Monday, March 19, 2012

Random Rabble: March 19

Where Bruce rambles about topics that interest him but have nothing to do with college hockey.

Haven't done anything like this in a while, so here goes.

The NCAA Tournament is remarkably low on Cinderellas this year. Yeah, there are some double-digit seeds still alive for the round of 16, but it's hard to look at North Carolina State as a Cinderella. They do play in the ACC, after all. Ohio is about the only one left.

Well, until the Bobcats get waxed by North Carolina Friday.

Can Wisconsin advance? Bo Ryan is notorious for getting teams to the Sweet 16 but not any further than that. But his Achilles heel has been lower-seeded teams, not higher. It's games against teams like Davidson and Butler that have left fans steaming, not games like the one coming on Thursday against Syracuse. In some ways, people may actually like the Badgers' chances more in that game, largely because Fab Melo won't play for the Orange, and also because Wisconsin will go in as the underdog.

You could argue Wisconsin beat Vanderbilt as an underdog, too. The Commodores became a sexy pick to come out of that region after Melo's suspension was announced. Suddenly, the Badgers' suffocating defense has knocked the 'Dores out of the dance.

14 of the 16 teams left come out of major conferences. There are low seeds left -- like NC State and Florida and Cincinnati, for example. But the tournament is void of the kind of story it's had with the Butlers and VCUs of recent years.

That is, unless Ohio does the improbable against the Heels on Friday.

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, ESPN's Bob Knight is getting plenty of heat, and justifiably so. Previewing Saturday's NCAA Tournament games for ESPN, Knight was asked to put a team on upset alert. He chose Kentucky, set to play a game against Iowa State, but he refused to say "Kentucky," instead referring to the Wildcats as "the team from the SEC."

Fellow ESPNer Rick Reilly, shockingly, threw out a pretty funny tweet ripping Knight.

It's pretty lame for Knight to go this route. Obviously, there are petty issues with Knight and Kentucky. While those issues might go back to when Knight coached at Indiana, don't forget that Knight had it out with UK coach John Calipari over players attending class.

Knight apologized for those idiotic remarks, but obviously still feels some sort of bitterness toward Calipari. I'm not saying Calipari is clean as a whistle, because I don't know, but it doesn't justify Knight's unprofessional behavior. If he can't talk about Kentucky in an objective manner, he needs to recuse himself from the conversation.

He might feel people would think he's a chicken for doing that, but he'd be the bigger person, something Knight has never been known for in his career.

NFL free agency has been quiet for the Vikings and Packers so far. No one is surprised that the Packers have been in a slumber. Green Bay, under GM Ted Thompson, just hasn't splurged much, if at all. Thompson builds through the draft, and he prefers to spend money on contract extensions for his young talent as warranted. He lets guys walk and makes it look callous and without any real thought attached to it. In reality, these are tough decisions that Thompson has always taken seriously, and I think his success at making good decisions has made some fans lay off the boss.

It seems Minnesota is trying to copy the blueprint Thompson is following. Asked about his team's lack of spending last week, general manager Rick Spielman told KFAN in the Cities that the organization did spend money, noting contract extensions for guys like Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, and John Sullivan.

This seems like something Thompson would say, and it's a fair point. Spielman wants to build a quality team through the draft, and use free agency to supplement the guys he's able to find and develop. This keeps the team from overspending on guys like Pierre Garcon, a quality player who got a lot more money than his production to this point warrants.

Did the Vikings overpay Peterson? You could argue they did, and you'd have a point. But teams are almost always better off overpaying their own guys than overpaying for someone else's guys who could easily become questionable fits in their new team's system, not to mention the locker room.

Greenway, on the other hand, was not a smart signing. He's an average linebacker who tackles well, fills against the run well, and can cover people, but he's not explosive, he's not dynamic, and he's not a playmaker. He doesn't make this a better team, and it was a reach of a signing.

The Twins made a move Monday, sending Tsuyoshi Nishioka to the minors. Nishioka wasn't hitting in spring training (.240 average), and he was continuing to make mistakes in the field. I don't know if this ends the experiment completely, but it certainly is a bad sign.

It doesn't necessarily mean that Minnesota is keeping a better player on the major-league roster. Given his injury setback last year, it could be argued that Nishioka doesn't need to be a bench player for the Twins. He needs to play games. I'm not saying that a two-month stint in Rochester is going to make this signing look good. I'm saying that a two-month stint in Rochester could be just what the doctor ordered to make this signing look like something less than the colossal bust it appears to be right now.

For the Twins, it's probably the last chance to make anything out of the money they gave the former Japanese batting champion.

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