Cuse advances to Elite 8

Brandon Triche

What a great win! Syracuse takes down top-seeded Indiana 61-50 and advances to the Elite 8 for the second straight year. That was the best all-around game Syracuse has played since the 2003 title game. The Hooisers had no answer for the zone and looked completely lost at times. They turned the ball over 11 times in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Carter-Williams scored a career-high 24 points and he completely dominated their undersized guards. Triche added 14 and some solid defense at the top of the zone. Southerland, who averages 13 a game this season, only scored 5 points but he was key on the defensive end with 3 blocks and 3 steals. 

Cody Zeller scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds which sounds impressive but he was a complete no-show for Indiana. He had no idea how to attack the zone and was blocked numerous times. He wasn’t the only one struggling though – the Orange finished with 10 blocks and 12 steals.

Indiana didn’t help it’s cause by missing 9 of 24 free throws and they shot a poor 33% from the field and 20% (3-for-15) from behind the arc. That dismal shooting and inability to crack the zone led to their smallest scoring output of the season. Cuse shot well from the field (43.8%) and from the free throw line (75%), which is something that this team needs to do in order to win.

Syracuse deserved to win the game and outplayed Indiana in every facet of the game. It was a lot of fun to watch and it’s always great to take down a number 1 seed. Next up is Marquette with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Golden Eagles are a lot more familiar with the zone and they beat the Orange 74-71 earlier this year during conference play.

The Orange has had an up and down season but it seems to be playing it’s best basketball at the right time. The Big East tournament was a big confidence boost and now they’ve played 3 very solid NCAA tournament game against quality opponents. A title run doesn’t seem anywhere near as farfetched as it did two weeks ago. Can’t wait for Saturday!

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Heat Streak Snapped at 27

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The Heat 27-game winning streak came to an end last night in Chicago. Winning 27 games in a row is pretty remarkable – it’s the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history – yet I can’t believe how many people were ecstatic to see it come to an end. Personally, I’m upset it’s over. I enjoyed watching history and I appreciated the extra intensity that the streak added to each game.

The Bulls, who were without Noah and Rose, treated last night’s game like it was Game 7 of the Finals. The team and the fans really wanted to see the streak end immediately. The Heat are used to getting everyone’s A game. After not losing in almost two months, the target on your back grows exponentially. That’s how teams like the Cavs built big leads forcing the Heat to turn it on late and sneak out close wins. I wish they kept it turned on all the time but the NBA season is too long to play every game with a playoff-level intensity.

Miami definitely looked lethargic in the first half last night. There was a lot of standing around and only in the 4th quarter did it start to take on that playoff feel. The last four minutes, Lebron became the best version of himself. He took over on offense and defense, as he often does, and tried to will his team back. Unfortunately the deficit was too large to overcome but it was very fun to watch. Lebron playing in the fourth quarter of a close game is about as entertaining as it gets for as a sports fan right now.

Losing is probably not the worst thing for the Heat. As we approach the playoffs, it’s better that they not burn themselves out playing hard night after night to maintain a streak. Now their focus returns solely to winning another title.

If nothing else the streak sent a message to the rest of the league that it probably already knows. There’s no blueprint to beating the Heat and if you have to work as hard as the Bulls did last night to win, then I don’t know how any team is going to take 4 out of 7 against them. There are more talented teams than the Bulls in the league, but when Miami really wants a game, a lot of things have to break your way to beat them. Add to that the fact that the will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs and I don’t see how the Heat lose a best of 7 series. It’s has been and it remains their title to lose.

Dunk City Gets Ready for Sweet 16

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Florida Gulf Coast becoming the first 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen is just another example of why the NCAA Tournament is the best. It really is the best two sports weeks out of the year. The opportunity for these Cinderellas to come out of nowhere doesn’t exist in other college sports and it rarely occurs in the pros. FGCU has captured everyone’s imagination and the Dunk City Eagles are officially playing with house money.

The movie script is being written in real time. A Cinderella team led by a guy who just gave up his multi-million dollar job to coach making it’s first tournament appearance. The Eagles fast paced style of play combined with their ability to play so high above the rim makes them a must watch. That and the fact that they are genuinely having such a blast during the games. The bench explodes after every alley oop. Their upsets over Georgetown and San Diego State was exactly like watching someone crash a party they knew they didn’t belong at. They are the talk of the tournament and for good reason.

Next up is a showdown against Florida, their in state “rivals”  if you can even call them that. Gulf Coast tried to schedule a scrimmage with Florida before the season started but Billy Donovan declined. Now the two team’s will square off in what is likely to be the most anticipated Sweet 16 match up this year. The energy in Friday’s game will be electric and I get the feeling the crowd will be strongly behind Florida Gulf Coast – even in Texas. It’s hard not to root for them. Their story is truly amazing and I hope it doesn’t come to an end anytime soon.

Check out this pep rally they had at the school yesterday…

Friday night is going to be a lot of fun.

Voice Contestant Rips Off YouTube Original

Last night on The Voice, a contestant performed an awesome arrangement of “I’m Sexy and I know It”. The only problem was it wasn’t his arrangement and he played it off as his own. Every Voice contestant performs covers but this contestant played a very specific and unique arrangement that he did not create – and then he let people praise him for his originality.

Noah is a supremely talented 19 year old singer from South Carolina who gained a huge following on YouTube by posting covers. His unique and amazing arrangement of that song was completely ripped off last night. I immediately stopped watching and visited the Noah’s YouTube video. As I suspected there were a million different comments about how the guy had performed Noah’s version.

It’s one thing for contestants to cover signed artists but it’s another to cover an arrangement made by someone who is not currently signed and play it off as your own. As the judges continued to praise the Voice contestant for his originality and unique arrangement and he just stood there smiling. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Noah is a much better singer and clearly a more original artist. He could go on The Voice anytime he wants and I’m sure there is a reason he has chosen not to take that route. I’m not even sure that having his version covered on the The Voice without any recognition upsets him. I just hope The Voice gives Noah credit at some point during a future broadcast.

Apparently the contestant gave Noah credit on Twitter and on the YouTube video of his performance but not giving it on the actual broadcast was pretty lame. He knew he was going on TV in front of millions and that’s where the majority of the audience would see his performance. All it would have took was to say that he didn’t make that arrangement after Blake continued to say how original and unique it was.

It seems a lot of people are up in arms about this performance last night (at least in the YouTube comments section). Ironically, this is probably a good thing for Noah. People who have found out about the song have checked out Noah’s cover. Any press is good press. He’s also got bigger things to worry about having just completed a Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $30,000 to fund his debut album.

There are a ton of talented artists out there and American Idol, The X Factor and The Voice have been capitalizing on that talent for years now. As long as there are aspiring singers out there, some iteration of these types of shows will exist. While these shows provide another avenue to get recognized, you don’t need them. In today’s world there are so many new avenues to get recognized and gain a following. Noah is the perfect example.

Last May, his cover of LMFAO’s dance song went viral and brought him national attention. He made an appearance on The Today Show and received millions of YouTube hits. I’m sure Noah will be signed very soon and become a well-known artist. He’s certainly talented enough but until he is signed, people should be giving him credit for the arrangements he puts together, especially when performing them in a singing competition on national television.

Typical Mets

C’mon Jay Horwitz! You’re the Mets PR guy. How can you make this mistake? Typical Mets… To Horwitz’s credit he has replied to a lot of the people who called him out on twitter and he has taken responsibility for his error. Twitter reaches a lot of people and one mistake on it will get you crucified, as Horwitz learned the hard way.

You would think that after the T-shirts, memorabilia and hoopla surrounding Dickey’s 20th win (which I attended and it was awesome), the PR department would at least remember that it happened.

DR Wins World Baseball Classic

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The World Baseball Classic was exponentially more entertaining than I thought it would be. When it got down the championship round, the spirit and intensity were not lacking. The Dominican Republic dominated the tournament going a perfect 8-0 and outscoring its opponents 36-14. Cano won the MVP, hitting a red hot .469 with 4 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBI and 6 R. He led all players with 15 hits, which is  a single-Classic record. Great news for the Yankees who will need that type of production as they try to fill voids in a banged up roster.

If the goal of the tournament is to make it the World Cup of baseball, I think they are on their way. Baseball is a big deal around the world and it showed throughout this tournament. The ratings in Japan during their semifinal game were astronomical. The Netherlands made another surprising run and the Caribbean proved its superiority. The only country that doesn’t seem to take it seriously enough is the United States. That needs to change in 2017.

Having our best players choose not to represent the USA is fine. I wish it would change and our roster would have consisted of Trout, Kershaw, Verlander and Price but they are entitled to choose not to participate. There’s enough American talent that the team should still be an All-Star team, which is what it was. However, the strategy is terrible. One game during the tournament, Torre decided to sit Giancarlo Stanton in favor of Ben Zobrist because Joe Maddon wanted to make sure his player got his Spring work in. We did not manage these games to win – we managed them as if they were Spring Training games. Meanwhile, other countries are making 4 pitching changes in an inning to play to righty/righty and lefty/lefty matchups.

Participating in the tournament and then treating it like an exhibition takes away all of the fun. It’s supposed to competitive and patriotic but how can you expect American baseball fans to care when the players and manager are more concerned with avoiding injuries. The championship round seemed pretty important to the Netherlands, Korea, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In 2017 if the USA has everyone participate and its lone goal is winning, I think they would be surprised by the passion and interest of American baseball fans – even in March.

Mad Men Returns in 3 Weeks

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There’s a lot going on in this new Mad Men season 6 poster. Many are speculating as to what each little detail means. I’ve read everything from the two Don’s representing Don and Dick Whitman to the prediction of time travel. Who’s hand is Don holding? Is that Mona with Roger behind him? Where is that plane going? Is Peggy on it? What are cops doing here? Are they investigating Lane’s death? Is Don is trouble with the law or is he involved with the crooked cops of the late 60’s? Is the stop sign supposed to look like the head of the woman in the dress? So many questions.

In a show that pays such strict attention to detail, you can bet that every little aspect of this poster was  intentional and given careful consideration. It’s a true testament to the creative genius of your show when a promotional poster sparks such intense dialogue and speculation. April 7th can’t arrive fast enough. Mad Men paired back to back with Breaking Bad is going to be an amazing two-hour block every Sunday this Spring.