Women’s NCAA Tournament Picks and Bracket

 

The top half of my bracket

I don’t have much time so I can’t get into this too much. I will say that I didn’t see too many upsets here. The one big upset that I picked was Ohio State over Tennessee. The Volunteers are not the power they once were, and Ohio State is playing like the team we thought they would be at the start of the season. That should be a great game. I then have Notre Dame taking out Ohio State to move to the Final Four. Continue reading

Purdue @ Notre Dame Photo Gallery

Here is the photo gallery from the game on Sunday. Now as many of you know when you are at Notre Dame and the game is televised you cannot take pictures when the game is going on. You can take pictures before the game, during timeouts, and after the game. Taking them during the action is prohibited. I honored their wishes and did not take pictures during the game. Any pictures that appear to be during the game have actually been re-enacted for effect. To honor their wishes I have not posted any pictures of their basketball players unless they are part of a picture. I understand that they don’t want any publicity for their team, and I have tried to crop their players out when possible. I use to go to a lot more games at Notre Dame, but since my hobby is taking pictures I will usually only go to games that are not on TV. So here are the pictures taken Sunday.

Strength and conditioning coach Ron Thomson seems to be telling Chantel Poston and Chelsea Jones to get back down here

Continue reading

Irish Give Muffet a Win For Her Birthday

 

The Irish fans celebrate McGraw's birthday

Yesterday their were many storylines heading into the game. It was the 1,000th game in the history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. That game also happened to come on Irish coach Muffet McGraw’s birthday. Purdue came into the game 0-4 in the last four meetings against the Irish. They still had to be stinging from the late game collapse against Maryland on Thursday. Continue reading

College Basketball Game of the Week (Week 4 Edition)

This week the pick for the game of the week is not so easy. The Purdue men’s team plays a tough game today against Alabama. Tomorrow the Purdue women travel up near me to play Notre Dame, and then later in the week the Purdue men travel up here to play Valpo. I decided to look at both the games in my neck of the woods this week. I normally have to travel about two hours to see Purdue play. This week I can just go about a half hour either way to see both the men’s and the women’s teams play. You can’t beat that. I doubt that they had me in mind when they made up the schedule, but if they did thank you. Continue reading

Skylar Diggins May Be the Real Deal

Tonight I went to South Bend to see two premiers. The first was the first basketball game in the new Purcell Pavilion (formerly the Joyce Center). The second was the first Notre Dame game for Skylar Diggins. First off I want to say that they have done wonders with the old Joyce Center. I was expecting an uncomfortable time in the wood bleachers up top, but was surprised to see nice new chairs in place of the bleachers. I will go a little more into detail on the new amenities in a later post. For now let me say that it is very nice. I could say the same thing for Diggins. She scored 17 points on the night which was along with Erica Solomon a team high. She seemed very comfortable on the floor, and should be something to watch as time goes by. The only knock that I have from her play tonight was her four turnovers. It is early though so I don’t think that the Irish faithful should be too concerned. Notre Dame won easily in the end 97-53 over the Indianapolis Greyhounds. Six players ended the game in double digits. This team can really pressure the opponent and create turnovers. With a mix of veterans and newcomers it will be interesting to see how this team progresses as the season goes on. They start the season ranked fourth in the country. This could be a special season.

Women’s NCAA Tournament Final Four

With four teams left I decided to take a look at my bracket just like I did on the men’s side. I have three of the four teams still in it. I picked one of the two #2 seeds that won this week. With the women you can usually pick by the seed. Sometimes though you have to guess. That is pretty much what has been going on this week. Unlike the men’s side I feel good about my picks coming up. I think that UConn is strong, and should get to the finals. I think that will be a great final. Tennessee just finished beating both teams that I have season tickets for in back to back games. They beat Purdue fairly easily last Tuesday in West Lafayette, and rallied to beat the Irish Sunday night. I think that they will make it to the finals, but UConn and their freshman sensation will be too much for them to handle. There are still three games left to play though, and anything can happen. That is why it is called March Madness. That does not change just because it is April.

Stadium Guide: Mackey Arena

Last week I attended my 50th game inside of Mackey Arena. It is kind of ironic to me that the game would not involve a Purdue team, and that Notre Dame was the ‘home team’ for the game. The bulk of the fifty games that I have seen inside of Mackey have come in the last 3 years when I became a men’s and women’s season ticket holder. I had only been in the stadium a couple of times before 2005. So without further adieu here is my very biased stadium guide for Mackey Arena. This will have to be redone in a couple of years after the renovation is complete. They are going to do some great things to the old arena. I will post on that when things are a little closer to happening. I wanted to post this last week, but things have been crazy lately. I am trying to balance work, my sports addiction, and this blog. The blog has been losing out.
Location A: Mackey Arena is located on Northwestern Avenue right next to the Purdue football stadium. They have multiple ways to get to the stadium, and if you know the area you can avoid the heavy traffic. You are also close to many highways and I65 is not too far away.
Parking A-: Multiple parking lots and parking on the street is available. You can pay $5 and park in the lot north of the football stadium, or you can park on one of the many streets in between the arena and the local high school. If you park in the $5 lot you may have a small wait in line to get out. The lot is small enough though that the wait is usually not too long unless it is a huge game. The majority of fans with no parking passes park on the streets. This does not get a higher grade because no matter where you park you have at least a half mile walk to the stadium if not more. Not a huge deal, but it is not ideal.
Ushers A: As I said before I am a season ticket holder so I know the ushers in my area very well. The women at the gate I usually enter are so nice that even though you can enter at any gate I will go out of my way sometimes to go through the same gate. If the game is big you can expect to have your ticket checked when you go into the lower bowl of the arena. Other than that the ushers are very friendly. They are employees of Andy Frain who does security for most Purdue sporting events.
Tradition A: Hanging from the rafters of Mackey are banners commemorating every Big Ten title, NIT title, and post season triumph that both the men’s and women’s teams have accomplished. They also have banners for every all american for both teams. The banners are well done. The only problem that I have with them is that there are not more of them. Maybe we can add to that in the next few years. As you walk around the concourse they have small displays for a lot of the olympic sports on the campus. That setup is very similar to the one at Crisler Arena. It is no wonder since both stadiums were built at the same time.
Concessions B+: About every two sections of the stadium has its own concession stand. The prices are fair, and the selection is the normal college game fare. A hot dog will run you $3 as will a water. You can also get a souvenir soda for $3, but the cup is very small. The only time that I have seen long lines is at halftime, or just before the game. If you go any other time you can usually just walk up and order. The stands are run on gameday by local groups who work for tips. During the women’s tournament this past week the local baseball teams had the stands. They were saving for a trip to Cooperstown this year. The groups are always nice, and they will gladly tell you about their cause if you let them. I had trouble giving the concessions an A because of the pricing versus what you get. They are a little higher than some of the other arenas I have been to.
Bathrooms A: Here is one area that this stadium does well in. They have a bathroom every three sections or so. The bathrooms are large, and split in two so that people aren’t cramped in a small area. They really seem to have thought this one out.
Scoreboard A-: Here is another area that I like about the stadium. They have a great scoreboard that hangs down from center court. They also have four information boards that give greater detail than the main one can. I love the video board. They do some great things with it including the ever popular Russian or Rubbish during women’s basketball games. The one thing that makes this an A- is the fact that they now think its cute to show fans making faces when they think a bad call has been made on the court. I want to see the play again, not a pre taped goof off with fans. What should get it an A+ is the addition of Bogdonova doing Russian or Rubbish. The auxiliary boards give the points and fouls of each player during play. When play is stopped they give deep stats for both teams and players. On the picture above you can see the main scoreboard with one of the auxiliary boards in the background.
Tickets B+: Tickets are fairly cheap. If you can’t get into the stadium just find the ‘fat guy’ outside of the McDonalds near the stadium. He gets tickets from Purdue alumni and if you have Purdue on he will help you get into the game. He is now becoming a celebrity on campus. If you want to buy tickets from the ticket office here are the prices. Men’s are $18 for non conference and $23 for Big Ten games. To get into a women’s game it is only $10. That is a bargain.
Fans B+: For the most part the fans are civil inside the arena. For the men’s games the lower bowl is filled with John Purdue Club members who have accrued many points. To do that takes years so the fans near the court tend to be older. This past year the student section called the ‘Paint Crew’ really stepped it up. They were a difference maker in some of the games in my opinion. They really helped get everyone up by their enthusiasm. They are a fairly new group that just seems to be getting stronger. They even tried to camp out five days in below zero weather for a game this year before the university shut it down. Hopefully they can keep growing and become a force to be reckoned with. The women have the ‘Gold Mine’ for their student section. They have about 20 die hard fans that attend every game. The ones that come seem to be enthused though. The women do not outdraw the men, but they do well for themselves. They average about 9,000 a game, and are always in the top ten in attendance. The reason I gave this section a B+ is because of the other fans. Sometimes they just sit on their hands. I want to see some action from the fans. I may be harsh here, but I just want to see some excitement from all the fans.
Local Food and Entertainment A-: Harry’s Chocolate Shoppe is a popular bar on campus that most people make a point to stop at. Near the stadium is a coffee shop attached to the football stadium, a McDonalds, Jimmie John’s, Mad Mushroom Pizza, and a bar that changes hands every season. Being a college town you can find just about anything that you want within a reasonable driving distance. One suggestion is to try McGraw’s which is south of town off of 26. It is a little pricey, but a great place to grab an after game meal. Bruno’s Pizza which is down by the levee is also a great place for a meal. I gave this section the minus because you have to drive a little way to get to a few places. To me it is not a big deal, but to some it could be.
Overall A: As I said in the opening this would almost have to be a biased stadium guide. I just cannot distance myself from all the things that I have seen in the building, and the fact that I graduated from Purdue. I am sure over the next year we will see some more biased guides as I profile some stadiums that I have been to many times. In these biased guides maybe something useful will come out.
Interesting Facts:
The arena originally cost $6 million dollars to build.
The upcoming renovation is scheduled to cost $82 million
Capacity: 14,123
First Game: 12/2/1967 v. UCLA
Originally named Purdue Arena
Renamed Mackey Arena in 1972
Court replaced before 1997-1998 season. Court was renamed ‘Keady Court’ then

Women’s NCAA Tournament Round Two

Yesterday I attended what was likely my final two basketball games of the season. Below are the recaps from each game.

#1 Tennessee 78 – #9 Purdue 52 - Purdue was in this game until the opening tip. They just do not have the firepower this year to hang with a team like Tennessee. They needed to have a great game with the Vols having a bad game to win. They also needed some help from the refs. They did not get that either. We had the same bald ref who called Sunday’s game. He must have flunked out of Purdue because he did everything he could to help Tennessee. Candace Parker scored at will when she wasn’t holding her right shoulder. I noticed that when she scored she celebrated with some sort of twirling motion over her head with her right arm. When she missed she held her arm in pain. Pat Summit recorded her 100th win in the tournament as a head coach. Most coaches would like 100 wins overall let alone in the tournament. This Vols team is good, but I think they are also cocky. When someone can get the smug look off of their faces they have a shot at beating them. Notre Dame has the next shot at them in Oklahoma City. The Purdue girls played a hell of a season this year. They had a rough schedule for a team that was not fighting injuries and graduation. They played UConn, Tennessee, Duke, and North Carolina not to mention the Big Ten schedule. I can’t wait until November to see this team at full strength.

#5 Notre Dame 79 – #4 Oklahoma 75 - Notre Dame came out of the gates firing to quickly run up a ten point lead. The score settled at five and stayed there for most of the first half. They gave up the lead in the second half, and forced the game into overtime.. Notre Dame won this game in overtime. The difference maker was Charel Allen. She scored 35 points to lead the Irish to the Sweet 16. Oklahoma scored the first five points of the extra session. Allen hit a three and then made a great pass to Ashley Barlow to tie the game. Allen was 3 for 3 on three pointers and 12-12 from the line for the game. Courtney Paris was tough inside again tonight. She scored 24 points, and grabbed 16 boards. She made life tough for the Irish under the hoop. I watch her block a shot without leaving her feet. She is not fast with her feet, but she has quick hands. That combination leads to smaller guards thinking that they could take advantage of her. They are wrong. I mentioned after Sunday’s game that good guard play could take down the Sooners. I was wrong. One great game by a guard would take down the Sooners. Allen lives to play another game in college.

NCAA Tournament Day Three Recap

One word can sum up yesterday’s action for me. Busted! My bracket was blown to bits yesterday. I knew that Duke would go down early, but I was hoping it would be Purdue who did it. Purdue would not get that chance as West Virginia knocked them out of the tournament. In the next game in D.C. Purdue lost to Xavier. The Purdue loss would not have been so bad if they hadn’t come back to take the lead near the end. They were down eight or ten when Chris Kramer went the length of the court and laid the ball in. That started a Boilers run that ended with them up one. Just before the run I had resigned myself to defeat. As soon as I had hope though we blew it, and just looked tired at the end. They had a great year though, and I think we will hear more from them in the tournament in years to come. Notre Dame on the other hand was out of the game the entire time. Washington State really took it to them. Out of the eight games played yesterday I only correctly picked three winners. Today I already know that I have two wrong because I have UConn and Clemson in the sweet sixteen. Part of my downfall yesterday was underestimating the west coast teams. I really did not know the teams so I went with my gut on the games. Well my gut did not stay up late to watch Pac Ten games all year either so I missed out. At least UCLA came from behind to win. I have them in the finals, and had they lost my bracket would have really been done. I still lost two elite eight teams yesterday, and I have a bad feeling more will be gone by the end of the day.
I will not be able to watch the games though because today I will be in West Lafayette to watch the first round of the Women’s Tourney. I will get to see Purdue, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts, Utah, SMU, and Illinois State play. It is going to be a long day. During the break in the games I see that the baseball team has a doubleheader today. Maybe I can add to the madness and spend the break at the stadium.

Women’s Tournament Picks

The women had their tourney seeding released today. Here are my picks for this years tournament. Just like on the mens side I scanned my bracket in and posted it above. I don’t know as much about the women as I do the men, but I do know that the disparity between the good and the bad teams on the women’s side is much greater. Usually you can pick the higher seeded team and you will do fine.
Here is who I think will win in the first round:
UConn
Minnesota
Old Dominion
Virginia
George Washington
Cal
Iowa State
Rutgers
Maryland
Nebraska
West Virginia
Vanderbilt
Pitt
Baylor
UTEP
Stanford
North Carolina
Georgia
Kansas State
Louisville
Ohio State
Oklahoma State
DePaul
LSU
Tennessee
Purdue (obvious homer pick)
Notre Dame
Oklahoma
Arizona State
Duke
Syracuse
Texas A&M

Here are the teams that will be in the sweet sixteen:
UConn
Virginia
Cal
Rutgers
Maryland
W. Virginia
Baylor
Stanford
North Carolina
Louisville
LSU
Ohio State
Tennessee
Notre Dame
Duke
Texas A&M

Here is my take on the elite eight games:
UConn will beat Virginia by 10+
Rutgers does the same with Cal
Maryland starters get plenty of rest against W. Virginia
Stanford barely gets by Baylor
N. Carolina whips Louisville
Ohio State with Star Allen back make it close against LSU
Tennessee pulls away late from Notre Dame
Duke pulls the upset over Texas A&M

Here is how I think the final four will break down:
North Carolina beats LSU
Tennessee beats Duke
Stanford takes down Maryland
UConn pulls it out against Rutgers

Here is what will happen in Tampa:
UConn beats Stanford by 10+
Tennessee wins a close game against UNC
UConn wins when their freshman sensation takes over the game. Parker has a rough last game.

I have tickets for the first two rounds of the tournament that will be played in West Lafayette. I have one team that I have picked in this bracket that I know will probably not win, but who knows? They somehow got in by winning the Big Ten Tournament. Anything can happen. Both teams that I hold season tickets for will be in West Lafayette this weekend. Notre Dame is a 5 seed playing #12 SMU. They have a good chance to win the first round game. Purdue is ranked I think too high at a #9 seed, but that gives them #8 Utah in the first round. That will be a tough game for the Lady Boilers. Maybe they can use the home court advantage to lead them to victory. Next year the Irish will host the first round, and the final four will be in St. Louis. I think both Notre Dame and Purdue will have a shot to be there with who they have coming back.