As promised, The Stack this month is prmarily about college basketball. After all, it is March Madness. Two conference tournaments began yesterday with five more beginning today. We'll get to those previews, but first there is something else that is at the top of "the stack" so let's find out what that is and the rest of the big news for today, Wednesday, March 6:
Blackhawks extend streak
And so the streak continues. The Chicago Blackhawks continued their unprecedented run, extending their NHL record of earning a point in their 23rd game to begin the season,29th overall in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Wild made the splash in free agency by signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They were the ones who were capable of making a run like the Blackhawks are currently doing. Instead, the Blackhawks took it to the Wild, scoring four first period goals in the span of five-and-a-half minutes. From there, they were able to coast to victory. They are 20-0-3. They've won ten straight, a franchise record. When is this team going to lose? What they are doing is unreal. The national media is certainly taking notice. This is great publicity for hockey and the NHL, especially given the lockout.
It's even given way to a fascinating debate...which is more impressive the Blackhawks twenty-three straight games to begin a season with at least one point or the Miami Heat's current fifteen game win streak? Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane says it's cool to be compared to the Heat. He and the team don't mind the added attention they are receiving, in fact they love it. More and more media keep showing up. You know what? He and his teammates are right to love it and they have the more impressive active streak. Yes each team has great players, but the Heat have the best player in the game in LeBron James, not to mention two of the other top ten players in the league. The Blackhawks have Kane and Jonathan Toews as their two big stars and a bevy of talent around them, but remember, they're playing a shortened season and had only a week of training camp. Their schedule has been far more difficult and it's much more difficult to win in hockey than it is in basketball. In the NBA, you only need a couple of great players to go on a win streak like the Heat are on. In hockey, you need a complete team because players aren't on the ice at all times. And don't say that hockey players are soft. How many of you have ever put on skates? It is tough. Plus all of that equipment. But I'm getting sidetracked. Bottom line, both streaks are impressive, but the what the Blackhawks are doing is simply amazing and the better of the two streaks. Agree?
Atlantic Sun tournament preview
The Atlantic Sun begins their conference tournament today in Macon, Georgia. Dates are March 6-9. This is going to come down to Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast, the top two teams in the conference. They split their season series. Really it's a toss up as both teams had 21-10 records and only one game in conference play. Should these two meet in the final, it's going to be really fun. I'm leaning Mercer right now to win the tourney.
Northeast Conference tournament preview
Like the Atlantic Sun, the NEC begins their tournament today on the higher seeds campus'. The tournament runs March 6-12. Games are actually on the 6th, 9th and 12th. Robert Morris is the top seed with a two game advantage over everyone else in the conference. Bryant and Wagner are two surprises. Bryant especially given how bad they were just a couple of days ago. In the end, I like the top seed Robert Morris to win.
Ohio Valley Conference tournament preview
This is going to be a great tournament because of two teams, Belmont and Murray State. The tournament runs March 6-9 in Nashville. Both teams have potential to bust some brackets in March Madness. Belmont can score with the best of them. Murray State has one of the best point guards in the country in Isaiah Canaan. To the rest of the teams, thanks for participating. It's a shame that both of these teams won't make the tournament. Whichever team makes it, I'll go out on a limb and say they'll win one game in the NCAA tournament, especially if it's Belmont. I'll take them to win this tournament.
Patriot League tournament preview
Remember Lehigh last year? The #15 seed that beat Duke last year? Well first, they won the Patriot League tournament. C.J. McCollum became a star. Unfortunately for him, Lehigh and the NCAA tournament, he most likely won't play in the conference tournament as he is still recovering from a leg injury. That means the Patriot League tournamet, which plays games on March 6th, 9th and 13th on the higher seeded campus' has a new team that everyone will try and knock off...Bucknell. Easier said than done. Senior center Mike Muscala is a stud, one of the best big men in the country. He averages double-digits in both scoring and rebounds per game. He's the reason why Bucknell wins the tournament and may win a game in the NCAA tournament as well.
WCC tournament preview
The final tournament beginning Wednesday is the West Coast Conference tournament, March 6-9 in Las Vegas with the championship game March 11. Gonzaga, you know, the number one team in the country, wants to be the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament. They know they have a target on their back, but this team is really good and they've proven it this year. The WCC is a two-bid league, unless BYU or another team somehow stuns the field. St. Mary's is in too. They won't win the tournament though. Gonzaga has this one.
Coming up Thursday: Reaction to top sports headlines from Wednesday plus MVC tourney preview.