Perfection isn’t everything…

This afternoon, reigning two-time American League MVP, Mike Trout, finished 0-3 with two walks and two strikeouts against the Seattle Mariners, lowering his season average to .280.

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Mike Trout strikes out against Seattle Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. // April 9, 2017

That means for every 100 at-bats, arguably the best player in baseball, will only come through, 28 times.

You have betters odds of getting into every university in the conference that can’t spell or count, except Michigan and Northwestern (I can feel Alan singing “Go! U Northwestern” right about now), than Mike Trout does of getting a hit.

Even the greatest hitter of all time, Ted Williams, ONLY hit .406 in a single season.

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Ted Williams hit .406 for the Red Sox in 1941. He is the last player in MLB history to hit over .400.

At The Masters in Augusta this weekend, the world’s top golfers did something us amateurs do on a regular basis, bogey a hole. Yet onlookers and those at home responded in shock and awe, as if these professionals aren’t human as well, and allowed to make mistakes.

Why?

Absolutely, nobody on Earth is perfect.

So why do we expect athletes to be? Why do we expect ourselves to be?

When I studied Olympic History at the University of Queensland, my professor — Dr. Ian Jobling, told me he never gave 100% on an exam because, “…there has only been one perfect person to grace this Earth, and his name was Jesus Christ and you are not him.”

I’m a perfectionist. Things have to be perfect, down to the most minor detail for me. Most articles you read on Blue Ring Sports, are short to read, but take HOURS for me to write.

I am constantly checking them for spelling errors, grammar and length.

This week I had a heart-to-heart conversation with Alan about just that.

He gave me some great advice and said, “You’re not going to win the Pulitzer Prize this year. You’re not going to win the Pulitzer Prize next year. You need to dial it back from an 11 to a 7.”

At first I thought he was totally insane, because I run at such a high octane, they don’t even make one of those fancy fuels to keep up with me.

And then I realized something.

If that fuel doesn’t exist, eventually the engine will burn up, and so will I.

When Mike Trout struck out this afternoon, did he have a meltdown at the plate and freak because he didn’t get a hit?

No.

He went back to the dugout knowing the Texas Rangers come to town on Tuesday evening, and he’ll have another chance at getting a hit.

There will be other articles, there will be other opportunities.

A month ago when Blue Ring Sports was off for a week, I was back home in Baltimore taking care of my mother while she recovered from surgery. It forced me to miss an extra week of class, including one of Alan’s lectures.

This one proved most “unmissable.”

It turns out, on a whim, “The Baltimore Bullet” himself showed up to class.

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My reaction was along the lines of the Wicked Witch of the West melting.

When Alan sent a copy of the above photograph that the class took with Michael, I was cc’d in on it.

I immediately texted the greatest mentor a person could ever ask for: “You. Rat. Bastard.” 

When I returned to Los Angeles, he sat me down and told me there would be other opportunities in life to meet Michael Phelps. Seriously if you go to USC, take Alan’s class…you’ll love it!

I know it’s hard for me to comprehend, especially when I am in overdrive. But not sweating things or expecting life to be perfect is so much easier than the alternative.

If Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson or any player lost it over an error or striking out, the game of baseball would cease to exist. But like them, you and I have to learn life’s not always going to go the way we planned.

The cute brunette from Policy Knowledge and Analysis won’t always say “yes” when you ask her out.

Your boss won’t always appreciate the hard work you put into a project for him or her.

It just boils down to taking some advice from Elsa, and just “LET IT GO!”

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While NHL owners won, we just lost

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

In case you don’t speak Latin, the translation is: “Higher, Faster, Stronger.”

Also known as the motto of the Olympic movement.

Every two years, the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for the greatest athletes in the world to compete against one another.

The only problem is, with the NHL’s decision not to send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the league just ensured that won’t happen.

All afternoon, hockey fans from around the world have condemned the decision as a ploy from greedy owners looking out for their bottom line, and not fan entertainment.

After all, these will be the first Winter Olympics not to feature NHL All-Stars since 1994.

Owners came out against player participation for obvious reasons. Cutting the NHL season two weeks short, cuts into their profits.

No games, no money.

Adding to their concerns, was the worry, at a moment’s notice, one of their star moneymakers could suffer a career ending injury; doing irrefutable harm to the franchise they own.

Granted, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby could suffer that same injury in a game next February, or even tomorrow for that matter.

Like fans, players have expressed their disappointment in the decision they won’t be going to South Korea.

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist took to Twitter.

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Former Vancouver Canucks left wing, Brandon Prust, went even further, directing his frustration at long embattled NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman.

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He can say this, because he no longer plays in the NHL.

Bettman, long the scapegoat of league quandaries, including the decision to award a franchise to Arizona, over cooler climate-prototypical hockey locations — including Quebec City, will have a hard time explaining this to fans and players.

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Gary Bettman announces the league’s decision to skip the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The question now becomes, how long until NHL stars return to the Olympics?

Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin already has an answer: 2018.

Ovechkin has made it clear, regardless of the decision, he intends to play for Team Russia in PyeongChang.

Will other players follow suit?

Well, is a the chance for an Olympic gold medal worth the fines and lost game checks you’ll accumulate during two weeks of Olympic competition?

The likely makeup of national teams, now falls to those who competed at the World Junior Championships in Canada in January, and recently retired/minor league players.

Simply put, the best in the world won’t represent their country at the Olympics.

This cannot make Olympic broadcasters, especially CBC and NBC, very happy right now.

It costs billions to air the Olympics, and ever since it first broadcast the Games from Tokyo in 1964, NBC has had to diversify its viewership platforms.

There is now an NBC Olympics App, and the Games are broadcast across networks owned by parent company Comcast, including USA, NBCSN, Bravo and Universal Sports HD.

When the United States played Canada in the semifinals of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, NBC Sports Network scored its highest rating ever for a hockey game.

For a network to secure ratings like this again, and have their billion dollar investment pay off, NBC needs NHL stars to participate.

Advertising revenue, which is largely how NBC makes its money back, won’t be the same without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Why should Coca Cola spend the same on a thirty-second ad during a game that features junior all-stars instead of NHL elites?

Does Pepsi pay the same in advertising during a Browns-Jaguars game as it does during the Super Bowl?

I don’t think so.

So today’s decision that will keep most, if not all NHL players, from competing in PyeongChang, has far-flung and long-lasting ramifications, beyond just fan disappointment. The consequences of which, we’ll only know after the Olympics next February.

How sports saved my life in college

My mom never got to go to college.

She was accepted at the University of Michigan…cue a bunch of you breaking into “Hail to the Victors”, and the rest (myself included), scoffing. She wanted to study…of all things, journalism.

But my grandmother never believed in her, wouldn’t support her dream and refused to send my mother to Ann Arbor.

So growing up, my mom always impressed upon me, “Matthew, you have to go to college. I don’t care if you want to be a garbage man, you have to go to college and get your degree. So one day, when you figure out you don’t want to be a garbage man, you have a diploma to fall back on.”

Like every teenager in America, I was accustomed to the, “It’ll be the greatest four years of your life” talk, and dreamt of going off to some fine institution somewhere.

Unlike every teenager in America, I dreaded leaving home for college. So much so, it took until spring semester of my fourth year to do just that; and that’s only because the University of Queensland is located in Brisbane, Australia, not Baltimore, Maryland.

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I got to Queensland and didn’t leave my room for 72 hours. Not just apartment, room.

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I drank water from the faucet in my bathroom, and survived off of Slim Jims, Rice Krispies Treats and Welch’s Fruit Snacks that were stowed in my suitcase.

Eventually, I was forced to overcome my introverted tendencies, because it’s nearly impossible to survive 12,000 miles from home, without other people, for five months.

Did I mention that I dislocated my kneecap four days after I got there?

So why on God’s green Earth would I voluntarily do it all over again and apply to USC? A university on the other side of the country…

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Why I applied to, and attend, the University of Southern California.

You can blame Pete Carroll for that. I grew up a diehard Trojans fan, and when the opportunity to attend USC came a knockin’, I answered the door.

However, the same anxiety that prevented me from living in College Park, and left me paralyzed after two hours in Brisbane, resurfaced in earnest when I relocated to Los Angeles.

Until three months ago, I was convinced coming here was a huge mistake.

I was miserable.

Seriously, this close from picking up the phone, and asking my former admissions counselor at American University if I could transfer back East.

And then a funny thing happened. I never made that phone call.

Why?

Of all things, sports.

Before I even set foot in Alan Abrahamson’s class and learned my true purpose in attending USC, sports saved me from making what would have been the worst decision of my entire life.

When you attend the University of Southern California, one of the first things ingrained upon you is, “Fight On.”

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I should really try that “keep calm” part sometime.

It’s the unofficial motto of the university, and somewhat official motto of USC Trojan football.

But what do those words even mean?

They’re a reminder that when life gets tough, keep going, don’t stop.

Last term, I was so overwhelmed during my first day in a class I knew nothing about, that I almost quit. The words “Fight On” kicked in and prevented me from doing so; I got an A-.

Not bad for knowing zilch about strategic corporate communication beforehand.

When I got home in December, I was still miserable. But I fought on.

The reason I came to USC, is the reason I am still here today.

I went to every USC home football game last season, and even traveled to Pasadena to see my beloved Trojans destroy UCLA at the Rose Bowl (sorry Kate).

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Good question…

I watched them go on the road and knock off an undefeated Husky team, keeping Rose Bowl aspirations alive. Those same Trojans then overcome a two touchdown deficit against Penn State, and won the Rose Bowl.

If they never gave up, what right did I have to?

Football games were some my happiest memories in three years at College Park.

Cheering on the Terrapins, win or lose — mostly lose.

During the one Maryland basketball game I attended, I wound up on ESPN, jumping up and down, happy as a clam.

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My kids are going to have to see that mustache one day…

Over the past five and a half years, sports has provided a welcome distraction from an otherwise incredibly stressful college career.

When I was in Australia, sports lifted my spirits when I felt in despair. I golfed with my Australian mate, Jason, and had season tickets to the local rugby league team, the Brisbane Broncos.

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Sydney Roosters v. Brisbane Broncos // Suncorp Stadium – Brisbane, Australia — April 10, 2015

There were two occasions at Maryland that nothing other than sports could have fixed.

In September 2014, my grandfather died.

We were really close and would always talk about what the Redskins were up to, or how his Rays were beating my Jays.

The very next day, I went to the Maryland-West Virginia game.

As if the weather gods understood what was going on in my mind, the weather was awful.

50 degrees with a torrential downpour.

And somehow, it didn’t matter. I stayed all three hours, drenched to my socks, watching Maryland lose on a last second field goal to the rival Mountaineers and I knew everything would be OK.

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The next moment occurred a year later, in the middle of a course where I couldn’t figure out how to use the software required for the course. Instead of frustrating myself with another late night, I took the day off and went to the Blue Jays-Orioles game in Baltimore.

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Who’s a happy Blue Jays fan?

As a diehard Jays fan, it was an opportunity to see my team clinch the AL East for the first time since I was one. The Blue Jays crushed the Orioles and left the field AL East Champs, and I left Oriole Park with a new found attitude that carried me through the remainder of the semester.

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At the tail end of my first semester at USC, I was worn out. Stressed, tired and mopey. So it was up to sports once again to save the day. That day just happened to be my 25th birthday. A year prior, I told a friend of mine I would go to this game, even before I was admitted to the school and look what happened.

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USC defeats Notre Dame 45-27 // November 26, 2016 — L.A. Memorial Coliseum

The Trojans vanquished Notre Dame, in the pouring in rain, again, and it was the greatest birthday present I could have ask for. Sports has truly saved my life in college.

And look where it’s led. I now find myself in a class where all I do, is talk about sports for two and a half hours, meet Olympians and discuss my future with, “the God of Olympic sports writing”; though he hates when I call him that.

I interviewed members of the USC women’s volleyball team last month, and I am currently negotiating my way into covering a MLB game, FROM THE PRESS BOX!

All because of sports. That beautiful distraction that has kept me from giving up, even when all other hope seemed lost.

If I had seven wishes about sports…

In 1986, comedian Steve Martin delivered his timeless “A Holiday Wish” sketch on Saturday Night Live, where he wished, “…that all the children of the world would join hands, and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.”

In tribute to Martin’s hilarious list, including revenge against his enemies, 30 million dollars tax free deposited into a Swiss bank account every month and all encompassing power over every living in the entire universe, here’s my list of seven wishes I had pertaining to sports.

7. MLB cuts the regular season to 116 games.

I don’t need to see my Blue Jays play ten games at decrepit Tropicana Field.

Four games (two home, two away) versus each team, including interleague opponents.

6. The NFL extends the regular season to nineteen games, with two bye weeks.

Unless you are trying to make an NFL roster, preseason is useless.

Add three meaningful games versus non-conference opponents. For example, the Ravens finished second in the AFC North in 2016, so they would play all four NFC North opponents as scheduled, along with second place finishers Arizona, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants.

Add in another bye week, duh.

5. The B1G reshuffles.

Ever since the creation of the B1G Championship Game in 2011, the parity between East and West or “Legends and Leaders” (yikes…) divisions has been appalling. The Wisconsin Badgers practically own a time share in Indianapolis. Why? Because the other “good” teams (Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan) are all beating each other up for the East crown.

The B1G, first, needs to learn how to count (there are 14 teams in the conference now), and second, needs to reshuffle the divisions for better conference matchups.

4. The College Football Playoff, expands to 12 teams.

The top four teams would receive byes, while five plays twelve, six plays eleven, etc. It makes bowl season more interesting, and if 12 teams are good enough for the NFL playoffs, it’s good enough for college football too.

This way we end up with better matches than Ohio State-Clemson or Michigan State-Alabama.

3. No more scheduling FCS teams for Division I Football opponents.

Oklahoma State annihilated Savannah State 84-0 to open the 2012 regular season.

Enough said.

2. Stop ditching stadiums after fifteen to twenty years.

The Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field, which opened in 1998, and hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 2011. For some reason, the team feels it needs a new home.

You don’t get a new ballpark just because a stadium that opened a year ago, has a newer feature than your older model.

This isn’t Apple.

1. 0-0 isn’t a score, and enough with the ties.

Seriously. 0-0 isn’t a score. It’s LACKING a score. Compare a high profile match up between Manchester United and FC Barcelona, where the score ends up 0-0 or 1-0, to the Major Arena Soccer League, where the score can be 14-10, which game do you think is more interesting.

Same goes with ties across all sports. When my beloved Redskins tied the Cincinnati Bengals last October, I felt cheated. I woke up at 6 A.M. for this game, and saw them tie. WORST. GAME. EVER.

One drink too many: when alcohol and sports clash

We’re all accustomed to images of championship teams making it rain champagne and Budweiser in the locker room following a World Series or Super Bowl victory.

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Toronto Blue Jays celebrate after capturing the American League East crown for the first time in 22 years.  September 26, 2015

But what’s the flip side of the coin when you mix sports and alcohol?

Michael Phelps is WITHOUT QUESTION, the greatest Olympian of all time.

But for a decade, one of America’s heroes, faced an opponent he couldn’t outswim: his personal battle with alcohol.

In 2004, Phelps was arrested for a DUI in Maryland, three months after competing at the Summer Olympics in Athens.

A decade later, it happened again. Phelps nearly killed himself speeding in the Fort McHenry Tunnel in our beloved hometown of Baltimore. After he was pulled over, Phelps blew a 0.14, well above the legal limit of 0.08.

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The “Baltimore Bullet’s” second mugshot in less than a decade. September 2014

In 2016, Phelps spoke with Today host, Matt Lauer, where he revealed his battle with alcohol left him wanting to die.

Luckily, Phelps turned his life around, remains sober and found happiness with his new wife Nicole, and their son Boomer.

Phelps’ teammate Ryan Lochte, has notoriously battled alcohol abuse alongside Michael for some time now.

During the Rio Olympics last August, Lochte and fellow American swimmers, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, claimed they were held up at gunpoint at a gas station.

Surveillance footage later proved they trashed the gas station while intoxicated.

Lochte is currently suspended by USA Swimming through the end of June.

His fellow swimmers each received varying punishments, including being disinvited from the Team USA White House visit.

Thankfully, none of these gentleman have fatally succumbed to the dangers of alcohol, and we at Blue Ring Sports wish Lochte and his teammates the best in turning this experience into a motivating force for change in their lives.

Alcohol can, however, have fatal consequences for bright young athletes.

In 1998, six months to the day after he was drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams, defensive end Leonard Little left his 24th birthday party, drunk.

On his way home, Little struck and killed 47 year old Susan Gutweiler.

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Susan Gutweiler’s gravesite

Making matters worse, instead of expressing remorse for his actions, Little reportedly told officers, “The bitch ran a yellow light and hit me, [and wrecked] my f—— $45,000 car!”

Instead of learning from this incident, Leonard Little, just like Phelps, followed his 1998 DUI with another in 2004.

This incident led to horrific flashbacks for Gutweiler’s son, who lost his mother when he was only 15.

Speaking to The Chicago Tribune in 2004, Michael Gutweiler said, “My mom did everything.” Gutweiler suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, and his mother was the only stabilizing force in his life; the one person who could get him to take his medication.

Imagine losing your mother at 15, suffering from a debilitating mental disorder without her for six years after, having her miss important moments in your life including prom, high school graduation and the day you go off to college, only to find the man responsible for her death, made the same stupid decision all over again.

In both cases, Leonard Little got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

In April 2009, a bright young pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Nick Adenhart, threw the game of his young career: 7 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts over 6 innings against the rival Oakland Athletics.

Adenhart left the game to a standing ovation after being pulled by manager Mike Scioscia.

It was the last time Adenhart set foot on a baseball mound.

Shortly after pitching the game of his life, Adenhart, his 20 year old girlfriend Courtney Stewart, and their friends Jon Wilhite and Henry Pearson, were driving home when they were struck by a drunk driver in Fullerton, California.*

The driver of the vehicle that hit Adenhart and his friends, had a blood alcohol concentrate (BAC) nearly three times the legal limit. Stewart and Pearson were pronounced dead on the scene by first responders. Adenhart died that night at UC Irvine Medical Center, and Jon Wilhite barely survived after his head was nearly servered.

Nick Adenhart was 22 years old.

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Angels teammate, Jered Weaver, touching the tribute that graced the right field wall of Angel Stadium of Anaheim for the remainder of the 2009 season.

Whether it’s as harmless as doing the Macarena in your underwear, or lethal as killing a 47 year old mother, alcohol has consequences.

And yet, there is a culture amongst athletes that they are invincible to consequences. Drink and drive, pay a fine. Stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, eh’ pay a fine.

These incidents remain an injustice those like Nick Adenhart and Susan Gutweiler, who lost their lives, because someone decided their lives, and the lives of others wasn’t worth anything.

* Blue Ring Sports will not dignify the drunk driver by mentioning his name in this article out of respect for the memory of Nick Adenhart, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson.

Will the real Maryland Terrapins please stand up?

I want to address the non-existant threat we as sports journalists face, reporter gremlins.

Last week I was sitting in Alan’s class and out of nowhere, he pulled up a TextEdit window on his MacBook.

Turns out, some “reporter gremlins” stole his laptop for exactly half a second when he went to grab a beer and wrote this:

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Not really but OK…

How dare these reporter gremlins steal Alan’s computer!

What were they expecting to find?

Donald Trump’s tax returns? O.J. Simpson’s confession?

The man is cleaner than a 1980s East German Olympian.

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At first I thought this was a lone instance of reporter gremlins.

Then last week following Maryland’s 74-64 win over Northwestern, the reporter gremlins struck again. Only this time it was my computer the gremlins commandeered.

I came back from Five Guys (bacon cheeseburger, lettuce, tomato, fried onion, pickle, mayo, and A1…soooo good!), to find the gremlins had written this on my laptop.

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Whoever taught these gremlins how to spell, must have taught Stefon Diggs geography as well.

More appropriate, but that’s beside the point.

Reporter gremlins are somehow hacking computers of good and decent sports reporters (maybe they’re sanctioned by the Kremlin…I don’t know).

Then after Maryland decided to play one half of great basketball on Sunday against the Wisconsin Badgers at Kohl Center, they inflicted a second half on Terps Nation that felt more like they were committing hari-kari than fouls.

The gremlins struck again.

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My thoughts exactly!

How can a team go on the road to Evanston and let’s be honest (sorry Alan), completely overwhelm the Northwestern Wildcats, subsequently head to Madison where they led at the half 33-27, and wind up annihilated second half 44-27, falling 71-60?

All kidding aside about the non-existant reporter gremlins President Trump would probably find more reliable than the mainstream press (and not just cause they love attacking and hacking), what is going on with Maryland this year?

They have the same 22-5 record as seventh ranked Louisville, ninth ranked Baylor, tenth ranked Duke, eleventh ranked Kentucky, thirteenth ranked Florida, fourteenth ranked Purdue, sixteenth ranked Wisconsin and twenty third ranked Creighton.

The Terrapins have a much better record than eighteenth ranked Virginia (18-9), but because ACC competition is considered vastly superior to the B1G this year, Maryland is constantly on the verge of falling out of the AP Top 25 (currently ranked 24).

A team can only play the schedule put in front of it. Maryland can’t midway through the season say, “Well Iowa is having a terrible year, so let’s change them out and play Gonzaga or West Virginia instead.”

True Maryland has lost some doozies. Pitt, Nebraska and Penn State come to mind.

But that same Pitt team took down Virginia and last week, Florida State.

Nebraska beat Indiana (at Assembly Hall) and Purdue.

Can’t explain Penn State…

And herein lies the problem when trying to figure out the enigma that is the 2016-17 Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball team.

They go on the road and win eight of ten away from Xfinity Center, but lose home games to (sorry Panthers and Cornhuskers fans) awful teams. They can beat good teams like Northwestern and Minnesota*, but not great teams like Wisconsin (where they won last season) or Purdue.

Purdue remains an interesting case study when evaluating Maryland’s season so far.

Maryland SHOULD HAVE WON that game. I know it, they know it, half of East Lafayette knows it…

If they had scored ONE field goal in the final seven minutes, they would have come away with a victory.

Instead they didn’t score a single field goal…and lost.

Maryland has three more games remaining this season, all winnable, two of which come at Xfinity Center. They’re all but guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but if they want to “advance in the Big Dance”, they need to figure out why they keep managing to blow leads, or the Maryland Terrapins will be one and done, something that hasn’t happened in twenty years.

Also, Alan, hope this cheers you up! You’ll probably beat us in football in October!

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God I hope this is right!

* This article has been updated. Maryland followed up their shellacking of Minnesota earlier in the season with a Wednesday night matchup at Xfinity Center; the Terrapins fell to the Golden Gophers 89-75.

 

How bad is women’s college basketball, when UConn can win 100 games in a row?

On Monday night, the UConn women’s basketball team won its 100th game in a row, defeating sixth ranked South Carolina, 66-59 in Storrs, Connecticut.

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UConn victory celebration following their 100th win in a row Monday night.

While winning 100 games in a row is an incredible feat, the question NO ONE is asking: how bad is women’s college basketball when that is even possible?

For perspective, the great UCLA coach John Wooden only won 88 games in a row — still the NCAA men’s record.

So how did Geno Auriemma guide his team to 100 wins* without slipping up since November 2014?

“Well UConn is a member of the powderpuff American Athletic Conference.”

Yes, but their male counterparts in the same conference manage to lose.

The last NCAA Division I men’s team to complete ONE perfect season?

Indiana…in 1976.

The UConn women currently have two and counting.

Their last loss came at sixth ranked Stanford…November 17, 2014.

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UConn v. Stanford, November 17, 2014 in Palo Alto, California.

“Well they haven’t played a difficult non-conference schedule.” (Looking at you Baylor Football)

The list below are the ranked teams UConn has played since their last loss, all wins.

2014-15: #2 Notre Dame (twice), #25 DePaul, #10 Duke, #1 South Carolina and #4 Maryland

2015-16: #7 Ohio State, #23 DePaul, #3 Notre Dame, #11 Florida State, #6 Maryland, #22 South Florida, #2 South Carolina, #20 South Florida, #21 South Florida, #15 Mississppi State, #7 Texas, #6 Oregon State and #14 Syracuse

2016-17: #12 Florida State, #2 Baylor, #15 DePaul, #14 Texas, #2 Notre Dame, #4 Maryland, #12 Ohio State, #20 South Florida, #6 South Carolina and #23 Temple

When UConn played second ranked Baylor earlier this season, they were ranked third.

Even though UConn had a 76 game winning streak at the time, and were the four time defending NCAA women’s basketball champions, they were third.

UConn still has one game remaining against a ranked opponent in American Athletic Conference play. The Huskies travel to Tampa to take on South Florida on Monday night to close out the regular season.

That would bring the total number of games against ranked opponents to 11 for the 2016-17 season.

Every year both the men and women stage mini tournaments throughout the first two months of the season, including the Jimmy V Classic and Pearl Harbor Invitational.

On the men’s side, these tournaments feature powerhouse teams including Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky.

Each of these teams has slipped up against ranked competition.

So how has UConn, a squad that has played 28 ranked teams in the past two plus seasons, scathed through squeaky clean?

Since failing to make the Final Four of the 2008 NCAA Women’s Tournament, UConn has made the next eight, winning six titles in that span — including last year’s championship game against Syracuse.

The only comparison on the men’s side, are John Wooden’s ridiculous seven straight titles from 1967 to 1973.

There is a reason Geno Auriemma has coached the USA Women’s National Team since 2009. If you get in his way, he will destroy you.

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Head Coach of the USA Women’s National Team Geno Auriemma

No other team has competed with UConn since 2012.

Seriously.

Some may come close, but UConn is simply hot to handle. Go back and read that list of ranked “good” teams UConn has played.

Not one of them came away with a win.

UConn is the Harlem Globetrotters of women’s college basketball.

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Harlem Globetrotters literally running over the Washington Generals.

Every other team is the 1-16,000 Washington Generals.

In 2015, the Globetrotters said enough and announced they would no longer schedule matches against the Generals, causing them to disband.

In case you are not a big Harlem Globetrotters fan, think of it this way.

At the Rio Olympics last August, 19 year old swimming phenom Katie Ledecky nearly lapped a couple competitors in the 800 meters freestyle final.

Afterwards, NPR columnist Bill Chappell wrote, “There are no women in the world who can swim faster than Katie Ledecky in her freestyle events.”

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Katie Ledecky decimating her competition in the 800m freestyle final at the Rio Olympics.

Paraphrasing Bill, there are no women’s college basketball teams who can score more than the Connecticut Huskies in a game, regular season or otherwise.

I sometimes wonder how these other “good” women’s teams feel.

Like Katie Ledecky’s opponents, they might be good enough to win silver or bronze, but UConn gold is so far ahead of them, they’re not even on the television screen anymore.

* This article was written on Tuesday February 14th. It has since been updated. UConn won it’s 102nd game in a row on February 22nd, doubling up twenty third ranked Temple 90-45 in Hartford.