Posted on: July 27, 2010 12:36 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 12:43 am

I'm never going to see my son again

ATLANTA -- Will Karen Sypher's extortion trial end before I make it home?

My guess is that it will.

As you can see by my dateline, I've somehow ended up stuck in Atlanta. I was supposed to be home Sunday at 6 p.m., just in time for 60 Minutes (CBS plug). But my initial flight was canceled. And then my Monday flight was delayed. And then I missed a connection. And now I'm in Atlanta, where I just ordered a three-item combo at the Chinese restaurant without realizing there's no need to ever order a three-item combo from a Chinese restaurant.

Nobody needs that much food.

Even me.

Anyway, I might make it home early Tuesday.

Or maybe not.

In the meantime, I wrote a column about Bo Ryan and Wisconsin basketball for a series Dennis Dodd and I are doing. Click this link to check it out. And if you have access to a private jet, please send it. Thanks.
Posted on: July 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 4:21 pm

Five for Friday column

LAS VEGAS -- Click this link to read my Five for Friday column.

It has references to Jon Leuer, Quincy Miller, Adonis Thomas, etc.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 12:47 am
Edited on: February 10, 2010 12:51 am

And now the Big Ten is really up for grabs

Michigan State was 9-0 with a three-game lead in the Big Ten just last week.

And that's the stunning part.

Not that the Spartans are tied with Illinois atop the Big Ten standings -- and also tied in the loss column with Purdue and Ohio State -- but that Tom Izzo's team was 9-0 and in total control of the league race just eight days ago. Then Michigan State went to Wisconsin, Kalin Lucas sprained his ankle, and, well, here we are. Now MSU is 9-3 in the Big Ten after Tuesday's 76-64 loss to Purdue, and suddenly the conference championship is more up for grabs than it seemed over the weekend, and it seemed pretty up for grabs over the weekend.

Here are the updated standings:
  • Michigan State (9-3)
  • Illinois (9-3)
  • Purdue (8-3)
  • Ohio State (8-3)
  • Wisconsin (8-4)
Who knows how this will end up?

Everything changes week to week.

Consider: Michigan State has lost three straight since winning 10 straight, Purdue has won six straight since losing three straight, Ohio State has won seven of eight since losing three of four, Illinois has won five straight since losing three straight, and Wisconsin is coming off a rare home loss. Nothing makes sense. What we knew yesterday is now irrelevant, what will happen tomorrow is anybody's guess.

Why do I say that?

Because nobody would've ever guessed this.

Not considering where we were just a week ago.
Posted on: February 7, 2010 12:03 am
Edited on: February 7, 2010 12:09 am

MSU's loss means Big Ten is 'up for grabs'

Ohio State's Evan Turner Tweeted moments after the game went final.

Big Ten title is up for grabs!

Yes it is, Evan.

And how did we get here?

Michigan State was 9-0 in the Big Ten and in possession of a three-game lead in the league standings just five days ago. But the Spartans lost at Wisconsin on Tuesday and at Illinois late Saturday, and now the Big Ten is, like Turner said, up for grabs. There's essentially a four-way tie for second considering Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Ohio State all have three league losses, and that three-game lead Michign State owned is now just a one-game lead heading into Tuesday's showdown with Purdue.

And Kalin Lucas still has a bad ankle.

Which is obviously at the root of what's happening.

I won't go so far as to say Michigan State would've won at Wisconsin if not for Lucas' injury because, well, I don't believe that. But I do think it's fair to suggest the Spartans would be at little risk to lose the Big Ten title if not for Lucas' sprained ankle. As it is, there's a real risk, and these next few weeks are going to be wild.

Michigan State is 9-2.

Wisconsin and Illinois are 8-3.

Purdue and Ohio State are 7-3.

"Big Ten title is up for grabs," Tweeted Turner.

Yes it is, Evan.

Now let's see who grabs it.
Posted on: February 2, 2010 12:31 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2010 12:32 pm

Oddsmakers get the power of the Kohl Center

Yes, Michigan State is 9-0 in the Big Ten.

And yes, the Spartans own a three-game cushion over everybody.

But you shouldn't be surprised to learn that Sportsbook.com is listing MSU as a 2-point underdog tonight at Wisconsin, because that's just oddsmakers taking into account the fact that Bo Ryan's team damn-near never loses at the Kohl Center. I've gone through most of the numbers before. But here's a refresher course for everybody thinking this is a case of "wrong team favored" ...
  • The Badgers are 132-10 (.930) at the Kohl Center in Ryan's nine seasons, including a 65-5 (.929) record in Big Ten games.
  • In the last eight years, 93 of the Badgers’ 118 home wins have come by at least 10 points (78.8 percent).
  • Wisconsin has trailed at halftime in only 27 of 142 home games under Ryan. The Badgers came back to win 18 of those games.
  • Ryan is 6-0 against Michigan State at the Kohl Center.
As they say, take that for what it's worth.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 11, 2010 11:19 am

Wisconsin's Leuer out with fractured wrist

Wisconsin junior Jon Leuer will have surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured wrist suffered Saturday, the school has announced. There is no timetable for a return.

"Obviously, I’m disappointed by the injury, but I plan on being as big a part of this team as ever,” Leuer said. “I will continue to be at all the practices and conditioning sessions and support the team as best I can. I’m confident my teammates can continue the great season we’ve begun and I look forward to rejoining the team.”

Leuer injured his left wrist in the Badgers' 73-66 win over Purdue as he tried to brace himself during a fall. He had started all 16 games this season and was averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. Wisconsin is ranked 15th in the latest Top 25 (and one).
Category: WNBA
Posted on: January 9, 2010 6:51 pm

And then there were three

There's no shame in losing at Wisconsin.

Almost everybody does it.

And the loss doesn't mean Purdue stinks.

Purdue is very good.

But the nice thing about the Boilermakers' 73-66 loss at Wisconsin is that it will, at least momentarily, end the debate about whether Purdue belongs in the top tier with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky, i.e., the other schools that entered this weekend with undefeated records. Now that Purdue is no longer among the undefeated teams, folks won't try to group Purdue with the other undefeated teams, and then I won't have to argue that Purdue doesn't belong with the other undefeated teams, and everybody's life gets simpler.

As I type, three undefeated teams remain.

Kansas, Texas and Kentucky.

That's perfect because I've insisted for a while that those are college basketball's top three teams, and that they belong on a tier above all others, Purdue included. Purdue fans took offense to that opinion, explained how their team was undefeated, too, and then asked why I thought Purdue was terrible. Obviously, I never thought Purdue was terrible, and I still don't. In fact, I think Purdue is good enough to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four. It's just that I'm a big believer in the theory that it takes three NBA players to win the NCAA tournament, and I don't think Purdue has three.

Kansas does.

(Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry)

Texas does.

(Dexter Pittman, Damion James, Jordan Hamilton, Avery Bradley)

Kentucky does.

(John Wall, Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe)

But Purdue doesn't.

And that's the only reason I've never grouped Purdue with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky. I simply don't believe Matt Painter has the roster to compete with those rosters for the national title. Could I be wrong? Sure, I guess. But understand that 40 of the past 41 NCAA tournament champions have had at least three players who were either A) selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, B) selected in the second round of the NBA Draft or, C) not selected in the first or second round but still went on to play in the NBA.

The only exception is the Syracuse team in 2003.

So though history suggests you can get to the Sweet 16 with anything and make a Final Four with close to anything, it also tells us that you'd better have three NBA players or Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick if you want to win it all. Short of that, you're falling short. And I think Purdue is slightly short of that, which makes the Boilermakers a very good team that just isn't equipped to be elite.

Now that Purdue has one loss, that's how Purdue will be perceived by the common fan.

That'll leave Kansas, Texas and Kentucky alone at the top, which is the way it should've been all along.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:34 am

Dear Gary (on the Bo Ryan of horse racing)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Interesting column (on Jamie Dixon) . The Bo Ryan Treatment is not that dissimilar from my No. 1 rule of horse racing. I never make any bet on a horse race if Mike Smith has a mount unless I also have the Mike Smith horse on my ticket. It stems from 2005, when I had Giacamo on my Kentucky Derby exacta, only to remove him because my dad wanted to save $10. I had the 70-1 that came in second and with Giacamo, that exacta paid a hair shy of $10,000. Since that time I've broken my rule numerous times, most recently this summer at Del Mar when Mike smith rode 23-1 longshot Richard's Kid to victory in the Pacific Classic. But I've also made a lot of money following this rule, like in the summer of 2008 when I threw Mike Smith onto my ticket on a 35-1 in some random race, and he came in second, winning me $190 in an exacta. I didn't like the horse, but it had Mike Smith. Pretty simple theorem? Just can never count it out. No other jockey has reached that status yet.

-- Burton

I don't know anything about Mike Smith.

Or horse racing, really.

So I got a little lost in your note, Burton. But it seems your point is that you refuse to discount Mike Smith regardless of his horse, which absolutely means you're giving Mike Smith The Bo Ryan Treatment . Seems reasonable to me. And I like that you used the word "theorem." You don't get that word around here often, especially after a controversial DeMarcus Cousins column.
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