The Final Four. Tomorrow. I cannot wait.
I got baseball practice, a kids birthday party, and Easter egg coloring to fight through … knock that all out and slip into Basketball Lockdown/Aaron Craft bro-mance mode. My 6-year old son is determined to make it up until 11 PM for the end of this one. Actually voluntarily went to bed early the other night so he can “rest up for Saturday”. I’ve done something right as a father. All the brainwashing, mental warfare, propaganda videos I’ve shown him … its all paid off. <evil cackle>I’ve created a miniature version of myself.</evil cackle>
At 6:00 PM, fahgedaboutit … it’s time to break out the cavatellis, the cannelloni, the baccala, the osso buco, the gabagool, and the cannolis. Pitino/Calipari. Kentucky/Louisville. The coaches have history. They don’t like one another. The fans bases detest each other so much, a 71 year old Louisville fan punched a 68 year old Kentucky fan at a dialysis clinic this week. The quotes are epic:
“He just happened to think UofL would beat UK and he started to run his mouth,” explained dialysis patient, and Kentucky fan, Ed Wilson. “That’s what started it.”
But UofL backer Charles Taylor, who was waiting to get hooked up to a machine, told WKYT he saw things differently.
“I didn’t talk to him about the ball game; I was talking to another guy about the game,” Taylor said. “He (Wilson) was meddling. And told me to shut up and gave me the finger!” (Apparently not a foam finger.)
Both men admit they were in the zone.
“I wasn’t gonna take no more from him,” U of L fan Taylor admitted.
UK fan Wilson explained, “I’m sitting there hooked up to a machine and I can’t do anything.”
Just when the current era of sports start to disgust you to the point of near indifference, there’s always heartwarming stories like this that make you remember how special sports are.
Then, half an hour after that one ends, its Buckeyes/Jayhawks.
When you take a look at this game, to me, it’s going to come down to the point guard battle. Swerb heartthrob/Ohio State sophomore Aaron Craft and Kansas senior Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor was an elite recruit for the Jayhawks that hasn’t really lived up to the hype until this season, when he’s been able to cut down on his turnovers and become a more effective outside shooter. But we’ve seen signs of the old Tyshawn in this tournament. He’s 0-17 from three in the tourney with just 15 assists to 13 turnovers, and pulled up for a three pointer on a 3 on 1 fast break late at a clutch point late in the Carolina win last weekend. And he’ll be checked by Craft, who is the nation’s best perimeter defender, and makes opposing point guards lives miserable. Taylor went 1-of-4 from the floor with six turnovers guarded by Craft in their December meeting.
You think of other factors in this game, and obviously the Jared Sullinger/Thomas Robinson matchup has to come to mind. Both are elite big men. Sullinger is the better scorer from outside of the paint, Robinson is the better defender and more traditional big man. It’s vital for both teams to keep their big guys out of foul trouble, as neither has much off the bench. As far as the other big guys go, the Bucks Deshaun Thomas has been an offensive weapon as of late, and is outstanding at creating his own shot. The Jayhawks’ Jeff Withey is the opposite, a defensive ace and shot blocking machine that doesn’t have much offense outside of put backs and garbage buckets. It’s likely that Withey will be guarding Sullinger for most of Saturday night’s affair, as Kansas looks to try and keep Robinson refreshed offensively and out of foul trouble.
And William Buford. If this team could get the secondary scoring they should be getting from William Buford, they’re going to be very difficult to beat. By anyone, Kentucky included. Buford will be checked by Kansas defensive ace Travis Releford. Buford is a senior, and a big part of his legacy will be based on how he plays Saturday and potentially Monday night.
This is going to be a tough game. Kansas is a very good basketball team that is incredibly well coached. At the end of the day, I think Craft wins the point guard matchup, and all the intangibles he brings to the floor will really have impact in this one. I love the Buckeyes perimeter defense with Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. I really like the way Deshaun Thomas is playing offensively, helping pick up Buford’s slack. And I think the Buckeyes end up winning an excellent, tightly contested game … and will move on to a National Championship matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats on Monday night.
(We’ll talk Tribe next week.)
Quote of the Day …
“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” ~ Babe Ruth
Insane Fact of the Day …
The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
Yesterday stocks traded sideways. The economic data had little impact. The final revision of 4Q GDP figures showed that GDP rose by 3.0%, which was unrevised from the earlier estimate. Weekly first time jobless claims fell by 5k, coming in at 359,000 … which came in a tad higher than expected. Bonds had a good day, and continue to trade off of news on Europe, with concerns focusing now on Spain and their need for a potential bailout. Mortgage bonds in particular have been helped this past week by Big Ben Bernanke’s recent comments that the central bank is in no rush to unwind its ultra-easy monetary policy.
One of the main drivers in the run up in mortgage rates we saw in early March was the market’s belief that the Fed was gonna be getting out of the bond-buying business. Bernanke’s comments to the contrary continue to illustrate that he is very cognizant about housing’s impact on the economic recovery, and his desire to let the markets know that the Fed is committed to doing everything they can to help the housing market and to try and keep interest rates low.
This morning we got data on personal income and spending. Government data showed that Americans spent money in February at the fastest pace in seven months, but that a good chunk of their cash went to pay for higher energy costs. And that their incomes rose at a much slower clip than expected. With income growth unable to keep up with it, the faster pace of spending in the first two months of 2012 pushed down the personal savings rate to 3.7% in Feb from 4.7% at the end of 2011. That’s the lowest savings rate since August 2009.
While an accelerated pace of hiring is putting more people back to work, spending cannot continue to exceed growth in income for very long. Wages will have to rise faster to keep up or spending will have to slow. Consumer spending is VITAL to the US economy, accounting for about 70% of total GDP.
The data showed that Americans spent more money on a variety of goods in February, especially new cars and trucks. But higher gasoline prices also ate into the consumers’ budget. Energy prices jumped 3.6% last month, the biggest increase in nearly a year.
We also got some inflationary data this morning, with core PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) rising 0.1% to meet economist expectations. PCE is a measure of price changes in consumer goods and services that strips out volatile food and energy prices to give a more accurate read on the cost of things in this country. The Fed looks closely at these #’s. Core PCE has climbed 1.9% during the last 12 months, just below the Fed’s annual inflation target of 2.0%
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