From The Cheap Seats

Three number one seeds plus the runner-up in the toughest conference in the country makes for a very tough Final Four. While I'm not going to be so adventurous to pick against Duke, I do think these games will all be interesting. I picked three of these four teams to make it, and while I felt St. John's was going to beat Ohio (which they almost did), the Buckeyes are a mighty tough team. Let's look at this weekend's matchups:

UConn vs. Ohio St. : These two teams are a terrific matchup. Very similar strengths, strong point guards, excellent shooters, athletic front lines. I might be tempted to pick the upset, but the last three minutes of the OSU-St. John's game scares me. When close tournament games come down the stretch, terrible foul shooting can kill you, and OSU has the worst. If the Buckeyes have a lead, the Huskies can foul their way back into it. I'd take the points if I was wagering, but I expect the Huskies to win.

Duke vs. Michigan St. : I expect this to be tougher than any game the Blue Devils have had. They met earlier in the year and MSU gave the Dukies all they could handle, including dominating the boards. The Spartans had 22 offensive rebounds to Duke's 4. In fact, they had more offensive boards than Duke had defensive rebounds (20). Duke got out to a 17-2 lead in that one and ended up with a 73-67 win -- was it easing up, or was it hanging on for dear life? As I said, I'm not gutsy enough to pick against Duke, one of the best teams of recent vintage, but the upset is possible. I think the key to this game may well be Corey Maggette, who didn't contribute much the first time, but has a world of talent.

The Championship: I think the Duke-Michigan State winner will take it all, but none of these teams snuck in here. Ohio State lost to MSU in Lansing, 76-71 January 27th, so they won't be scared by them, and their big man, Ken Johnson, who was the key to the regional win, went only 1 for 6 in that. I consider them more dangerous than UConn at this level.


The Lakers blew another game last night because they couldn't get back on defense quickly enough. They made the Kings look like the '83 Lakers, and Jason Williams looked positively Magical. Oh well, they may not win it all, but the Lake Show is nothing if not entertaining.


Note: Dominic Hasek has been diagnosed with a hernia.

Reaction: This is what happens when you've been carrying the Sabres on your back for years.


Kerry Ligtenberg is out for the season, the latest in a long list. Please start the season while we still have players left to start it with.


The Mets chucked Hideo Nomo and signed Orel Hersheiser. The passion all these teams had to sign Hersheiser is demonstrative of a) the shortage of starting pitching in a 30 team universe and b) the excitement even a mediocre veteran pitcher can generate in general managers. Face it, he's not good. His basic game is 6 innings and 3 earned runs, which results in his winning about half the time, while using most of your bullpen. Moreover, his consistency is seasonal, not game-to-game. He had two months last year with ERA's of 6.31 and 6.66, he had two others with 5.35 and 4.91. In fact, except for his brilliant May (5-0 with an 0.86 ERA!), he was no good at all last year. Against the three NL division winners, he was 0-2 in 4 starts, with a 7.08 ERA. The next best hitting teams he faced were in Texas and Seattle -- 0-2, 10 ER in 10.1 innings. Pardon me if I'm not excited by this acquisition.


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