The NFL has returned to some sense of normalcy. In past years, the Divisional weekend of the playoffs was probably the most predictable week of the year. But in the recent past there had been plenty of upsets on that weekend and the teams that had worked all season to earn home field hadn't waltzed through to the Championship games. But this year, with the Jets at San Diego still to come, the home teams have fared quite well. Maybe the teams that got off to such good starts in the NFL and cruised to the finish line knew what they were doing. New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minnesota have all won realitively easy contests this weekend. I expect San Diego will have a similar result, which should make for a pair of great games next week.
Huge win for the Orange in Morgantown yesterday. The Orange proved that they could win in a hostile environment against a half-court team with a solid defense - thereby answering some questions about the team. The other thing that I've like about recent performances is that the Orange has once again shown the balance that was apparent at the start of the season. SU has found a different hero each night and has worked both inside and outside. They are a team that can go deep into the postseason.
If I was filling out brackets on this Sunday evening, I'd probably be picking six teams to win it all. Duke, Syracuse, Kansas and Texas would likely be the Number One seeds at this point, and they all show the makeup to win it all, but I'd also look at Wisconsin and BYU as teams with enough versatility to win six games in March.
In Joe Lunardi's Bracketology last week, he said Purdue had done more than the Orange to that point in the season, but he expected that the committee would have chosen Syracuse as the final #1 seed. Wonder if he still feels that way, after the Boilers dropped another two this week. Purdue is still strong, but getting it back in order quickly is a necessity.
Among the bubble teams right now. North Carolina and Connecticut. The Tar Heels have some bad losses and a 12-6 record. UCONN fell to 11-6 with a loss to a mediocre Michigan team earlier today. Watch them both closely, they are big name schools that have remained in the rankings becuase of it, but haven't been playing good basketball most of the season.
Another great game in the Big East today. Villanova snapped a five-game losing streak to Georgetown with a win at Wachovia Center. Scottie Reynolds bolstered his bid for the Naismith award with his effort today....Marquette has a 16-point first half lead on Providence and is trying to work its way back into the Big East hunt. The Golden Eaglers are much better than their 1-3 Big East mark indicates.
Among those privileges reportedly taken away from the Mount basketball team by head coach Milan Brown after Thursday's loss: Use of the team locker room. Apparently after practice on Friday, which reportedly was pretty intense, the Mountaineers had to retreat to their campus housing for showers. I don't know if that made the difference or not, but undoubtedly Saturday was the sharpest and most complete effort for the Mounties.
Notre Dame will test Syracuse on Monday night. But I don't believe the Irish play solid enough defense to earn the win. Ultimately, I would expect Syracuse to wear down the Irish and come away with the win.
Remember when there was talk that Lane Kiffin would be the next coach of the Syracuse Orangemen. During the 2008 season, it seemed for a long while that Kiffin would end up at either Washington or Syracuse - and then of course the Rocky Top job came open. Thankfully, he ended up there. I think Tennessee has the type of program that can survive Kiffin's one and done action, but a move like that in Upstate New York could have left Syracuse digging out for quite some time.
The Australian Open begins in Melbourne in a few hours. My picks - no big surprises - Roger Federer and Serena Williams.