WILDCATS ARE THE PICK OVER HUSKIES
COLABELLO CONTINUES TO DELIGHT HIS FANS
THE UNDERTAKER’S STREAK IS DEAD
Kentucky and Connecticut have combined for 18 losses this season but no one is saying they don’t deserve to be playing for the NCAA men’s basketball championship Monday night in Arlington, Tex.
Kentucky is favored by 2 ½ points over Connecticut after winning its first five games in this tournament by 7, 2, 5, 3 and 1 points.
The Huskies, a 7 seed, are accustomed to being underdogs in this tournament. After outlasting St. Francis 89-81 in overtime in their opening game, they’ve knocked off Villanova a 2 seed) by 11 points, Iowa State (a 3 seed) by 5 points, Michigan State (a 4 seed) by 6 points and top-ranked Florida by 10 points.
Connecticut (31-8 this season) relies on arguably the best backcourt in the tournament – Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – and a smothering defense. The Huskies are at their best when they score off turnovers.
Kentucky, loaded with freshmen, started slowly this season. Forget the team’s 8 seed and 29-10 record. They’re on a roll now and the obvious team to beat. They have more overall talent and size than Connecticut and they’re coming off five clutch wins over Kansas State, Wichita State, defending champion Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin.
I respect the Huskies but I can’t see them matching baskets with the Wildcats, who have as much speed and quickness and more size and strength up front. Experience counts. Talent and size count more.
My pick: Kentucky 71, Connecticut 64.
COLABELLO LEADING THE AMERICAN LEAGUE WITH 11 RBI
Chris Colabello, last season’s International League MVP and Rookie of the Year with the Red Wings, passed up $1 million to play in South Korea this season because he was confident he could stick with the Minnesota Twins.
He not only stuck with the Twins when spring training camp broke. Now he’s sticking it to American League pitchers.
As I write this, the AL has not released its Player of the Week. But why not Colabello?
His batting line for this young season: .391 batting average (9 for 23); 4 doubles ; 1 HR; 11 RBI (in 6 games).
Some other hot and a few cold baseball players:
Mark Trumbo, traded by the LA Angels to Arizona, is tearing up the National League. He has 5 HRs and 13 RBI, leading the majors in both categories.
Through six games, the Yankees have 1 HR – by Brett Gardner…Alfonso Soriano got his first hit of the season Sunday (1-for-19; .053)…Derek Jeter got his 3,320th hit to pass Paul Molitor for No. 8 on the all-time list. Jeter is mostly hitting the ball to the right side, but he’s been doing that for a long time.
Ryan Braun (Milwaukee) is hitting .150 with 3 singles in 20 at-bats. Much too early to wonder if he’s missing his PEDs…Bruce Harper (Washington) is hitting .143 (3-for-21; all singles)…Zack Cosart (Cincinnati) is off to a 0-for-19 start and Mike Moustakas is 0-for-15….B.J. Upton, who hit .184 in his first season with Atlanta in 2013, is 3-for-25 so far this season.
MLB hitting leaders (team) -- Colorado .308 team batting average…Miami 42 runs…San Francisco 11 HRs…Detroit .488 slugging percentage.
MLB pitching leaders (team) – Milwaukee 1.45 ERA (a fluke)…Atlanta .185 batting average against.
MLB worst pitching (team) – Minnesota 6.20 ERA (not a fluke)…Baltimore .318 batting average against.
NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE NOTEBOOK
The Edmonton Rush are 14-0 after a 12-11 win over Colorado Saturday night before a season-best home crowd of 8,275…Buffalo also had a season-high crowd – 16,606 – for a 16-13 loss to Calgary. It was the fourth straight loss for the slumping Bandits…John Tavares had his 800th career NLL goal for Buffalo in the loss and has 21 goals and 20 assists in 13 games this season. Not bad for a 45-year-old high school math teacher in his 23rd NLL season...Philadelphia’s attendance has taken a dive (6,659 for Friday night’s 13-9 loss to Calgary). The Wings are 5-10…Colorado is 5-10 and will miss the playoffs. John Grant Jr. has been a bright spot: 33 goals and 48 assists.
The Rochester Knighthawks have a +34 goal differential, behind only Edmonton’s +57…Cody Jamieson has 89 points, second in the NLL scoring race to Garrett Billings (102 points)…The zebras haven’t done Rochester any favors. The Knighthawks have 288 penalty minutes this season. Opponents have only 223…Rochester has outscored opponents in all four quarters this season: 36-32, 44-36, 46-40 and 49-33. That’s a good sign. The K-hawks are either good in the clutch or in good shape.
THE UNDERTAKER FALLS TO BROCK LESNAR
WrestleMania 30 attracted a sellout 75,167 Sunday night at the Superdome in New Orleans. Pro wrestling obviously is not a sport but it still cad draw a crowd live and on pay-per-view TV.
The Undertaker was the big loser as his streak of 21 straight winning appearances in Wrestlemania was ended by Brock Lesnar. The WWE official Web site noted: “To see The Streak end was the single most shocking moment in the grand history of WWE. No one imagined it could happen.”
The Undertaker’s loss should not have been “shocking.” Mark William Calaway is 49 years and his body is falling apart, particularly his knees. He is the WWE’s longest-tenured performer (made his debut in 1990) and a many-time champion. He seldom performs now it was becoming a challenge for Vince McMahon’s script writers to sell fans on continuing The Streak against much younger high-profile opponents.
The biggest winner of the night was Daniel Bryan. He defeated Triple H to earn a spot in the Triple Threat Match main event. He emerged victorious over Randy Orton and Batista to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
ESPN’s MEL Kiper Jr. picked the first three rounds of the NFL draft for all 32 teams. His picks for the Buffalo Bills: No. 9 overall OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)…No. 41 overall TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington)…No. 73 overall WR Brandon Coleman (Rutgers).
The Buffalo Sabres have 143 goals with 4 games remaining. The NHL record for fewest goals in an 82-game season is 151 by Tampa Bay in the 1997-9 season.
The NBA has no games scheduled Monday night, choosing not to go up against the NCAA men’s basketball championship game. The NCAA women’s title game (39-0 Connecticut vs. 37-0 Notre Dame) is Tuesday. The NBA, apparently no big supporter of Title IX, has six games scheduled.
Cheers to local ace bowler and super guy Tommy Kress on his perfect game last week. Tommy now has bowled 300 games in five decades.