Archive for March, 2016

Upsets Abound in NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney

Friday, March 25th, 2016

 

As well as a team may play in the regular season, even if its winning ends in a great seed position in March Madness, an upset is always possible on the basketball court. There can be Cinderella stories and miracles launched by upsets. Before March Madness commenced, 64 men’s teams entered the four bracket challenges. Experts said one of these five teams was likely to win it all: Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

Middle Tennessee kicked Michigan State out in The Big Dance, the first round of games for all 64 teams. Indiana beat Kentucky in the second round. Kansas faces hometown favorite Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen March 24, North Carolina faces bracket buster Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen March 25. Oklahoma has avoided getting knocked out by a spoiler, but they play No. 3 seed Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen.

The most interesting part about this year’s March Madness is that there may be no perfect brackets after March 25. Even before the Sweet Sixteen, eliminations were dramatic. Middle Tennessee, a No. 15 seed, eliminated number two Michigan State, Stephen F. Austin University (SFA), seeded No. 14, beat No. 3 seed West Virginia and lucky 13 seed Hawaii knocked out No. 4 seed California. These unexpected losses all happened on the second day of the first round. This was the first time in men’s NCAA tourney history that the No. 13, No. 14, and No. 15 seed won on the same day.

The Steven F. Austin Lumberjacks played remarkably in their third straight time heading back to the Big Dance. They did it in style against West Virginia. Next, they lost against Notre Dame in a heartbreaker. The game was decided 76-75 by a tip-in basket that Notre Dame made with less than two seconds left on the clock.

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders victory over Michigan State marked the eighth time that the No. 2 seed was upset by a No. 15 since the NCAA tourney has expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last upset like this was in the 2013 NCAA Tourney when No. 2 seed Georgetown lost to Florida Gulf Coast. The Blue Raiders didn’t really have a glass slipper in the next round. Once Syracuse drew its top player Jaqawn Raymond into foul trouble and locked into its powerful zone defense, the Orange crushed the Blue Raiders’ Cinderella dream.

Maybe Syracuse deserved better than its No. 10 seed. While the team struggled throughout the regular season with a conference record barely above .500, it had a decent overall record of 19-13. The program is recovering form a nine-game suspension of Coach Jim Boeheim imposed by the NCAA in March 2015. However, Syracuse had many good wins against Top 25 teams this year which could be the reason for its seeding in the top ten. Syracuse will face No. 11 seed, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, in the Sweet Sixteen.

The No. 5 seed Maryland did what No. 4 seed California couldn’t. In the first round, Maryland defeated South Dakota State 79-74 off a steal by former Duke star Rasheed Solumon. In the second round, the Terps knocked out Hawaii, 73-60, and notched some impressive NCAA stats. Maybe The Turtle should be fitted for glass slippers. However, they are going against the Kansas Jayhawks, the best number one seed in the tourney. A win against Kansas might be a miracle since Terps coach Mike Turgeon was an assistant coach under Jayhawks coach Roy Williams from 1987-1992. When Turgeon coached for Texas A&M (2007 to 2011) his teams were 0-6 against the Jayhawks.

Although, The biggest bracket buster was No. 2 seed Michigan State being eliminated by No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee was the biggest concern for many people who filled in their brackets. This was a concern because many people had their brackets favoring Michigan State to win it all.

Continuing though March Madness the upsets will pile up and your bracket will get closer to being busted whether you are competing in a bracket challenge or playing against your friends. Anything can happen in March Madness, so you will just have to wait until Final Four round comes. The huge aspect is that you may get a Final Four win or guess the national champ correctly. As the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight arrive, getting any matches right is huge.

Will Walde, 16, is a junior at the Lab School of Washington in the District of Columbia.

Please note: this blog entry should be dated March 24, 3:00 p.m.

Griffey, Piazza, very different as draft picks, achieve highest honor

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The game of baseball’s best players often go to the Hall of Fame, but MLB might not have seen their potential at first. The Seattle Mariners picked Ken Griffey in the first round and first overall pick of the 1987 draft. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked Mike Piazza in the 62nd round as the 1,390th pick in the 1988 draft. During that draft there were 1,433 picks and 97 percent of the players were picked before him. Jan. 6th, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., announced its 2016 class of honorees: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza. They join players voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1936.

The voting procedure considers baseball players who played in the majors for over 15 seasons. Five years must go by after a player’s retirement announcement before he can be eligible for the vote. Members of the BBWAA can votes on eligible players. The BBWAA does the voting and decides who goes into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Griffey is the first ballot-winner to get 99.32 percent of the votes approaching unanimous selection. Previously, the highest percentage was for Tom Seaver’s 98.84. Seaver is in the 1992 Class. Both Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza played in the MLB for over a span of 15 years. Ken Griffey Jr. played in the Major league Baseball as an outfielder (MLB) for 21 seasons. He was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Mariners in 1987. His MLB debut was April 3, 1989. During his debut he made a line drive double and one week later he made his first home run. He played for the Seattle Mariners from 1989-1999 and then he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds his hometown city. The reason he wanted to go back to play his hometown team was because of golfer Payne Stewart who died in a plane crash on October 25, 1999. He played for the Reds until 2008 and then he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for the last couple seasons of his professional career. After the 2010 season, he retired from the MLB with some records that still stand, and accomplishments that made Griffey Jr. a good player.

Mike Piazza played in the MLB as a catcher for sixteen season under multiple teams. He played for Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, and Athletics. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 and made his debut during September 1, 1992 and eleven days later he made his first home run. He played for the Dodger until 1998. During the first month of the 1998 MLB season the Los Angeles Dodgers traded him to the Florida Marlins. One week later he was traded to the New York Mets. He help the team during the 1999 and 2000 season making the playoffs. Especially, during the 2000 season the Mets made it to the World Series and it was known as the “Subway Series”. The Yankees won the World Series four to one. Before the 2005 season ended, the last game he wore a Mets uniform he had a standing ovation at Shea stadium. Piazza parted ways with the Mets when his seven-year contract expired. During the offseason as a free agent, the San Diego Padres signed him to a one year contract for the 2006 MLB season. After the 2006 season he was a free agent again and he was signed to a one year contract with the Oakland Athletics. After the 2007 MLB season, he announced that he was retiring from the Major Baseball League. The Hall of Fame ceremony will be held on July 24, 2016 at Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will be presiding the awards to Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.

Will Walde, 16, is a junior at the Lab School of Washington in the District of Columbia.