Edition 3.31.14

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the best college basketball team of them all? After a wild weekend of hoops, we’re down to the Final Four! But that’s not the only thing to get excited about in sports — baseball is back! Check out this video on everything you need to know to get into the game:

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

College Basketball

The NCAA Tournament has taken us on quite the wild ride, and look how far we’ve come: The Final Four is set, and your regional champions are: Florida (#1 seed in the South), Kentucky (#8 seed in the Midwest), Connecticut (#7 seed in the East) and Wisconsin (#2 seed in the West). Each team has had an impressive run to the tournament and shows no signs of backing down. The Final Four kicks off next weekend in Texas, where Florida will face Connecticut and Wisconsin will face Kentucky. The winners will advance to the NCAA Championship game to be played on Monday night (April 7th).

So, how did we get there? The eventful Sweet Sixteen featured crazy finishes between rivals Louisville and Kentucky and Michigan State and Virginia. From there, all four of the games in the Elite Eight were great match-ups. In the South, Florida showed us why they are the #1 team in the country with a strong win over the Dayton, the last Cinderella squad. Out West, Wisconsin played to their strengths and defeated Arizona in a game that went down to the wire and featured a few questionable calls. In the East, Shabazz Napier put UConn on his back and took down the veteran Michigan State team. Finally, the last game in the Elite Eight in the East between Kentucky and Michigan featured a game-winner by freshman Aaron Harrison.

In Women’s hoops, the tournament is down to the Elite Eight. It’s been a fairly steady tournament so far, but there have been a few upsets including #4 seed Maryland over #1 seed Tennessee in the Louisville region. The Elite Eight will kick off Monday and Tuesday night where #1 seed Connecticut will face #3 seed Texas A&M in the Lincoln region, #4 seed Maryland will take on #3 Louisville in the Louisville region, #4 seed UNC will face #2 seed Stanford in the Stanford region and #2 seed Baylor will face #1 seed Notre Dame in the Notre Dame region.

Stay tuned for our in-depth Final Four Tournament Primer coming your way on Thursday!

NBA

If Kevin Durant can add 2 more games to his streak of 38 games with 25 points, he will tie Michael Jordan, who currently holds the record for the most in the last 50 years. And, if he gets 1 more after that, he can break Jordan’s record! What’s even better than that? The Oklahoma City Thunder are winning and are currently in possession of the #2 spot in the West. After a few shaky weeks, the Thunder are 8-2 in their last 10 games, in large part due to the great play of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Speaking of impressive streaks, let’s talk about the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve won 17 straight games, have the #1 spot in the West and are looking more and more like last year’s dominant team that made it to the NBA Finals. On the Eastern side, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat are neck and neck in the race for the #1 spot in the conference. The Pacers have lost their last two games and will need to step it up if they want to hold on to the top spot and home court advantage that is so coveted in the playoffs.

Finally, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw one team break a losing streak this week — The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night to break their 26 consecutive game losing streak. Despite the big win, the Sixers are still bound for the NBA Draft Lottery, where they will have the chance to get a top prospect. What top prospect will they go for? It’s too early to tell, but it’s unlikely to be Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis, who declared for the draft this past week. Not to say that Ennis isn’t talented — the kid will likely be a top 10 pick, but the Sixers already have a great young point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. Anyways, congrats on the win, Philly!

What’s on deck this week? A huge game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers on Monday night in Indiana! And, another great game for San Antonio, when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on Thursday.

Other

In a big ruling for college athletes, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled for Northwestern and said that their college athletes have the right to unionize. What does this mean? This is potentially a game-changer for college football, amateurism rules, and status, and could lead to big changes in the future. Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter has been one of the key players leading the charge to allow college athletes to form unions in a fight for their rights. What’s next? Colter and Ramogi Huma, president of the College Athletes Players Association, will be in Washington D.C. this week to hold informational briefings with legislators on Capital Hill to promote their cause. 

Baseball season is here, but the talk of the town is understandably all about contracts. Miguel Cabrera signed an 8-year contract extension worth $292 million with the Detroit Tigers while Mike Trout signed a 6-year contract extension worth $144.5 million with the Los Angeles Angels.

It may be the off-season, but it was quite the news-worthy weekend in professional football. The Philadelphia Eagles cut pro-ball wide receiver DeSean Jackson in a move that surprised quite a few. The Eagles claimed their decision was based on Jackson’s character, which Jackson quickly denied. Time will tell where he will play next season, but teams are without a doubt interested in his talents.

Lastly, in all things professional tennis, Novak Djokavic defeated Rafael Nadal in the Men’s Sony Open down in Miami while Serena Williams defeated Li Na for the women’s title.

 

JUST FOR FUN

Are you an ex-athlete?
Things that ex-athletes learn when they enter the real world

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Playing for more than just themselves
Louisville’s Shimel sisters are playing for the Native American community
They were raised on a reservation, and their biggest fans are the Native Americans that drive hundreds of miles to watch them play basketball

Where is the Love?
Kevin Love has a big decision to make
Where will the NBA player be playing in the future?

Let’s find some real champions
Playoff expansion is coming to the NFL
Peter King suggests leveling the playing field by expanding the playoffs by one or two teams to give it a March Madness feel

Ch-ch-ch-changes…
Pros and cons of players entering the NBA draft
Did Tyler Ennis make the right choice in going pro?

120 Hours
2014 Philippine Basketball Marathon finally ends
After five straight days the stunt was completed — they beat the previous world record by eight hours

Playing by the book
The NFL is making some interesting changes
The NFL owners meeting featured some decisions that will lead to new rules for next season

Edition 3.24.14

The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament…talk about amazing! There was joy, and there was heartbreak. There were disappointments, and there were heroics. Most of all, there was MADNESS. But, that’s not all that happened this weekend — The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant also hit a sweet game winner on Saturday night!

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

College Basketball

Wow, the NCAA Tournament certainly started with a bang. There were quite a few noteworthy upsets this weekend. In the opening weekend of the tournament, we saw Duke lose a heartbreaking game to Mercer in the second round, Kansas fell to Stanford in the third round, Dayton upset both Ohio State and Syracuse to reach the Sweet 16, Baylor defeated Doug McDermott and Creighton in the third round, and Shabazz Napier willed Connecticut to the Sweet 16 with a big win over Villanova. And, in one of the best games of the tournament so far, Kentucky upset undefeated Wichita State in an incredibly well-played game by both teams.

Not every team was upset, though. Number 1 seeds Florida, Arizona, and Virginia all took care of business and led their teams to the second weekend. Michigan State, Wisconsin, UCLA, Kentucky, Baylor and San Diego State all looked strong while Louisville and Iowa State overcame tough games to propel themselves forward to the next rounds. Dayton and Stanford were the biggest surprises of the weekend, and are your new Cinderellas.

And now we’ve reached the Sweet 16. Your college basketball sweethearts getting ready for their next dance include:

  • East: Virginia (1) v. Michigan State (4) and Iowa State (3) v. Connecticut (7)
  • West: Arizona (1) v. San Diego State (4) and Wisconsin (2) v. Baylor (6)
  • Midwest: Kentucky (8) v. Louisville (4) and Tennessee (11) v. Michigan (2)
  • South: Florida (1) v. UCLA (4) and Dayton (11) v. Stanford (10)

These teams will play their games on Thursday and Friday, before the Elite Eight begins on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s your updated bracket.

After the madness, what comes next? In some cases the NBA. That’s right, ’tis the season to guess whether some of college hoops’ most talented players will head to the league or return to school. As of right now, freshman Noah Vonleh of Indiana is one of the only freshmen to announce that he’s headed to the NBA Draft. Stay tuned for announcements from Kansas’s Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Kentucky’s Julius Randle. These guys have some time to announce their plans, but until then the speculation will continue.

The women’s hoops tournament kicked off this weekend as well. Connecticut Huskies’ Coach Geno Auriemma celebrated his 60th birthday with a 43 point victory over the Prairie View A&M. The next rounds of the tournament continue Monday and Tuesday.

Stay tuned for our in-depth Sweet 16 & Elite Eight Primer NCAA Tournament Primer coming your way on Wednesday!

NBA

In a scary moment during Saturday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook appeared to re-injure his knee again after colliding with Raptors’ star Kyle Lowry. Fortunately for the Thunder, Westbrook’s MRI showed no new damage and he will be just fine. Westbrook wasn’t the only big story from that game, as Kevin Durant put on a show for the Thunder with a 51 point, 12 rebound and 7 assist performance that also included a game winner in double over-time.

Are the New York Knicks feeling the zen already? Maybe or maybe not. Before Phil Jackson joined the team as President of Basketball Operations, the Knicks had started a nice little winning streak. That streak ended at 8 wins on Sunday night when the Knicks lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were playing without their all-star point guard, Kyrie Irving. The Knicks not only lost the game, they also cost themselves a chance to get slightly closer to that final 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant has started his own businessKobe Inc. The company will develop Bryant’s own products as well as invest in others. While he’s still working on coming back from a knee injury, he will also be focused on growing his business. His first investment — announced last Sunday — is a sports energy drink called BODYARMOR.

What should you be watching this week in the NBA? Look out for Portland at Miami and Indiana at Chicago on Monday night. Also try to catch the Miami at Indiana game on Wednesday evening.

Other

J-E-T-S. That’s right, New York’s other pro football team made waves this weekend when they signed quarterback Michael Vick. Jets fans will have to wait and see who their starting quarterback will be when next season kicks off. Following the announcement, current Jets quarterback Geno Smith praised the move and said he was eager to work with Vick.

What a bummer for Patrick Kane. The Chicago Blackhawks’ star player will be out with a knee injury for the remainder of the regular NHL season. While the Blackhawks might be okay for now, they will need him back for the playoffs if they want to defend their title as hockey’s Stanley Cup Champions.

Major League Baseball season is right around the corner and the Boston Red Sox are making moves. On Sunday, the Sox and David Ortiz agreed to a 2015 contract, a new deal that will include options for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. It’s a move that will surely make Red Sox fans very happy, as Big Papi is both a winner and a fan favorite in Boston.

Who doesn’t love a good hat trick? Lionel Messi led his Barcelona squad to a nice 4-3 victory with his very own hat trick against Real Madrid in Sunday’s El Clasico finale. Gotta love La Liga!

It was just another weekend for Kyle Busch. The NASCAR driver concluded a big race at Fontana with a huge win in the Sprint Cup Race Series.

JUST FOR FUN

Soaring to New Heights
Ever wonder how tall you have to be to play in the NBA?

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered
NFL expands its television package
Mavericks’ Mark Cuban suggests that the NFL’s greed will become its downfall

A Cinderella Story 
March Madness teams that have stunned us all
A look back at the surprising wins of past March Madness games

Fearless
Amar’e Stoudemire on New York and the New York Knicks
He reflects on his choice to come to the Knicks, his injuries, his team, and the journey that lies ahead

There’s no place like home
BC running back Andre Williams heads home
Between the end of the college football season and the NFL draft, the pressure builds. Sometimes it takes a visit home to recharge

Edition 3.17.14

The NCAA Tournament is here! There’s so much to talk about — from the match-ups, to the seeds, to the players, the coaches and more. Don’t worry, we’ll get to all of that… but for now, let’s talk about another reason why we love March Madness: the human interest stories. Check out this inspiring video on Michigan State’s Adreian Payne and his friend Lacey:

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

Men’s College Basketball

Championship Week more than lived up to the hype. We saw a lot of great basketball throughout each of the Conference Tournaments. Here’s the rundown of the outcomes: #1 Florida narrowly beat Kentucky in the SEC Championship 61-60 while #6 UVA beat #7 Duke in a tight and physical ACC Championship game 72-63. #22 Michigan State upset #8 Michigan in a dominating 69-55 at the Big Ten Tournament, #16 Iowa State defeated Baylor 74-65 for the Big 12 Tournament Championship and UCLA upset #3 Arizona in the Pac 10 Championship 75-71. #5 Louisville topped #21 UConn to take the AAC Title 71-61 while Providence upset #14 Creighton to win this year’s Big East Title 65-58. What does all of this mean? Well, each winning team gets to claim their Conference Tournament Championship and goes into the NCAA Tournament on a winning streak.

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament… your 68 teams have been selected, and it’s time to talk about the Madness:

Your four number 1 seeds are: Florida (the overall number 1 seed) in the South, Virginia in the East, Arizona in the West, and Wichita State in the Midwest.

The Midwest bracket appears to be the toughest with Michigan as the 2 seed, Duke as the 3 seed, and Louisville as the 4 seed. At various points in the last few days, all four of these teams were predicted to be #1 seeds, which shows just how talented and tough this part of the bracket is going to be.

The East is generally being regarded as the easiest bracket, with Villanova as the 2 seed, Iowa State as the 3 seed and Michigan State as the 4 seed.

In the West, we see Wisconsin as the 2 seed, Creighton as the 3 seed and San Diego State as the 4 seed. The bracket out West is tough with Arizona potentially having to play a dangerous Oklahoma State team, the 8 seed, in the second round.

In the South, Kansas is the 2 seed, Syracuse is the 3 seed and UCLA is the 4 seed. The big news out there is the health of Joel Embiid. The star freshman for Kansas is out with a stress fracture in his back until at least the Sweet 16.

Finally, who got snubbed? SMU. They were expected to get into the tournament, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

When does the tournament get started? The play-in games kick off March 18th and 19th, with match-ups between 2 pairs of the 16 seeds, 1 pair of the 11 seeds, and 1 pair of the 12 seeds. All of the winners from these play-in games will then move onto the NCAA Tournament, which officially gets going on Thursday, March 20th. Times haven’t been announced just yet, but you can see all of the match-ups, seedings and what days each team is playing in the official bracket.  Anyone can win, so get ready for an exciting ride!

Stay tuned for our in-depth March Madness NCAA Tournament Primer coming your way on Wednesday!

NBA

Phil Jackson is officially set to join the New York Knicks. The former coach of the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls will head to New York as the President of Basketball Operations on a 5-year deal that is reportedly paying him roughly $12 million a year. Star player Carmelo Anthony calls this a “power move” and seems to be happy with the news. Why does that matter? Well, Mr. Anthony hits the free agent market this summer, and the Knicks sure would like to see him stay.

What a Sunday night for New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. The recently turned 21-year-old concluded the weekend with a 40 point, 21 rebound performance in an overtime win against the Boston Celtics. This kid is the real deal. And, in a potential finals match-up, the Miami Heat defeated the Houston Rockets in a close game thanks to Ray Allen’s 4th quarter heroics on Sunday afternoon. This was a much needed win for the Heat, who were coming off a difficult stretch of losses.

On the injury front, the LA Lakers have officially declared Steve Nash is out for the season. Nash made headlines this week after openly discussing that his love of the game, his critics, and his desire for money drive him to keep playing. Earlier this week, the Lakers also announced that Kobe Bryant will remain out for the rest of the season as well, since he is recovering from a knee injury.

What’s ahead in the NBA this week? Not too many games stand out during the week, but the Boston Celtics face the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Friday night. This past week, the Nets signed Jason Collins for the remainder of the this year’s NBA season. Also on Friday, the Indiana Pacers face the Chicago Bulls in Indiana. The game of the weekend comes down to San Antonio and Golden State, as the Spurs face the Warriors in the Bay next Saturday.

Other

In the NHL – after suffering a frightening cardiac-scare on the sidelines of the Dallas Stars bench, forward Rich Peverley is expected to make a full recovery. The hockey player even attended a Dallas Stars home game later in the week, where he and the medical staff were awarded a standing ovation. Peverley will be out for the rest of the season.

It may be the off-season, but there is still plenty of action going on in pro football. The Denver Broncos made plenty of news this week with their off-season signings. Looking to improve their offense and defense, they signed an excellent group of free agents including defensive end Demarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. In other NFL news, former Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Martin had left the Miami Dolphins last season after being cruelly bullied and hazed by teammates. He will get a fresh start in San Francisco under the leadership of Coach Harbaugh, who was also his coach back when they were both at Stanford. Other noteworthy signings include: wide receiver Steve Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, running back Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Julius Peppers to the Green Bay Packers, and wide receiver Julian Edelman re-signing with the New England Patriots.

One of the best fútbol players in the world, Lionel Messi, just became an ever bigger deal. At 26 years old, the soccer star became the all-time leading scorer for his Barcelona squad. He now has 371 goals.

The official bracket for the women’s college basketball NCAA Tournament will be announced Monday night during the selection show. Expect UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Tennessee to all get the top seeds.

JUST FOR FUN

What’s left to do for Russell Wilson now that he’s won a Super Bowl ring?
Win another one, of course… Well, and appear in the upcoming Entourage movie

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

It’s all about Zen
Predicting the impact of Phil Jackson
Will Phil Jackson revitalize the struggling New York Knicks? Grantland’s Zack Lowe examines the situation

Truly the best
What’s not to love about Jabari Parker?
Check out this touching story on how Jabari Parker spent his evening after beating UNC last week

Doug McBuckets
Take a look at the nation’s top scorer’s path to greatness
Doug McDermott is the 8th player in NCAA history to score over 3,000 points

Shockers
What exactly is the Wichita State mascot?
Learn a little more about college basketball’s only undefeated team

Back to Back?
Let’s talk about the Red Sox
Will the Boston Red Sox repeat this season as world champions in the MLB?

Puppy love
Reunited and it feels so good
Silver medalist, Winter Olympian, and American Skier Gus Kenworthy is finally reunited with the puppies he adopted in Sochi

COOL HAPPENINGS

Generation W will host its 3rd Annual Women’s Leadership Conference on April 4th, in Jacksonville, FL. Founded by our friend and former WNBA President, Donna Orender, the goal of Generation W is to “provide a platform to elevate the voice of women and help promote the change they want to see in the world.” Speakers include Carla Harris, Lisa Shalett, and Richard Lapchick. Program and registration information here.

Edition 3.10.14

Who doesn’t love a good rivalry? Especially when your team wins. We told you we bleed blue…but here’s something that both UNC and Duke fans and really everyone can be in awe of…the strength and courage of Andre Dawkins.

SQ 101

With March Madness just around the corner, we pulled together a sports 101 post to  break down the ins and outs  of the process that leads to the Conference Champions.  To shore up your college basketball knowledge, visit our Championship Week 101 post.

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

College Basketball

There’s a reason they call it the best rivalry in sports. In a game that was closer than what the final score shows, #5 Duke beat #14 UNC 93-81 in a fast-paced, highly entertaining game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Jabari Parker was unstoppable for most of the night and led Duke with 30 points and 11 rebounds, while Carolina’s Marcus Paige willed Carolina back to a close game with his great play.  This was UNC’s first loss in 12 games, and a much needed win for Duke, which was coming off a loss to Wake Forest this past week. Now it’s onward to the ACC Tournament, which kicks off later this week where Duke will be the 3-seed and Carolina will be the 4-seed.

In the battle of best individual performances of the weekend, Andrew Wiggins and Doug McDermott both put on quite a show. Wiggins, a star freshman out of #8 Kansas, led the Jawhawks with 41 points and 8 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocks in a loss to West Virginia on the road. Of note, is that Kansas was missing their other star freshman Joel Embiid, who’s out with a back injury until the Big 12 tournament. Player of the year candidate Doug McDermott of #13 Creighton dropped 45 points in a win over Providence. The high-scoring performance put the senior over the 3000 point mark, making him the 8th player in Division 1 hoops history to do so. In other news, #3 Arizona lost to Oregon on Saturday while #5 Virginia fell to Maryland in overtime in the Terrapin’s last home game as a member of the ACC on Sunday.

For being the #1 team in the country, very few people are talking about Florida. Well, it seems like the Gators are just fine without your attention. In a big win, #1 Florida became the first team in the SEC to go 18-0 with a win over #25 Kentucky. This win pretty much ensures that they will be overall #1 seed in the NCAA tournament even if they lose in the SEC Tournament next week. And it really shouldn’t be that surprising, the Gators are led by a group of seniors who know how to win.  Maybe we should start talking about them…

In Women’s hoops, the weekend was full of conference tournaments. In the Big East, undefeated and #1 Connecticut crushed #24 Rutgers for the championship title. In the SEC, #6 Tennessee topped #12 Kentucky in a big victory for their conference championship. As for the ACC, after defeating #13 UNC in the semis, #10 Duke would fall to undefeated #2 Notre Dame in the championship final Sunday night.

What’s coming up this week? It’s officially Conference Championship week for men’s college basketball! #2 Wichita State won the MVC championship on Sunday and is now going into to the NCAA Tournament at an amazing 34-0), but the major conferences all kick off their championship tournaments this week.

And stay tuned for our March Madness Primer that will be hitting your inbox soon!

NBA

You can’t think of excellence in the NBA without thinking about Phil Jackson. Thus, it’s no surprise that the struggling New York Knicks have reached out to Jackson, one of the best coaches in the history of the game. The Knicks have reportedly offered him the President of Basketball Operations position. Why would the Knicks do this? Let’s start with the resume: 11 championships as a coach (6 with the Chicago Bulls, 5 with the LA Lakers) and 2 as a player (with the New York Knicks). Expect a decision this week.

Don’t say LeBron James doesn’t appreciate his teammates. On Saturday, the NBA’s best player charted a private jet to Cleveland to attend the jersey retirement ceremony for his former teammate Zydrunas Illgauskas. James credits his friend Illgauskas as someone who mentored and guided him when he arrived as 18 year old rookie straight out of high school. After the celebration, LeBron jetted to Chicago to meet up with his teammates on the Miami Heat which would end in a loss to the Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls in overtime on Sunday.

Let’s talk standings. With roughly a month and a half until the NBA playoffs, records are starting to matter more than ever. Currently, in the East, the Miami Heat are closing in on the Indiana Pacers for the #1 spot. Why does this matter? It’s all about home court advantage and both teams want it. In the NBA playoffs, you play a best of 7, with the higher seed getting the opportunity to start and end at home. The rest of the East is a tier below. As for the West, after losing to the LA Lakers on Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell behind the San Antonio Spurs, who are on top of the standings for now. The best of the West rolls deep, as the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors are all looking to make their moves to a top spot in the playoffs.

What’s on deck this week? The Houston Rockets host the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday, the Portland Trail Blazers head to San Antonio to take on the Spurs while the Golden State Warriors take on the LA Clippers in LA on Wednesday.

Other

William Clay Ford Sr. the owner of the Detroit Lions passed away from pneumonia at the age of 88 this past Sunday. William Clay Ford Sr. and the Ford family have meant so much to the city of Detroit both on and off the football field. We send our thoughts to his family, may he rest in peace.

And just like that Tiger Woods played himself back in and then out of contention. After a strong round in golf at Doral on Saturday, Woods overcame a rocky start to propel himself back into a chance to win in the WGC-Cadillac Championship only to fall back behind on Sunday. 23 year old American golfer Patrick Reed would go on to win the championship.

Why doesn’t SQ ever talk about the NHL? Good point, let’s. On Saturday night, the Dallas Stars retired the jersey of former player Mike Modano. Modano played 21 years in NHL and is one of the best players in the history of the Dallas Stars franchise. He is also remembered as one of the greatest American goal scorers of all time.

Oh yeah and we are officially 20 days away from Opening Day in Major League Baseball which kicks off March 30th, 2014. Bring on the hot diggity dogs!

Finally, the Paralympic Winter Games kicked off Saturday in Sochi. Athletes will compete until March 17th in five events including Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.

JUST FOR FUN

Childhood Dreams
Boy runs out onto the field and makes friends with the Brazilian soccer team

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

A True Hero
The impact of Coach Dean Smith
Reflecting on his legendary career helps us to recognize all that Coach Smith has done for the game on and off the court

Harvard Hoops
Tommy Amaker has transformed the Harvard Crimson
Coach Tommy Amaker hasn’t looked back since he arrived in Cambridge and Harvard’s men’s basketball team is looking stronger than ever.

This Rookie can play
Get to know Giannis Antetokounmpo 

19 year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece is the future of the Milwaukee Bucks and one of the best rookies in the league. Oh and he’s 6’9″ and still growing.

In tribute
Runners pause their 408K race to thank a WWII vet
Joe Bell (age 95) was cheering them on when they stopped to shake his hand

The road less traveled
Take a look at the seniors that have made the Florida Gators No. 1
Instead of being “one-and-dones,” these guys have stayed the course

Reflections on Sochi
We share two perspectives on Sochi from two friends of ours.  One  is from Lani Seelinger, an American living in Prague and the other is from Suzanne Smith, an American was at Sochi.

Conference Championship Week 101

March Madness is coming up, and we couldn’t be more excited. Before it starts, let’s break down the ins and outs  of the process that leads to the Conference Champions.  So, to shore up your college basketball knowledge, here is Championship Week 101!

Championship Week 101

What is Championship Week?

  • Every Division 1 in team in college basketball is part of a larger conference where they play the majority of their games. Each conference has 8-18 teams and has both a regular season and a conference tournament champion. The regular season champion is based on best record. The conference tournament champion is determined by a conference tournament that takes place in mid-March as a finale to the regular season and a prelude to post-season play. Championship week is the name for all of these tournaments collectively. (There are 3 divisions in college hoops, but we are only talking about the best Division, D1, here)

Why does this matter, and why do I care?

  • Well, it’s exciting! But why? The winner of each conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, whereas the winner of the regular season conference championship does not get that automatic bid. There are 68 spots in the NCAA Tournament, and there are 31 automatic bids from the conference tournaments. If you think about it, that means half the spots are given to the champions. Moreover, every team in the top 25-30 of the NCAA is likely to make the tournament — but not necessarily as their conference tournament champion representative. What does this mean? Basically, it’s harder than you think to get into the NCAA Tournament, so that guaranteed bid is not only a sense of security but also many teams’ only chance to get a shot at the National Championship. Plus, the whole thing is awesome… there are so many stories that come from this week!

Okay… so what should I know?

  • Like we said, there are 31 conference tournaments in D1 hoops (the Ivy League sends their regular season champion instead of having a conference tournament) and each winner gets that elusive guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament.  Some conferences are better than others — the big ones include: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, and the SEC. Conferences are built on a number of factors, including things like geography, media deals, academics, size, etc. In the past few years, there has been a lot of movement as teams leave to join new super conferences that are driven by more of the economic factors. It is very likely that in these bigger conferences, there will be 2-8 teams per conference that make the tournament regardless of the automatic bid. In the smaller conferences, there are likely only 1-3 that make it, or sometimes only the automatic bid gets in.

Awesome! What is the schedule?

  • Conference tournaments begin as early as March 4th and continue as late as March 16th. Yes, we know that’s a lot of basketball and even if you wanted to, it’s probably pretty tough to catch every game (trust us — you wouldn’t want to, anyways). The big ones to keep an eye on include: ACC (March 12-16), Atlantic 10 (March 12-16), Big East (March 12-16), Big 10 (March 12-16), Big 12 (March 12-16), Conference USA (March 11-15), Pac 12 (March 12-15), Patriot (March 3, 5, 8, 12), SEC (March 12-16), and the West Coast (March 6-11). The crazy thing about championship week is that some teams will get their very first shot at the NCAA Tournament because of the conference championships. And, once you get to the big dance, anything can happen. What’s cooler than that?

The entire schedule can be found here for all 32 conferences.

Ummm, that’s a lot of hoops… can you narrow it down?

  • Absolutely. Here are a few key games to watch:
    • ACC (March 15 for the Semifinals, March 16 for the Finals)
    • Big 10 (March 15 for the Semifinals, March 16 for the Finals)
    • Big 12  (March 14 for the Semifinals, March 15 for the Finals)
    • Pac 12 (March 14 for the Semifinals, March 15 for the Finals)
    • SEC (March 12 for the Semifinals, March 16 for the Finals)

You might just want to clear your schedule for next weekend, or at least check your Twitter (shameless plug, follow us @TheSportsQuip and we will keep you informed so you don’t have to watch!). If you get the opportunity t0 go check out some games, go! They’re quite fun and located all over the country.

This ends on Sunday, March 16th right?

  • It sure does. Many of the conference tournaments conclude Sunday afternoon around 5pm and the selection show for March Madness begins that evening around 6pm. That really gives the selection committee a very limited time to make some hard decisions about which teams to include. Think about it — if a team that wasn’t supposed to win does in fact win their conference tournament, they get an automatic bid even though they might never have gotten in otherwise. Furthermore, many of the teams that were supposed to win but don’t will get in anyway, especially as part of the top 25. This means that a few deserving teams will not make it to the tournament. There is a lot of heartbreak even before the NCAA Tournament begins.

Where do these broken hearts go?

  • If you don’t make the NCAA Tournament, there is always the NIT. If you don’t invited to the NIT, then there are few other post season tournaments, but more than likely your season is over.

What comes next? What is this Bracketology thing?

  • The NCAA Tournament! Wahoo! Bracketology is the term for the Selection Show where you find out what teams make the tournament. Bracketology occurs on Sunday, March 16th in the evening. Each team, their seeding and their match-ups in the bracket will be announced. We will go into much further detail with breaking down the bracket when the time comes, but for now here’s a few things to know:
    • 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament
    • 2 play-in games
    • 16 seeds, with 1 being the best team and 16 being the worst
    • 4 regions
    • Order of events: Play-games, rounds 2 & 3, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and National Championship
    • The Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas is the site of this year’s Final Four
    • March Madness takes about 3ish weeks total and will conclude on April 7th

Edition 3.3.14

Get ready world, March Madness is right around the corner. Why do we love this time of year? It’s all about that one shining moment. Check out last year’s highlights to see what we mean…

SQ Updates

Three months since our first post, we continue to add to our website.  Our About Us page is finally up, so you can check out who we are and why we started SQ.

Thank you for your wonderful feedback and support as we grow. If SQ has helped you, please share on Facebook or forward this edition to friends!

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

College Basketball

In all things impressive, the #2 Wichita State Shockers finished their regular season undefeated with a 31-0 record. Last year’s surprise final four team has been nothing short of consistent this season and easily defeated the majority of their opponents. They are the first team to have an undefeated regular season since the 2004 St. Joseph team. Why aren’t more people talking about them? Well, they play in a very weak conference, so there are many who question whether they are actually as good as their record indicates. There’s only one way to find out… that’s right, the NCAA Tournament!

Talk about a tough week for #4 Syracuse. After a very strong start to the season, they have now lost 3 of their last 4 games. One of those losses came to underrated #12 Virginia, who won the ACC regular season title outright with a 16-1 record. Also on Saturday, #5 Kansas lost a close game on the road to Oklahoma State while #17 Kentucky lost to unranked South Carolina in a game where Coach Calipari was ejected from the game.

Stay tuned for the last couple of great regular season match-ups in college hoops next Saturday when #6 Duke plays #19 UNC and #1 Florida takes on #17 Kentucky. After that, it’s on to championship week, when the conference tournaments kick off.

The #14 UNC women’s basketball team defeated #7 Duke at home on Sunday. UNC’s coach, Sylvia Hatchell – who is recovering and in remission from leukemia – attended the big win and is hoping to return to the team for the NCAA Tournament. Coming up this Monday, undefeated #1 UConn will face #3 Louisville in another rematch from last year’s title game in women’s hoops.

Need to get ready for the NCAA Tournament? Look out for our March Madness primer coming to you later this month!

NBA

Talk about triple trouble for the New York Knicks.  The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry had his third triple double of year in a win against the Knicks with 27 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds on Friday night during his return to Madison Square Garden. Who else had a triple double this weekend against the New York Knicks? Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls. Noah had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists in a win on Sunday. Both the Bulls and the Warriors are in good shape to make the playoffs, while the Knicks will have to do a lot of work to get back on track.

While speaking at the Sloan Sports Conference at MIT this past Saturday, new commissioner Adam Silver mentioned some possible changes to the NBA. Going forward, Silver talked about being open to ideas that might change the format of the NBA playoffs as well as the entry age requirement for the NBA draft.

After breaking his nose in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James donned a dark carbon-fiber mask for his first game back last Thursday night for the Miami Heat. Well, that may be the last of the mask – the NBA has asked James to wear a clear mask in games going forward while he recovers this season.

‘Tis the season of mid-season moves. After being traded from the Indiana Pacers and receiving a buyout from Philadelphia 76ers, Danny Granger has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. In other moves, Caron Butler signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Miami Heat and Jimmer Fredette signed with the Chicago Bulls.

What’s the one game you should be aware of this week? The Miami Heat vs. the San Antonio Spurs. Not only is this a rematch from last season’s NBA Finals, but star point guard Tony Parker will be back in the lineup for the Spurs when the teams face off Thursday. Oh, and if you need one more, the Indiana Pacers take on the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

Golf

After only 13 holes in the Honda Classic, Tiger Woods withdrew from the event because of back pain. After Rory McIlroy stumbled a strong lead,  Russell Henley ended up winning the Classic in a playoff.

Paula Creamer won the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament with an incredible 75 foot putt in Singapore that gave her her first LPGA title since 2010.

JUST FOR FUN

Ever wonder what happens when you try the Happy Gilmore golf swing?
Find out from Olympian Sydney Leroux 

Un-follower
Kobe Bryant could be unfollowing his Lakers teammates on Twitter

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Theatrics & Mind Games
Mind over matter
See how Muhammad Ali beat the heavy favorite through psychological games

Climbing higher
The NFL salary cap is projected to be 8% higher than last season
This means the cap could reach over $150 million by 2016

BK #98
#98 has great significance to the gay community
The first openly gay NBA player, Jason Collins of the Nets, presented an autographed jersey with this number to Matthew Shepard’s family

Nailed it!
High school student makes half-court shot
He used his left hand, because he has no right arm below his elbow — the more amazing part? He immediately donated the money to fund cancer research

Sports + Spirituality do mix
From major sports event to megachurch gathering in 30 seconds
The Oklahoma City Thunder is one of the only North American major men’s professional teams that conducts a pregame invocation

No shirt, but still the best service
Bollettieri is 82, but he’s still the most passionate in the business
He dreams big, and his dreams have developed into the renowned Bollettieri Tennis Program at IMG Academy. Now, he’s expecting to be included in the International Tennis Hall of Fame