Monday, May 23, 2011

Special Teams "Special" in Canucks 4-2 Win

If you get one 5 on 3 opportunity in a game that is pretty good. If you get two 5 on 3 opportunities that is great. If you get three 5 on 3 opportunities.... well your team might be extremely lucky. In Game 4 of the Western Conference Final between the Canucks and the Sharks the Canucks were given three 5 on 3 chances. This came a game after the Canucks were given two 5 on 3's in game 3 but failed to score on both of them.

With the game still scoreless and the Sharks controlling most of the play the Canucks  drew consecutive minor penalties to have a 5 on 3. The game was at critical stage in the hockey game and it was looking like the first goal would turn out huge. Early in the man advantage Ryan Kesler popped home his sixth of the post season to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

After a Sharks too many men call, the Canucks quickly went to work again on their second 5 on 3. The Canucks passed the puck around until Sami Salo blasted a puck home as the Canucks doubled their advantage to 2-0. The Sharks continued to take careless penalties. The Sharks were called for delay of game and the Canucks were given their third 5 on 3. Again, the Canucks made quick work with the man advantage, Sami Salo scored his second of the game to give the Canucks a 3-0 lead.

The Canucks lead spread to 4-0 when Alex Burrows scored a goal on a odd man rush to put the final nail in the coffin. The great think about the fourth goal was Hendrik Sedin made a great pass to find Burrows. Burrows had the easy job. All he needed to do was keep his stick on the ice so he could tap it in.

The Sharks put on the pressure for the rest of the period. They shot from everywhere to try to beat Reberto Luongo.  The Sharks managed to get two goals past Luongo but thats as close as they came. The Canucks showed in game four that they can win a game, when they get out played for the majority of game. In fact, you could make a case that the Canucks got out played  for 55 minutes of the game.

The win also puts the Sharks behind the eight ball, if they weren't already behind it. The Sharks will have to beat the Canucks three times in a row. To make matters worse they might have to win those three game without their star player Joe Thornton. He left the game after the clean hit on Canucks forward Raffi Torres. Thornton is questionable for game 5.

The Canucks have a chance to get to their first Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994. The difference between this year is they will have home advantage. The key for the Canucks is to not look ahead. This playoffs the Canucks are 2-4 when they are trying to close out their opponent  and 6-10 since 2003. The Sharks will for sure bring it for game 5. They have had a great season racking up 105 points and are hoping to reward their fans with at least one extra home game.

The game starts at 6pm tomorrow and can be seen on CBC, RDS and Versus.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Canucks Advance to Western Conference Final for First Time Since 1994

When the Canucks-Predators series began, not many gave the Predators a chance to win the series. Six games later it was discovered that the Nashville Predators were a much better team them most people thought.

The bottom line is that the Vancouver Canucks have advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since their Cinderella run in the spring of 1994. The only difference between the run in 1994 in comparison to this years run is that this years run was expected. However, with the expectations of a cup run this year also brings in pressure. Pressure that the Canucks have shown that they can handle, game 7 against Chicago was maybe the most amount of pressure they have faced in the 40 years of being in the NHL. The question is do the Canucks have anything left in the tank to win eight more games?

The answer is yes. The Canucks during the regular season showed they can win in any situation. The Canucks in past years have been a very mediocre road team. This year is different. The Canucks were the best road team in the NHL going 27-10 4. That was a significant improvement from the Canucks road record in 2010 (20-19-2). If you add that to the Canucks 4-2 record  on the road in the playoffs this year, the Canucks have been superb on the road this year.

Why does this matter? Well the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks won eight out of their 16 games on the road last year. Home ice doesn't mean that much in the NHL compered to other sports. In fact, it it is pretty easy to steal road games.

Furthermore, the best thing about the Canucks winning right now is Daniel and Hendrik Sedin are not producing like Art Ross Trophy winners. Despite Daniel's goal on Monday and Hendrik's empty net goal in game 4, the twins have been almost non existent. The Sedins will eventually get going. The truth is they are too good of players to not score. Daniel and Hendrik have been pretty consistent by averaging about a point per game.

If the Sedins every get going the Canucks might have a pretty deadly attack to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994. The play of Ryan Kesler has elevated the Canucks to the Western Conference Final possibly single handedly. In the Canucks Western Conference Semi Final the Canucks scored 14 goals.  That stat is nothing to brag about but Ryan Kesler has something to brag about. He has been in on 11 out of the 14 goals. If Ryan Kesler can continue his amazing play  Canucks
 fans should be in for a big party come the end of May.

Despite, the play of Ryan Kesler, I wouldn't be surprised either way if the Canucks season ends soon. The Canucks next opponent, the San Jose Sharks are a much better team then the Nashville Predators and the Canucks will have to be much more discipline. More Importantly, Luongo will have to play much better an eliminate the bad goal from behind the net.

All in all the series win is important but the Canucks haven't reached their main goal yet. Yes the Canucks have gotten the Chicago Blackhawks monkey off their backs and  the second round exit off their back a loss in the Conference final would still be disappointing. The Canucks are the Presidents Trophy winners so their bound to put up a good fight. The problem is their are so many good teams this year nothing is a given.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jake Locker Picked 8th Overall by Titans

When I found out that Jake Locker was taken 8th overall to the Tennessee Titans, I was really surprised. It wasn't that I thought Locker was a bad Quarterback or an immature Quarterback, it surprised because of all the talk I heard he could of been late first to early second.

Personally, I didn't think Locker would have gone in the second round. I  also didn't think he would have been on the board when the Seahawks were scheduled to pick in the 25th spot. My gut feeling was he was a pretty good lock to go the Vikings at #12. The reason why the Vikings would have been a good fit for Locker is because of the Vikings Quarterback situation. The Vikings started three quarterbacks last year, two weren't that good in Joe Webb and Tarvaris Jackson and one is likely to retire in Brett Favre. The Vikings might only be one player away from competing in the NFC North. The Vikings went 6-10 last and with another play maker on offense the Vikings could of gone from 6-10 to 9-7.

What made it more a shock was  I thought the Titans were in good hands at the Quarterback position. Kerry Collins played in ten games trowing 14 Ttouchdown passes and eight interceptions. The other Titans Quarterback was Vince Young. Young, like Collins had decent numbers throwing ten touchdown passes and only throwing three interceptions.

One would think that the Titans would be at an okay position at Quarterback. Do the Titans think that their not in a good position at QB? Or did they think that Locker is a bit underrated and has too much potential to pass up?

I think it's a bit of both. Jake Locker was one of the best recruits coming out of high school and could of gone to almost any school he wanted. He chose Washington primarily because it was the closet school to his hometown of Ferndale Wa. His Freshmen year was a good year. His passing numbers were below average but his mobility in the pocket and willingness to scramble made up for it. The Huskies finished 4-9 but would have done better if they had a good defense.

In 2008 Locker was given a crushing blow. In the Huskies Pac 10 home opener against Stanford, Locker broke his thumb. He left the game and didn't return the rest of the season and the Huskies finished 0-12.

In 2009 the Huskies were ready for a turnaround and so was Locker. Steve Sarkisian was the new head coach after the firing of Tyrone Willingham. Stats wise Locker had one of the best years during his time at Washington. He threw for 21 Touchdowns and only 11 Picks and almost getting to the 3,000 yard milestone for throwing the ball. The Huskies just missed going to a bowl game finishing 5-7.

In mid December Locker made it clear that he would return for his Senior season. Going into the season Locker was a possible Heisman trophy winner. After the Huskies 23-17 opening day loss to BYU, it became clear that he would not be winning the Heisman. Locker had an up and down season and so did the Huskies. They found themselves 3-6 with three winnable games left. The Huskies beat UCLA 24-7, then beat Cal 16-13 and WSU 35-28 both in the last minute to become bowl eligible. The Huskies found themselves in the Holiday Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was a rematch of a September game that Nebraska won 56-21. Jake Locker and fellow teammates Chris Polk and Mason Foster led the Huskies to a 19-7 upset win. It is important to note that Locker battled a rib injury for most of the season but still put up okay numbers.

My gut feeling is that this pick is a wait and see type of pick. Locker is a player that makes every player on the field better. He is the player that will break a tackle and make something out of nothing. He has a chance to be a franchise player for the Titans. On the flip side he has the chance to be a wasted pick if he gets rattled by the big stage. The bright side is that Locker changed the Huskies program around, so maybe he can do that to the Titans.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Canucks Win Epic Overtime Game to Knock Out Defending Champs

For 16 days during the 2010 Olympics the theme in Vancouver was "Believe," maybe the Canucks fans just needed to believe for one of the most anticipated Game 7's in Canuck history.

The stage was set. The best team in the NHL last year was going to play the best team in the NHL this year for a do or die Game 7. As a hockey fan, Game 7 is the two best words in hockey. That is the case unless your team is in it.

I have lots of memories as a Canucks fan. Game 7 in 2003 against St. Louis, Game 7 in 2007 against Dallas and loads of regular season success year after year. I had seen a lot of games but I had never witnessed a more intense game then the one that was played last night. In fact, even an average hockey fan would admit that the game last night was intense.

Going into the game last night, I was feeling pretty confident. Despite, the Blackhawks being the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the didn't play in a Game 7 during their cup run last year. In fact, there were only four players on the Blackhawks roster that had ever played in a Game 7. In contrast, the Canucks had 12 players who had played in Game 7's.

When the game started my focus was on Reberto Luongo. For the Canucks to win, I thought he just had to be average. When the Canucks scored 2:43 seconds into the game my confidence level grew. I thought it was a type of goal that could kick start a game and swing momentum.  Alex Burrows second goal of the post season was the only goal that period. If the Canucks could hang on for 40 more minutes they would get their monkey off their back.

In the second period, the Canucks started to get a lot of good scoring chances thrown at rookie goaltender Corey Crawford. The Canucks out shot the Blackhawks 15-6 but still, the score remained 1-0. Going into the 3rd period I started to get nervous. I knew that Chicago was too good of a team to keep scoreless for the whole game and Luongo was bound to give up a goal on a luckly bounce.

In a series that had all the twists and turns, the third period had another twist. Early in the third period Alex Burrows was taken down on a breakaway. The referee signaled for a penalty shot. Alex Burrows moved in on goalie Cory Crawford but could not score. The game was still 1-0 Vancouver. The rest of the third period both teams traded chances but on one was able to find the back of the net.

With just over three minutes to go, Vancouver was rewarded a power play. If the Canucks could score on it they could pretty much seal the deal. At the very least they could kill 2 minutes off the clock. However, the Canucks were sloppy in the neutral zone and turned the puck over which led to a goal by Johnathan Towes that sent the game into overtime.

In the overtime intermission, I thought it was going to be a bad bounce that would end the Canucks season. I decided to watch the overtime period in the kitchen. I thought that was a good idea because that is where I watched Game 7 between the Canucks and Stars in 2007 and the Canucks won.

During overtime, Alex Burrows was called for a penalty. As bad as the officiating was in this series, I thought it was a good call. The Canucks dug deep and killed the penalty which gave them momentum. I was now feeling confident again. When Alex Burrows stole the pack and walked in to blast the knuckle puck past Corey Crawford I started to run around the house like a chicken with its head cut off.

Alex Burrows game winning goal sent Rogers Arena into bedlam. It depends how far the Canucks go but if the Canucks can make a cup run this year, it might be the biggest goal in Canucks history. A goal that for sure saved the Canucks from embarrassment.

Now that the Canucks were finally able to beat the Blackhawks, no one will care what happened in games four, five and six. April 26, 2011 will always be a great day in Canucks history. It was one of the most intense games in Canucks history. For me, I will remember this day the rest of my life. Some people call it luck, but I call it justice for all those times us Canucks fans have been heartbroken.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Canucks Search for Answers After Lopsided Loss

No team has ever gone 16-0 in the playoffs to win the Stanley Cap and if the Canucks are able to win the Stanley Cup, they won't either. The Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks will face their first bit of adversity of the 2011 Playoffs when they take the ice tomorrow night for game 5. If the Canucks are going to make a long run to the cup this spring, it will likely won't be their last bit of adversity they will face.

All that said, Canucks fans are starting to feel nervous after their loss last night to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks showed little to know energy all night in their play and the 7-2 score painted the picture.

The Chicago Blackhawks were the complete opposite. From the opening face off  the Blackhawks had more energy, more toughness and more emotion. For whatever reason last night that was the case in Game 4. If the Canucks want to wrap up the series in Vancouver in Game 5, they will have to play much better.

Why was Chicago so fired up for last nights game? It possibly could have been because of the return of Dave Bolland. He returned to the lineup after missing 17 games because of a concussion. He scored a goal an added three helpers on his way to become the first star of the hockey game.

Or it could have been the defending champs not wanting to be swept in front of their home fans. In fact, it has only happened twice where the defending Stanley Cup Champions got swept out of the playoffs in the first round.. The last time it happened was in 2003, when the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim shocked the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in four straight.

Time will tell what it was that gave Chicago such a spark last night. There have been only three teams in NHL history to come back from 3-0 down. Those three series were:

  • Maple Leafs 4-3 Red Wings 1942 
  • Islanders 4-3 Penguins 1975 
  • Flyers 4-3 Bruins 2010 

The chances are slim for Chicago to come back but it doesn't mean it's impossible. The Blackhawks still have their core players like Patrick Kane and Johnathon Toews to carry the load offensively. Also, on the back end they still have Duncan Kieth and Brian Campbell.

The good news for Vancouver is that they will be able to keep the twins away from Chicago's best checking line. In Game 4 the twins were a non factor to say the least. Getting Daniel and Hendrik away from them will be crucial.  The Canucks are very tough to beat when the top line is clicking so having the last change should be a blessing for Alain Vigneault club.

The biggest answer the Canucks might be looking for is getting back home. The Canucks were the best home team in the Western Conference and should be fine as long as the Rogers Arena is electric tomorrow night. If the Canucks can get off to quick start and not allow Chicago in the game, the Canucks should be heading to the 2nd round of the playoffs for the third straight year.  If not the Blackhawks have a chance to take the series back to Chicago and they might be on their way to pull off the impossible.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alain Vigneault Faced With Some "Good Decisions"

Not often in life you are faced with some good decisions. If your Alain Vigneault he will have some good decisions to make before his Canucks take the ice for game 3 at the United Centre. The Canucks have a 2-0 series lead against the defending Stanley Cup champs, while no lead is safe the Canucks do have a healthy advantage in the Best of seven Western Conference Quarter Final. For Alain Vigneault to have decisions to make like he does is definitely a good thing at this time of year.

With Raffi Torres set to return from his four game suspension today, what will Alain Vigneault do with his lineup dilemma? Does he take Cody Hodgson out of lineup for Raffi Torres? Cody Hodgson has had two decent games to start the series. In game 1 he had 7: 38 seconds of ice time and recorded three shots on goal. In game 2 he was rewarded with 10:22 seconds of ice time and tallied an assist on the Vancouver Canucks third goal of the game late in the second period.

Or should Alain Vigneault take out Victor Oreskovich? Oreskovich is a energy guy who won't be afraid to drop the gloves to add a ignite a spark for his team. The Whitby, Ontario native was involved in the Kieth Ballard trade on the weekend of the draft back in June and has been a good addition to the team with adding some depth.  Oreskovich has played both playoff games this series but has really been a non factor. The reason I see Alain Vigneault keeping Victor Oreskovich is for his toughness. With the Canucks leading 2-0 in the series, the Blackhawks might try to throw the body around to swing the momentum in their favor. Having Victor Oreskovich in the lineup might be important.

Does Alain Vigneault toy with the idea of putting Raffi Torres as a healthy scratch? Torres this year played in 80 out of the 82 games this year. He has 14 goals and added 15 assists over the regular season. Torres was a big piece in the Edmonton Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup run that ended in game 7 in Carolina. The only way I see Alain Vigneault keeping Raffi Torres out of the lineup is because of illness. Torres was fighting a stomach virus the last few days but he says he's ready to play.

Like Torres, Mikael Samuelsson has also been under the weather. In fact, Mikael Samuelsson missed game 2 because of the flu but is optimistic that he will be in the lineup for game 3.  Samuelsson is an important player for the Canucks. He has playoff experience that should come in handy in a hostile environment like the United Centre.

If Mikael Samuelsson can't go, it is just another spot opener for one of the younger guys. If Samuelsson is able to go then he will surely be in the lineup. Samuelsson had a great playoffs last year scoring 8 goals and 7 assists in 12 Canuck playoff games last year.

No matter what choice Alain Vigneaul makes he can't go wrong. Each player that Alain Vigneault will choose from has some good sides to the player. In addition, all the players that Alain Vigneault will chose from he has confidence in. Over the course of the year all the players have had really good games. With  a 2-0 series lead and lots of choices to make, Alain Vigneault can juggle his lineup and each decision he makes has a chance to be a good decision.

The game starts at 5pm and will be on TV on CBC, Versus and RDS.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Canucks and Blackhawks ready to Write New Chapter in Rivalry

No matter which way you look at it, the Canucks and Blackhawks over the years have became intense rivals. It doesn't matter if your an old time hockey fan or a modern day hockey fan, if you like hockey you will learn to like this rivalry.

The Canucks and the Blackhawks have met four times in the playoffs. The first of those four meetings came in 1982 with the Canucks unexpected run to the cup. In the Conference Finals the Canucks found themselves playing the Chicago Blackhawks. The series started in Chicago in one of the loudest arenas in the NHL. The Canucks were not intimidated at all winning Game 1, 2-1 in 2OT. The Canucks had a 1-0 series lead and were three wins away from there first Stanley Cup appearance in franchise history.

In Game 2 of the series the Canucks found themselves trailing 3-1, with the Canucks shorthanded for the ninth time in the game. After Denis Savard made the game 4-1, Vancouver Canucks coach Roger Neilson decided to hold up a towel of signs of surrender. The referee wasn't to happy with him and ejected him and a few players who joined in. Neilson was fined 1,000 dollars for his act.

The fine did not dampen the Canucks playoff spirits. For Game 3, it was back in Vancouver at the Pacific Coliseum where a sold out crowed greeted the visiting Blackhawks with white towels. The tradition was called "Towel Power  is still used today for Canuck Playoff games.

The Canucks went on and won the next three games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals where they would get swept by the Islanders.

The Canucks and the Blackhawks would have to wait a full 13 years to renew there hate for each other. In 1995 it was the Blackhawks who got the better of the Canucks. Chicago would sweep Vancouver 4-0 in the Western Conference Semi Finals.

The Canucks would have to wait 14  years to seek redemption. In 2009 the Canucks hosted the youthful Blackhawks, which featured a handful of players from Western B.C.. Going into the series their was no clear favorite to win the series. Reberto Luongo came into the series on a unbelievable hot streak. In contrast, the Blackhawks were known as the comeback kings of the NHL playoffs.

The first three games was very exciting. Vancouver won games one and three. Going into Game four the pressure was on Chicago. With the Canucks leading 1-0 in the third period of game 4 the Canucks went into a defensive mode to try to hold onto a 1-0 lead. The choice to go into defensive mode was looking like the right choice until Martian Havlat scored a goal to tie the game a 1-1. In overtime, Andrew Ladd (who my Mom taught.) scored the winning goal to give the Blackhawks the Game 4 win and made what was a best of 7 to a best of 3. The Blackhawks ended up winning the next two games and the Canucks season ended with a very sour taste in their mouth.

The following year the Canucks got the match up they wanted in the 2nd Round. The Chicago Blackhawks this time were the better team and were poised for a cup run. However, in Game 1 of the series it looked like the Canucks were poised for a Stanley Cup run. They dominated Chicago at the United Centre on route to a 5-1 win. After game 1 in the series, the Blackhawks started to take control  of the series. They won the next three games to take a commanding 3 games to one series lead. The Canucks stanched Game 5 back in Chicago but Chicago rapped up the series in Game 6 to advance to the Western Confreance Finals and eventually be named the Stanley Cup Champion.

For the third year in a row the Hawks and Canucks will battle again in the playoffs. This year it will be a round earlier and this time the Canucks will be the favorite. The Canucks come into the playoffs with the most points, most goals scored and the least  goals against. It is the first time that has happened since the Montreal Canadians did that in 1976. The good news for Canucks fans is that Montreal won the Stanley cup that year.

The Canucks are the best team in the league by a long shot. The only question remains is will playing the Blackhawks for the third time in as many years hurt the Canucks or help them. Over the last decade, there has only been a handful of teams that have met in the playoffs three years in a row in the four main sports. The familiarity factor might favor the Blackhawks but on the flip side the Canucks might be due to beat the Blackhawks.

In the end I think the Canucks will prevail in the best of 7 western conference quarter final. Usually over a long seven game series, the best team comes out victorious. If the Canucks can use their depth to their advantage they should be able win the series. However, the Blackhawks are a well coached team coached by Joel Qunneville. If he can use his coaching skills to out coach Alain Vigneault then  Chicago might have a chance to pull off the shocking upset but other then that I see the Canucks wearing down the Blackhawks as the series moves on.

My Pick: Canucks in 7

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mariners Against Indians Game Experience

There is a saying in baseball that goes like this " There is no such thing as a bad at the ballpark." On Friday I got a chance to test that theory. My first Mariners game was in 1998 in the Kingdome  was a 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. Alex Rodrigez homered and Ken Griffey made a nice catch at the wall were my highlights. Before the day was done I was a baseball fan.

Over the years of attending games I had never witnessed what I say on Friday. The Mariners 12-3 loss over the Cleveland Indians made it official. I had officially seen a blowout in a major league baseball game. Did I have a bad experience at the game. Of course not. In fact, it was much better then listening on the radio, which is what I would have done if I wasn't at the game because the game wasn't on TV in Canada.

My day started when my  family left at 2pm for Seattle. I was able to get out of school at 1:50. The border lineup was about 30 minuets, which is pretty good for a friday afternoon. We didn't run into any traffic until Lynwood. After that the traffic was really slow.

Eventually, my family did get to the stadium. We got there just past 6pm, 30 minuets before the pre-game festivities. During the offseason Hall Of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus past away. Before the first pitch the Seattle Mariners were going to pay tribute to their first ever broadcaster. In addition, the Mariners were going to recognize Felix Hernandez with his Cy Young award.

The Tribute to Dave Niehaus was filled with emotions. He was one of the best announcers, not only in baseball but in  sports. Every night game when I was between the ages of 7-14 I would lay in bed listening to him. His passion for the game of baseball was off the charts. The Ceremony was very well done and had just enough emotion to it. It was not too sad but at the same time it was sad enough to realize that he meant a lot to people in the Northwest.

My favorite part of the ceremony was when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis  sung "MY OH MY ".  For a person to have the courage to  write a song about a great guy is an accomplishment by itself. The song had great lyrics and was preformed beautifully. It has a good beat and it really makes you think of what a great guy he was. I also thought it was great to see King Felix get such a nice ovation for winning the Cy Young. I really liked the pre-game festivities.

Unlike the pre-game festivities, the game itself I did not like. The Indians pounded out 9 hits on Mariners starting pitcher Jason Vargas. He only lasted 31/3 and took the loss. What made matters worse was the Indians put up a 10 spot in the fourth inning. When the Mariners finally retired the Indians in the fourth I was like "wow, the Mariners won't  even score 11 runs this series. "

When it was 12-1 in the Top of the 6th, I realized that there was no chance the Mariners would come back and I took a walk to the Team Store. I wanted to buy a T-shirt that had a players name on it but I wanted to wait to see who was having a good year so I will likely wait to July when I will be back at Safeco to buy one.

In the ninth inning, the Mariners rallied to trim the deficit to 12-3 but it was way too little, way too late. The Mariners for whatever reason just didn't have it on Friday night. Sometime your home opener is like that where for whatever reason they just come out flat.

 All in all, I had lots of fun despite the 12-3 loss. My dad said we will make going to opening day a tradition for now on Jokingly or not, I hope he comes through in his word. I think the goal for the Mariners should be to go .500 at home. If you go .500 at home and 18 below on the road they would get to my goal of 72-90.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

College Basketball is Over For This Year

With Uconn defeating Butler in last nights National Championship game, the College Basketball season  came to an end.

At a first look back at the season, I thought this years college basketball season was a very intriguing season. There were lots of teams that thought they had a chance to win it all. I couldn't remember the last time the NCAA field was this wide open. At the start of the year I thought Duke was the overwhelming favorite. If Kyrie Irving didn't come down with his injury that sidelined him for 26 games this year, Duke may have been the Champion. However, now that the season is over that is all a what if.

The reason I thought the season was an intriguing season may of been the amount of games I watched. Last year I barely watched any college basketball. That was mostly because of the 2010 Winter Olympics and the cruise that I went on. This year was a bit different. I found myself excited for the college basketball games. It didn't matter if it was a Huskies game that night or a ACC game. I was excited.

During the season I always thought that this years March Madness had the ingredients to be an outstanding tournament. Especially, with BYU and San Diego State fighting it out for the Moutian West Title and possibly a #1 seed. I thought this years college basketball season would be a season to remember.            

We all know how the MWC ended in the regular season. Jimmer Ferdette and the BYU Cougars won the regular season title. The Cougars cruised to the MWC Tournament Championship game and losing to their conference rival San Deigo State. It was a great storyline to follow for most of the year. To see two mid majors in the Top 10 for most of the year should help College Basketball.  With BYU going to the WCC next year it will be interesting to see the rivalry between BYU, Gonzaga and St. Mary's.

Over the course of the season I watched at least one basketball game a day. In fact, even when I wasn't watching any games I was keeping an eye on the scores. For me, it would be hard to pick out one game and say that was the best game of the year. I could bee a Husky homer and say that the Apple Cup in the Pac 10 Quarter Final was the best game of the year. On the flip side if the would of lost that game I would be saying that was the worst game of the year. So I'm just going to say that I witnessed a lot of great games this year.

My favorite thing  about this years tournament was that I won my families pool. With my number third pick in this years draft I picked the Uconn Huskies. I picked them because they were playing close to home during the first week, I thought they had a pretty easy path to the Elite 8 and their super star Kemba Walker. With me winning the pool I won $9.

All in all I thought it was a good year of College Hoops. For the first time ever I watched the Tipoff Marathon in November. I watched 20 out of the 37 Washington Huskies games which is a personal best. In fact, I went to a Huskies game this year. Despite the loss I had loads of fun. In General, I thought the Washington Huskies had a good season. The Huskies played inspiring basketball for most of the year. The Huskies impressed me the most when they played without Starting Point Guard Abdul Gaddy got the season ending injury in early January. With a few breaks this team definitely could of made it to the Elite 8.

Friday, April 1, 2011

King Felix Starts Title Defense Today in Oakland

For six straight seasons now Felix Hernandez has baffled hitters with his amazing Curve, a great Change up and an outstanding Slider. Last year was a season to remember for Venezuela born right-hander. He had a microscopic 2.27 ERA in 34 starts last year. He was the type of pitcher that could give your team a chance to win anytime he was scheduled to pitch.

The question will be can Felix Hernandez have a repeat performance of what he did in 2010? I believe Hernandez will have another amazing season despite his ERA going up just a had. It is hard to imagine Felix improving on his 2.27 ERA but he should be able to improve on his record. Last year Felix Hernandez finished the season with a 13-12 record. That was the one stat that was mediocre but that was because of the Mariners offense and not his pitching.

If I could take a guess of what kind of numbers Felix Hernandez will put up this year it would go like this: Felix will go 16-6 with a 2.54 ERA a WHIP of 1.29 and will go over 200 innings pitched for the fourth consecutive year. So will he win the AL Cy Young award again this year?

Since 1967 there have been four repeat winners.  Those four winners were Jim Palmer in 1975-76, Roger Clemens in 1986-87,  Roger Clemens again in 1998 and 1999. Lastly, it was Pedro Martinez in 2000 and 2001.

If the Mariners offense is going to improve and it will because it can't get much worse, then Hernandez will end up with a better record. He has a lifetime record of 71-53. Despite his 71 wins over his short career, he has never had a 20 win season. That should continue this year. The Mariners offense will improve but it will be still below average compared to the rest of the teams. Therefore, it's hard to imagine him winning that many games. Remember, a pitchers record is not really in his control so he will be definitely have to get some run support if he will be a 20 game winner.

One thing that will be going for Felix is his other starting pitchers. If Erik Bedard and the other pitchers can stay healthy this year it will put less pressure on Felix to go our their every five days and give the bullpen a rest. If there are injuries then the AAA pitchers get called up and they can't go that deep into games because their younger.  Then the bullpen gets used more then Eric Wedge wants to and feels the need to let Felix go as long as he can. This becomes a domino affect and he pitches way over 200 innings. If the rest of the rest of the starters can stay healthy, Felix will be able to not throw so many innings in the first part of the season and be more fresh towards the end of the season.

All in all, Felix Hernandez should expect another great season. It must of been a disappointment for him last year not to be selected as on All Star last year. I think he can expect an All Star appearance this year as well. Like I said earlier in the article, 16-6 is pretty reasonable. I have a feeling that his record will be between his record in 2009 (19-5) and  2010 (13-12).

Well, there you have it. Felix takes the mound tonight and will try to defend his AL Cy Young Award today. The game starts at 7:05 and is on TV on Roots Sports. Go Mariners.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MLB Season Preview

The Major League Baseball season will get underway tomorrow when ten teams are scheduled to open up their season. Opening Day is a new beginning for all 30 teams and it's a day where every fan of their respected team can dream that this year, is their year.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been excited for MLB opening day. In fact, it is my second favorite opening day next to the Opening week  of College Football. I always hoped that Opening day for baseball to be on Easter Monday, like it has been in past years. This year it's a bit different. For the first time since 1976 the MLB season will start on a Thursday.

In some ways it will be interesting to see the MLB start on a different day this year. The past few years I have had to make a choice of what to watch. It was either the National Championship of College Basketball or the Mariners first game. Which ever event you chose your going to be missing one really good sporting event.

This preview will get you set the long marathon of the  MLB season. Lets get started shall we?

AL West
Angles          93-69
Rangers         89-73
Athletics         87-75
Mariners          72-90

The AL West should be a very competitive division this year. The defending ALCS winners the Texas Rangers will be looking to defend their title. The Angles will always be the Angles with their Thunder Sticks and Rally Monkey. The Athletics  are young and talented but might be a year away. The Mariners are well, the Mariners. They added DH Jack Cust to their lineup but this team just doesn't have what it takes to win consistently for the whole six months.

AL Central 
Twins           92-70
White Sox     88-74
Tigers            85-77
Indians           78-84
Royals             71-91

The Twins will enter their second year in new Target Field as the favorite to win the AL Central for the third time in as many years. It would be a big help for the Twins if Justin Morneau can stay off the injured list. Ozzie Guillen's club will again have a competitive team but sometimes competitive is not enough. The Indians will endure some growing pains under new manager Manny Acta and the Royals will improve but they won't be close to the division title and finish last.

AL East
Red Sox         97-65
Yankees          94-68
Blue Jays          83-79
Rays                  75-87
Orioles               67-95

The Red Sox this off season went out and signed Bobby Jenks and Carl Crawford. The Red Sox bullpen should be deadly this year with Paplebon and Jenks. Look for them to have a great team this year. The Yankees should be fighting tooth and nail with their rival. If not they will make a deal at the July 31st trade deadline and get hot at the end. Can Jose Bautistia repeat his magical season with 54 home runs last year? The Rays I think will take a big step back this year with them losing Carl Crawford. They have the pitching but do the have the offense still? Last and certainly least is the Orioles. I just don't see them competing anytime soon.

That would make the Wildcard Standings look like this:
Yankees          94-68
Rangers           89-73
White Sox     88-74
Athletics         87-75
Tigers             85-77

Now to the National League

NL West 
Dodgers        88-74
Giants            86-76
Rockies          81-81
Diamondbacks  73-89
Padres               68-94

The NL West will shape out like this. The Dodgers will be surprise winners of the NL West. The Giants will have a World Series hangover and miss the division by two games. The Rockies will be streaky this year but for the second year in a row there will be no "Rocktober." Diamondbacks will improve but still miss the playoffs. Finally, the Padres. Picked by most last year to not do very well, they surprised a lot of us by almost forcing a one game playoff with the Giants last year. I expect the Padres to be the underachieving kings this year and finishing last in the AL West.

NL Central 
Cardinals      93-69
Reds             89-73
Cubs             83-79
Astros           78-84
Pirates            69-93

What comes to mind when you think of the NL Central? I think of the Chicago Cubs and their 101 year World Series drought. Will this be the year for the Cubbies? No. I think it will be Abert Pujols and the Cardinals. The Reds will be right their but it won't happen this year. I don't think you can expect Joey Votto to have that great a year again. The Astros will be good home team this year. The problem will be they won't be good on the road. The Pirates will be the bad team in a good ballpark like always.

NL East
Phillies        97-65
Braves        89-73
Mets            82-80
Marlins         77-85
Nationals     74-88

The NL East might have the best starting rotations in recent history. That rotation will be in the city of brotherly love Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The Phillies will be the overwhelming favorite to win not only the division but maybe the World Series. Can the Phillies face the adversity they will have to overcome when they heard that Chase Utley will be on the DL. The Braves are the closest team that will challenge the Phillies. The Mets will be very average with some injuries and some off field issues. The Marlins will be decent, but a August-September meltdown will have them finishing fourth. The Nationals fans will have some good news and bad news. The Bad news is that they will suck again. The good news is they will see Stephen Strasburg every five days when he is healthy.

That would make the Wildcard Standings look like this:
Braves        89-73
Reds             89-73
Giants            86-76
Cubs             83-79

es will win a one game playoff against the Reds for the NL Wildcard at Tunner Field. 

Red Sox over Twins 3-1 
Yankees over Angles 3-2 

Phillies over Dodgers 3-2
Cardinals over Braves 3-0

Red Sox over Yankees 4-3

Phillies over Cardinals 4-2

World Series 
Red Sox over Phillies 4-2

World Series MVP: David Ortiz

All Star Game:  8-3 AL

Cy Young  NL: Cliff Lee          Cy Young AL: CC Sabathia

MVP: Albert Pujols

Canadian Pitcher of the Year: Erik Bedard

No Hitters this year: 5

Perfect Games: 2

Players to hit for the Cycle: 6

I hope you enjoyed my preview. Good luck to your team! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who is Eric Wedge?

When I found out the the Mariners new manager in the 2011 season would be Eric Wedge, I was excited about the hiring.  I was excited because Eric Wedge is a well known coach around the Major Leagues and I have full confidence that he can turn the Mariners franchise around.

Eric Wedge was born on January 27th 1968 in Fort Wayne Indiana. As a teenager he attended Northrop High School in his home town. He played on his high school baseball team that won the state championship in 1983. Wedge was only a teenager but he was becoming a winner at an early age.

After high school, Wedge went to Wichita State and again played on his schools baseball team from 1987 to 1989.  He played catcher and batted .380 in 1989 and led his team to a College World Series Title the same year.  During his time at Wichita State he won first team All American honors and a Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year award.

In the 1989 MLB Amateur draft Eric Wedge was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. As he worked his way up to the Red Sox major league team he played for four different minor league ball clubs. Those minor league teams were: Elmira Pioneers, New Briton Red Sox, Winter Heaven Red Sox and Pawtucket Red Sox.

Eric Wedge made his major league debut on October 5th 1991. In that game Wedge made a  pinch hitting appearance. During that at bat Wedge got a base hit off of Milwaukee pitcher Chris George. This would Wedge's only hit of the 1991 season.

Over his Short four year career as a major league player he played on two teams. Those four teams were the Boston Sox and Colorado Rockies. In Wedge's four year career in the major leagues he hit .233 with five home runs and 12 RBI's. After Wedge's final major league appearance on July 29th 1994 he played minor league baseball on the Detroit Tigers farm team in 1996 and the Philadelphia Philies farm team in 1997 before finally retiring as a baseball player in 1997.

In 2003, Eric Wedge was announced  the new manager of the Cleveland Indians. In Wedge's seven years as the Indians skipper, Wedge took the Indians to the ALCS one time in 2007. In fact, the Indians were one game away from the World Series before they blew a 3-1 series lead to the Boston Red Sox. Despite, the Indians chocking in the 2007 ALCS Eric Wedge was given the Manager of the year award in recognition of an 18 game turn around from 2006 to 2007. In Eric Wedge's time in Cleveland he had a 561-573 record. (.495) In the Playoffs he was 6-5. (.545)

Even though Wedge has not had amazing success getting the Indians to the playoffs, he has shown that he can get his team really close to the World Series. To be honest, it wouldn't of mattered who the Mariners hired as manager. There likely to finish fourth in the competitive AL West this year. The hiring of Eric Wedge was the best choice because he has proven that he can turn a franchise around. In 2003 the Cleveland Indians won 68 games. However, in 2005, the Indians had a great year going 93-69 and narrowly missing the playoffs by two games. Personally, I could live with a few bad seasons if Eric Wedge were to take us to Game 7 of the ALCS in four-five years.

By the way, today wasn't the first day I heard of the Eric Wedge hiring but it was the first day where I felt like I had time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Season is Over for Washington Hoops

Well, I'm not here to tell people that the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Washington Huskies 86-83 on Sunday and the Huskies season is over. I'm not going to recap the game and tell people that the Huskies screwed up and they should have won. I'm not going to explain all that stuff as I would do in a normal recap. I'm not going to do that because we all know what happened on Sunday morning. We lost and it was the same old story every year. The Washington Huskies didn't execute when it mattered the most and they lost.

As Seattle sports fans we all have been down this road before. We have been down this road way too many times. Year after year after year. Yet, when the calender flips to what ever season it is we just get too excited and forget about what has happened in the past. It happens every year and most of the time it's not the refs fault. It's ours.

I think that we do get way too excited for our sports teams year after year after year. Who remembers how excited we were for baseball season last year? I was really excited and after the Mariners got good pitching and timely hitting on opening night last night it was silly of me to think that team was going to the playoffs after opening night against the Oakland Athletics. Do you remember how excited you were for Huskies football this year? I thought this team would find away to do some damage in the Pac 10. After the Huskies opening drive against BYU I thought this team would be amazing. However, almost three hours later a 23-17 loss to BYU I thought that this team would win like four games. Fortunately, for Huskies fans. Jake Locker, Chris Polk and Mason Foster  saved the Huskies from a disastrous season. Lastly, do you remember how excited you felt about the Husky hoops season starting? Hearing all the hype and the buzz about the team gave me the butterflies. Yet like most of our teams, they seem to underachieve and we end up being disappointed by the way the season finished.

At what point is this losing going to turn around. When it comes to my sports teams they have been losers all my life except for a few good years. The loss on Sunday morning just added salt into the wounds of die hard Seattle sports fans. We should have known darn well that this team was never going to the Final 4 or even the Elite 8. The team showed signs of being a great team but on the flip side this team was way too inconsistent to ever go far in this years tournament.

 In addition, Sunday's loss to UNC puts the Huskies in an awkward position. Even though I think Romar is a bad coach, he actually is a great coach. The reason why I think he is a bad coach is because there are countless times during the season where this team fails to preform to their potential. Some of the bad execution and losses to teams they should beat have to be put on the coach. In contrast, the Huskies have made the NCAA Tournament six of the nine years he has been the coach so he has to be doing something right.   In his nine years of coaching the Huskies Coach Romar has a record of 186-98 (655. winning percentage.) In Pac 10 play he is 84-53 (613. wining percentage). Those numbers are really good. The previous coach Mr. Bob Bender coached from 1993 to 2002. He had a record of 116-142 in his time at UW.  (450. wining percentage.) In Pac 10 play he had a record of 63-99. (389. wining percentage).

Just because Romar breaks our hearts three or four times a year it doesn't mean he needs to be fired. Huskies fans seem to forget how bad it was before Romar got here. That could be because the Huskies had to share the sports section of the paper with the Seattle Sonics. Since the Sonics have left have left the Huskies are on the front page of the Seattle everyday. The fans want more because they come up short every year.

That being said I hope the Huskies offer Bruce Pearl an assistant coaching job. Lorenzo Romar is a great coach but has no idea what to do in a game. The Huskies offense this year consisted of four passes and a three point shot with 20 seconds on the shot clock. Romar could use some much need help with X's and O's. Bruce Pearl is a well known coach around College Basketball and could help us. The only down side is he did cause some violations at Tennessee and had to serve an eight game suspension because of it. Am I dreaming or is this a possibility?

The bottom line is it is heartbreaking but it could be worse. So many BCS conference teams would love to have their program where Washington is right now. Yet Washington is not even close to being up their with the big boys like Duke, UNC, Uconn, Kentucky and Kanas. If the Huskies want to be in that category they will certainly have to get to the Final Four one of these years.

As for the team moving forward, this team will be fine. Next year will have amazing guards and below average posts. The team will still have a good bench and will also have a good mix of Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores and Freshmen. Abdul Gaddy will come back next year and if we could ever get a big guy that actually knew how to go up strong to the hoop this team will be very good next year. If our big guys don't improve then the team will be good, but not very good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Huskies Face Tar Heels with Tons at Stake

If your a fan of three point shots, a fast pace and lots of points; then set your alarm and get ready to watch the Washington Huskies take on the North Carolina Tar Heels for a spot in the Sweet 16.

For the Huskies, a win tomorrow would go a long way for the basketball program. In Lorenzo Romar's ninth season as the Huskies head coach, he has had to deal with a lot of off court issues. It even started before the season when Romar found out that he would be without the presence of forward Tyreese Breshers for the entire season.

It got worse in January when Romar found out that his starting point guard Abdul Gaddy tore his ACL in practice. Lastly, the problems grew when he had to deal with Vernoy Overton getting caught for inappropriate behavior.

Luckily for Washington, the Huskies were able to put all the off court problems out of their way to win the Pac 10 Championship and land them a number seven seed in the East Region. In addition, Overton's suspension was lifted in time for the Huskies 2nd round game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Overton had an average game Friday night. He scored six points, grabbed four redounds and dished out one assist.

The Huskies reward for overcoming all the adversity is a date with the North Carolina Tar Heels in their own state. In some ways it has been a frustrating season for the Huskies and their fans. The team was speculated to have maybe one of its best teams ever at UW. However, inconsistent play costed  them a Pac 10 regular season title and a chance to play relatively close to home.

Consequently, the Huskies will have a chance to do something that they have never done in the Romar era. That is to beat a top notched program in their home state. The closest Washington has ever came to beating a top notched program was when they beat Illinois in 2006. However, that game was played in San Diego not in the state of Illinois. A day that I remember pretty clearly.

The day was March 18th 2006. The Huskies were about to take on last years National runner up the Illinois Fighting Illini. I thought that the Huskies would lose for sure. I thought that Dee Brown would score 30 points and the Huskies would be out of the tournament. What made me more nervous was that I had a softball practice and couldn't watch the first part of the game.

When my practice was over the Huskies were surprisingly up 28-14. I was really excited and was starting to believe that the Huskies could pull off the minor upset. The win wasn't going to come that easy though. Before the end of the half Illinois had closed the gap to 35-33. In the second half Illinois continued to force the issue and took the led 53-43 with 10 minutes to go.

I thought the Huskies season was going to end. The Huskies wouldn't let that happen. The Huskies went on a 24-11 run to lead 67-64 in the last few seconds. Illinois had the ball and a chance to hit a three. I was yelling at my TV set FOUL! FOUL! FOUL! The huskies decided to play defense on luckily Dee Brown's three ball was no good and the Huskies survived.

Five years later, the Huskies have a chance to knock off another elite program. This time it would be in UNC's home state. When I first looked at the draw on Sunday night when the bracket came out, I thought that we were given an okay draw. I think the Huskies have a good chance to win this game this morning if they played well. If the Huskies shoot the three ball well and finish inside with Matthew Bryan Amaning then the Huskies have decent chance to pull off the upset.

The Tar Heels are in the tournament this year as a number two seed. They are led by Freshman Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller. Their strengths like the Huskies is score and run the floor. North Carolina averages 76.7 points per game. North Carolina plays their best when they can establish a physical presence inside to rebound the ball. If UNC is going to avoid the upset they will have to make sure they rebound the basketball and take this Huskies team seriously. Washington is capable of pulling off the upset if they play fearless and smart.

This mornings game will for sure be the Huskies hardest test of the season. We will really see how this team can play when their backs are against the wall and a lot is at stake. A Huskies win could be huge for the program and more importantly get another shot at the Elite eight. I personally, have a good feeling about this game. If the Huskies play to their potential they will have a good chance to win this game. The last two Huskies seasons have ended to Purdue and West Virginia. Those two teams Washington did not match up well against. However, Washington matches up well against UNC. If the Huskies can stay out of foul trouble, which I think they will the Huskies win win 92-80.

The game starts bright and early in the morning at 9:15am and can be seen on CBS.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Huskies Advance to Round of 32 with 68-65 Win

Isaiah Thomas had 19 points and Scott Suggs added 10 points off the bench as the Washington Huskies  defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 68-65 to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

Lorenzo Romar didn't get a textbook performance from the team by any standards but at the end of the day a win is a win. The Huskies overcame a horrible night from beyond the arc by going 4-18. In fact, the Huskies were only 2-14 for three pointers in the first half and the Huskies found themselves in a dog fight tied at 28.

However, in the second half the Huskies play much better. The Huskies started the second half on a 12-4 run that was caped off by a Darnell Gant three pointer to give the Huskies a 40-32 lead. After that the Huskies played good fundamental basketball to lead 63-53 with under two minutes to go in the game. Georgia tried to save their season with a heavy pressure that confused Washington. It startled Washington so much a Georgia had clawed its way back to 67-65 with under 10 seconds to go.

All C.J. Wilcox needed to do was knock down his two biggest free throws of his life so far. After hitting his first free throw, he missed his second free throw. That opened the door for the Bulldogs to tie the game and send it into overtime. Isaiah Thomas wasn't going to allow that to happen. Georgia moved the ball up briskly to try to get a last second three. That last second three was a broken play after Isaiah Thomas deflected a pass that would have led to an open three. The pass was deflected to Travis Leslie who put up a desperation three ball that hit the backboard and didn't draw iron. The Huskies had survived  Georgia's late serge.

Georgia was led by Trey Thompkins and Gerald Robinson. Thompkins led all scores with 26 points and Robinson added an additional 12 points. In the end it was the depth of Georgia that hurt them the most. The Bulldogs got badly outscored 28-0 on bench points which also seemed to give Washington an advantage. It gave Washington an advantage because not only did Romar have fresh legs he could use, he also had confidence that his bench could get the job done.

Even though the Huskies got the win, their going to have to play a lot better on Sunday. In Contrast, the Huskies played a really good second half that propelled them to possibly a deep tournament run. That said,  the Huskies will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels were victorious over Long Island University by a final score of 102-87. The Tar Heels are a well coached team coached by Roy Williams. He has won two National Titles at UNC and will surely have his team ready to play Washington.

Personally, I think North Carolina is a favorable matchup for Washington. UNC and Washington both score in bunches and that should favour Washington. It is often said in Tournament games that the three point shot is the great equalizer. If Washington knocks down three's there is no reason why Washington ca't win. In the game on Sunday Washington will look to keep pace with the Tar Heels. It is something Washington should be able to do if they shoot the ball well. The pressure is on the youthful Tar Heels. In some ways all the pressure is off Washington which could be a good thing.

The game starts at 9:15am and will be on CBS.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Washington Versus Georgia Preview

When the Washington Huskies face the Georgia Bulldogs tonight, the Huskies will be playing out east for the first and second round (this year second and third) for the first time in nearly seven years. That stat goes  to show how well Lorenzo Romar has improved the basketball program. Generally, if you are one of the best teams out west you will be playing your first two games on the west coast.

However, that is not the case this year. The Huskies were forced to make the near 3000 mile trek across the country to see if the Huskies can advance to the round of 32 for the fifth time in seven years. This time it might be a bit more challenging then in past years.

Not only are the Huskies making the long trip to Charlotte North Carolina, they will be playing a team that will feel like their at home. Athens, Georgia is only a 200 mile trip away from Charlotte, North Carolina and the Bulldogs should have plenty of supporters making the three hour drive to cheer on their  team.

In addition, Lorenzo Romar has struggled getting NCAA Tournament wins in the Eastern Time Zone. In fact, in his tenure at Washington Romar is 0-3 in NCAA Tournament games in the Eastern Time Zone. The three previous losses were to UAB in 2004, to Uconn in 2006 and to West Virginia in 2010. Were the past three games unlucky? Or does Romar have a tough time getting his teams ready for eastern time zone games.

I think we will have a pretty good answer to that question at the end of tonight's game. Georgia is a very beatable team if we use our strengths to our advantage. The Huskies are way more athletic, talented and have way more NCAA tournament experience. If the Huskies can use all those things to their advantage then the Huskies should win easily despite the crowd being against them.

The only way I see Georgia pulling off the upset is if the Huskies can't control their emotions and don't rebound well. Even though Georgia is a decent team, they didn't have the type of competition the Huskies had in non conference play and Conference play.The Pac 10 has a much better conference then the SEC which makes Georgia the inferior team.

Personally, I think the Huskies win pretty easily tonight. The Huskies are much deeper then Georgia, which could become a factor if their is foul trouble. As long as the Huskies take care of basketball, the Huskies will win the game 81-63. Georgia will stay in the game for most of the first half before the Huskies flex their muscles for the double digit win.

The game will be seen on CBS and will tip at approx. 6:45pm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Need Help Filling Out Your Bracket?

If you haven't filled out your bracket you better get started. We are just under 10 hours before the first game tips off at 9:15am. The game will be between the #5 West Virginia Mountaineers and the #12 Clemson Tigers, who won their play-in game against the UAB Blazers on Tuesday.

It doesn't matter if your a basketball fan or not, a lot of Americans will fill out a bracket and see how they do against the rest of the country. This will be my seventh year filling out my bracket and every year I feel that I have a chance to get everything right. Well okay, not everything right but I like to believe that I can. My best bracket I have ever filled out was in 2007. I correctly picked 46/63 games. However, I am coming off my worst bracket of my life last year. I was under 50% for the first time ever going 29/63.

This year I have watched a lot of college basketball. In fact, I might have watched the most college basketball this year, then any other year thanks to online TV websites. I feel I have a good understanding on this years bracket and looking forward to win a few pools.

Here are 10 tips I use to fill out my bracket.
  1. No #16 seed has ever beaten a #1 seed. So just move the #1's to the round of 32.
  2. Look for a team that is playing good basketball at the right time. If a team is 8-2 or 7-3 in their last 10 games and are a high seed, they could be a good bet to go far in the tournament. 
  3. Be aware of flukes. Every now and then there will be an average team win their conference tournament and get an automatic bid. Most of the time those teams will have nothing left in the tank and lost in their first game. 
  4. Home Court advantage. Even though all the games are play on neutral court, their a lot of teams that play in their home state. Most of the time they will at least win one game. Also, look for teams traveling a long way.
  5. 5 VS 12 upset. Every year we seem to get a #12 seed upsetting a #5 seed. Their should at least be one this year. Look for a 12 seed that can control the tempo and have a lot of senior leadership.
  6. Returning players. If there is a team with  good returning players, they might be poised for a deep tourney run. Experience is a huge thing in the tournament. 
  7. Coaching Experience. If there is a coach that has been to the Final Four then they have the potential to go far. In this type of tournament the more experience the better.
  8. No such thing as team X. Just because Vanderbilt has never won the National Title don't think their due to go all the way. It's only college kids playing basketball so the kids that are playing in the games sometimes don't know the tradition in the tournament. 
  9. Don't be a homer. Your a big UC Santa Barbara fan. Your team is in the tournament for the first time since 2002. But please don't have them in the National Championship game facing Ohio State. 
  10. Have fun! March Madness is the greatest sporting event every year.
Here is my bracket that I filled out this year. I hope it's a winner.

I think this could be a very good tournament this year. They're a lot of teams that think they can go all the way and win it all. In addition there will always be that Cinderella that surprises us all. This is March Madness though, nothing should surprise us. This isn't the most open bracket that we have ever seen but the tournament should be a fun one to watch. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Washington Plays Georgia In Charlotte

When I found out that the Washington Huskies would play the Georgia Bulldogs in the second round of the  of the NCAA tournament in Charlotte North Carolina, I thought that was an okay draw for Washington. I think it's a okay draw for Washington because of where this team was a week ago. A week ago the Washington Huskies were not even sure that they would make the tournament. Now the Huskies find themselves as a number seven seed in the East Bracket. I realize that Washington won the Pac 10 and had a good chance of playing in Tucson or Denver but I really like how Washington stayed out of the eight vs. nine game.

In addition, I like the idea of the Huskies having the possible third round game against North Carolina. I think that the Huskies would have a slight chance of beating UNC. If there is ever a year to play UNC in the tournament it has to be this year. UNC is very youthful team and didn't even make the NCAA Tournament last year. However, the Huskies will only be able to play the Tar Heels if they get past the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday.

The Georgia Bulldogs finished their season with a 21-11 record and 9-7 in the SEC. In the SEC Tournament they lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide 65-59 in overtime. In that game Georgia blew a 48-34 lead with 6:58 to go in the game. The Bulldogs were a bubble team on Selection Sunday. Seeing their school in the tournament after blowing a 14 point lead in the SEC Quarter Finals could mean a second life for them, which might be bad news for Washington.

The Georgia Bulldogs are led by Trey Thompkins and Travis Lesile. They are booth very good scores and rebounders. They will each play between 30-35 minutes per game. In fact, Georgia is not a very deep team as they only play six-seven players at a consistently.

Georgia has not had much tournament success in the past 10 years let alone having success getting to the tournament. Their last time in the tournament was 2008 but they only got in because they won the SEC Tournament. They lost to Xavier that year 73-61. The Bulldogs last tournament win was against Murray State in 2002.

If you want to view the Georgia Bulldogs Official Athletic site for their view on the game click here.

I will have more about this game as the week moves along.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Information

Good Afternoon Huskies fans! Did all of you remember to switch your clocks a hour ahead? I haven't yet but my clock on the computer did it for me.Today feels like Christmas Day, I'm excited to see where the Huskies go.

I'm still in shock from what a game we witnessed at the Staples Centre last night. I bet you Isaiah Thomas was in a lot of Arizona fans nightmares last night. The Huskies definitely deserve it. They really played as a team this weekend. Someone different stepped up every night.

A quick note on Isaiah Thomas and Terence Ross. They both won Pac 10 All Tournament Team. More importantly, Isaiah Thomas won the Pac 10 MOP. That was kinda a given don't you think?

Anyway the Selection committee has one less hour to work on the bracket. I hope that doesn't screw any team. I have always wondered how much movement the bracket has in the last hour.

To view Joe Lunardi's bracket on ESPN click here. Lunardi has us as a #7 seed in the West bracket. There first round game has us playing Villanova. If we get passed Villanova we would likely play San Diego State. Those games would be played in Tucson. I think that would be a really good draw for the Huskies. Villanova has not played very good basketball lately and was defeated by USF 70-69 in the Big East first round. If the Huskies get past Villanova they would most likely play San Diego State. I have seen them play four or five times and their nothing special. Playing in Tucson would be nice. We would two-three thousand Huskies fans and a bunch of people from Peoria, where the Mariners spring training is.

There will likely be three to four teams that get into the tournament from the Pac 10. The one question mark left is USC. I hope USC gets in because of Pac 10 pride. The Pac 10 would have most likely only got one team in the tournament last year if it weren't for the Huskies winning the Pac 10 tournament. For that number to jump to four in one year would be huge. I think the number will be four and USC will play in the First Four in Dayton on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thomas Lifts Huskies Past Wildcats in Pac 10 Final

When your a little kid shooting hoops on the driveway, you dream that one day you will have a chance to hit a shot to win a  basketball game when your older. For Isaiah Thomas, he was given that chance to knock down the game winning shot.

The game was tied at 75 with 20 seconds to go in the first overtime. Arizona had just hit a three to tie the game and Coach Lorenzo Romar was not going to call timeout. He needed a leader to step up. That leader was Isaiah Thomas. Before the shot, Isaiah Thomas was easily the best Husky in the game. He had 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds. He was exactly the right guy to take the shot.

Thomas had the ball and the Huskies were holding for the last shot. Isaiah Thomas made some moves pulled up and shot the ball. When Thomas took the shot I thought it was the right shot. You didn't want to run a play and risk a turnover like what happened in the previous meeting in the final seconds. When the shot went in I jumped really high. It was a great shot at a great time. I couldn't believe that the Huskies had repeated as the Pac 10 tournament Champions for the first time in school history.

The win should be a great confidence boost for this team. Before the nail biting win over Washington State, Washington was 0-6 in games decided by five points or less. Now the Huskies have won two massive games in a span of 48 hours. In fact, Washington won today's game without the presence of Senior Matthew Bryan Amaning for the final three minutes of overtime.

More Importantly, the Huskies had to dig deep to get the win. The Huskies trailed 36-33 at halftime. The lead continued to switch hands multiple times before Arizona took a 66-62 lead with under 30 seconds to go.  After Terence Ross hit a three to cut it to 66-65, Washington fouled Lamont Jones to put him on the foul line. Jones made both free throws to extend the lead to 68-65. Arizona coach Sean Miller decided  not to foul and C.J. Wilcox made him pay by hitting a three and sent the game into overtime.

  This win was also huge for the Huskies. The Huskies were desperate to revenge their 87-86 loss last month. The Huskies are now playing some of their best basketball of the year at the right time. Furthermore, the huskies the last two weeks are finding different ways to win games. The win over Arizona was no different. The Huskies got the win today without great play from Justin Holiday or Matthew Bryan Amaning.

Honestly, I think that this team is hitting their stride at the right time. The only thing that will hold this team back is a tough draw or fatigue. However, the Huskies will get Vernoy Overton back for the NCAA tournament for some much needed depth. My gut feeling is that Terence Ross will continue to start and Overton will be the first or second guy off the bench.

The Selection Show tomorrow starts at 3pm and can be seen on CBS.

Friday, March 11, 2011

SF #2 Washington vs Oregon

What a game last night! I thought I had seen it all in college basketball over seven years of watching the sport but I guess I haven't. Before the game last night if you would of told me that Klay Thompson would score a Pac 10 tournament record 43 points but the Huskies would prevail, I wouldn't have believed you. If you would of told me that Terence Ross would start last night, I wouldn't of believed you. Lastly, if you told me that Washington State would of got called for a Chris Webber type Technical foul, I certainly wouldn't have believed you.

Yes, I think there was a little bit of everything last night. The Huskies finally got a win by five points or less after starting 0-6. If last nights game was sign of things to come, then the Huskies might have a chance to accomplish their goals that they set at the start of the year. Some people predicted this team to go to the Elite 8 or even the Final 4 but at the more realistic goal was the Sweet 16 which is still within reach.

Time to get to tonight's game. Were just under one hour before the Huskies take on the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks were the surprise of the tournament last night. Their 76-59 upset win over the UCLA Bruins landed them their first trip to the Semi Finals of the Pac 10 tournament since 2007.

The Huskies and Ducks split the season series this year with each team winning on their home court. For Huskies fans that could be good news. Lorenzo Romar has never lost a season series to Oregon. That streak will likely continue tonight as it is very hard for teams to play three games in three nights. In fact, teams that play on the opening Wednesday of the tournament are 0-2 in the Semi Finals. Ironically, Oregon was one of those teams in 2006.

If Oregon is going to advance to the final  tomorrow they will need a Klay Thompson type effort from  E.J. Singler. In Oregon's two games this tournament Singler is averaging 23 points per game. For Washington, to avoid the upset they have to make sure that they don't have a let down. The Huskies got production from just about everybody and that will have to be the case tonight as Isaiah Thomas will likely play 35 to 40 minuets again tonight. Thomas played the whole game last night. He scored 21 points while dishing out 11 assists in the Huskies 89-87 win.

At the end of the day I think the Huskies win tonight's game and get to the Pac 10 Finals for the second consecutive year. The Huskies have way more experience then the Ducks and I think that will be the difference.  For Washington this Pac 10 tournament has a lot of similarities as last years tournament did and Washington should use that to their advantage. If your an Oregon fan your hoping lightning strikes twice as in 2006 Oregon shocked Washington by beating them 84-73. I think lightning won't strike twice as the Huskies will control the game and win 84-67.

The tip time is set for again approximately 8:40pm. It will start exactly 30 minuets after the Arizona and USC game is over. Right now Arizona is winning 50-38.

I would like to wish Japan and anyone who is affected by last night's Tsunami a healthy and safe recovery from what happened. I can personally relate to this as last year at this time I was on a cruise in Mexico and for sure would of felt the Tsunami. I hope everyone is alright.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Win or Worry

When the Huskies played their first game of the year back in November, not many Huskies fans thought their Pac 10 quarter final game would be a must win.

However, that could be the case tonight when the Huskies battle the Cougars for the right to go to the Semi Finals tomorrow against UCLA or Oregon. The Huskies seemed to be a lock in the tournament at the start of February but have fallen closer and closer to the bubble after each and ever loss. If the Cougars can beat the Huskies for the third time this year, the Huskies could easily be on the bubble when their fans wake up tomorrow morning.

The bubble would be a scary situation for the Huskies. A major category the selection committee looks at is how well a team is playing. If the Huskies end up losing tonight the Huskies would be 5-5 in their last 10 games. That record isn't bad but it also isn't that good either. If I'm on the selection committee I would for sure hesitate to put the Huskies in the field of 68. Washington has lost a lot of games they should have won including at Oregon, at Oregon St and at Stanford.

In contrast, the Huskies strength of schedule is 68th toughest in the nation. Again that is average, but this team did play Kentucky and a under rated Texas A&M team on their own court. They ended up losing both those games but both by slim margins.

That brings me to the question of the week for Husky fans. Are the Huskies in the tournament even if they lose tonight against the Cougars? My gut feeling says yes but what do I know. I've been wrong a lot of times about Bubble in and bubble out. Take Mississippi State for an example last year. Mississippi State was 23-11 and 9-7 in the SEC and reached the SEC Final against Kentucky. Yet the selection committee didn't think that Mississippi State deserved an at large bid following their 75-74 overtime loss in the SEC final. It just goes to show that your never in until your in.

The Huskies did receive some good news today. Senior Justin Holiday will play tonight. That is good news for Washington as the depth of Washington will surely be tested tonight without the presence of Vernoy Overton. When Holiday is playing well he can score some points and be a good defender.

For the Cougars, I believe they have to at least win today and tomorrow. If that would to happen the Cougars would be 21-11 and have a good case for being in the tournament. The Cougars will also get a lift when they get Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore back in the lineup. They both missed Washington State's last game against UCLA.

If you break this game down, it could go either way. The Cougars have beaten the Huskies two straight times but they played well both times. Do the Cougars have enough in their tank to beat their in state rival Washington following their 58-54 heartbreaking loss on Saturday to the Bruins? If I had to make a prediction on this game I would put my money on the Cougars. Washington has faced a lot of distractions off the court this year and are clearly not playing their basketball of the year. If Washington is going to win this game tonight they have to keep Klay Thompson in check. In the Cougars two wins this year against the Huskies, Thompson has scored a total of 51 points. That trend will continue and Washington's habit of shooting too many threes will hurt them in a 65-61 loss.

The game's tip time is scheduled for approximately 8:40pm and will be on FSN.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wensday Evening Information

When the Washington Huskies (20-10, 11-7 in Pac 10) take the court tomorrow against their in state rival the Washington State Cougars, the Huskies will be missing Vernoy Overton and possibly Justin Holiday. The reason why Vernoy Overton won't play is because he has got caught  giving alcohol  to two 16 year old girls. Lorenzo Romar has suspended Overton for the whole Pac 10 tournament.  For Holiday, the reason why he might not play is because of injury. In Saturday's 62-60 loos to USC, Holiday suffered a concussion on a innocent looking play.

Personally, I think Romar's punishment on Overton was fair. This isn't the first time this year Overton has been in the news for off court issues. In January he was in the news for an investigation of a possible rape event. I think if this was Overton's first time in the news for bad stuff, a one game suspension would be enough. However, this is Overton's second time this year so the Pac 10 tournament is about right.

As for Holiday, my gut feeling is he will play. He will have to go through a medical exam tomorrow before he is allowed to play. Fortunately,  the exam sounds pretty simple.

If Holiday is unable to play tomorrow the Huskies will be playing with a very short bench. The Huskies will be down to one point guard tomorrow night. A reporter asked Romar who will be Isaiah Thomas's backup on Thursday? Romar replied Thomas. It looks like Isaiah Thomas will need to get a good sleep tonight because he might play about 35 minuets tomorrow.

Here is the RPI rankings for March 9th.

Here is today's Projected Bracket  by ESPN's Joe Lunardi.

I think the Huskies should be into the tournament but nothing is ever a guarantee with the Selection committee. Washington is at #9 seed according to Joe Lunardi. If the Huskies do lose to Washington State tomorrow, I see Washington as a 10 or an 11 seed in the tournament.

Here is the Pac 10 tournament Bracket bracket.

As I write this, the Oregon State Beavers and the Stanford Cardinals are battling it out. The winner will get to play the Pac 10 Champs Arizona. Currently, the Beavers lead the Cardinals 26-18. Don't count Stanford out. Remember what happened last time Oregon State had a lead in a Pac 10 tournament game Husky fans?

I will have more on the Huskies-Cougars Quarter Final game tomorrow. The game is set to tip at approximately 8:40 tomorrow.

Monday, March 7, 2011

UW-USC Game Expreiance

My second ever Washington Huskies basketball game ended in a 62-60 loss to USC at Alaskan Airlines arena on Saturday. Even though the Huskies lost, I had lots of fun and hope to go to a game next year.

I woke up at 8am and my dad and I left shortly after that. The border lineup was only 20 minuets which is pretty good for a Saturday morning. Our first stop was in Lynden for my dad to pick up his yogurt and for us to have Breakfast at Jack In The Box.

After breakfast, we continued on our drive to Seattle while listening to the Mariners on the radio. The drive went by pretty fast. The weather was partly cloudy with a few passing showers.

When we got to Seattle we parked the car by University Ave. and went into a few Husky stores. The stores had a lot of selection. At the Dawg Den there were some good sayings on some T-shirts. However, I thought I had enough T-shirts so I didn't buy one. After the Dawg Den my dad and I decided to have some lunch. We found Wing Central. It is a very good restaurant,  with a good menu and no shortage of TV's. I recommend it to anyone who lives in Seattle and is a sports fan.

By the time my dad and I finished our lunch we headed over to Alaskan Airlines Arena. Before the doors opened we had time to walk around Husky Stadium and that part of the campus. The campus is a very nice campus.  Again, I would recommend to anyone who is thinking of going to school there.

When the doors opened we went into the team store. The service was really good and I was hoping to buy something there. I ended up buying a #5 Nick Montana Black football jersey. It would of been nice if they have #10 Jake Locker or #1 Chris Polk but I think Montana will start next year so I don't regret it. Even if he doesn't start #5 is a popular number so someone will always wear #5 hopefully. (names never go on college jerseys anyway.)

Before we went to our seats my dad and I checked out the Husky Hall Of Fame. I really enjoyed the Husky Hall Of Fame, it was nice they included every sport not just Football and Basketball. When we got to our seats I suddenly started to feel nervous. I knew that the Huskies had a good chance of making the tournament but nothing is ever for sure until your name pops up on the bracket.

I enjoyed the pre-game festivities, it was nice to be in attendance for senior night as this senior class has had really good success in their four years at Washington and it was nice to see our fans support them. I also enjoyed how the PA announcer made the comparison to the basketball game to a Alaskan Airlines flight.

During the game I thought that Washington played alright butt didn't get the bounces at the right time. Even though the Huskies defense was pretty bad in the first half, their defense turned it up a notch in the second half. Despite the 62-60 loss I found the game very exciting with a very energized crowed in the second half. It's too bad the Huskies lost but I think they are still a safe bet to get in the tournament.

The Huskies will now be the #3 seed in the Pac 10 tournament. The first round game against Washington State should be a very intriguing game. If the Huskies win I think their a lock for the tournament. A loss and it could be a long two and a half days until selection Sunday.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Flashback to my First Ever Husky Game

When I cross the boarder and travel down the I-5 to Seattle tomorrow with my dad. I will be going to my second Husky basketball game ever.

My first Huskies basketball game I ever went to happened on January 31th 2004. The Huskies were hosting the Arizona State Sun Devils. I was only 10 years old back then, I knew that UCLA and Arizona had really good tradition at their schools but it didn't bother me that Washington wasn't playing a big name school.

I was really excited because it was not only going to be my first college game but I  hadn't been to a NBA game since the Vancouver Grizzlies left town at the end of the 2001 season. The Huskies were having a mediocre season entering their contest against ASU but the Huskies were coming off an upset win over Arizona the other night.

When I left my house that day I didn't really know what to expect. I knew that Washington was a football school and that Washington wasn't a great basketball team. However, I also knew that Americans took this NCAA stuff more serious then Canadians think of the CIS so I was optimistic that I would have a good time.

When we got to Seattle we went into a JC Penney. I wasn't too thrilled about this store, it didn't seem like a sports store to me but my dad said that it was. For once he was right! They had great deals on Seattle Sports clothes. I bought an Ichiro jersey and a huskies sweat shirt.

When we got to Hec Ed, there was people handing out  Harry the Husky bobble heads that I thought was pretty cool. My first Impression on the arena was it was way too big. In contrast, I thought that 10,000 seats was pretty small for how big the arena is. Nevertheless, it was nice being there instead of being glued to your radio.

During pre-game warm up I asked my dad some stupid questions. It didn't seem that stupid at the time but when I look back they were really dumb. I asked my dad if we were ranked after beating Arizona?When I look back that was a stupid question because polls only come out on Mondays. The second stupid question I asked was is this where the UW hockey team plays? That's a stupid question for a lot of reasons that I'm not going to get into.

When the game started I found the game really exhausting. We had to keep standing until Arizona State scored their first basket. That took awhile because Washington raced out to a 14-0 lead. Washington would continue to score at a fast pace on their way to a 90-81 win. Will Conroy and Brandon Roy both had good games for the Huskies that night and I thought college basketball was pretty exciting.

For the game tomorrow, I am pretty excited. Even thou Washington does not match well against USC,  Washington should be able to find away to win tomorrow. The Huskies in their last game faced a really resilient UCLA team that was playing with a lot of confidence. In some ways a 70-63 win is more impressive then a 90-60 win. Firstly, the Huskies beat UCLA playing in the half court. That is something the Huskies will have to do as we get further into March. Also, Washington got a win in a game that star Point Guard Isaiah Thomas had a bad game. When Abdul Gaddy went down with an injury in January, Isaiah Thomas was playing lights out and it looked like Washington was going to cruise through their Pac 10 schedule. However, Isaiah Thomas has struggled lately and  had another bad game on Thursday so it was nice to see other players contribute like C.J. Wilcox. His 24 points sparked the Huskies in their  second half comeback.

Personally, I think the Huskies get the win tonight and sweep USC for the second time in three years. Furthermore, it's hard to imagine Isaiah Thomas having another horrible night. I think Thomas has a bounce back game and helps his seniors finish their careers at home with a win. USC will stay with the Huskies for most of the first half but the Huskies will pull away in the second half for a 72-61 win.

The game Tip time is set for 7:30pm and will be on FSN.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Huskies Look to Catch Fire Against UCLA

The Washington Huskies all of a sudden find themselves in a dangerous position following their shocking 80-69 defeat to their cross-state rival Washington State Cougars. It's a dangerous position because this Huskies team has only one quality win (home vs Arizona) and plenty of bad loses against teams they should of beat.

If the Huskies want to play in the NCAA tournament, the Huskies need to start winning. The Huskies are 19-9 and 10-6 in the Pac 10. The Huskies are currently not on the bubble according to Joe Lunardi a Bracetoligst from ESPN, but will be shortly if they don't start to winning.

If you want to look at Lunardi's bracketology page click here.

If you want to see the latest on the RPI standings click here.

Personally, I think the Huskies will be alright. Washington is a really good team when they shoot well. Consequently, when the Huskies have an off night shooting. The biggest reason why I think the Huskies will be okay is because of their experience. The Huskies have been to the NCAA tournament the last two years and seniors Justin Holiday, Vernoy Overton and Matthew Bryan Amaning would love to make it three years in a row. The Huskies haven't made the tournament three years in a row since 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Furthermore, the Huskies had to deal with a similar situation last year. On February 18th the Huskies were dealt with a tough 67-64 loss to USC. With the Huskies 17-9 and only 7-7 in the Pac 10,  Washington's tournament chances were going out the window. College Gameday was coming for that game and the Huskies needed to show america what they were all about. The Huskies ended up destroying UCLA 97-68 to ignite a nine game winning streak that ended with the loss to West Virginia in the Sweet 16.

One year later the Huskies basketball team will try to catch fire like they did last year. In fact, the game will be on ESPN2 so the Huskies can show America that their contenders and not pretenders.

Don't get me wrong, this team is much improved from last year.  UCLA is 21-8 and 12-4 in the Pac 10. The Bruins are coming off an impressive 71-49 win over Pac 10 leader Arizona. The team is led by Sophomore Reeves Nelson. His 14 points per game leads his team.

For Washington to take care of business tomorrow the Huskies have to have a smooth game and limit the turnovers. In the Huskies 80-69 loss to Washington State, the huskies had 16 turnovers and a lot of flat possessions. UCLA has improved mightily since the Huskies 74-63 win in Pauley Pavilion  on New Years Eve and the game shouldn't be looked at as an easy win just because it's at home.

In the end I think the Huskies pull off it out and get the win. The Huskies haven't had back to back Pac 10 losses at home since the 2008 season when they lost three in a row. Also, Washington hasn't lost to UCLA to home since 2004. If UCLA is going to end that streak they will have to weather the early storm. Washington is coming off their worst performance at home this year and should be hungry to get back on the floor again. I don't see UCLA being able to weather the storm,  Washington will be able to feed off the noise of the crowd for a 86-69 win. Matthew Bryan Amaning will have a big game in hopefully his second to last home game.