basketball

March Madness Widow Survival Guide 8.0

Every year basketball enthusiasts sit in their favourite chairs or in their most comfortable spot on the couch to enjoy hours and hours and hours of college basketball. It’s amazing, it’s enjoyable, it’s all of the best moments that you could hope for in 3 weeks of action.

But, if you aren’t that person, you might be a March Madness Widow. You might feel like you are alone, bored, and left without the hangout partner that you normally have.

If you are struggling with March Madness Widow Syndrome, we have 5 things that you can do from March 14 to April 3, 2017 – give ‘em a shot!

1. Create An Awesome Playlist!

Just like the mixtapes we made from our favourite cassettes and the radio, a good playlist still holds all kinds of value!

If you’re looking for simple starting points – we recommend using Spotify or YouTube to start curating your list of songs and mixing and matching until you get the perfect selection to suit your mood. Give yourself something to dance to, something to relax to, or something that just plays as loud as possible while you sing along!

2. Share Music With Your Friends!

Music is best enjoyed as a shared experience. Yes, sometimes it’s great to be lost in a song, but sharing music with your friends is the best.

Here’s a challenge: Every day of March Madness post a link to a song on a friend’s Facebook or Twitter and invite them to send you one back. There are 12 games days over 21 days – that means you have a chance to really share the music you love, and hopefully get some back, with and from your music loving friends!

3. Make Your Summer Music Plans!

Whether you’re into the festival scene or single concert events, there are all kinds of options available for you in the summer. And the worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute to make your plans.

Most festivals have tiered pricing, so the earlier you buy – the better. And unless you love sitting in the back row or on the lawn, you should be buying tickets and setting reminders for the concerts that have you most excited when the weather warms up!

4. Watch Some Music Documentaries

Trust me, I know that not everyone is into documentaries, but there are some awesome films on Netflix that you should really check out if you love music.

If you’re looking for recommendations… here you go

☞ Neil Young Journeys
☞ History Of The Eagles
☞ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Runnin’ Down A Dream

I watched and really dug all three of those – and if you take a look I’m sure you’ll find a few more that you can get into!

5. Play Along!

If your partner or best friend or family members are in love with the tournament, give it a shot with them. It really can be a whole lot of fun.

Fill out a bracket, pick a favourite team, let yourself get drawn into the drama and excitement that the tournament provides. From buzzer beaters to Cinderellas, you might just find that you like the NCAA action more than you thought you would.

Please remember though, your partner may truly be invested in their team’s performance, so if they do lose on the way to the national championship, try not to rub their face in it too much.

Have fun!

And if you need more ideas, have a look back at the first 7 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0 – March 17, 2013

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 5.0 – March 16, 2014

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 6.0 – March 16, 2015

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 7.0 – March 12, 2016

8 months ago Views

March Madness Widow Survival Guide 7.0

It’s Time!

March Madness is back baby, and I couldn’t be more excited. UNC has put themselves in good position for the tournament, we’re sure to see some awesome ball with some amazing finishes… and before this tournament is over we’re sure to learn the names of some new players who have primetime performances and make HUGE shots.

NCAA Buzzer BeaterBut if you’re not an NCAA basketball lover this post is for you. If you know that your partner is going to be glued to the TV or tablet or laptop for major parts of the next few weeks (March 15 to April 4) you should probably start looking for some things to do to entertain yourself… trust me.

In the 7th year of putting this post together we want nothing more than to help people who don’t care about the Final Four. So here are 5 things you can do while your significant other is praying for a buzzer beater.

1. Listen To Your Favourite Albums Of All-Time!

Think back to when you were 13, or 22, or 31… what albums were perfect to you? What records did you play from front to back without skipping a song?

Put those on and take a trip down memory lane. Embrace the feelings that they bring to you, think back to the friends and family and times in your life that they represent to you now. We all those artists and songs and records that mean the world to us, even if nobody else understands. Embrace yours!

2. Find New Music To Love!

Spotify LogoPlatforms like Spotify and Apple Music are awesome for finding new music. Pick a playlist in the genre you love, or choose an artist you don’t know from a related music selection and see where it takes you.

I suggest taking notes as you go, because if you listen long enough (while you work or workout or just relax) you’re likely to lose track of some of those new songs and names.

3. Have A Solo Dance Party!

Dancing is good for the soul… and the body, so turn up some uptempo tunes and get your sweat on!

Honestly, whether you want to play a game like Just Dance or you want to dance in your socks all over the kitchen floor, we don’t care… but dancing is good, and you should do it like nobody is watching.

And if solo dance parties aren’t your thing, round up some friends who are feeling widowed during March Madness and invite them to dance too!

4. Go See A Live Show!

Live music is one of my favourite things in the world, and I fully believe that everyone deserves to treat themselves to live shows whenever the chance presents itself.

Now, that doesn’t always mean you have to spend a ton of money on a big arena or stadium show. Check out the local listings and hit a club or a bar or a coffeehouse near you to see an acoustic show or an open mic night or an artist that everyone is going to be talking about a year from now!

5. Play Along!

2016_Final_Four_LogoEvery year this makes the list, and every year it will. I love March Madness because I love basketball, but I also love the drama and the theatre and the unpredictability that comes with this crazy tournament.

So, pick a team (I wouldn’t recommend any 15 or 16 seeds) and start cheering. Hell, fill out a bracket and see if you can beat your MM loving partner.

With just a little googling you can find out the best players, the celebrity alumni, the mascot name and even the fight song to your new favourite college basketball team.

But if you do choose to play along, please please please remember to be nice when your S/O’s team loses, and they probably will. It can be a heartbreaking and disillusioning moment, and you don’t really want to see them cry, do you?

And have a look back at the first 6 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0 – March 17, 2013

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 5.0 – March 16, 2014

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 6.0 – March 16, 2015

2 years ago Views

The March Madness Widow(er) Survival Guide 6.0

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!

The NCAA March Madness bracket has been set, and 68 teams are ready to hit the floor and fight for a chance to play in the Final Four and be called National Champion.

And if you don’t care about any of that, this post is meant for you.

This is the 6th annual March Madness Widow Survival Guide, it’s sole purpose is to help you find things to do to stay busy and happy and awesome while your significant other sits on the couch and watches hours and hours and hours of college basketball. Being left alone like this is what we refer to as March Madness Widow Syndrome. We know it isn’t always an awesome feeling, but we’re here to help.

Here are 5 things that you can do between March 17th and April 6, 2015 if you aren’t a basketball fan.

1. Enjoy the Early Spring Weather

We’ve turned the clock forward an hour, the sun is still up after 5pm, and it’s not freezing cold 24 hours a day. So get your Spring jacket ready, sit out on the porch or balcony, go for a walk around the block or in the park, grab a coffee and sit on a newly opened patio – or grab a beer, that’s great for sunny weekend afternoons.

2. Find Great Places to Eat

Just Eat logo 2015Ask your friends and neighbours and co-workers for their highest recommendations – find brand new places to go out for dinner or lunch or brunch, order the dishes that people tell you are fabulous. And remember, take out counts!

So pull up just-eat.ca and find a restaurant that you haven’t tried, pick some stuff you think you’re going to want to eat, and order it.

3. Take a Trip

This is an idea that comes all the way back from the very first March Madness Widow Survival Guide.

If you’ve got a couple vacation days, take ‘em. Build yourself a long weekend and hit a B&B. Hit up a nice little town like Port Hope, ON and see the sights, visit landmarks and enjoy yourself. Or, go home and visit your family and old friends. Or, buy a last minute deal and fly south to sit on a beach for a few days and really, really, really take advantage of the time on your hands.

The Batman Comic Book Cover4. Read Comic Books

There are some really great comic books out there. Whether you like zombies (The Walking Dead) or updated fairy tales (Fables) or all of your favourites from when you were a kid (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man) there’s something on a shelf for each and every one of you.

Trust me. Give it a try.

Plus, you don’t have to go to the comic book store to get them any more. Digital comics are readily available. And they won’t break the bank.

5. Play Along

I say this every year, and I mean it every year. Even if you’re not into the tournament, fill out a bracket. Pick some winners. Find a team to cheer for (please not Duke) and even root against your significant other’s favourite team. Just remember not to rub it in too hard if your team wins or their team eventually loses.

March Madness can be a lot of fun. But if you’re not into it, that’s cool. Make the most of those 3 weeks, they’ll be over before you know it.

And have a look back at the first 5 years of the March Madness Widow Survival Guide

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0 – March 17, 2013

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 5.0 – March 16, 2014

Be awesome!

3 years ago Views

2014-15 NBA Season Preview!

2014-15 NBA LogoIt’s early days of the 2014-15 NBA season, the Toronto Raptors are sitting at the top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, and we’re excited for basketball.

So to help me kick off the new season, here’s Allegra to answer some of my hardest hitting, and most random questions pertaining to the new season on the hardwood.

1. I teased you that I was going to put this question in here, so why not start with it… Rank your top 5 Spanish players in the NBA.

Allegra: I still think this is an unfair question and it hurts my heart to have to even think about it. I guess I measure this by how devastated I am when they get injured (they are so delicate, Josh!)

Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio Espana1) Jose Calderon (forever a Raptor in my heart at least) – I road-tripped to Montreal to see him play in the preseason as a Knick and he injured himself earlier that week.
2) Pau Gasol (whom I can now OPENLY cheer because he’s no longer a Laker) – He is basically a perfect enormous man. Between advocating education for young girls in refugee camps, his Sesame Street stint, and his interest in pursuing medicine after he retires? I’ve been looking past the purple and gold for years.
3) Ricky Rubio (the Spanish Zach Efron) – He followed me on Twitter for three seconds by accident. As if I didn’t already love him enough! I got super upset when I heard he’s out for two months after the Wolves game in Orlando. Hopefully this means the return of his #staypositive recovery videos and tweets!
4) Victor Claver – I’ve never been especially excited by Portland as a team but their bench has this dude! He doesn’t get many minutes anymore (though he started for them a few seasons back while Batum was injured). He’s always seemed innocuous to me, even in his dunks and missed threes.
5) A sack of wheat dressed in Team Spain’s Eurobasket uniform – Because I have a completely irrational dislike of Marc Gasol and didn’t want to include him. Eff that dude. I don’t even care how many tea parties he has with terminally ill children.

Josh: I have nothing to add here. Always liked Jose, have a soft spot for Ricky… and I would rank the Gasols in the same order Allegra did.

2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are the Toronto Raptors to repeat as Atlantic Division Champs… and why?

Toronto Raptors 2013-14 Atlantic Division BannerA: I think there’s a really strong possibility! Not only are the Raps the best they’ve ever been (and they have a VERY impressive record so far and they seem to only be getting more cohesive) but also the competition isn’t especially fierce. Let’s disregard Philly and the Knicks entirely (sorry Jose! This isn’t your fault!) and focus on Brooklyn (boo!) and Boston (meh). Brooklyn tried to buy a championship team last season by signing big names to expensive short-term contracts and it bombed when they had to face Miami in the second round. Now they’ve got the bare-bones team (Joe Johnson and Deron Williams being the only players they have who can shoot outside the paint) that MAY make the finals again but in a lower tier… again. Boston? Welp. They’re SOMEONE’s problem, but not ours.

J: I’m all in on a division repeat this season! I don’t think that any of the teams in the division have a chance to win on a consistent basis like Toronto can. And I don’t think that any of them have to depth to match the Raptors either.

Bring on another banner!

3. Last season I asked who you thought the Raptors MVP would be at the end of the season – let’s ask the same question for this year!

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors 2014-15A: Lowry or DeRozan are the obvious answers. DeMar is about five minutes or play away from smashing Bargnani’s record for most franchise points scored; he is SO CONSISTENTLY SOLID and Lowry is just gonna turn into a triple-double machine now that he’s broken through that barrier.

J: Can’t go wrong with either of those choices – and I don’t think there’s anyone else to pick. This team will go as far as DeMar and Kyle takes it, 1 of them will be team MVP.

4. And what about the entire NBA, who’s going to be MVP?

A: DeMar or Kyle, of course! 😉

J: Haha. I’m going to be a little more practical here. With KD hurt it looks like the MVP is LeBron’s to lose. It’s going to take something really special from someone else to come in and swipe it. But if anyone is going to do it, I hope it’s DeMar!

5. Hot or Not: The Raptors 20th anniversary jerseys?

Kyle Lowry Raptors ThrowbackA: SO HOT. Everybody in the world looks good in dark purple. I love the cheesiness of the older logo. I love watching the team play in them looking so proud to be a part of it.

J: 100% agree! I know there was a time when we all hated on the purple and the silly dinosaur logo, but now that’s it’s back and we can look back on the early days of the franchise I’m happy to see it.

6. Sad question time… scale of 1 to 10, how much does it suck for Steve Nash’s career to (potentially) end with his current back injury?

Steve Nash 2 Time NBA MVPA: 6, but only because he can retire with dignity, albeit as a Laker. I understand a stubborn love of one’s career, I really do… but it’s been a long time since Nash’s body has been more than a broken clump of knotted rope.

J: For me it’s more of a 9. Nash is a two-time MVP and one of the greatest non-hockey professional athlete’s that Canada has ever produced. I’m sad to see him go out like this… maybe he should have hung up his sneakers instead of signing in LA.

7. Be honest: Is Kobe still a top 10 player in the league?

A: Blehh. Maybe top 10 in the west. It’s hard for him to shine while playing on the sloppiest, tanking-est team in the league right now.

J: The Lakers are so bad that Kobe has a chance to put up top 10 numbers this season… but they’ll be artificial because who else is supposed to score in bunches every night for that awful team?

8. The West is Best – we all know it, so who do you think is going to win the Western Conference?

A: With OKC essentially sidelined with injuries and the Spurs showing their age a little, it’s anybody’s title. Most of the teams to have a postseason last year look really good. Will it be the Clippers? They do better every year and the unfortunate ownership issues have been resolved. Houston is on FIRE so far and even Memphis went undefeated for an LA Clippers Logounreasonably long time. It’s silly to judge this kind of thing from the standings so early, but they’re all playing with a cohesiveness that goes beyond individually talented players.

J: With the Thunder struggling and the Spurs aging (and committed to resting players during the season) I’m going to have to say the Clippers on this one. At least in the regular season. Memphis is intriguing, but I don’t know if they have the stamina to be the best over 82 games, same with Golden State.

9. And who is going to be worst team in the league at the end of the season?

A: Oh, I am giving this to LOLAL. I am a notorious Lakers hater, and their downward spiral is bringing me serious schadenfreude. The 76ers are going to give them a run for their money, though. And while they’ll never be the bottom team, Indiana’s fall has been LA Lakers Logolike a train derailment! Who would have thought that Paul George was THAT important?!

J: My vote goes to Philly. They want to be bad. They don’t care. The Lakers are going to lose a lot of games too… but Kobe will win some on his own if he’s able to drag the team with him.

10. You don’t drink coffee, but I do – and I want to know which NBA head coach you would want us to sit down with for a hot beverage and basketball talk.

Coach Casey TorontoA: We have the most emotional investment in talking to Dwane Casey, of course, and he seems like he’d be an excellent conversationalist. I’d buy Jason Kidd a coffee just to spit in it.

J: Coach Casey would be my #1 pick purely for homer reasons… I’d love to talk to him about the team and what he would like to see them accomplish. My 2nd choice would be Gregg Popovich. Pop seems like he has a ton of personality to let loose in the right setting, and I’d love to see it firsthand.

11. Last question: What are your expectations for this 2014-15 Toronto Raptors team?

2014-15 Toronto Raptors Starting 5A: I want better defence than in previous seasons, and I think they’ve really been working on that. I want us to use our assets a little better. I want to see our rookies clock more minutes. I want Terence Ross to get his confidence back. I don’t think I’ll be at all disappointed. I think that we’ll be smarter about fouling. You can see how badly they want these wins. It’s beautiful. I’d be shocked if we didn’t make it to the second round of the postseason at least.

J: I’m looking for consistency from this team. The defensive effort needs to be there every night – and the team can’t rely on a big 2nd half to win games every night. If they can do that and players like Terrence Ross and Jonas can grow while DeMar, Kyle & Amir do their thing and the bench chips in, these Raptors could be a round 2 playoff team.


There you have it. NBA predictions from Allegra and I.

If you’ve got different answers, or you like ours so much that you feel a need to tell us – do it in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Enjoy the season.

Be awesome!

3 years ago Views

What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors?

20th Anniversary Toronto Raptors LogoMaybe I should have waited a little bit before I started writing this post. Maybe just 2 hours after the end of game 7 and the 2013-14 Raptors season isn’t enough time to clearly look back and forward at the team.

But here I am. Thinking and typing and posting.

As I was watching today’s 4th quarter at The Dock Ellis I looked at the strangers I was drinking and cheering with and said, “If you had told me when we were 6-12 that we would have the ball with a chance to win in game 7 of the playoffs I would have gladly taken it.” And I meant it. In early December the season looked lost. We were ready to tank for a high pick in a deep draft.

2014 Toronto Raptors HuddleBut a funny thing happened on the way to the lottery. The Raptors started winning. And they kept on winning. A franchise record 48 wins, the Atlantic Division title and the 3rd seed in the playoffs all landed in Toronto after the Rudy Gay trade and an unforeseen turnaround for the Raps.

And while we’re all disappointed with a 1st round exit from the playoffs, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.

All-Star DeMar DeRozan has 3 years left on his contract, 2nd year starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas each have 2 years left. Amir Johnson will be back next season playing for a new contract as well.

The question marks come with Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Coach Dwane Casey and season MVP Kyle Lowry.

Will Kyle Lowry be back in 2014-15 with a new contract?
Kyle Lowry and Coach Dwane Casey Toronto RaptorsHere’s what my basketball loving friend Sean had to say about Kyle’s 2013-14 season: Absolutely our team’s MVP for the entire season has been Kyle. His attitude, toughness, willingness to put the team on his shoulders and ability to make his mark on a game in so many ways has defined this Cinderella season. I hope the Raptors are able to re-sign him for ~$10m/yr for 3ish years because if he leaves it’ll be disastrous to the progress we’ve made this year.

I agree. A $30 million/3 yr deal would be great. But to be quite honest, that statement was made before the playoffs, and I think I would be okay looking at $40 million over those same 3 years, with some team/player options built in for years 4 and 5 would work for me.

Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson 2014 Toronto RaptorsI would also love to see Patrick Patterson back as the backup big man to Amir and Jonas. And while I know Vasquez has his eye on a starting point guard job somewhere in the league, it would be awesome to have him back in a 1-2 punch role in T.O.

As for Coach Casey, his 5th place finish in the Coach of the Year voting was probably low. Taking a team that was supposed to tank and leading them to the playoffs and home court advantage was a serious accomplishment for the man who acts as a dad for a young Raptors roster. I expect that Masai Ujiri will bring back the coach on a 3 year contract with a vote of confidence and the chance to prove that this team is for real moving forward.

If I had a wish list for players to find new homes next season it would include John Salmons, Landry Fields, Dwight Byucks and Julyan Stone. That would leave room for 4 new players on the roster.

The Raptors have the 20th, 37th and 59th picks in the upcoming draft. If they can grab 2 players to add to the roster, and 1 to add to the everyday rotation, I’ll be happy. If Masai can trade up in the draft to secure a better player, I’ll be ecstatic.

Vince Carter 2014 Toronto RaptorsBut the player I’d love to add. The man that can take the place of Salmons or Fields on the roster is someone familiar. Someone who we all used to love. Someone who we all need to forgive. Vincent Lamar Carter.

Vince is a pending free agent, an ageing superstar and a solid bench player who has shown that he can contribute and be a positive veteran presence for a team.

I would love to welcome Vince back with a 2 year contract and a chance to end his career in Toronto.

My hope for this franchise is that we can start putting together 50 win seasons and perennial home court advantage teams. I would love to have the playoffs be an every year experience for a city who loves to come together with sport as the reason.

And with the NBA All-Star Game coming to the ACC in February 2016 – it would be great to showcase a winning city in prime time.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. The Nets, Knicks, Celtics and 76ers would all love to steal the division from the Raptors. And this 48 win season needs to become a starting point for future greatness, not an apparition. 

But I’m saying there’s a legitimate chance with the roster, leadership and attitude that the Raptors have started to build in Toronto.

And as we look forward to the 20th season in this franchise’s history, a chance to be back here again next year is really all I’m hoping for.

#RTZ #WeTheNorth Toronto Raptors National Anthem DeMar DeRozan Amir Johnson

2014 Toronto Raptors Playoff Crowd

3 years ago Views

NCAA March Madness 2014 – Meet The Canadians!

Canada Basketball NCAA 2014

March Madness tips off tomorrow and as a Canadian basketball fan there is reason to celebrate. We know that Canadian players have been making a name for themselves in the NCAA and the NBA over the last few years – heck, we’re producing lottery type talent in the NBA.

But this year I am more than impressed with the sheer number of Canadian players who will be uniform and/or on the court during the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. After looking through all 68 rosters on their official websites, I have found 31 Canadian players to watch during March Madness this year.

31!

That’s awesome.

Basketball fans already know the names Brady Heslip, Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis. And everyone knows the name Andrew Wiggins thanks to his incredible talent and the hype machine. But that still leaves 27 other names to learn and look our for as March Madness gets underway.

Here are all 31 players, listed by their school, in alphabetical order…

Jordan BachynskiCalgary, ABArizona State
Brady HeslipBurlington, ONBaylor
Kenny CheryMontreal, QCBaylor
Jahenns ManigatOttawa, ONCreighton
Dyshawn PierreWhitby, ONDayton
Jaylen Babb-HarrisonAjax, ONEastern Kentucky
Dustin TrianoTsawwassen, BCGonzaga
Kevin PangosLanding, ONGonzaga
Kyle WiltjerPortland, OR (Canadian citizenship)Gonzaga
Agunwa OkolieAjax, ONHarvard
Laurent RivardSaint Bruno, QCHarvard
Melvin EjimToronto, ONIowa State
Naz LongMississauga, ONIowa State
Andrew WigginsVaughan, ONKansas
Justin EdwardsWhitby, ONKansas State
Nik StauskasMississauga, ONMichigan
Daniel MullingsToronto, ONNew Mexico State
Renaldo DixonToronto, ONNew Mexico State
Sim BhullarToronto, ONNew Mexico State
Tanveer BhullarToronto, ONNew Mexico State
Jason CallisteToronto, ONOregon
Richard AmardiToronto, ONOregon
Junior LomombaMontreal, QCProvidence
Grandy GlazeToronto, ONSaint Louis
Dwight PowellToronto, ONStanford
Stefan NasticThornhill, ONStanford
Tyler EnnisBrampton, ONSyracuse
Dylan EnnisBrampton, ONVillanova
Chadwick LufileBurlington, ONWichita State
Nick WigginsToronto, ONWichita State

Here’s hoping that all of the Canadian kids are able to contribute and take away some sort of positive experience from the 2014 NCAA tournament.

I know I’ll be cheering for them.

Unless they’re playing against a team I’m cheering for and have picked on my bracket.

4 years ago Views

2014 March Madness Bracket and Rankings

March Madness 2014 BannerWe are only 2 days away from the start of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament – and that means it’s time to fill out your bracket and hope for the best!

I will be honest, I haven’t finished my bracket yet because I’m still not ready to commit to the picks that I’ve made. Last year I had awful luck in the early rounds, and I would like to avoid that in 2014.

If you haven’t taken a look at the 68 teams in the tournament, here they are.

1. Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Wichita State.
2. Kansas, Wisconsin, Villanova, Michigan.
3. Syracuse, Creighton, Iowa State, Duke.
4. UCLA, San Diego State, Michigan State, Louisville.
5. VCU, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Saint Louis.
6. Ohio State, Baylor, North Caroline, UMass.
7. New Mexico, Oregon, Connecticut, Texas.
8. Colorado, Gonzaga, Memphis, Kentucky.
9. Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State, George Washington, Kansas State.
10. Stanford, BYU, Saint Joseph’s, Arizona State.
11. Dayton, Nebraska, Providence, Iowa, Tennessee.
12. Stephen F. Austin, North  Dakota State, Harvard, North Carolina State, Xavier.
13. Tulsa, New Mexico State, Delaware, Manhattan.
14. Western Michigan, University of Louisiana Lafayette, North Carolina Central, Mercer.
15. Eastern Kentucky, American, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Wofford.
16. Albany, Mount Saint Mary’s, Weber State, Coastal Carolina, Texas Southern, Cal Poly.

And if you want to see how the bracket looks without all my picks on it… here you go. Clean. Fresh. Full of possibility. Ready for all of us to screw it up.

March Madness 2014 Round 1 BracketMarch Madness 2014 South and West BracketMarch Madness 2014 East and Midwest Bracket

My picks will be coming soon if that’s something that you’re interested in seeing. Stay tuned and I’ll have them all here for you to judge before the first round tips off.

Good luck.

Be awesome.

4 years ago Views

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 5.0

march-madness-2014-banner

It’s that time of year again! Selection Sunday is here, and just a few minutes ago 68 teams confirmed that they are headed to the biggest, best basketball tournament in North America.

This is also your 2 day warning before the action gets under way and your significant other settles themselves into the couch and devours hours and hours and hours of upsets and buzzer beaters and big plays and then the Final Four.

For the fifth year in a row I’m here to help. If you are forgotten and neglected and left lonely from March 18th to April 7th, I have a list of tips that just might keep you busy and smiling and able to deal with the tournament.

Remember, there’s no stopping this thing, every year there are millions of people affected by March Madness Widow Syndrome – I just hope that I can help some of you get through these 3 weeks just a little bit easier.

Netflix Logo1. Dig Into Netflix!
You’re going to have a lot of time on your hands for the next 3 weeks, and while I know that sometimes people complain that there isn’t anything good to watch on Netflix, I disagree. Since mid-February I’ve watched all of House of Cards and all 5 seasons of Chuck. I’ve also checked out some awesome WWE content, Archer and even Justice League Unlimited.

I dare you to grab your laptop or tablet and look through the entire catalogue and tell me that there’s nothing that you want to watch or rewatch.

And if you need recommendations, let me know. I’m happy to help.

2. Spring Cleaning and Purging!  
Spring cleaning is one of those terms that gets thrown around every year at this time. But I’m not using it to talk about dusting and washing windows and all those crappy chores. I’m talking about cleaning out your closet. Donating the things you don’t wear any more. Finding new homes for your gently used clothes. Hell, organize a clothing swap with your friends. I know some people who have walked away very, very happy from those events.

And if you fancy something brand new, you’ll have room in your closet to go out shopping for something shiny and appropriate for the warmer weather that is coming.

3. Find Some New Music!
No matter what genre of music you love to listen to, I can guarantee that there is awesome music out there that you haven’t heard yet. Less than a month ago I hadn’t heard of The Lovelocks and now I’m in love with their EP, have an interview with them on the blog here and can’t wait to see what they do next.

It’s not hard to find new music. Ask your friends what they are listening to. Look up indie charts online. Check out recommended videos on YouTube from bands you’ve never heard of before.  Hell, just listen to the radio, there are a lot of us who don’t do that any more.

And if you find some new country music that you love, please let me know!

Knitting Needles and Yarn4. Create Something!
Whether you write, or sing, or draw, or design, or play guitar, or knit, or make movies, or tell stories around a fire – find a way to create something and give it to the world. The world is a happier place because talented people share their creations with us. And in my opinion, too many talented people don’t believe in themselves enough to share what they have created.

In fact, I’d like to issue a friendly challenge to all of you. Create something, anything, and take a photo or send a link so we can share it with the world.

5. Play Along With The Games!
I say it every year, and I mean it. The coolest thing you can do is play along with your partner. You don’t have to sit down and watch every game, but filling out your own bracket, picking a favourite team, cheering with and against your March Madness addicted significant other can be a lot of fun.

Please remember though, many fans are very attached to their favourite teams, so please don’t make too much fun of them if they lose. It will be a sensitive time.

If these 5 ideas aren’t what you need to get you through, you can see some other suggestions for your March Madness loneliness. Check out the first 4 guides.

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0 – March 17, 2013

4 years ago Views

What Could Have Been For The Toronto Raptors

Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady Dunk Contest Toronto RaptorsThis post was inspired by Michael Grange’s piece in the most recent SportsNet Magazine, “It’s Time To Forgive Vince” and conversations at work with Chris and at the bar with Erik.

It’s a “what-if” post which means that I need you to allow for some hypotheticals – ie. things happening or not happening. However, I’m not asking for too many leaps of faith here, just an alternate reality and results.

Fact: The Toronto Raptors made the NBA Playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Fact: That was it, it was all downhill from there.

What If: Trades and Free Agency had gone differently between 1998 and 2004?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.

Damon Stoudamire, Toronto RaptorsIn 1995 the Toronto Raptors selected Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudamire from Arizona with the 7th pick in the 1st round. Stoudamire was the NBA Rookie of the Year. He was a very good Point Guard and he was traded to Portland in 1998 after becoming unhappy with the team over the Isiah Thomas situation.

That brings us to our first what-if… what if Damon Stoudamire hadn’t been so upset that he needed to be traded away as he was coming into his prime in a city that loved him and on a team that needed him?

Marcus Camby Toronto RaptorsIn 1996, with their second 1st round pick in franchise history, the Raptors selected Centre/Power Forward Marcus Camby from UMass with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Camby had a solid rookie year with 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game and in 1997 he led the entire NBA with 3.7 blocks per game – a glimpse of what was to come for the future Defensive Player of the Year.

However, in 1998 the Raptors traded Camby to the New York Knicks for Charles Oakley and Kevin Willis. That’s our 2nd what-if… what if Camby hadn’t been traded for 2 old big men and we had found some other way to get veteran leadership on the team?

Tracy McGrady Toronto RaptorsMoving forward to the 1997 draft, the Toronto Raptors selected 18 year old Tracy McGrady straight from high school (Mount Zion Christian Academy) and brought him to the team where he played very sparingly in his rookie year, unlike Stoudamire and Camby before him. In ’98 things started picking up for McGrady and he was a major part of the team until he left as a free agent after the 2000 season. We know that Tracy wanted to leave because Vince was the star in Toronto, because he wanted to be the man, he wanted to be closer to home in Florida… and so he left for Orlando.

And that give us what-if #3… what if Tracy McGrady had elected to stay in Toronto to play with Vince (and in our alternate reality, Damon Stoudamire and Marcus Camby) on an improving Raptors team?

Vince Carter Dunk Contest Toronto RaptorsThat brings us to June 24, 1998 and NBA draft in Vancouver probably the single most important day in Toronto Raptors history. With the 4th overall pick the Raps took Antawn Jamison from North Carolina and then flipped him to the Golden State Warriors for the 5th overall pick, Vince “Air Canada” Carter and cash.

We all know how great Vince Carter was in Toronto. We know that he was a 5 time All-Star in 6 full seasons. We know that he was a human highlight reel that put the Toronto Raptors on the NBA map in the United States. Vince Carter Toronto RaptorsWe know that he was the best dunker in the game and his performance in the 2000 All-Star Slam Dunk contest is legendary. We also know that Vince led the Raptors to the playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Now, in our alternate reality, imagine a 23 year old Vince Carter playing with a 27 year old Damon Stoudamire at PG, a 26 year old Marcus Camby in the front court and a 21 year old Tracy McGrady at the small forward position full-time and they

So that makes this our 4th what-if… what-if the core of the team was young, talented, together and led by Vince from 1998 to 2004?

Side note: I know that there are other what-if options when it comes to Vince. What if the shot had gone in against Philly? What if he hadn’t been traded in 2004? But we aren’t dealing with those what ifs because this would have been a completely different Raptors team.

Antonio Davis Toronto RaptorsSo now our hypothetical Raptors team is coming off the 1998 season and looking to get bigger and better. So they make the Jonathan Bender for Antonio Davis trade with Indiana on draft day in 1999 bringing in a good big man to play with Camby.

And then they draft Morris Peterson from Michigan State in 2000 to be their 6th man.

Hakeem Olajuwon Toronto RaptorsThen in 2001 they get Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams from Detroit and sign Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon as their back-up big man in the twilight of his career.

Imagine that!

A 2001 team that could have had:
Damon Stoudamire PG
Vince Carter SG
Tracy McGrady SF
Antonio Davis PF
Marcus Camby C
Morris Peterson 6th man
Hakeen Olajuwon C bench
Jerome Williams F bench

That team could have competed with ANY team in the NBA Eastern Conference or the Western Conference.

Toronto Raptors NBA Championship BannerIt’s fair to say that if the contracts and players and coaches and GMs could have all stayed on the same page, the Toronto Raptors would have been one of the best teams in basketball from 1999-2000 to 2004-2005 when Stoudamire and Davis would have been exiting their prime, Olajuwon would have been retired, and Williams would have lost most of his usefulness.

But those 5 seasons… 5 seasons with talented players growing together. 5 seasons with guys who wanted to win. 5 seasons with scoring and leadership and athleticism.

Those 5 seasons could have seen the Toronto Raptors legitimately competing for the NBA Championship.

Oh what could have been for the Toronto Raptors.

4 years ago Views

What’s Going Right For The Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors Banner Tirgan FestivalOn the heels of a successful #DrakeNight at the Air Canada Centre, I would like to take a look at  the Toronto Raptors for the first time since Sean and Allegra helped me with the 2013-14 NBA Season Preview.

As Raps fans can tell you, this season didn’t start out very well. It was slow and there weren’t many wins. Just like last season. And just like last season, a Rudy Gay trade seemed to turn our team around and get us some wins in the ledger. However, the differences this time were the timing (much earlier in the season this time) of the trade and the direction (Rudy out instead of Rudy in) of the player.

Since the trade on December 9 the Toronto Raptors have a record of 12-5 and now hold a 4 game lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division.

Let’s take a look at what is working for Drake‘s boys and why they are climbing the standings and the power ranking charts.

Assists!

NBA BasketballSince the Rudy Gay trade it has been easy for players, coaches, reporters, bloggers, and fans to see that the ball movement has improved. Rudy is a ball stopper. And because he’s a ball stopper, other players didn’t move well without the ball thinking that they were going to get a pass. That has changed. Players are moving with and without the ball. The ball is moving. And players all over the court are giving up good shots to get great shots. It’s making a big difference for this basketball team.

Defined Roles!

Basketball Coach Clipboard PlayIt seems right now that every player on the roster knows what his job is as a Toronto Raptor. Some of the players (Steve Novak, Landry Fields) may not be personally happy with what their roles have become and I understand that, but everyone is doing what they are asked and what they are capable of to help this team become better. We aren’t seeing anyone force the issue when they are having a terrible night to the point that the team is suffering. We aren’t seeing players trying to do things that aren’t in their skill set. We are seeing Team Basketball and I like it a lot.

Player Improvement!

Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross Toronto RaptorsJonas Valančiūnas and Terrence Ross: As young players, both of these young men have improved and made themselves very important pieces of this team. Ross’s shot has improved and become more consistent on the wing and we are all loving the 3’s that he has been raining down. If he continues to shoot well and remember that he can take the ball to the hole, he’ll keep getting better. Jonas has (almost) turned into a double-double machine with his rebounding improving and his toughness and willingness to go hard to the rim becoming more consistent. Having these 2 young players on the team and performing well is a huge boost for Masai Ujuri because now he can continue to look for supporting players to make this team better.

Hard Work and Results!

DeMar DeRozan Toronto RaptorsDeMar DeRozan: With the trade of Rudy Gay complete, DeMar is now the offensive focal point in Toronto. And he has embraced that role and has not disappointed. Consistency is a word that is getting used a lot in this post, and DeMar deserves it too. #10 doesn’t seem to need as many shots per game to get his points, he’s going to the rim and earning his free throws, he’s responsible defensively – he’s playing like an All-Star and I hope we see him in New Orleans. Hell, even James Harden is tweeting about DeRozan deserving to be an All-Star!

Kyle Lowry Toronto RaptorsKyle Lowry: I’m not sure that anyone expected this type of play from Kyle. When Rudy came over the story was that they were best friends and the familiarity would make for dynamic play. But honestly, the defense and assists and leadership and decision making that Lowry has displayed in the last 17 games are what we all really wanted and needed from a Toronto Raptors point guard. PS. How awesome is it to see Kyle Lowry take a charge late in the game to keep the opposition from gaining momentum.

Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes: The New Guys have fit in MUCH better than I hoped. I didn’t think that any of them would contribute as more than minute eaters. Boy was wrong. Patterson, Vasquez and Salmons have become important pieces in Coach Casey’s rotation and I would like to give Chuck Hayes a high five for his effort level over the last 5 games with Hansbrough nursing an ankle injury. Remember when Salmons almost came here as a free agent years ago? I’m kind of loving this new situation more than I think I would have loved that one! And Vasquez is making his case as the back up point guard moving forward on this roster which is a position that is too often overlooked.

Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough Toronto RaptorsAmir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough:  2 important pieces of this Toronto Raptors team. Amir has always given his heart and soul to the city and the team and this year is no different. His big-to-big play with Jonas has been outstanding. He’s playing within himself as an unselfish player that Coach Casey and the Raptors need him to be. Hansbrough has shown exactly what I wanted him too. He’s a bulldog that won’t back down. He’s a max effort guy that fouls when he needs to, who boxes out and rebounds, who takes his points when they come to him and who puts the team first. I really like these 2 players on this roster.

Landry Fields and Steve Novak:  These 2 get some sympathy from me. I like them both as dudes who say the right things and try to help the team win. I like the effort that Landry Fields shows whenever he has the chance. But with the addition of Patterson and Salmons, they have both seen their minutes dwindle or disappear. Here’s hoping that Masai can find a new home for them with some minutes and opportunities.

Better 2nd Half Play!

Coach Dwane Casey Toronto RaptorsThe Raptors are 7-2-1 in their last 10 3rd quarters. They are coming out of the locker room after the half with a purpose, direction and a plan. Kudos to Coach Casey and his staff for the work that they are doing to make that happen. The play and attitude of the Raptors late in the game has also changed. As a fan I can tell you that I no longer watch the last 8 minutes of a close game wondering how this team is going to lose the game. I watch and wait for someone to make a big play. I watch for big D. I watch for a huge 3 pointer to fall. The play of the Raptors in the 2nd half has resulted in wins. And that’s what matters more than anything.

There are still 47 games left in the regular season. And there are still questions to be answered.
 Will Lowry get an extension, be traded, or will Masai Ujiri wait it out.
 Can Fields, Novak or Hayes be moved to bring in pieces that fit better for Coach Casey?
 Are the Raptors ready for a playoff push at the end of a long season?
 Is this the start of a turn around for the Toronto Raptors and their fans?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

4 years ago Views

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: 10 Questions To Start The Season!

NBA Season Preview HeaderThe NBA season starts tomorrow night with 3 games on the schedule before the rest of the league gets into action on Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors included.

And since the season has a chance to give us some pretty interesting storylines, I recruited Sean and Allegra to talk ball with me before things get underway. I asked them both the same questions, and I’m giving them both the same opportunity to answer.

These are good answers kids.

Check it out…

Josh: 1. Who’s going to be worse in the 2013-14 NBA season: The Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers? 

Sean: The Celtics. Pau Gasol is the most easily forgotten and under-appreciated player in the league. The Lakers will have some kind of Kobe Bryant back for at least half a season. Steve Nash is in serious decline, but there’s still talent there. The Celtics’ cupboard is young and empty; none of their veterans are game-changers, and they’re without Rajon Rondo for part of the year. It’s not going to be a pretty season.

Allegra: Sean! You’ve been hanging around me too long – my defensiveness about Pau “Perfect Man” Gasol has rubbed off on you! His brother gets the glory (and the DPOY titles) and I guess that’s what has kept Pau immune to Laker diva antics. Just keep Nick Young on the bench – that guy is a liability. Who knows what form Kobe and Rondo will be in when they come back, but I’ll take some broken Lakers over the broken Celtics. Neither Olynyk nor Faverani are particularly great centers and the Celtics don’t even have room below the tax line to acquire game-changing talent.

Josh: 2. The Toronto Raptors have an over/under prediction of 36.5 wins this season. Which way do you think it will go? Why?

Sean: 36.5 is probably pretty close to where the Raptors will end up; I just don’t think this team has the discipline and defensive acumen required to take the next step into the “solid playoff team” tier. However, with the current talent level in the league being heavily skewed Westward, a win total close to 36 and a half might just be enough to squeak into the playoffs. I’ll take the over, but just barely.

Allegra: I was NOT optimistic about our Raptors before pre-season started. I’ve been especially hard on Rudy Gay since we acquired him at the expense of our smartest player. We don’t have much in the way of point guards, and I still don’t think Kyle Lowry will ever be top-level. That said, he’s gotten faster and more comfortable than I’ve seen him. DeRozan has bulked up and even Rudy Gay’s Miracle Eye Surgery leaves me optimistic. I’ll take the over, unless we start trading our players away while the value is high OR if Jonas Valanciunas gets injured.

Josh: 3. Biggest star to be traded this season?

Sean: Despite what Danny Ainge says about the Boston Celtics would never deign to tank, the reality is that a good return for Rajon Rondo would accelerate their rebuild by years. I don’t think Rondo’s temperament lends itself well to being the core veteran on a team that will almost certainly squander his prime years in the basement of the conference. There is a question of which teams have the bounty to acquire Rondo – because he won’t come cheap – but Ainge will likely not settle for less than a high draft pick and another major asset, things that will pay dividends for the Celtics while they get their house in order.

Allegra: I don’t even know! I think it’ll be a very expensive surprise, and will be a game-changer akin to CP3’s move to the Clippers. None of the current trade rumours have grabbed my attention in any real way, but there are a lot of teams that have become accustomed to a certain level of play that they just aren’t getting anymore. My money is on this deal somehow involving the Spurs though.

Josh: 4. Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook are all  scheduled to come back from injury mid-season. Which player will have the most success in his comeback?

Sean: Westbrook is by far the youngest player and the one with the least mileage; his injury was also the least severe. With athleticism to burn before the injury, I don’t see much more than rust affecting his play upon his return. That said, if Kobe re-discovers the post game we saw from him in seasons past, he could come back with a renewed focus and surprise everyone.

Allegra: Hands down, I’m thinking Westbrook. For not only all the same reasons Sean already listed, but also because OKC coaches seem to be encouraging him to take his time and he’s smart enough to listen.

Josh: 5. The Charlotte Bobcats, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers look like the worst 5 teams in the league – who finishes with the worst record overall?

Sean: The 76ers. Look at that roster; it’s barely an NBA team. They’re Diggin’ for Wiggins something fierce and nothing will stand in their way. While the Jazz made an impressive dive to the bottom this offseason, Philadelphia is committed to tanking in a way that is unparalleled in the league this year. I would not be surprised to see what marginal assets they have – a perpetually underwhelming Evan Turner and perhaps Spencer Hawes – be shown the door in an attempt to stockpile draft picks or other young talent.

Allegra: I’m inclined to agree with Sean because he makes some good points, but DAMN the Jazz are pathetic as heck this year. They’re kicking the season off with fewer than a dozen healthy players (Trey Burke’s injury means they’re starting John Lucas III as point guard – yeeeeesh) but the attitude is really what’s going to make a difference. Philly is obviously trying to fail but Charlotte are probably going to still try hard enough to warrant good effort sundaes.

Josh: 6. Everyone is looking to knock off the Miami Heat – in the West the numbers have the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder as the best 4 teams going into the year. Which team has the best chance to beat Miami in the Finals?

Sean: Indiana was one game away from upsetting the champions last year and have solidified their rotation with the additions of Luis Scola and Chris Copeland. I’m not buying the Paul-George-as-superstar narrative by any means, but I think they match up well with the Heat. Chicago will be reloaded with Derrick Rose but I think the workmanlike and inside-outside game of the Pacers has the Heat more concerned than a one-man offense.

Allegra: Unless something crazy happens with the Bulls, I think Miami has the east locked. I always want to say that THIS is the year for my Clippers boys in the West, and I think they stand a good chance especially since they have Doc Rivers coaching. If the Clippers could make it this far under Vinny del Negro, I have high hopes for them under a real coach – maybe one who’ll make certain power forwards work on their damn free throw shot. The Spurs are getting old (most of their starters are well into their 30s) and can’t take on really physical young teams the way they used to.

Josh: 7. Can Derrick Rose be the player we saw him as before the injury and lead the Chicago Bulls to one of the top 3 seeds in the Eastern Conference?

Sean: I think he’ll be back to 100% or close to it, but the workload that Tom Thibodeau demands of his players falls somewhere between “workhorse and “indentured servant”. I think his success will depend on his confidence in the recovery process and whether the Bulls’ management resolves some of the internal issues and impending contract disputes that loom over the team.

Allegra: Derrick Rose has been playing REALLY well in the preseason – I know we shouldn’t judge based on that but he’s smooth and playing full minutes and consistently scoring in the double digits. I think the Bulls have a good shot at the top three for sure.

Josh: 8. Blake Griffin said, “Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done.” – Pick a new nickname for the Clippers!

Sean: While I was partial to “Blob City” last year with Lamar Odom’s appearance on the roster (cruel, cruel) I’ll go with Sob City because as much as I like watching the team, they do complain about fouls at a comically high rate.

Allegra: This is what I get for letting Sean answer first – he stole my Blob City joke. Jerk. I never much cared for Lob City as a nickname, but I really hope my “#LetUsGoTheClippers” hashtag catches on. 

Josh: 9. Pick the 2013-14 Toronto Raptors MVP

1) Rudy Gay
2) DeMar DeRozan
3) Kyle Lowry
4) Jonas Valančiūnas
5) Other

Sean: My heart says Valanciunas, but my mind says DeRozan. He’s displaying an impressive jump in his basketball IQ this preseason, picking his spots and taking more intelligent shots. He’s also eager to bang inside, using his newfound weight to put his back to the basket and get into the post more often against his defenders. Consistently displaying increased skill from year to year, I don’t think he’ll ever take that jump into All-Star status by any means but I believe he’s the key to this Raptors offense with Rudy Gay showing little change in the cavalier attitude towards efficiency that has plagued his entire career.

Allegra: As I’ve already mentioned, I have no faith in Rudy Gay as the saviour of this team. His eye surgery, which was supposed to fix his crazy depth perception issues, hasn’t made him a more efficient shooter. Speaking of trades I regret, nuts to Hansbrough. That guy’s attitude is a liability we can’t afford. DeRozan and Lowry, while both seem committed to improving, still aren’t wowing me the way Jonas is. He’s got to be careful about injuries and not getting fouls, but he’s a smart, conscientious player who I think is the key to turning this team around.

Josh: 10. Which of these Canadians will have better rookie seasons: Cleveland Cavaliers’ Anthony Bennett or Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk?

Sean: I’m not much of a believer in Olynyk; his style of play, below average athleticism and wispy body doesn’t seem like it’ll translate well to the pro game. With the Celtics possibly being forced to start him at Center, his rookie season is going to be a painful one on a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of talent to make his move to the NBA easier.

Bennett will have the eyes of the league upon him, but there is a young talent base in Cleveland that doesn’t exist in Boston. Cleveland’s frontcourt could be one of their strengths if Andrew Bynum is healthy and motivated, which makes the pressure to be a franchise-changing star – which I don’t think he is – less than it otherwise would be. I think he’ll be the better rookie.

Allegra: I didn’t follow either of these young men in their college career, so I only have the pre-season to work with. Cleveland are a bunch of young guys who are also developing talent – Bennett is unpolished but he’ll fit well. Olynyk doesn’t really strike me as an NBA player in terms of skill or build or grace, but that’s what rookie year is for! He’s got an uphill battle to wage, though, whereas Bennett has a more solid foundation.

Thank you to both Sean and Allegra for being awesome and talking basketball before the season has even started. I can’t wait to keep up with them all season long. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll find something to get in this space again as the season goes on.

Here’s hoping that all of you are as ready for the 2013-14 NBA season as the 3 of us are.

It’s time for tip-off!

Be Awesome!Allegra and Sean NBA Season Preview

4 years ago Views

My 2013 NCAA March Madness Bracket Is Busted!

2013 NCAA March Madness Busted BracketYup, so is yours. Admit it.

Technically I guess I’m still in the game because I’ve got Kansas to win the National Championship – and they made it through their 1st game. But man, there’s no way I can even lie to you and say that I had any of the upsets that have come through so far.

I had a not awesome record of 21 wins and 11 losses in the first 32 games for a whopping 68% success rate. Lame.

In the round of 64 we watched way too many low seeds win.

#15 Florida Gulf Coast over #2 Georgetown
#14 Harvard over #3 New Mexico
#13 LaSalle over #4 Kansas State
#12 California over #5 UNLV
#12 Ole Miss over#5  Wisconsin
#12 Oregon over #5 Oklahoma State
#11 Minnesota over #6 UCLA
#10 Iowa State over #7 Notre Dame

Yes, every year you should pencil in a 12 to beat a 5 and a 10 should and will beat a 7 more often than just once in a while – but I did not see this coming at all! At all!

If you picked Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown I would like to congratulate you. But I will not believe you until I see proof.

Same with Harvard.

And also Lasalle.

Note: If you went to Florida Gulf Coast, Harvard or LaSalle I will believe that you picked them to win – but not for basketball reasons.

2013 NCAA March Madness PredictionThe good news is that (for now) my Elite Eight of Louisville, Kansas, Gonzaga, Indiana, Miami, Michigan State, Florida and Arizona is still intact.

That means that my Final Four of Kansas, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Miami is also intact.

AND my NCAA National Championship final of #3 Michigan State vs. #1 Kansas is still on the board and could happen. And, when things to perfectly according to my plan, Kansas will beat Michigan State 71-64 on April 8 in Atlanta.

Here’s the thought I’d like to leave you all with… we’ve seen low seeds win a lot of games. And we always say that those are upsets but in a year that had no schools at the top of the heap and pulling away from the pack – I think we’re looking at PARITY. There isn’t the same separation that we’re used to. This many upsets is a trend.

Do not be surprised if we see more before this tournament is over.

Maybe even #8 UNC over #1 Kansas on Sunday?

5 years ago Views

My 2013 March Madness Bracket – TSN Tournament Challenge

TSN NCAA TOURNY CHALLENGEIt’s a wonderful and stressful thing.

I’m talking of course about filling out your NCAA March Madness Bracket.

This morning I sat down and stared at the grid. Thinking about sure things and upsets and “what ifs” and “is that what I really want to do” and I agonized over decisions. I tried 3 times to put UNC into the Sweet Sixteen. I really did. But I just couldn’t get them past Kansas. And then I thought about Gonzaga, finally a #1 seed but still probably not a National Champion. There are just so many factors. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to see Albany or Florida Gulf or make it to the Elite 8? They won’t, but it would be a hell of a story!

The madness starts Tuesday with play-in games and then Thursday, March 21 we’ll start to see the big action tip-off.

I hope you’re ready.

If you want to compare stats during the tourny you can find me at either ESPN.com or TSN.ca in the Tournament Challenge under Baby Blue Bracket Busters!

Sign-up now! http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/en/entry

2013 NCAA Midwest & South BracketNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: (3) MICHIGAN STATE vs. (1) KANSAS – 
NATIONAL CHAMPION: (1) KANSAS
2013 NCAA West & East Bracket

5 years ago Views

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 4.0

March Madness 2013 BannerLadies and gentlemen, the time has come once again!

Today is Selection Sunday. The glorious day when 68 teams of young men will learn that they are going to be playing in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – and who they’ll be playing in the first round.

It’s also the start of a 2 day countdown to the start of the greatest sports tournament in North America.

However, as we have learned over the years, the NCAAs don’t make everyone smile and they can make things tense and uncomfortable and even unfair in many homes and relationships. Because we don’t want anyone to be negatively impacted by this awesome event we’re back with the 4th annual March Madness Widow Survival Guide.

In the last 3 years we’ve looked at some ideas that partners of NCAA Tourny fans can look into so they don’t feel so neglected during the journey from 68 teams to 1.

And that’s exactly what I’m here to do again right now! Here are 5 suggestions of things to do this year while your S/O is on the couch cheering on their fav team, hoping for upsets and crying over their busted bracket.

1. Catch up on Girls/Homeland/Game of Thrones/Mad Men/ The Walking Dead/ Etc.
There are a lot of great shows out there and it’s almost impossible for everyone to keep track and watch them all every week. However, with Netflix, On Demand, DVDs and downloads there are ways that you can watch these shows in shortened, intense periods. And what better opportunity than the 21 days of March Madness?

Get your episodes in order, make some popcorn (a great antioxidant) and enjoy!

2. Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.
It’s coming, this much we know. But when and how we don’t know. So the best thing to do is get yourself prepared. I would suggest reading The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, think about packing your Zombie Apocalypse First Aid Kit, building your Zombie Apocalypse Team and thinking about where you can go, where you can get weapons, food, ammo, tools and everything else you need to survive.

I’m pulling for you and hope to see you in the safe zone.

3. Start your Spring Cleaning.
I’m not saying that you have to do all of the heavy cleaning by yourself, that’s not fair at all. What I’m suggesting is that you can use this time to go through your closet and pick out the clothes that you want to donate to charity. You can organize the tupperware cupboard. You can even make your shopping list for the things that you need after going through the house and realizing what you’re missing!

4. Eat All The Things.
This is your chance friends. Your basketball fan is going to be so engrossed with the games that they will be able to survive on cereal, chips, celery and coffee. But you, you get to try all the new recipes that you’ve wanted to get at and enjoy some old favourites as well.

And here’s the best part – if you don’t want to share, you don’t have to! That’s right, this is your time and your food and your treat. I would recommend maybe sharing a couple times to be nice, but not every night. You can even invite other non-NCAA fan friends over and have a little dinner party with some wine and stories and laughs. It will be great!

5. Get in the Game!
I say it every year, the best thing you can do is play along with your partner. You don’t have to sit down and watch every game of course. But filling out your bracket, picking a favourite team, cheering with and against your S/O can be a lot of fun.

Remember this though please: NCAA fans are really into things and when their team loses (and the odds are they will) don’t rag on them too hard. It’s an emotional and disappointing time.

Good luck with your picks and your sanity during this wonderful time of year.

I’m excited. I hope you are too!

If you want to see some other suggestions for your March Madness loneliness, check out the first 3 guides.

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide – March 18, 2010

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 2.0 – March 10, 2011

The March Madness Widow Survival Guide 3.0 – March 8, 2012

5 years ago Views

It’s Game 7 Season!

It’s Game 7 Season… and if you don’t believe me, check this out.
We’re wrapping up Round 1 of the NBA playoffs and Round 2 of the NHL playoffs and we’re hitting 6 game 7’s so far. I love it.
Game 7’s make dreams come true and break hearts.

5 years ago Views
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