Crazy Hoops; Pens Have Heart; GM’s Heated Chat

• What a crazy night in college hoops - Northwestern stuns Michigan State, Virginia Tech vanquishes #1 Wake Forest, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology puts an end to its 51-game losing streak.

Kevin Coble Northwestern Michigan State

(Kevin Coble & the ‘Cats had the Spartans hopping mad)

• Meanwhile, a Dallas high school cancels its girls basketball season after getting slammed in a game 100-0.

• An 8-year-old hockey player suffering from cystic fibrosis signs an official contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

• St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak does not suffer online fools gladly.

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NJIT Finally Wins, Ends 51-Game Losing Streak

There were a lot of Barack Obama detractors out there over the last year who were telling you that his campaign slogans of Hope and Change were nothing but buzz words to distract people from thinking about the real issues. And while they were totally right, what they didn’t take into account was the fact that by making people believe these things were possible actually makes them possible. I mean, just look around the world of sports right now. We’re not even 48 hours into Obama’s Presidency and already hope and change are evident everywhere, or at least in the world of college basketball.

Just look at the Speed Read this morning. Virginia Tech toppled #1 Wake Forest, Northwestern — freaking NORTHWESTERN — went into East Lansing and ended Michigan State’s 28-game home winning streak, and Clemson finally, well, okay, Clemson must have been McCain supporters. Still, as remarkable as all of those stories are, none of them can hold a candle to what happened in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday night.

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Speed Read: Bills Recycling Ways To Lose Games

Uh-oh. Buffalo doesn’t have much going for it, so reminding every Bills fan of the one time they were a foot and a half from winning the Super Bowl isn’t really a great idea. Ryan Lindell joined Scott Norwood in the “wide right” hall of fame as the Bills lost to the Browns 29-27 on Monday night. It’s not an earth-shattering loss. I don’t think Vincent Gallo’s going to make a movie about shooting Lindell or anything. But it does drop the Bills to 5-5, which is now last place in the AFC East. Remember when they were going to run away with this division? Making all this more painful is the fact that Browns kicker Phil Dawson nailed a 56-yarder a minute earlier to take the lead.

Ryan Lindell wide right

(It was all downhill from here)

Still, it’s tough to pin this all on Lindell. People miss 47-yard field goals all the time, and Lindell isn’t the one who threw three picks in the first quarter (that would be the suddenly terrible Trent Edwards). And while the Browns did win tonight with Brady Quinn at the helm, I’m not ready to call him a difference maker. His completion percentage tonight was lower than Manny Ramirez‘ batting average with the Dodgers.

Get ready, Buffalo, because the Sabres are probably losing their next game on a goal with like four people standing in the crease.

Brett Hull goal

College basketball always just comes out of nowhere, doesn’t it? ESPN is in the midst of a season-opening marathon of games. As you read this, Penn is preparing to play Drexel (tipoff at 10 a.m. Eastern). Earlier this morning, Saint Mary’s beat Fresno State 99-85 in a game that started at 11 p.m. on the west coast (2:00 in the east), followed by Hawaii’s 67-64 overtime win over Idaho State that tipped off at just after 4:00 a.m. in the east (11:00 Hawaii time). I don’t know if I’m supposed be proud of the fact that I watched both games in their entirety. ESPN is continuing to show games live all day today, culminating in Kentucky-North Carolina. I figure that since UK can’t beat VMI, they’ll be lucky to stay within 40 of the Heels.

The best game of the day should be Davidson’s matchup with Oklahoma. Each team has a pre-season first-team All-American (Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin, respectively).

Don’t tell Donovan McNabb (he’s already too confused), but they don’t have ties in college football anymore. That means that somebody has to win this weekend’s Apple Cup debacle between Washington and Washington State, who are a combined 0-20 against FBS teams this year. And the line is set: Washington by 8 1/2, according to the SEATTLE TIMES. Yes, a winless team with a lame duck coach is an 8 1/2-point road favorite in a conference game. The Cougars have been outscored 440-61 in eight Pac-10 losses (that’s an average loss of 55-7).

Rotten Apple Cup

It’s the harvest season, so think of today’s links as being delivered to you in a cornucopia:

• Utah has a lot on the line in Saturday’s game against BYU. Win, and they’re in the BCS. Lose, and they’re probably going to the Poinsettia Bowl. The SALT LAKE TRIBUNE examines the situation, and the financial windfall that would come from the BCS bid, not just for Utah but for the entire Mountain West. In all honesty, it would be better for BYU as a university to lose the game.

• Things aren’t so rosy up the road at Utah State. They’ve fired their coach, Brent Guy, effective at the end of the season (what ever happened to just cutting a guy loose and going interim?) THE SPORTS NETWORK has the details.

• Oh yeah, baby. Cricket cheerleaders! But it’s India, so they can’t wear skimpy outfits. And it looks like there’s some dudes too. LION IN OIL shares our disappointment.

Indian cricket cheerleaders

• BUFFZONE says five Colorado players had stuff stolen from their lockers during Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State.  The game was in Boulder. Way to rob the wrong team, there, thief guys.

•  NJIT (that’s the New Jersey Institute of Technology) lost its 35th consecutive game last night, a Division I record. The Highlanders (because nothing says rugged terrain like Newark) might not technically go in the record books, though, since they are a “transition” member of Division I. The AP has the game story.

• Citigroup is laying off 53,000 workers, but BIZ OF BASEBALL says the Mets informed him that they will still be getting $20 million a year from the company for naming rights to the new Mets’ stadium.

• We have a double-feature from  TAMPA BAY’S 10. First we have the story of a lady who’s being told that she can’t say “Ref you suck” at Buccaneers games anymore because it violates some code of conduct bullcrap. Because there’s nobody in NFL stadiums saying worse things than that. Here’s a picture of the woman:

Bucs fan

Yeah, she’s a real threat to society.

In other Tampa Bay news, a 21-year-old woman decided it would be a good idea to stab five people at a high school football game.

•  HOME RUN DERBY points out that, by his own criteria, Albert Pujols should not be accepting the NL MVP award. Seems Al said in 2006 that players who don’t take their team to the playoffs shouldn’t win the award.

•  The Yankees sold Darrell Rasner to a team in Japan for $1 million, writes the NY DAILY NEWS. At that price, Hank just needs to sell 27 more guys to make up for Kei Igawa.

• The SAN JOSE MERCURY-NEWS’ Andrew Baggarly wildly claims that the Giants are almost assuredly going to win the World Series next year because they’ve signed Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year deal at $4 million per. If you’re scoring at home, that’s approximately 10 times more than Tim Lincecum made this year. And Baggarly actually doesn’t think the Giants are going to be any good.

• The “Heidi” game was 40 years ago yesterday. If you don’t know how it all went down, here’s some video. Particularly brutal is the scene where a girl is shown falling out of a wheelchair and attempting to walk while the final score of the game scrolls at the bottom:

Who’s winning the NCAA basketball championship this season?

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Blog Jam: Pistons Try To Drive Carmelo to Detroit

Dan Cash of WKZO-AM bounces along news from The DETROIT FREE PRESS that two Pistons aren’t enough to drive a Car-melo to Detroit.

Carmelo Anthony LaLa Vasquez

• JALOPNIK has video of the fatal funny car crash that killed Scott Kalitta.

• STORMING THE FLOOR chats with Jim Engles, the new guy in Newark hoping to raise the NJIT Highlanders up from the depths of a previous winless season.

• As Marko Jaric gets ready to consummate with Adriana Lima, RUMORS AND RANTS is charmed to present their list of the luckiest guys in sports history.

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Vandy’s A Dandy In Knocking Off Top-Ranked Vols

After 99 years of hooping it up, Tennessee were finally named #1 in men’s basketball. 48 hours later, the Volunteers’ name is mud.

Vanderbilt Tennessee Bruce Pearl

Vanderbilt toppled top-ranked Tennessee 72-69 in a Tuesday night thriller. After squeaking out a win over previous top dog Memphis, the Vols were done in by shooting only 33% from the field.

And neutralizing #1 in Nashville was nothing new to the Commodores. Read more…

NJIT’s Winless Season Had Coach’s Cancer Scare

In case you missed it, the New Jersey Institute of Technology was able to accomplish what the New England Patriots couldn’t, and finish their season with a perfect record.

NJIT Highlanders winless season

Yep, the Highlanders didn’t get a single win.

NJIT lost to Utah Valley State 76-50 on Saturday, completing their 2007-08 campaign with an 0-29 record. And like Clemson’s last visit to Chapel Hill, the Jersey boys’ visit out west made NCAA history, as the Highlanders set a new mark for most losses in a season.

Pity poor coach Jim Casciano, who already had enough to deal with this year. Read more…