basketball

John Beilein (left) and Tom Izzo (right).
MGoBlog / Flickr

Under head coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans have been to 17 straight NCAA tournaments, made it to eight Final Fours and won it all in 2000 – while graduating 81% of his players.

Not too shabby. 

Tom Izzo talking to a referee
MGoBlog on Flickr / Flickr

Michigan State won against Michigan for the first time at Crisler Center since 2010. And with about three weeks until the NCAA unveils its tournament field of 68 for March Madness, the game had even more riding on it.

Brian Kelly

Jimmy King relates his time as a basketball player, and how basketball has affected his life, and recounts how two NCAA Championship losses to Duke and UNC greatly affected his attitude and perception of himself. King also talks about his relatively poor showing in NBA Draft. Watch the video below to see what King says is his failure, and the role basketball played in it.

U.S. Navy

On Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines faced the Michigan State Spartans in the final of the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament.

After a decade of domination by the Spartans, John Beilein’s Wolverines held the upper hand the past few years. They surprised just about everyone when they won the regular season Big Ten title this year by three games. Now they had the rare chance to beat the Spartans three times in one season. 

Well, they say beating your archrival three times is almost impossible, and that proved true.

screen shot / ESPN.com

President Obama, known as the first basketball fan in the White House, filled out his brackets for the NCAA men's basketball tournament yesterday.

He picked Michigan State to win it all.

"It's been awhile since Izzo won one," he said.

From ESPN.com:

Update 11:48 a.m.

This is the week that "the-people-seeking-attention" are really cashing in on their bet.

They're betting that you won't pick a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket, but you will give them all kinds of personal information to take a shot at it. 

As Carl Bialik from the lauded Five-Thirty-Eight blog puts it:

No sum of money can beat the math.

(See how statisticians calculate the odds in the original post below.)

ESPN.com's Rick Reilly figures the company sponsoring the contest stands to make a lot of money by gaining "as many as 15 million new sales leads with the registration process alone on this thing."

"You can't buy that kind of PR," [the guy] says. "We love this."

Reilly sat down with the rich guy backing the bet, who isn't too worried about someone picking a perfect bracket. He knows the odds, and he's known how to play them to his advantage all his life:

[The guy] loves making bets that tilt toward his wallet. When his three kids were growing up, he paid them their allowance in dimes. That's because he had a 10-cent slot machine in the house. "By the end of the night," he says, "I'd have most of my money back."

Original post, January 21, 2014

You're more likely to get struck by lightning, but what the heck.

The odds of you picking a perfect NCAA bracket vary.

Some say it's 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

In his video, Jeff Bergen of DePaul University says there's a 1 in 128 billion chance of picking a perfect bracket. He says the odds are a smidge better given that you would  follow the rankings.

The organizers of the contest say the odds are better – 1 in 4.3 billion. (There's no indication of how those odds were calculated.)

If you pick a perfect bracket, they'll give you a billion dollars. More specifically, they'll give you $25 million a year for 40 years, or a one-time payment of $500 million.

So there isn't much in it for you, but there's a lot of free publicity for them. You'll see them in your Facebook feed, or on the Google.

NCAA

Once Tom Izzo got Michigan State’s basketball team rolling in the late ‘90s, the Spartans dominated the state for more than a decade.

Izzo’s teams have earned 16 straight NCAA invitations, seven Big Ten titles, five Final Fours, and one national title, in 2000. Along the way, Izzo took 18 of 21 against the Wolverines, who have had four different head coaches during his tenure.

But what a difference a few years make. Michigan basketball coach John Beilein has beaten the Spartans six of their last eight meetings, and returned the long-dormant program to its previous heights.

MedoraFilm

It began with a New York Times feature story about a struggling boys' high school basketball team in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

The story of the 0-22 Medora Hornets so gripped a pair of Ann Arbor filmmakers that they picked up and moved to struggling, hardscrabble Medora, Indiana for a full year to follow the team as it fought for just one win.

In doing so, Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn discovered layers and layers of compelling stories, which they have packed into a powerful documentary.

"Medora," which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, is now being screened all around Michigan.

There will be a live screening tomorrow night in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater. Additional screenings will be held in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (see listings here).

Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn joined us today (listen to the interview above).

Watch a trailer for the film below, and here's a link to their website.

MEDORA OFFICIAL TRAILER from beachside on Vimeo.

Facebook

March Madness tips off for Michigan and Michigan State on Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, but for fans of the two schools, the madness has already started online. 

Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled a set of maps showing the most-liked college basketball team in every county across the United States. The map is based on more than 1 million Facebook likes.  

And while U-M and MSU were pretty evenly matched on the court this year — the teams split two meetings during the regular season — Wolverine fans are delivering a butt-kicking on Facebook. 

Only seven counties in the whole state support the Spartans over the Wolverines, according to a map comparing the two schools directly. Nationally, wide swatches of the country are painted maize, showing support for Michigan, with only a few patches of green. 

New legislation in Michigan seeks to protect student athletes from concussions.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan public school district plans to do away with fees parents pay to allow their children to participate in sports.

U.S. National Archives / Flickr

Teresa Bloodman’s son was thrilled to play on his freshman basketball team for two months.  But, when the coach held a third round of tryouts so the football players could come out for the team, he cut Bloodman’s son.

Teresa Bloodman was so livid she sued the school, the district and the state.  She claimed cutting her son was arbitrary, that the lack of a formal appeals process was a violation of due process, and that her son has a constitutional right to participate in school sports.

user wane / YouTube

At age 16, Austin Hatch from Ft. Wayne, Indiana was looking forward to a bright future as a University of Michigan basketball recruit.

Here he is talking about his decision to commit to the school:

Nine days after this video was posted Austin Hatch was in a plane crash near Charlevoix, Michigan that killed his father, his stepmother, and a family dog.

Austin survived, as did a second family dog.

The small plane was being piloted by his father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, an anesthesiologist from Indiana. A recent NTSB report found the plane stalled due to inadequate airspeed.

Tragically, this was the second time Austin Hatch and his father had been in a plane crash.

The longest basketball shot? How can we really know? / YouTube

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Brandon Wood scored a season-high 21 points to help No. 8 Michigan State defeat No. 7 Ohio State 68-64 on Sunday in the Big Ten tournament championship game.

Draymond Green, who had 12 points and nine rebounds in the final, was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. The Spartans (27-7) claimed their first tournament title since 2000 in a dramatic game that featured 16 lead changes.

Jared Sullinger scored 18 points and Deshaun Thomas and William Buford added 11 each for the Buckeyes (27-7), who were denied a third straight title.

user huqixiu.co.cc / Flickr

The Big Ten basketball experts knew exactly what was going to happen this season before it even started.  Michigan State would battle for another title, while Michigan would be stuck in the middle, fighting for a tournament bid.  

And that’s exactly how it started.  The Spartans jumped out to first place, and had it all to themselves with just two games left.  The Wolverines spent most of the season in the middle.  

The experts looked pretty smart – until Michigan started mastering head coach John Beilein’s unconventional system.

mgoblue.com

The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State in football is one of the best in the country.  But it obscures the fact that, in just about every other sport, Michigan’s main rival is Michigan State.

In men’s basketball, there’s no team either school would rather beat than the other.  The problem is, for a rivalry to really catch on, both sides need to be at the top of their game.  Think of Bo versus Woody, Borg-McEnroe and, of course, Ali-Frazier, which required three death-defying fights just to determine that one of them might have been slightly better than the other. 

The Michigan-Michigan State basketball rivalry, in contrast, usually consists of at least one lightweight.  When Michigan got to the NCAA final in 1976, Michigan State had not been to the tournament in 17 years.

Kevin Ward / Flickr

Many fans of professional basketball are disappointed that the ongoing contract dispute between players and owners may end up canceling this year’s NBA season. But in Auburn Hills, the home of the Detroit Pistons, disappointment is turning into desperation.  

Many businesses in Auburn Hills rely on the 41 games the Pistons play at the Palace each season. Pete Auger is the Auburn Hills city manager. He says the local economy supported by the games is more than just the thousand people who work at the Palace. 

“You also have restaurants and bars that thrive off of those dates that you get 20-22,000 people coming to one location. All those locations are reporting to us their business is down 40 to 60 percent," says Auger.  

Auger says the city is also missing the exposure that comes from having a pro-sports team identified with the community. That lack of exposure may continue for a while. NBA players this week rejected the owners’ latest offer and that may result in the entire season being canceled.

MSU

The "Quicken Loans Carrier Classic" will be played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson stationed in San Diego in honor of Veteran's Day (the nuclear powered carrier is famed for being the ship from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea).

Michigan State University will play North Carolina in an NCAA Division 1 basketball game to be broadcast on ESPN starting at 7 p.m.

President Barack Obama will attend "the first ever aircraft carrier to host a Division 1 college basketball game."

MSU Coach Tom Izzo's reaction to the game was captured in this ESPN blog post - they quoted Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis:

“I saw him tear up today,’’ Hollis said of Izzo’s emotions when he boarded the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday. “He was emotional. He lives for these kinds of things. The Final Four is special, but this will rank up there in his mind.’’

It already has -- and the tipoff hasn’t even occurred yet.

“My first impression far superseded what I thought it could be about seven or eight years ago when we tried to get this thing together,’’ Izzo said. “At first we were going to play two military schools. But if you could have seen our players’ eyes. There was such an appreciation for what we’re doing. It’s bigger than the game. It’s bigger than North Carolina or Michigan State. It’s a dream come true for us.’’

Here's a video of the MSU team's shoot around:

Specialist 2nd Class Joel Carlson / United States Navy

President Barack Obama will attend a basketball game between Michigan State University and North Carolina. The game will be held on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Veteran's Day (11-11-11).

The game is being branded as the "Quicken Loans Carrier Classic" and it's billed as the "first ever carrier to host a Division 1 college basketball game."

From the Washington Post:

Obama is expected to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Veterans Day and then travel to San Diego for the game.

“This Veterans Day, President Obama will honor our nation’s veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then by traveling to San Diego, California, to attend the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson,” the White House said in a statement. “He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is famed for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

wingsofjustice.com

Robert "Tractor" Traylor died of apparent massive heart attack in Puerto Rico.

From ESPN:

Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in a statement he was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and Traylor's team, the Vaqueros de Bayamon, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack.

The Vaqueros said Traylor was rehabbing a heel injury and had not been playing. They suspended their game Wednesday night because of his death.

Traylor played for the University of Michigan from 1995 to 1998. Prior to that he played for Murray-Wright High School in Detroit.

He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He went on to play for seven years in the NBA for 4 teams (Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte, and New Orleans). After his NBA career, Traylor played for teams in Turkey and Italy before playing in Puerto Rico.

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