TCT Roundtable February 25th
Another week of sports means another week of questions for The College Tailgate staff. Have a question you want answered? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NBA: The race to make the playoffs in the Western Conference is getting tight as four teams compete for three spots. Amongst Portland, Dallas, Utah and Houston, who is most likely to miss out and who should the top teams fear most in the first round?
Grant Becker: Portland is hot right now but I’m not sure how long that can last, they’re in for me, but not too dangerous. Utah has hardly been healthy this year but they should be for the playoffs which makes their smothering defense and balanced offense scary. Rick Carlisle is the second best coach in the league, which locks them in and makes them scary in the first round. Houston is such a mess, they’re out for me.
Brendan Ploen: If Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons start playing like the max deal players they were signed to be, they would be most feared in first round. But don’t sleep on Damian Lilliard carrying Portland on his back. They could sneak in too.
Ian Hackett: Most likely to miss out would be Utah, but don’t be surprised if Houston doesn’t make it. Most feared would have to be Dallas. I too think that the Jazz will cause havoc against teams in the playoff, I just question whether out of those 4 teams they’re strong enough to make the playoffs. They’ll be a dangerous team if they make it though
Jamey Schilling: I think the Utah Jazz are going to surprise people. They’re fresh off a seven game win streak where they beat the Mavericks. Just recently they beat the Rockets, and barely lost to the Trail Blazers. They’re coming along nicely, and a good win against an up and coming Celtics team is a good sign for the Jazz. #GordonHaywardVsTheWorld
Connor Mallon: Most likely to miss out would be Houston is because of the turmoil that the organization is in. Harden/Howard chemistry is pathetic and there seems to be no signs of improvement in any areas for the team. Their season was over the minute they fired Kevin McHale. Most feared team would probably be Portland because of their drive to not roll over and tank like other teams. I think they want to prove their not a mediocre team and that they can advance even after losing four of their five starters from last season.
Connor Basch: I would say Utah is the most likely to miss out, however, with two former Butler Bulldogs on that roster (Gordon Hayward & Shelvin Mack) that were part of two National Runner-Up teams, don’t be surprised if they turn on the jets at the end of the season. The team to be most feared would be Dallas. I’m surprised that they’re in the position they are now. IMO they’re one of the top 5(ish) most talented teams in the Association. Parsons and Matthews have yet to play to their full potential, but once they do this team will be scary.
Brian Boyle: If had to put money on a team missing out on the playoffs, it’d have to be the completely discombobulated Houston Rockets. With visible chemistry issues, coaching woes, and a complete disinterest in defense, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Houston checked out in the tail end of the season and missed the playoffs. That being said, if they do make the playoffs, I’d also put money on the Rockets being the biggest playoff spoilers. If I’m any of the top 4 teams, I’m horrified of matching up the Rox in the first round. Harden can go god mode, D12 is a playoff monster, and they’re slew of battle tested veterans can get hot at any moment. Plus, they just brought back Josh Smith. And when Josh Smith is in Houston, anything is possible. Just ask the Clippers.
NCAAB: Four of the last six Final Fours have featured a mid-major team. Which mid-major squad is most likely to break in this year?
Hank Greening: Dayton. They’ve been hot and cold all year, but if they get that first win in the tournament, watch out.
Jamey Schilling: For me, there are three clear teams. In no particular order Monmouth, stone cold Stephen F. Austin and Arkansas Little Rock. Stephen F. Austin would probably be my most likely one of the three because they’re experienced with March Madness. I just really want to see what antics the Monmouth Bench would bring to cutting down the regional championship nets. Backflip? I can only hope.
Connor Mallon: Monmouth solely for their bench.
Grant Becker: It’s a shame that the A10 is still considered a mid-major conference, that’s a tough conference. But I’m going with Wichita State. Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker are still one of the five best backcourts in the country. I just really love Fred Van Vleet.
Sean Carney: I would say St. Joe’s. They are the class of the A10 this year and have two guys averaging about 17 points a game. DeAndre Bembry is one of the best mid-major players no one knows about and could have a coming out party on a national stage.
Brendan Ploen: Final four? Very tough, I’d agree with Dayton, besides a loss at home vs St. Boneventure and getting blown out vs Xavier, they’ve got a great shot. In terms of making a deep run but not final four, I’d day Hawaii. They are 21-7 in the Big West and are loaded with big men and their guard play is above par. Hawaii- sweet 16. Dayton- final four.
Ian Hackett: I have to second Hank Greening on this one, it’s gotta be Dayton.
Connor Basch: Wichita State. I feel like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker have been there for centuries, but Gregg Marshall has consistently churned out good results with those guys. It’s been a down year, but they’re a team on the cusp of the top-25, and if they get hot at the right time then I think they could make a run.
Quinn Matheis: I can’t say Dayton because I don’t think the A10 is a mid-major anymore so long as the MWC isn’t considered one or the American. But in terms of what I consider a mid-major, the most dangerous teams are Monmouth, Chattanooga, Valpo and Hawaii. Any of those three have both the results and the upward trend to suggest a Final Four threat. If them all, if I had to pick one, I’d go Valpo. They’ve been due for a deadly NCAA run for a while, and if it weren’t for a major injury, they’d have a road win over Oregon under their belts.
Connor Mallon: I think since there is not one great team in college basketball that makes the rest of the other good teams in the Power 5 conferences more likely to advance and eliminate mid-majors early on. What makes a mid-major final four run so special is when we don’t expect it and I think for this all these teams can get there but I don’t think they will.
NHL: At this point it looks like a lock that the playoffs won’t include a Canadian team. Which Canadian team is the most disappointing?
Peter Fiorentino: The Montreal Canadiens. The Habs were my pick to win the Cup back in October, and have completely fallen off the wagon. Carey Price and the defense have underperformed leading to a -1 goal differential, in an overall weak Atlantic Division.
Grant Becker: It has to be the Canadiens. They had the highest hopes when the season started. Heck, Peter even picked them to win the Stanley Cup!
Connor Mallon: Montreal Canadiens. They had the highest expectations and looked almost certain in the beginning of the season to be Stanley Cup contender but just fell apart midway through the year. I would say if Conor McDavid was healthy all year then the Oilers might have been able to sneak in as an 8th seed.
Kellan Buddy: Agreed with Pete. Another disappointment would be the Edmomton Oilers. They’ve had so many number one overall picks in the recent past, including McDavid and Taylor hall. With such a strong incoming roster, you’d think The Oilers would be a contender by now. They just can’t seem to figure out their chemistry.