It's Monday and "The Stack" is fooling no one with this blog today (sorry, couldn't resist the April Fools Day reference despite it being a day late). We've got a few things to get to from the weekend so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, April 2:
1. Kentucky, Kansas set to clash in championship game
Two storied programs are set to collide in New Orleans tonight as the #2 Kansas Jayhawks take on #1 Kentucky (9:23 PM ET CBS). Kentucky was able to get by inner-state rival Louisville while playing what some would say their "B" game. Yes Kentucky didn't play great, but considering the stage this was on and playing your rival, you had to expect this game was going to be close and that the "A" game wasn't going to come out. Anthony Davis was spectacular, scoring 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking five shots in the win. There is a reason he is the Naismith Player of the Year. Davis won the award Sunday. Nobody played more outstanding this season than Davis and it wasn't really even close in my estimation. He dominated the colege basketball landscape.
Kentucky's opponent tonight had to once again scratch and claw their way out of a halftime deficit, this time Ohio State and beating them 64-62, to reach the title game. Head coach Bill Self's squad has a margin of minus six points scoring differential in the first half in the tournament, but turn it on in the second half, outscoring their opponents by a plus forty-two margin. They trailed by nine to Ohio State at half Saturday night, but played great defense in the second half, had more energy and out-hustled the Buckeyes to get the victory. Bill Self's squad continues to impress, one reason why Self won Naismith Coach of the Year honors. All but a handful of people outside of Lawrence saw Kansas regrouping this well this year after losing so much last year. What an impressive job by Self and his coaching staff.
As we look ahead to tonight, Kentucky clearly has the more talented team. They've had the most talented team all season pretty much. Kansas cannot fall behind early in this game. If they do, it is highly unlikely that they can climb out of such a deep deficit against a team like Kentucky. Kansas has proven me wrong before in this tournament, but they will not win if they fall behind by a lot early. I expect Kansas to come out playing loose, because they have no pressure on them. Few expected them to make it this far. Kentucky coach John Calipari will try to keep it light for his team and tell them to just go have fun, but the fact of the matter is is that they are favored to win it and should do so convincingly. Almost everyone and their dog outside of Kansas is picking Kentucky to win it all. That is a lot of pressure and expectation. Then again, Kentucky has been dealing with that all year long and has handled it beautifully. In the end, their talent is just too much and they will be cutting down the nets as the top team in college basketball. They'll win 74-63.
2. Notre Dame, Baylor facing each other on the women's side
UCONN and Notre Dame have developed the fiercest rival in women's college basketball and last night was a great game. Back and forth the two teams went. Kelly Faris sunk two free throws to give the Huskies a two point lead with eleven seconds left, capping an 8-0 run, but Natalie Novosel scored a layup with four seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. In overtime, Skylar Diggins and Brittney Mallory made some huge plays, Mallory hit two threes and Diggins had a huge block that led to one of Mallory's threes. That sequence gave Notre Dame the momentum which led them to an 83-75 victory and another birth in the championship game for the second consecutive year. They'll take on Baylor who got by Stanford 59-47. Brittney Griner did not have a great game, but Baylor was able to get by. She had only two blocks. I'm guessing she'll more against Notre Dame and have a better game Tuesday night. Should Baylor win, and I'm guessing they will, they'll be the first team in NCAA history, men's or women's to go 40-0. What an accomplishment that would be. The championship game is Tuesday night at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN.
3. Saints appeals to be heard Tuesday
According to reports, appeals for New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis handed down to them by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for their role in the bounty program will be heard Tuesday by Goodell in New York. The Saints also plan to appeal to their $500,000 fine and loss of draft picks and assistant coach Joe Vitt will appeal his six game suspension though no date has been set for either of those appeals. With Goodell present for the appeals, it is highly unlikely that Goodell will reduce the suspensions. Why would he go back on his initial punishment? He was furious that he was lied to, but he didn't let that cloud his judgement and rush him into handing out the suspensions. Sure there is a chance if both Payton and Loomis make a highly persuasive argument that Goodell will lower the suspensions, but considering he is the one hearing the appeal, it's not a good chance. Perhaps if someone else listened to the appeal, then we would see a different result. I don't see that happen here. Which means that Bill Parcells name will continue to float out there as someone to step in to coach the Saints until he gives his answer.
Also, the NFLPA is asking for more information from the NFL regarding the bounty case so they can review it and they are suggesting that the players involved in the bounty program get lawyers because criminal charges could be brought according to reports. I doubt it will ever come to that point. I think the players will get suspensions, Jonathan Vilma in particular could be suspended for multiple seasons, and that will be it. If someone had been really injured that would have affected their lives after the game, then criminal charges are warranted. Like so much with the Saints and the bounty program story, there is still more to unfold with this story.
4. Heat lose big, Thunder roll over Bulls
Finally in the NBA, Sunday saw two of the best teams in the association get blown out on the road. The Chicago Bulls, without Derrick Rose, lost 92-78 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They outscored the Bulls 31-12 in the third quarter. Russell Westbrook had 27 points, Kevin Durant had 26. The Thunder are the best team in the west, perhaps in the NBA, though it would have been nice to see them do this against Rose. This game could very well be an NBA finals preview. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics handed the Miami Heat their worst loss of the season, beating the Heat 91-72. Rajon Rondo had another triple double, with 16 points, eleven rebounds and 14 assists. I don't think this is anything to panic over if you're a Heat fan, but if you're a Celtics fan, you have to be feeling good that your team is hitting their stride and looks like they will be a tough out in the eastern conference playoffs.
Coming up later this week: 2012 MLB preview and NHL playoff talk
Coming up tomorrow: NCAA men's basketball championship game reaction, women's championship game preview plus other big news in sports.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.