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Duke and Wisconsin Meet For National Championship

Posted on April 06, 2015 by Chris Kent

The national championship of college basketball is here. After an exciting March of dramatic finishes that separated the pretenders from the contenders, the cream of the crop surfaced at The Final Four in Indianapolis, IN this past weekend. Three of the four number one seeds reached the Final Four with Duke, Kentucky, and Wisconsin all winning their regions to advance to college basketball’s biggest stage. Meanwhile, Michigan State was no slouch as a seventh seed. The Spartans reached The Final Four for a nation-leading seventh time since 1999, all under one of the elite coaches in the country in Tom Izzo.

Bo Ryan has taken the Badgers to new heights with back-to-back trips to The Final Four.

Bo Ryan has taken the Badgers to new heights with back-to-back trips to The Final Four.

With the Blue Devils defeating Michigan State 81-61 and the Badgers upsetting undefeated Kentucky 71-64 in the national semifinals on Saturday, Duke and Wisconsin advanced to tonight’s championship game. This is virtually an even game. Both teams have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll the whole season and have a combined record of 70-7 entering tonight’s title game. The Badgers are 36-3 and won the regular season Big Ten Championship as well as the conference tournament title. The Blue Devils finished second to Virginia in the ACC regular season standings at 15-3 and reached the ACC Tournament Semifinals

before losing to Notre Dame who went on to win the tournament title.

Wisconsin’s victory on Saturday avenged their loss to the Wildcats a year ago in the national semifinals, a 74-73 thriller that was decided on a 3-point basket by then-freshman guard Aaron Harrison. With the Badgers returning to The Final Four this year, Wisconsin has become a national program. Badgers’ head coach Bo Ryan has emerged as a great coach and has brought national prominence to the Wisconsin program in this his 14th year at the helm of the Badgers. This followed his highly successful career in the Division III ranks as head coach at The University of Wisconsin-Platteville where he won four national championships in the 1990’s.

Ryan will be matched up against Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who is no stranger to the national championship game. This is the ninth national championship game that Krzyzewski has lead the Blue Devils to. He is 4-4 in the title game. The two schools met earlier this season back on Dec. 3 in Wisconsin where Duke prevailed 80-70 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Blue Devil freshman center Jahlil Okafor had 13 points and six rebounds while senior center Frank Kaminsky scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Badgers. Read the rest of this entry →

2015 Major League Baseball Preview: Most Overrated and Underrated Players in the Game

Posted on April 03, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Despite being one of the best offensive and defensive players in the game over the last six years, Adam Jones gets little respect from baseball "experts".

Despite being one of the best offensive and defensive players in the game over the last six years, Adam Jones gets little respect from baseball “experts”.

As we prepare for the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the key to success for most teams will be whether their premium players can live up to their high profile and then who will emerge as breakout players in 2015.

ESPN recently ranked their top 100 players across Major league Baseball and as always, there are some definite head-scratchers amongst their picks. They seem to have certain players that they regularly move to the top of their list while others who have registered similar statistics and are just as crucial to their teams are for some reason downgraded.

Below is a look at five players that I believe are rated too high and five others who should be ranked higher.

Most Overrated:
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – ESPN Rating: Number 1
Now don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but it makes absolutely no sense that he is ranked as the number one player in baseball by ESPN and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles (more on him later) doesn’t crack the top 25. If Trout were truly the best player in baseball, then he would be among the best in the league when his team needed him the most. Yet, in 2014, Trout batted right at the Mendoza line (.200) with runners in scoring position and two outs. He did not have a home run and drove home 15 runs. Conversely, Jones, who is also a much better defensive player, hit .319 with 2 home runs and 22 RBI in the same situation. Others in the top 25, including Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Donaldson were also significantly better than Trout in those tough situations.

Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox – ESPN Rating: 7
Good left-handed pitchers are certainly valuable, but Chris Sale made 26 starts in 2014 and hasn’t started more than 30 games in any of his three seasons as a starter for the White Sox. He certainly deserves to be in the top 25, but is he really more important to his team than Jose Abreu (ranked 12th overall), who played in 145 games last season and hit .317 with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs? Illustrating my total disdain for how these ranking are compiled, Sale was ranked 18th a year ago after going 11-14 during the 2013 season.

Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – ESPN Rating: 9
Okay, I really need someone to explain to me how someone like Paul Goldschmidt could go from hitting 36 home runs with 125 RBI in 2013 to 19 home runs and 69 RBI in 2014 and actually improve on the ESPN top 50 list from 16th to 9th. I know he was injured and played in only 109 games, but others on the list actually improved their numbers in 2014 without moving up significantly in the ratings. I also don’t understand why Goldschmidt is held in such high regard when he struck out 110 times in 109 games last season and in his career has struck out 438 times in 462 career games.

Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers – ESPN Rating: 27
There is no question that Gomez is a good player, but is he really better than fellow centerfielder Adam Jones (ranked 40th)? Both players are 29 years old and excellent defensive centerfielders, but offensively there is little comparison. In 2013 and 2014 Gomez had the two best seasons of his career with nearly identical numbers of .284 batting average, 23 HR in 2014 and 24 in 2013 and 73 RBI each seasons. He also struck out 146 times in 2014 and 141 in 2013. For his career, his batting average is .260 and he has an OBP of .314, Slugging Percentage of .420 and .734 OPS. Jones has hit 25 or more home runs in a season four times, including 33 in 2013 and 29 in 2014. He also has driven in at least 82 runs four times, including 108 in 2013 and 96 in 2014. In addition, Jones has hit .280 or better in each of the last five seasons and .270 or better for seven straight years and has a career batting average of .280, OBP of .320, .461 slugging percentage and .781 OPS. How ESPN can say Gomez is significantly better makes absolutely no sense. Read the rest of this entry →

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Horse Racing in Kentucky: An Upgrade in Tradition

Posted on April 03, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Churchill Downs is the most famous horse track in America.

Churchill Downs is the most famous horse track in America.

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the most recognizable track names in the U.S. Opening in 1875, this über famous racetrack has been the home of the Kentucky Derby and Oats ever since the race’s founding, and many other races throughout history. The closing of two earlier tracks in Kentucky paved the way for Churchill Downs to replace them in a major way. As one of the most popular sports at the time, Kentucky needed a horse racing track, and a man named Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. delivered. The track is actually named after the men who leased the land to Clark, John and Henry Churchill.

By 1902, Churchill Downs came under the control of a man named Matt Winn, who turned the track into a prestigious display of thoroughbred racing, steering away from its late-1800s reputation of being a gambling site. Being a 1 ¼ mile track, Winn and his business partners decided to use the track for more than just horses. They built a clubhouse, and began using the facility for things like auto racing and concerts. The reputation, sophistication, and discernment of Churchill Downs came to full realization when it was officially staked as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Today, the track is still home of the most famous horse races in North America, and continues to expand its capabilities and pliability by introducing events like night horse races, concert tours, and state fairs. The track has reached a total size of 147 acres, far exceeding its original size of 80 acres. This allows for the 150,000 attendants of the Derbies, especially the Kentucky Derby, and the sizable crowds that come for the 360° cinema. Read the rest of this entry →

The Economics of Early Retirement from Football

Posted on April 02, 2015 by Peter Getty
Chris Borland decided after just one NFL season that the financial gains of playing in the NFL weren't worth the physical risks.

Chris Borland decided after just one NFL season that the financial gains of playing in the NFL weren’t worth the physical risks.

49ers linebacker Chris Borland recently sparked controversy when he retired after a successful rookie year. Stating health reasons, specifically long-term damage from repeated head injuries, Borland expressed concerns of residual neurological conditions and shortened life span. Two weeks after Borland announced his retirement, University of Michigan offensive lineman Jack Miller followed suit — college football is facing just as much scrutiny over concussion-related injuries as the NFL. Last year, Miller’s coach was criticized for allowing quarterback Shane Morris to play even after an apparent concussion.

Will early retirement from professional and college football be more common in the upcoming years? Borland made $574,359 in his only year in the NFL, on top of a $617,436 signing bonus (three-quarters of which he will return). Although he surrenders nearly $3 million over the three remaining years of his rookie contract, he enters the next phase of his career with financial security if he plays his cards right. Miller, an NFL prospect with a potentially big salary, will not earn a dime playing football. How agonizing this decision must have been for him. He, like Borland, could have put in a year or two of pro football and retired early with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. In the end, the debilitating effects of past and likely future concussions proved greater than the reward of a large paycheck. Read the rest of this entry →

The Best Sports to Keep You Fit and Healthy

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Natasha Bill
Rugby is a tough sport, but definitely one that keeps you fit.

Rugby is a tough sport, but definitely one that keeps you fit.

Sport is such a popular pastime across the world. Many people take up a sport recreationally while others play at a professional level. The beauty of sport is that it combines a healthy competitiveness with a wonderful fitness regime. It’s important to look after your body and keep fit, and sport is a fun and exciting way to do this.

It’s also great for social interactions and teamwork. If you play any kind of sport, you’re probably aware just how much impact it has on your fitness levels. But if you haven’t yet taken up a sport here are some ideas for sports to keep you fit and healthy.

Golf
Believe it or not golf is, in fact, a great way to stay fit and healthy. It gets a stigma because it’s often associated with older overweight men. But, in fact, there’s a lot of walking involved in golf, and this is good for your heart. Also, by the natural swinging action involved you develop great upper body strength. You can work on improving your game while also keeping yourself fit. And the great thing about golf is that you don’t need to be in fantastic shape to take it up, which is untrue of most sports.

Read the rest of this entry →

Where Are the Big Premier League Transfers of Summer 2015 Going to Land?

Posted on March 31, 2015 by John Harris

soccerSpring is here, and summer is just around the corner. And that means one thing for sports fans, the summer transfer window. Who needs to watch football when you can become engrossed in the endlessly fascinating merry go round that is the transfer window?

And, as you’d expect, the rumors are flying around already. The title isn’t yet won (although Chelsea look set to clinch it anytime now) but that won’t stop us talking about who’s heading where this summer.

Chelsea
The biggest and most exciting rumor doing the rounds at the moment concerns Chelsea and a bid for Gareth Bale. A lot of people have been scratching their heads wondering how this Chelsea team could be improved, but Bale would certainly do that.

It’s said that the club are ready to make a £75 million bid to Real Madrid for the Welsh winger. It hasn’t been a happy time at Real Madrid this season for him. His time at the club started well, but he’s recently been criticized by fans. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Horton Smith: First Masters Champion
      April 3, 2015 | 8:58 am
      Horton Smith

      Horton Smith

      In 1934, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became the first winner of what is now considered among the most prestigious of all golf tournament championships.

      Horton Smith made his professional golf debut in 1926, in 1929 he won eight tournaments and in 1930 finished third in the U.S. Open and tied for fourth at the British Open. However, he entered the first-ever Masters (then known as the Augusta National Invitational) in 1934 without having previously won any of the tournaments that would eventually be considered the “majors”.

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