Bubble Watch......Part 3.

>> Thursday, March 4, 2010



While I was at work today, I was contemplating the possibilities for the Pac-10 conference, and I began to wonder if I should even waste my time writing about a conference that is less deserving than the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and, hell, the Colonial Athletic Association. However, the Pac-10 is still firmly planted in our minds as one of the traditional power conferences and its my duty as an un-biased blogger to present you, at the very least, the power conferences. Even if I'd rather watch Jeremy Hazell, Mark Mangino and Charlie Weis battle it out in a beauty competition instead of watching Washington play Cal. So, let's have at it...

Pac-10

California- Sure the Golden Bears have a flashy RPI and a strong strength of schedule at first glance. However, California seriously lacks ANY quality wins and sports a 0-4 record versus RPI top 50 opponents and has basically beat up on a DREADFUL Pac-10 conference. When your best win is Arizona State, you have problems. Yet, Cal stands a good chance of landing a bid, because the committee will be hard pressed to leave out the Pac-10 regular season champion.

Arizona State-Ah, Herb Sendek and company. You had your opportunity, and you blew it. All you needed to do was beat California and win the Pac-10 regular season crown, and most likely you would have earned an automatic bid. However, you failed to pull off that victory and now, with a shady RPI and terrible SOS, you need to win the Pac-10 tournament to have any hopes of a bid.

Washington-Remember when Lorenzo Romar was considered the toast of the Pac-10? Many teams coveted his services and he was even mentioned for jobs like the UK opening. Then came the struggles of the last couple of seasons and failing to meet high expectations this season. Washington has lost four times to teams that are sub-100 RPI squads, and those struggles leave Washington with little option but winning the Pac-10 tournament.

SEC

The SEC had a horrendous season in 2009, and many felt there would be an improvement this season. Kentucky, Vandy and Tennessee have attempted to resurrect the reputation of the conference and have been admirable in doing so, but the rest of the pack, especially the SEC West, has struggled all season long.

Florida-Billy Donovan has been given a couple of mulligans with his NIT bids the last couple of seasons, but many expected more this year. However, after a loss to Vandy on Tuesday, Florida once again sits squarely on the bubble. Florida is now in a position where they need to pull of an upset this weekend of at Rupp Arena or make a strong run in the SEC tournament to feel comfortable about landing a ticket to the dance.

Ole Miss-Andy Kennedy and company had high expectations coming into the season and sport a dynamic duo at the guard positions. They started the season strong with victories over Kansas State and UTEP, but have really faltered down the stretch. Ole-Miss is now sitting with just four quality wins this season and have been swept by another bubble dweller, Mississippi State. The Rebels have the talent to make a run in the NCAA tournament, if they can land in the dance, but their chances at this point are going to hinge on quality wins in the conference tournament.

Mississippi State-Mississippi State was the pre-season favorite to challenge Kentucky for an SEC championship this season, but have fallen short of their lofty pre-season goals. Led by Jarvis Varnado and company, MSU has managed only one win versus top 50 opponents, Old Dominion and has five sub-100 losses. Rick Stansbury needs to find some magic in the conference tournament, or its NIT bound for the Bulldogs.

Mountain West, Atlantic 10 and other mentionable programs tomorrow!


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2010 MLB Season Preview: Baltimore Orioles


If the Baltimore Orioles played in any other division besides the American League East, the off season they just had would probably make them a contender. In the AL East they still have a lot of work to do. However they had a great off season, and nothing can take that away from them. They added four veterans, to a roster containing several in the prime of their career hitters, and they have a few ready for prime time youngsters. I am still not confident that the Baltimore Orioles can make a run at the AL wild card.

Of course we have to consider that the Orioles have had 12 consecutive losing seasons, and back to back last place finished in their division. However with the addition of Kevin Millwood they have upgraded their starting rotation. Millwood can also serve as mentor for the younger starters at the back of their starting rotation. Remember Millwood came up with the Atlanta Braves with the likes of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux. He is the foundation for this pitching staff. If he is not healthy, this could be a long year for the Orioles.

The big questions surrounding this team is, can Miguel Tejada play third base? Since 2009 Oriole 3B Melvin Mora finished with the fifth best fielding percentage in the American League, the bar for Tejada is quite high. In his second stint with the Orioles, Tejada is trying to make the same transition one Cal Ripken Jr. made at the end of his career.

Another big question for this team will be whether or not Garrett Atkins can rediscover his stroke. He was primarily a third baseman in his career, but will take over fist for the Orioles in 2010. The Orioles got him for his bat, not his glove. While he his stat line with the Colorado Rockies was pretty good he slumped in 2009.

Here’s what I think the lineup may look like.

C: Matt Wieters
1B: Garrett Atkins
2B: Brian Roberts
3B: Miguel Tejada
SS Cesar Izturis
LF: Felix Pie
CF: Adam Jones
RF: Nick Markakis
DH: Nolan Reimold

SP: Kevin Millwood
SP: Jeremy Guthrie
SP: Brian Matusz
SP: Brad Bergeson
SP: Chris Tillman
CP: Mike Gonzalez


Day 2 Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

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