National Championship is Set

Last night the two semi-final games were played in Houston and we now know who will play in the National Championship on Monday night. The Butler Bulldogs withstood a furious attack from the VCU Rams to pull away at the end of the game. This will be Butler’s second straight appearance in the National Championship. This year they will have a better shot at winning it all because this is a mature team with experience being in this situation.

The second game of the night was Kentucky and UConn, which looked like early on that UConn would run away. But Kentucky made a big push to start the 2nd half and made it a close game as time wound down. It ended up being a missed shot late that sealed Kentucky’s fate and the UConn Huskies are in the National Championship. This is Calhoun’s 2nd team to play for the National Championship, last time in 2004 they won it all.

This should be a great championship game, and I will come back and break it down later today. So please stay tuned for the preview and the predictions for this great match up of Butler and UConn

[box]Kody’s Sports Korner is on Twitter: @kodysportskornr[/box]

It’s time; Final Four Predictions

As I previously talked about in my Final Four Preview, these games on Saturday should be exciting and fun to watch. While writing the preview, I decided I would save the predictions for this piece. So as I am writing this, I have run some numerous simulations of each game to see how it could possibly play out. I have to say I was a little surprised with some of the results, but if this turns out the way the simulations went, then I will be even more surprised.

VCU vs Butler:
The first game of the day is the most intriguing game of the day because you are pitting last years Cinderella against this years Cinderella. But the difference is that VCU is coming into this game on a real hot streak. If the Rams can contain Butler and withstand there best shot, then VCU may be in the championship game.  Final Score: VCU 76 – Butler 53

UConn vs Kentucky:
Everybody has said that the winner of this game is going to be the next National Champion. All I have to say is that nothing should be guaranteed for the winner of this game. Because anything can happen in this crazy tournament. This should be a very even game, but I think Kentucky will have a better chance at winning this game just because they have a visable speed advantage. But never count out Kemba Walker from UConn. Final Score: Kentucky 63 – UConn 62

According to the simulations and everything I have looked at, then our championship game will be Kentucky vs VCU. While I think this would be an entertaining final, I will hold off on predicting or previewing this match up until after the final game on Saturday. Please check back for championship game preview and predictions.

[box]Kody’s Sports Korner is on Twitter: @kodysportskornr[/box]

Final Four Preview

What a long, strange and winding road this year has been in the NCAA tournament. We started this season with a brand new format and four play in games to have a chance to make a miracle run. Little did we know that one team out of that First Four, would still be standing at the Final Four. Sure, there were the usual suspect, and the teams that seem to be in and dominate the tournament every season. But this year had to be the most diverse field in recent history. Everybody wanted to crown Ohio State the national champion before the first tip off and they went home in the Sweet 16.

Last years runner up didn’t even garner enough respect to get seeded any high than 8th. But with each passing round, they looked like a team that had the drive to return to the Final Four. The Final Four is a very eclectic one to say the least, you have two former champions, last years runner up, and a team that nobody even wanted in the tournament to begin with. The Uconn Huskies are not really a surprise to be here, but nobody thought they would after winning 5 games in 5 days in the Big East Tournament. Kentucky wasn’t expected to be here since they had to play Ohio State, but somehow found a way to win. Butler was here last year, they weren’t supposed to return but after beating Florida, they have returned. The surprise here has to be the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. This team played in the First Four and has found a way to win every game thus far.

Unfortunately you are stuck with a UConn vs Kentucky and VCU vs Butler in the National Semi-finals. I may be in the minority here, but I would love to see them re-seed and have a chance to see Butler and VCU for the whole thing. But enough about what I want to see, let’s break down the games as they are seeded.

UConn vs Kentucky
This should be a very close and intense game, both these teams are immensely talented and lead by very good coaches. I feel that UConn has more senior leadership and probably will have the maturity to face anything Kentucky can throw at them. But on the other side, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kentucky stun UConn with their speed and ability. Kentucky is a dangerous team that can run the floor with the best of them. But I don’t think this game will be the most entertaining.

Butler vs Virginia Commonwealth
In what is the most surprising match up of the Final Four, this one will probably be most entertaining game of the day. Because both of these teams have captured the nations imagination and it is a very even match up. Butler has been on this stage once before, and came within a last second heave of possibly winning it all. But VCU is on fire right now, and everybody is falling in love with this team. I think Butler has to take the nod here because they will have the experience and maturity to overcome the butterflies of being on such a big stage. But that being said, don’t be surprised to see VCU in the game and if they can weather the Butler attack, they could really shock the world. Either way, this is a can’t miss game.

I will have my predictions about the game up closer to tip-off, so be sure to check back for that.

[box]Kody’s Sports Korner is on Twitter: @kodysportskornr[/box]

John Calipari; Will this one stick?

Head Coach John Calipari has had a long and very successful college coaching career. He started his head coaching career at the University of Massachusetts in 1986. Coach Calipari had the Minutemen in the NIT his 2nd career, and into the NCAA tournament two years after that. And they were a staple in the NCAA tournament for the next 5 seasons until they had a Final Four run in 1995. Coach Calipari at this time was the hottest commodity in College Basketball at the time, but then there was some breaking news that brought all of that to a crushing halt. It came out that Marcus Camby had accepted money from an agent and UMass had to vacate it’s Final Four appearance and it’s wins that season.

After all of that happened, Coach Calipari went to go coach the New Jersey Nets in the NBA. That lasted for about 3 seasons before he was fired and returned to College Basketball. He made his return to Memphis in 2000, which was an immediate succsess, in his first season they were in the NIT semifinals. But that was only the begining of the sucssess as each year at Memphis he had his teams in a post season tournament. 2007 was going to be the crown jewel, after the best season he had had at Memphis and a run into championship game, everyone thought this was going to him his year to win it all. Unfortunately the Kansas Jayhawks had another idea and stole the title from him.

Sadly after that game, the NCAA started investigating Memphis and found that Derrick Rose had not taken his SAT’s and subsequently had the Memphis season and Runner up status stricken. Calipari stayed at Memphis one more season before his “Dream Job” opened up. On April 1st 2009 John Calipari was formally announced as the new head coach at the University of Kentucky. This was a hire that excited the fan base and brought in some big name recruits to the program. The following season he led Kentucky to an SEC Championship and a run in the tournament into the Elite Eight.

While he did lose a few key pieces from last season, this year Kentucky is still stacked and has made another run and are now into the Final Four. This maybe Coach Calipari’s best chance to win it all since the Memphis team that was runner up. But this has lead me to wonder, in another year or two, will this one stick? He hasn’t been at fault for any of the problems that have taken away his achievements, but he is indirectly responsible for not controlling his program better. Three times into the Final Four, with two being taken away, John Calipari has to hope that the third time is the charm and this one will stay.

[box]Kody’s Sports Korner is on Twitter: @kodysportskornr[/box]

Kody’s Sports Korner Bowl Preview; Part 3

If you  have missed the first two bowl previews I did, check out part 1 here and part 2 here

TicketCity Bowl:
Northwestern vs Texas Tech –
Sadly this New Year will begin with this lackluster bowl. In the inaugural Ticket City Bowl in Dallas, there will be a first time meeting between the Northwestern Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders. While Northwestern is looking for it’s first bowl win since 1949, Texas Tech has some concerns if it’s coach will be around for next year. But all of that aside, there are a lot questions on how will Northwestern handle the pass heavy attack of the Red Raiders. Sadly to say, Northwestern will not get it’s first bowl win here. They will be lucky to stay within 21 points of the Red Raiders.
Prediction: Texas Tech 52 – Northwestern 21

Outback Bowl:
Florida vs Penn St
:
When this match up was announced, you figured there would be retirement talks from one coach. But the coach who is going to step down isn’t the 84 year old Joe Paterno, but the 46 year old Urban Meyer. While this is a shock to most, it isn’t that big of a shock after last years flip flop. The big question about this game will be whether or not Penn State can contain a good Florida team. After their struggles with an Alabama squad earlier in the year, I don’t see this one being pretty for the Nittany Lions.
Prediction: Florida 35 – Penn State 14

Capital One Bowl:
Alabama vs Michigan St
While most everybody will be expecting Alabama to roll in this game, I expect to see Michigan St give Alabama a run for their money and pull off a upset. Michigan State has been an underrated team all year and is probably the best team coming out of the Big Ten this season. Expect an exciting game, one that should give the Big Ten it’s few bowl wins this season.
Prediction: Michigan State 28 – Alabama 21

Gator Bowl:
Mississippi St vs Michigan
This is a very ho hum match up, there are a lot of better game to watch and I am sure Michigan won’t show up so they can assure to get rid of Rich Rod. That being said, Dan Mullen will have Mississippi State ready to play. Expect this one to be a blow out.
Prediction: Mississippi State 35 – Michigan 17

GoDaddy.com Bowl:
Middle Tennessee vs Miami(OH)
For a match up of two teams that nobody cares about outside of their respective cities. This could be a good game to watch for college football enthusiasts. Miami is going to be playing with a lot of momentum from their surprise win at the MAC championship. Meanwhile Middle Tennessee is trying to get one more win and finish with a winning record. Should be a good game and expect it to be a close one.
Prediction: Miami (OH) 24 – Middle Tennessee 21

Cotton Bowl:
LSU vs Texas A&M
In one of the more exciting bowl match ups, this game should be a lot of fun to watch. But don’t expect to see any surprises here as LSU should be able to find a way to win this game and put another notch in the belt for the SEC. Only question will be if Les Miles will have some Tiger Stadium grass available at this game.
Prediction: LSU 35 – Texas A&M 28

Compass Bowl:
Pittsburgh vs Kentucky
While everyone has Pitt as their favorite and expects them to win this game, Kentucky has been able to hang tough when least expected to. This could be a spring board into next season for the Wildcats and look for a very exciting game between these two teams.
Prediction: Kentucky 28 – Pitt 21

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:
Nevada vs Boston College
Expect Nevada to play with a lot of pride and be able to move the ball at will on Boston College. This is not going to be a pretty game for the Eagles, but it could be a very close game throughout if Boston College can contain the Pistol.
Prediction: Nevada 42 – Boston College 21

That is the last of the bowl previews for the lesser bowl games. Check back soon for the BCS Preview.