3 Sleeper teams that could make some noise in the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament

It’s March!! It’s that time of the year again when brackets get busted. A time full of excitement and surprise, March Madness gets more unpredictable every year. Here are 3 teams that are currently under the radar, but could definitely make some noise during the 2017 tournament.

3. UNC Wilmington

UNC Wilmington won the CAA regular season title, as well as the tournament, finishing the season with a record of 29-5. Lead by Senior Chris Flemmings and Sophomore CJ Bryce, the team likes to shoot the 3 ball, which can really jumpstart their offense. They also play very tough defense, with the ability to execute a quality press that could give teams some trouble. They are a 12 seed, and many of their players have tournament experience, after losing to Duke in last year’s tournament 93-85, and leading at half time. This team could make some noise in the tournament, and will be a very tough out as a 12 seed. Watch out for UNC Wilmington.

2. Middle Tennessee  

With players who have tournament experience, this team shocked the world last year when they upset 2 seed Michigan State in the 1st round last year as a 15 seed. Watch out for the Middle Tennessee, now a 12 seed, as some of their core players are upper classmen. Teams with players who have been playing together for a while tend to find success, even vs power 5 conference teams. Some think Middle Tennessee could make even more noise this year than last year, and it all starts with their experience working together.

1. Michigan

Maybe not a surprise after they won the Big 10 championship, but Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the country. In the Big 10 tournament, they got through 2 of the best teams in the Big 10 in Purdue and Wisconsin, leading to their championship run. They are playing team oriented basketball, and have the ability to make a deep run as a 7 seed. With some upsets that are very possible, they could find themselves in the elite 8. Anything can happen, and we’ve seen teams like UConn win their conference tournament, not as the favorite, and going on to win the National Championship. Watch out for Michigan, as we’ve seen this story before.

 

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Preview of the National League Wild Card game: New York Mets vs San Francisco Giants

The stage is set. Noah Syndergaard will face Madison Bumgarner in the National League Wild Card game; a battle between 2 of the best pitchers in baseball. For the Giants, they expect to win because it’s an even year. In 2010, 2012, and 2014 the Giants have won the World Series. So it only makes sense that they win it in 2016 right?  The Mets will have a chance to end that streak, and get a chance to rematch the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

The Mets have a few edges in this matchup, and one of the most important ones is the home field advantage. This game will be played at Citi Field, so it is the fans’ job to be loud and into the game, supporting their team. Met fans are very excited. Keep in mind this is only the 2nd time in franchise history they have made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons. I think the Mets could feed off of an excited crowd, and use it to their advantage. If the Giants jump and score on Syndergaard early, they will take the fans right out of the game.

Noah Syndergaard had a great season, but the Giants have the starting pitcher advantage. Madison Bumgarner went on an insane run in 2014, leading the Giants to a World Series victory and receiving the World Series MVP that year. He is a 3 time World Series champion. The reality is he does not know how to lose in the playoffs, which will make a Met victory very tough. The Mets need to find a way to jump on Bumgarner early. If they can get him off of his game early, this could be their day.

Another issue with Bumgarner is he’s a lefty, and some of the Mets’ core hitters are lefties including Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. These guys might have a tough time against Bumgarner, but they need to stay patient. It is very important to get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, regardless of how many runs they score. The Mets should want to face a very weak Giants bullpen, which means getting Bumgarner out of the game. It seems the Giants blow a save every night, and that is why it is important for the Mets to keep it close. I do not see them running away with the game as long as Bumgarner is on the mound.

Then there’s the x-factor: Noah Syndergaard. If he matches Madison Bumgarner, the Mets should win this game. The Mets have the edge in bullpen, so if this game is close late with Bumgarner out of the game, this game could fall in the Mets’ favor. It is utmost pivotal that Syndergaard pitches a gem. We know he can, we have seen it before. In 2015, he pitched and won the Mets’ only win in the World Series. He has to know the Mets will not score many runs going into this game, and if he wants to win, the same must happen to the Giants.

Madison Bumgarner worries me. It’s a 1 game Wild Card, it’s a wash. Either team could win this game. The Giants have the starting pitching edge, but Noah Syndergaard can be just as good. The Mets have to take advantage of this game being played in queens. A win in this game would be huge for the franchise. If they win this game, anything can happen from there. The Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and the Giants have been one of the coldest teams since the All Star break. So Mets fans, enjoy this game. This pitching matchup is very good for baseball. If Noah Syndergaard out duels Madison Bumgarner, he will make a name for himself if he hasn’t already. The whole season comes down to 1 game, and Mets fans are pumped up about it.

Why signing Tim Tebow makes sense for any MLB Team

It’s Tebow time in New York again. The former NFL quarterback has been signed by the Mets. It seemed like the overall feeling on this was why? People wonder how he would be able to succeed in baseball since he hasn’t played it in quite a few years. He is 29, but he is a very good athlete. A strong guy, with decent speed, he has a few tools that can lead to some kind of success in baseball. I will also say this is probably not a spur of the moment decision for Tebow. He’s been out of football for a few years, so he may have been working on his baseball game. The feeling seems to be that he is a long shot to play in the big leagues.

I on the other hand think he will make an appearance in the big leagues. But, it all depends on how the Mets preform. Hypothetically speaking, lets say the Mets are irrelevant in a September, and it’s time for the rosters to expand to 40 players. I could see the Mets calling him up, to sell seats in the stadium. That would be a no brainer. In addition to this, you have to think he will see time in spring training. Fans that don’t watch spring training may watch, to see how he preforms. I know I will definitely watch to see how he does.

Don’t forget about the minor leagues. I would go to say a Brooklyn Cyclones game to see Tebow play. Whether you’re a fan of Tebow or not, you’d be curious to see how he preforms on the ball field. So, I did not bash this signing. Yes, it very well may be for the money. But it is also a low risk choice on a very talented athlete. I think this falls under the category of you never know. I do not think he will be a distraction, he handles himself well. That is why I feel all 32 baseball teams should have been interested in him.

A rematch in the NBA Finals

LeBron James

Via nba.com

Whether you like it or not, there are many intriguing storylines that headline the 2016 NBA Finals. A rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will begin tonight. It appeared as though the Cavs would be taking on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they blew a 3 games to 1 lead against the Warriors, and ended up losing in 7.

Any time the Warriors are counted out, they seem to find a way. The team went 73-9 in the regular season, the best regular season record in NBA history. Players admit on Golden State that they get their opponents best matchup every night. You can bet they’re going to get a fired up Cleveland team that lost in 6 games to the Warriors in the 2015 Finals. There is a major difference in this final, because it is not LeBron James vs the Warriors, this time he has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love healthy. Love was out all of the Finals last season and Irving went down in game 1. These two players are key for Cleveland to be victorious.

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are going to shoot the lights out for the Warriors, but I think the Warriors will go down to the Cavs in this series in 7 games. Last year, LeBron almost single handedly defeated the Warriors, but went down in 6 games. This Cavs team is healthy, and has been the best team thus far in the playoffs. LeBron will be the playmaker he always is, but he is going to need help from Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and JR Smith.

The city of Cleveland is due for a championship. LeBron James would want nothing more than to get his home city a championship. They are hungry, and this might be the best team they’ve ever had in terms of personnel. I will not be surprised if Steph Curry and Klay Thompson lead this historic Warriors to their second straight NBA Finals championship, but I’m taking the Cavs to win it all. The Cavs are arguably the hottest team in basketball and they remember what happened last year.Lets not forget this is LeBron James’ 7th NBA Finals appearance. He may have a losing record, but he knows what it takes to win. My prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers in 7 games. NBA Finals MVP: Kyrie Irving. 

Who has the advantage in the 2015 NBA Finals?

The 2015 NBA Finals tips off tonight, featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are led by 2015 MVP Steph Curry. The Warriors posted a 67-15 record, leading them to be the early favorite in this year’s finals. The warriors have been able to shoot the lights out all year, and have been almost impossible to beat when playing in their home stadium.

Overall, the keys to the series for the Warriors to come out victorious seem simple, but they really are not. They have to contain LeBron James. What makes this task even harder than it already is is that LeBron has enough experience in the Finals to be successful. If he does not score at least 20 to 25 points in each game, I will be shocked. The Warriors will need to figure out a way to keep him outside the paint, because once he’s in the paint, he’s so difficult to beat. The warriors know LeBron will have his fair share of points, but they just need to limit the damage he will put in each game. With that being said, the Warriors will need to play to their strengths, by lighting it up from three point range, having everyone be apart of the offensive plan, and putting pressure on LeBron to score 40 plus points. They should also take advantage of their home court advantage, and continue the success they’ve had at home. Keep in kind, they did lead the NBA in wins this season.

Via ballislife.com

Via ballislife.com

The game plan for the Cavs should be simple. Allow LeBron to lead, by scoring, passing, and defending, like the NBA champion and MVP he is. Passing is key, once LeBron starts dishing dimes all over the court, that’s when the Cavs get in a grove. Also look for a possibly nervous Kyrie Irving. Irving has shown everyone that he can shoot the lights out, but like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for the Warriors, it’s his 1st NBA Finals appearance. There is not much finals experience from either team, but the Cavs have LeBron, who already has 2 rings. If the Cavs follow his lead, they will be fine. When plays go chaotic, they will rely on him. But, that’s what LeBron wants, the game in his hands.

There you have it, my Finals prediction is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Why? LeBron James. LeBron has 2 rings, and is coming off a season in which he lost in the NBA Finals. I do not see him losing a Finals in back to back seasons. When LeBron starts getting every player involved, look for the Cavs to hit their stride. They also would like to give the Cavs their first Finals championship, something LeBron has owed them since the day he left Cleveland for Miami. Leaving Cleveland to go to Miami was heardtbreaking for Cavs fans, but he’s back, and has the experience to lead the team to success. There is something unique about this Final. There’s no Lakers, Celtics, Heat, or Spurs. It’s two teams that have not had major success in the playoffs, making it great to see either team win. It’s a new wave of teams on the rise in the NBA.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 6

-MN