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NCAA Tournament Guide

Anyone who knows us knows that we are huge fans of the University of Utah.  Both of our founders graduated there, so we are pretty jacked about the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Since we are going to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado to watch the game we figured we would share a little preview of the first round matchup.

Utah will be playing Fresno State.  It’ll be on Thursday at 5:30.  The game is played on St. Patrick’s Day so expect some green to be mixed in with our red.

What Vegas Says

Vegas has Utah favored by 9 points.  They are the three seed, but since they have to go through Michigan State the Utes are 50/1 to win it all.

Opposing Team

You have to be worried about Marvelle Harris.  The senior guard is a very dangerous player for the Bulldogs.  He averages 20.6 points per game.  He puts up twice as many shots as any other player.  The key is not letting him drive because he’s only 32% from behind the arc but scores when he gets into the lane.

Who else is tough?  Julien Lewis is the deep threat.  Cezar Guerrero and Jamel Taylor are two other solid outside shooters we have to watch.

Fresno is coached by Rodney Terry.  He’s been there for five years and has improved this team every year.  The first season he only managed three wins.  Then he progressed to 5, 9, 10, and finally put together 13 this season.

Last season he coached this team all the way to the CBI Finals, so you know Fresno has some experience dealing with the postseason.  However, this will be his first NCAA Tournament game.

Fresno is one of the best college basketball teams at winning the turnover game.  30 time this year the Bulldogs have had as many or fewer turnovers than their opponent and the team is 24-6 in those games.  Part of that is because they are 12th in turnovers with only 14.9% of their possessions resulting in giving it up.  They turn over their opponents 21% of the time.

Our Advantage

We definitely have the height edge.  There isn’t anyone as tall as Jakob Poeltl.  I don’t know how they are going to stop him down low without doubling him up.

If Fresno collapses down on the post then Kyle Kuzma or Fresno’s other lethal shooters will be able to knock down open looks all day.

It helps that Torren Jones has missed the last 12 games for Fresno.  He’s their best interior threat and without him they haven’t been able to score in the post as easily.

I think Utah wins this game easily Thursday.

 

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Women’s Soccer Qualifying

The United States Women’s soccer national team is more famous than the men’s version.  That’s probably because they have had a lot more success.  The Americans have participated in every Olympic Games, with gold medal wins in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012.  The US team also had a silver medal in 2000.

So what do we face?  Six teams will try to qualify for two spots.  Those two teams make it to Rio.  The US team plays February 10th against Costa Rica, the 13th versus Mexico, and the 15th against Puerto Rico.

If they make it to the semifinals (they will) then the game is February 19th.  The Final is then played on the 21st.

No team has secured the Women’s World Cup and Olympic gold in back-to-back years.  The US will be the first team to try to do that, and the first team to win four straight gold medals.  It all starts here.

The team is missing four retired players.  Abby Wambach is done.  So is Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx, and Lori Chalupny.

Two women are pregnant: Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux.  Megan Rapine and Christie Rampone will miss the games due to injury.

Format

There are two groups.  The US is in Group A along with Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico.  Mexico is stocked with talented players who played college ball in America.  Costa Rica is improved and is coming off of their World Cup debut.

Group B has Canada, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana.

The top two teams in each will advance. The first place team plays the other groups second place team.

Prediction

I think USA is a virtual lock to make it.  It’s nearly impossible to score on them.  Goalkeeper Hope Solo has allowed just a single goal in six World Cup matches before surrendering two in the final against Japan.  Carli Lloyed scored in the last two Olympic gold medal games and made a name for herself in the World Cup final.

Who else makes it?  Costa Rica is probably the next best team.  They have Raquel Rodriguez who was the first Tica to score at the World Cup.  She also just won the Hermann Trophy as the best women’s college player last season.

Here is a video of the President honoring the World Cup championship team from last year.

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Steve Nash Buys a Soccer Team

Steve Nash was one of my all-time favorites.  I’m obviously a big soccer fan, but basketball is a close second for me.

That is why I was so excited when I found out that Nash has purchased a soccer team.

Not him specifically, but he joined a group that includes Phoenix Suns owner Robert Saver.  They are called Liga ACQ Legacy Partners.

The group purchased the Spanish professional soccer club called RCD Mallorca.  The team is in the second division of La Liga after being relegated.  Mallorca spent the previous 16 years in the top flight.

Fans had to be pumped about getting a different owner, but one of Nash’s stature is extra special.  He was a star for the international basketball scene when he played for his country of Canada.

Nash’s role is still up in the air, but Marca has said that he will be involved in the day-to-day.

This wasn’t the first team Nash and Sarver had tried to buy.  A deal with Levante fell through last summer.

The team recently ran into some financial issues and went bankrupt.  They were taken over by the government and they put up for sale to recoup the investment.

But, things didn’t work out.  This time it did.

You might be surprised that Nash would partner up with Sarver.  Server was largely responsible for trading the Suns great from Phoenix to Los Angeles in 2012.  Everyone knew it was time to rebuild, but Nash appreciated the fact that he was sent to LA.  It was supposed to be a win-win, but Nash never lived up to his end of the deal for the Lakers.  Still, Sarver made sure that Nash was kept within a close distance to his children.

If you don’t think Nash has any soccer skills, then check out this video of him playing during the NBA lockout back in 2011. He played a lot of soccer to stay fit and keep up his agility skills.

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