Friday, April 6, 2012

Sabres Are Out of The NHL Playoffs

Flyers Eliminate Sabres From Playoffs:
PHILADELPHIA -- Buffalo center Tyler Ennis sat dejected, staring down at a half-full equipment bag. Slowly, he picked himself up, leaned forward and began to untape.
Asked for his thoughts on the Sabres' elimination from postseason contention, Ennis stared straight ahead, tousled his sweat-soaked hair, and solemnly said: "Not right now."
Not now. Not in the postseason, either.
With their faint playoff hopes riding at least on wins in their final two games, the Sabres failed to finish a longshot rally that brought them to the brink of the postseason.
Matt Read and Marc-Andre Bourdon each scored third period goals to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-1 win Thursday night over Buffalo that eliminated the Sabres.
"It's disappointing. It's embarrassing to miss the playoffs," Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. "We have a lot of talented players on this team and we just didn't get it going early enough this season."
The Sabres needed to beat the Flyers to stay alive heading into their final game of the season. The Sabres failed to handle the Flyers, and when the Capitals beat Florida 4-2, Buffalo was done.
Buffalo tried to join the 1994 New York Islanders in becoming the NHL's second team to rally from a 10-point deficit in mid-February to make the playoffs.
Miller stopped 33 shots, yet he was beat by Read on a breakaway with 4:21 left in the game to end Buffalo's bid.
The Sabres were suddenly back in the hunt after completing a frantic comeback by rallying from a pair of two-goal third period deficits in a 6-5 overtime win over Toronto on Tuesday. That pulled Buffalo even with Washington.
The Sabres mounted a remarkable second-half surge in which they went 20-7-5 in last 32 games entering Thursday.
The 33rd game did them in.
"We just didn't finish," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had our chances, and we didn't get the kind of shots we needed. There were far too many chances by the wayside."
The Flyers secured the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference after Pittsburgh's 5-2 win over the New York Rangers. The Penguins will play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.
"I feel confident about where we went in the month of March and how we played in April," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Flyers eliminated the Sabres in Game 7 of the opening-round playoff series last season.
Buffalo grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Ville Leino played spoiler against his former team.
Leino, part of Philadelphia's 2010 Eastern Conference championship team, scored his eighth goal with 2:34 left in the second period. He was in the crease to knock a rebound into an empty net after Ilya Bryzgalov strayed to block the previous shot. Bryzgalov had 25 saves.
Leino was fifth on the Flyers last season in scoring with a career-best 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists). The Sabres signed him to a $27-million, six-year deal and he hasn't come close to matching that production.
Bourdon tied the game early in the third with a slapper that spoiled Miller's shutout bid.
Read took the puck at center ice and went all the way to beat Miller for the late winner, crushing playoff dreams in upstate New York.
Washington has 90 points to Buffalo's 88. The Capitals own the tiebreaker because they have more non-shootout wins.
The Sabres were tentative early and took only three shots in the first period.
"We did this to ourselves," Miller said.
It's sure to be a heated postseason series when the Flyers and Penguins open next week in Pittsburgh. Laviolette was fined $10,000 after calling out counterpart Dan Bylsma for sending out his checking line late in Philadelphia's 6-3 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Penguins assistant Tony Granato, who stepped on the top of the side boards and in between the two head coaches, was also fined $2,500.
They face each other Saturday in the regular-season finale.
"It's going to be weird knowing the game doesn't mean anything," Flyers forward Claude Giroux said.
Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr interrupted a Giroux interview scrum in the locker room with a wide smile as he listed to the Q&A.
"You ever play in the playoffs before?" Giroux asked Jagr.
Jagr smiled and yelled, "I never missed the playoffs," as he walked away smiling.
Oh, Jagr's missed the playoffs before. But he has won a pair of Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh and is back in the postseason after spending the last three seasons in Russia. It's his turn now to play spoiler in Pittsburgh – just like the Flyers did for Buffalo.
Notes: The Flyers presented their year-end awards before the game. Giroux was named team MVP, Kimmo Timonen was outstanding defenseman, Scott Hartnell won most improved player, and Jagr was named the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice. ... The Flyers swept the season series 4-0. ... The Flyers finished 22-13-6 at home.


Toronto Blue Jays Win Longest Opening Day Game Ever

Blue Jays Outlast Indians In Longest Opening Day Game Ever:
CLEVELAND -- In the longest opening-day game in major league history, J.P. Arencibia's three-run homer in the 16th inning sent the Toronto Blue Jays to a 7-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
Arencibia was 0 for 6 with three strikeouts before connecting off Jairo Asencio.
The marathon eclipsed the previous longest openers – 15 innings between Cleveland and Detroit in 1960 and 15 innings between Philadelphia and Washington in 1926.
Luis Perez, Toronto's seventh pitcher, pitched four scoreless innings for the win and Sergio Santos got two outs to end the 5-hour, 14-minute game.
Jose Bautista homered and hit a sacrifice fly for Toronto, which rallied for three runs in the ninth off All-Star closer Chris Perez to force extra innings.
Jack Hannahan hit a three-run homer in the second to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead against Ricky Romero. But the Indians didn't score again, going 14 innings without pushing a run across and disappointing a crowd of 43,190 that thinned to just a few thousand die-hard fans by the end.
An opener that began in clear skies and bright sunshine ended just after twilight as the sun disappeared over the Lake Erie horizon.
This one had a little of everything: strong pitching, bad pitching, blown chances, emptied benches and bullpens, a soon-to-be 45-year-old infielder playing the outfield and, of course, a spot in the history books.
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in eight dominant innings. But the Blue Jays, who believe they can hang with Boston, New York and Tampa Bay in the brutal AL East, rallied in the ninth off Perez.
Before Arencibia's heroics, the teams had a mild dustup that warmed up the fans and had everyone's adrenaline racing.
Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo walked with two outs in the 15th, a few pitches after he took exception to an inside fastball from Luis Perez that whizzed past his head. Choo scrambled to his feet and started toward the mound as both benches and bullpens emptied. There were no punches or further incidents.
In the 16th, moments after the team's made history, Asencio walked Brett Lawrie and Omar Vizquel reached on a fielder's choice before Arencibia, who hit 23 homers as a rookie last season, homered onto the pedestrian plaza in left.
The Indians squandered a potential game-winning situation in the 12th.
They loaded the bases on two walks and a single before Blue Jays manager John Farrell brought 44-year-old shortstop Vizquel off the bench as a fifth infielder. The strategy worked when Asdrubal Cabrera swung at Perez's first pitch and bounced into an inning-ending double play.
The Blue Jays had their own chance in the 12th, putting two on with two outs off reliever Tony Sipp. Instead of taking any chances with Bautista, the Indians walked baseball's home-run leader the past two seasons intentionally to load the bases before Sipp retired Rajai Davis on a fly to deep left.
Toronto blew another scoring opportunity in the 15th, stranding a runner at third.
Toronto trailed 4-1 going into the ninth after being stopped by Masterson.
But Toronto rallied for three runs off Perez, who missed most of spring training with a strained side muscle and looked awful.
Perez, who had 36 saves last season, gave up two singles to start the inning before Bautista's sacrifice fly made it 4-2. Kelly Johnson took second on the play, and after Adam Lind walked, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double high off the left-field wall to tie it 4.
Perez got an out, but walked Eric Thames and was pulled by manager Manny Acta, who handed the ball to Vinnie Pestano. Perez hung his head as he walked dejectedly dugout amid loud boos.
Perez's meltdown cost Masterson a deserved win he deserved.
The right-hander won 12 games last season, but pitched better than his record. Acta chose him to open the season, picking him in spring training over Ubaldo Jimenez, who may be the staff's ace but hasn't lived up to expectations since he was acquired in a July trade form Colorado.
Masterson set an early tone, striking out the side in the first. He got Bautista to chase a low pitch for strike three and the final out. Bautista wasn't thrilled with plate umpire Tim Welke's zone during his at-bat and complained briefly before dropping his bat heading to right.
The Blue Jays, who had the majors' best record during spring training, spent the rest of the day flailing at Masterson's pitches.
He retired the side in order four times, and except for giving up Bautista's homer, was never in serious trouble.
Hannahan's third career opening-day homer gave the Indians a 4-0 lead.
NOTES: The Indians have had six home openers go to into extra since Progressive Field opened in 1994. ... Toronto's Colby Rasmus made a diving catch to rob Hannahan of extra bases in the fifth. ... Farrell began his playing career with Cleveland and pitched five seasons for the Indians, often taking the mound in less-than-ideal-conditions in old Cleveland Stadium. "I pitched in the snow before," he said. "Opening day on the Great Lakes is a risky proposition."


The Masters 2nd Round Today

The Masters LIVE:
AUGUSTA, Ga. - It is a bit chilly at Augusta National, and temperatures will not rise above the mid-60s throughout the second round of the Masters on Friday.
There is a chance of rain in the morning, although is calling for only a 10 to 15 percent chance.


MLB Pick NY Yankees at Tampa Bay

Take Tampa Bay all the way here!

Rays are 6-0 in Shields' last 6 home starts with the total set at 7.0-8.5.
Rays are 7-0 in Shields' last 7 home starts.
Rays are 6-1 in Shields' last 7 starts as a home underdog.
Rays are 5-1 in Shields' last 6 starts during game 1 of a series.
Rays are 4-1 in Shields' last 5 Friday starts.


MLB Pick Chi. White Sox at Texas

Take the Texas Rangers to win in this one. Here is why:

Rangers are 4-0 in Lewis' last 4 Friday starts.
Rangers are 6-1 in Lewis' last 7 starts as a favorite of -151 to -200.
Rangers are 5-1 in Lewis' last 6 starts as a home favorite of -151 to -200.
Rangers are 4-1 in Lewis' last 5 starts during game 1 of a series.
Rangers are 4-1 in Lewis' last 5 starts as a favorite.

Good Luck!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New NFL Washington Redskins Uniforms?

New Redskins Uniforms Could Be In The Cards:
The Redskins' new look could begin as early as Tuesday.
Less than four weeks away from the NFL Draft, many signs are pointing to Washington selecting Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Before making the No. 2 overall pick, the club's 2012 makeover may begin with their uniforms.
After a decade of Reebok serving as the NFL's uniform manufacturer, Nike is back under center, kicking off the 2012 season with an unveiling of new designs for all 32 teams. The sportswear giant is set to showcase its uniforms at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Uni Watch's Twitter feed will track the latest designs as they become available.
Among the possible candidates for a revamped appearance are the Redskins -- a team whose logo has gone through several iterations since moving to D.C. for the 1937 season.
Bleacher Report columnist Gary Davenport thinks the Redskins are a prime candidate for a redesign that eliminates its controversial Indian Head -- unchanged since the 1983 season. Images surfaced on showcasing possible new jerseys and helmets, but WTOP Radio reports that the validity surrounding those pictures is unclear.
The D.C. sports scene has seen its share of uniform unease before. Back in September, the University of Maryland's new football gear sparked some polarizing reactions. Check out the tweets surrounding the Sept. 5 debut of their jerseys and helmets, featuring a bright, majestic display of the Maryland state flag:

Free NBA Pick New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers

Tonight in the NBA it is New York at Indiana, take the Knicks!

Knicks are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.

Knicks are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Central.

Knicks are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.

Knicks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record.

Knicks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU win of more than 10 points.

Knicks are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall.

Knicks are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 vs. Eastern Conference.

Knicks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog.

Good luck!


Boston College Eagles Preview


Cardinals Pull April Fools' Prank

Cardinals Pull April Fools' Prank:
As Texas Rangers backstop Mike Napoli recently learned the hard way, Major League Baseball is full of pranksters. Therefore, it's no surprise that a group of St. Louis Cardinals celebrated April Fools' Day by having some fun with one of their teammates.
The prank went down after the second inning of a spring training game between the defending champion Cards and the Washington Nationals. Sitting in the dugout as he continues his rehabilitation from Tommy John Surgery that cost him the entire 2011 season, Adam Wainright listened as the public address announcer at Roger Dean Stadium revealed that a fan would be winning a car.
Meanwhile, Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman had driven a white pickup truck out onto the field from the left-field fence. The only problem? The 2009 Chevy Silverado that was being given away belonged to Wainwright. The fan with the "winning" ticket rushed down to the field, along with his son, and hopped in the back of the truck before Berkman drove it off the field.
Wainwright did a double-take his truck drove onto the field but, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch, he moved to the back of the dugout rather than provide a dramatic reaction.
''As long as that's a joke, that is well done,'' Wainwright told The Associated Press. ''I don't know if that's a joke, yet.''
According to Jenifer Langosch of, the "fan" who was awarded Wainwright's truck was a relative of World Series hero David Freese. The third baseman grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis and etched his name in Cardinals' history with a superlative postseason performance that earned him MVP honors in the 2011 World Series.
"Hilarious," Wainwright later said of the practical joke. "Those are the kinds of things that keep baseball pretty fun — besides the fact that baseball is already pretty fun."

Braves Cristhian Martinez Arrested For DUI

Braves Reliever Arrested For DUI:
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cristhian Martinez was arrested early Monday and charged with drunken driving after police say they saw him weaving in and out of a lane while driving slowly on a major Atlanta highway.
Martinez was stopped on Interstate 85 and charged with impeding the flow of traffic, improper lane change and DUI after his blood alcohol level registered at 0.13, said Gwinnett County Police Corporal Jake Smith. The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08.
He was booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center at 4:24 a.m. and released on bond of about $1,600 a few hours later.
Martinez is the second Atlanta Braves pitcher in less than a year to be arrested on DUI charges. Derek Lowe, who now pitches for the Cleveland Indians, was arrested for DUI in April 2011 in Atlanta, but charges were dropped a few weeks later.
Team officials said in a statement they were "very concerned" to learn of Martinez's arrest and that he will be required to be evaluated by an independent professional.
Martinez, 30, is in his third season in the Braves organization. He had secured a spot in Atlanta's bullpen after a solid spring training performance, and he was among a group of several pitchers who returned early from the club's facility in Orlando, Fla., to prepare for the regular season.

College Football Coach Crashes Motorcycle

College Football Coach Crashes Motorcycle:
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino veered off a two-lane highway and crashed his motorcycle over the weekend, sending him to a hospital and leaving him in what his family described only as "stable condition." He is expected to make a full recovery.
Petrino crashed Sunday night near a small town 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville. State police spokesman Bill Sadler said the Razorbacks coach was taken to a hospital for treatment, but he declined to say which hospital or whether Petrino was still there Monday.
The university confirmed the crash and issued a statement from Petrino's family that disclosed no details about any potential injuries.
"Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals," the statement said. "He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time."
Neither Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville or Northwest Medical Center in Springdale would confirm Petrino was a patient. The school said athletic director Jeff Long would consult with the Petrino family before providing any additional information.
The crash occurred near the town of Crosses on Arkansas Highway 16, a winding road popular with motorcyclists in the rolling hills of Madison County. Sadler said Petrino's motorcycle left the highway and crashed.
Petrino led Arkansas to an 11-2 record last season and a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State. He's 34-17 in four seasons at the school, 21-5 over the last two, and has built the Razorbacks into a Southeastern Conference power.
An avid motorcycle enthusiast, the 51-year-old Petrino has talked about owning a motorcycle and going for rides around northern Arkansas.
In a 2008 interview with Northwest Arkansas Media, Petrino said he has been an avid rider since he was 10. The Helena, Mont., native said at the time that he owned a Harley-Davidson and four other motorcycles.
"It's relaxing to me," Petrino said then. "You get out and you get to see some good scenery, and I like to ride up to Beaver Lake. It's pretty up there. I've been around the outdoors. I grew up around the outdoors my whole life."
Petrino said he had never been in a bad accident on a motorcycle, though he and his friends had some mishaps.
"Well, there was always the school of hard knocks," Petrino said. "We fell off a few times and learned about it."
Since his arrival at Arkansas, Petrino has turned the Razorbacks into a national contender. They were 5-7 during his first season in 2008 before improving to 8-5 in 2009, winning the Liberty Bowl over East Carolina.
That was Ryan Mallett's first season as the starting quarterback at Arkansas and was the first of three straight seasons the Razorbacks have led the Southeastern Conference in passing. Mallett left for the NFL after 2010, but only after guiding Arkansas to its first BCS game, where it lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season 10-3.
Even without Mallett last season, Arkansas excelled behind quarterback Tyler Wilson, who earned first-team All-SEC honors under Petrino's guidance. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 5 to finish the season, with their only losses coming to national champion Alabama and runner-up LSU.
Petrino was an NFL coach, leaving the Atlanta Falcons after 13 games in the 2007 season to join the Razorbacks. He was a college head coach at Louisville before that, guiding the Cardinals to a 41-9 record from 2003-07.

Steven Hirsch: Mets: Addressing Doubts Concerning Johan Santana

Steven Hirsch: Mets: Addressing Doubts Concerning Johan Santana:
Over the weekend, New York Mets manager Terry Collins officially named Johan Santana, the Opening Day starter when the Mets take on the Atlanta Braves Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. Not having pitched a game since September 2, 2010 due to shoulder surgery, the beginning of the 2012 season will clearly be transition time for Santana as he adjusts to pitching in Major League situations again. However, despite the strong sense of negativity I have had toward this franchise in recent days, I am truly looking forward to watching Johan pitch again in Flushing this week.

There are a lot of people who have concerns for Santana. Many people fear that his drop in velocity will cause him to underperform, as his fastball has been mostly registering in the high-80s. While high-speed is always nice to have, there is no doubt that in the history of Major League Baseball, the most important factors that contribute to a pitcher's success are location, movement, and then velocity, in that order. While Johan's fastball is clearly not as fast as it once was, his ability to control and place the ball within the strike zone seems to have been very consistent and effective over his past few starts in the Grapefruit League, earning a 3.44 ERA in five starts spanning over 18 innings. Granted, Santana has been primarily facing hitters who he will most likely never see during the regular season. But in his most recent start against St. Louis, he showed that he still has the ability to strike real, quality players out, such as Matt Holiday and ironically enough, Carlos Beltran.
Obviously injuries are tough to come back from for any player -- particularly for pitchers that are just about past the prime of their career. And just to protect him, Collins will place limitations on him for probably at least the first month of the season, preventing him from throwing more than 90-95 pitches in a given start. But to assume that this season will be a disappointing one from Johan is simply accepting that by being a Mets fan, all of the worst is going to happen.
The reality is that one year ago, no one, including myself, expected Carlos Beltran (who had been hampered by knee problems) to provide anything effective for the Mets. In fact, I was shocked that he even played a game last year. Yet, while the Mets 2011 lineup did not have many particularly strong showings, Beltran was undoubtedly one of the best hitters in Queens last season, hitting just under .300 with an OBP of nearly .400. While being traded mid-season for star prospect Zack Wheeler, the Mets would have had a very hard time winning as many games as they did without Beltran's bat.
There are a lot of questions as the Mets enter into the season this week. No one is disputing that. But between not having anyone who I consider to be a decent defensive outfielder, a bullpen that cannot seem to get anyone out, and a second baseman whose heart skips a beat every time a groundball is hit, a player who has earned two Cy Young awards and four All-Star selections throughout his career is the least of my concerns.

2012 PGA Masters Golf Preview

Here is a Masters preview. Will Tiger Woods make a comeback?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kobe Records Another 40-Point Game

Kobe Records Another 40-Point Game:
LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant needed 11 seconds to make his first basket, then he hit his second and a few minutes later another. No way was the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar going to struggle for a second straight game.
Bryant finished with 40 points – his fifth such game this season – one night after missing his first 15 shots in a win over New Orleans, and Pau Gasol added 26 as the Lakers rallied for the second consecutive game against one of the West's worst teams, coming away with a 120-112 win over Golden State on Sunday night.
"It's always interesting to me to hear people talk after a game like that," Bryant said, referring to the critics who pounced on his offensive struggles Saturday. "The amount of idiots that live out here after 16 years baffle me. I guess people just get dumber over the years."
Bryant scored 13 points in the opening quarter and 4 in the second when he sat for six minutes.
"Once we started the game and he knocked down his first three or four shots, I knew it was going to be another aggressive night for him," Gasol said.
Ramon Sessions added 23 points and nine assists in his best game since being traded to the Lakers two weeks ago. Gasol and reserve Troy Murphy had 11 rebounds each after All-Star center Andrew Bynum sprained his left ankle in the first quarter of the Lakers' eighth consecutive home win against the Warriors.
"He was able to walk out fine," coach Mike Brown said about Bynum, who left before speaking with reporters.
Bynum landed awkwardly going for a rebound and the team said he had a moderate sprain. He had no points and three rebounds when he left for good with 1:49 to play. The team said X-rays were negative and he would be re-evaluated on Monday. Bynum was coming off a productive month of March, when he averaged 22.2 points and 10.9 rebounds in 17 games.
"He's gotten better," Bryant said. "You see him working on his footwork a lot, he has a lot of moves in his arsenal that he didn't have before. He's much more comfortable doing it and he's gained a great deal of confidence."
If Bynum has to miss a few days, Bryant said the Lakers can adjust.
"I don't think it's a championship formula, but we can for the time being," he said. "Sessions is one of those players who can carry a game offensively, he's a great scorer. And Pau can obviously do what he does."
David Lee led six Warriors in double figures with 27 points. Klay Thompson added 18, Nate Robinson 17, and Richard Jefferson 16 for Golden State, which lost its fifth in a row and 10th in the last 12.
"They had us on the ropes, but we battled back," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We put ourselves in position to win the game. They made tough shots, especially Kobe. But that's why he's paid the big bucks."
The Warriors were down 13 points to start the fourth quarter, but outscored the Lakers 19-8 to close within one with Bryant on the bench for part of the run. Jefferson, Robinson and Thompson all had 3-pointers in the spurt with 7 minutes to play.
The Lakers gained some breathing room on a 12-3 run, as Sessions, Bryant and Gasol combined for all the scoring, capped by Bryant's 3 that made it 109-99.
The Warriors weren't done yet. Robinson, who at 5-foot-9 was the shortest player in the game, hit his fifth 3-pointer to get the Warriors within five. Lee's three-point play cut the deficit to three points before Bryant hit a long 3 from in front of the Warriors' bench, making it 115-109 with 1:40 left.
"You definitely know after the game he had yesterday, he was going to come out here, try to be very aggressive and make his first few shots," Dorell Wright said about Bryant. "Guys did a good job on him. He just made real tough shots."
Jefferson answered with a 3 and Golden State was down three. Metta World Peace hit a 3 – the 10th of the quarter between the teams – on the Lakers' next possession for a 118-112 lead. After a timeout, Thompson missed a 3 with 1:03 to go, cooling off the long-range shootout.
"I don't think the game was lost in the fourth quarter," Lee said. "The game was lost in the third quarter when they made a nice little run. By the time we fought back, we had to play perfect basketball. They made some tough shots down the stretch."
The Lakers' biggest lead in the first half was nine points, with 12 lead changes and eight ties.
NOTES: It was Bryant's 112th career game with at least 40 points. The Lakers improved to 77-35 in those games. ... The Warriors' next road win will equal their 10 victories away from home last season. ... They haven't beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since March 23, 2008. ... The Warriors signed C Mickell Gladness, playing on a 10-day contract, for the rest of the season. He was not with the team Sunday because of family matters, but is expected to rejoin the Warriors in a few days. Gladness has averaged 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in six games. "He's an athletic, big guy who can block shots and finish at the rim," Jackson said. ... The Lakers played the second of their first home back-to-back set of games since the lockout shortened 1998-99 season. ... Jackson turned 47 on Sunday and spent the day with his wife and four kids at their Los Angeles home before going to work.

NCAA Championship Game Free Pick No. 2 Kansas vs No. 1 Kentucky

Today is the Big day! Wow, I love this time of year! First off, sign up for my Free Premium Pick daily email! We can both make some loot together! For todays game I am going with the Wildcats, here is why:

Jayhawks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
Wildcats are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 Monday games.
Wildcats are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big 12.

I have watched almost every game in this tournament, and it is clear to me that Kentucky has the edge!

Good luck!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kentucky Wins Bluegrass Showdown

Kentucky Wins Bluegrass Showdown:
NEW ORLEANS — Bragging rights in the Bluegrass State are mighty nice.
Kentucky has its sights set higher.
Much higher.
Anthony Davis and top-seeded Kentucky are right where they planned to be all along, playing for the national title after finally putting away pesky Louisville 69-61 in the Final Four on Saturday night.
"I have a team that's had teams come at them all year," coach John Calipari said, "and they responded again today."
It will be Kentucky's first appearance in the title game since winning a seventh NCAA crown back in 1998 and it gives Calipari another shot at the championship that has eluded him. The Wildcats (37-2) will face No. 2 seed Kansas, a 64-62 winner over Ohio State in the second semifinal.
As the final seconds ticked down, Davis pointed to the court and screamed twice, "This is my stage!"
Yes, yes, it is.
With a star-studded roster that includes at least three, maybe as many as five NBA lottery picks, Kentucky was the top seed in the tournament and the heavy favorite to cut down the nets when the whole tournament was done. And Calipari wouldn't let his young players consider anything else, saying repeatedly this was "just another game."
But playing in-state rival Louisville (30-10) is never just that, and the Cardinals made Kentucky work deep into the second half to grind this victory out.
Louisville outrebounded Kentucky 40-33, including a whopping 19-6 advantage on the offensive glass – the sole reason the Cardinals were able to make a game of this.
"To tell you the truth, I haven't always liked some of the Kentucky teams. I'm not going to lie to you," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who counts as something of an expert after spending eight years in Lexington and the last 11 with the Cardinals. "But I really like this team a lot because of their attitude and the way they play.
"I'll certainly be rooting for them hard to bring the trophy back to Kentucky. ... They're a great group of guys, doing a tremendous job."
So tremendous it led to a thawing, however briefly, in the frosty relationship between Calipari and Pitino. When the two shook hands after the game, Pitino congratulated Calipari and told him he'd be rooting for the Wildcats on Monday night.
"I think that's neat," Calipari said. "When I was at UMass, I can remember hugging him and telling him, `I'm happy for you and I really want you to win the national title.' He did the same to me tonight, so I think it's kind of neat."
Calipari had taken another phenom-laden roster to the Final Four last year, only to see them come unglued against eventual national champion Connecticut. The Wildcats said all week they weren't going to let the same thing happen this time, and it showed in their workmanlike effort. No matter how close Louisville got, the Cardinals were never able to control the game. When they made a run, Kentucky found a way to stop it. When one of the Wildcats ran into foul trouble, the others picked him up.
Kentucky played so hard Davis went flying off the court twice, sailing all the way onto media row once.
"They made runs, and we made our runs. That's what coach always says," said Terrence Jones, who finished with six points and seven rebounds. "We never get rattled."
Bigger, bulkier and with Davis having a wider wingspan than some small airplanes, the Wildcats looked like playground bullies as they pushed Louisville around on their way to a 13-point lead early in the second half. But the Cardinals know a thing about rallies after coming from 11 points down to beat Florida in last weekend's West Regional final, and they sure made Kentucky sweat.
Russ Smith made back-to-back buckets to start a 15-3 run, and Peyton Siva capped it with a 3-pointer from NBA range that tied the game at 49 with 9:11 to play. But Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played just 23 minutes because of foul trouble, made back-to-back buckets to give the Wildcats some breathing room.
After Siva made a pair of free throws, Jones scored on a jumper and Darius Miller drilled a 3 – only Kentucky's second of the game – to give the Wildcats control for good.
"They were the better team today," Siva said.
Just to make sure Louisville didn't get any wild notions about another late comeback, Kidd-Gilchrist threw down a monstrous dunk with 1:05 to play that had Kentucky fans on their feet and assistant coaches from Kansas and Ohio State scrambling to try and find a way to stop this juggernaut.
Kentucky shot a dazzling 57 percent – yes, that's right – with Davis leading the way. He missed just one of his eight shots and finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, and let his play speak for itself, not showing any emotion until those closing seconds of the game.
"Anthony Davis is just the No.1 player in the draft," Pitino said of the 19-year-old freshman, who has won just about every player of the year award there is. "When you're playing against Bill Russell on the pro level, you realize why the Celtics won 11 world championships."
Miller added 13 points, and Doron Lamb had 10. Kidd-Gilchrist had nine, all in the second half.
Siva led the Cardinals with 11 points, and Gorgui Dieng had 12 rebounds.
"I told the guys, `Look, I'm going to Miami tomorrow and celebrating a season where we worked around the clock, around injuries and everything else. If you guys don't celebrate and have good, clean fun, you're fools,'" Pitino said.
The Kentucky-Louisville rivalry causes tempers to flare even in December when, in the grand scheme of things, games really don't mean much. Heck, it took government intervention just to get the two schools to play on a regular basis back in the 1980s.
With the NCAA title game on the line, the latest skirmish in basketball's version of the civil war so divided the small hoop-crazed state that senior citizens actually came to fisticuffs. But boy, did it make for a great show. The game was such a big deal that No. 1 Kentucky fan Ashley Judd wasn't even the biggest celeb in the house, with Jay-Z taking a prime seat behind the Kentucky bench.
"It's our fans; our fans are great to us," Davis said. "Our fans travel a long way. We want to go out here and give them a show and give them what they want, which is a national championship."
The ultimate bragging rights sure are a nice way to start.
Kentucky is 19-11 since the teams resumed playing in 1983-84, with the Wildcats winning four straight, including a 69-62 victory at Rupp Arena on Dec. 31 – almost the exact score as Saturday night's win.
The Wildcats know they're talented – there are three, maybe as many as five NBA lottery picks on the Kentucky roster – but they play without ego or cockiness, choosing instead to let their superior play overwhelm their opponents.
The Cardinals had skidded into the Big East tournament with four losses in their last six games, including back-to-back defeats to end the regular season. Pitino told his players they could either go home after the first week of the tournament or they could do something special – their choice.
The Cardinals chose the latter, ripping off four wins in four days to win the Big East tournament and ousting No. 1 seed Michigan State in the West Regional semifinals. Then came that comeback against rough-and-tumble Florida.
Those games hardened the Cardinals, and they promised they weren't simply happy to reach the Final Four. But they sure looked it early on, getting off to a slow, sloppy start. It didn't help that Dieng looked petrified of Davis and Siva was playing at hyperspeed, a pace Pitino has been trying to get him to tone down all year.
When they tried to go inside, Davis was less forgiving than a bouncer at a Hollywood club. When the Cardinals went outside, the Wildcats swarmed and forced them to take off-balance shots. Meanwhile, on the other end, Kentucky scored at will, repeatedly picking on Siva and Dieng.
But there's a reason Pitino has taken three teams to the Final Four. He pulled out every trick he had, switching strategies, begging the refs for calls and finding a way – finally – to calm his team down.
"Any time you don't know whether a team is better offensively or defensively, you know you've got a great basketball team," Pitino said. "And Anthony Davis is incredible."

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Fans Riot After Kentucky Wildcats Win

Kentucky Fans Riot After Final Four Victory:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thousands of jubilant fans swarmed streets near the University of Kentucky campus Saturday night, setting couches ablaze and overturning cars after the Wildcats beat cross-state rival Louisville in a Final Four matchup that had riveted the state.
The throngs of screaming, cheering fans took to the streets both on and off campus following the Wildcats' 69-61 win in New Orleans. Many streets had already been blocked off around Kentucky's Lexington campus to make way for the crowds, but sirens blared and police began shutting down more streets as the blazes broke out.
Twitter feeds reported police in riot gear trying to disperse crowds that were overturning and vandalizing vehicles as well as smashing glass bottles.
Lexington city spokeswoman Susan Straub said police made fewer than 10 arrests, and a few injuries were reported.
"Things have not gotten out of control," she said in a telephone interview. By about 11 p.m. EDT – nearly three hours after the game had ended – crowds were dispersing, Straub said.
Earlier in the week, Lexington's mayor and UK's president had exhorted fans to respect property and neighbors. But the city and university were prepared for a fiery celebration after police reported at least a dozen couch fires last week following Kentucky's win over Baylor to earn a Final Four berth.
"We've come at this with a significant show of force," Straub said.
Lexington police did not return repeated telephone calls.
As reports of the mayhem reached New Orleans, Micah Fielden, Kentucky's student body president, urged his fellow students in a tweet not to be destructive. "Let's be smart and act like we've been here before," he wrote on his Twitter feed.
The celebration was more controlled when it first started, as celebrating fans streamed out. At stoplights, fans hanging out of their cars chanted "C-A-T-S" while police and firefighters watched from the sidelines.
Things were more peaceful 70 miles away in Louisville, where heartbroken Cardinals fans gathered on a closed street near campus and chanted "C-A-R-D-S" while waving a school flag.
Several police officers stood nearby, chatting with students amiably. One student asked a police officer for a light of his cigarette, and an officer obliged.
Shortly afterward, the crowd dissipated and the campus was quiet.
Louisville fans were divided over whether to root for their rival in Monday's championship game against Kansas.
"Even though it's a Kentucky team, I hope they lose," said Michael Funke, who watched the game from a pizzeria just off campus.
Kentucky and Louisville fans took in the game from bars, restaurants and living rooms as their uneasy co-existence was challenged by the high stakes. Earlier Saturday, some guests at a wedding were preparing to watch the game at a reception that evening.
"We had no way of knowing that the big game would be the same day as the wedding," said Louisville fan Sean Glenn as he stood on the steps of a church near the University of Louisville campus after his cousin was wed.
Glenn, a Louisville fan, said there would be a television at the reception, and that he fully expected to catch the game "here and there." While the bride wore white and the bridesmaids lavender, Glenn chose his attire to show his Cardinal pride: a red shirt and a red tie.
In downtown Louisville, the entertainment district was an early magnet for fans showing their team allegiance on t-shirts and hats.
"I think this is probably bigger than the championship game is going to be," said Chris Pysher of Louisville, a UK fan who was planning to watch the game in a city hotel with a mix of fans from both teams. "This is history right now in the making."
Bragging rights that could last a lifetime were on the line in the commonwealth's latest version of The Dream Game. In 1983, Louisville beat Kentucky in overtime in the 1983 NCAA Mideast Regional Finals. It was the teams' first meeting since 1959. It took the governor to get the two schools together on an annual basis, and before Saturday the Wildcats were 18-11 since the annual game started in 1983-84.
It was a good day for Kentucky bars and restaurants.
At Sully's Saloon in Louisville, managers had ordered extra beer kegs – and brought in extra bouncers.
"Just like the game, it's going to be back and forth" between Louisville and Kentucky fans, said Sully's patron Maria Irvin, who settled into her spot hours before tipoff.
Saturday's game was the fifth time the schools had met in the NCAA tournament – the two sides having split the four previous meetings.
Kentucky won the earlier matchup this season, 69-62 on Dec. 31.
Associated Press Writer Janet Cappiello contributed to this report.

CBS Screws-Up Kansas Ohio State Dramatic Game's Ending

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