March 24, 2013

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 7 comments

My observations from attending the NCAA games in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
I watched Michigan State, Valparaiso, Michigan, South Dakota State, VCU, St. Mary's (California), Akron, and Memphis.

1) It seems I still have a thing for college cheerleaders. The Michigan State ones were the best (in terms of fitness, appropriate outfits, and generally positive attitudes). I also continually amazed at how damn strong their male counterparts are. I don't care if the female cheerleaders are only 100+ pounds, holding one over your head with your arm extended while she waves her arms and shifts her balance.

2) The best band was VCU, and it wasn't even close. They were the most energetic, entertaining, and engaging band, by far. Their band leader looked like he was having an absolute blast, and participated by having costume changes in the middle of the game. They also played the most contemporary music, and sounded good doing it.

3) Derrick Nix (#25 for Michigan State) looked like a lumbering giant on the court. He must have some hip/ankle/knee issues that he's playing through, because he could barely run more than 5 steps at a time. He does have a quick 2 step move, but otherwise it was a swaying slow trot down the court. The dude is HUGE, however, and no one could really contain him when he got the ball.

4) The Palace at Auburn Hills (home of the Pistons) is a wonderful facility...until there are people in it. For some bizarre reason, the upper bowl and the lower bowl both feed into the same concourse. With 18,000-21,000 people in the stadium, the concourse at halftime was insane. Due to lineups for the men's washroom (20-25 men long outside the door for most of the 20 minute half-time), lineups for the multitude of concession stands (side note: lots of great food choices, including healthy/vegetarian ones), and oddly located support posts, there were WAY too many bottlenecks that blocked traffic in one direction or the other. If the stadium is half-full (like I assume it is for Piston games these days), then it would be great.

5) The final day saw Michigan vs VCU, and Michigan State vs Memphis. By having both Michigan schools play during the same session, you can imagine how sought after the tickets were. We heard the guy a few rows away from us had bought his tickets "cheap" the day before. He paid $250/ticket, for the same seats we had (upper bowl). I paid about $50/ticket back in November. The place was packed, and the crowd was jumping for both games. If I had to choose, I'd say that UM was better represented than State, given the plethora of blue and maize (compared to green and white). However, the biggest cheer for anyone went to Tom Izzo, who definitely seems to have a mythological sheen to him now.

6) The Henry Ford Museum is awesome. And huge. And definitely something that requires more than one visit. We only saw the main building, and only 80% of that, and that was over 4.5 hours. With 3 other buildings, plus the village, plus the factory tour, I can understand why people get an annual pass.

7) Maybe it's the old man in me, but college players can't shoot the basketball at all any more. I think of the 6 games (12 teams) we saw, only 2 teams shot above 50% (barely), and at least 4 of the teams shot under 30%.

8) The biggest crowd reaction for a play was definitely this one. There were some nice dunks, alley-oops, passes, etc., but nothing got the crowd (even the people from Michigan State) to jump out of their seats like this one did. There was concern he accidentally killed a cheerleader.

posted by grum@work at 11:06 AM on March 24, 2013

Lewis Hamilton forgets which team for whom he races...

posted by grum@work at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2013

Only a matter of time before a killer trey or alley-oop dunk in the tournament elicits an on-air "Kapooya" (if it hasn't happened already).

posted by beaverboard at 01:12 PM on March 24, 2013

NCAA men's ice hockey brackets were announced tonight. There are some teams in there that aren't noted for being one of the near-annual participants, and some of the old standbys. Quinnipiac from Connecticut is the #1 overall seed and will play in the East at Providence, RI. I look for them to advance to the Frozen 4, but only after a tough match against BC. Union could pull an upset here, but Canisius is a long shot.

Denver and Wisconsin have to travel to Manchester, NH, for their matches against UMass Lowell and UNH in the Northeast Regional. I'm a bit surprised at UNH getting a bid after they looked a bit out of sorts against Providence in the Hockey East quarterfinals, but they have been pretty steady all year. The usually ill-informed ESPNU crew claimed that UNH would be playing in "their own back yard" (they are the host team), but UMass Lowell is closer to Manchester than is Durham, and the driving time is probably a bit shorter as well. I watched the Hockey East final, a 1-0 UML win over a BU squad that was playing well above their ranking, and I came away impressed. The UML goaltender, Hellenbuyck, tracks the puck very well, has excellent anticipation of where the shot is to come from, fills the net well, and has good mechanics. I do believe he'll carry UML to Pittsburgh, but Wisconsin could be a problem.

The Midwest Regional has Notre Dame as the seeded team, with the Miami Red Hawks looking to be their biggest challenge. Mankato, MN, and St. Cloud State fill the bracket. I must admit that I know little about these latter 2 teams, so I'm going with Notre Dame to advance.

In the West, Minnesota, the #2 overall seed faces challenges from Yale and North Dakota. Niagara is the 4th team in, and again I know little about them. This is probably the toughest of the 4 regions to call, but I'm going to pick North Dakota as the upset special. Yale played well in the ECAC, but seemed to struggle a bit late in the year.

The fun starts on Friday night (Good Friday, and I have to work the altar for the Solemn Eucharist), and I'll be watching as much as I can. College hockey has come an incredibly long way from the days when I was attending Northeastern, and this time of year has the best of the best facing off.

posted by Howard_T at 11:26 PM on March 24, 2013

Mankato, MN

Representing! People here are super excited (though it's Minnesota, what else would ya expect?). We even beat Minnesota this year, which doesn't exactly happen on a regular basis.

posted by jmd82 at 12:28 AM on March 25, 2013

So Sebastian Vettel showed, once again, he's a giant dick. Told to hold station he pressed and passed Mark Webber against team orders.

Post race stuff was a joy to watch, and it seems the team are genuinely pissed off with Seb not listening.

posted by Drood at 01:22 AM on March 25, 2013

Great stuff grum and Howard. I can highly recommend attending the Frozen Four if it's near you. Of course, it is near me and I'm still not going to make it, but that doesn't mean you should skip it.

posted by yerfatma at 01:29 PM on March 25, 2013

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