TCT Roundtable February 18
NHL: The Washington Capitals are in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 14 point lead and two games in hand. They are tied for the best record ever after 55 games and appear to be a lock for the top seed in the conference, if not for the entire league. Are they your favorites to win the cup or does their postseason history make it impossible for them to be the favorites?
Kellan Buddy: I think they have a chance. Holtby had been solid all ear. He’s had posteason experience. And he’s ready now, and he knows what it feels like. Don’t count them out.
Peter Fiorentino: How could they not be? They have one of the hottest goalies in the league. Wilson and Burakovsky are two of the best young skaters in the league, and I would put the Ovechkin/Backstrom/Oshie up against any line in hockey.
Grant Becker: Right now it would be silly to bet on anybody else, but I can’t help but feel like a massive disappointment is coming. T.J. Oshie is a key cog on the top line that’s devastating the league, but he’s been pitiful in the playoffs throughout his career. Feels like a perfect storm of sadness.
Quinn Mathies: I definitely agree that their postseason demons loom deadly, and they’ll likely underperform at the start, taking a team they could walk over all season to five games or so. But when you look around in the league…who else can you pick as the favorite? The Blackhawks? Certainly a title contender, but if I pit the Caps against anyone else, more than 6/10 times I come up Caps.
MLB: Spring training is underway which non-playoff team from last year is most likely to make it this year?
Connor Basch: It’s gotta be the Giants. Improved pitching rotation with Samardzija and Cueto. Young guys in Tomlinson and Duffy have another year under them. Not a whole lot of loss from last season too. Plus, it’s an even year, so they’ve got a good chance at the World Series.
Connor Mallon: San Francisco Giants. If Taylor Swift releases a new album, they’re winning the World Series because the past three albums have been released the same year they’ve won. True story.
Jamey Schilling: Nationals. With the Capitals likely to go far in the playoffs before inevitably choking, Washington will need another team to completely underperform. Since the Wizards probably aren’t gonna make it, that leaves the Nats.
Peter Fiorentino: I’ll say the LA Angels, but with a lot of ‘ifs.’ IF C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver stay healthy and consistent, IF Andrelton Simmons is all he’s hyped up to be, IF Houston Street can repeat as one of the best closers in baseball, and IF Daniel Nava can defy odds as one of the biggest disappointments in left field history, then they’ll make the playoffs.
Brendan Ploen: I think the AL central will be way better than last year. The Twins barely missed out last year. They recently acquired Byong Ho Park from South Korea and they have one of the best pipelines in baseball, loaded with talent. I also think the Tigers will be a lot better. The Central in both the AL & NL will be very competitive.
NCAAB: Villanova is #1 in the AP poll right now. Are they the best team in the country? If not, who is?
Connor Mallon: Rock chalk Jayhawk. KU had their inconsistencies in the season but have always prevailed. To me they’re a second half team. Only one fluke loss to Oklahoma St. and West Virginia and Iowa St. were justifiable loses. They’ve got 83.1 PPG and swept Oklahoma in the regular season series. They won as a team in the World University Games, won the Maui Invitational and probably will get their 12th consecutive conference championship.
Grant Becker: Yes. The Wildcats have the most balanced roster in the country – and it’s deep. They have a genuine star among their guards, wings and bigs that can take over any game. They are also the only team in the country with a top 15 offense and a top 5 defense according to KenPom. They can make it rain from three but they don’t depend on it.
Connor Basch: Jay Wright’s teams never do well in the NCAA Tournament. Right now, the best team for me is Kansas. Even with Diallo not performing to the level that people thought he would, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden have really stepped up. Plus if anyone knows how to lead a team in March, it’s Bill Self.
Quinn Mathies: This year is a difficult one. So many teams can make a case to be #1 this year, and many are legitimate contenders. I think there is no clear #1, and even after April is done and gone I don’t think we’ll have a clear #1. This is just gonna be one of those years where the “rest” is just so close to the “best.”
NBA: Which team missed out biggest on the trade deadline?
Connor Basch: I think it’s the Celtics. They have the pieces and picks to where I thought they could have made a blockbuster trade for a big man, but they didn’t. 3rd seed right now in the East, but let’s be honest – they’re not going to be of much competition come April/May because their front court is sub-par with Sullinger and Amir Johnson at the 4 & 5. I think it would have been the best fit for Dwight Howard too because Brad Stevens could coach a blind man, so why too couldn’t he coach Howard?
Peter Fiorentino: Chris Paul should be a Laker. End of story. #StillSalty
Brian Boyle: It’s gotta be the Raptors. A surprise #2 in the east and the sixth best team in the league, Toronto still had plenty of room to improve. Armed with great assets like PAtrick Patterson, Delon Wright, and 2 2016 first round picks, they had everything they needed to upgrade they’re front court with steady talent from the likes of Thad Young, Taj Gibson, or Markieff Morris. Unfortunately, GM Masaii Ujiri failed to make any hotline rings as the deadline clock tick-tocked to a close, leaving raptors super fan Drake very, very sad…
Grant Becker: The Clippers are a strong candidate for me. LA desperately needed to improve to jump up to contender status. I know it’s only a protected pick but Jeff Green doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade over Lance, definitely not a “first round pick worthy” upgrade.