Who I Like in the NHL First Round

Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby
I like the Pens to roll in the opening series whether Crosby plays or not.

The abbreviated National Hockey League season is a thing of the past and now is the time for the greatest playoff in professional sports. Mainstream thinking is that these playoffs are just going through the motions because Pittsburgh and Chicago are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals and there is no way around it.

While I see no way the Penguins get knocked off in the Eastern Conference whether Sidney Crosby returns anytime soon or not, I don’t think the path is as clear in the Western Conference. Let’s dig in!

8 New York Islanders at 1 Pittsburgh – The Pens are overwhelming favorites to win the Stanley Cup at odds of 7/2. The Isles are a much improved team that can point to a productive future because this Pittsburgh team has been just too good all year long even without Crosby over the last month. Take the Penguins in five games.

7 Ottawa at 2 Montreal – The Senators are pleased to be in the playoffs because when superstar Erik Karlsson went down with that severed Achilles’ the playoffs seemed out of reach. The Canadiens are fourth in the NHL in scoring and the loss of Karlsson will be felt on the blue line. Take the Habs in five games.

6 NY Rangers at 3 Washington – I would have to say the Rangers just never seemed to click this season and I don’t think the playoffs are the time to start. With that said, they could take advantage of a poor penalty kill by the Caps. The kicker is that the Capitals have the best power play in hockey. Special teams are the difference and I’ll take the Caps in seven.

5 Toronto at 4 Boston – The Northeast Division rivals hook up in what should be a classic series. Both have similar home and away records so there is no edge there. Both teams are in the top five in penalty kills but the Leafs are significantly better on the power play. I like Toronto in another seven game series.

Western Conference Playoffs

Jimmy Howard
The Wings' Howard is capable of carrying the team past Anaheim.

8 Minnesota at 1 Chicago – This really is a lop-sided series on paper and should be as well on the ice. The Blackhawks are superior on both ends of the ice ranking in the top three in both goals scored and goals against. The Wild have enough firepower to steal a game but that’s it. I like Chicago in five games.

7 Detroit at 2 Anaheim – The Red Wings won the season series 2-1 and both of those wins were in California. The biggest issue facing them thought is a lack of scoring. I look for the Ducks to try and get early leads to force Detroit out of its’ gameplan but the Wings have essentially been in the playoffs for the last three weeks trying to qualify. My upset pick here is the Wings in six games.

6 San Jose at 3 Vancouver – The Sharks actually started the season pretty hot but were soon over-shadowed by the Ducks out west. Their biggest issue is a lack of scoring as they rank 24th in the league. Vancouver plays pretty solid defense and scores much easier as well. I like the Canucks in six games.

5 Los Angeles at 4 St. Louis – The defending Stanley Cup Champs open defense of their title in St. Louis where the Blues are steady if anything. Steady actually describes the Kings quite well too as they are tenth in goals per game, penalty kills and power plays. This is exactly why I see a very balanced series that I see going seven tough games. Take the Kings to win the series.

NHL Playoffs Get Underway

After thinking that we may not have hockey at all in 2013, fans and bettors will get the chance to revel in the excitement of the NHL playoffs once again starting today. The league is offering up a three-game slate of games ones today, which includes some of the most anticipated match-ups of the postseason. Check out who we like in game one with our picks below!

#8 Minnesota Wild +1.5 at #1 Chicago Blackhawks -1.5

Though the Wild struggled at times this season, they are still a dangerous team with an extremely talented roster. However, they’ll be going up against the team that could do no wrong during the regular season – the Chicago Blackhawks, who finished the season with the most points.

The Blackhawks dominated most opponents this season, including the Wild, going 2-0-1 against Minnesota this season, but they only won their two games by a combined three goals, so there’s a reasonable expectation that this will be a close game as well, especially considering it’s a playoff game.

I like Chicago to win this one, but look for the Wild to take it down to the wire and cover +1.5 today.

#5 Los Angeles Kings +1.5 at #4 St. Louis Blues -1.5

The Kings are in better starting position as the five seed then they were when they won the Stanley Cup last year (eight seed), but they’ll be the underdog again in their opening series against one of the hottest teams in the league.

The Blues finished the season strong, winning 12 of their final 15 games, but they did it with tough defense and tight goaltending, while putting the puck in the net enough to get the job done.

However, the Kings have dominated the series recently, winning the last eight meetings, including the a second round playoff sweep of the Blues last season. The Blues might be playing well right now, but the Kings have plenty of playoff experience and a knack for beating St. Louis, so take L.A. to cover +1.5 and win this one outright.

#7 Detroit Red Wings +1.5 at #2 Anaheim Ducks -1.5

The Ducks have been flying under the radar for much of the season and they’ve had an incredible amount of success against almost every opponent, but one team they struggled with was the perennial playoff power – the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings got the better of the Ducks this season, winning two of three meetings, but they weren’t as consistently strong as they have been in years past, ranking just 19th in goal scoring.

Still, I like the postseason-tested Red Wings here in game one. They may not win the series, but the it may take the Ducks a couple more games to figure them out. Take Detroit to cover +1.5.

Monday NBA Playoff Games: April 29, 2013

NBA fans and bettors saw the Spurs and Heat advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs this weekend and today two more teams will have the chance to move on, while two others will be staring elimination in the face.

Here is a look at all three games in the NBA playoffs today and and always, our premium point-spread picks:

Chicago Bulls +5.5 at Brooklyn Nets -5.5

After winning game one of the best-0f-seven series, the Nets have stumbled, losing the last three to the Bulls and now face elimination in game five. However, Brooklyn will be back on its home court today and it knows there’s no room for error.

The Bulls have faced plenty of adversity this season – mostly in the form of injuries – and have been able to overcome it, but today they’ll be in the unfamiliar role as the hunter looking to finish off an opponent.

The Nets have dominated stretches of games during this series, but haven’t been able to hold on to leads in clutch moments and late in games. I think they’ll have a much better chance to do this at home today and I think they’ll stay alive. Take the Nets to cover -5.5 with their backs against the wall, but look for the Bulls to win the series in game six.

Indiana Pacers +1.5 at Atlanta Hawks -1.5

After crushing Atlanta in the first two games, the Pacers were looking like they could earn the sweep, but then they failed to show up at all in game three, losing 90-69 in a dreadful offensive showing. We also have to give some credit to Atlanta for finally playing some physical defense and frustrating Indiana’s scorers. They’ll definitely need more of the same tonight.

Even though the momentum seems to be shifting, the fact is, Indiana played a bad game in game three. The Pacers turned the ball over 22 times and we can’t really expect that to happen again. Game four will probably be close, but I like Indiana to get back on the horse with a win tonight, while covering +1.5 points.

Oklahoma City Thunder -2 at Houston Rockets +2

The Thunder won game three to take a 3-0 series lead against the Rockets and they did it without star Russell Westbrook, but the Rockets looked like they had plenty of life, losing by just three points, so we know a sweep won’t be easy to come by for OKC tonight.

Kevin Durant picked up the slack in game three, scoring 41 points, and we have to believe the Rockets’ full attention will be on him tonight without Westbrook in the lineup. The Thunder definitely have other guys who can score, but if the Rockets are able to limit Durant’s production, even a little, then they’ll have a great chance to win at home.

Let’s also not forget that Houston is one of the best scoring teams in the league and they’re going to play as hard as they can facing elimination. I like Houston to edge out a win here in game four, covering +2 tonight, but don’t expect this series to continue past game five when it goes back to OKC.


Howard Ejected as Lakers Swept; Games for Tonight

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard
Howard took a similar walk last night after being ejected in the Lakers' loss to the Spurs.

I don’t know about you, but I found Dwight Howard’s ejection last evening from the Los Angeles Lakers’ game four loss to the San Antonio Spurs to be almost poetic. Since the earliest stages of his contract squabbles in Orlando, I’ve found Howard to be childish, difficult and self-serving. In a game where his Lakers’ team clearly needed him for any shot at staying alive in the series, he received his second technical of the game in the early moments of the third quarter.

It’s fitting if this indeed is the end for him in Los Angeles that he went out in this manner. Obviously struggling and frustrated, Howard abandoned his teammates with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace already out with injuries. Perhaps the best thing for the petulant Howard would be to take a max deal with a team that is far from the spotlight because it’s clear he can’t handle it right now.

Miami 88 Milwaukee 77 (Heat win series 4-0) –  LeBron James scored 30 points to lead the Heat to the four-game sweep of the Bucks. Miami guard Dwyane Wade sat out with a bum knee which was certainly the right move as the Heat advanced anyway.

Boston 97 New York 9o OT (NYK Leads series 3-1) – Paul Pierce went for 28 points and 8 rebounds to help keep the Celtics alive in this series. J.R. Smith missed the game after being suspended by the NBA for his elbow to Jason Terry in game three. I fully expect Smith back and for the Knicks to wrap up the series at home.

Tonight’s Match-Ups

Deron Williams
Williams must step up if the Nets are to stay alive.

Chicago at Brooklyn (Bulls lead 3-1) – If you talk to Nets’ fans, they’ll tell you Deron Williams has been pretty disappointing in this series and I’ll agree with them. If Brooklyn has any chance to stay in the series he’ll need to step up his game which in turn helps his teammates step up as well.

Despite leading the series, the Bulls are a 5.5 point underdog entering the game. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Chicago has found a formula for success that I didn’t see playing out when I predicted the Nets to win this series. Joakim Noah has been more of a factor and Kirk Heinrich’s defense has been exceptional. I see the Bulls winning out-right tonight and I’ll take the over of 180.

Indiana at Atlanta (Pacers lead 2-1) – The Pacers enter with a one game lead and as 1.5 point underdogs but they also are coming off a total drubbing at the hands of the Hawks. Atlanta rode the big game of Al Horford on offense and then limited the Pacers in the half-court sets. The easy thing to do is suggest Atlanta has all the momentum despite trailing in the series, but Indiana is well-coached and will not come up lame in a second-straight game. Take the Pacers to win but the take the under which is at 186.

Oklahoma City at Houston (Thunder leads 3-1) – I have to had  it to the Thunder. I really thought they would come out unfocused following the injury to point guard Russell Westbrook but they rode Kevin Durant exactly like I expected. He finished with 41 points and 14 rebounds but now the question is, can he do it again and get OKC into the next round of the Western Conference playoffs.

I still expect the Thunder to get past Houston in this series but the Rockets are not going to go quietly tonight. The Thunder now know that Westbrook is gone for the entirety of the playoffs so there is no use in worrying about that anymore. Houston is a rare home dog by 1.5 points and I think  they actually win this one tonight with the goal of making Durant work for everything he gets.

2013 NFL Draft: Day 3 Recap

After a nearly quarterbackless first two days of the 2013 NFL draft, the big name throwers found homes during day three. The Eagles got things started by trading up to draft USC’s Matt Barkley with the first pick in the fourth round and the Giants grabbed Ryan Nassib – who was regarded by many as the top QB in the draft – midway through the fourth round. Then later in the round, Landry Jones landed with the Steelers and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson found a home in Oakland.

While Nassib and Jones will certainly enjoy a year of learning behind two of the league’s best quarterbacks, Barkley and Wilson may have a chance to play right away. Last year we saw a third round pick – Russell Wilson – win the starting job in preseason and the same could happen for these two fourth rounders.

It was Matt Flynn who lost that starting spot in Seattle to Wilson last year and coincidentally, Flynn will be battling for the starting job in Oakland this year with another rookie, who also happens to be named Wilson. Tyler Wilson’s strong arm and toughness makes him a good addition to the Raiders, even though Flynn might be irked by the pick.

Meanwhile, Barkley has a real shot to win the job in Philly, which is a wide open competition, according to new head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly obviously likes Barkley and knows him well from his days coaching against him in the Pac-12, but Kelly has also liked what he has seen from Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Choices, choices. We’ll just have to wait and see how training camp and preseason plays out.

After QBs finally started to go in the fourth round,  the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds still provided some fairly big-named skill players, including Mike Gillislee, who went to Miami; Stepfan Taylor, who ended up in Arizona; and Spencer Ware who was drafted by Seattle.

In comparison to last year, 2013 may have seemed like an uneventful draft, there’s a good chance this draft will later come to be known for producing numerous long careered pros out of the late rounds. For most, at least right now, it will be known as the draft dominated by offensive lineman, but I have a feeling we will see many rookie skill players make a major impact this season as well.

Playoff Hockey Offers the Best There is in Sports

Pat LaFontaine
Pat LaFontaine
LaFontaine scored one of the great playoff goals when the Isles won the 'Easter Epic.'

There are certain times and certain events we can’t help but recall from our vivid world of sports. Often, these are games or moments that aren’t really supposed to be anything epic at all but then they somehow twist and turn into truly classic moments. The National Hockey League ends its’ abbreviated regular season today with a couple of teams still vying for playoff positioning. What follows over the next two months is arguably (not in my mind) the greatest playoffs in professional sports.

I recall one spring break when I was in high school and the NHL Playoffs were in full swing. I wasn’t the biggest hockey fan in the world but I enjoyed the game and had played a lot of it on the pond behind my house every winter. I turned on ESPN to find game seven of the New York Islanders-Washington Capitals series.

Before I knew it, I was watching one of the greatest games in playoff history. In what would become known as the ‘Easter Epic,’the Isles and Capitals stretched into the wee hours of Easter Sunday before New York’s Pat LaFontaine whirled around and got the puck past Washington goalie Bob Mason for the 3-2 win.

This was after more than 68 minutes of overtime.

I recall as I sat on the end of a hotel bed watching thinking this was one of the most intense things I’d ever seen. I had no dog in the fight as I rooted for a team in the other conference so to me, this was just enjoyable. With every puck drop into the zone there was the anticipation of a series’ clinching goal but minute after minute and shot by shot, the intensity grew.

Sidney Crosby
Crosby's return only ups the odds of the Pens winning the Cup.

I would experience this feeling many times afterward as I really fell in love with playoff hockey and to this day I still love it regardless of who is playing. After tonight, the NHL Playoffs will begin and the beards will be long and the series’ even longer in some cases. If you aren’t a hockey fan, you don’t have to be to get the rush of what playoff hockey is all about. It’s the ultimate feeling in sports where you are like a car doing 90 miles per hour down an open freeway and then bam! You hit the sudden and complete stop as a player scores a winning goal in overtime.

It really does end that fast so don’t miss it or at the very least, give it a chance. It’ll be worth it.

My Favorites to Win Lord Stanely’s Cup

Pittsburgh Penguins – The Pens have pretty much been a team to beat all year with two very sound goaltenders and the best player on ice in Sidney Crosby. Even with Sid down for the last month with the broken jaw, Pittsburgh really hasn’t missed a step and now he’ll return for the playoffs making them the clear favorite.

Chicago Blackhawks – Most folks only recall the ‘Hawks for their amazing start to the season and with good reason but this is also the top team in the Western Conference and and they will have every opportunity to hook up with the Pens in what could be an epic Finals.

Anaheim Ducks – Despite being just 5-4-1 over their last ten, the Ducks are a formidable opponent to challenge Chicago in the West. They have one of the top road records in the NHL which will be huge in their opening series against Detroit who always plays well at home.

Montreal Canadiens – Although just 4-6 in their last ten, they did finish the season by winning two-straight. Their biggest issue is the Penguins who they struggled with this season. If the Habs want to get to the Cup Finals they will have got through Pittsburgh.

Lower Seeds to Keep an Eye on… Detroit, Minnesota, New York Islanders

2013 NFL Draft: Day 2 Recap

After an eventful, but mostly surprising day one of the 2013 NFL draft, the league’s 32 teams were back at it on Friday, searching for the most valuable players in the second and third rounds.

Many players who had fallen below their predicted spots finally landed with NFL teams; including Geno Smith, who was picked by the Jets; and Manti Te’o, who was snatched up by the San Diego Chargers.

One team that seemed to stand out was the Buffalo Bills, who added to their fine 2013 draft so far by adding USC’s speedy receiver Robert Woods and Oregon’s versatile linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Bills selected the only quarterback on day 1 – Florida State standout E.J. Manuel.

Though we saw a definite uptick in the amount of skill players chosen on day 2 – including Montee Ball, who landed with Denver and Eddie Lacy, who was picked by Green Bay – it was still a drab day for quarterbacks, as Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson were left on the board at the end of round three. Tampa Bay grabbed a quarterback in round 3, but it skipped over the aforementioned college stars and took Mike Glennon from N.C. State instead.

There was certainly plenty of buzz surrounding some of the familiar names that weren’t being called, but one name that was called had everyone talking and that was Tyrann Mathieu, formerly of LSU. The Cardinals were the team that decided to take a chance on Mathieu – also known as “The Honey Badger” – in the third round. Of course, Mathieu endured a year of hardship after being kicked off the LSU team for off-the-field issues related to drug use, and for a period, it looked like he had blown any shot at a pro career. However, the visibly emotional Mathieu said he was a changed man and the Cardinals felt his talent was worth giving him a chance to prove he could be a professional.

There was certainly much more to talk about after day 2, but there are still plenty of solid prospects left on the board and we’ll be glued to the coverage again today to see where they end up. As we’ve seen before with the likes of Tom Brady and Zach Thomas, the third day of the draft can still yield hall-of-fame worthy talent, so every pick matters.






Last Night and Tonight in the NBA

Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan
Duncan poured in 26 to lead the Spurs to a 3-0 lead over the Lakers.

Here’s what we know regarding the National Basketball Association Playoffs heading into more action tonight. We have a tremendous series underway between the Warriors and Nuggets. The Lakers are as good as gone and the Knicks are a win away from a sweep over the rival Celtics.

Golden State survived Steph Curry being on a gimpy ankle to beat Denver 110-108 in California last night. The win gives the Warriors a 2-1 lead into an extremely important game four. The way things are going for the Nuggets right now, they cannot afford to return home down 3-1.

With their season hanging in the balance, the Los Angeles Lakers were bludgeoned at home in the Staples Center 120-89 by San Antonio who now has a commanding 3-0 lead in that series. Tim Duncan bested Dwight Howard’s 25 points with 26 of his own and Metta World Peace is more than likely out for game four with knee issues.

In Boston last night, the Knicks moved a step closer to a sweep with a 90-76 win over the Celtics. Carmelo Anthony scored 26 points and Raymod Felton had a big game distributing the ball with 10 assists. If New York gets the sweep they might have to do it without J.R. Smith who elbowed Jason Terry in the face in the 4th quarter and was ejected.

On Tap for Tonight

Brook Lopez
Lopez will need to get more aggressive if the Nets are to stay in the series.

Brooklyn at Chicago (Bulls lead series 2-1) – The Nets enter tonight’s contest as three point underdogs in the Windy City. The Bulls are very good at home and since game one, they seem to have made the necessary adjustments on the defensive end and that’s why I like the Bulls tonight. Their aggressiveness in the paint has clearly bothered Brook Lopez whose game relies on more finesse. Take the Bulls to win by five tonight in a pivotal game for the Nets.

Indiana at Atlanta (Pacers lead series 2-0) – The Hawks are favored by 2.5 points tonight in a game they must have. Right now, Atlanta just has no answer for Paul George who has dominated the series. This was expected to be a fairly defensive series but to this point Indiana has not had any problems scoring and I don’t see much changing in Atlanta today. Look for a closer game but I like Indiana to win by five or more tonight.

LA Clippers at Memphis (Clips lead series 2-1) – The Grizzlies returned to their defensive ways in closing the series to two games to one against the Clippers. They seemed to be able frustrate game two hero Chris Paul to the point where he seemed out of sorts at times but I don’t expect that to happen again. I full expect Clippers’ Head Coach Vinny Del Negro to limit Zach Randolph from crushing his team inside like he did in game three. The Griz are favored tonight by three and half games but I’m going with the LAC tonight to go home with a 3-1 lead.

Oklahoma City at Houston (Thunder lead series 2-0) – The obvious storyline coming out of this series is the loss of Russell Westbrook for Oklahoma City. He was scheduled for surgery and is out indefinitely for the time being. Once the surgery is complete, a more specific timeline on his potential return will be available.

Westbrook’s injury completely changes the landscape of the playoffs in the Western Conference. While I expect OKC to get past the Rockets in this series, I can’t say as much for the next round regardless of who they play. Westbrook is incredibly important to what the Thunder do on both ends of the court and he is the perfect compliment to Kevin Durant. With his scoring and play-making gone, the onus shifts to Durant to save the day but he can’t do it alone.

Look for Houston to win tonight as OKC deals with the loss of their catalyst.

2013 NFL Draft Round 1 Recap

The skill players were almost entirely blocked out of the 2013 NFL Draft’s first round by the best young offensive and defensive lineman in the country.

If 2012 was the year of the quarterback, then 2013 certainly became the year of the big man, as the first seven selections were offensive and defensive lineman, with Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher becoming the just the third offensive lineman selected number one overall since 1997.

After the Kansas City Chiefs chose Fisher, the Jaguars selected Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel at No. 2 and the Dolphins traded up to grab defensive lineman from Oregon, Dion Jordan.

“That’s a lot of love for the big boys up front, which we usually don’t get,” Fisher said, according to ESPN.com.

All in all, 17 lineman were selected on day one, while the Buffalo Bills were the only team to take a quarterback – Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. It was a far cry from last year’s star-studded first round, but as one drafted player explained, team’s were simply filling their biggest needs.

“Tackle is not a very sexy position,” said Lane Johnson, who was selected fourth overall by the Eagles. “But it’s a position of dire need.”

While the first round short on skill players, it was also short on trades. Miami and St. Louis moved up to snag their desired picks, but for the most part teams stayed put.

Teams also stayed away from some of the so called “riskier picks” and avoided Manti Te’o, Tryann Mathieu and Marcus Lattimore in round one. Though, that wasn’t as surprising, the fact that Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib – the draft’s top ranked quarterbacks – were left on the board was a bit shocking.

We’ll have to wait and see where those players land in day two of the NFL draft and we’ll get you caught up to speed in tomorrow morning’s draft recap.

NCAA Moving in the Right Direction But Still Much to be Done for College Football Playoff

NCAA Football


NCAA Football
The NCAA is taking the right steps in getting a more appropriate championship, finally I might add.

Well college football fans, you are at long last finally getting your wish. Although we’ve known the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was a lame duck for several months now, the commissioners of America’s major conferences along with Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick finally established a name and site for the new “playoff format.”

While the name, “College Football Playoff” might not exactly make you want to throw a party for its’ creativity, it probably is a solid choice as sometimes simplicity does the trick.

Six bowls, the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A will make up the rotation for the four-team playoff. Two of these sites each season will be on a rotating basis and will host the semi-final games on December 31st of each year starting in 2014. The inaugural title game will be held at Cowboys Stadium.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction (any step away from the BCS was a step in the right direction), I still believe this will ultimately move to an eight team playoff at some point in the next 10-15 years.

The biggest task the committee of conference commissioners and Mr. Swarbrick must address now is forming the selection committee that will ultimately decide what four teams are invited to the playoff.

In doing so, there are several things to keep in mind which first and foremost among them is the fact they need to keep this committee small. Any more than 12 members is overkill in my opinion.

Unlike the NCAA Basketball Tournament Committee which is made up of a bunch suits (athletic directors but is there a difference?) the football committee needs to be made up of ‘football people.’ The fact that the 64, errrr, 68 teams in March Madness are chosen by AD’s who haven’t paid a lick of attention to anyone outside their own school and conference is appalling and the opportunity to get it right for college football exists.

Let’s say we go with 11 members. This way you aren’t going to deal with any ties which would only further embarrass the NCAA. I would choose four coaches, four nationally-prominent college football writers/pundits and three former college football players. The pre-requisites would be pretty straight-forward. Any former coach or player must have been away from the game for four years or more. Writers/Pundits/Broadcasters would have to have a minimum of 10 years covering college football.


Tyrone Willingham
Willingham would be an excellent choice for the selection committee.

For example, here’s a committee I’ve put together for the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff.

Former Coaches: Lloyd Carr, Fisher DeBerry, Phillip Fulmer, Tyrone Willingham

Former Players: Barry Sanders, Herschel Walker, Bill Fralic

Media Members: Stewart Mandel SI.com, Gene Wojciechowski ESPN, Kirk Herbstreit ESPN, Pat Forde Yahoo Sports

I would recommend the NCAA have a facilitator in place but they are not to be a voting member on anything. Their job would simply be to organize and provide any information and/or criteria sought by the committee. While it isn’t realistic in any way to suggest that fans ever be a part of the selection process, this just might be the closest way for fans to get there.

Certainly rules would have to be in place to restrict coaches or players from participating should their former team be among the potential group of teams vying for the football final four. I don’t think it would be at all difficult to fin a substitute or two.

Keep in mind my suggestions for the committee are just examples. I’m not married to any of them, but they are though to give you a more concrete example. While the chances of this are slim and none, it would be a step in the right direction in terms of taking the game out of the hands of the suits and putting it back in the hands of the fans.