- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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Each week I'll give my thoughts on the world of sports ...
•Oklahoma sent a message with its big-time blowout of Texas Tech. Now the Sooners, Texas Longhorns and the Red Raiders each have one conference loss. If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, the debate over the BCS standings will be interesting. Texas beat Oklahoma head-to-head. There is a flaw in the BCS bowl system since these three teams are among the nation's elite, yet odds are at least one of them will be left out of the big bowls.
•There was a lot of joy down in Happy Valley. First, Joe Paterno announced his plan to return to the Penn State sidelines next season. Then his team gave the 81-year old Paterno a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1994 thanks to a convincing win over Michigan State. Penn State earned the Big Ten title in impressive fashion, 49-18. Do you think Nittany Lions fans are wondering what might have been if the team didn't lose the lead in the fourth quarter at Iowa?
•Congratulations to Dustin Pedroia and Albert Pujols as winners of the MVP awards in their respective leagues. Pedroia is such a hard-nosed player, a scrappy guy who means so much to the gang from Fenway. If you saw Pedroia off the field, do you think he looks like an MVP? I have so much respect for what he has accomplished in a short time. Pujols had a super season in all of the major offensive categories.
•UCLA's men's basketball team will get better and better as the season goes on. Ben Howland's team suffered a loss to Michigan in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. This is a young Bruins team with five outstanding diaper dandies. Remember, UCLA lost three players from last year's Final Four team that have already been starters in the NBA this season – Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard MBah Moute. The Bruins were overrated going into Madison Square Garden and this team will mature and make some major noise out west. I feel the Pac-10 is a little bit down as Arizona lost to UAB, Washington fell to Portland, USC was stunned by Seton Hall and UCLA was beaten by Michigan.
•It was great to see Tyler Hansbrough return to the court out at Santa Barbara. Hansbrough scored 13 points and grabbed seven boards in a Tar Heels victory at the Thunderdome. The Tar Heels really impressed me in their win over Kentucky earlier in the week with Hansbrough out of the lineup. Tough news for the fans in Chapel Hill came when diaper dandy Tyler Zeller suffered a wrist injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. I expect Zeller to receive a redshirt year because he was injured so early.
•What a shake-up in the Big Apple. The New York Knicks decided to make a couple of big-time moves, trading Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph in separate deals. Both guys were playing well in new coach Mike D'Antoni's system, but the trades were made to get salary cap relief for 2010. The players added to the roster included Al Harrington, Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley, and all three veterans will have their contracts expire in time for New York to make offers to big names like LeBron James. For now, the Knicks appear to be a franchise going nowhere, but Donnie Walsh has long-term plans to revitalize the franchise and it makes some sense. Was New York going to contend for a title with the current cast?
•How about a salute for the University of Hartford women's basketball team? That's right, the Hartford Hawks, baby! Coach Jen Rizzotti was a star at Connecticut, a member of a national championship team. She has built up this program and it scored a huge upset, beating No. 5 Duke. Rizzotti has been offered other jobs but she seems to enjoy coaching in Connecticut. Maybe one day she will get a chance to return to her alma mater as Geno Auriemma's replacement ... who knows?
14hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins