Friday, March 29, 2013

Peanut Barrel... yum yum Go Green

ES will be with Big Bob, watching MSU v Duke at the center of the world - which is the Peanut Barrel.  ETA about 9 pm.  See ya there!  Go GREEN!

Time for MSU to be an elite. Beat Duke!

GO BIG GREEN!  Step up and deliver the knockout blow to the Dukies, as 95% of the country is asking us to do!!!  

This is an opportunity for another "program" statement.  OK, Tom Izzo has built an elite program... but one need this Michigan State has NOT completed is a defeat of Duke repeatedly, and repeatedly in an arena to take a step to the Promised Land.  This is the opportunity.  Michigan State can permanently stamp itself as the elite of the elite. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Big Ten musings: B1G & Baseball don’t fit; Delusional Delaney

Three items surfaced recently in the media with relation to the Big Ten. One item, that Michigan State would be in the East division when Maryland and Rutgers join in 2014; second, that B1G baseball should start later because of the weather; and, the other item, is the recent article in Sports Illustrated with interesting comments by Commissioner Jim Delany. Let's get into football divisions first.

MSU in the East

So, if Michigan State were to join an East division as has been recently reported, their climb to the Big Ten championship game in football every year would likely need to include two victories against division foes Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State in addition to wins over bottom feeders Maryland, Rutgers, and Indiana. So, out of the six divisional opponents each year, it seems reasonable that it will take five victories in the “three yards and a cloud of dust” division to be in contention. With nine conference games every year, that leaves three games against opponents from the Western division; winning at least two of those would lead to a 7-2 conference record, which seems to be a reasonable minimum to advance to the conference championship game.

Now, the Big Ten has also agreed to eliminate scheduling of patsies, like Appalachian State, Youngstown State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, or other Division I–FCS football programs. This is a good thing, in that the strength of schedule for the Big Ten and particularly for Big Ten East division members, should be strong enough for the Big Ten championship game winner out of the East division to also be considered for the new BCS football playoff.  In other words, an 11-2 Michigan State Big Ten championship team with division wins over Michigan, Penn State, and other conference wins against Wisconsin or Nebraska, and nonconference wins against future opponents Notre Dame, West Virginia, and/or another strong BCS qualifying institution will be received favorably by a playoff selection committee. Of course, this means that the Spartans need to clean house in the conference with maybe an occasional loss at Ohio State, at Wisconsin, or at Nebraska… But the nonconference games need to be victories for the most part, with the exception of maybe playing at Alabama or at Oregon -- these strong national title contending institutions will add to the value of the Spartans resume even with a loss. I think we all know, however, that the road to the Big Ten championship will go through Columbus and that's a tough task indeed.

Tim Stout and Big Ten baseball

The Dean of mid-Michigan sports, Tim Stout of WILX-TV, recently wrote in the Lansing State Journal that if the Big Ten is going to expand baseball stadiums, institutions should consider moving its baseball calendar a month or so later because of the poor weather in March/April in Big Ten country. He specifically noted how Wisconsin does not have a baseball team. Let's be honest, Wisconsin here is the only smart institution with respect to understanding what it can provide as reasonable opportunities for sport participation in the area. We can't looking at this through a competitive lens as opposed to understanding who it is that is participating. Big Ten baseball players are college students; most colleges are on semester systems, which would mean shifting the calendar would impact athletes across two semesters (or more, as some baseball manages to fit in exhibition in the fall) and into the dog days of summer. Already, college students are being asked enough with respect to time management and progress to graduation…. The ES just doesn't buy the fact that shifting the calendar would not have a detrimental impact more so than is already the case on these players. So his point of "lack of common sense" of the current calendar or plowing resources into baseball makes sense.  Moving the calendar would serve for entertainment purposes, improving attendance at games, and actually may make it a more enjoyable experience for the players. Really, who wants to catch a fly ball between snowflakes anyways? BUT, let's base any principle to make the decision on what's in the best interest to help these college students learn.. and NOT on entertainment and enjoyment of the game.  Athletics should be a co-curricular activity, and not the primary activity.

So, I think that Wisconsin actually has it right. I never understood why Michigan State would want to enhance its baseball stadium, when it is already under snow three-fourths of the year. That is a waste of 5 million VERY good dollars that could be used instead for other purposes. If anything, Big Ten schools should eliminate baseball so they can save other sports which are more reasonable to participate over the winter months. My God, it's nearly April and we still have snow on the ground and it's 32° outside… Is there not a sense of reason? Baseball in the North makes as much sense as ice hockey in the South… College athletic programs should not have to be all things to all people, but rather focus on quality instead of quantity. Follow Wisconsin's lead: eliminate baseball and invest in winter sports.

Delusional Delany?

Lots of interesting tidbits coming out of the Big Ten office in the last week. If you are not aware of the Eddie O’Bannon lawsuit, you better be aware now. The lawsuit contends that the NCAA unlawfully used the likeness and image of college athletes in its own marketing efforts, as well as selling those rights to companies without providing just compensation to the athletes. It is complicated when you think of: how Title IX requires institutions to provide equal opportunities to all athletes male and female; that funding and resources be equitable for male and female athletes;  how scholarships and other benefits are worth tens of thousands of dollars every year and are tax-free; that athletes would be taxed if they did receive compensation for selling their image for publicity; and, that athletic conferences, colleges, and the NCAA make billions of dollars each year from selling rights to broadcast football and men's basketball on television. Regardless, there are many who believe that O’Bannon has a good case and may likely be victorious (here, here, here, here, etc). When you think of the NCAA budget being about $800 million a year, this case may bankrupt the NCAA if the courts allow it to be certified as class action for athletes going back 50 years. Yes, college sports could change as we know it.

So Jim Delany's comments in Sports Illustrated certainly were interesting if not telling. Delany notes that if the Big Ten is required to pay players or subsidized payment for the lawsuits because players no longer are amateurs but rather need to receive compensation for their success on the field above and beyond his scholarship, that the Big Ten may instead give up Division I sports and become Division III institutions, or follow the idea  and not give scholarships. Some see this as Delany blowing steam under the robes of justices to let them know that their decision may be of significant consequence to the current model of college sports; in other words, if justices like watching how their alma mater competes in football or basketball on tv, Delaney muses they may want to think twice about how they will decide in this lawsuit. However others see Delany as being two-faced, in that now he's going to whine and take his ball and go home because he no longer can control how money is being distributed.

Bottom line is, Delaney is giving us lots to think about, and all of you college sports fans out there better start paying attention. Delany is paying attention, but he doesn't seem to have very good answers right now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

B1G Ten = Basketball; ES in the Ca$h?

Well, it's official.  The Big Ten is a basketball conference.  Adding the men's and women's tourney, the Big Ten is 16-3 in hoops in the NCAA tournament. The men are 10-3, and the women are 6-0. Thanks to Wisconsin men, the only squad that did not win a tourney game.

ES IN THE $$$$
Give the ES some love.   In the Peanut Barrell pool, he's sitting pretty in the money, at 5th out of 60 entries; the top six are in the money... ES has 11 of 16 teams still remaining, but to win the whole deal he will need to root for... GULP... Miami, Duke, and Michigan.  Looks like a nice payday, but the ES will certainly be rooting to lose his money, as the hatred for the three runs deep.  And, in the ES own pool, he is sitting in second place out of 18 entries, with the top two returning an investment.  In the third pool, the ES hasn't earned squat, but that is based on final digits of scores instead of wisdom and proclivity.

Duke favored by 1-1/2 over Michigan State

First off... don't forget to watch the Spartan women at 7:20 tonight on ESPN2 as they try to defeat Maryland to join the men in the Sweet 16.

Looks like the bookies in Vegas are making Duke an early 1-1/2 pt favorite over Michigan State.  Tipoff is 9:45 pm this Friday evening from Indianapolis.  Other lines:

  • Indiana favored by 5-1/2 over Syracuse
  • Miami favored by 6 over Marquette
  • Ohio State favored by 4 over Arizona
  • Wichita State favored by 3-1/2 over LaSalle
  • Louisville favored by 10 over Oregon
  • Kansas favored by 2 over Michigan
  • Florida favored by 12-1/2 over Florida Gulf Coast
Nice to see Charles Barkley swallow his pride and his lunch; Barkley said
  1. the Big Ten was overrated (4 out of 7 teams remain, Big Ten with a '10-3 record so far in the tourney).   
  2. Memphis was more athletic than Michigan State (MSU defeated Memphis by 22 points)
  3. the Pac 12 was underrated (Pac 12 is 5-3 so far, with 2 out of 5 teams still standing).
Methinks Sir Charles was better on the court than in the studio... although he certainly is entertaining.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

MSU ROLLS: Derrick Nix and the HOT LICKS

Spartans, What is your profession???!!!! And the Big Green Machine just keeps ROLLING right along...

What a beautiful game by the Michigan State interior, particularly Nix, Payne, and Dawson.   This trio DESTROYED Memphis with its athleticism and just flat out great play.  This MSU Spartan team passes the eye test as a great team to watch, doing all the little things right.  Nix, Payne, and Dawson combined for – get this –  24 rebounds, 5 assists, 8 steals, and 6 blocks.  Combined shooting from the three was 12 of 26, a respectable 46%, but it was the dominance on the glass that made the difference.

For any who questions the Spartan dominance in the second half, just look at the box score: the Spartans scored TWICE as many points as Memphis in the second half: 38 to 19. Ouch. 

Read this lovely pin-up by ESPN's Michael Rothstein.  Nice.

Nix, in all honesty, has turned into an absolute beast for Tom Izzo’s gameplan in this tourney. Derrick Nix, the guy who was fat and couldn’t hit a free throw, is the next edition of Izzo’s great reclamation projects.  This guy has grown into the most consistent, dominant force for Michigan State.  Every single time he touches the ball, and he WANTS IT EVERY SINGLE TIME the Spartans are on the offensive end of the floor, he either takes a great shot or finds the guy to take the shot.  But, even more importantly, on defense, Nix can’t be moved.  He is an absolute brick wall of a defense.  It brings tears to mine eyes. 

Third man of the game?  Give Denzel Valentine some credit, he had a pretty good game and he seemed up to the task for most of the game, weaving in and around the Tiger defense all game long, with excellent ball handling and dishing for points.  Valentine finished with 9 pts, 6 rebs, 6 assists, and ZERO turnovers. 

Turning point:  the blow up on the MSU sideline. Nix and Appling were jawing at each other, and Dawson was brokering the concern.  Wow.  For us watching on tv, Nix was showing more concern and “give-a-shit” at that one moment than he did most of his career.  After that sideline demonstration, MSU exploded and crushed Memphis.  The intensity on defense was stifling. 

The Dukies or the Blue Jays better watch out. Here comes a Big Mean Green!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spartans favored by 5.5 over Memphis

Line for Saturday is Michigan State by 5-1/2 over Memphis, and scUM by 3-1/2 over VCU. Gametime is 2:45 pm from Auburn Hills on CBS-TV.  I'd let u know about the freaking temperature, but while the game is played inside making it comfortable, its just gonna be winter-cold outside, as it has all March.  The groundhog must be quartered, and shot.  Promptly.

ES feels a key to the Memphis game will be the bodies, particularly the athleticism of Payne and Dawson with the bulk of Nix.  The interior needs to pitch a tent and dominate defensively, negating much of the Tigers' ability to block shots -- something St. Mary's didn't respect. 

As for predictions, all the Detroit News pundits predict MSU from 8-15 point victors; WTAE (Pittsburgh) predicts MSU 68-62; Memphis Commercial Appeal has a preview that notes the ability for Memphis guards to dominate the glass... Chicago Tribune notes MSU ability to dictate pace...


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ES bracket for Midwest

ES filled out his bracket... and filled one out at the Peanut Barrell, as well!   The perfect Midwest bracket is before your eyes:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Region of Doom: Pick Izzo and #3 MSU in the Midwest

It's March Madness... and the ES has been AWOL for travel across the country the last few days. Sorry for the delayed response, Spartan fans. 

But, it was nice to see MSU get a #3 seed in the Midwest, in the "Region of Doom."  When you think about how close MSU was in its two losses to Indiana, its loss at Michigan, and its loss to Ohio State in the tourney... well, the Spartans really had NO bad losses and are good enough to make a deep run. We'll see if Gary Harris' potential shoulder issue hampers Michigan State, but the bracket is a good one... let's take care of business in the first stanza, and potentially oust Duke and Louisville to advance to the Final Four.  That would be a nice capstone to a great season in an outstanding conference.

Nice to see the Spartans end the regular season polls in the top 10, at #9 - they certainly earned it.  And, the ES is enjoying the amount of publicity Tom Izzo and the Spartans are receiving, with Izzo being the dean of B1G coaches and having a great team.  Particularly loving this quote: "I'm looking forward to playing anybody [else]," Izzo said. "I'd play the Lakers tomorrow instead of some of the teams I've played recently."

Previews: a Mid-Major preview of MSU vs Valpo here; the Chicago Tribune preview picks MSU as a 72-58 winner.  A quick preview from is here.

Here is the ESPN preview of the Midwest region.  And, Jay Bilas picks MSU to beat Duke, and for Michigan to bow out early.  The ES hates Pitino, and everything about him.  He is a poor ambassador for college basketball.  Thank goodness Kentucky didn't make it - Calipari is just as bad, if not worse.  In this tourney, the ES will be rooting for MSU and rooting against Michigan and Louisville.

Can't wait for tipoff -- for once, MSU gets the early game, this Thursday at 12:15 pm against little ole Valparaiso University... with the game right here in the state of Michigan.  The Palace will be crazy this weekend with Spartan Green and White.

ES has MSU picked in his bracket to the Final Four, and put down $20 in Vegas for the Spartans to win the whole damn thing.  NEVER PICK AGAINST IZZO IN THE TOURNAMENT.  Never.  And, is the Big Ten for real?  We should find out.  It was certainly interesting watching college hoops all year, and certainly Michigan  State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Indiana pass the eyeball test - they've looked GREAT all year long, even as they beat each other up. 

Here's the bracket. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Big Green survive vs Iowa, unlike other wannabees

Unlike Michigan, or Duke, or Georgetown...

Michigan State also played its worst game of the year... but was talented enough -- especially on defense -- to pull out a victory in the Big Ten quarters vs. Iowa.  Now, time to bulk up for Ohio State at 4 pm ET tomorrow.  The ES is a stalwart believer of this Big Green team and its potential for a deep run in 2013.

In recent weeks, MSU has come close on the road but folded when it mattered most, but not today. The Spartans offensively played their worst game of the year but still found a way to win in the last 5 minutes.  Bring on the Buckeyes!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

B1G Ten Tourney.... Gholston HOF Cafe Watch Party... Vegas Title Odds

ES is all jacked up for the B1G Ten Tourney championship.  At around 3:30 today, ES was in a meeting with several colleagues today who figured last Sunday a few of us Spartans were pulling for the Wolverines to beat Indiana to get MSU a share of the regular season title. NOT!!!!  We SOUNDLY denounced his sacrilege and referred to the new Pope maybe needing to forgive our sins in tone and language.  At 3:30, we may have been the first to ask this Pope Francis for forgiveness... but NAHHH.

What is hilarious is the scUMbags get to play an extra game. Thanks, Francis, God is good.  ES could care less about the performance of those wearing stupid yellow-glow-in-the-dark blinding uniforms.  Bumble-bee uniforms in football, and blinding yellow high-lighters in basketball.  They may be great engineers and doctors, but they are color-blind artists in Ann Arbor.  We'll still kick their butt and their extra game.

As for the tourney, well it shall be fun - the ES will be at the Spartan HOF Cafe with his fam and work colleagues at the Spartan HOF for a Mid-Michigan Spartan Alum watch party.  Wanna come out for some brews, food, auction items, and fun while we kick Iowa or Northwestern's bootie?  Game time, tipoff is ETA 7:45 pm on Friday, on BTN.

We'll be hangin' with William Gholston if you're interested...  Need to contact if interested...  GO GREEN!

OK, we'll be throwing some smack at Bracketology all week long if Lunardi doesn't give the Spartans props with at LEAST a #2 seed (and maybe a #1 if they win the B1G tourney?)  But real-time RPI ratings, which are significant in determining NCAA tourney qualifications, so far place the Spartans at #9. should be a great week in March, as is always!!!!  It is IZZO TIME.
Check out VegasInsider.  Spartans are 12-1 to take the title, Michigan is 10-1, and Indiana is 9-2... ES likes our chances, and the $20 he put in the Spartans in Vegas in November.  Here are the full lines below:

Indiana 9/2
Duke 5/1
Louisville 6/1
Florida 7/1
Michigan 10/1
Miami, FL 10/1
Gonzaga 10/1
Georgetown 12/1
Michigan State 12/1
Kansas 15/1
Ohio State 20/1
Syracuse 25/1
St. Louis 30/1
New Mexico 30/1
Arizona 40/1
Pittsburgh 40/1
UCLA 50/1
Kansas State 50/1
Oklahoma State 50/1
North Carolina 60/1
Wisconsin 60/1
N.C. State 60/1
Marquette 75/1
VCU 75/1
Minnesota 75/1
Field (any other team) 100/1
Missouri 100/1
Butler 100/1
Kentucky 100/1
Memphis 100/1
UNLV 100/1
Notre Dame 100/1
Colorado State 100/1
Creighton 100/1
Wichita State 200/1
Illinois 200/1
Oregon 200/1
California 200/1
St. Mary's 200/1
San Diego State 200/1
Colorado 200/1
Belmont 200/1
Alabama 300/1
Oklahoma 300/1
Temple 300/1
Villanova 300/1
Davidson 500/1
Arkansas 500/1
Mississippi 500/1
Virginia 500/1
LaSalle 500/1
Iowa State 500/1
Tennessee 500/1
Vanderbilt 500/1
Baylor 500/1
Xavier 500/1
Cincinnati 500/1
Maryland 1000/1
BYU 1000/1
Purdue 1000/1
Seton Hall 1000/1
St. John's 1000/1
West Virginia 1000/1
St. Joseph's 1000/1
Drexel 1000/1
Stanford 1000/1
Southern Miss 1000/1
Mississippi State 1000/1
Providence 1000/1
Oregon State 1000/1
Ohio 1000/1
Northern Iowa 1000/1
Texas A&M 1000/1
South Florida 1000/1
Washington 1000/1
Dayton 1000/1
Clemson 1000/1
Rutgers 1000/1
Texas 1000/1
Florida State 1000/1
Long Beach State 1000/1
Northwestern 1000/1
Iowa 1000/1
Murray State 1000/1
LSU 1000/1
George Mason 1000/1
Marshall 1000/1
Virginia Tech 1000/1
Georgia 1000/1
Harvard 1000/1
Ole Miss 1000/1
Richmond 1000/1
DePaul 1000/1
Utah State 1000/1
Nevada 1000/1
USC 1000/1
South Carolina 1000/1
Georgia Tech 1000/1
St. Bonaventure 1000/1


Friday, March 08, 2013

Spartans crush Badgers: Jud's chooses MSU in Indiana v Michigan matchup

OK, so Wisconsin had its WORST shooting night in forever, and Appling woke up as Michigan State's men's hoop team smoked Wisconsin by 15 points last night, And Michigan State has an outside shot to a four-way tie for the Big Ten regular season title with Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan?... but only if Michigan beats Indiana.

The ES is 100% in line with coach Izzo's comments to ESPN in the pending Indy v Rodents matchup: "Izzo said his mentor, former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote, wouldn't want him to root for rival Michigan to win in any circumstance.  'I'm going to pull for Michigan State,' Izzo said."

"Our defense was unbelievable," Izzo said.

Right.  These Spartans, who outplayed  Indiana and Michigan but folded very late in their losses, have the defense and the grit to make a deep run in the tourney.  If Appling comes to play from this point forward, the ES's $20 bet on the Spartans in Vegas to win it all may make the ES a rich  man for a day.

Joe Lunardi's Bracketology has the Spartans as a #3 seed in the tourney... but methinks this team has as much grit and determination as any Spartan Final Four team in recent years, and a win in the Big Ten championship tourney could make MSU an outside #1 seed.... 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Live CHAT: MSU at Michigan.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Spartans LIVE CHAT vs Michigan tomorrow at 4

Spartans taking on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Sunday, 4 pm on CBS. The ES is heading to Las Vegas tomorrow, but leaving Lansing Airport at 7:30 pm. Thusly, he'll entertain a LIVE CHAT tomorrow for the 4 pm game. Come on over and chime in!!! Funny, Michigan is favored by 4 over the Spartans. The Vegas bookies just don't get it, do they? Myron Medcalf at ESPN predicts a 70-67 Spartan win over the little yellow men. ES sez Appling wakes up, and the defense puts up a wall to stifle the Wolvies.