Blog

Winner at WGC Bridgestone Invitational

A lot of power names in this classic with Spieth, Johnson, McIlroy, Day, Matsuyama and Justin Thomas headlining amongst a star studded field. I'm going to take someone else though. I'll go with the 39 year old from Winter Park, Florida by way of the Ramblin Wreck. He played superbly at the 146th Open Championship 2 weeks ago going toe to toe with Spieth, but just got beaten by a masterful performance by the now 23 year old Texas phenom, who's looking pretty interesting heading into the 99th PGA Championship next week at Quail Hollow, N.C., a classic course. I'll take the man with the smooth swing, easy smile, and an All American personality. He finished T-3 here in 2016 shooting 66 on Sunday. DJ was the winner. Going with the Kuch to capture the championship at the Firestone South Course in Akron, Ohio.

Matt Kuchar

Like Kuch to capture the title at WGC Bridgestone

Like Kuch to capture the title at WGC Bridgestone

TV Times

Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-5:30 PM CT

Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel 11 AM-12:30 PM CT, CBS 1-5 PM CT.   

The SEC in 2017, a national look and predictions

It's the year of the quarterback and the offense this season. There will be good defenses of course. Alabama and Auburn will be very good on defense, so will LSU, Florida, and Georgia has 10 defensive starters returning. South Carolina will be better. Vanderbilt will be pretty solid on defense. A&M should be better, but you never know with them. Their front 7 is always a question mark. Ole Miss will need to improve, same with State. Tennessee, who knows with them. I guess they'll be better. They've recruited well, but haven't seemed to develop a good defense. They have question marks overall on their team. Kentucky should be pretty decent on defense. Stoops is doing a good job in Lexington. Arkansas, like A&M, needs to improve on defense to be a competitor in the west. But overall, fairly solid defensive play this season. Defense is key a lot of times, but these quarterbacks will be electric this season.

Quarterbacks in the SEC

1. Alabama-Jalen Hurts, primed for a big year. Tua Tagovailoa will play a role and has unlimited talent.

2.Auburn-Looking for a big year out of Jarrett Stidham, and they like their depth with Sean White, who will be competing for the starting job in fall camp, and freshman Malik Willis has a ton of ability.

3.Georgia-Jacob Eason should have an excellent year.

4.Ole Miss-Shea Patterson has off the charts talent.

5. Arkansas- Austin Allen is outstanding and very tough.

6. Mississippi State-Nick Fitzgerald is a phenomenal runner and passer. Needs to develop his downfield passing a little more.

7.South Carolina-Jake Bentley. The sophomore from Opelika, AL. is an outstanding passer and can move.

8. Kentucky-Stephen Johnson is another Fitzgerald-like player who passes it and runs it well.

9. Vanderbilt-Kyle Shurmur-Another excellent passer. Not too mobile, but with protection he can really pick apart a secondary.

10. Missouri-Drew Lock-Has a chance for a really big 2017. Outstanding arm, moves pretty well when necessary, but more of a pocket passer. Like him a lot. Should have a big junior year.

Teams that need to find a good quarterback.

All 4 of these teams have options, but need to develop a leader of their offense.

11. Florida- Has 4 players competing. Malik Zaire transferred from Notre Dame, and he has got a lot of running talent and some passing talent, but he'll be battling it out with 3 others including Luke Del Rio, who I personally like a lot.

12. A&M- Jake Hubenak is back, and he may be good enough, but there is a competition going into fall camp.

13. LSU- Danny Etling is back. Not sure he's the answer to making LSU a contender for the conference title. And there will be a competition come fall camp.

14. Tennessee- Two guys competing for the job right now. Undecided who the guy will be. One guy is Dormady. Jones likes both, so one of them will need to take the bull by the horns this August if Tennessee expects to challenge for the East crown.

Winners in the West and the East

West-Alabama, but Auburn will really challenge the Crimson Tide.

East-Georgia, but Florida will put up a big time fight with the Dawgs.

SEC championship game

Alabama 38, Georgia 34-Bama captures another SEC title under Nick Saban and heads to its fourth straight playoff.

Playoff teams

Alabama vs. Southern Cal

Penn State vs Florida State

Semifinals

Alabama 42, Southern Cal 28

Penn State 45 Florida State 42

National Championship game

Alabama 41, Penn State 27

Will have breakdowns of all SEC teams along with other national contenders in Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida State coming up in the next 3 weeks. Thanks.  

 
 

The 143rd Run for the Roses

Post time: 5:34 PM CT/6:34 PM ET

NBC

Coverage starts at 1:30 PM CT/2:30 ET on NBC

Crowd: 150,000 expected at Churchill Downs

Prediction:

I've been correct on the last 3 winners of the Derby, California Chrome in 2014, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015 (what a horse, first since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown), and Nyquist last year. Haven't had as much success with the last 3 Preakness and Belmont predictions, but this year is a new year, so charged up for this year's Triple Crown season. Feel good about the favorite in this one. The 3 year old's trainer, Todd Pletcher, is an experienced hand who won the Derby in 2010 with Super Saver. The 50 year old Pletcher has 4,000+ victories and counting. Jockey John Velazquez, 45, won the Derby aboard Animal Kingdom in 2011. Velazquez, born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, has approximately 5,590 victories on his resume. Both Pletcher and Velazquez have 2 Belmont victories as well. Like this dynamic duo and I really like this horse, which is extremely impressive looking. Like the horse's genealogy, too, as his sire is Bodemister which won the 2012 Arkansas Derby and was runner-up at the 2012 Derby and Preakness respectively. This colt won the Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles in on April 1st, won on Gulfstream Park in Florida on March 4th (1 1/8 miles), and also at Tampa Bay Downs (1 mile, 40 yards). He's 3 for 3 this year, all on dirt tracks, which is the surface at Churchill Downs. This 3 year old  is a good looking, powerful horse with massively built legs. Churchill Downs got a ton of rain yesterday, but the forecast is for sunny skies beginning at noon today, and the track dries well at Churchill Downs, so expecting a fast track by post time. Irish War Cry and Classic Empire will challenge, but I'm going with the 5:1 colt to be victorious in "the Most Exciting 2 minutes in sports," capturing the 143rd Kentucky Derby.

Always Dreaming

Like the team of Pletcher (above, photo courtesy of Daily Racing Form) and Velazquez (middle, photo courtesy of the Kentucky Derby 2017) to emerge victorious on their terrifically built and super looking horse, Always Dreaming (bottom, photo courtesy of Daily Racing Form).

Like the team of Pletcher (above, photo courtesy of Daily Racing Form) and Velazquez (middle, photo courtesy of the Kentucky Derby 2017) to emerge victorious on their terrifically built and super looking horse, Always Dreaming (bottom, photo courtesy of Daily Racing Form).

Two Classic Matchups in the 2017 Final Four

The Final Four features two stellar defensive teams in the first game and two more offensively inclined teams in the second though one of those teams in the second game plays some good defense as well. Gonzaga vs. South Carolina in game one and Oregon vs North Carolina in game 2 at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Here's a look at the matchups along with forecasts for who wins.

Nigel Williams-Goss (above, photo The Spokesman Review) is a stellar athlete/player, and so is Sindarius Thornwell (below, photo NBC Sports) 

Nigel Williams-Goss (above, photo The Spokesman Review) is a stellar athlete/player, and so is Sindarius Thornwell (below, photo NBC Sports) 

Game 1

South Carolina (26-10) vs. Gonzaga (36-1) 

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona (72,200)

5:09 PM CT/6:09 PM ET

CBS

Gonzaga allows 60.9 ppg and is the best team in the country at allowing the least points per 100 possessions per game. South Carolina is 2nd best in the country in that category. Both teams are tough mentally and physically, good offensively when they need to be, and relentless. Love the coaching matchup with the cerebral yet intense Mark Few versus the highly intelligent and ultra intense Frank Martin. Super coaching duel. Gonzaga has awesome guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who is a solid outside 3 point shooter, and can drive and score or score in transition. He's a superb athlete. Guard Jordan Mathews is a shooting machine from deep. Przemek Karnowski (7'1", 300) and Zach Collins (7'0") are stellar twin towers for the Zags. Johnathan Williams, 6'9",228, is a highly athletic, tough rebounder and solid scorer. This team is for real. 

South Carolina is led by superb guard Sindarius Thornwell, 6'5", 211, a 20+ point scorer on a consistent basis. P.J. Dozier is another bigger guard, at 6'6", 205, who can score outside and inside, and both can really defend. Duane Notice, a 6'2", 225 guard, is a scorer and another stellar defender. The inside game is manned by 6'9", 223 pound Chris Silva, and valuable 6'10", 245 Maik Kotsar from Estonia, somewhere near Russia. So this Gamecock team has outstanding players and their run through this tournament with victories over Duke, a smashing win over Baylor and an Elite Eight victory over a very good Florida team has been spectacular.

Decision

This is kind of the underrated matchup of the 2 games because of North Carolina's marquee name, but it's just as good a game. South Carolina is a phenomenal story. The Gamecocks were excellent in the SEC regular season, then hit a rut there at the end, but really recaptured their excellence in the postseason. I like South Carolina to really play well here. But Gonzaga is an amazing story too, and I really like their coach, Few. He's superb. I'm looking for a really close, more defensive-oriented game, with the Zags squeaking it out at the end.

Gonzaga 65, South Carolina 61

 

Game 2

Justin Jackson (above, photo, Heavy.com) is the best player in the country, while Dillon Brooks (below, photo, the News and Observer) is a top 5 player nationally

Justin Jackson (above, photo, Heavy.com) is the best player in the country, while Dillon Brooks (below, photo, the News and Observer) is a top 5 player nationally

Oregon (33-5) vs. North Carolina (31-7)

7:49 PM CT/8:49 PM ET

CBS

Roy Williams portrays himself as this folksy, Southern boy kind of guy, but it doesn't seem real. He's not the best coach in this Final Four. Mark Few is and Frank Martin is next. Williams is the third best. But he's won 2 national championships at UNC, which is very impressive. He won in 2005 and 2009, but when you have a roster full of McDonald's All Americans, that can really help your cause. Williams has that superb size and length up front in Kennedy Meeks (6'10", 260), Isaiah Hicks (6'9" 242), and a guy I would say is the best player in the country, Justin Jackson, who is 6'8", 210, and a likely top 5 NBA draft pick. He's a junior and better than the freshman who played this year, though De'Aaron Fox is one heckuva player at Kentucky. Joel Jackson is outstanding at point guard. Luke Maye is a superior 6th man, who is highly clutch, as his 18 footer to win the game at the buzzer against Kentucky last Sunday, 75-73,  attests to.

But Oregon has 3 prolific players as well. Six-foot-seven, 225 forward Dillon Brooks is a world class athlete and super clutch shooter along with being a fantastic defender. Six foot-four, 195 pound guard Tyler Dorsey is highly reliable from deep, like Brooks, and another world class athlete. Six-foot-nine, 225 pound center Jordan Bell posted 11 points, 13 boards and 8 blocks in a 74-60 Elite 8 victory over No.1 seed Kansas in the Midwest Region in a game which Oregon pretty much had control of throughout. They dominated because Bell was such an enforcer in the middle, and Dorsey poured in 27 points with Brooks adding 17. This team is the real deal on offense and defense. They miss some shots, but they are excellent on the offensive glass and seem to make shots when they really matter, particularly Brooks and Dorsey.

Last Call

This one is going to be one heckuva battle. I love what Oregon has done in the postseason. Beating Kansas was a real statement game. Carolina is the most talented team offensively in this tournament as they average 85 points per game, but Oregon holds teams to 65 points per game. Carolina has that length, but Oregon has so much toughness and heart that I'm going with the upset here.

Oregon 74, UNC 70