Author Archives: Ricky Keeler
On Wednesday night, Kickin’ It With Keeler’s host Ricky Keeler will be hosting the NCAA Tournament Preview show for the 2nd straight year on the network. His BRACKETPALOOZA show gives listeners a unique breakdown to the NCAA Tournament from many different angles. The show starts at 9:00 PM ET and goes for three hours! This year, the show will feature a staple of Kickin’ It With Keeler throughout the past two months.
Over the course of those months, the show has had a segment called the Student Section Series where Ricky has talked with student reporters from the top college basketball teams during the season. Now, those reporters will re-convene Wednesday night to talk about their team’s chances in the bracket as well as the teams they like in their region.
Also, the show will feature two of the best bracketologists in the country. Daniel Evans and Blake Hofstad from BracketologyExpert.com will join the show to talk about the Selection Committee’s choices for the field of 68 as well as giving you their sleepers and Final Four predictions. These guys are previewing every 2nd round NCAA Tournament game on their website, so check those out. Ricky will also make his final four prediction exclusively on the show!
Below is a timeline of the reporters that will join Ricky during the course of this special 3-hour show:
- 9:15 ET – Brian Haenchen – The University News of Saint Louis University
- 9:30 – Michael Norman – Indiana Student Daily
- 9:45 – Colleen Thomas – Senior Sports Editor of the Michigan Block
- 10:15 – Ernesto Suarez – Sports Editor at the Miami Hurricane
- 10:45 – Nick Merchant – Editor-In-Chief of the Gonzaga Bulletin
- 11:15 – Daniel Evans + Blake Hofstad – Resident Bracketologists
Also, if you have any tournament questions when you fill out your bracket, call into the show (646-929-2192) and our experts will give you the best information possible. Tune in and join in on the fun. Plus, the show will be live during Boise State-La Salle and will give updates on the game throughout the night!
After all of the in-season talk about conference re-alignment and the Catholic 7 staying in the New Big East, we finally get the chance to talk Big East hoops on the court. The Big East Tournament begins Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. It will perceivably be the end of an era for one of the best conferences in college basketball over the past decade. This year, there is many storylines as some teams fight for seeding (Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette) while others fight for their slim NCAA Tournament hopes (Providence, St. John’s). Nevertheless, this tournament always provides its own share of fantastic finishes and creates legacies. Just ask former Connecticut guard Kemba Walker (“Cardiac Kemba”) and former Syracuse guard Gerry McNamarra.
With that being said, here is how I see the Big East tournament playing out:
Tuesday Night – 1st Round
USF over Seton Hall – The head of the network, George Brew, will not like this pick. However, I like the momentum the Bulls have going into this game. They are coming off of wins against DePaul and Connecticut along with a close overtime loss at Cincinnati to end the season. The Pirates seem to be losing players by the day, which hurts the depth of Kevin Willard’s squad. Seton Hall will need junior guard Fuquan Edwin to light it up from beyond the arc (42.6% from 3-point land). South Florida is not a good team offensively, but they make up for it on the defensive end. Keep an eye on forward Victor Rudd, as he has scored in double figures in 5 of his last 6 games. It will be a close, low scoring game, but Stan Heath’s club finds a way to advance.
Rutgers over DePaul – For the second straight matchup, I am going against the trend because DePaul beat Rutgers in February at the RAC. However, the Scarlet Knights have played like the better team down the stretch, including a tough win at the Prudential Center last Friday. Back in February, they lost guard Eli Carter for the rest of the season. The Scarlet Knights miss his scoring, but their frontcourt with Kansas State transfer Wally Judge and senior Dane Miller at the forward position can attack the glass with a DePaul frontline that gives up 26 rebounds per game. The Scarlet Knights will have to watch out for the Blue Demons’ leading scorers in juniors Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin. DePaul has talent on the offensive end, but it is Rutgers’ defense that will get them the check mark in this matchup.
Wednesday – 2nd Round
Providence over Cincinnati – Yes, the Friars are back. They have won 7 of their last 9 games and beat the Bearcats back on February 6th at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Ed Cooley has done a great job of maximizing the talent on the roster, which is why he would be my Big East Coach of the Year. They have the co-most improved player of the year in the conference (Kadeem Batts) and one of the top scorers in the league (Bryce Cotton). Plus, the Friars are the best rebounding team in the conference. As for Cincinnati, they are coming in on a slide, despite an OT win over USF on Saturday. They were one of the surprises in the conferences to start the year, but now the lack of scoring has become a surprise. Sean Kilpatrick was one of the early frontrunners for Big East POY, but he has only scored 20+ points in three of his last 12 games! Providence is a team that can score, so I expect this game to be high scoring as the Friars advance to the quarterfinals.
Syracuse over USF – Syracuse only scored 39 points on Saturday in their 28-point blowout loss at the hands of Georgetown. This is a ‘Cuse team that has struggled to score the basketball due to the inconsistent guard play from sophomore Michael Carter-Williams and senior Brandon Triche. Jim Boeheim would love his team win this tournament before heading to the ACC, but the offense has to perform because Syracuse already plays some of the toughest defenses in the conference. To do that, keep an eye on forward C.J Fair, who has averaged near 15 points per game, double his average from last year. The X-Factor for them is senior James Southerland, who was on his game until he served an academic suspension in January. Now, he is trying to find his rhythm again. ‘Cuse will win this game, but they will need Southerland to advance not only in this tourney, but in the NCAA’s.
Villanova over St. John’s – To preface this prediction, I am a St. John’s student. The Johnnies have dealt with numerous adversity issues this year. Just over the past few weeks, they have suspended their best scorer, D’Angelo Harrison, for the rest of the season and forward Sir Dominic Pointer was suspended one game for getting into a fight late in the Notre Dame game. That being said, Steve Lavin is coaching a talented group of young players that have a bright future. Plus, this matchup is winnable for the Red Storm.
St. John’s and Villanova played into overtime early this season, a game won by ‘Nova in which St. John’s got 36 points from the aforementioned Harrison. Also, these two squads played an overtime game last year at MSG. That being said, Villanova has had some great wins this year at home vs. Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown. Ryan Arcidiacono and Darraun Hillard combined for 50 points in the first matchup this season (a 98-86 win). The key though will be that even though St. John’s has Chris Obekpa in the middle, I like the combination of Jayvaughn Pinkson and Mouphtaou Yarou to outphysical the Red Storm inside.
Notre Dame over Rutgers – On January 19th, Notre Dame actually had to struggle to beat Rutgers at the Joyce Center 69-66. Rutgers has the talent to hang around in this one, but remember, they had Eli Carter for that game. The Irish struggled against Louisville on Saturday, but I don’t think Rutgers has enough experience at the guard position to win this one. Eric Atkins and company lead the Big East in assists and are 2nd as a team in field goal percentage. Plus, Jack Cooley is one of the more underrated centers in the league. Notre Dame is a sleeper in most experts’ eyes as they should have no problem advancing to the quarters.
Quarterfinals – Thursday
Georgetown over Providence – This matchup features a different Providence team that Georgetown saw back on January 16th when the Hoyas beat the Friars 74-65 at the Verizon Center. The Hoyas are too strong on the defensive end and their play revolves around who I think is the Big East player of the year in Otto Porter. Porter has had some historic moments this season, including scoring 33 at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. Now, the Friars will make this interesting because they will be hungry to keep their slim bubble hopes alive, but Georgetown led by Porter and guard Markel Starks (42% from 3-point) win this one in a close battle.
Pittsburgh over Syracuse – When the bracket came out, everyone wanted to see a Syracuse-Georgetown semifinal for the last time. Unfortunately, Jamie Dixon is going to spoil the party since he seems to own Jim Boeheim head-to-head. Pitt is not a flashy team, but they are very efficient. My player to watch on this team is senior Tray Woodall. Woodall is the leader of this team that has matured throughout the season and become a darkhorse in this conference tournament. Pitt knows how to navigate the 2-3 zone and frustrate Cuse’s guards which will get them the victory.
Louisville over Villanova – Louisville head coach Rick Pitino does not take kindly to losing twice to one team during the season. Villanova can pull the upset here, but Louisville is red hot right now. They have won seven straight games and have started to find a groove offensively. Peyton Siva is their floor general at point guard and as long as he doesn’t turn the ball over, Louisville can win this tourney and the big one in March. Plus, Nova’s guards will have a time with Big East defensive player of the year Gorgui Dieng blocking their shots inside. Cardinals advance to the semifinals.
Notre Dame over Marquette – This one might give you a head scratcher considering Marquette beat the Irish ten days ago, but Marquette did not impress me in its last two games against Rutgers and St. John’s. Now, they had a lot of pressure on them as they tried to clinch a share of the Big East regular season title, which they did. However, I like Mike Brey in March at Madison Square Garden. Cooley is going to outplay Da’Vante Gardner inside. Plus, I like Jerian Grant and his ability to take over down the stretch, like he did in the 5OT game vs. Louisville. Irish in the upset!
Semifinals – Friday
Georgetown over Pittsburgh – On January 8th, Pittsburgh went into the Verizon Center and dominated the Hoyas by a whopping score of 73-45. Pittsburgh shot 55% from the floor in that game and held Otto Porter to just nine points. Pitt has a great history of winning these kinds of games at MSG. They have good forward play with Dante Taylor and Lamar Patterson to at least challenge the Hoyas in the frontcourt. However, Georgetown will have revenge on their minds in this one. The problem for the Hoyas could be that they don’t tend to peak until the 2nd half in a lot of games. That might hurt them in the NCAA Tournament, but I don’t think Pittsburgh will be able to pull away, which means Porter hits a buzzer beater to send the Hoyas to the final!
Louisville over Notre Dame – This is a matchup that usually sees overtimes galore. Louisville and Notre Dame are two teams that won’t be in the Big East next year, so they would go all out in this matchup. Both of these teams can play ugly and they can also score the basketball, as we saw in their 103-101 5 overtime thriller in South Bend. However, Louisville dominated their matchup on Saturday at the YUM Center winning by 16 points. The Irish only made 5 of 19 3 pointers in the loss and against Louisville, they will need to hit a better percentage of shots from the perimeter. Again, this will be a close game, but this is a redemption game for Russ Smith after his overtime shot issues in South Bend. Louisville advances to its 2nd straight final, but will they repeat?
Saturday – CHAMPIONSHIP
Georgetown over Louisville – Georgetown is the #1 seed in this tournament, but it seems the favorite is the defending champion Louisville Cardinal. You have to like the coaching matchup in this one between John Thompson III and Rick Pitino. These teams will keep the final close with good defense, but the Hoyas play great half-court defense, which will force Peyton Siva into making turnovers in bunches. Two years ago, it was Kardiac Kemba. This year, it is the Ottoman Empire taking over New York City as Georgetown cuts down the nets and keeps the title with the original Big East!
The biggest question a sports fan gets asked is why are you a fan of your favorite team. Or at least this should be. Sports fans usually have favorite teams in all the major professional sports and college, and for some there is European Soccer. But who is your favorite team? The team that if they were in the Playoffs your life stops? The team who every time this is the slightest alteration in a hat or jersey, you are at your favorite sporting goods store to buy it. That is what we are asking and telling you, our favorite teams and the answers may surprise you.
This is the 2nd post of the series to read George Brew’s click here.
In New York, I always get asked the same question whenever I walk around in a Tom Brady jersey or a Bill Belichick hoodie. How in the world are you a Patriots’ fan living in New York City? It is so tough to fathom that someone can root for a New England team, especially in the last few years when the Patriots-Jets rivalry has reached a boiling point in the New York City area? Thanks Rex Ryan!
It all started when I was two years old, which is about 1994. My father was a Jets’ fan and my mother was a Giants’ fan, so it was tough to really root for a football team in general. Most Sundays, I would go to my uncle’s house to watch football since he had the NFL Sunday Ticket package. The first game that I was watching was a New England Patriots’ game with Drew Bledsoe as the quarterback. Today, my parents tell me that after the occasional mom and dad first words, the next one was Bled-Soe.
Although the team did make the Super Bowl in 1997, there is only one game that stands out to me when I reflect back on the Bledsoe years. I go back to a game up in Foxboro Stadium on November 29th, 1998 against the Buffalo Bills (Sorry, Brian Sanborn). The Patriots and Bills played a close game the whole way! With Buffalo leading 21-17 in the 4th quarter, Bledsoe takes the Pats down the field and sets up one last play, a hail mary into the end zone. But, wait, Buffalo gets called for pass interference to set up an untimed play from the one yard line. The next play, Bledsoe hits tight end Ben Coates for a 1-yard TD to win the game 25-21!
Then came the Tom Brady years! When Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001, it was a matter of shock for me as a Pats’ fan. I was only eight years old and I did not know what to do next since Drew was the only QB I knew. I would wear my Bledsoe jersey every Sunday wherever I went because I used to think that would bring the team good luck. So, the minute Brady was picked as the quarterback, I had to get my hands on a Brady jersey. Later that year, my grandparents gave me one as a Christmas gift.
When people ask me what I remember most as a Patriot fan, it has to be the first time they win the championship. I tell other fan bases that no matter how many championships your team wins, you will always remember the first one that you saw. That January, my little brother had just been born and he is a Brady fan to this day. He came home the night of the Oakland Raider game and I had to handle my frustrations without waking him up, particularly during the supposed fumble to end the game. I went from being in sadness to being in jubilation during a two minute span.
Then, you skip ahead to the Super Bowl. All around my school, I was saying the Patriots would pull the upset over the Rams, but I did not recognize the historical significance until today. When Adam Vinatieri made the game winning field goal, I ran around my house screaming for five minutes and then went on to brag all over school the next day.
During Super Bowl 38, I was in Washington D.C for a Junior Young Leaders’ conference in Maryland. That Sunday was casual night, so the people were allowed to wear whatever they want. So, I brought out my Brady jersey and wore it for every meeting which took place during the 1st half of the game. Luckily, I did not miss much scoring. I missed the halftime show during the social as well. After the night meetings, I got back to my room just in time for the last four minutes of the game. When Vinatieri hit that field goal, I did more screaming in a happy fashion. My roommates told me to shut up, but I was like “No way guys, the PATRIOTS JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL AGAIN!!!!”
Now, we move the timeline back to the historic season of 2007. When I used to write for the CBS Sports message board, I wrote a thread after their Week 3 win against the Bills saying that New England would finish the regular season undefeated. I just had a good feeling about the team and how dynamic and explosive they were offensively. I got ripped for it, but I got the last laugh.
For Christmas, I got tickets to go the 16-0 game at Giants Stadium. I had gone to past Patriots-Jets games at Giants Stadium, but this one sticks out in my mind in terms of an at-the-game experience. The seats were upper deck, but in the end zone where Tom Brady and Randy Moss set the passing touchdown and receiving touchdown records in the single season. To share that moment with Patriot fans and chant “UN-DE-FEAT-ED” with the Patriot faithful is a moment to remember forever, even though that Super Bowl loss just had to happen two months later.
I would consider myself the most displaced Patriot fan in the tri-state area at least. I have never made a trip out to Foxboro/Gillette Stadium to see my team play a home game, but the chance to see them play in New York is something I have taken advantage of over the past decade. When I have kids, I will get to tell them I saw the great Tom Brady at quarterback and one of the greatest head coaches of all-time in Bill Belichick. I live in New York and people always accuse me of being a bandwagon fan because they started winning. That false statement makes me mad more than most statements because if you know me or read this, you would know that is inaccurate.
The thrill of being a Patriot fan just gets even better when you get the chance to write about the team you love. I have been on FoxboroBlog.com since September of last year and to get a chance to write previews for every game is an experience in itself! I can say that no matter what, I am proud to be a Patriot fan!