Sunday, March 31, 2013

2014 World Cup update

With the World Cup qualifying calendar in a holding pattern until June, here is another look at who has the upper hand in each region for 2014 FIFA World Cup spots - obviously with a lot of soccer left to play:

AFRICA - In Round 2, with 10 group winners advancing to Round 3. The current group leaders are Ethiopia (A), Tunisia (B), Ivory Coast (C), Zambia (D), Congo (E), Nigeria and Malawi (tied on points and goal differential in F), Egypt (G), Algeria (H), Cameroon (I) and Senegal (J).

ASIA - In Round 4, with the group winners and group runners-up qualifying for the World Cup. Uzbekistan currently leads Group A with 11 points, one point ahead of South Korea (10). In Group B, Japan has a comfortable advantage with 13 points, and Jordan is in second with seven points. The two third-place teams advance to a playoff, and those are currently Iran and Australia.

EUROPE - Nine group winners advance to the World Cup, and very early in qualifying, group leaders are Belgium (A), Italy (B), Germany (C), Netherlands (D), Switzerland (E), Russia (F), Bosnia-Herzegovina (G), Montenegro (H) and Spain (I).

NORTH AMERICA/CARIBBEAN - In Round 4, the top three teams advance to the World Cup and the fourth-place squad gets a playoff for a spot. The top three are currently Panama, Costa Rica and the United States, with Honduras in fourth on goal differential.

OCEANIA - The winner of Round 3 advances to an intercontinental playoff. New Zealand won the group with a 6-0 record and 18 points and will await the fourth-place team from North America/Caribbean.

SOUTH AMERICA - In its group format, Brazil automatically advances as 2014 host. The top four advance to the World Cup, and the fifth-place team goes into a playoff. The current top four is Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile, with Venezuela in fifth.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, March 29, 2013

Did CSU miss a chance to move up?

Going into the last weekend of the Horizon League schedule in 2010-11, Cleveland State was in first place with Milwaukee and Green Bay visiting the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings, led by future first-round draft pick Norris Cole, had a chance to earn homecourt advantage and a bye to the semifinals of the league tournament.

But an 87-83 loss to Milwaukee in the penultimate game of the regular season stripped the Vikings of those luxuries. With no bye, they beat UIC and Wright State in the early rounds of the HL tournament before losing to Butler in a semifinal and setting for the NIT.

What if the Vikings hadn't lost that game, and won the conference tournament on their home court to advance to the Big Dance for the second time in three years?

Could those NCAA tournament berths, plus producing an NBA player, have given CSU enough momentum to move up and out of the Horizon League, as Butler has?

CSU wouldn't end up in the new Big East like the Bulldogs, because it is neither Catholic nor private (although the Vikings might have put up more of a fight than DePaul has in the past few years).

But the spots vacated by schools moving out of the Atlantic 10 or the Missouri Valley could be for the taking by a non-football school like CSU, right?

Maybe not.

Yes, CSU started a nice run with an NCAA tournament bid in 2009, and they should have gotten more out of the 2011 season. Yes, Cleveland is a big-enough market.

But CSU runs into trouble because it's not a big part of the market. Cleveland has two all-sports radio stations, and CSU games aren't on either of them. Cleveland also has two regional sports TV networks, but eight of the Vikings' 10 TV appearances in 2012-13 were on ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN 3. This is a pro sports town first, Ohio State second. CSU and the MAC get what's left.

Also, even with the capacity in the Wolstein Center cut from 13,610 to 8,500 by a curtain, they are lucky to draw half the house.

Perhaps some more attractive opponents would help CSU sell more air time and tickets.

But there seems to be a feeling that if CSU can't move up to a higher-profile basketball-first league during all the conference shuffling going on now, when will it?

- Howard Primer

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ranking Sweet 16 matchups

The Sweet 16 round of the NCAA men's tournament is my favorite, so let's rank the matchups 1 through 8. Most of the matchups are mouth-watering, and there's sure to be several surprises too. Here we go: 

1. Duke vs. Michigan State: What more do you want? The Spartans' Tom Izzo and Duke's Mike Kryzyzewski have been to a staggering 17 Final Fours as coaches and won four national championships. This one is No. 1 for a reason.

2. Michigan vs. Kansas: The Wolverines were dominant in the their first two NCAA games, and the Jayhawks looked sluggish. KU might want to fix that for this tough matchup. 

3. Syracuse vs. Indiana: This is the first NCAA tournament meeting between these two since playing for the national championship in 1987. Bobby Knight was the Hoosers coach back then, but is long gone. Syracuse's coach is still Jim Boeheim. 

4. Ohio State vs. Arizona: Sean Miller nearly got his mentor Thad Matta in 2007 when Miller's Xavier's squad almost beat Greg Oden, Mike Conely and Co. in the second round. This one could have the same type of drama.

5. Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast: Are the Eagles the new Phi Slamma Jamma? One thing's for sure: you better watch because with this Cinderella, you don't know what to expect.

6. Louisville vs. Oregon: The Ducks haven't look anything like a No. 12 seed, but the Cardinals, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, have been just as impressive.

7. Miami (Fla.) vs. Marquette: Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson will miss the game with a knee injury so don't count out the quietest team left in the tournament, the Golden Eagles. 

8. La Salle vs. Witchita State: Winner gets either Ohio State or Arizona in the regional final. Haven't seen either play this season, so there's intrigue there for me.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Get to know your NH girls all-stars for 2013

I've been working on player descriptions for the News-Herald All-Star Classic game on April 6.
We have some very talented girls in the area, and I just wanted to share the information on them with you.
Looking forward to seeing you at Lakeland Community College.
The girls game starts at 11 a.m. followed by the boys at 1 p.m.

Coach: Cheryl Rye (West Geauga)

Sara Patterson, Berkshire        
The 5-4 guard was a team captain for the Badgers. She averaged 4 rpg and 2 ppg.

Imani Dulin, Brush      
The 5-8 forward was a team captain for the Arcs. She averaged 10.3 ppg and 3 spg. She earned all NOC honors and earned her first varsity letter this season.

Courtney Schutz, Mentor
The 5-10 forward was a three-year letterman and two-year starter. She was third on the team in scoring with 10 ppg and second on the team in rebounding with 6rpg.

Alexis Parsons, Riverside         
The 5-5 point guard was unstoppable for the Beavers this season. She led her team in three categories with 13.2 ppg, 2.8 apg and 2.6 spg.

Becky Depp, Geneva    
The 5-4 guard got the job done on both ends of the court for the Eagles. She is a pure shooter who averaged 13 ppg, 3 spg, 3.6 apg and 3.6 rpp.

Sadie Poe, West Geauga
The 5-6 guard was the glue that held the Wolverines together this season. The team captain averaged 5.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg.

Alicia Ponzani, Kirtland
The 5-9 forward was a team captain for the Hornets. She averaged 8 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 1.4 spg.

Abbie Trivisonno, Madison       
The 5-5 point guard is a play maker and four-year letterwinner who averaged 11 ppg and 31 spg. She shot 85 percent from the foul line and 51 percent from the field.

Molly Walsh, Newbury
The 5-10 forward is a four-year starter and letterwinner. She played every position for the Knights and led her team in scoring with 10 ppg and rebounding with 5.7 rpg

Lauren Stefancin, Mentor        
The 5-10 guard led the Cardinals to the Division I regional semifinals in Canton. The two-year captain and four-year letterwinner, who plans to continue her basketball career at Capital, averaged a team-high 15 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 spg.

Catherine Rachek, Kenston       
The 5-10 forward/center was a four-year varsity letterwinner for the Bombers. She led her team to the Division I Bedford district championship with team-highs of 13 ppg and 7 rpg.

Brianne Goodrich, West Geauga
The 5-10 forward was a team captain and four-year varsity starter for the Wolverines. She led the team in scoring the last two years. This year she averaged 15.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg.

Brie Carr, Ledgemont  
The 5-10 center was a four-year letterwinner in basketball and a team captain this season. She averaged 6 ppg, 5 rpg and 2 bpg.

Team: Jim Mrozek (Andrews Osborne Academy)

Andrielle Hogan, Richmond Heights
The 5-6 guard only played in eight games due to injury this season, but she made the most of her time. She averaged 9.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg.

Jordan Jones, Andrews Osborne          
The 5-4 guard was a team-captain for the Phoenix. She led her team in three categories with 12 ppg, 5 apg and 5 spg.

  Gabby Zuccaro, Hawken           
The 5-10 center was a large part of the Hawks’ success this season. She led the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.1 ppg and 7.4 rpg.

Shalai Melton
A key leader for the Vikings, the 5-9 center helped lead her team to the Division IV district semifinals at Norwayne. She averaged  6 ppg.

Brittany Castrataro, NDCL
The 5-7 guard led the Lions in scoring with 11 ppg. A solid team leader, Castrataro also averaged 4 rpg and 2 spg.

Sarah Nobbe, Wickliffe          
The 5-9 forward finished in the top 15 for career rebounds at Wickliffe. She averaged 6.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 1.2 bpg.

Mo Stohlman, South   
The 5-8 guard led the Rebels in scoring with 8.7 ppg. She had a season-high 20 points in a Division I sectional final loss to Madison.

Mariah Pearson, Harvey           
The 5-6 guard reached the 1,000 point mark this season. She was a solid leader for the Red Raiders and averaged a team-high 18.3 ppg.

Dominique Edomwande, Gilmour
The 5-3 guard helped lead the Lancers to the Division III district championship at St. Joe’s. A team leader, she averaged 10.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg.

Emily Clark, Perry
Coach Mike Decker described Emily as the “rock of the team” this season. The 5-9 G/F was the only Pirate with varsity experience this season. She averaged 8.9 rpg, 2.3 apg and 2.7 spg.

Mackenzey Schaefer, North    
The 5-4 guard was 43 percent from the 3-point line this season. She hit 44 3-pointers and averaged 7.9 ppg

Jalin Steel, Euclid       
The 5-7 forward helped lead the Panthers to the Division I district championship at Perry. She was a key leader for the Panthers.

Taylor Wawrowski, Chardon
The 5-11 forward led the Hilltoppers in rebounding with 8.5 per game. She also averaged 11.3 ppg and 1 bpg.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

'The Big Frog' coming to Mentor MMA gym

A Mentor gym continues to bring in big-name talent to help train its mixed martial arts fighters. The latest visitor to GriffonRawl MMA Academy will be Jeff “The Big Frog” Curran.

Jeff is a pioneer of MMA as he has competed in 49 professional bouts; is a UFC, PRIDE & Strikeforce vet; and also is a BJJ Black Belt under Pedro Sauer, says gym owner/head instructor Jason Dent.

“Annually, we bring in a well-known, big-name, world-class fighter to help hone the skills of our team members and students,” says Dent, a pro MMA competitor and 2009 participant on reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”

A Gi/NoGi BJJ seminar and meet & greet with Curran is 2-4 p.m., April 6, at the Academy, 6090 Pinecone Dr. Pictures and autographs will follow the seminar. Pre-registration cost is $50 for Gi or NoGi, or $80 for both.

“Jeff has opened up his schedule to allow time for two private, one-hour lessons on Friday night, April 5,” Dent added. “These lessons are on a first-come, first-served basis.”

To book a private session, see Dent at the gym for scheduling and rates.

For more information, call 440-358-9371. For more about the Academy, visit

-- Betsy Scott,, @ReporterBetsy

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Diary of the day from the state boys basketball tournament

David S. Glasier will be tweeting live throughout the day Friday, following the Villa Angela-St. Joseph Vikings and Mentor Cardinals as they seek state titles.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trip to Columbus is an exciting time not just for local teams, but reporters too

This weekend, my job is going to be awesome.
I'm going down to Columbus to cover Villa Angela-St. Joseph in the Division IV state semifinals and Mentor in the Division I state finals.
I'm sticking around for the finals on Saturday.
I know this is an exciting time for players, coaches, fans and everyone involved in their respective communities, but it's also exciting for the reporters and photographers who are going down to cover the games.
My colleague John Kampf, the boys high school beat writer, has been working tirelessly this week to uncover every feature story possible leading into state for both teams. His articles have been helpful to me as I put together my notes for the state tournament.
As a reporter, you should be neutral going into all games, but at this time of the year it's hard.
Deep down, I'll be rooting for the Vikings and the Cardinals to advance to the championship. How can you not?
Even if the teams don't advance to the championship, just the experience of getting to Columbus is a major accomplishment in itself. This is what teams worked for all season and the moment is finally here.
So I'd like to thank the Vikings and Cardinals for getting me down to state with them.
It's going to be a great ride.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Talking U.S. soccer friendly in Cleveland

As a big soccer fan, it was wonderful this past week to hear FirstEnergy Stadium will play host to a United States men's national team friendly May 29 against Belgium.

Quoting from the news release sent out about the event:

“We are extremely excited that FirstEnergy Stadium was selected as the site for an event which will have a tremendous amount of national and international interest,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner.  “The opportunity to host a match like this will give soccer fans who make the trip to Cleveland a chance to see all of the great things that our city has to offer.” 

Obviously, no national team event can be successful without the traveling Sam's Army lending their spirit to the occasion. But the wording there from Banner is interesting, emphasizing soccer fans who will be traveling to Cleveland as opposed to those who are already here.

Perhaps that in a way is because of lessons learned from previous experiences hosting large-scale international soccer. This will mark the second time the USMNT has traveled to the North Coast, the last coming May 26, 2006 for a 2-0 win over Venezuela. FirstEnergy Stadium, formerly known as Cleveland Browns Stadium, has also played host to U.S. women's and high-profile club matches, including a Celtic-Boca Juniors match in 2003 that I had the privilege of covering.

Let's be clear: It's great to have big-time soccer back in Cleveland, and it will continue to be in the future.

The only issue is attendance.

That 2006 USMNT match drew 29,745. That 2003 match, won by Celtic, 1-0, drew an announced crowd - emphasis on announced if memory serves - of 20,842. It creates an unfortunate sight in an NFL stadium of a lot of empty seats.

Here's to hoping this chance - against a Belgium side 19th in the latest FIFA world rankings - just draws a lot better, especially among the locals.

If the locals want to show the powers that be that Cleveland can be a host for these kinds of events, the locals need to show up.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, March 15, 2013

How seeds have fared in the NCAA tournament since 2006

The field for the NCAA tournament is so open this year that picking games based on mascot fierceness or medical-school ranking might be as attractive as ever.

With that in mind, I went through the brackets from 2006-12 hoping to find some patterns. Why 2006? 1) That was the first year since the field expanded to 64 that all heck broke loose, with George Mason making it to the Final Four; 2) it was the first year under the NBA's age minimum, aka the one-and-done rule.

Much like filling out a bracket is more fun with pen-and-paper than pull-down menus on a website, I went old school and busted out a yellow legal pad.

Between 2006-12, of the 28 teams in the Final Four...
10 were No. 1 seeds
7 were No. 2 seeds
3 were No. 3 seeds
3 were No. 4 seeds
2 were No. 5 seeds
1 was a No. 8 seed
2 were No. 11 seeds

Of the 14 teams in the championship game...
7 were No. 1 seeds
3 were No. 2 seeds
2 were No. 3 seeds
1 was a No. 5 seed
1 was a No. 8 seed

In the round of 64
No. 1 seeds: 28-0
No. 2: 26-2
No. 3: 26-2
No. 4: 21-7
No. 5: 17-11
No. 6: 15-13
No. 7: 16-12
No. 8: 16-12
No. 9: 12-16
No. 10: 12-16
No. 11: 13-15
No. 12: 11-17
No. 13: 7-21
No. 14: 2-26
No. 15: 2-26
No. 16: 0-28

In the round of 32
No. 1 seeds: 26-2
No. 2: 19-7
No. 3: 18-8
No. 4: 12-9
No. 5: 9-8
No. 6: 5-10
No. 7: 5-11
No. 8: 1-15
No. 9: 1-11
No. 10: 4-8
No. 11: 5-8
No. 12: 5-6
No. 13: 2-5
No. 14: 0-2
No. 15: 0-2

In the Sweet 16
No. 1 seeds: 21-5
No. 2: 14-5
No. 3: 9-9
No. 4: 3-9
No. 5: 3-6
No. 6: 1-4
No. 7: 1-4
No. 8: 1-0
No. 9: 0-1
No. 10: 1-3
No. 11: 2-3
No. 12: 0-5
No. 13: 0-2

In the Elite Eight
No. 1 seeds: 10-11
No. 2: 7-7
No. 3: 3-6
No. 4: 3-0
No. 5: 2-1
No. 6: 0-1
No. 7: 0-1
No. 8: 1-0
No. 10: 0-1
No. 11: 2-0

In the national semifinals
No. 1 seeds: 7-3 (includes two head-to-head games)
No. 2: 3-4 (includes one head-to-head game)
No. 3: 2-1
No. 4: 0-3
No. 5: 1-1 (includes one head-to-head game)
No. 8: 1-0
No. 11: 0-2

In the championship
No. 1 seeds: 5-2 (both losses were in head-to-head games)
No. 2: 0-3
No. 3: 2-0
No. 5: 0-1
No. 8: 0-1

- Howard Primer

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bye, bye Big East hoops

For anyone who grew up in the 1980s, Big Monday on ESPN meant Big East basketball.

The creation of ESPN and it's boatload of programming meant plenty of college hoops.

If you liked college basketball, you had to have ESPN. If you liked college basketball, you had to at least respect the Big East Conference.

With the advent of ESPN, TV viewers saw plenty of Georgetown, Patrick Ewing, the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, "Send it in, Jerome!" (Bill Rafferty's call when Pitt's Jerome Lane's dunk smashed a back board), St. John's' Chris Mullin's T-shirt under his jersey (Ewing first made that famous) and of course Villanova's win over the Hoyas in 1985 to win it all (although CBS had rights for the national championship game that year, as it continues to do so since).

Sadly, all that will soon be over with the completion of this weekend's Big East tournament.

All that's left are the memories, the best of which are from the 80s.

- Mark Podolski | @modo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The excitement over the election of a new Pope is similar to that of a sporting event

When I watched Pope Francis I be introduced for the first time in Rome this afternoon on television, I couldn't help but think the excitement level in Vatican Square was similar to that at a sporting event.
A large crowd was cheering, people were waving flags and everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces. It was an exciting time for Catholics across the world who were waiting for the white smoke to pour out of the Sistine Chapel to announce a decision had been made on a new Pope.
While watching the process unfold, I couldn't help but think of my two trips to Rome.
On my first trip, I was lucky enough to attend an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. While my family and I were waiting for the Pope to arrive, people from across the world were chanting 'Benedicto, Benedicto' in the large hall near Vatican Square and waving flags from their various countries. It felt like we were all waiting to see a superstar sports figure. The environment made me proud to be Catholic.
Maybe it felt like a sporting event to me because I'm a sports writer, I'm not sure.
I do know the excitement level was the same that I've felt at sporting events on all levels.
When the Pope made his arrival, it was as if a sporting event had just started. The excitement reached a peak and the next two hours felt like 10 minutes. It was an exciting time.
For some it may be a stretch to compare the Pope to a sports figure, but if you think of it, it's a pretty good comparison.
Both are held on a pedestal, both are expected to perform at the highest level and both are role models for everyone who is watching them.
Let's hope this new No. I is as good as the previous No. XVI.
Maybe one day, I'll make my third trip to Rome and be lucky enough to have an audience with Pope Francis I.
It's good to dream, isn't it?

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Soundboard will suffice

As we inch closer to March Madness, we'll be facing another year during which Gus Johnson will not be part of the CBS/Turner announcing crew after his move to Fox.

Many fans, including yours truly, will find that to be unfortunate because we've enjoyed his high-energy calls over the years, along with the fact he almost always seemed to get at least a couple of great games as the tournament went along.

Fear not, Gus fans. While not ideal, there is a Plan B.

A longtime favorite in The News-Herald sports department is the Gus Johnson soundboard, which is located here.

There's too much good stuff to go around, but I must say my personal favorite is "The Catch."

Have fun with the soundboard, and if you haven't known about its existence before now, you're welcome.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, March 8, 2013

Embrace debate on "First Take?" No thanks

When ESPN started airing its morning variety show "Cold Pizza" 10 years ago, Skip Bayless and Woody Paige had some entertaining debates during their "1st and 10" segments at intervals during the broadcast.

Even after Paige left and the show became "First Take" in 2007, the "1st and 10" was a key part. Bayless' opponents were bombastic (Stephen A. Smith), calm and reasoned (Greg Anthony) and in between (Doug and Ryan Stewart).

The debates made for a nice break during the show -- or maybe the rest of the show was a breather from the debates?

Not anymore. Under its "Embrace Debate" motto, it's been all arguing all the time for the past 18 months, with Smith and Bayless as permanent adversaries.

It's often a punching bag on Twitter. Even ESPN heavyweight Bill Simmons weighed in.

I used to watch at least part of "First Take" when it was a variety show. But after it switched to all-Bayless all the time, no way. Judging from the way it is criticized, it sounds like I'm not missing anything.

-- Howard Primer

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 College football HOF class best ever?

The long list of College Football Hall Fame candidates for the class of 2013 is a who's who of the sport.

Whoever makes the cut, the '13 class is shaping up as perhaps the greatest class in history.

I won't bore you with the 77 players and five coaches nominated. Let's go through the star power.

Four Heisman Trophy winners are on the ballot, and, according to the Hall's rules, winning a Heisman warrants automatic induction, so Florida QB Danny Weurffel, Miami QB Vinny Testaverde, Nebraska QB Eric Crouch and Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne are in.

There are other superstars. Among them include:

- SMU RB Eric Dickerson

- Arizona DE Teddy Bruschi

- Ohio State OL Orlando Pace and LB Tom Couisenau

- Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier

- Oklahoma LB Brian Bosworth

- Miami (Fla.) DT Jerome Brown

- Notre Dame WR/KR Rocket Ismail and OL Aaron Taylor

- Alabama LB Derrick Thomas

- Texas Tech LB Zach Thomas

- TCU RB LaDainian Tomlinson

- Michigan State RB Lorenzo White

- Temple RB Paul Palmer

- Michigan OL Jumbo Elliott

- USC OL Tony Boselli

- Texas A&M K Tony Franklin

Prediction time: Besides the four Heisman winners, my votes for sure would go to Frazier, Ismail, Bosworth, Derrick Thomas, Pace and Dickerson.

However, induction classes for the College Football Hall of Fame are notorious for being large, so expect to see Tomlinson, Brown, Franklin, Bruschi and Cousineau and a few others to make it.

Either way, 2013 will provide one heck of a class for the College Football Hall of Fame.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Sunday, March 3, 2013

NDCL vs Chagrin Falls- John Cirillo Buzzer Beater

Thanks to Billy Jelenic for uploading this video (and Stephen Zbiegien for tweeting it to @NHPreps) of the buzzer beater by John Cirillo to give NDCL a 45-44 win over Chagrin Falls at the Division II Stow District sectional final on Friday.

NDCL will play Akron Buchtel at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Division II Stow District semifinals.

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March Badness

As we approach the conference tournaments and Selection Sunday, there will be plenty of chatter - just like always - about who belongs in the NCAA tournament and who has the best resume.

Here's a curve ball: Which Division I teams have the least impressive resumes? Which schools deserve some good karma after an extremely rough campaign?

So out of curiosity, I wanted to see which D-I teams have the worst overall won-loss records in the country, and unfortunately there's a lot of places out there due for pleasant fortunes:

Grambling 0-27; Maryland-Eastern Shore 2-23; Binghamton 3-25; Lamar 3-26; Kennesaw State 3-27; Louisiana-Monroe 4-21

Weber State 0-27; Jacksonville State 1-27; Alcorn State 2-25; North Carolina Central 2-25; St. Peter's 2-26; UNC-Asheville 2-27; New Orleans 3-23; UNC-Wilmington 3-23; Kent State 3-24; Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-24; Wagner 3-25; Lipscomb 3-26; Massachusetts 3-26; Columbia 4-21;
Southern Illinois 4-22; Air Force 4-23; Chicago State 4-23; Maine 4-24; Oregon 4-25

The three on that list with one or no wins this year, you've got to feel bad for those teams. It's not like those kids show up on campus wanting to struggle that much.

Hopefully next year, some of those teams will find their way into a March Madness conversation instead of as far away from one as you can possibly get.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH

Friday, March 1, 2013

It isn't parity when other teams are better

It's easy to look at what's going on in college basketball this year -- two more unranked teams upset top-five squads this week -- and attribute it to parity.

But that's not it. It's just that some of the names have changed. Let's look at the numbers.

This season, the combined winning percentage of teams in the top five is 88.2 percent, compared with 90.2 percent last year. That's not much different.

At this point during the 2011-12 season, Kentucky was 28-1 and Syracuse was 29-1. The closest team to that kind of mark this year is Gonzaga, which is 28-2.

But the Bulldogs are a mid-major that plays on the West Coast. Even though Gonzaga is 5-0 against the Big 12 this year, it will never get the same respect a BCS school would with that kind of record. Gonzaga is set to become No. 1 next week, but it took all the other top contenders losing several times each for it to happen.

The top five in the Associated Press poll at this point last season were Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. That's more blue bloods than a tailgate party at Ole Miss.

In this week's poll, middling Kentucky did not receive a vote, while Miami (Fla.) and Gonzaga are in the top five. The Hurricanes hammered Duke, 90-63, on Jan. 23. That result is the opposite of what usually happens when those two meet.

But that doesn't mean it's because of parity. It just means some different teams are better this season.

-- Howard Primer

Updates from state wrestling

Follow Cory Schuett and John Kampf as they tweet from the state wrestling tournament:

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