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NCAA Blog Pick ‘em contest winner: Bryan Ward

Congratulations to Bryan Ward, who finished with 121 points to win the Hanks Blog Pick ‘em Contest. He — like 17 others in the contest — picked UNC to win the whole enchilada.

Bryan, contact me at bhanks@freedomenc.com and let’s find out what you want from the Free Press prize closet.

The final standings:

Person                        Score   Correct   Champion

1. Bryan Ward               121            47               UNC

2. Kelly Rouse               116             47               UNC

3. Darren Becton          114              48               UNC

4. Justin Hill                   113            48                UNC

5. Jason Wade               109            47                 UNC

6. Michael Goff              109            47                 UNC

7. B.J. Davis                    108            49                 UNC

8. Ryan Herman            107            46                  UNC

9. April Goff                    105           45                  UNC

10. Richard Byrd           103            46                  UNC

11. Franc Jones              103            45                   UNC

12. Rashod Wynn           102            46                  UNC

13. Randy Capps            102            42                  UNC

14. Chris Oliver              101            43                   UNC

15. Jeff Howard              100            43                  UNC

16. Andrew Gridley          99            41                  UNC

17. Bryan Hanks                94            43                  UNC

18. Casey Oliver                81             47                  Louisville

19. Cameron Beaman       79             46                  Pittsburgh

20. Glenn Whitley            76              44                 Connecticutt

21. Drew Meadows           74              43                 Pittsburgh

22. J. Taplie Coile             72               43                 Pittsburgh

23. Bobby Hatcher           72               44                 Pittsburgh

24. Joel Glassman            72                43                 Pittsburgh

25. Josh Goodson             70                44                 Louisville

26. Daniel Jones               70                45                  Memphis

27. Andrew Beamon        69                 43                 Pittsburgh

28. Nathan Perry             67                 40                 Pittsburgh

29. Pete Howard              67                  42                 Pittsburgh

30. Jay Wilson                  66                  40                 Louisville

31. Patrick Williford         64                  41                  Missouri

32. Chris Lavender          45                   33                 Memphis

Morning News Report; April 7, 2009

SOME TEAM FROM CHAPEL HILL WINS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

There’s no doubt that North Carolina (and the Atlantic Coast Conference) had the best college team in America this year after the Tar Heels dismantled Michigan State, 89-72, in the national championship game last night.

My take: As I said last night, congratulations to you UNC apologists — you deserve to crow.

Now you’re on Lawson and Ellington Watch: do they leave for the NBA? (Thanks for the correction, ECPirates11 and JT!)

Regardless, enjoy.

OBAMA FRIED CHICKEN RESTAURANTS OPEN IN NYC

Two chicken restaurants in New York City (Brooklyn and Manhattan) have changed their names to “Obama Fried Chicken”.

My take: WOW.

According to the link, the name-change isn’t to offend African-Americans or to bank on Obama’s popularity, but to pay homage to the president. Yeah, whatever.

‘FAST AND FURIOUS’ WINS WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

Evidently, Vin Diesel can still draw a crowd: his reunion with the original crew helped “Fast and Furous” win the weekend box office with a $71 million take. Second through fifth were “Monsters vs. Aliens” ($32.6 million), “The Haunting in Connecticut” ($9.8 million), “Knowing” ($8.1 million) and “I Love You, Man” ($7.7 million).

My take: I have zero desire to see “Fast”; I didn’t see the original or the 12 sequels and I’m not particularly a Diesel fan.

However, I do want to see “Knowing” (although it was killed by reviewers) and “I Love You, Man”. Anyone see either one of those?

The iPod shuffle

Savin’ Me — Nickelback

Papa Loved Mama — Garth Brooks

I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks — The Bloodhound Gang

Duke Of Earl — Gene Chandler

Where The Streets Have No Name — U2

Morning Sports Report; April 6, 2009

TAR HEELS, SPARTANS SET TO FACE FOR TITLE TONIGHT

Top-ranked North Carolina and 7.5-point underdog Michigan State play for the 2008-09 NCAA men’s basketball championship tonight.

My take: UNC 85, MSU 70. Ol’ Roy will have the boys focused and ready. Psycho-T will end his career on a high note with a double-double of, oh, about 22 and 13, while Ty Lawson will have his own double-double of 14 points and 12 assists.

So who ya’ got? The bloggee who picks the score closest to the actual final score will win their two ECU baseball tickets or two K-Tribe tickets to a game of their choosing. Leave your prediction in the comments or e-mail it to me at bhanks@freedomenc.com.

BRAVES SPOIL PHILLIES CELEBRATION

Derek Lowe allowed only two hits and no runs over eight innings to lead Atlanta to a 4-1 win at Philadelphia last night in the MLB season-opener. The loss spoiled all the pre-game activities for the Phillies, last year’s World Series champs.

My take: I know it’s a long season, but that was a nice win for the Bravos last night. They’re on pace for 162-0!

My predictions for the 2009 MLB season (if you want to see a better — and longer — set of predictions, visit Randy Capps’ blog):

AL East: N.Y. Yankees

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Texas Rangers

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

NL East: N.Y. Mets

NL Central: Chicago Cubs

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks

NL Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals

AL playoffs: Yankees over Rangers, Indians over Rays finishes with Indians over Yankees for AL pennant

NL playoffs: Cubs over Diamondbacks, Mets over Cardinals finishes with Cubs over Mets for NL pennant

World Series: Indians over Cubs in six games.

GORDON BREAKS LONG LOSING STREAK

Jeff Gordon won at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday to break a 47-race losing streak that dated back to the 2007 season.

My take: As much as I detested him when he came on the NASCAR scene, he’s become just about the only driver I can stomach on the circuit.

TWO POSTSCRIPTS:

  • I’m leaving the voting open for the ECOTD Sweet 16 semifinal open until 11:30 a.m. There are not a whole lot of votes, so get them in now!
  • If you’re in the Hanks Blog Baseball League, don’t forget to set your lineups. There are a ton of games today and I don’t want to hear any whining about not getting today’s results counted!

Kraebel is sort of a standup guy…

It was Charlie Krabel’s worst nightmare: both Big East teams lost in their Final Four matchups last night.

However, to his credit, the former content editor at The Free Press — who escaped back to the nether-regions of upstate New York — gives the ACC its due in his latest offering.

Well, sort of.

He says the only ACC apologists are Duke or UNC fans — WRONG. Maybe the ones going to his blog or the limited exposure he had to folks in his time here were Duke/UNC fans, but I know a boatload of Wolfpackers, Demon Deacons and Clemson Tiger fans who beat the drum for the ACC. Heck, N.C. State has more national titles (2) than nearly any member of the Big East.

And in case you forget, I am a pitiful Virginia fan who unapologetically pulls for my Cavahoos — and I’m proud of the best basketball league in America over the past 20 and 30 years. The Hoos did have two Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1984.

This much is true about the 2008-09 college basketball season: top to bottom, no league was better than the Big East. Their teams dominated in the NCAA tournament, up until last night. But what will be remembered most about this season is that the best team (UNC) came from the ACC. Twenty years from now, it’s just going to be a trivial fact that the Big East had three No. 1 seeds — what will be remembered is that the Tar Heels were the national champions.

To those who truly know me: yes, that last line was a tough one to type.

Hanks Blog Pick ‘em leaders

Here are the top 10 leaders in the Hanks Blog Pick ‘em contest:

Person/LW/score                Correct  Best Score  Best correct

1. Kelly Rouse (T10) — 86              45             116                   47

2. Darren Becton (T7) — 84           46              114                  48

3. Justin Hill (T10) — 83                 46              125                 49

4. Casey Oliver (T7) — 81               47                81                  47

5. Bryan Ward (NR) — 79               44              121                  47

5. Cameron Beaman (T3) — 79      46                79                  46

5. Jason Wade (T3) — 79                 45              109                 47

5. Michael Goff (NR) — 79               45              121                  48

9. B.J. Davis (2) — 78                       47               108                 49

10. Ryan Herman (T10) — 77         44              119                  47

My takes: We have 32 participants in the contest; for the complete standings, go here.

Our defending champion, Cameron Beaman, won’t win this year; although he’s in a tie for fifth this week, he didn’t pick any of the Final 4 and he’s done.

Who’s in last? Our good friend and ace reporter, Chris Lavender, who has 45 points and 33 correct. He only had two of the Elite Eight and none of the Final 4.

But I’m not making fun of him, though — I am tied with Patrick Williford for 30th place, or, next to last. Since I picked UNC to win the national title, though, I could conceivably climb almost into the top 10 before all is said and done.

Of the 32 of us, 17 picked Carolina, 8 picked Pittsburgh, 3 picked Louisville, 2 picked Memphis, 1 picked Connecticut and 1 picked Missouri.

Morning News Report; March 30, 2009

MAN KILLS EIGHT AT CARTHAGE NURSING HOME

A man killed eight people at a Carthage nursing home yesterday; they suspect his motive might’ve been that his wife worked there.

My take: Another senseless massacre, but one that could be avoided if better security measures were in place at the facility.

UNC IN FINAL FOUR … AGAIN

North Carolina bounced Oklahoma yesterday, 72-60, to advance to the school’s second-straight Final Four and a record 18th in school history.

My take: Ty Lawson was, again, amazing. He has proven to me that he is the best player — not just in the ACC — but in the nation.

On the other hand, Tyler Hansbrough continues to sink in the national discussion. He was pretty much the consensus national player of the year last season, but he was dismantled by Blake Griffin yesterday. Hansbrough was lucky to be a top-10 pick last year if he’d come out for the NBA draft; now, I think he’s questionable as a first-rounder.

He’ll always have his national championship ring and quality UNC education to fall back on, though, right?

HEIGL WANTS TO STAY ON ‘GREY’S ANATOMY’

Katherine Heigl, who plays Dr. Izzy Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy”, doesn’t want to leave the hit ABC drama.

My take: The rumors were rampant that she was going to leave on her own accord to pursue more movie roles, but I guess she’s seen what’s happened to other actors and actresses who’ve left hit shows (Shelly Long from “Cheers”, David Caruso from “NYPD Blue”, McLean Stevenson from “M*A*S*H”) and bombed at the theaters.

And yes, I unapologetically watch “Grey’s” — and have been blown away the past three weeks. Is Izzy going to live? Is Christina going to really leave the red-headed doctor after finally sleeping with him? Is George leaving the series for good? Can Meredith and Derek find true happiness together?

Wow.

To save myself, a gratuitous shot of Heigl:

033009-katherine-heigl.jpg

The iPod shuffle

My Generation — The Who

Down Under — Men At Work

If God Will Send His Angels — U2

Look Away — Chicago

Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out of It — U2

Hanks Blog Pick ‘em leaders

Here are the top 10 leaders in the Hanks Blog Pick ‘em contest:

Person/score                       Correct  Best Score  Best correct

1. Daniel Jones — 55                      40           145               55

2. B.J. Davis — 54                           40          144                55

3. Cameron Beaman — 52             38           142               53

3. Jason Wade — 52                       38           139                52

3. Pete Howard — 52                     37           142                 52

3. Richard Byrd — 52                    38            142                53

7. Andrew Beamon — 51               37             141               52

7. Casey Oliver — 51                      38             141               53

7. Darren Becton — 51                   37             141               52

10. Justin Hill — 50                        37             131               50

10. Kelly Rouse — 50                     36             137               50

10. Ryan Herman — 50                 37              140              52

We have 32 participants in the contest; you can see the complete standings here.

NCAA Tournament Day 2 smack

Consider this your place to talk about the NCAA Tournament. One topic of discussion can be our old friend Charlie Kraebel continuing to call us out.

I really didn’t get an opportunity to respond to him — other than us texting back and forth last night — but I felt his bet was very unbalanced. Of course the Big East is going to have a better record in the tourney — their seeds bear that out. 

Anyhoo, go crazy, y’all.

Morning News Report; March 20, 2009

OBAMA APPEARS ON LENO; THE WORLD GOES ON

Although he did make an uncalled-for statement about the Special Olympics (in regards to his poor bowling ability), President Obama’s appearance last night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was mostly uneventful.

My take: I agree with our good friend John Johnson, who sent me an e-mail this morning about this: if Rush Limbaugh or a conservative (i.e., anyone Hollywood doesn’t like) had made the comment, the world would’ve blown up by now.

Let’s see what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours and what kind of outrage comes from Hollywood and elsewhere.

To me, I don’t think it’s that big a deal.

‘KNOWING’ OPENS TODAY … TO MOSTLY BAD REVIEWS

Nicholas Cage’s “Knowing” opens nationwide today, but the reviewers have been slamming it (here, too).

My take: With all these bad reviews, I’ll probably just wait for the DVD — but I admit, the trailers had me intrigued.

Do you let reviews impact whether or not you go see a movie? I know I do, to a certain extent, unless it’s something I really want to see.

JAPAN, KOREA, U.S., VENEZUELA FINAL FOUR IN WBC

Japan beat Korea last night, 6-2, but the two advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. Korea faces Venezuela tomorrow night, while the U.S. takes on Japan on Sunday.

The championship game is Monday night.

My take: I wish they weren’t putting this up against the NCAA Tournament, which leads us to …

HOW ARE YOUR BRACKETS?

Mine are just fine, thank you, as I went 14-2 on Day 1 (only losing Clemson and BYU). I’ll try to post an update of our blog league later, where we had nearly 40 entries.

The iPod shuffle

Cock The Hammer — Cypress Hill

Lucille — Kenny Rogers

St. Louie — Nelly

Open Arms — Mariah Carey

One Way Or Another — Blondie

P.S.: Today is my brother Darrell’s 39th birthday; Happy Birthday, little brother!