What does Jason Collins coming out mean for sports?

The male sports landscape is full of players who have come out as gay, but only after their active playing days were over. The thinking has always been that the locker room is not a place to be an openly gay person, and there has always been question about how fans would react to a gay player in the macho world of professional sports.

Strange how many female athletes have been able to come out as gay while they were still playing, but not so much for male athletes.

But today, we have such a player. His name is Jason Collins, which is not a name most sports fans would know. A former basketball player at Stanford University, Collins has had a 12-year career in the NBA. And in a Sports Illustrated article, he says he never wanted to be the first openly gay and active player in the four major sports in this country, but since he is, he’s happy to talk.

As the story develops, it will be interesting to see how many of Collins’ former teammates will talk about how they knew or didn’t know he was gay, or how that knowledge has helped or hurt Collins in his career. And it will be interesting to see how this may help or hurt Collins’ career moving forward. As a free agent, Collins is free to sign with any team. Will teams take a chance on an openly gay athlete, or will they have those quiet conversations in locked boardrooms about team chemistry and not wanting to offend a segment of the fan base? And Collins will surely want to be seen as a basketball player at his next job, not as a public relations stunt.

It’s interesting that Collins’ announcement came in the same month at the movie “42″ documenting the struggles of Jackie Robinson as the first African-American player in major league baseball was released. It’s a huge stretch to say that Collins could be to gay athletes what Robinson was to African-Americans. African-Americans were not allowed to be in the major leagues in the 1940s. Gay players have been allowed to play sports — just not while being open about their sexuality.

But Collins might be a living symbol of the struggle of gays for acceptance throughout society, even as a non-marquee player in his sports. So chances are you had not heard of Jason Collins before today. Chances are you will hear a lot about him in the coming months and years.


Time Warner Cable SportsNet plans extensive Lakers coverage

Time Warner Cable SportsNet will have extensive coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason, starting Sunday with pre and post-game coverage of Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs.

In addition, Time Warner Cable SportsNet will televise Games 2 through 7 of the playoff series against the Spurs. Sunday’s Game 1 can be seen on ABC at 12:30 p.m.

Here’s the live Game schedule on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, followed by the official release with all of the Lakers’ programming details:

Game                    Date                                      Time                     Pre-game  at

Game 2                Wed., April 24                   6:30 p.m.             5:00 p.m.

Game 3                Fri., April 26                      7:30 p.m.             6:00 p.m.

Game 4                Sun. April 28                      4:00 p.m.             3:00 p.m.

Game 5*              Tues., April 30                  TBD                       TBD

Game 6*              Thurs., May 2                    TBD                       TBD

Game 7*              Sat., May 4                          TBD                       TBD



TIME WARNER CABLE SPORTSNET TO PROVIDE EXTENSIVE LAKERS PLAYOFF COVERAGE led by the on-air talent lakers fans have watched all season long, INCLUDING LIVE GAMES, pre- and post-game analysis and new original shows

Stu Lantz and Bill Macdonald will call all Lakers playoff games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet


“#LakeShow” and “Access SportsNet: Lakers” pre- and post-game shows will air for all Lakers playoff games; a new episode of “Connected With…Mike D’Antoni” premieres tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. PT


EL SEGUNDO, CA (April 18, 2013) – Time Warner Cable SportsNet will provide extensive Lakers playoff coverage throughout the team’s playoff run, led by the familiar on-air talent that Lakers fans have watched all season long. The broadcast team of color commentator Stu Lantz and play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald will call all Lakers playoff games airing on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and sideline reporter Mike Trudell, reporter John Ireland and analysts James Worthy, Robert Horry, Kurt Rambis, Chris McGee, Dave Miller and Andy Adler will continue to provide expert analysis on the network.


Live studio shows “#LakeShow” and “Access SportsNet: Lakers” will air for every Lakers playoff game, with expanded coverage, commentary and analysis surrounding each contest. On non-game nights, “Access SportsNet” will provide insights and updates about the Lakers and the rest of the NBA. Live pre-game coverage of Game 1 on Sunday, April 21 will begin at 11:30 a.m. with Worthy, McGee, Miller and Adler in studio.


A new episode of “Connected With…Mike D’Antoni” will premiere tomorrow, Friday, April 19 at 9:00 p.m. PT. Chris McGee sat down with the Lakers Head Coach in the Time Warner Cable SportsNet studio to discuss joining the Lakers, making the playoffs, working with players like Kobe Bryant and more.


The popular behind-the-scenes series “Backstage: Lakers” will continue throughout the Lakers’ playoff run, with episode 30 premiering on Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 p.m. PT following Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s coverage of Game 2. The new episode will go inside last night’s Lakers win over the Rockets, giving fans an exclusive look into the locker room before and after the game, and will follow the team as it prepares for Game 1 on Sunday.


Time Warner Cable SportsNet will also debut the new series “Through the Lens” on Wednesday, April 24 at 10:30 p.m. The new half-hour show will give Lakers fans a look at the team’s storied history through the eyes and camera lens of long-time Lakers team photographer Andy Bernstein, who has been with the team since 1982 and is responsible for photographing some of the Lakers’ and NBA’s most iconic moments.  Additional episodes of “Through the Lens” will premiere this summer. In the first episode, Bernstein tells the stories behind his 10 favorite Lakers still photos.


Korean Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) will continue for all Lakers playoff games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, with commentary by Paul Lee, Young-don Lee, Seung Chan Lim, Sang Yeol Moon and Ji-Seoung You.


A full schedule of Lakers First Round Playoff games airing on Time Warner Cable SportsNet:


Game                    Date                                      Time                     Live pre-game coverage starting at

Game 2                Wed., April 24                   6:30 p.m.             5:00 p.m.

Game 3                Fri., April 26                      7:30 p.m.             6:00 p.m.

Game 4                Sun. April 28                      4:00 p.m.             3:00 p.m.

Game 5*              Tues., April 30                  TBD                       TBD

Game 6*              Thurs., May 2                    TBD                       TBD

Game 7*              Sat., May 4                          TBD                       TBD


All times listed are PT.

* – If necessary

All dates and times subject to change.

Clippers open playoffs Saturday; Lakers play Sunday

Here are the NBA playoff schedules for the first-round matchups (all times Pacific):


(1) Oklahoma City vs. (8) Houston

Game 1 – Sun April 21, Houston at Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Game 2 – Wed April 24, Houston at Oklahoma City, 4 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Sat April 27, Oklahoma City at Houston, 6:30 p.m., ESPN/R

Game 4 – Mon April 29, Oklahoma City at Houston, TBD, TBD

Game 5 * Wed May 1, Houston at Oklahoma City, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Fri May 3, Oklahoma City at Houston, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sun May 5, Houston at Oklahoma City, TBD, TBD


Game 1 – Sun April 21, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 12:30 p.m., ABC/R

Game 2 – Wed April 24, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Fri April 26, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 – Sun April 28, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, 4 p.m., TNT

Game 5 * Tue April 30, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Thu May 2, San Antonio at L.A. Lakers, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 4, L.A. Lakers at San Antonio, TBD, TNT


Game 1 – Sat April 20, Golden State at Denver, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 2 – Tue April 23, Golden State at Denver, 7:30 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Fri April 26, Denver at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Game 4 – Sun April 28, Denver at Golden State, 6:30 p.m., TNT

Game 5 * Tue April 30, Golden State at Denver, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Thu May 2, Denver at Golden State, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 4, Golden State at Denver, TBD, TNT


Game 1 – Sat April 20, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 2 – Mon April 22, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 7:30 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Thu April 25, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 6:30 p.m., TNT

Game 4 – Sat April 27, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 1:30 p.m., TNT

Game 5 * Tue April 30, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Fri May 3, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sun May 5, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD, TBD



(1) MIAMI vs. (8) MILWAUKEE 

Game 1 – Sun April 21, Milwaukee at Miami, 4 p.m., TNT

Game 2 – Tue April 23, Milwaukee at Miami, 4:30 p.m., NBA TV

Game 3 – Thu April 25, Miami at Milwaukee, 4 p.m., TNT

Game 4 – Sun April 28, Miami at Milwaukee, 12:30 p.m., ABC

Game 5 * Tue April 30, Milwaukee at Miami, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Thu May 2, Miami at Milwaukee, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 4, Milwaukee at Miami, TBD, TNT

(2) NEW YORK vs. (7) BOSTON

Game 1 – Sat April 20, Boston at New York, 12 p.m., ABC/R

Game 2 – Tue April 23, Boston at New York, 5 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Fri April 26, New York at Boston, 5 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 - Sun April 28, New York at Boston, 10 a.m., ABC/R

Game 5 * Wed May 1, Boston at New York, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Fri May 3, New York at Boston, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sun May 5, Boston at New York, TBD, TBD


Game 1 – Sun April 21, Atlanta at Indiana, 10 a.m., TNT

Game 2 – Wed April 24, Atlanta at Indiana, 4:30 p.m., NBA TV

Game 3 – Sat April 27, Indiana at Atlanta, 4 p.m., ESPN

Game 4 – Mon April 29, Indiana at Atlanta, TBD, TBD

Game 5 * Wed May 1, Atlanta at Indiana, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Fri May 3, Indiana at Atlanta, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sun May 5, Atlanta at Indiana, TBD, TBD


Game 1 – Sat April 20, Chicago at Brooklyn, 5 p.m., ESPN

Game 2 – Mon April 22, Chicago at Brooklyn, 5 p.m., TNT

Game 3 – Thu April 25, Brooklyn at Chicago, 5:30 p.m., NBA TV

Game 4 - Sat April 27, Brooklyn at Chicago, 11 a.m., TNT

Game 5 * Mon April 29, Chicago at Brooklyn, TBD, TBD

Game 6 * Thu May 2, Brooklyn at Chicago, TBD, TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 4, Chicago at Brooklyn, TBD, TNT

* if necessary


NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s thoughts; Sunday lookahead

As a journalist friend of mine tweeted after the Wichita State Shockers pulled off the shocker, shocking Ohio State and sending shockwaves through everyone’s bracket – “If you write headlines for a living and use any permutation of the word “shock” tomorrow, I will find you and electrocute you.”

Clearly my friend has his own issues, but there’s really no better word to describe Wichita State making the Final Four than “Shocker.”

They didn’t do it with any flukes either, beating 1-seed Gonzaga and 2-seed Ohio State along the way. Although they were doing a pretty good Jean Van de Velde  impression at the end of the game Saturday, they held on. Kudos.

Syracuse’s fourth consecutive impressive defensive display has me believing they are capable of winning two more and cutting down the nets. The height and length of their guards is so problematic for opposing point guards. I never would have thought the Orange had a chance the way they stumbled down the stretch, but right now they look as good as anyone out there, including Louisville.

On to today’s games:

11:20 a.m. Florida vs. Michigan (CBS): As I switched from watching my No. 3-seeded Michigan State play Duke on Friday night to watch No. 3-seeded Florida play Florida Gulf Coast, I couldn’t help but be reminded that it doesn’t hurt to have a little good fortune on your march toward a title. To make the Elite Eight, the Gators have remarkably played a 14 seed, an 11 seed and a 15 seed. While that certainly helps you get to this point, I think it’s going to hurt the Gators today when they face Michigan, a team that is already battle tested having rallied to beat No. 1 Kansas. Plus, when a team wins a game in miraculous fashion, they usually follow it up with more wins. See Marquette this year. Final score: Michigan 70, Florida 64

2:05 p.m. Duke vs. Louisville (CBS): Blue bloods. Hall of Fame coaches. Great guards. Imposing big men. The only No. 1 seed and the only No. 2 seed remaining in the field face off. The met earlier in the year with Duke winning 76-71, but Louisville was without out their rim-protecting big man Gorgui Dieng. The Cardinals made the Final Four last year, and have shown no signs that they won’t do it again. Final score: Louisville 74, Duke 61.

So if I’m right that would be a Final Four of Louisville vs. Wichita State and Michigan vs. Syracuse. Shocker indeed.

NCAA Tournament: Friday thoughts; Saturday lookahead

Well, it’s officially baseball season for yours truly, as my beloved Michigan State Spartans lost to Duke on Friday. I really thought MSU had all the right pieces to beat Duke, but credit to the Blue Devils. They did the little things necessary to win. Both teams made 20 baskets and shot the same percentage from the field, but Duke shot better from the 3-point line and shot amazingly from the free throw line (24 of 26) to earn the win.

But the tournament goes on, I did correctly pick the other three games including the impressive second-half display by Trey Burke and the Michigan Wolverines who upset Kansas.

There are eight teams left in the field and only one of them is a No. 1 seed. In fact, there are more 3s and 4s than 1s and 2s.

The seed breakdown is: No. 1 (Louisville); No. 2 (Ohio State, Duke); No. 3 (Florida, Marquette); No. 4 (Michigan, Syracuse); No. 9 (Wichita State)

The conference break down is: Big East (3), Big Ten (2), ACC (1), SEC (1), Missouri Valley (1)

Let’s take a look at today’s two games, as we learn who half the Final Four will be:

1:20 p.m. Marquette vs. Syracuse (CBS): They played already once this year with Marquette winning 74-71. The Orange’s famous 2-3 zone won’t be as hard to decipher for the Eagles as it was for Indiana on Thursday, since they are used to it. Marquette has a toughness advantage, but Syracuse gained a lot of confidence offensively with their last victory. I can’t shake Marquette’s first game against Davidson out of my head. Final score: Syracuse 65, Marquette 60

3:55 p.m. Ohio State vs. Wichita State (CBS): The Buckeyes have won each of their last two games on final-possession 3-pointers, and need to establish themselves early in this one to prevent it coming to another nail-biter. Wichita State has been particularly stingy on defense, holding opponents to around 35 percent. The Buckeyes have struggled all year to find a consistent third scorer behind Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft, but the emergence of forward LaQuinton Ross has been a revalation, scoring 34 points in the last two games. No last-second 3-pointer necessary today. Final score: Ohio State 68, Wichita State 56.

I went with the two favorites today, do you foresee an upset? If so tell me about in the comment section below.


NCAA Tournament: Thursday thoughts; Friday lookahead

Well, on selection Sunday, right before the brackets came out I had made up my mind. I knew what two teams I was going to have face off in my championship game. But alas, the selection committee didn’t help me out putting both of them in the same region. Those two teams were Miami and Indiana. I guess maybe the committee helped me out after all as both of the teams I liked most to cut down the nets lost on Thursday.

I was pretty surprised by all of Thursday’s results, really. The only winner I picked correctly was Ohio State and I thought they would win by more. I picked the favorites Indiana and Miami and then I picked La Salle to upset Wichita State in a close one. Instead they got thumped.

We now know there will be a Big East team in the Final Four as Syracuse and Marquette will meet Saturday to punch a ticket to Atlanta. Ohio State faces Wichita State to declare the West region champ.

Kudos, too, to Arizona for putting up a fantastic fight against Ohio State. Who would have thought LaQuinton Ross would be the hero? I can certainly understand the attention the Arizona defense payed to Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas on that final possession.

Well, let’s see if I can do better than 1 out of 4 with my picks today.

4:15 p.m. Oregon vs. Louisville (CBS): There are a lot of teams in the Sweet 16 that I think Oregon can beat, but Louisville is not one of them. They have shown very little that makes me think they won’t shut down the Oregon guards and create a lot of havoc with their defense. Final score: Louisville 74, Oregon 59

4:37 p.m. Michigan vs. Kansas (TBS): This is an interesting matchup of contrasts. Michigan, led by point guard Trey Burke who I consider to be the best player in college hoops even though it pains me to say as a Michigan State grad, is a guard oriented team. Kansas has talented guards, but it’s their big men, including shot-blocker Jeff Withey that gives them the advantage. If Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson Jr., (might as well find Grant Hill Jr. and Christian Laettner Jr. to help while you’re at it) can hit jumpers and pull Withey away from the goal, they have a great shot. Final score: Michigan 69, Kansas 64

6:45 p.m. Michigan State vs. Duke (CBS): OK, we all know I am a Spartan, but I do like this matchup for Michigan State. It’s a great game, pitting the two best coaches of the last 15 years. There are plenty of must-see matchups: Duke’s Ryan Kelly vs. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne as tall offensive-minded players who can shoot from the outside; Duke’s Mason Plumlee vs. Michigan State’s Derrick Nix banging on each other down low; and the key matchup Duke sharp-shooter Seth Curry vs. MSU’s talented freshman Gary Harris, a sharp-shooter himself. Duke has the edge on the perimeter. MSU has an edge on the boards. Final score: Michigan State 70, Duke 60

6:57 p.m. Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida (TBS): When this game tips off, there will be 10 teams still competing for a national title and one of them will be Florida Gulf Coast. Amazing. The important thing for Florida is to take the lead early and not let the Eagles feel like they have a shot. FGCU is going to have fun, that much I know, but the Gators should be patient enough to prevail with some ease. Final score: Florida 78, FGCU 60

Well that’s what I think. What do you think? Please leave a comment. I certainly was wrong a lot on Thursday.  Which picks do I have wrong for Friday?

NCAA Tournament: Picking Thursday’s winners

Man I hate that long wait from Sunday until Thursday, but alas, it’s Thursday and that means four teams will take another step toward the NCAA championship.

First here are tonight’s games:

4:15 p.m.: Miami vs. Marquette (CBS)

4:47 p.m.: Arizona vs. Ohio State (TBS)

6:45 p.m.: Indiana vs. Syracuse (CBS)

7:17 p.m.: Wichita State vs. La Salle (TBS)

Player to watch tonight: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana point guard. Ferrell, a freshman, plays with a veteran’s poise, and he’s going to need it tonight against Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone. Ferrell traditionally terrorizes opponents by blowing past the guy guarding him and getting to the rim or distributing the ball, but that doesn’t really work against a zone. His abiblity to be patient, find holes in the zone and still get the ball to his more high-profile teammates will be the Hoosiers’ key to victory. If he cans a couple 3-pointers when the ball gets kicked back to him, that wouldn’t hurt either.

Individual matchup of the night: Arizona’s Nick Johnson vs. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft. This will be a battle to see if either can figure out a way to contribute offensively while being guarded by the other. Both are physical guards whose hallmark is defense. Whoever is winning this battle will tell you who’s winning the game.

Need-to-know stat: The highest-numbered seed to ever make the Elite Eight is 12th seeded Missouri in 2002. That’s bad news for 13th-seeded La Salle which takes on Wichita State tonight. Remember it on Friday, too, as 12th-seeded Oregon and 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast hope to make history.

Spoiler alert, I am about to reveal the final scores of tonight’s games. I’d still go ahead and watch them, though.

Miami vs. Marquette: I picked the Hurricanes to win it all, so I’m not going to waver yet, but something about Marquette makes me nervous. Some times those teams that seem like they’re destined to win, end up … well, winning. Marquette needed a miracle to beat Davidson by one in its opener, and another high-tension effort to beat Butler by 2 on Saturday. No more magic. Final score: Miami 66, Marquette 57

Arizona vs. Ohio State: Ohio State needed an escape job to beat Iowa State, while Arizona won both its games by double-digits. Though I wonder if the toughness they’ve seen from Belmont and Harvard will prepare them for the Buckeyes. Some times it’s best not to overthink it, and I’m not sure Arizona has someone equipped to stop Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Final score: Ohio State 70, Arizona 59

Indiana vs. Syracuse: I’m having a hard time visualizing what’s going to happen in this game, becasue I can see it going both ways. If the Hoosiers have a tough time solving that zone and aren’t hitting 3-point shots, which can happen to them on occasion, I give the Orange a great shot of winning. But the Hoosiers have an underrated defense and Syracuse has had a few of those offensive clunkers throughout the year, icnluding the last time they played on this court scoring 39 against Georgetown. I think easy baskets will be hard to come by, but the Hoosiers have more players capable of making a one-on-one play. Final score: Indiana 60, Syracuse 53

Wichita State vs. La Salle: The Shockers were impressive in taking down No. 1 seed Gonzaga. La Salle has impressively made the Sweet 16 all the way from the play-in game. As I said above, No. 13 seed has ever made the elite eight, but that’s usually because they are facing a No. 1 seed if they make it this far. La Salle’s four guard lineup will be different from the interior-focused teams Wichita State has beaten (Pittsburgh, Gonzaga). This is a coin flip. Final score:  La Salle 70, Wichita State 67

Enjoy the games and check back to this blog at mydesert.com for a look back at Thursday’s game and a lookahead to Friday’s action.


NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 conference call, Pac-12 on top

A fun thing to do after the Sweet 16 is set is to compare the conferences to see how each of them fared. It would be easy to say the Big Ten is doing the best because it has four teams still alive, the most of any conference, but a better way to judge a conference is how they are doing vs. expectations. And under that microscope, it is the Pac-12 that is having the best postseason so far.

It’s a very simple formula I invented to rival the RPI called the SCEI or Shad’s Conference Excellence Indicator. It’s simple and it’s based on the seeds. Everyone seeded 1, 2, 3 or 4 is supposed to be in the Sweet 16. Everyone else has exceeded expectations. So let’s look at conferences vs. expectations.

This is how many teams each conference should have had in the Sweet 16 based on seeds:

Big Ten: 4 — Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan

Big East: 4 — Louisville, Georgetown, Marquette, Syracuse

Big 12: 2 — Kansas, Kansas State

ACC: 2 — Miami, Duke

Mountain West: 1 — New Mexico

Atlantic 10: 1 — Saint Louis

SEC: 1 — Florida

West Coast Conference: 1 — Gonzaga

This is what actually happened:

Big Ten: 4 — Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan (as they were supposed to)

Big East: 3 — Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse (Georgetown lost)

ACC: 2 — Duke, Miami (as they were supposed to)

Pac-12: 2 — Arizona, Oregon (both exceeding seed expectations)

SEC: 1 — Florida (as they were supposed to)

Big 12: 1 — Kansas (Kansas State lost)

Atlantic 10: 1 — La Salle (making up for Saint Louis loss)

Atlantic Sun: 1 — Florida Gulf Coast (exceeding expectations)

Missouri Valley Conference: 1 — Wichita State (exceeding expectations)

So, using simple math, the conferences vs. expectations shake down like this:

Pac-12: Plus-2

Atlantic Sun: Plus-1

Missouri Valley Conference: Plus-1

Big Ten: Even

Atlantic-10: Even

SEC: Even

ACC: Even

Big East: Negative-1

Big 12: Negative-1

Mountain West: Negative 1

West Coast Conference: Negative-1

So there you have it. The Pac-12 has done the best so far, we’ll see what the next round brings. The elite is supposed to be just 1 and 2 seeds, and six of those eight still remain. But we alredy know the 9-Wichita State vs. 13-La Salle matchup and the 3-Florida vs. 15-FGCU matchups will produce two interlopers. Will any of the other non-1s and 2s break through?

Come back to this blog at mydesert.com each day this week as we work toward Thursday’s return to action.

NCAA Tournament game times released for Sweet 16

Here are the starting times for the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 games Thursday and Friday:


4:15 pm: Miami vs. Marquette (CBS)

4:47 pm: Arizona vs. Ohio State (TBS)

6:45 pm: Indiana vs. Syracuse (CBS)

7:17 pm: Wichita St. vs. LaSalle (TBS)


4:15 pm: Louisville vs. Oregon (CBS)

4:37 pm: Kansas vs. Michigan (TBS)

6:45 pm: Michigan State vs. Duke (CBS)

6:57 pm: Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast (TBS)

NCAA Tournament: Saturday thoughts; Sunday lookahead

We all love the little guy, but Saturday was not a good day for them as it pertained to the NCAA tournament. Six of the eight games pitted a “BCS” team against a “non-BCS” team and the big boys won all six of them, five of those coming by double digits. And that doesn’t even count Gonzaga losing, the ultimate “I told you so” for doubters that the Zags deserved a No. 1 seed.

I was one of those doubters, and, well … I told you so. I thought Gonzaga should have been a 3 seed, and there is no indictment in that, that’s the equivalent of traditional powers Michigan State and Florida. I know Zag fans are touchy about it, but there’s really no shame in admitting that Gonzaga shouldn’t have been a No. 1 seed as they proved in barely beating 16-seed Southern and losing to 9-seed Wichita State. Sure it’s easy to say they shouldn’t have been a No. 1 seed now, but it was also pretty easy before Saturday, too. Consider this, once the field had been whittled to 32 teams, the Zags had absolutely zero wins against any of the 32 teams still playing. Think about that. They were 0-2 against the final 32 teams in the field, losing to Butler and Illinois. Is that the stuff of No. 1 seeds? Other No. 1 seeds, like Indiana for example, were 8-4 against teams still in the field of 32. Just in the same way we’re all comfortable saying Oregon shouldn’t have been a 12 seed, I don’t see why it’s so taboo to say Gonzaga shouldn’t have been a No. 1 seed. In both cases, the seed has been proven to be wrong.

Another note: Looking ahead, 9-seed Wichita State will play the winner of 12-seed Mississippi vs. 13-seed La Salle. So one of those three teams will be playing in the elite eight.

Anyway, in my previous blog I picked all of Saturday’s eight games, and I went 5-3.

My worst pick was Saint Louis to beat Oregon 73-62. I apologize, Ducks, I didn’t believe in you, but it’s har to find a team that had a more impressive weekend.  My other misses were I thought Gonzaga would win a squeaker, and I thought Butler would eke past Marquette. I got the other five correct, basically just picking favorites, but I was suprised at how lopsided the victories were for Michigan, Michigan State and Arizona.

Without further ado here are my Sunday picks:

10-Iowa State vs. 2-Ohio State (9:15 a.m. CBS): I have a basketball crush on Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, even though he terrorized my Michigan State Spartans twice this year. Just take a few possessions to watch him play defense, and you will like him too, unless you are a Cyclone guard. Iowa State can score in bunches and is scary, but I have to go with Craft. Final: Ohio State 77, Iowa State 66

9-Temple vs. 1-Indiana (11:45 a.m. CBS): The bloom fell off the Atlantic 10 rose on Saturday, with VCU, Butler and Saint Louis all exiting. I don’t foresee a situation where Temple can stay with Indiana. Hoosiers have a little too much of everything for Temple. Final: Indiana 81, Temple 67

8-North Carolina vs. 1-Kansas (2:15 p.m. CBS): This one could be interesting as the Tar Heels certainly are peaking at the right time. Kansas was lackluster against Western Kentucky, and has scoring droughts too often for my liking. Also the Big 12 has really layed an egg so far. I’ll call for a big upset. Final: North Carolina 69, Kansas 67

11-Minnesota vs. 3-Florida (3:10 p.m. TNT): The Gophers have been an enigma all year. A team that can beat Indiana and Michigan State, but finished 3-8 in their final 11 Big Ten games. They showed some spark in manhandling UCLA. The Gators are a different story, but not immune to upset. Another shocker. Final: Minnesota 80, Florida 70

15-Florida Gulf Coast vs. 7-San Diego State (4:10 p.m., TBS): A nice opportunity for the Aztecs to advance, but I loved what I saw in FGCU. All five guys seemed confident in their abilities to score and defend. Two days of hearing how great you are, doesn’t always help though. It’s a tight one, but … Final: SDSU 60, FGCU 56

13-La Salle vs. 12-Mississippi (4:40 p.m. TruTV): This is a tough one to handicap, but using the format that was layed out Saturday with big-conference teams going 6-0 against small-conference teams. I’ll take the Rebels. Final: Ole Miss. 73, La Salle 60

7-Illinois vs. 2-Miami (5:40 p.m. TNT): I’ve picked Miami to win it all and I’ve seen no reaso to waver on that. Illinois does have heavyweights Indiana and Gonzaga on its victory list, but unless the 3-pointers are really falling, I don’t see it. Final: Miami 79, Illinois 61

2-Duke vs. 7-Creighton (6:40 p.m. TBS): Let’s see, a talented Missouri Valley Conference team going against a high seed. Where have we heard that before. As Creighton tries to recreate the magic that Wichita State had in beating Gonzaga on Saturday.The talente level is not much different, and Creighton has the best player on the floor in Doug McDermott, but Duke won’t let this one slip away. Final: Duke 79, Creighton 74