March 30, Week in Sports
:: NCAA TOURNAMENT DOWN TO “FINAL FOUR” TEAMS (College Basketball)
:: TIGER WOODS WINS ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL (Golf)
:: UCONN ACCUSED OF RECRUITING VIOLATIONS (College Basketball)
FINALLY! FOUR TEAMS LEFT IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
The second weekend of the NCAA tournament has come to a close, and the field of 64 teams has been narrowed down to just four, known as the “Final Four”–UConn, Villanova, Michigan State, and North Carolina.
Two of the four teams–North Carolina and UConn–are one seeds in the tournament. Meanwhile, Pitt and Louisville, the two other one seeds, were eliminated by Villanova and Michigan State, respectively. In a year that has only seen a handful of truly great tournament games, perhaps the best of them all took place on Saturday night, when Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds muscled up a last second shot to knock off the Panthers. However, there were practically no memorable upsets from this year’s tournament–which is a shame, since other than office pools, one of the nation’s favorite parts of the tournament is rooting for the underdogs.
Within a week, two of these Final Four teams will be sent home. On Saturday, Michigan State plays UConn and North Carolina plays Villanova. The two teams that survive Saturday’s games will play for the national championship on Monday.
Quote of the Week: “It’s going to go down as one of the great games in NCAA tournament history, that’s for sure” — Seth Davis, CBS analyst, on the Pitt-Villanova game
Further Reading: “Pecking order hard to decipher in this year’s Final Four ” — Mike Lopresti, USA Today
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Tiger Woods, who recently returned from recovery from knee surgery, won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon. Once again, Woods drained an improbable putt on the green of the 72nd and final hole of the tournament to seal the victory.
Woods started the day five shots back, and by stealing the win he matched his career-best comeback, which came on the PGA tour in 2000. Today’s stunning finish came at the expense of Sean O’Hair, who was tied with Woods going into the final hole of the tournament. O’Hair went into Sunday’s round with a big lead, but like so many others before him, he was unable to prevent the onslaught of Woods, who is almost undoubtedly the most dominant athlete of his generation.
There were certainly analysts out there who doubted whether Woods had fully recovered from his surgery, but Woods put those fears to rest today. Next comes the big test for Tiger: is he sharp enough to win the Masters, the first Major Championship of the year, which starts in two weeks? One thing is for sure, all eyes will be on Tiger, and everyone will be expecting nothing less than the miraculous.
Quote of the Week: ”The guy is the greatest pressure putter who has ever played the game.” — Johnny Miller on Tiger Woods
Further Reading: “Tiger returns to winning at Bay Hill ” — Associated Press, via Golf.com
SORRY, UCONN’T DO THAT…
According to a report released last week by Yahoo! Sports, the University of Connecticut–known as UConn–was guilty of major recruiting violations in the acquisition of former player Nate Miles. Getting busted for “recruiting violations” is a nightmare for any collegiate team, in that it often results in suspensions for coaches, limited recruiting allowances for years to come, and scholarship restrictions at the very least.
This comes at the worst possible time for UConn, who just reached the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. The goal of every college basketball team is to get to this point in the tournament, and for that moment to be tarnished by reports of recruiting violations is unfortunate for the Huskies. According to the report, Nate Miles came to UConn after being recruited by Josh Nochimson, a professional sports agent and former UConn student manager. Furthermore, Nochimson reportedly paid for food, lodging, and transportation for Miles during the recruitment process, and members of the UConn coaching staff knew what Nochimson was doing. After the initial Yahoo! report surfaced, other sources dug up even more damaging information. ESPN, for instance, discovered that Nochimson had committed similar infractions in the recruitment of at least one other player, and the Tampa Tribune claimed that Nochimson even paid for a knee surgery for Miles in 2007.
The reports so far have been extremely detailed, well-documented, and thorough, which means that an NCAA investigation is very likely. The kicker, for UConn, is that Nate Miles was expelled from the team for violating a restraining order before he even had a chance to play for the team.
Quote of the Week: ”I’ve heard the expression that clear skies don’t fear thunder. I feel very good after talking to my athletic director and talking to the people working on the situation right now. But could it be hurtful? Yeah, it could be hurtful.” — Jim Calhoun, UConn coach
Further Reading: “Probe: UConn violated NCAA rules ” — Adrian Wojnarowski and Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE BASKETBALL: The NCAA Tournament has been narrowed down to four teams–the Final Four. The next round of the tournament will be played on Saturday when Michigan State plays UConn, and the University of North Carolina plays Villanova.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): “The Tournament” is currently underway. Four teams, known as the “Final Four” are currently left in the tournament. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): Now that the Super Bowl is over, the next major NFL event is the draft, which takes place in late April. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now over, with Florida defeating Oklahoma in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. The Masters is scheduled for the first week of April. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season is currently underway and runs through April of 2009. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The next event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]