Ray Ratto

March Madness Central


March Madness Central

Day 1 of the March Madness Tournament is in the books. Surprisingly, Im still smiling. I was 13-3 with my predictions. The biggest upset on Day1 was (12)VCU defeating (5) Wichita State (62-59). Overall the Big East had a very bad day. The Marquette Golden Eagles were sharp, but the other Big East teams, that played Thursday, appeared to be overrated. The NCAA Selection Committee should feel embarrassed after selecting nine Big East teams for the tournament.

In my opinion, the Big East looked like a big joke Thursday. The 1 seed in the East Region, Syracuse, trailed 16 seed UNC Asheville by 4 points at the half. Syracuse went on to win (72-65). Although 4 Louisville was never in serious trouble they beat 13 Davidson by only seven points. The Gonzaga Bulldogs crushed West Virginia by 23 points and (8) Iowa State spanked Connecticut (77-64). In other words, the Big East is not worthy of having nine teams in the Big Dance. My advice to the NCAA Selection committeecmon man, show the teams from the West some love! Whats up with the East Coast bias?

I admit I was way wrong

I picked West Virginia to upset Gonzaga. I thought this was a no brainer since the Mountaineers gave several Top 25 teams problems this year. I was way wrong! West Virginia did not belong on the same court as Gonzaga. The Bulldogs punished the Mountaineers 77-54.

Wofford hits the Bullseye

Thursday I picked (5)Wichita State vs (12)VCU as one of my games to watch. For the second straight year, Shaka Smarts VCU Rams are breaking opponents hearts. The Rams had a 9 point lead at the half. Wichita battled hard, but came up short. Everyone in the newsroom was standing around the TV watching this game. VCU will face the Indiana Hoosiers in the second round. That should be a good game. Hoosiers dominated New Mexico State from start to finish Thursday night.


(7)Saint Marys (27-5) vs (10) Purdue (21-12)

I dont want to see either of these teams lose, because I covered both teams in my career. Man, this is hard to do, but Im predicting the Boilermakers will get the victory. One thing is for sure, both teams are well coached.

Score Prediction: Purdue 62 Saint Marys 54

(8) Creigton(28-5) vs (9)Alabama (21-11)

All of my friends like Creighton. Sorry but I dont believe the hype. Alabama has been inconsistent this season. They need a big game from Senior JaMychal Green.

Score Prediction: Alabama 77 Creighton 72


(2) Duke (27-6) vs (15) Lehigh (26-7) Lehigh will feel pretty low when this game is over. Coach Ks Blue Devils are entering this tournament with an attitude. Duke has lost two of their last three games. One of those losses was by 18 points to North Carolina. Theyll take their frustration out on Lehigh Friday.


(6) San Diego State (26-7) vs (11) N.Carolina State (22-12) I made a horrible prediction in this category Thursday. This time Im going to get it right. You can quote me, NC State will beat San Diego State Friday. In their most recent game, NC State lost to North Carolina by 2 points. Thats all I need to know about this matchup. This game has upset written all over it.


Im picking three guys who should put up nice numbers Friday.

CJ Leslie 68, 209, Sophomore

He can score, rebound and hes extremely physical. If youre not ready to battle then you better stay away from CJ Leslie. He has scored at least 18 points in 7 of his last 8 games.

Robbie Hummel 68, 215 Senior

This kid refuses to quit. He has battled serious knee injuries in college, but Robbie keeps coming back for more basketball. Hes a great person with a huge heart. Hummel will score at least 20 points vs Saint Marys.

Austin Rivers 64, 200 Freshman

Doc Rivers son has never seen a shot he didnt like. Sometimes Austin shoots too much but he can hit the 3 from NBA range. Austin is a one and done type of player who is looking to put on a show. Look out!

Enjoy the games. My next blog will be posted Saturday morning.

For all the scores from Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament, click here.

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills


NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

The voting for the NBA All-Star starters was properly instructive to both Adam Silver and the public at large about exactly what the game is meant to be – which is why I totally get their decision not to televise the All-Star draft.

It’s really a personality test for everyone involved, for good and ill.

I think having a draft nobody can see is idiotic, stealing an idea the NHL used and then discarded years ago and then not employing the reason why they did it to begin with, but if the All-Star Game is really an expression of ego, then the next best thing to having no draft is having one nobody can see.

The All-Star Game really only functions as a coronation of the elite by the elite, a festival of mutual backslapping friend-rewarding that has nothing to do with the playing of the game, or the moving of the T-shirts or jerseys or expensive hotel rooms. This is about stratifying the player pool so that everyone knows who’s who and what’s what.

Everything else is irrelevant, and the draft reinforces that. Kevin Durant not wanting to be a captain is strategic thinking by a future industrialist. Stephen Curry not minding being a captain is the perfect who-cares statement for someone who doesn’t mind playing the game because objecting to it takes too much work. LeBron James being a captain is the perfect political muscle-flexing that fits his personality.

Damian Lillard already assuming that he won’t be named to the team is a statement about his being considered the perpetual one-level-down guard. Russell Westbrook being named and then controlling the ball as he would in a regular season game is a statement about how he views his place as a disruptor. And on and on and on – the All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills.

Does televising the draft help us understand the actual meaning of the event? Maybe, but the NBA would prefer you consider it a festival of the game itself, which it plainly isn’t. Proof, you say? 192-182 in 2017. 196-173 in 2016. 163-158 in 2015. 163-155 in 2014. There hasn’t been a normal-looking score in 15 years, which means it’s not a game at all.

That isn’t the news, though. It’s that the NBA has made this is a three-day event – the day the captains and starters are named, the day the reserves are picked, and the day that teams are chosen. And every bit of it is about the reaction to that. There is no show thereafter, and the players know it. They care about the selections, because that’s how they’re keeping score.

So go team. Whatever the hell that means.


Jack Cooley gets an All-Star vote


Jack Cooley gets an All-Star vote

The player(s) have spoken. They want Jack Cooley at All-Star weekend.

Hidden amongst the NBA’s All-Star balloting there is always a nugget or two that catches your eye. According to the final tallies, Cooley got some love in the player voting for the NBA All-Star team.

Cooley has played a total of two minutes for the Sacramento Kings this season. Maybe it’s the way he hustles all over the court or his debonair throwback look during a media day photo shoot. Something about Jack Cooley draws you in.

The 26-year-old big man took to Twitter to thank the anonymous voter Thursday evening.

Playing on a two-way contract for the Sacramento Kings, the former Notre Dame star is currently posting 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Reno Bighorns this season.

In addition to the single vote he received from the players, Cooley also garnered 956 votes from the fans and finished with a weighted score of 79.5 in the voting process.

Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Kings in fan voting with 33,842 votes. Georgios Papagiannis was second with 20,082 votes.

H/T to Andy Larsen of KSL.com.

UPDATE (10:12 p.m.): Cooley had some more fun on Twitter after this story's initial publication.