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Sports Then and Now


ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Highlights Championship Week

Posted on March 07, 2017 by Chris Kent

Championship week has arrived for college basketball! Conference tournaments abound across the country from coast to coast featuring all the power conferences, mid-majors, and small conferences that make up Division I in the NCAA. There will be great performances by teams, individuals, and coaches while the games themselves are bound to feature some come-from-behind efforts that pluck victory from the jaws of defeat with some buzzer beaters. This is what makes the month of March so special. It is the madness before the madness of the NCAA Tournament. It will feature bubble teams that solidify their spot in the NCAA field and bubble teams who see their bubble burst. Seedings for the NCAA Tourney are on the line and will be impacted by what happens over the next seven days. Quite simply it is couch potato heaven for college basketball junkies across the land.

The 2017 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever.

The 2017 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever.

While this years’ heavyweights such as Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, and North Carolina look to show why they are the cream of the crop for likely NCAA #1 seeds, there are plenty of other national title worthy contenders like Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Other schools like Big East competitors Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Providence, and Marquette all won at least 10 conference games this season and could make some noise in March. Smaller schools from less worthy conferences like Vermont (27-5, 16-0) of the America East and Middle Tennessee (27-4, 17-1) of Conference USA could make a run. Both schools are riding winning streaks with Vermont having won 19 straight and Middle Tennessee seven. Both Vermont and Middle Tennessee have produced significant upsets in NCAA history. In 2005, 13th-seeded Vermont upset a fourth-seeded Syracuse team that was fresh off a Big East Tournament Championship. Middle Tennessee, a 15th seed, upset second-seeded Michigan State in last year’s tournament. Results like these explain why March is so thrilling and dramatic. It captivates audiences across the country based on upsets by the little schools like these. They get on a run and gain the support of their schools so much that it can carry them on a fairy tale ride.

Before we get that far, the conference tournament championships are to be decided this week. In the process, the NCAA field will be determined with some teams sneaking in, others being left out, and others altering their seed and positioning for better or worse. Here is a look at one of the power conferences, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and how its’ conference tournament shapes up this week. The ACC Tournament Championship game will be played Saturday night March 11 at 9 pm EST and it can be seen live on ESPN.

North Carolina (26-6, 14-4), #1 seed

The ACC Tournament is being held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for the first time ever. North Carolina enters the tournament as the outright ACC regular season champion and is the defending tournament champion. The Tarheels (26-6, 14-4) ended the regular season with a 90-83 win over arch rival Duke on Mar. 4 to split the annual season series.  North Carolina has played in the ACC Tournament Championship game each of the last two years, falling to Notre Dame 90-82 in the 2015 title game before beating Virginia 61-57 in last year’s finale.

Head coach Roy Williams has his team playing at a high level yet again after coming within a whisker of winning an NCAA title last

Roy Williams has lead North Carolina to the top seed in the tournament.

Roy Williams has lead North Carolina to the top seed in the tournament.

year. Despite losing four-year starting guard Marcus Paige and Associated Press All-American forward Brice Johnson, North Carolina has enjoyed another stellar season. Both took key production with them as Johnson averaged 17.0 points-per-game and 10.4 rebounds a game while Paige scored 12.6 points-per-game and dished out 128 assists on the season. Yet the heels have retooled this season and may be a better all-around team. Junior forward Justin Jackson was just named the ACC Player-of-the-Year and leads the team with 18.3 ppg. He also dishes out 2.6 assists and hauls in 4.7 rebounds-per-game. Junior guard Joel Berry II adds 15.1 ppg and dishes out a team best 3.7 apg while senior post player Kennedy Meeks scores 12.5 ppg and leads the team with 9.1 rpg. Berry is the team’s best 3-point shooter at 42.4 percent (75-for-177) while Jackson has made a team-high 85 trifectas on the season.

North Carolina’s victories over Florida State, Louisville, and Notre Dame this season allowed them to create a two-game cushion

and ultimately win the ACC regular season title. They will likely have to face one of these teams in the ACC tournament again and this can always be interesting a second time around. Carolina will have to bring the same intensity and high production on offense that saw them score 85.2 ppg in the regular season if they are to beat these same teams again in postseason play.

Florida State (24-7, 12-6) is the second seed followed by Notre Dame (23-8, 12-6) and Louisville (24-7, 12-6) as the third and fourth seeds respectively. These three schools along with North Carolina all received a double bye and won’t play until the quarterfinal round beginning on Thursday March 9. You can easily make a case for any of these top four seeds to win the tournament championship as they were very competitive against each other during the season. While North Carolina beat each of the other three to create separation from them in winning the regular season crown, all four teams were very competitive against each other.

Florida State beat both Louisville and Notre Dame at home and lost at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish split home and home wins with both Florida State and Louisville while Louisville lost to Florida State and split home and home wins with Notre Dame. Basically, the top four seeds in this year’s ACC Tourney beat up on each other in the regular season. Even though North Carolina beat the other three teams, the games between the four teams were very competitive and could of gone either way. What each team learned from the other one in those games should be a factor in preparation for potential matchups among the quartet this week. Read the rest of this entry →

Sports Betting History Examined- Now and Then

Posted on March 07, 2017 by Beth Casey

gladiators-1The Early History of Sports Betting

Sports betting is thought to be a very old practice: the first evidence of its existence is over 2 000 years old. The first nation to be believed to indulge in this pastime were the Greeks, famous for their love of sporting activities, who used to place bets on a variety of athletic events.

The Romans then went on to usurp this Grecian habit, taking it further by rendering it a more commercial activity. They even assigned it a legal status, and bet on events like the Gladiator games. Even when this event ceased to be practiced, the gambling aspect of it survived, and went on to thrive in the various kingdoms the Romans established.

The Medieval Wagering Practices

In medieval times, some leaders frowned upon the practice of betting, and attempts were made to make laws forbidding it. This, however, only resulted in sports betting going underground, where it persisted, and underwent major evolutionary steps as new athletic activities were introduced.

Sporting Betting in England and Surrounds

Eventually gambling took off in England, with people there particularly fond of betting on horse racing events. The English took this love of gambling with them when they populated the rest of the planet, particularly the United States of America, and it was incredibly common with the inhabitants of the New World. Legal issues once again plagued the practice, however, a problematic situation that continues for American sports bettors today. Read the rest of this entry →

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Can Magic, Larry and Michael Dominate the NBA Again?

Posted on March 02, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were teammates during the 1992 Dream Team, but have been competitors for most of their careers.

Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were teammates during the 1992 Dream Team, but have been competitors for most of their careers.

Of the 19 NBA seasons between 1979-1980 and 1997-98, only three times did the NBA Finals not include at least one of the trio of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan (two of which none of the trio played an entire season). With Johnson now joining Bird and Jordan leading an NBA franchise, can this trio again dominate the NBA?

The easy answer would seem to be no, but given the determination of all three NBA Legends, anything is certainly possible.

Michael Jordan’s track record leading an NBA Franchise has been a bit less than earthshaking. He had a dubious front office start by drafting Kwame Brown with the first pick of the 2001 NBA Draft while serving as Director of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. He was ultimately fired by the Wizards following the 2003 season.

He became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006 and as part of his role was the primary decision maker for basketball operations. Jordan became the majority owner in 2010 and has maintained that role through the name-change of the franchise back to being the Charlotte Hornets.

During the past decade, the Bobcats/Hornets have not been particularly impressive on the court. They have managed only three winning seasons and in each of those years lost in the opening round of the playoffs. The 2011-2012 team posted a 7-59 record during the strike-shortened season for a winning percentage of just .106.

Last season the Hornets had an impressive 48-34 record, but were again knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs. Expected to be a contender this year, they are currently 11th in the East with a disappointing 25-33 record.

Given his competitiveness, you can bet if Jordan sees Magic Johnson come in and return the Los Angeles Lakers to past glory, it will light an even greater competitive fire under the best player in NBA history.

While Jordan’s tenure as an executive has clearly been below par, Larry Bird has had some stretches of success leading the Indiana Pacers.

Bird served for three seasons as head coach of the Pacers from 1998-2000 and had an overall record of 147-67. He guided the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

He became President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers in 2003 and in 2011-2012 was named the NBA Executive of the Year. He left the team for a year from 2012-2013, but since 2013 has again served as President of basketball Operations for the Pacers. Read the rest of this entry →

Ready for a Pool? Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted on March 02, 2017 by Daniel Bailey

PoolA swimming pool is one of the biggest dreams a homeowner can have. The fact is that most people imagine friends and family splashing in their backyard at some point in their lives. If you’ve actually got the space and cash, you might be thinking of really adding one.

There’s more to owning a swimming pool than just splashing in the sun though. In fact, there’s a little bit of hard work that your somebody else is going to have to do. That shouldn’t stop you from getting the pool of your dreams though!

Keep reading to learn what you need to know before you install a swimming pool. You’ll be happy that you have some basic knowledge once that pool is installed and you’re swimming like a dolphin.

 

Pick the Right Style

There are a lot of styles of pools out there despite what you see in most people’s backyards. The fact is that you can even create a custom swimming pool in any shape or design as long as it works with your backyard.

When choosing a swimming pool design, consider how you want the pool to be used and who is going to be using it. If you’re really putting it in for family and friends, you want a pool that’s large and has multiple depths.

However, if you’re mainly putting in a pool for adult family members or you want to swim for exercise, a single depth lap pool may be the ideal option. Lap pools are also excellent for smaller backyards and more modern homes since their typically geometric shape often looks best with contemporary homes. Read the rest of this entry →

Outlander Poised in Strong Position for Cheltenham

Posted on March 02, 2017 by Luis Aureliano
Outlander has looked strong in the events leading up to Chetlenham on March 17th.

Outlander has looked strong in the events leading up to Chetlenham on March 17th.

With the Cheltenham Races drawing closer each day, people are taking strong notice of the various horses set to run. The races always draw a big crowd of course, but it’s also one of the most popular times for placing bets. With the Bet365 Cheltenham non-runner no bet offer, at least you know you’re guaranteed to get a refund if your horse doesn’t end up running.

So, who is looking good this year? One horse that is standing out as an early contender is Outlander.

Could Outlander Take Top Spot?

Of course, nothing is for certain, but with the race taking place on March 17 it makes sense to start looking at favourites. Many are calling Outlander as the main contender in the race, and he is believed to be able to beat both Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt, who just so happen to be his stablemates. Owned by Michael O’Leary, he sees the horse as their “main chance” at winning the cup as well.

It’s making it much easier for race watchers, and Outlander’s owner, to make these bold statements thanks to the fact that Outlander trains in the same yard as the other top contenders – Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli. It’s easy to make comparisons when they are sharing space and training at the same time.

Outlander is also coming off a career-best performance that happened during Christmas as the Lexus Chase when he won. Obviously, that puts him and his team in a very confident position heading into Cheltenham. As for the odds, right now the nine year old horse is sitting at 14-1 odds heading into the Gold Cup race.

Now despite his odds at looking good for Cheltenham, he won’t run at Aintree. Read the rest of this entry →

Home on the Range: Effective Practice Techniques

Posted on February 27, 2017 by Matt Mascarenas

There’s a common misconception among golfers. A lot of people go to the driving range and just power through a bucket of 100 balls. The idea is to develop muscle memory — the idea that you can simply train your muscles to swing correctly through repetition. This idea, however popular, has been disproved time and time again. In fact, it’s more likely that you’re just reinforcing bad habits with this kind of ineffective training. There are, however, some techniques that can make a day at the driving range a very effective way to perfect your swing and improve your game.

Golf-7

1. Stretch

It isn’t very exciting, but the first thing you should do when you get to the range is stretch. When your muscles are cold and tight, they won’t perform nearly as well. More importantly, you’re much more likely to injure yourself if you don’t stretch.

2. Focus on one aspect of your swing

There’s no point in just randomly smacking away at a bucket of balls. With each swing, you should be working on one particular aspect of your swing. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work right away — it may take some time before it clicks and you see improvement. Read the rest of this entry →

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