March 22, 2006
John Abraham:
Finally gets his wish and is shipped from the Jets to the Falcons, who gave up a 1st-round pick (29th overall). Atlanta's D gets even nastier.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
SWEET.  REDEMPTION.

Given the busted brackets littering offices and dorms everywhere, I call for a nationwide "Second Chance" pool that lets you start fresh from the Sweet 16. (Not that it's going to help with accuracy.)

What about the integrity of your original picks? Integrity? What a myth! Where was integrity when Bradley and George Mason crashed the party? Where was integrity during Oh-fer-Big Ten?

That's why I support the Second Chance for those of us who are so far gone that we want another chance to pick -- and maybe boldly get behind a few more upsets than the last time.

Unfortunately, your bracket mirrors real life: There is no "Second Chance" pool.

But once things go off script and you're as good as KO'd in your pool, you get a refreshing freedom that successful bracket people can't enjoy. (Winning your pool heading into the Sweet 16 is a curse, I tell you!)

Instead, your consolation is that you get to root like crazy for expectations-defying, pool-shattering Sweet 16 upsets, like the ones outlined in the next two items:

"16" I: No. 1 Seeds
Start with this: None of the No. 1 seeds have looked so dominant that their games are gimmes.

LSU over Duke: Duke hasn't seen a frontcourt as agile or athletic as LSU's. (Wait, isn't "Big Baby" a better nickname for the way that Dukie players whine for calls?)

Bradley over Memphis: OK, I know I've covered this territory before, but none of the patsies that Memphis has steamrolled so far is as hot or confident as this Bradley buzz saw that belies the Braves' 13-seed.

BC over Nova: BC might be the team in the field least intimidated by Nova's swagger. Remember, the Eagles took and dished a pounding in the Big East a year ago. This isn't your usual ACC softy.

Washington over UConn: UConn nearly lost to lightweights Albany and Kentucky, let alone a more talented, gritty UW. No PG in the field is playing better than UConn's Marcus Williams -- except UW's Brandon Roy.

Am I predicting all four No. 1 seeds to lose? Well, you saw how well I did predicting one 1-seed to lose last Wednesday; but it's no stretch to argue that history shows the chances of all four advancing are slim.

"16" II: Other Semis
Among this Scrabble bag of random seedings and teams, all four games are all legit toss-ups. And with the security of a busted bracket, you can gleefully tout "Bring on the upsets!"

West VA over Texas: WVA has two types of experience to upend UT: (1) WVA played UT in December, losing by one; and (2) the 'Eers won a regional semi last year (UT was bounced early; this is uncharted territory for these Horns).

Georgetown over Florida: Florida is peaking now but has never seen size like G'town will show them (Hibbert + Noah = NBA Scouts' Dream Game), plus the Hoyas play that patient tempo that could frustrate UF.

UCLA over Gonzaga: Wait, why is a 2-seed over a 3-seed an upset? Because most fans picked 'Zaga to win Oakland. But the latest polls show eroding confidence in the Zags' O in the face of the Bruins' D.

Wichita St. over George Mason (or is it George Mason over Wichita St.?): Frankly, do you even care who advances from this game? No matter the result, fans win with a mid-major upstart in the Elite Eight.

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Adam V. to Colts
The Pats will miss Adam Vinatieri, arguably the most clutch kicker in NFL history and without question as critical a component to the Pats' dynasty as any player.

In fact, I'm nearly ready to declare a "curse" situation ("Curse of the Adam-V-No?"); that the Pats won't win another Super Bowl without him, as long as he's still in the league.

Oh, and is he still in the league: The Colts made the brilliant move to sign him, not only replacing playoff albatross Mike Vanderjagt but importing the lucky foot from their biggest rival.

Let's put it this way: Does anyone doubt that Adam V. would have nailed the 46-yarder to send the Colts-Steelers playoff game to OT (when the Colts were down 3 with 21 seconds left in Indy)?

Hoo boy! Now that we're here, we might as well play it out:

(1) The playoff game goes to OT, where the Colts, now with all the momentum, win the toss and drive down, setting up an Adam V. game-winning FG.

(2) Thanks to Adam V's kick, the Colts host the Broncos in the AFC title game and punish them (as usual), sending Indy to Detroit to beat the Seahawks for that long-awaited Super Bowl title.

(3) No Super officiating scandal. No Jerome Bettis love. No Peyton Manning humiliation.

Yes, history altered, all because the Colts have Adam V.

Heat at Pistons
Sure, Miami has won 12 of 14 games since the All-Star break, but when the Heat take on the Pistons tonight in Detroit in a battle between the top two teams in the East, Miami is still a house of cards.

In those dozen wins, exactly one can be considered "quality" (Cleveland). The rest? A sorry collection of lottery-worthy teams.

Running away with the East, the Pistons might find a little motivation at home (where they are 29-2) to exact a little payback from that Feb. 12 game in Miami, a rare Heat win over another playoff team.

Interesting to see if Dwyane Wade (31 ppg since that game) will carry the Heat this time. (Remember, he scored Miami's final 17 points in a dramatic finish last time.)

Unless Miami can start beating playoff teams, it will remain yet another East pretender. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Alford vs. Indiana
Remember when it seemed like a done deal that Indiana would woo beloved alum Steve Alford from Iowa to replace Mike Davis?

That's not happening. Perhaps wary of Alford's chops after Iowa's staggering first-round tournament loss to Northwestern St., IU told him he's not on their search list.

(Love the speculation that IU is looking at Magic assistant Randy Wittman, the candidate of choice for Indiana graduate Mark Cuban, who has indicated he'd look favorably on a Wittman hire. If "favorably" means "cash, and lots of it!")

Alford might be gone from Iowa anyway; Missouri wants to interview him for its open job. I always thought the Big 12 was a step down from the Big Ten, but after going oh-fer-the-first-weekend, the Big Ten is at rock bottom.

As long as Iowa is willing to let Alford go, they might as well have fired him, so they could have pursued Northern Iowa's Greg McDermott, who leveraged the current cachet of the Missouri Valley to jump to Iowa St.

W.W.S.D.?
What will Soriano do? After meeting with team execs yesterday, the disgruntled 2B said, "I'm going to think about it."

He's got until 1 p.m. ET today to make up his mind; that's when the Nats will take the field. Will he trot out to LF or refuse to play?

If he doesn't go out, the Nats' hand likely will be forced: Put him on the "DQ'd" list for starters. Hit him in the pocket!

(But if that doesn't pressure him into switching positions, they are going to have to try to squeeze any value out of him in a trade.)

Renaming "World Series"
Yesterday, I led the column with the wild news that Bud Selig was entertaining the idea that, in light of the WBC, perhaps the World Series should be renamed.

Forget the pros and cons: I skipped right ahead to soliciting ideas (silly and serious) from Daily Quickie readers and Morning Quickie chatters about what MLB might consider renaming the World Series.

Here's a selection of the most interesting responses:

"October Madness"
(Todd from Boston)

"BCS: Baseball Championship Series" (Jake from Virginia Beach)

"American Baseball Classic"
(Reggie from Orlando)

"If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It" (Cara from New York)

But without question, the best, most sensible and most enlightened option came from Stephen in Spartanburg, S.C.: "The Series."

I like it: Simply drop the presumptuous (and inaccurate) word "World" and rely on the indelible association fans have come to make between the word "Series" and Major League Baseball's championship round.

Don't be surprised if, down the line, that ends up as the solution.

Ohio St. Basketball:
Becomes first women's NCAA Tournament 1-seed since '98 to lose in the 2nd round. That makes BOTH men's and women's teams a March embarrassment.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Duke Dynasty?
Page 2 Index
 
Ranking No. 1 seeds
(as of right now)
Duke
How to contain their stars?
 
Memphis
Proving their doubters wrong
 
Nova
How will they handle C. Smith?
 
UConn
Why the underachievement?
 
Florida
(Winning like a 1-seed)
 

NFL Commish Watch: Forget Condi, but owners are floating the idea of "Co-Commishes" -- one to handle football, one for business. Diluted power?

NFL Draft: All eyes on Austin, where Vince Young will have his pro-day workout. Expect lots of commentary about "throwing motion."

Women's Tourney: Rutgers and Tennessee both win, setting up one of the most compelling regional semifinals in women's tournament history.

NIT Mid-Major Madness! Old Dom and Hofstra in CAA clash in quarterfinals (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET); MVC's Missouri St. takes on Big East's Louisville. (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET)

It's not the same as skipping work to watch March Madness, but keep an eye on the friendly between World Cup host Germany and the U.S. (ESPN2, 2 p.m. ET)

Seeing how Gladwell's "Blink" theory did so little for my picks, I suggest finding solace by reading "Blank," a fun "Blink" parody by Noah Tall.

Andy Katz has a must-read today, comparing Duke's 9 straight Sweet 16s to UCLA's string of title runs. Heresy? See Q It Up to see for yourself.



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