

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