April 18, 2014

Yan Gomes and Miguel Cabrera get paid; Josh Gordon wants Johnny Manziel: While We’re Waiting

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First and foremost: Baseball!

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First and foremost (Part II), if you haven’t cast your votes yet, now is the time to do so. WFNY is nominated for Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast in Cleveland. We do this for free and count on you all to show your support through the ballot box. It’s Opening Day…why not start things off right? Thanks in advance, folks.

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Josh wants Johnny. Not long after discussing quarterback Johnny Manziel on Radio Row at the Super Bowl, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, once again, puts his Pro Bowl vote behind the Texas A&M quarterback for the Browns at No. 4 this May.

“To bring that spark to a team—that play-making ability—would be huge,” Gordon said of Manziel. “I’d love to see what he can do.”

There are some who wonder if Gordon is tipping the Browns’ draft hand, but those are also people who believe players are involved in the front office’s draft discussions. Earlier in the week, when he was on ESPN’s First Take, Gordon predicted a 10-6 record for the Browns in 2014 as led by one Brian Hoyer, so he’s nothing if not diplomatic. What Gordon’s words do signify is that (in addition to not being a scout) he’s a bit tired of catching passes from a different guy every week. The Browns continue to say that they don’t feel the need to draft a quarterback early, but the national pundits aren’t buying it. The question will come down to who’s there at No. 4, who does the team actually want (a lot of Teddy Bridgewater rumblings remain) , and do those stars align.

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Yanimal. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Yan Gomes news come across the wire this weekend as he’s clearly a guy who should be playing for more than the MLB minimum. It’s a team-friendly deal, and I’m all about the team. But I’m also all about said team locking up the only player who received MVP consideration a year ago in Jason Kipnis. This is the second offseason wherein the Indians and Kipnis were reportedly negotiating, and with Opening Day just hours away, it appears that we will head into another season without a long-term deal in place. Kipnis plays a premium position and is widely considered to be a player on the ascent. If another MVP-caliber season is on the horizon, the team is going to be in for a rude awakening once arbitration season rolls around. The Los Angeles Angels avoided such a mess by inking Mike Trout for the foreseeable future. If the Tribe wants to keep their word about locking up their core, they may want to realize the commodity they have and do the same. The benchmarks are already in place.

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Big Money Miguel. By now, you’ve seen plenty of opinions on the deal signed by Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.  It was just a matter of time before Nate Silver gave his thoughts over at FiveThirtyEight, and given my personal intersection of sports and business, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the economic rationale of why the Tigers’ deal—while disgusting on the cover—may not be as bad as we think. As the value of the average MLB franchise increases at a rate better than that of the S&P 500, and the number of billionaires continues to grow, Silver says that the economic impact of signing Cabrera to such a lucrative deal may simply be akin to holding (and eventually selling) a basket of goods—and Cabrera is a good good. Of course, there’s also the chance that this is all a huge bubble (something our own Craig has been calling for years) and Mike Ilitch could be left holding the bag. He’ll also still be a billionaire.

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And just because: We’ll miss you, Dayton. Hell of a run.

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Video: SNL roasts Stephen A. Smith

Jay Pharoah was absolutely hysterical as he took a shot at doing Stephen A. Smith last night on Weekend Update. I even enjoyed when he lost his composure and cracked a small laugh and a smile. The only downside to this clip? It didn’t include last night’s host Louis C.K. who had some really hysterical bits.

Community brings together America’s new Cinderella: The Dayton Flyers

joecapka

I was pleasantly surprised when Jacob asked me to write a post for this site. It’s not everyday a Cincinnati sports fan gets to spout on a Cleveland sports site, but today is neither about Cleveland nor Cincinnati. No, we must put our differences aside for this moment.

Today is a celebration of Cinderella. Today, we celebrate THE University of Dayton.

I have what could be called a typical UD history. My grandfather went to Dayton in the 1950s, splitting time between playing club baseball with several members of the great Flyer basketball teams of the ‘50s and serving his country during the Korean War. All five of his children then went to Dayton, although a couple didn’t graduate from UD — it’s a bit of an underrated party school. I’m a third-generation Flyer, which isn’t all that unique at UD, but that doesn’t make me or any other alumnus less proud of what’s happening with the Flyers right now because UD has spent the last 24 years, since their 1990 NCAA tournament bid, fighting the clutches of mediocrity.

[Read more...]

Can you spot the problem with this Ohio State basketball jersey?

Hmmm…. something seems off. This gives all new meaning to the term “March Madness.”

Honestly, it took me a second to see it. I wonder if it’s just one or if there are racks and racks of these that look just like this?

No more-deserving Cinderella than the lovable Dayton Flyers

devin oliver dayton

Why not Dayton? This was the question asked for decades by the renowned Flyer Faithful. While the once-storied program consistently disappointed, mid-major after mid-major blasted through the gates of the NCAA tournament’s first weekend into the hearts of the nation.

[Read more...]

Brackets for the Cure: Turn $20 into $1,000, help fight breast cancer

UntitledIn addition to our annual WFNY March Madness pool (which is free for all fans and readers), WFNY, in its ongoing efforts to give back to the Cleveland community, is helping promote a unique opportunity that comes in the way of Brackets for the Cure. Susan G. Komen’s Northeastern Ohio Affiliate is holding a March Madness challenge, sponsored by Tucker Ellis, LLP, that provides the entrants to turn their $20 tax-deductible donation into $1,000.

One-hundred percent of the donations will go to the Affiliate in their fight against breast cancer throughout the region. Brackets can be purchased here. You will, at some point subsequent to the donation, receive an email with a link and password to the CBS Sports-hosted challenge page. Complete and submit your bracket any time between Selection Sunday, March 16 and the start of the tournament on Thursday, March 20. Brackets must be completed no later than March 20 at 11 am to be eligible for prizes. Standings will be updated daily on the host site in addition to the Komen NEO Facebook page.

WFNY thanks you in advance for your support. Don’t hesitate to holler with any questions. Cheers!

March Madness through Wine & Gold glasses

Kyrie once dropped 28 in a Tournament game.

Kyrie once dropped 28 in a Tournament game.

While I love the NCAA tournament (I mean, who doesn’t love all-day basketball?), I’m always looking out for NBA prospects. NBA is my first love and I just can’t help but filter my college hoops through an NBA lens. This has been especially true in the post-LeBron era, where the Cavs’ crappy records gives them a great shot at selecting the cream of the college crop at the top of the NBA draft.

I’m a huge proponent in the Cavs building through the draft. The Cavs have drafted players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (and Brad Daugherty, Terrell Brandon, Ron Harper and Mark Price) while they’ve added guys like Larry Hughes, CJ Miles and Anthony Parker through free agency. The lesson I’ve taken away is that if I want the Cavs to add All-Star talent, it’s (unfortunately) going to have to be through the draft.1

Now, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t necessarily equate a good/great tournament performance into a good NBA player2. Some guys like Mateen Cleaves are just great college players. That’s fine. A good tournament run does not an NBA career make.

But what about going the other way? Do NBA All-Stars have crappy NCAA tournament games? A guy like Cody Zeller drops a stink bomb against Syracuse and I’m wondering if that should be a giant red flag or if I should focus more on his complete body of work. It’s the flip side of falling in love with a Big Game performance from someone like Derrick Williams3.

The Cavs’ current record 22-49 places them at third-worst in the NBA, giving them the third-best chance at landing that coveted top pick. And since I want the Cavs to draft another All-Star, I’m going to take a look at how the 2013 All-Stars fared in their respective NCAA Tournaments and see if many (or any) of them played poorly.    [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. the last All-Star that the Cavs have traded for was Mo Williams (and let’s be honest….). Before that it was Shawn Kemp. Before that, it was Larry Nance. []
  2. or we’d still be marveling at the NBA career of Trevor Huffman []
  3. let’s take this time to thank anything holy that Chris Grant didn’t put too much stock into Williams’ 2011 tournament performance []

WFNY Stats & Info: Easiest roads to the Final Four

With Ohio State’s dramatic win over Arizona last night, I’m certain many of you are asking this question: Who else has played only 6 seeds or worse en route to a possible Final Four? As usual, I have the statistical research for the answer today.

Dating back to the start of the 64-team bracket style in 1985, there have been 116 regions including this year. Out of those 116 regional winners that then advanced to the Final Four, Ohio State would be the 11th winner that didn’t play a top-5 seed. Thus, on average, it occurs about every three years. Here’s the list thus far:

Year Region Seed Team W #1 W #2 W #3 W #4 Result?
1986 E. Rutherford 1 Duke 16 8 12 7 Runner-up
1990 Oakland 1 UNLV 16 8 12 11 Champion
1990 Dallas 4 Arkansas 13 12 8 10 Final 4
1991 E. Rutherford 1 N. Carolina 16 9 12 10 Final 4
1993 Seattle 1 Michigan 16 9 12 7 Runner-up
1999 E. Rutherford 1 Duke 16 9 12 6 Runner-up
2001 Atlanta 1 Mich. State 16 9 12 11 Final 4
2004 Phoenix 2 Connecticut 15 7 6 8 Champion
2008 Detroit 1 Kansas 16 8 12 10 Champion

 

I had previously tweeted that Kansas in 2008 was the last such team to accomplish this feat. Their most difficult opponent was a No. 8 seed in the second round, then won in the all 1-seed Final Four. Two other teams — 1991 North Carolina and 2001 Michigan State — didn’t play any teams ranked better than No. 9.

Oddly enough, these teams then went 7-3 in the national semifinals, followed by 3-4 in the championship game. Those numbers obviously are slightly better than just average.

Of course, many high-ranked seeds lost to low seeds en route to their hopeful Final Fours. So these are just the 10 success stories against easy schedules in the first 28 years of the 64-team bracket style.

Ohio State still has one difficult task en route to their second straight Final Four — that’s No. 9 Wichita State, the same one that took down No. 1 Gonzaga last weekend. The Shockers are now ranked #20 in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings and already had impressive wins over VCU and Creighton during the regular season.

[Related: LaQuintessential! Ross Sends Bucks To Elite 8 on Second Straight GW Shot]

The Diff: NCAA tournament Sweet 16 odds

Over the month of March, The Diff has been all about college basketball. First, it was the bubble odds, then an update of said bubble odds, and most recently, initial tournament odds. With the Buckeyes tipping off in the Sweet 16 tomorrow night in Los Angeles, I’m back with another round of updates today.

The Diff

On one side of the argument, it was an exciting weekend for upsets and the average college basketball fan. 15 Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world and their jump into the spotlight almost seems like it has to be a Hollywood script. The success of 9 Wichita State, 12 Oregon and 13 La Salle also has been a fun surprise for many, even if their brackets were busted. Which then brings me to the other side of the argument — the success of stat predictions. I warned last week that I’ve never been very good at brackets. And thus far, the stats have been way off. [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: Elite 8 of NCAA tournament facts

There truly is no better time of the year than March Madness, right? Exactly. And that’s why today, after my spree of statistical #tournyhistory tweets @udjrosen last night, I’m here today at WFNY to share some notable facts as we enter the Sweet 16. Here you go with my Elite 8 of neat facts:

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No. 1: The 2 Ohio State-6 Arizona matchup will be the 27th between a 2-seed and a 6-seed since the tournament expanded to the 64-team format in 1985. In the previous 26 matchups, 2-seeds have a 20-6 record. This includes Ohio State’s victory over 6-seed Cincinnati in 2012.

No. 2: The 2013 tournament is the first ever with three 12-or-lower seeds to make the Sweet 16. (h/t @SportsCenter) In fact, a total of 15 teams seeded 9 or lower have made the Sweet 16 in the last four seasons. In the previous six, only 13 such teams had made the Sweet 16. Parity, eh?

No. 3: With three sub-12 seeds making the Sweet 16, I thought it’d be appropriate to rehash how these teams have done in this round: 1-25 (4%) all-time. Yikes. (More on this one win in a moment) It’s then significantly better for 10-11 seeds: 12-48 (20%). Logically, this would be because 12′s or 13′s historically are faced with a more daunting schedule in the regional semifinals.

No. 4: Now, the story of the tournament: the amazing 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. They’re obviously the first-ever 15-seed to make the Sweet 16. All-time, since 1985, 15-seeds now have a 7-109 (6%) record in the first round. They’re now 1-6 (14%) in the second round.

No. 5: Keeping with FGCU: Surprisingly, per ESPN, 0.95% of brackets submitted to their website had the Eagles in the Sweet 16. As crazy high as that may seem, it might actually be about right. Out of 116 regions, this is the first 15-seed to make the Sweet 16. So 1/100 is approximately about right. Good job, America.

No. 6: Also a first in 2013: Our first ever matchup between a 9-13. The 9-seed Wichita State Shockers will play the 13-seed La Salle Explorers in Los Angeles for an Elite 8 berth. Lowest-ever seed to make an Elite 8? That would be a 12-seed, once: 2002 Missouri. With an easier than normal matchup, La Salle could break that record.

No. 7: Speaking of La Salle, they became the second First Four team to advance all the way to the Sweet 16. Of course, 11-seed VCU also accomplished that feat in 2011 all the way to the Final Four. Also including 12-seed South Florida’s first-round upset in 2012, that makes First Four winners a combined 7-5 in three seasons (thus far).

No. 8: Finally, a nod to the only 1-seed that bowed out over the weekend: Gonzaga. The ‘Zags have actually made it to 15 consecutive NCAA tournaments, but only appeared in one Elite 8. Their record by round: 13-2 in Round of 64; 5-8 in Round of 32; 1-4 in Sweet 16; 0-1 in Elite 8. As my friend Nate pointed out too, that lone Elite 8 was actually the first of these 15 years as a 10-seed in 1999.

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[Related: The Diff: Ohio State’s March Madness odds]

NCAA Tournament: Statement on Ohio State-Iowa State charge

The NCAA has released an official statement on the controversial charge call from the end of today’s Ohio State-Iowa State third round game in Dayton.

Here is the response from John Adams, NCAA National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating, that was sent out to the media this afternoon:

“I spoke with the official, and he determined the defender established legal guarding position outside the restricted area prior to the offensive player leaving the floor to start his shot. When asked, the official said he did not see the defender’s foot over the restricted area line. By rule, this is not a reviewable play.”

Moments after this supposed charge was taken by Aaron Craft, he nailed a three-pointer that sent the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. Our friends at SB Nation have an excellent review as well of the detailed nuances behind this NCAA decision.

[Related: Animated: Aaron Craft sends Ohio State to the Sweet 16]

While We’re Waiting… A conversation with Mark Shapiro

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Our friends at The DiaTribe had a neat opportunity of a sit-down with Mark Shapiro. Here is Shapiro’s first quote: “‘Yeah, if you define active by spending money. This is my 22nd season with the team, and there’s never been anything of this magnitude. It’s clearly both a statement and effort by ownership. This isn’t just a front office effort. We identify players, make recommendations and provide alternative plans and they ultimately make the decisions. With both Swisher and Bourn, Paul Dolan was extremely involved and assertive in our efforts to get those players.’” [Al Ciammaichella] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… 20 years since Indians tragedy

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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20 years ago yesterday. Nice story from our friends at DTTWBL: “Whenever a loved one is lost, the memory of that moment seems endless. It’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago that the Olin, Crews and Cleveland Indians families all lost people that they loved.” [Steve Eby/Did The Tribe Win Last Night?] [Read more...]

The Diff: Ohio State’s March Madness odds

As a reminder, The Diff is your weekly Wednesday look into the world of sports statistics. This week’s edition is already my 10th such post at WFNY. In last week’s edition, I shared some updates about the Cavs, Indians, NFL Draft and March Madness. Now, with the bracket set, I’m back again this week to discuss what it all means for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Diff

Some of you may know that I have a bit of a history with NCAA tournament projections. No, it doesn’t only go back to as far as my version of The Diff two weeks ago about NCAA tournament math. Nor does it merely go back to my days writing at my own blog called The Sports Report and featuring lots of college basketball content. In actuality, it goes back to as early as March 2007 and David Lee Morgan Jr.’s article about me in the Akron Beacon Journal. To make a long story short, however, for being a statistically minded person, I’m actually ended up being pretty awful at bracket predictions. [Read more...]

Final Four: Enter WFNY’s NCAA Tournament Challenge

We had hoped of getting this to the masses earlier this week, but better late than never.

final-four-logo-2013-ncaa-tournament-atlanta

The details are as follows:

  1. You’ll want to go here — Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick’em
  2. If there are issues, the group number is 173147; the password is wfny
  3. Winner will get a slew of WFNY swag thrown their way. We have shirts, stickers, stuff…we’ll take care of you. We always do.
  4. Use your commenter handle where appropriate — it’s always nice to relate.
  5. Tell your friends. The more the merrier!

Good luck, kids. Go Buckeyes.

While We’re Waiting…Trading Asdrubal, and the emergence of Shannon Scott

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“The thought of trading Cabrera was mentioned several times in the offseason, especially after the Indians signed Mike Aviles. His name came up in talks with the Cardinals and the Phillies and Chris Antonetti no doubt fielded calls from a couple other teams, most likely the Red Sox because they’ve had a black hole at short since Nomar Garciaparra was traded.

The front office has to stay on the move, maximizing potential and selling high. And in keeping Cabrera this long they might have already missed that chance on a guy who wasn’t even all that heralded out of the minors for much besides his glove. The best time to trade him would have been after the 2011 season: His stock was through the roof after he’d hit 25 homers with a .792 OPS. His on-base numbers have been fading a bit, from a .361 peak in 2009 down to .338 last season, but that’s more than average and he’s had an OPS+ over 110 every year save 2010 when he broke his arm.” [Rohlfing/Wahoo's on First]

[Read more...]

The Diff: Cavs, Indians, NFL Draft and March Madness

Last week, I was all excited about the NCAA tournament and breaking down the bubble picture. I’ll have a little bit more March Madness today, but also wanted to share a few other stats-related sports thoughts about the Cavs, Indians and Browns. Hope you enjoy.

The Diff

– The Cavs’ much improved turnover ratio

While I’ve written about this topic several times already in the last month (here on 2/20, here on 2/26 and here on 3/2), I don’t think it’s still that clear to the average fan: The biggest in-season improvement for the Cavaliers has been in lowering their turnover rate. [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: NCAA tournament bubble update – March 11

On Wednesday this past week, my latest edition of The Diff covered some aggregate math for NCAA tournament bracket and bubble predictions. I’ve been keeping track all week — and posting occasional thoughts on Twitter @udjrosen — so I thought I’d share a brief weekend update on bubble teams for today.

Overall, things went fairly ho-hum for the general bubble outlook since last Wednesday. Bubble teams were happy with Belmont‘s Saturday victory in the Ohio Valley Championship. The Bears would have been a potentially fearsome bubble team with a very solid strength of schedule for a mid-major.

Then, the expected tournament championship matchups again fell into place for the Missouri Valley and West Coast conferences, the two conferences many expect to have exactly 2 teams in the tournament: Creighton-Wichita State (won by the Jays on Sunday) and Gonzaga-St. Mary’s (to take place Monday). Such chalk movement was again a helpful break for resident bubble teams, as both teams were practical tournament locks already.

But then, there was finally some unexpected movement in the bubble race on Sunday evening: heavy conference favorite Middle Tennessee lost in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament. The Blue Raiders were an automatic qualifier and 11 or 12-seed in all five brackets I sampled as of Saturday evening, theoretically placing them right in the thick of the bubble race. They now join the bubble fold while Florida International moves on in the Sun Belt tourny.

Thus, without further narratives, here’s the table with a new approach of looking at the bubble. These aggregate bracket projections are as of Saturday evening. At the moment, these bubble teams (plus now Middle Tennessee) are fighting for the final 8 spots:

# Team Conf. Lunardi Stevens Palm Nolan Bracketville
1 Saint Mary’s WCC IN IN IN IN Last 5 In
2 Temple A-10 Last 4 In  IN IN IN IN
3 Villanova Big East IN IN IN Last 4 In  IN
4 La Salle A-10 IN IN Last 4 In  IN Last 5 In
5 Boise State MWC Last 4 In  Last 4 In  IN Last 4 In  IN
6 Iowa State Big 12 IN Last 4 In  Last 4 In  Last 4 In  Last 5 In
7 Tennessee SEC Last 4 In  Last 4 In  Last 4 In  First 4 Out  Last 5 In
8 Virginia ACC Last 4 In  First 4 Out  OUT IN Last 5 In
9 Kentucky SEC Next 4 Out Last 4 In  Last 4 In  Last 4 In  First 5 Out
10 Ole Miss SEC First 4 Out  First 4 Out  First 4 Out  First 4 Out  First 5 Out
11 Alabama SEC First 4 Out  First 4 Out  First 4 Out  OUT First 5 Out
12 Massachusetts A-10 OUT First 4 Out  First 4 Out  OUT First 5 Out

 

As one can quickly tell, each of the top 6 teams in this outlook all made the tournament as at-large teams each time. Then, the true debate comes into play with the next three teams — Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky — who went back-and-forth with tournament entry in the proverbial final two slots. Middle Tennessee likely will be right in this final mix too.

With very few of these teams — only St. Mary’s tonight in the West Coast championship — in action until Wednesday, I’ll share another update by then to discuss how these teams did this past weekend, what they might need to still do in order to push the committee’s hand a bit more and additional peripheral games to keep an eye on as it relates to the bubble. I thought it would just be helpful for the WFNY readership again today to see my math and line of thinking for the NCAA tournament bubble picture.

[Related: The Diff: NCAA tournament bracket math]

The Diff: NCAA tournament bracket math

Hope you had fun reading through an abbreviated version of my thesis research on baseball attendance last week. I could talk about projected Cleveland Indians attendance numbers all day, especially with an Akron Aeros tie-in. Now, this week, we’re heading over to college basketball.

The Diff

March means madness. It’s one of the most fun sports times of the year. I’m personally a huge basketball fan, but when it’s do-or-die in the NCAA tournament, it’s perfect for any fan. But yet, I have an issue with the way bracket predictions are portrayed in the media. So I’ll cover that today. And closest to home here in Northeast Ohio, we have the Akron Zips. In order to follow up on my Sunday article about their success, I’ll have a more thorough look at their NCAA odds today. Hope you enjoy. [Read more...]

Despite loss, Akron Zips still an NCAA tournament threat

keith dambrotAll good things must come to an end eventually. And for the Mid-American Conference’s Akron Zips, that had to mean its 19-game winning streak, the longest of the 2012-13 college basketball season.

The run ended Saturday night at Buffalo, a tough setting in the past for Keith Dambrot’s teams. The Bulls built an early lead and expanded it in the second half, but unlike every game since Dec. 25, there was no miraculous last-minute run for 23-5 UA. The final scoreboard read 81-67 for the Bulls.

For many, the loss was half-disappointing and half-celebration-worthy. Obviously, the streak elevated the national stature of the Zips. They were ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll last week, the first ranked team in school history. Nearly every major sports outlet was writing about them too — from Sporting News to the front page of USA Today even to ESPN’s Dickie V.

But in a way, the loss was cleansing. There is now no more pressure. The unsung team gets a completely clean slate. And all that matters again are those NCAA tournament hopes. [Read more...]