I understand the need to get a**es in the seats for the women’s NCAA Tournament, but the notion that forcing higher-seeded teams to play true road games in the tournament should be seen as some sort of reward for a great season is ludicrous.
Last night, #1 seed Duke was blown out by #9 seed Michigan State in the second round — a game played at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Spartans ended the game on a 16-2 run. Think the home court might have had anything to do with it? The crowd was even extra riled up to boo Duke’s current coach, Joanne P. McCallie, who spent seven years as MSU’s coach before bolting for Durham in 2007. Think this was “coincidental” from the tournament committee? Shouldn’t Duke be completely livid about this? For now, the DETROIT FREE PRESS is there to rub it in McCallie’s face.
Meanwhile, other top seeds Connecticut (as if they need any more help) and Maryland got to play their first two games at home, and both cruised to easy wins. The last #1, Oklahoma, was sent to Iowa City but avoided a matchup with the Hawkeyes, who lost in the first round. In another upset, seventh-seeded Rutgers obliterated second-seeded Auburn by 28 points on the Scarlet Knights’ home floor in Piscataway.
We could debate the relative merits of women’s basketball for days here, but one of the reasons that the men’s tournament works so well is that there’s some semblance of neutrality. Sure, UNC gets to play in their home state all the time and Villanova somehow was able to play in Philly. But you would never see, say #9 Siena getting to play #1 Louisville on their home floor in Albany (and wouldn’t that home-court advantage have been enough to lift the Saints to the upset win?).
(Her team might’ve had a prayer in Albany)
Would a Duke-Michigan State women’s game have drawn even 2,000 fans if it were played in Boise or Lubbock? No, and I guess that’s the point. The competitive balance isn’t as important to the NCAA in this tournament as selling tickets, which is just an admission that it’s not something that people really want to watch outside of the markets that are directly involved. But why not just give all of the top two or three seeds home court advantage in the first two rounds? There are ways to do this that don’t involve screwing over teams that work hard all year to earn a high seed only to have to play for their tournament life on the road.
On to the NBA, is there a sadder franchise than the Detroit Pistons right now? I know everyone is injured now, but a team that once looked destined for a dynasty is now reduced to running Kwame Brown and Walter Herrmann out there for key minutes. And that whole Iverson thing has really worked out well. He’s not playing, and now his bank account is about to be $260,000 lighter. They lost again last night, this time to Chicago, and now are tied in the loss column with the Bulls in the playoff race. Which means that there’s a very real possibility they’ll be playing the Cavs in the first round, and it was just two years ago that Cleveland stunned Detroit in the East finals. Now, it would be a shock to not be a Cavs sweep.
(”Can someone please eject me so I don’t have to watch this anymore?”)
• Minor-league outfielder Jose Tabata has some problems. His wife allegedly kidnapped a two-month-old baby on Monday, then was arrested when she turned the infant in yesterday. Oh, and by the way, Jose is 23 years younger than his wife (she’s 43 and he’s 20). And that’s not the worst part — he was traded from the Yankees to the Pirates last year. I think the one of the few things worse than being married to a cougar who kidnaps infants is having to deal with that while playing for the Pirates.
• the WAYNE FONTES EXPERIENCE touches on the passing of George Kell, who was as well known for his days as a play-by-play man for the Tigers as he was for his 14-year Hall-of-Fame playing career. Kell was a 10-time All-Star who hit .300 nine times.
• Wait, so was Ric Flair really injured by Chris Jericho in Monday night’s RAW telecast, or was that just a fake gash, like Massive Head Wound Harry? Or was it supposed to be a fake injury but turned into a real one? Somehow, Flair ended up with 12 staples in his head, according to PWTORCH.
• WTA CEO Larry Scott is leaving his post to become the new commissioner of the Pac-10, according to the L.A. TIMES.
• WPXI says some members of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered pizza to construction workers who are building the team’s new arena.
• Making a 75-footer to win a Collegeinsider.com Tournament game is kinda like winning Powerball when it’s only $500,000. And since it’s the CIT, you get to watch Bradley’s win over Oakland from the classic local news baseline camera angle:
• The NFL has adopted some new rules that will make it illegal to ever tackle Tom Brady again. Specifically, there’s a rule that penalizes defenders for lunging at a quarterback’s legs, as Bernard Pollard did last year.
• It looks like Ty Lawson is going to play in Friday night’s Sweet 16 game against Gonzaga. Bobby Frasor has done a nice job filling in, but UNC is up against a talented and confident Zags team that can play with anybody. The Lawson-Jeremy Pargo point guard matchup could be a classic.
• George Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens and a controlling stake in NASCAR’s Richard Petty Motorsports, is thinking of selling the hockey team because it’s just too mind-boggling that someone could possibly be involved in both of those things. FULL THROTTLE says Gillett is looking to cut his losses.
• Pele thinks Robinho is on drugs. And no, Pele is not the guy who invented the Smurfs, he’s the soccer player. Robinho is not taking kindly to any of this and is considering a lawsuit against the legend, according to THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT.