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1. Who will make which tournament?
Should strength of competition matter? What happens to a team who wins big against easy teams but falls against tougher ones? What about the other way around? Which teams will make the Big Dance, and which will have to settle for the NIT?
SportsNation thought Mississippit State was the most likely NIT-bound, and that Villanova would most likely make the NCAA tournament.
Alabama (19-9, 6-8 SEC; RPI: 45; SOS: 54)
Appalachian State (21-6, 15-3 SoCon; RPI: 57; SOS: 152)
Bradley (19-11, 10-8 MVC; RPI: 46; SOS: 26)
Clemson (19-9, 5-9 ACC; RPI: 43; SOS: 45)
Davidson (24-4, 17-1 SoCon; RPI: 63; SOS: 226)
DePaul (16-12, 8-7 Big East; RPI: 54; SOS: 19)
Drexel (21-7, 13-5 CAA; RPI: 42; SOS: 94)
Florida State (18-11, 6-9 ACC; RPI: 49; SOS: 15)
Georgia (16-10, 8-6 SEC; RPI: 53; SOS: 24)
Georgia Tech (18-10, 6-8 ACC; RPI: 52; SOS: 47)
Gonzaga (21-10, 11-3 WCC; RPI: 69; SOS: 89)
Hofstra (21-8, 14-4 CAA; RPI: 67; SOS: 161)
Illinois (21-9, 9-6 Big Ten; RPI: 31; SOS: 25)
Kansas State (20-10, 9-6 Big 12; RPI: 59; SOS: 90)
Massachusetts (21-7, 11-3 A-10; RPI: 58; SOS: 139)
Michigan (20-10, 8-7 Big Ten; RPI: 50; SOS: 52)
Mississippi State (16-11, 7-7 SEC; RPI: 65; SOS: 40)
Missouri State (20-9, 12-6 MVC; RPI: 36; SOS: 41)
Oklahoma State (19-9, 6-8 Big 12; RPI: 41; SOS: 29)
Old Dominion (23-7, 15-3 CAA; RPI: 34; SOS: 74)
Providence (17-10, 7-7 Big East; RPI: 71; SOS: 36)
Purdue (18-10, 7-7 Big Ten; RPI: 40; SOS: 31)
San Diego State (18-8, 9-5 MWC; RPI: 55; SOS: 70)
Texas Tech (18-11, 7-7 Big 12; RPI: 47; SOS: 13)
Villanova (18-9, 7-7 Big East; RPI: 21; SOS: 6)
VCU (24-6, 16-2 CAA; RPI: 60; SOS: 144)
West Virginia (19-8, 8-7 Big East; RPI: 56; SOS: 112)
Winthrop (22-4, 14-0 Big South; RPI: 68; SOS: 257)
Xavier (21-7, 11-3 A-10; RPI: 35; SOS: 82)
1. What do you expect from NFL free agency?
Need a linebacker? You're in luck, as several veteran names are more than available. A quarterback? A revitalized Jeff Garcia is waiting to answer your phone call. Shore up your offensive line? Again, you've got quality veterans ready and waiting to round out your squad.
SportsNation thought Adalius Thomas would be the prize catch for any team.
Who is the best defensive player available as an unrestricted free agent?
43% Adalius Thomas, LB
28% Nate Clements, CB
7% Donnie Edwards, LB
6% Cato June, LB
6% LaVar Arrington, LB
5% Patrick Kerney, DE
3% London Fletcher, LB
1% Ken Hamlin, S
1% Junior Seau, LB
Who is the best offensive player available as an unrestricted free agent?
21% Donte' Stallworth, WR
16% Eric Steinbach, OG
14% Jeff Garcia, QB
13% Dominic Rhodes, RB
11% Ahman Green, RB
9% Leonard Davis, OT
7% Kris Dielman, OG
6% Daniel Graham, TE
2% Jon Stinchcomb, OT
2% Shaun O'Hara, C
Is restricted free agent Matt Schaub worth first- and third-round picks as compensation to sign him?
What will happen to Schaub this offseason?
58% He'll remain in Atlanta
25% He'll be traded
17% He'll sign elsewhere as a restricted free agent
Is restricted free agent Michael Turner worth first- and third-round picks as compensation to sign him?
Which team would be the best fit for Jeff Garcia?
25% Tampa Bay Buccaneers
22% Chicago Bears
20% Minnesota Vikings
15% Oakland Raiders
13% Denver Broncos
Will Garcia enter the 2007 season as the No. 1 QB on a team's depth chart?
Can Dominic Rhodes handle a full-time starting job if he leaves Indianapolis?
Which player were you most surprised to see given the franchise tag?
44% Josh Brown, K, Seahawks
20% Cory Redding, DT, Lions
12% Asante Samuel, CB, Patriots
11% Justin Smith, DE, Bengals
5% Charles Grant, DE, Saints
4% Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
4% Lance Briggs, LB, Bears
Does the current system of free agency in the NFL make it too difficult for star players to move?
From KC Joyner's Thursday chat:
KC! Who is the first FA signing when the clock strikes midnight?
Oklahoma City, OK
I would be quite surprised if Clements isn't pulling out an ink pen at 12:01 AM. Either Clements or Thomas. If it's Thomas, I'd bet it would be with SF.
1. What was the biggest trade at the NHL trade deadline?
Oliers star Ryan Smyth was the biggest surprise, going to the Islanders for a draft pick and prospects. Bill Guerin went from the Blues to the Sharks for a draft pick, Ville Nieminen, and Jay Barriball. It's the typical story of midseason trades; some teams look to here and now while others look to the future.
SportsNation thought that Guerin will probably have the biggest impact in the playoffs.
Which trade-deadline deal surprised you the most?
58% Ryan Smyth traded to Islanders
14% Todd Bertuzzi traded to Red Wings
10% Martin Biron traded to Flyers
8% Bill Guerin traded to Sharks
5% Mattias Norstrom traded to Stars
5% Gary Roberts traded to Penguins
Which team was the big winner at the trade deadline?
25% San Jose Sharks
24% New York Islanders
16% Pittsburgh Penguins
12% Detroit Red Wings
11% Buffalo Sabres
3% Dallas Stars
Which player acquired will have the greatest impact in the playoffs?
34% Bill Guerin
27% Ryan Smyth
13% Todd Bertuzzi
13% Gary Roberts
9% Keith Tkachuk
5% Mattias Norstrom
Which team should have made a big move, but didn't?
41% Anaheim Ducks
22% New York Rangers
20% Montreal Canadiens
17% Toronto Maple Leafs
From Barry Melrose's Tuesday chat:
Today's trade deadline trades, which team came out on top?
Palo Alto, CA
I like what the Islanders did, getting Ryan Smyth. You got Zednik yesterday and Ryan today. I've got to think that the Islanders will get in the playoffs. People don't know what Smyth getting traded is like for Edmonton. It's like the Yankees trading Jeter.
Are the Sharks now Cup favorites in the West with the additions of Guerin and Rivet?
They helped themselves, but don't forget a couple of weeks ago, Nashville added Forsberg. Detroit added Bertuzzi. San Jose got better but the others did as well.
What do you think about the Biron/Conklin deals for Buffalo? Doesn't it seem like they traded a very good backup for an average (at best) one just to upgrade a 5th rounder to a 2nd? Weird.
I also think they moved Biron to get some cap room. Ty Conklin has played in the playoffs. They got a backup with some experience. I think they would have loved to keep Biron.
1. Should the Veterans Committee have elected somebody?
Potential front-runner Ron Santo fell five votes short of induction, receiving the highest vote total from the Players ballot with 57. Pitcher Jim Kaat was second with 52 votes. Umpire Doug Harvey fell nine votes short from the Composite ballot, receiving 52 votes. Other luminaries, such as Joe Torre, Minnie Minoso, and Maury Wills, also were denied induction.
SportsNation thought that the Veterans Committe was too strict in keeping out Santo and others.
Should Ron Santo be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Should Tony Oliva be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Should Jim Kaat be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Should Maury Wills be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Should Don Newcombe be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Should Gil Hodges be elected to the Hall of Fame?
What do you think of the Veterans Committee's voting standards?
69% Too strict
28% Just right
3% Too loose
Should the Veterans Committee have elected someone this year?
1. How will Asian players affect baseball?
Players from a hemisphere other than the Western one have made great strides towards greater acceptance in Major League Baseball. Following on the success of players like Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui, teams now covet players from Japanese and other Asian leagues, seeing them as highly talented and fundamentally sound.
SportsNation believes Asian players will become more and more commonplace in the majors. Read more about the impact Asian players are having on professional baseball in our Inside Asia series.
Will major league teams look to Asia as the next Latin America?
How comparable are the Japanese leagues to major league baseball?
74% Somewhere between minor and major league baseball
14% Just as good as major league baseball
12% Equivalent to minor leagues
What is the biggest hurdle Asian players face when coming to America?
31% Adjusting to a new culture
25% Increased talent level
22% Changed style of play
22% Language barrier
What will happen to Asian professional leagues if their best players begin to migrate to America?
74% They'll adjust and thrive
26% They'll collapse
Is the posting system for Japanese players fair?
Will a player from the Asian leagues besides Ichiro ever win an MVP award?
Will a pitcher from the Asian leagues ever win a Cy Young Award?
Will a player from the Asian leagues ever be elected to the Hall of Fame?
Will an MLB team ever hire an Asian manager?
Should players from Asian leagues be considered MLB rookies?
If you were going to start a team, which player would you choose to build around?
49% Ichiro Suzuki
24% Daisuke Matsuzaka
19% Chien-Ming Wang
4% Hideki Matsui
1% Hong-Chih Kuo
1% Tadahito Iguchi
1% Kenji Johjima
Would you like to see a true World Series?
From Kenji Johjima's Monday chat:
Was the transition from Japanese ball to the MLB any harder or easier than you expected?
I can't say what's hard or easy, because we all know that it's not easy. One thing that I want all the fans to know that the game of baseball is always the same, the rules are all the same. When the game starts, it's all the same, it's the game of baseball. As a catcher, you have to talk to the pitcher to know more about the pitcher and know what he likes to do. From that standpoint, I had to learn a lot of English. I felt that went well last year.
What is pre-season training camp like in Japan compaired to MLB?
First thing, I think it's similar. Practices start the same, but they end at 9 p.m. in Japan. We stay at the same hotel and have a lot of meetings back at the hotel. The practices are a lot longer. I like the major league style right now. I like how they do it over here.
Hey Mr. Johjima, Do you tend to call for different pitches here in America, than you did in Japan? For example, do you call for more fastballs here?
San Diego, CA
I had to make a few adjustments here. In the MLB, we make sure the pitchers pitch what they want to pitch. Back in Japan, a lot of catchers have the authority to call the games. That's kind of different. I had to make some adjustments there.
How much different did it feel to walk into the clubhouse at Spring Training this year compared to 2006 as a first-year player?
Compared to last year, I feel a lot more relaxed and comfortable. Last year I proved a little bit of myself. What makes the difference is that I can practice what I want to practice more this year. There is not much teasing or hazing that I had last year, because I'm not a rookie any more.
Kenji, how do you like Seattle, and does its large Japanese population make an easier place to transition to U.S. baseball? Good luck and see you Opening Day!
I think Seattle is one of the best cities for Japanese. We have a big community back in Seattle for Japanese. We have a lot of markets. There's nothing to complain about Seattle. The fans are great too. The reason I chose Seattle was to give my best on the field was because of my family support. We loved Seattle. There's nothing to complain about. Period.