Ray Ratto

Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (1127)

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Ratto's AP Top 25 Poll (1127)

RANK TEAM LAST WEEK THIS WEEK COMMENT 1 LSU BEAT ARKANSAS, 41-17 GEORGIA in SEC Championship The title game is theirs, and probably the title too 2 ALABAMA Won at Auburn, 42-14 Scouting LSU Expecting a more defensive struggle with Tigers this time 3 OKLAHOMA STATE Got the grill cleaned OKLAHOMA The last of the big showndown games before the Music City Bowl 4 OREGON BEAT OREGON STATE, 49-21 UCLA in Pac-12 Championship Friday Early line is Oregon by a googolplex 5 STANFORD BEAT NOTRE DAME, 21-7 Ultimate Frisbee Looks like the Fiesta Bowl 6 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BEAT UCLA, 50-0 Sitting in the corner Breaking down film for the spring game 7 ARKANSAS Lost at LSU, 41-17 Probably Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl Nebraska in the Capital One 8 OKLAHOMA BEAT IOWA STATE, 26-6 At Oklahoma State How about the Alamo Bowl against (gasp!) Utah? 9 HOUSTON WON AT TULSA, 48-16 Southern Mississippi in C-USA Championship With a win, probably Michigan in the Sugar Bowl 10 BOISE STATE BEAT WYOMING, 36-14 NEW MEXICO Wake Forest in the IndependenceWe Need A Placeckicker 11 VIRGINIA TECH WON AT VIRGINIA, 38-0 Clemson in ACC Championship Winner gets Louisville in the Orange Bowl 12 SOUTH CAROLINA BEAT CLEMSON, 34-13 Rooting for Georgia Michigan State in the Outback, where they will score four points 13 MICHIGAN STATE BEAT NORTHWESTERN, 31-17 Wisconsin in Big 10 Championship A guess: South Carolina in the Outback 14 MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE, 40-34 Sending flowers to Rich Rodriguez in Tucson Houston in the Sugar 15 KANSAS STATE Put up those storm windows IOWA STATE Georgia in the Cotton? 16 WISCONSIN BEAT PENN STATE, 45-7 Michigan State in Big 10 Champiosnhip Winner gets Oregon in the Rose 17 GEORGIA WON AT GEORGIA TECH, 31-17 LSU in SEC Championship Kansas State in the Cotton, 91-88 final 18 TEXAS CHRISTIAN Shopped on Black Friday Deserves way better than . . . UCLA (bleargh) in the Las Vegas 19 BAYLOR BEAT TEXAS TECH, 66-42 Robert Griffin III in New York City Arizona State in the Holiday? 20 CLEMSON Lost at South Carolina, 34-13 Virginia Tech in ACC Championship Fl;orida in the Chick-Fil-A 21 NEBRASKA BEAT IOWA, 20-7 Waving their underwear at the Big 12 Arkansas in the Capital One 22 WEST VIRGINIA BEAT PITTSBURGH, 21-20 At South Florida North Carolina State in the Belk (no idea whatsoever) 23 SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI BEAT MEMPHIS, 44-7 Houston in C-USA Championship Pitt in the (oh for Christ's sake) Beef O'Brady's 24 CINCINNATI WON AT SYRACUSE, 30-13 CONNECTICUT Florida International in the BBVA Compass 25 ARKANSAS STATE Posed with Sun Belt's version of the Stanley Cup TROY Northern Illinois in the Go-Daddy, probably

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

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AP

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
 
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
 
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
 
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
 
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
 
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
 
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”