"Yes, March Madness" continues to be an understatement in the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament, as the upsets continue to pile up.
At the East Regional at Syracuse, the number-five seeded West Virginia Mountaineers knocked off another number-one seed, beating Kentucky, 73-66, to reach their first Final Four since the legendary Jerry West pulled it off back in 1959.
With the Kentucky loss, Duke remains the only number-one seeded team still standing.
Led by coach Bob Huggins, who returns to his alma mater after having brought Cincinnati to a Final Four appearance, West Virginia played a flawless game in beating the number-two overall seeded Wildcats.
In another upset, but then again, are they really upsets at this point, the number-five seeded Butler knocked off number-two seeded Kansas State in the West Regional Final, sending the Bulldogs to their first-ever Final Four appearance.
Butler had the lead for nearly the entire game, but a late, K-State run tied the game late, but the Bulldogs didn't fold, scoring the games' last eight points to become the first true, mid-major school to reach the Final Four since 2006's George Mason improbable run.
Gordon Hayward was a monster for the Bulldogs with 22 points, while Shelvin Mack added 16 points and six rebounds in the win.
In the Midwest regional, which was full of upsets (Number-one seeded Kansas, gone. Number-two seeded Ohio State, also gone. Number-three seeded Georgetown, also gone) number-five seeded Michigan State outlasted number-six seeded Tennessee, 70-69, to advance to the Final Four.
Michigan State's Raymar Morgan hit a free throw with less than two seconds left to clinch the win.
However, Michigan State is certainly no surprise, as coach Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to 13 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Elite Eight appearances, five Final Fours, two championship-game appearances and one national championship in 2000. I believe coach Izzo knows what he is doing.
In the South Regional, Duke remains the only number-one seed left standing after beating number-three seed Baylor to reach the Final Four.
Ironic that many brackets had Duke as the least-likely number-one seed to reach the Final Four (this sports editor included), but here they are once again, led by perhaps the best coach in college hoops today in Coach K.
The man can coach millionaire NBA players to Olympic gold, or the Duke-ies to yet another Final Four appearance.
Paul Pierce Power
In the NBA, I was recently watching the Celtics tangle with Tim Duncan and the Spurs, and after watching a particularly gutsy move to the paint by Paul Pierce, I was for some reason reminded how dangerously close the Celtics family came to losing their captain.
It was the night of September 25, 2000 when Pierce was nearly stabbed to death at the Boston dance establishment called Buzz Club, even with an entourage of friends around him that night. That is how quickly something bad can happen.
Pierce was stabbed 11 times in the face, neck and back and also had a beer bottle broken over his head.
Doctors said that one of the stab wounds was a sliver away from killing the all-star Celtics legend. (yes, Paul Pierce is already a legend!)
Thank God Pierce turned out to be okay and you know the rest of the story, eight all-star appearances, one NBA championship and one Finals MVP, however something else stood out to me while watching this game.
Pierce was young at the time of his brush with death, however he was also smart enough to learn from it and realized how lucky he was.
For since that "night in the club," I cannot recall one negative incident involving Pierce, unless you want to count that playoff meltdown he pulled against the Pacers in 2003. (we won't get into details) But at least that was something related to the court and a game situation.
No, I am talking about staying out of trouble with the law, being a good citizen, setting a good example for the kids and also working in the community and with his own charities.
I simply do not think Pierce gets enough credit for his talents on the court, or his many talents off the court. He is the true Celtics leader.
Red Sox Nation News
Spring Training is finally over and the Red Sox are ready to come north and start the season at Fenway Park... against the Yankees? Can't get more over the top than that can you?
I am not so sure I like the rivals facing each other in the first game of the season... you gotta give the two baseball power-houses a chance to get loosened up a bit before they beat the crap out of each other for another season don't you?
The concerns for the Red Sox heading into the season have been clearly noted by many.
How will Boston score enough runs and where is the home run production going to come from?
I don't necessarily think the Sox will have trouble scoring runs, it just might not be via the long ball.
The Sox have plenty of guys at the top of the order who can hit, get on base and score runs in Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Kevin Yukilis, David Ortiz and JD Drew, it will be a matter of the bottom half of the order being able to chip in enough.
Newcomers Adrian Beltre , Mike Cameron and even Jeremy Hermida should be able to each reach double-figures in home runs if they stay healthy, and scrappy Marco Scutaro is capable of raking some havoc at the bottom of the order and is a great shortstop.
Another interesting aspect of the 2010 edition of the Sox will potentially be their bench. It is beginning to look like Mike Lowell is going nowhere, and if he can stay healthy as a bench player, that is one heck of a right hander pinch hitter and defensive replacement late in games. Lowell can also be that right handed-hitting DH when Big Papi "needs a break."
Jason Varitek is also big. Granted he can't play full time anymore with Victor Martinez in town, but name a better back up catcher than V-tek? Heck, name any backup catcher for that matter!
Of course the strength of this team, and the aspect that will decide how far this team goes is the pitching staff and more specifically, the starting rotation.
If healthy, this is the best and deepest rotation in baseball with at least six legitimate starting pitchers.
The bullpen doesn't appear to be as deep this season, as compared to the previous two, but Papelbon remains the anchor and along with Okajima and Delcarmen, the young, flame-throwing Daniel Bard will be expected to step up his performance to the next level.
Especially if they are considering him as the future closer in case Papelbon flies the coop.