‘Asante’ Eagles: Birds sign Samuel

The Eagles moved aggresively today, getting former Patriot cornerback Asante Samuel to come to Philadelphia on the first samuel2day of the free agency period and not letting him get out of town without signing a contract.  All the details of the deal aren’t out yet, but it is a 6-year deal.  My guess (and this is really just a guess) is that the deal is for over $60 million, with at most half of it guarunteed.

You can say what you want about the Eagles having other more pressing needs on the roster than cornerback (wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker), but the bottom line is the Eagles just signed the best available free agent on the market (if you assume Randy Moss will re-sign with New England).  Samuel is a legit Pro Bowler and probably one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the league, a position that is always at a premium.

There may also be reasons for bringing in Samuel that aren’t immediately obvious.  There are rumblings that Lito Sheppard isn’t happy with his contract, and when you combine that with the injuries he’s had over the last couple of seasons, the Eagles may not have been as set at corner as they appeared.  The popular rumor is that the Eagles will now look to trade Sheppard, maybe for a wide out.  It seems logical.  You have to imagine that if Sheppard was already unhappy, the Samuel signing didn’t exactly thrill him. There’s no point in having that sort of locker room issue hanging over your team, especially for a player that you’ve made expendable.

You have to be happy any time your team shows that they’re doing whatever they can to get better.  As I learned from some new kind of Girl Scout cookies the other day, “Asante” means “Thank you” in some other language.  I don’t know what language, but it doesn’t matter: Asantes go out to Joe Banner and Andy Reid for this one.

The Eagles also look like the front-runners to sign former Raiders defensive end Chris Clemons.  I don’t know anything about him, but he did have 8 sacks last year, so that sounds good to me.

Random Stuff

samuelFREE AGENCY LOOMS FOR BIRDS 

The NFL free agent period gets under way in a matter of minutes and there’s been a lot of speculation over what the Eagles will do.  The biggest name being mentioned is Patriots’ Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, who will most likely command the biggest salary for a defensive back in league history.  Will the Eagles shell out that kind of cash?  Probably not, but there’s been too many rumors circulating to think that they’re not at least thinking about it.

In any event, the team will probably show their hand, for the most part, in the next couple of days.  Odds are they won’t be pulling in any Pro Bowlers, but that wouldn’t mean they failed.  There are hardly any Pro Bowlers out there to be had.  They’ll be looking at defensive ends (Bengal Justin Smith?), wide receivers (Texan Andre Davis?), and maybe Giant safety Gibril Wilson.

THE OTHER FOOTBALL GIVING PHILLY A SHOT

To be honest, I’ve never watched one second of an MLS game.  Every four years I put in a solid effort to watch the World Cup (like a good Liberal American should), but I wouldn’t call myself a soccer fan.  However, I’m mlspretty happy about the MLS coming to Philly.  The best part is, the team will actually play its games in Delaware County, the native county of the Broad Street Believers.  Granted, our hometown doesn’t much resemble Chester, but it’s still cool.  Now I just hope they come up with a name that isn’t totally lame.  Here’s hoping it has nothing to do with the Liberty Bell, the Revolutionary War, or “Freedom”.  Us liberals hate that stuff.

MYERS GETS OPENING DAY START

The Phillies surprised everyone this week by announcing that Brett Myers, not Cole Hamels, will start on Opening Day.  myersThey gave a couple of legitimate, honest reasons for the decision: (1) They want Myers to know that he is a starter again and won’t be going back to the bullpen and (2) they want to reward him for unselfishly moving to the ‘pen last year. 

I believe those reasons were factors in the decision, but I’d also say there were reasons they didn’t mention.  To me, with this move, the Phillies basically said, “Cole Hamels is more mature and professional than Brett Myers”.  On the one hand, that’s great.  It’s awesome that Hamels, at such a young age, is completely fine with not getting the Opening Day start, even though he definitely deserves it.  On the other hand, it’s disappointing (if not surprising) that Myers still needs to be coddled like this.  There’s no doubt that the team ultimately decided to make him their Opening Day starter because they’re concerned about his mind-set and figured his ego needed some stroking.  But that’s who Myers is.  In the end, I’m impressed with Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee for having the foresight to make this decision.  When you have 25 players on your roster, a few are inevitably going to need some “special attention” to keep them happy and productive.  If this is the sort of attention Myers needs, I say give it to him.  The coaches kept saying Hamels and Myers were starters #1 and 1A.  That’s obviously nonsense.  Hamels is the ace of this staff, and hopefully will be for at least the next decade, but we’d all love to see Myers be a solid #2.

Stri Smarts

Our regular contributor Chris Strianese always has colorful opinions and interesting takes on the world of sports, so here’s the first installment of a semi-regular column.

I can’t remember another basketball game where I can remember the exact moment I knew one team was going to lose.  It was midway through the first half and Memphis had just hit 8 of its first 14 three-pointers and I thought, “wow, Memphis better stop shooting so many threes.”  This really isn’t their game–they need to get to the rim.  And then, something incredible happened.  Bruce Pearl went ZONE!  ZONE!  The number 1 team in the whole country, with maybe the best guard in the whole country in Derrek Rose,  just hit 8 of its first 14 threes and you go zone?!?  And then I realized, Bruce Pearl knows they can’t beat him from deep all night.  He’s trying to entice them to keep shooting threes.  That was the exact moment I knew Tennessee was going to win.  And then I thought, “wow, Bruce Pearl is a seriously under-rated coach.”

Memphis, because it had so much early success shooting threes, went crazy when Tennessee went zone and spent the rest of the first half shooting threes from all over the place.  They never established an inside game, and their guards never established a drive/slash games which is their bread and butter.  They took more bad shots in one half than I can remember them taking in any other game all year.  You really have to give Bruce Pearl credit–he really understood how to play Memphis, which makes you wonder…

Where was John Calipari?  There was a 6-8 minute stretch in the second half that went something like this:  Memphis comes down and misses a long-distance three…Tennessee, which had the rebounding advantage all night, grabs the board and runs…beats Memphis down the court…and makes an easy layup.  6-8 minutes!  Same exact series over and over again!  Did Calipari not get the point that an adjustment needed to be made?  Did he really need to watch hit team go 1 for 14 from three-point land before he told them to start driving?  Amazingly, when Calipari did finally tell his team to get to the rim (a point where they were down by their largest margin of the game), they scored the next four buckets unanswered.  It only took him about 20 minutes longer than me and Bry to figure out what Memphis needed to do.  And we don’t coach basketball for a living (which is a huge tragedy).

The other thing that really surprised me was that Tennessee was so much more physical than Memphis.  I remember watching a Memphis game earlier this year and being impressed with how strong they were at every position.  Tennessee manhandled them all over the court.  It looked like Memphis was looking for a whistle every time there was any kind of contact, while Tennessee just kept playing and wound up dominating the boards because of it.  The bottom line is–Tennessee really deserved to win on the road–they were the better team all night.

Random Notes

Awesome:  Some British guy just won $2 million on a ONE DOLLAR BET

Not Awesome:  Brad Lidge just hurt the same knee that he had surgery on last year throwing batting practice in Spring Training today.

Smart:  The Brewers are looking to sign Ryan Braun to a long-term deal.  As noted in the article linked by Doogan yesterday, Ryan Howard’s arbitration coup may change the landscape of young players and their contracts for a long time.

Not Smart:  The Bears are bringing back “Sexy Rexy”

Fantastic:  Commissioner Goodell is not giving The Pacman any breaks.

Not Fantastic:  The Eagles Mike Patterson just got arrested for marijuana possession.

Obvious:  This just in:  according to MLB.com, the Phillies are “aiming to be better in ’08.”  WOW!  I have to say there are probably only a handful of teams in the entire league that are “aiming to be better” this year.  Crack journalism at its finest!

Not So Obvious:  As fun as these NBA trades are, and trust me they are great, we sometimes forget that these are real people getting “shipped off” to completely different cities.  Yes, they make a ton of money to play a game and it comes with the territory, but this blog entry by Tyson Chandler is really, really good and shows the human side of professional athletes and their families.  It’s a good read.

BSB-Style NBA Preview: Follow-Up

Here at BroadStreetBelievers, we do season previews a little differently than the boring “previews” that you are all used to.  We are going to do previews BSB-Style.  By this, we mean that we are going to preview each pro sport season in a competitive mano a mano game that we created.  It should be fun and informative and, most importantly, should generate ample discussion material.

Well, we started this website just as the current NBA season was getting underway, so we never got a chance to publish our official BSB-style NBA preview.  However, we did do the “game,” so we might as well post a mid-season follow-up.

The rules of the game are simple.  We try to predict whether each team in the league will go over or under their last year’s win total.  The picks go like a regular draft, where one of us gets the first pick, the other one gets the next two and then we alternate.  You can take any team you want and pick over or under.  The only caveat is that if the team pushes (unlikely in the NBA or MLB), the person that made the pick on that team loses that pick.  At the end of the year, we will see who is a better prognosticator of each league.  Also, this method allows us to comment on our predictions at different points in the season, and it also allows people to tell us how dumb we are and to say where we went wrong in our picks–at any point in the season.

So, without further ado, this is how the BSB-Style NBA Preview went this year, and how it is looking halfway through the season (the final win projections quoted here do not include Friday’s results):

PICK 1:  Bry takes Boston-OVER 24
With only 24 wins a year ago, and the additions of KG and Jesus Shuttlesworth, this was a really easy #1 pick.
UPDATE:  Well, this did prove to be THE pick, as the Celtics already have 41 wins, covering the full-season line by 17.  They are on pace for 65.
Bry 1-0

PICK 2:  Doogan takes New Jersey-OVER 41
The Nets were only a .500 team last year and it was a good bet that they will be better than that this year, so Doogan takes this as his top choice
UPDATE:  The Nets are slightly under .500 so far, on pace for 36 wins, but they will probably finish even worse, as they traded away Jason Kidd.  So, for Doogan to get this one, the Nets will have to improve WITHOUT Kidd.
Bry 2-0

PICK 3:  Doogan takes New York-OVER 33
It appears Doogan believes in Isiah.  33 is a somewhat low number and the Knicks are expected to be improved with the addition of Zach Randolph.  Is this is a bit high for a Knicks-OVER pick?
UPDATE:  On pace for only 24 wins, it looks like Doogan’s top two picks are in trouble.  But, hey, Magic Johnson believes this is a playoff team, so maybe there’s life left.
Bry 3-0

PICK 4:  Bry takes Dallas-UNDER 67
The first UNDER selection goes to Bry going against the Mavs.  It is not that Bry thinks that the Mavs will take a significant step backwards or that they won’t even be the best team in the league, he just doubts their ability to win 67 games again.
UPDATE:  A good call by Bry, as Dallas is still pretty good, but not 67-wins good.  They are currently on pace for 53 wins, which way under the mark.
Bry 4-0

Pick 5:  Doogan takes Minnesota-UNDER 32
A nice selection by Doogan, as we cannot expect Minnesota not to get worse after losing KG.
UPDATE:  As predicted, a great pick by Doogan.  The T-Wolves are on pace for a mere 17 wins.  In fact, they only need 9 more losses to give Doogan the win on this pick.
Bry 4-1

Pick 6:  Bry takes Memphis-OVER 22
Bry goes with the little number and plays the percentages here.  22 wins is not very many and the Memphis team is young and there are signs that it will be improved.
UPDATE:  This one is still way too close to call.  But, as of now, we have to give the point to Doogan, as the Grizz are only on pace for 21 wins.  They are terrible–really terrible.
Bry 4-2

Pick 7:  Doogan takes Denver-OVER 45
The AI selection!  Great choice because they will have AI for the whole year–that has to make ANY team better.  Go Nuggets!
UPDATE:  AI comes through, of course, as the Nuggets are on pace for 51 wins.  They didn’t do anything at the trade deadline, but they should be okay to at least get to 46 and give Doogan the win here.
Bry 4-3

Pick 8:  Bry takes Cleveland-UNDER 50
In thinking the Cavs will take a step backwards, Bry goes against LeBron–not always the best move.  But, 50 wins is a good amount, so this is not a bad pick.
UPDATE:  There is a lot to be determined on this one after the big deadline deal.  Right now, the Cavs are on pace for only 46 wins, which would give Bry the win here, but who knows how Wally and Big Ben are going to fit in in Cleveland.  This one is very much up for grabs.
Bry 5-3

Pick 9:  Doogan takes L.A.Clippers-UNDER 40
Another excellent pick by Doogan, as the Clippers are going backwards.  40 wins is a lot for a bad team in the Western Conference.
UPDATE:  Looks like an easy win for Doogan, as the Clips are on pace for just 29 wins.
Bry 5-4

Pick 10:  Bry takes Orlando-OVER 40
Any team with Dwight Howard is bound to keep getting better.  Plus, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu are just getting better and they added Rashard Lewis.  All this spells improvement in Disney World.
UPDATE:  This one looks like an easy win for Bry, as Superman and Company are currently on pace for 50 wins.  In fact, they already have 34 wins, so as long as they win 7 more all year, Bry gets this one.
Bry 6-4

Pick 11:  Doogan takes Portland-UNDER 32
In an admittedly tough call, Doogan went UNDER on Portland without Greg Oden.  The West is just getting better and this team is set back without their #1 pick.
UPDATE:  Probably the biggest surprise of the NBA season so far makes Doogan’s “tough call” look real tough.  The Blazers are on pace for an astonishing 44 wins–they already have 29.  This one is going to go to Bry.
Bry 7-4

Pick 12:  Bry takes Atlanta-OVER 30
Another young team that is “bound” to get better, right?  That is Bry’s rationale.  Plus, he does not think that they are the worst team in the Southeast Division any more, so they must be heading for more than 30 wins, right?  With all those high draft picks???
UPDATE:  This one is still too close to call, as the Hawks are up on their number–projecting to 34 wins–but who knows?  The Bibby acquisition and the playoff race should help keep them above the number, but still too close to call.
Bry 8-4

Pick 13:  Doogan takes Miami-OVER 44
One could only think that the team that won the NBA title two years ago, with basically the same roster, could win more than 44 games, right?  Right?  Right?!?
UPDATE:  They have already lost 43 games, which means the most that they can win this year (if they win EVERY remaining game) is 39.  They are on pace for 14 wins.  Point:  Bry
Bry 9-4

Pick 14:  Bry takes Washington-OVER 41
Bry’s rationale for this pick:  “The Wizards will win 50 games–easily–once they trade for Kobe Bryant.”
UPDATE:  At this pace, Doogan will take this one, as the Wiz did not trade for Kobe and are not on pace for 41 wins.  They are close, though, with an oft-injured Arenas.  They are on pace for 39 as it stands now, and if Arenas starts playing every day, who knows?  As of now, though, it’s close, but it goes to Doogan.
Bry 9-5

Pick 15:  Doogan takes Houston-OVER 52
A great pick this late in the draft by Doogan.  52 wins is a lot of wins in the West, but this is everyone’s sweetheart team this year.  In fact, several of the ESPN experts actually picked the Rockets to win the NBA title, so they should win more than 52 games.
UPDATE:  Uhh…they are on pace for EXACTLY 52 wins, so obviously this can go either way.  We are going to give this pick to Doogan for the time-being for the mere fact that the Rockets have won 10 in a row.  But, obviously, this is going to be very close.
Bry 9-6

Pick 16:  Bry takes Milwaukee-OVER 28
28 is a really low number.  With the addition of Chairman Yi, the Bucks should get to 30 without a problem–this is a decent late-round pick.
UPDATE:  This one, too, is going to go down to the wire, as the Bucks are on pace for 30 wins–just over the number.  Close, but it goes to Bry …for now.
Bry 10-6

Pick 17:  Doogan takes Seattle-UNDER 31
Doogan takes the UNDER, saying “Durant’s gonna score 25 a game–on 50 shots.”
UPDATE:  Easy win for Doogan with the 17th pick, as it would take a big hot streak for the Sonics to get to 31 wins.  They are currently on pace for only 22 and they already have 39 losses (13 more and they can’t cover this number).
Bry 10-7 

Pick 18:  Bry takes Golden State-UNDER 42
Bry is banking here that the sweetheart team of last year’s playoffs is not going to have a carry-over effect into this year.  For God’s sake, they are the Warriors.
UPDATE:  Yes, they are the Warriors, but they are also very good and on pace for 50 wins.  It is very far-fetched that this team will falter enough down the stretch to get back to .500.
Bry 10-8

Pick 19:  Doogan takes Sacramento-UNDER 33
A bad team, but the question is just how bad?  Doogan believes that they are worse than 33 wins.
UPDATE:  Though you never hear anything about them this year (which may be a good thing when Ron Artest is on the roster), the Kings are actually having a pretty decent season, relatively-speaking.  They are quietly on pace for 39 wins.  However, they did just trade away Mike Bibby, so we will see how that affects them down the stretch, but for right now, Bry looks pretty good on this one.
Bry 11-8

Pick 20:  Bry takes Charlotte-OVER 33
Bry justifies this pick with the two letters that never lose:  “M.J.”
UPDATE:  M.J. is losing–a lot–this year.  The Bobcats are on pace for only 29 wins.  That is not that far off their target of 33, but right now it looks like Doogan is going to get this one.
Bry 11-9 

Pick 21:  Doogan takes Philadelphia-UNDER 35
This lasted so long because neither of us could take the Sixers and the UNDER, and we definitely couldn’t take the Sixers and the OVER.  Doogan finally toughened up and went against Mo and the boys.
UPDATE:  Never bet against the home team.  The Sixers are on pace for 36 wins, and all signs point to being even better than that.  They are in a playoff race and they did not trade away Andre Miller at the deadline.  Maybe the only playoff team looking to move their best player at the deadline, didn’t do it, and now they are probably going to give Bry the win on this one.
Bry 12-9

Pick 22:  Bry takes Phoenix-UNDER 61
This pick was much like the Dallas pick, in that Bry doesn’t believe that the Suns will take a step backwards, he just believes that 61 wins is a tall order in the Western Conference.
UPDATE:  Right now the Suns are only on pace for 56 wins.  This does not take into account the Shaq Factor, but who really knows what that is going to do.  Right now, this is a pretty comfortable win for Bry.
Bry 13-9

Pick 23:  Doogan takes New Orleans-UNDER 39
Down here in the bottom rounds are the really tough picks.  At this point, we really have no idea which way to go on the remaining teams.  So, Doogan takes New Orleans, thinking that other than Chris Paul, this team does not appear to have any real star power, and Paul is still pretty young.  39 wins in a tough Western Conference is not an easy task.
UPDATE:  Well, Doogan picked the wrong side of the coin on this one–and missed BADLY.  The Hornets already have 37 wins and are on pace for 58.  We can call this one.  In a related story, did anyone else know that Chris Paul was going to be the best player in the NBA this year?  If so, you are really smart.
Bry 14-9

Pick 24:  Bry takes Chicago-OVER 49
Again, these remaining teams and their numbers are tough.  Bry likes the “Baby Bulls” and they are a popular pick as the best team in the East.  That should equal more than 49 wins.
UPDATE:  Already with 32 losses, the Bulls have to win EVERY game for the rest of the year to win this one for Bry.  Now, we at BSB, don’t claim to be all-knowing or all-predicting, but we think it is safe to say that the Bulls will lose at least one more game this year.  How are the Bulls this bad?  Anyone?  Anyone?
Bry 14-10

Pick 25:  Doogan takes Utah-OVER 51
Another really tough call, as both of us think that Utah will be right at 51.  Doogan has confidence in the youth and coaching in Utah and goes with the OVER.
UPDATE:  This one is going to be close all the way, but right now, Doogan’s got it.  The Jazz are on pace for 53 wins.
Bry 14-11

Pick 26:  Bry takes San Antonio-OVER 58
These picks just get harder and harder, as again, we both feel that the Spurs will be right around 58 wins again.  Bry just went on the fact that he believes the Spurs may try a bit harder for home-court for a rematch with Phoenix this May.
UPDATE:  Another one that is going to go down to the wire (as predicted at the start), but right now the advantage here goes to Doogan as well, as the Spurs are only on pace for 56 wins.
Bry 14-12

Pick 27:  Doogan takes Detroit-UNDER 53
Again, 53 is a tough number for the Pistons.  Doogan thinks that they might be getting a bit old for 53 wins, but with very little conviction.
UPDATE:  It is going to take a big collapse for the Pistons not to go over 53.  They are currently on pace for 59 wins, so Bry is looking good on this one.
Bry 15-12

Pick 28:  Bry takes Toronto-UNDER 47
Yes, they are a young, up-and-coming team in the East, but 47 is a good amount of wins for an average team.  Again, no real conviction in this selection, but an UNDER pick nonetheless.
UPDATE:  Wow, another one that is, as feared, going to be very close.  Right now, Doogan has the edge here because the Raptors are on pace for a mere 46 wins.  This is one where the push may come into play.
Bry 15-13

Pick 29:  Doogan takes L.A.Lakers-UNDER 42
With his last pick, Doogan goes with the rebuilding Lakers (after they trade Kobe) missing the playoffs and having a losing record.  These last picks are tough, but this actually a pretty good one for pick #29.
UPDATE:  Just as we learned with the Wizards pick, the Lakers did not trade Kobe to Washington, in fact, they did not trade him at all.  They only added a superstar to Kobe and Company.  Trouble for the UNDER pick.  They already have 37 wins, so 5 more and Doogan loses this one.  They are on pace for 56.
Bry 16-13

Pick 30:  Bry takes Indiana-UNDER 35
The only team left, Bry just has to make a decision on the OVER/UNDER.  He just throws up his hands and says, “they’re not very good, right?  Give me the UNDER.”
UPDATE:  This one might be close at the end.  Bry has a bit of a cushion here, as the Pacers are on pace for 32 wins, but it is still way too close to call.
Bry 17-13

Alright, so take your shots at our NBA wisdom or, more likely, stupidity.  But, whatever happens, know that this is a lot harder than it may seem now 50 games into the season.  We will continue to follow how this progresses throughout the season and expect a similar “preview” for the upcoming MLB season.

Sincerely,
The BroadStreetBelievers

A Few Phillie Links

So, as everyone knows, Ryan Howard won his arbitration case and is taking home $10 million on the season.  Jayson Stark talks about what this means for Howard’s future with the team.  Multiple sources are saying that a contract over $200 million is not out of the question for Howard at some point.

I happened upon an abandoned copy of the New York Post today, and the sports section was abuzz with Phillies/Mets Rivalry talk.  Mike Vaccaro’s column is good, Bart Hubbuch’s not as much.  They repeat themselves a lot, but I guess that’s the type of top-flight editing you can expect from a paper like the Post.

Is Memphis Better Off Losing?

There has been much banter about whether or not the Memphis Tigers would be better off not entering the NCAA tournament undefeated.  And, the prevailing opinion seems to be:  yes, they would be better suited to winning a national title if they were to lose a game in the regular season.  The most common reasons stated for this are:

  • There would be less pressure on them in the tournament if they were only chasing a national title instead of both the title and a perfect season.
  • With a loss, they might avoid being the “#1 target” of every team on their schedule.
  • It is important to know “what it feels like to lose” in order to really put in your best effort to avoid that feeling and to appreciate how important winning really is.

I could not disagree more with these or any other reason why Memphis would be better off losing.  Let us take the reasons above one at a time.

First of all, in response to the added “pressure” of being undefeated, I think this is the most ridiculous one of all–and it just happens to be the most popular.  These are 18-22 year old AMATEUR basketball players who eat, sleep and breathe the game of basketball.  They have never won an NCAA championship.  In fact, they play for a coach who, despite 400+ career wins, a .750 winning percentage and a national coach of the year award, has never won an NCAA title.  And, all of this is at a school that, despite a strong basketball history and institutional commitment to the sport, has never won an NCAA basketball championship. 

When adding all of these things together, I believe there is such a thing as “terminal pressure,” in that adding even more things on top of a tournament run will not increase the pressure that these kids feel in March.  Say Memphis wins their first 3 tournament games and is playing on March 30 for a chance at the Final Four.  Do you think that these kids will feel any more pressure if they are 36-0 than if they were 35-1?  Either way, this game is the biggest game that any of these players have ever played.  Can it get any “bigger” than the biggest ever?  Can you feel any more pressure than the “game of your life,” which it would be regardless of the number of losses they have suffered?

The response to the second reason stated above is similar to the first.  Yes, being undefeated makes it harder to win regular season games because every team shows up to play you.  They have your game circled on their calendar.  UAB and Houston and Tulane know that the best way to make their season count is to knock off number one.  So, yes, being undefeated makes regular season wins harder.  However, we are talking about the tournament.  Is there any team out there that is not going to be “up” for a tournament game?  If you need the fact that your opponent is undefeated in order to bring your best game in the NCAA TOURNAMENT, then you should probably rethink your commitment to your sport.  Yes, being undefeated brings the best out of your opponent, but so does playing in the NCAA Tournament, so that should have no additional effect on the difficulty involved in winning an NCAA title.

Finally, the third reason stated above may be somewhat valid, but ought to be tempered by several factors.  Number one, they have an experienced, intelligent, highly astute coach guiding the ship.  Being undefeated may make Coach Calipari’s job a little harder, but I trust the fact that he can do this job and make it so that it does not affect his players.

Secondly, the big concern here is the overconfidence with being undefeated.  I think that the concerns with overconfidence bring no more negative than the positive gained by being confident.  If Memphis does finish the regular season undefeated, they will have beaten 7 teams that are likely to be in the tournament field (Oklahoma, UConn, USC, Georgetown, Arizona, Gonzaga and Tennessee).  This will more than make up for all the talk they have to hear about how bad Conference USA is (a very much overstated opinion) because they know that they have been tested and that, on those given days, they have proven better than some of the best team in the country.  I believe that this confidence of being undefeated more than makes up for the negative associated with possibly being overconfident.

Finally, with all the talk of “needing to know what losing feels like,” people seem to forget that this tournament is a one-and-done tournament.  It does not matter how you handle losing because once you do lose, your season is over.  It is not like Memphis has to learn how to “bounce back” from a loss because one loss and their season (and most of their careers) are over.

All in all, I know that no one is advocating the Memphis roll over and lose one intentionally, but many people are stating that they would be better off if they did not enter the Tournament undefeated.  I disagree.  The bright lights of the Tournament are bright enough to overwhelm 19-year old amateur athletes–adding “history” is not going to make the most important 3 weeks of their lives any more important.  And, while they are at it, isn’t it everyone’s goal to “make history” by winning a championship?  So, why wouldn’t that goal of “making history” be even more impressive if it was done without a loss?