It's Wednesday and "The Stack" is here to talk college basketball and NFL free agency becuase there were plenty of moves. So let's get right to and see what made "the stack" for today, Wednesday, March 14:
1. Western Kentucky, BYU advance to "second round."
March Madness officially tipped off last night with what the NCAA calls "the first four". Two games, two great finishes. First, #16 Western Kentucky, down 16 at one point to #16 Mississippi Valley State, stormed back to win 59-58. Over the final five minutes, the Hilltoppers outscored the Delta Devils 22-5. It was not a very well played game. WKU shot barely 30% from the floor, MVSU not much better at 36%. But WKU rallied back and was able to get to the foul line more often and get the win. And they did this all in front of President Obama and Great Britain's Prime Minister. Too bad the President didn't take the Prime Minister to a day's worth of games at a site like Pittsburgh or Portland. That would be awesome and they'd probably see better games, but at least they saw a furious comeback by the Hilltoppers. WKU should enjoy this and what they did in front of the president now. They don't stand a chance against Kentucky.
What a wild second game though between #14 Iona and #14 BYU. The Gaels were a force, scoring 55 points in the first half. They practically ran BYU out of the building in the first half. They trailed by 25 at one point, 49-24. But over the final four minutes of the first half, Iona didn't score and BYU crept closer, playing some terrific defense and trailing by fifteen at the break. The defense carried over into the second half for BYU, forcing turnovers and missed shots by the Gaels. Slowly but surely, BYU crept back making their shots. Iona went over nine minutes without a point. And once BYU took the lead with just under two and a half minutes to play, Iona could not answer. This is absolutely stunning to me. I thought Iona was going to throttle BYU even before the game started. I loved the offense, loved Scott Machado and company. This is unbelievable. Granted Iona is a jump-shooting team and if their shots don't fall and they go cold like they did last night, they have a great chance to let teams get back in the game and even come back and win. And that is just what BYU did. The Gaels are out and BYU moves on to face #3 Marquette on Thursday. Marquette should win, but after BYU's comeback last night, Marquette should not feel safe no matter how big of a lead they have.
2. NFL free agency begins with a frenzy.
There are a number of deals that have already happened since the NFL began it's new year at 4:00 pm ET yesterday. Here is a list of some of the bigger moves:
- WR Vincent Jackson signed with Tampa Bay
- WR Pierre Garcon signed with Washington
- WR Reggie Wayne re-signed with Indianapolis (sensing a trend here?)
- WR Marques Colston re-signed with New Orleans
- WR Harry Douglas re-signed with Atlanta
- CB Cortland Finnegan signed with St. Louis (re-unites with former head coach Jeff Fisher)
- CB Carlos Rogers re-signed with San Francisco
Perhaps the biggest splash of the day though came in a trade between the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Bears for two third round draft picks. The move re-unites Marshall with Jay Cutler. The two were teammates in Denver. Finally the Bears have a legit number one receiver. This not only has to make Jay happy, but also Matt Forte and Bears fans everywhere. They look to have a pretty legit offense now. With an aging defense, the window of opportunity for the Bears is closing and they needed to make a move. This trade definitely addressed that move.
The move by Miami may ultimately cost them a shot at Peyton Manning, who is reportedly cut his list down to four teams with the Dolphins being one of them. You have to wonder what the trade does to Manning's thought process. Reggie Bush on offense. Is that it? Denver, Arizona and the Titans are the others on Manning's list according to reports. If you're looking for everything, the Cardinals have the best team. It will be interesting to see where Manning goes and as always follow all of the latest developments on sites like PFT and nfl.com. Today should be just as busy and crazy as Tuesday. It appears the NFL is participating in their own little March Madness.
3. Fab Melo suspended, NBA trade thoughts.
Big news coming out of Syracuse that could ultimately affect who comes out of the East region in the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Sryacuse sophomore Fab Melo has been suspended for the tournament for academic reasons. This is a big move by Syracuse. Melo is the best player on this team. He was suspended earlier in the season for academic reasons as well. This should be a lesson not only to him but student athletes everywhere that what they do in the classroom is just as important as what they do on the field or court. How embarrassed has Melo got to be feeling now? He has let his team down, his coach down, his university down, but most importantly himself. He better start hitting the books hard and getting that education or he will face similar circumstances next year, if he returns.
And in the NBA, as the trade deadline approaches Thursday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks traded former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to Golden State for guard Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and former number one overall pick Kwame Brown. Yeah, Kwame Brown. Whoopee! The Warriors are in year one under new head coach Mark Jackson and Ellis' future with the team was up in the air so why not try to get something for him? The Warriors did just that. May be a good trade for them in the future, but neither team is making the playoffs this year with the players they received.
4. Final games of "first four" finish tonight.
If you thought last night was exciting with the wild comebacks, we can only hope that tonight and the rest of the tournament will be just as crazy. Tonight #16 Vermont takes on #16 Lamar at 6:40 ET on Tru TV. I like Pat Knight and Lamar to win. They are 6-0 since Knight's rant about his seniors and their leadership. His father never ranted did he? No, not Bob Knight. I like Lamar 68-59 tonight.
In the other game, #12 California takes on #12 South Florida at 9:10 ET on TruTV. The Pac-12 wasn't a good conference this year, but I lilke Cal to win this game. Remember Jorge Gutierrez, the Pac-12 player of the year for Cal. He is a very good player and will be the difference in this game. USF like to play slower and play lower scoring games. They'll slow Gutierrez down, but they won't be able to stop him. I like the Bears 63-47.
Enjoy the games tonight as we get set for the tourney to get really going tomorrow.
Coming up Thursday: Quick reaction to Wednesday's results and preview and predictions of Thursday's games.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.