The NCAA bracket was released Sunday night during a shortened CBS broadcast. Last year, the network tried to stretch the show into a two-hour nightmare by extending the release of the bracket as long as possible to drive ratings. This tactic failed miserably when the full bracket was leaked on Twitter minutes into the show. This year CBS took a different approach. The show started promptly and regions were released in a timely fashion. This marked a positive change by the network but the bracket itself was puzzling.
I do not like the set up of the first four play in bracket. Automatic qualifiers should not be forced to play in the first four bracket. The first four bracket should consist of only teams that made the tournament by at large selections. The Big Ten champion would never be forced to play in the first four bracket and that should go for all of the other conferences as well. The problem with the bracket extends into the number of teams they let in the tournament. Advertisers still want the tournament to expand but at some point you have to say enough is enough. The regular season has to count for something.
This debate is sure to carry over to the College Football Playoffs. The NCAA needs to step in and set up regulations that are consistent for all sports. They need to set a limit on the amount of teams that can make a post season tournament. This can be set as a percentage so that it is consistent across all sports. There are 351 Division 1 schools that play basketball across 32 conferences. Since 68 teams can make the NCAA tournament, 19.37% of schools can play in the postseason for a chance at a national championship.
There are 128 schools that play in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Using the same percentage, an equivalent playoff for football would consist of 24 teams. I think everyone can agree that 24 teams is too much for a football playoff. The same should be said of the NCAA tournament. It should not expand.
As for the seeding, the Big Ten is vastly under-seeded and their top teams have been placed in the same region. This does not allow the Big Ten conference to show its depth in the tournament. It looks like they prioritized matchups based on television ratings potential. With this, the regions worked out so that there are two overpowered regions and two that look like cake walks for the top teams.
This leaves the tournament unbalanced and slighted towards the teams that are perceived to be top basketball schools. To add some madness to March, I would like to see a more balanced bracket in the future. This would remove any doubts or questions by coaches or teams that feel they got a bad seed or should have made the tournament. Teams should have the regular season highlight their accomplishments to the point that no committee is needed to select or seed teams for the tournament. I would almost like to see some computer component added to the selection criteria. Almost.
In this episode of our podcast, we go longer than we typically do. We are talking about the NFL free agency period. This period takes the center stage before the draft as teams are trying to solidify their current rosters with proven NFL talent. Picking up talent in the draft is a much cheaper option, but draft picks take time to develop. Signing free agents is a quicker way to build roster depth.
During this time period, teams need to decide if they are going to try to sign free agents to help them complete or try to rebuild through the draft. Some teams have been slowly signing free agents over the years to backfill their roster in hopes of another deep playoff run. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams using this strategy.
They know they have a proven winning quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger. He is just entering the twilight stage of his career. They need to press into win now mode by signing free agents and hoping Ben does not retire. They already have talent on offense and they made sure to keep it by signing a big front loaded contract with Antonio Brown. This means they will have cap space in a few years when they will have to rebuild after Ben Roethlisberger retires. Their main needs now are on defense. The Steelers can make an attempt to lure in a big time defensive player or wait and try to fill in their talent gaps in the draft. Waiting for the draft is a bigger risk, but in a few years they may be able to avoid a full rebuild year if they are able to build around a young and hungry defense.
Moving away from the Steelers, running backs are in a rare position of high availability this year. It is scary to think that a contender could bolster their running attack by signing a veteran running back like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles. These are premier names in the NFL and would make a great second or third option for a playoff contender. With running backs having a short shelf life, a team could pick up a great free agent running back for cheap.
We end the podcast by talking about the NCAA once again. Last week, the NCAA stepped in and suspended five University of Richmond baseball players for participating in a fantasy football league. The irony is that this suspension comes during March Madness, where the NCAA promotes false gambling like fantasy football by advertising bracket picks directly on their own website.
This podcast is a continuation of our last one. I am once again talking with Jeffrey Meier about the NFL combine. When talking about the fastest 40 times, I mistakenly refer to Chris Johnson as Charles Johnson. I don’t think the bench press is a good measurement of actual football strength and I feel it would benefit the NFL if they invested in better exercises to measure players with.
They make a ton of money off of athletes in the draft and the majority of the picks are busts. Every year the NFL draft consists of 256 picks. That equates to around 15% of the total number of roster slots in the entire league. That leaves teams to decide on roster slots every year with an over abundance of players. Most of the players taken in later rounds never actually make it into an NFL game. NFL teams have to decide to cut players that have been in their system for a few years or draft picks based on potential and what they observed in practice.
We also dive into the invitation process of the NFL draft as it seems more and more like an exclusive club every year. The league picks and chooses who they want to punish and who they want to stay in the league. This means that some players are targeted by NFL rules officials while others seem to skate by without a second glance by the league. Basic science disproved the league’s stance on football deflation but they still ruled in favor of punishment anyway. Meanwhile, their old golden boy Peyton Manning was able to have HGH shipped to his house without any further investigation. It seems like these transparency issues could be a prominent reason why the league is struggling with dropping television ratings.
There are rumors swirling around the Michigan State athletic department. Their athletic director missed an NCAA tournament selection debriefing to stay in East Lansing to attend to some of the issues they have been facing on campus.
Some of the problems are related to the US women’s gymnastics coach that is under investigation. There was also a video posted online that showed students looting the pockets of another student that was knocked out on the ground. It was under investigation to see if anyone could be identified from the video. There are also early reports that it is possible three players will be removed from the Michigan State football team due to their involvement in some other type of investigation.
The NFL combine is coming up and I get a call from Jeffrey Meier for the first time. He has appeared on the podcast before, but we haven’t had a segment together yet. We talk about the combine set up and touch on the drills that take place. Our conversation is so long that we have to split it into our first two part podcast.
Our website is also under a large move into a new location which will help increase our reach. There may be some temporary issues when trying to reach our site, but rest assured we will be back up and running as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerts, please reach out to us. When our move is finished, we will make an announcement on social media so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Twelve cities have put in applications for an expansion Major League Soccer franchise. That includes two cities here in North Carolina along with my preferred sports city of Detroit. I am hoping that a new franchise gets added to one of those three cities to give me an MLS team to cheer for. I am also hoping that they are able to extend their video viewing options for the league.
MLS needs to put together a digital package that is superior to the other major sports leagues in the United States. They need the extra exposure. The best way for them to grow their fanbase is by exposing more people to their league. It has slowly been improving in past years, but they could really benefit by making a push towards live video on social media. I would like to see MLS put together some type of red zone styled channel that streams live on social media. Since soccer is tougher to predict when scoring is going happen, it could rotate between games showing corner kicks and teams moving the ball into the zone. Using something like this, they could also show scoring drives on a slight delay. This will help drive in fans as most major sites do not update MLS scores instantly anyway.
The other topic on the docket is college football recruiting. The top teams held their place as the USC Trojans slipped into the top five with a small class. It seems like the hype train is on USC once again. All of the major recruiting services reported late in the afternoon that the only team that could possibly move into the top five was LSU. Once the afternoon was completed, USC was the team that had slipped into the top five instead.
I decided to record the podcast a bit differently this week. I recorded bits and pieces during the game on my phone. The quality could have been a bit better if I had anticipated the need to use a microphone with the input jack on my iPhone 6. I enjoyed the live recording aspect of the podcast and am hoping to use this as a springboard into doing more live recordings in the future for Southbound Sports.
The Super Bowl itself featured one of the most epic comebacks of all time. The start of the game gave me the feeling that this would be another Super Bowl blowout like the Seahawks victory a few years back. The Falcons were able to score at will and even returned a Tom Brady interception for a touchdown. With a massive lead and all factors of the game clicking, it looked like the Falcons were cruising to an easy victory.
The Falcons had a chance to put the game away, but their coaching decisions left a lot to be desired. If I were a Falcons fan, I would have been sick to my stomach watching the offense take sacks to push them out of field goal range. The Falcons had such as huge lead that they probably could have ran the ball three times and punted for the remainder of the game and still won. Instead, they opted to try to pass the ball which led to them blowing the largest lead in Super Bowl history.
This year the Super Bowl features a highly anticipated match up. The New England Patriots are chasing history because their quarterback, Tom Brady, is on track to become the lone quarterback in NFL history with five Super Bowl victories. It will not be an easy task because they face a high powered Atlanta Falcons team.
The Falcons are soaring into the Super Bowl after scoring a total of 80 points in their first two playoff games. The Patriots look to be a much tougher opponent. The Patriots have scored 70 points in their first two playoff games so they are bringing a highly efficient offense of their own into the big game.
Tom Brady is hard to beat in the big game. In the two Super Bowls he lost, he was pressured the whole game. He took a lot of big hits and sacks throughout both of those games. Both losses came to Giants teams that were built around a pass rushing defense. The Falcons do not have that type of defense. Tom Brady is going to have time to sit back in the pocket and pick the Falcons apart.
The only chance the Falcons have in this game is to outscore the Patriots. The Falcons have the weapons to score on offense and I think their secret weapon is Mohamed Sanu. If Sanu is able to score two touchdowns, the Falcons will win the game. Sanu has been versatile on offense taking snaps at quarterback and taking tough hits after running routes over the middle. The Falcons will have to exploit the Patriots with special packages if they look to overtake the majestic Tom Brady.
I am solo on this podcast as I am beginning to test video equipment for our show. This will help expand our reach and build up content for our YouTube channel. So if you don’t follow us already, head over to YouTube and subscribe to Southbound Sports.
The NFL Championship games featured prominent matchups. The four teams left were the teams most people expected to see in the championship round. In the NFC, the high flying Falcons took on the hot Packers. In the AFC, the dominant Patriots faced the gritty Steelers.
The Packers have been on a hot streak lately, but it took a wildly accurate throw to get them to advance into this game. The Falcons tore them apart and made them look like they didn’t belong. The Falcons controlled the entire game and were never really challenged by the Packers. They look to continue the hot streak as they move on to the Super Bowl.
The Steelers tried to keep the Patriots in check, but the methodical drives of the Patriots helped pave the way for New England to once again return to the Super Bowl. The Steelers are an aging team in key positions so it hurts to have them come so close to reaching another Super Bowl. Rumors are swirling that Ben Roethlisberger may retire this offseason. That makes this loss even more bitter for Steelers fans.
The Super Bowl is setting up to be another classic game. The Falcons are able to score at will on offense and will face a stout Patriots defense. Something will have to give in the big game.
We are down to four teams in the NFL playoff picture. Three of these four teams have quarterbacks who have made our list for the right to be named the greatest quarterback of all time. Two of them, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, have made the list based on the fact that they have won multiple Super Bowls. They match up against each other in the AFC Championship game.
The Patriots are a current dynasty and the most powerful franchise in the NFL in recent years. They seem to win every year regardless of the amount of turnover they suffer on their roster. The Steelers are the most storied franchise in NFL history winning the Super Bowl in multiple decades. When these two franchises face off, they will spark a rivalry that has met three times in recent history in the playoffs. The Steelers are 0–3 in those games. With Peyton Manning retired, this Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger match up is the premier quarterback match up in the NFL. Both quarterbacks are top 10 in every major statistic used to measure quarterbacks, all time.
- Most Wins: Brady 3rd, Roethlisberger 8th
- Most Touchdowns: Brady 4th, Roethlisberger 9th
- Most Passing Yards: Brady 4th, Roethlisberger 10th
With a Super Bowl win, Tom Brady would own the record for most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback ever. Ben Roethlisberger is looking to get his third Super Bowl victory. A win for either the Patriots or the Steelers in this year’s Super Bowl would put their quarterback even higher in the record books.
On the NFC side, Aaron Rodgers is on the cusp of making the list ranking just outside of the top ten in passing touchdowns. I have added him to the list by default as he will make the list unless he retires after this season. Matt Ryan is the outsider of the quarterbacks remaining in the championship round of these NFL Playoffs. He is the only quarterback remaining to never win a Super Bowl. In fact, he has never even played in a Super Bowl. Matt Ryan has enough weapons on offense to win a Super Bowl this year. He just has the unfortunate luck of having to win back to back games against teams that have experience winning the big game.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons do face a Packers team that is decimated by injuries. The Packers advanced on a clutch throw by Aaron Rodgers late in the 4th quarter against the Cowboys that set up a game-winning field goal. The Packers have a roster full of players that were not able to practice this week. They are going to have to rely on another huge game by Aaron Rodgers to advance to the Super Bowl this year.
On this podcast, I am once again talking with Matty B. We take a look at each NFL playoff game and give a breakdown of each team.
Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons
We like the Falcons to beat the Seahawks in this year’s playoff game due to the evolution of the Atlanta offense. The Falcons are no longer one dimensional in their passing game. Now they are comfortable passing the ball around instead of relying only on Julio Jones.
Houston Texans vs New England Patriots
Matt thinks the Texans are going to keep this game close while I think they will just cover one of the largest spreads in NFL playoff history. It looks like Jadeveon Clowney is finally reaching his potential as an NFL player and his performance will make a huge impact on this game. The Texans need a big game from Clowney if they are going to prevent the Patriots from moving on to the AFC Championship game.
Green Bay Packers vs Dallas Cowboys
We break down the Packers vs Cowboys game and have our first split decision. This game will decide which one of us has a chance at a perfect weekend of picks. The Cowboys have a powerful offensive line which they are hoping to control the game with.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
We take a look at the Steelers vs Chiefs playoff game and talk about whether or not the Chiefs have a chance of winning. The championship experience the Steelers have is going to be tough to beat, even at home.
We have officially launched our own podcast. The Southbound Sports podcast will cover the world of sports with a weekly Wednesday episode. The podcast will be syndicated on every major podcast outlet including iTunes and Stitcher. We have also created a YouTube channel and will feed additional video content there as well.
In our initial podcast, I chat with Matty B about the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl turned out to be a major disappointment for me as the Michigan Wolverines came out flat. Jabrill Peppers tweaked his hamstring and ended up not playing in the game. That led to the defense playing some zone and getting burnt on busted coverages to fall behind big to the Florida State Seminoles. With the talent level of the Noles, that is not something that can happen.
The Wolverines battled fiercely though and were able to make a miraculous comeback. They took the lead late in the fourth quarter to put a scare into Florida State fans everywhere. Chris Evans, a Wolverine freshman, broke through a hole in the right side of the line and scampered in for the go-ahead touchdown. It was all for not though as the Seminoles took the kickoff up past midfield to set up a game-winning touchdown.