March 23, Week in Sports
:: ‘MARCH MADNESS’ NCAA TOURNAMENT REACHES SWEET SIXTEEN (College Basketball)
:: JAY CUTLER SAGA CONTINUES IN DENVER (Pro. Football)
:: JAPAN KNOCKS OUT U.S. IN WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC (Pro. Baseball)
OH MY SWEET SIXTEEN
Over the weekend, the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship were played. This tournament, known as “March Madness,” is one of the most popular and exciting sporting events of the year. The field has been narrowed from 64 teams to just 16, known as the “Sweet Sixteen.”
So far, there have not been any truly shocking upsets so far in the tournament, but there were certainly a handful of surprises and several thrilling finishes in the opening weekend. No. 13 Cleveland St. knocked off Wake Forest in the biggest upset of the first round of the tournament, which was fun while it lasted, but they then lost to Arizona in the second round. Arizona, a 12 seed, is the lowest ranked team still in the tournament. The next lowest ranked is Purdue, a 5 seed. Arizona has not reached “Cinderella” status yet, but a victory over No. 1-ranked Louisville on Friday would make them the underdog story of the tournament.
None of the four top-ranked teams in the country–-North Carolina, Louisville, Pitt and UConn–-have been knocked out of the tournament so far. That being said, there have already been a couple of scares, and the level of competition is increasing with every round, so look for a big upset sometime next weekend.
Quote of the Week: “Pittsburgh beat Oklahoma State and Louisville beat Siena, meaning all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive season. The last time a No. 1 seed didn’t advance to the Sweet 16 was 2004, when both Kentucky and Stanford lost in the second round (to UAB and Alabama).” — Gary Parrish, CBS Sports
Further Reading: “Sports Illustrated Bracket “
In the past week, the Jay Cutler situation has gone from bad to worse in Denver. Cutler is the starting quarterback for the Broncos, and after feeling slighted by new coach Josh McDaniels, he is demanding to be traded.
Cutler is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, though by no means does he have the kind of star power of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Tony Romo. However, Cutler also has a reputation for being a prima donna and a real whiner. Given his behavior in this current debacle, Cutler will never live that reputation down. It all started when McDaniels, the newly introduced 32-year old coach of the Broncos, reportedly tried to trade for Matt Cassel–the second quarterback for the New England Patriots, where McDaniels used to coach. When Cutler caught wind of the fact that McDaniels was pursuing another quarterback, he started to publicly bellyache about it. McDaniels and Cutler had a meeting, which was supposed to smooth things over but actually made things worse, and now Cutler is demanding to be traded.
In reality, whether or not Cutler gets traded will ultimately be the decision of the Broncos organization. However, Cutler has become such a distraction for the team that if he doesn’t make any effort at reconciling with his coach, they will have little choice but to trade him. A young quarterback with Cutler’s proven talent doesn’t appear on the market very often in the NFL, so if he does get traded, he will go for a high price.
Quote of the Week: ”I understand Jay’s feelings got hurt, but it’s too bad it has got to where it is. I wish Jay would have got some better advice from whoever he was getting advice from.” — John Elway, former Broncos QB
Further Reading: “Don’t Destroy Franchise ” — Woody Paige, Denver Post
THE LAND OF THE RISING FASTBALL
On Sunday night, Japan knocked the U.S. out of the World Baseball Classic, the biggest international tournament for baseball. Japan will face Korea in the finals on Monday.
Though Major League Baseball is considered the highest level of baseball in the world, the U.S. team was not favored in their game against Japan. While many American players shy away from competing in the WBC out of fear that they will get injured before the start of the MLB season, Japanese players take a great deal of pride in playing well during the tournament. The game between Japan and the U.S. was surprising close, but Japan pulled away in the final innings to seal a 9-4 victory.
The Monday night game should be extremely competitive. Japan, one of the best baseball countries in the world, is defending their WBC championship from 2006. However, the Korean team, which won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is one of the best teams when it comes to international play.
Quote of the Week: “Japan’s 9-4 victory in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic against Team USA won’t be seen as a shifting of the international baseball world toward Asia.That shift already took place some time ago.” — Devin Clancy, USA Today
Further Reading: “Japan Has a Date with Korea in Final” — Rhett Bolinger, MLB.com
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE BASKETBALL: The NCAA tournament continues this Thursday, as the Sweet Sixteen attempt to fight their way to the Elite Eight. The action will continue all weekend, and the schedule will be updated regularly on the CBS Sports website .
:: BASKETBALLNBA (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. Sixteen teams, known as the “Sweet Sixteen” 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]