Previewing the Big Games: College Football Week 1

By Aaron Hyden
PSDC College Football Contributor

With the 2015 college football season already underway, and the first Saturday slate of games kicking off, it’s time to preview the big games from Week 1. Teams from all over the country are beginning their journeys towards a possible National Championship, but it all begins with the season’s first game. I’ll be back when the week is over to review the goings-on and see how close my predictions were. Let’s not waste any more time, though.

No. 15 Arizona State vs Texas A&M: Arizona State is quickly becoming a chic selection as a National Championship dark horse contender, and that discussion starts because of their offense. QB Mike Bercovici stepped in for injured starter Taylor Kelly last season, throwing for 1,445 yards and 14 touchdowns in what was essentially three-and-a-half games. Last season’s leading rusher, DJ Foster, has been switched to WR to replace Jaelen Strong, while Demario Richard takes Foster’s place at RB.

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

A&M needs to improve on a defense that ranked 103rd in the nation, out of 128 teams, last season, including being No. 114 in rushing yards allowed per game. Former LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis joins the team in that same role this season, and that gives Aggies fans lots of hope, as Chavis led one of the country’s top defensive units every season in Baton Rouge. [Read more…]

2015 PGA Championship First Round Coverage

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

A new perspective is always a good way to refresh the body and soul. So in lieu of the usual style that I use when describing one of the four major golf tournaments each year, birdies and bogeys, my take on this year’s first round of the PGA Championship will be from a decidedly more personal point of view. Because for the first time in the years I have been following golf, numerous indeed, I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the festivities at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. Occasionally there is a payoff for suffering interminable winters here in the Midwest.

One of the first discoveries on makes upon arrival to Whistling Straits, is it isn’t so much a day in the sun, as it  is an endurance test. For players AND spectators. Very hilly with rough terrain along the shores of Lake Michigan in the East Central part of Wisconsin, the plat of land architect Pete Dye transformed into one of golfs sternest tests, is stunningly beautiful. Ribbons of fairways lined by hazards and with the lake offering vistas only available in these parts greet players and patrons.

I imagine that the views are similar at Chambers Bay in Washington, site of the just past US Open. But you know what? When you are standing on the shore of either Lake Michigan or the Pacific Ocean, you cannot tell the difference. But you know that, so I will just leave it there. Both large bodies of water where the opposite shore can’t be seen. Believe me, the view is spectacular. Television coverage does not do it justice. You cannot see the contours of the land or the breathtaking nature of the views along the lake.

One other thing apparent right away, is the parking lots are a LONG WAY from the main golf course entrances. This isn’t like pulling up to the lot at Texas Stadium, or whatever your ballpark of choice is. Be prepared for at least a mile long hike once the car is parked.

OK, back to golf.

The early wave of players beat the worst of the gusty winds, with the morning stroke average much below the afternoon wave, to combine for a field-wide average of 74 on the par 72 track. Perennial fast starter Dustin Johnson, at the site of his famous grounded club in 2010, led the field after the first round with a 66. Notables such as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy who each played in the afternoon gale, and yes, Tiger Woods, wallowed around even par. Spieth and McIlroy finished at 1-under 71, while Woods stumbled to a 75.

Physical limitations didn’t allow for the freedom around the course that I would have liked. For that reason, for much of the day, we were parked around the 18th green and first tee. It didn’t allow for easy following of the field, other than the real-time updates to the large scoreboards that dot the course.

Hopefully, my firsthand experience at the golf course will enhance the coverage I can offer you the rest of the tournament. The majors are exciting, different than other tournaments that I’ve attended.

I will have the usual allotments of birdies and bogeys for the last few rounds of this years championship. I hope you take time to follow it.

Enjoy the golf, and I’ll be back later today for a second round recap.

Peace.

March Madness Preview: The Elite Six

By Corbett Smith
PSDC March Madness Contributor

As March Madness nears, everyone prepares for the tournament, constantly refreshing the mock brackets in hopes of knowing if their team will make the cut or who they will likely face. The tension that is felt as this season nears is unrivaled. The tournament is a special being in itself. One game to decide your fate. Winner take all. It’s a magical time that gives everyone a fighting chance.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

The tournament typically falls down to a point where you can predict a top grouping of teams and be close in knowing who the winner will be. Then there are the years like last season. Conecticut was a stunner last year, the No. 7 seed who eeked through their first round matchup. Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels put the team on their back and carried them to the highest peak attainable in NCAA basketball. That’s the magic of the NCAA tournament. A No. 7 seed who slips through their first round can find themselves still alive, fighting in the end and come away with the much sought after trophy. [Read more…]

2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four Saturday Recap

By Aaron De La Torre
PSDC Writer

It was the night before the night before the final game of the college basketball season, and mixed in between performances by The Killers, four teams battled for a chance to play in Monday’s national championship game. Join us as we recap the slate of games from Saturday night.

UConn Chomps Top-Seeded Gators

Connecticut’s national championship run in 2011 is described by many as a one-man show put on by senior point guard Kemba Walker. Although Walker’s 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament led the school to its third national championship, The Kemba Show was glued together by strong performances from Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi and then-freshman Shabazz Napier.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fast forward three years and it is Napier, UConn’s senior point guard and unquestioned leader, who has captured March Madness magic of his own. Much like his predecessor, Napier has received consistent support from teammates DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright. [Read more…]

Just When I Thought I Was Out, Bo Ryan Pulls Me Back In

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

It was only halftime of Wisconsin’s Round-of-32 game against Oregon, but I was already sending the told-ya-so texts to fellow Badger fans at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. The Ducks were too athletic. Too deep. Too well-coached. It was a terrible matchup. “Badgers can’t defend” was my standard refrain. Or “OMG they can’t defend IRL,” to use the parlance of our time. After Ryan received a technical on an acceptable no-call by the officials, Badger Nation was predictably flustered. The momentum was all Oregon. It was going to be another early exit for Bo’s Badgers, a program with a ton of regular season success during Ryan’s tenure, but very little postseason noise (one 2005 Elite 8 appearance) to speak of.

But then a funny thing happened. The Badgers blitzed the Ducks out of the break. Drive-and-kick and the 3s rained down. Their transition defense went from non-existent to outright palatable. Wisconsin outscored Oregon 48-28 in the second half to win by eight. As I mocked myself for prematurely throwing in the towel, I once again realized it’s better for your team to win than to be right.

Wisconsin basketball is a tricky thing. Their newfound success around the turn-of-the-century was always cute but never exciting. Dick Bennett’s 2000 Final Four team is romanticized but was a difficult team to watch, despite a legitimate defensive excellence. The Dick Bennett Badgers probably had more in common with the 1941 Wisconsin team that won the school’s only NCAA title than they did with 21st century basketball. [Read more…]

Project Shanks College Football Preview: Big Ten Conference

By Keith Alrick
PSDC Writer

August is always the happiest time for Big Ten football fans. They’ve had eight months to forget about what happened in the bowl season and are focused on the possibilities of the new season. Like a lot of places in college football, the Big Ten is a scary place for quarterback evaluators. It has been 18 years since a Big Ten quarterback got drafted in the first round. That proud distinction belongs to Kerry Collins, who retired two years ago. Before Russell Wilson made the Pro Bowl last season, the most recent Big Ten quarterback to make a Pro Bowl was Drew Brees, who graduated 12 years ago. This years quarterback crop in the Big Ten certainly has some exciting players, but more so because of what they do with their feet than with their arms. You could question whether or not some of them even belong at the position. In fact, I believe there is a Visine for people who watch Taylor Martinez throw the ball down field. All kidding aside, the conference has a few teams that could make some noise on the national level. I’ve broken the league into five different tiers; favorites, contenders, pretenders, bottom dwellers and a special place for Penn State, irrelevance.

THE FAVORITES

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the clear favorite to win the conference. In case you forgot they were the only undefeated team last year. Unfortunately for Buckeye nation, it didn’t equate to any championships because of their bowl ban. And fortunately for the rest of the nation it prevented us from watching an Ohio State/Notre Dame championship game.

Ohio State is led by Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller. Another QB with more questions about his arm than legs. If he can continue to progress throwing the ball then he will undoubtedly put up big numbers this year. The Buckeyes starting running back, Carlos Hyde, is suspended for the first three games of the year. This shouldn’t affect them too much due to a favorable schedule. Urban Meyer has assembled a lot of talent since taking over and it seems as if they will be tough to beat in the conference. The Buckeyes schedule as a whole is fairly easy. They avoided Nebraska and Michigan State and get Wisconsin at home. Their toughest test will be the season finale at Michigan. The possibility of a Michigan/Ohio State rematch a week later in the Big Ten Championship game has TV executives foaming at the mouth.

Best Case Scenario: Undefeated regular season and conference champs and then likely facing the same fate Notre Dame had last year.
Worst Case Scenario: Losing the conference title to Michigan. [Read more…]

2013 NFL Draft Review: Baltimore Ravens, Rounds 4-7

By Brandon Davidson
PSDC Writer

Round 4, Pick 129: John Simon, DE, Ohio State

[Read more…]

2013 NFL Draft Review: Denver Broncos, Rounds 2-3

By Bryan Douglass
PSDC Go-To Guy

Round 2, Pick 58: Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

[Read more…]

2013 NFL Draft Review: Dallas Cowboys, Round 1

By Zack Spears
PSDC Draft Expert

Round 1, Pick 31: Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin

[Read more…]