Some times, you just have somebody's number. Roy Williams is now 0-3 against Bill Self. In their first meeting as head coaches of the two perennial basketball powers, the 2008 quarterfinals, the Jayhawks thumped the Tarheels badly. This is the game commentator Billy Packer proclaimed "game over" when KU led 40-12 in the first half.
Last year, the Jayhawks put on a late surge to beat North Carolina in the regional finals, 80-67. I remember thinking at the time that the closing five minutes of that game may have been the best Kansas played all year.
This year, North Carolina failed to put Kansas away in the first half when the Jayhawks were flailing around and throwing the ball to just about everybody except each other. Senior Forward Travis Releford stepped up with some big baskets, which, coupled with Jeff Withey's dominance down low on both ends of the court, quickly erased their 9 point half-time deficit, and keyed KU's second-half dominance.
The 2010 team was great too, but this one takes the cake for being able to make lemonade out of lemons.
First, they lost their black-bearded ace closer, Brian Wilson, for the whole year. Second, they lost their best hitter, Melky Cabrera, two-thirds of the way through the season. Third, Tim Lincecum, two-time Cy Young Award winner, was having an off-year.
Somehow, Bruce Bochy put together a relief corps that did the job and allowed Sergio Romo, sporting a Wilson-esque beard, to emerge as the new ace.
While the Dodgers were bulking up on big names who took them nowhere, the Giants quietly picked up Marco Scutaro from the Rockies. He got 21 hits during the postseason, including the winning RBI of the final game, and played a stellar second base.
As for Lincecum, he proved to be Bruce Bochy's literal ace-in-the-hole. Lincecum didn't start a game in post-season, but he was deadly coming out of the bullpen in middle relief. He allowed only one run in 13 innings.
Good pitching stops good hitting. That's the oldest and most basic baseball truth. The combination of Vogelsong, Cain, Bumgarner, Zito plus a dazzling bullpen, won six straight elimination games, and seven straight games, against some very good teams, to close the season. In fact, it was Barry Zito, of all people, who stepped up and turned the tide in game 5 against St. Louis.
Vogelsong finished the postseason with the lowest ERA since Orel Hershiser in 1988. Bumgarner has a 15 scoreless inning streak going. The 2012 Giants joined the 2010 team as one of four to ever throw four shutouts in a single postseason.
Image: All American boy, Buster Posey, embraces Sergio Romo after Romo strikes out the side on the bottom of the 10th. Ezra Shaw/Bleacher Report
The Masters' Golf Tournament is coming up, which means we'll be subjected to commentators burbling over the place, calling it "the cathedral of golf" and other such over-the-top bloviations. It's a nice golf course people, not a cathedral.
What it really is: The last redoubt of the 1%. They'll soon have their knickers in a knot over an existential question: Should we admit a woman even though she's the CEO of IBM? The CEO of IBM is typically offered a membership, but, heretofore, IBM CEO's have always been men.
If they don't issue the invitation, they're obviously doing it for purposes of gender discrimination. Any guy gets that job, they're in. The smart way to handle it would be to issue the invitation, but without fanfare--in effect saying, "What's the big deal?"
But, this being the 1%, they're likely to insist on doing it their way. Since Augusta is a private club for the elite, they can pursue antebellum policies pretty much for as long as they want.
They've already exceeded most peoples' expectations. At the beginning of the year, I thought making the Sweet Sixteen would be a reasonable goal. They made that (barely)--and (now) then some.
They say the key to the tournament is "survive and advance." The Purdue and North Carolina State games were clunkers, and the Jayhawks were lucky to win both. That bit of b-ball bile out of their system, they played great today--the closing run was the best three minutes they've played since the first three minutes they played against UNC back in '08.
Tyshawn was back on track and led the team with 22 points. Withey was great inside, and the whole team played excellent second-half defense. UNC was reduced to shooting threes, which is the one basketball talent they're not that good at.
Elijah Johnson, again, played a key role. It was his three-pointer that ignited the final rally. Johnson has tended to show up in a big way when the game is on the line, especially of late.
Sometimes, you just have a team's number. For a long time, KU couldn't beat UCLA to save its life. We could have the better team and somehow psych ourselves out. I'm wondering if KU doesn't have North Carolina's number. Maybe it's too early to say, but Bill Self is 2-0 against Roy Williams.
Photo: Tyshawn hoists the Midwest Regional trophy. KU sports.
The Denver Broncos chances of going to the Super Bowl just increased by about 10,000 per cent.
Sure, some things could go wrong. Maybe he's not quite healed up yet, or maybe he's now more injury-prone--or maybe, as they might say in baseball, he's "lost a little zip off his fastball." Any of that is possible, of course, and Manning is 36 years old.
On the other hand, these days they use very sophisticated medical and physical procedures to determine healing, arm strength, and much more. You can bet that Peyton Manning's arm and body have gone through the most comprehensive examinations possible.
No one knows the future, but the most likely scenario here is that Peyton Manning, working with John Fox, will lead an invigorated Denver offense that will score a lot of points and make Denver a much stronger team.
Last year, with Manning out, the Indianapolis Colts promptly tanked, showing that they weren't much without Manning. Denver won't be a one-man team. We won a playoff game last year, and we're pretty good to begin with.
This means Tim Tebow will have to go. You can't have Tebowmania sitting on the bench when you're trying to promote Manningmania. That's regrettable, but Tebow, at best, is going to take some years to really develop. You can't blame the Broncos for wanting to win with Manning right now.
People said Tebow wasn't a good passer, and it's true that he let fly a screaming duck every now and then. He wasn't that bad, though. On some occasions, such as the throw that won a playoff game against Pittsburgh, he could thread the needle.