Monday, March 9, 2009
This and That
By Dick Vitale
• This weekend, the field of 65 will be set and March Madness will get underway. It is the greatest three weeks in all of sports. Bubbles will be burst, Cinderellas will emerge, and the fun begins. My friends, people who have not watched college basketball all season long suddenly embrace the sport. There are brackets everywhere as America talks about the tournament non-stop. It is excitement galore, and only a handful of teams are truly capable of winning six games in a row to cut down the nets at Ford Field.
• It did not take Terrell Owens long to land with another NFL team. The Buffalo Bills rolled the dice and decided they needed a spark in their offense. I think it is a great acquisition as he still has the ability to score. Just days after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo moved in and got T.O. It is an interesting move since Buffalo's offense was in the lower third of the NFL last season. Two people happy with the addition are quarterback Trent Edwards and wide receiver Lee Evans. Buffalo now has another major weapon on offense. It will give the Bills a shot in the arm. The question is, will T.O. be a distraction if he doesn't get the football thrown his way enough?
• Alex Rodriguez has decided to have arthroscopic surgery on his hip and that will likely sideline him for six weeks. That is a lot better than the four months that were rumored earlier. His absence will be a big blow offensively, but the news is better than originally thought.
• How good is the Big East conference? People questioned me earlier in the season when I said the conference was the best I've seen in my 30 years calling games on ESPN/ABC. Now consider the fact that three schools (Pittsburgh, Louisville and Connecticut) have legit claims that they should be #1 seeds and you understand my point. Odds are not all three will get #1 seeds, but if the Cardinals win the Big East tourney (to go with the regular-season crown), how do you keep them from a top seed in the big dance? Connecticut was number one in the national polls for several weeks this season, but is only the third seed in the conference tournament; that says a lot about how tough the Big East is!
• Things are going well for Memphis coach John Calipari. The Tigers have enjoyed incredible success and it passed Joe DiMaggio status (you know, 56-game hit streak). His team has won 58 straight Conference USA games (regular-season and postseason), and now the Tigers have landed a future star, receiving a verbal commitment from 6-9 DeMarcus Cousins of Mobile, Alabama. Cousins is listed as the number four prospect on the ESPNU top 100. Memphis takes everyone's best shot in league play, yet it keeps on rolling on.
• Kansas won its fifth straight Big 12 regular-season title. Bill Self has done an amazing job, especially when you consider he lost six vital players from last season's championship team. He had a young nucleus blend together and perform well enough to win a league with lots of talent. Beating out Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M and company is quite an accomplishment too. It is an amazing story.
• Out West, people have talked a lot about the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Think about the job Jerry Sloan has done in Utah. The Jazz franchise is as hot as anyone, winning 11 straight games. Carlos Boozer has missed time due to injury, yet this club can be dangerous as an unsung team come playoff time. Deron Williams has developed into one of the best young guards in the NBA.