Sports Today: March Madness picks, mascot supremacy, Reds make cuts and some college football

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Have you got your bracket in yet?  

Better hurry...  

For anyone wondering, I picked UCLA as my national champion.  

I know as everyone reveals their choices today they love to be self-deprecating and say that means it is the kiss of death, but it really does feel like I am getting worse at this every year.  

For example: Last year I finally bought into the Michigan State hype ahead of time, so of course they went out in the first round.  

Other examples are too numerous to list. I have been burnt so many times over the past half dozen or so years, I really can't remember the worst of the worst.  

Two years ago, I picked a perfect Day 2 (16-0) and still had a bracket in shambles by the end of Sunday night.  

Aside from the Lonzo Ball and the Bruins, here are some other certified Hartman picks of note this year to celebrate or jeer later:  

  • I tabbed Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Miami to win first-round games in sticking with my principle from Sunday night: Don't pick anyone who lost to Ohio State (that would be Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State, respectively. North Carolina Central already lost in the First Four).  
  • Dayton over Wichita State. Senior point guard against freshman point guard.  
  • UD vs. Kentucky in the second round would not be short on historic storylines, I'm sure, but can you imagine if the Flyers pull the upset and get a 1967 title game rematch with UCLA?  
  • I picked Xavier over Maryland based on my general, "The Big Ten was mostly garbage this year," theory. Same with Middle Tennessee State over Minnesota, although that seems to be a popular pick. 
  • Kansas State continues Cincinnati's string of disappointing tournament runs as the Wildcats get a boost from already having won a game in the First Four and the adrenaline of being on the move ever since.  
  • Also give me No. 12 Princeton over Notre Dame.  
  • National champ: UCLA. I am buying the Lonzo Ball hype. Love a star point guard, especially when he can pass to a shooter like Bryce Alford and big guy like T.J. Leaf.  
  • I've got the Bruins beating Duke in the championship game with Gonzaga and Kansas also making the Final Four. I love Duke's roster, but they've been frighteningly up and down.  
  • I know Mark Few’s Bulldogs are everyone's favorite team to doubt, but Arizona hasn't been able to break through, either. Something has to give in the Elite Eight matchup between the two of them. 

Here's the full TV schedule from CBS.  

Make sure you stick with us today as we follow all the action via our March Madness Live Blog

Just for fun, I also like to do a mascot bracket.  

That means I pick the games based solely on what would happen if the team mascots battled each other.  

This brings in some inherent issue, the biggest one being matching forces of nature against mere mortals.  

And so that’s how I ended up with Miami as my national champion in that bracket.  

The Hurricanes had a close call in the second round against Iowa State, but it stands to reason a Hurricane is larger than a Cycone and would thus overwhelm it.  

The rest of my Mascots Final Four: The Dayton Flyers, West Virginia Mountaineers and Florida Gators. 

Dayton had it easy with the comparatively primitive Wichita State Wheat Shockers and NKU Norsemen (who upset the Wildcats of Kentucky thanks to superior weaponry) then overcame two tough land-based opponents in the UCLA Bruins and Arkansas Razorbacks.  

This approach produced a few notable upsets, the biggest being the Tigers of Texas Southern over the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels. When in doubt, always go with the tiger.  

Second-seeded Louisville also went down in the first round as a Jacksonville State Gamecock would obviously handle a Cardinal, and Miami’s run included a second-round upset of No. 1 seed Kansas.  

I’ll let you know which one turns out better... 

The Reds sent a bunch of guys out of their major league camp, including Dilson Herrera.  

The infield prospect wasn't able to play the infield because of a shoulder issue, so he didn't have much of a chance to make the team as a utility man. I’m sure he will be heard from sooner or later assuming he gets healthy. 

As for the starting rotation (with Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani out to start the year), it appears Bryan Price is down to choosing from Bronson Arroyo, Rookie Davis, Tim Adleman, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson to join Brandon Finnegan and Scott Feldman. 

Said Price yesterday: “I like Amir, Rookie Davis as starters, Romano is on the fence for competing for a starting spot, although I think Romano could do both. Reed and Stephenson could pitch in the bullpen and still be considered long-term starters if they don’t make the rotation.”

Hal McCoy writes Reed’s appearance yesterday was a mixed bag. 

Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton had three hits… 

Last night in high school basketball, Springfield lost to Cincinnati La Salle and Versailles (with Ohio State commit Justin Ahrens) lost to Roger Bacon. 

The Versailles girls and defending champion Alter are part of the OHSAA state tournament this weekend in Columbus… 

And finally if you’re hankering for some college football, Miami University coach Chuck Martin had an interesting message for his RedHawks as they got their spring drills underway. 

“Spring is a little time to be selfish and hone your game and try to get as big a piece of the pie for next fall. If everybody does that and works on their game, we’re going to become a lot better team, and we’ll work on the roles in the fall.” 

(H/T CoachingSearch.com

The RedHawks are coming off a 6-7 season in which they nearly knocked off Mississippi State in a bowl game. 

WATCH: SEC Shorts delivers hilarious video on LSU fans struggling through work after blowout loss

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:48 PM

It’s not easy being an LSU fan right now.

The Tigers were on the losing end of a 37-7 blowout at the hands of Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday night.  And for many LSU supporters, that probably made it pretty tough to roll back into work on Monday morning.

By Wednesday evening, SEC Shorts had nailed that feeling with another hilarious video.

This time, the SEC Shorts crew attempted to recreate Tigers fans rolling back into work this week and attempting to make it through small talk on how the game went.

Check it out:

As usual, SEC Shorts nailed it!

Some other SEC Shorts videos you may enjoy:
WATCH: SEC Shorts delivers hilarious spoof of ‘Rudy’ at Notre Dame-Georgia game
WATCH: SEC Shorts deliver hilarious Vols trash-can parody after Tennessee-Florida game

Cardinals hammer three home runs in rout of Reds

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:34 PM


            CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Zack Cozart #2 of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first after getting a force out at second base ahead of the sliding Stephen Piscotty #55 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning of a game at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cardinals won 9-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Zack Cozart #2 of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first after getting a force out at second base ahead of the sliding Stephen Piscotty #55 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth inning of a game at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cardinals won 9-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Mike Matheny enjoyed the St. Louis Cardinals’ best all-around game in a while so much, he wouldn’t mind seeing a replay.

“I’ll go rewatch it,” Matheny said after the 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. “Good starting pitching, clean defense, clean bullpen, timely hitting, got momentum early. I’m really looking forward to (Thursday).”

»RELATED: Big rosters lead to pitcher parades

Dexter Fowler homered for the third straight game while Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong also homered as St. Louis gained ground in their National League playoff push.

Tommy Pham finished with two doubles, a single and two RBIs and Yadier Molina added a two-run double as the third-place Cardinals (79-72) gained a game on first-place Chicago and second-place Milwaukee in the Central Division and on Colorado in the wild-card race.

Rookie right-hander Luke Weaver retired 10 straight batters in one stretch on the way to his seventh straight winning start, the major leagues’ longest active streak.

According to post-game notes provided by the Reds, Weaver is the first Cardinals starting pitcher to have seven consecutive wins in a season since Matt Morris in 2001 and the first St. Louis rookie to do so since Ted Walks in 1944.

The 24-year-old rookie allowed five hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in five innings. He credited his curveball with helping make up for an inconsistent changeup.

“I haven’t had a chance to assess the outing,” he said. “I had more curveballs in the mix. It was nice to be able to throw them in different counts.”

Weaver’s curve also impressed Matheny.

“It worked better than it’s worked in other starts” Matheny said. “He made pitches on both sides of the plate when he needed to.

“He threw the ball really well,” Matheny added. “The fastball was coming out of his hand as good as I’ve seen. He had late life, and he got some big strikeouts when he needed them.”.

Weaver (7-1) has fanned seven or more batters in each of his last seven starts.

Weaver was savoring his contributions to the Cardinals’ playoff push.

“it’s awesome,” he said. “There’s lot of good nerves building up. These games, you get a little more amped up. There are a lot of meaningful games. You try not to put too much pressure on yourself.”

Relievers Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh, Sandy Alcantara and Sam Tuivailala teamed up to retire the 12 of the final 13 Reds batters.

Carpenter led off the game with his 21st homer. Fowler followed Pham’s RBI double in the third with a two-run shot into the right field seats. It was his career-high 18th homer of the season. DeJong added his team-high 24th, the Cardinals’ second set of back-to-back homers in two nights.

The Reds broke up Weaver’s shutout bid with a two-run fifth. Patrick Kivlehan’s drove in Jose Peraza from first with a double and scored on Jesse Winker’s single.

“I got a little out of synch,” he said. “I threw some average pitches and they put some good swings on them.”

Rookie Davis (1-3) gave up all three homers and five runs on five hits with three strikeouts in three innings.

Grant on recruiting trail in Alabama

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 9:29 PM

Anthony Grant speaks at a press conference at UD Arena on April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Anthony Grant speaks at a press conference at UD Arena on April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant traveled to Alabama on Wednesday to visit a top-100 recruit.

Kira Lewis, a 6-foot-3 junior guard from Hazel Green High School in Hazel Green, Ala., ranks 82nd in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports.com. He’s the 15th-ranked point guard in the nation and the third-ranked player overall in Alabama.

Hazel Green is in northern Alabama, 16 miles north of Huntsville. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee have visited Lewis recently, according to BamaMixtape.com, a scouting service for Alabama high school and junior colleges.

RELATED: A look at 2019 recruiting; Dayton lands prized 2018 recruit

LSU, Oklahoma State and Alabama are among the numerous other schools to offer Lewis a scholarship. UD offered him a scholarship on June 1.

Grant has plenty of experience recruiting in Alabama. He coached at the University of Alabama from 2009-15 and also coached in the Southeastern Conference under Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996-2006.

Dayton will have at least three scholarships open in 2019, losing John Crosby, Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams after the 2018-19 season. That number could change depending on what happens with Sam Miller, the suspended junior forward.

Cozart, Reds two homers away from six 25 HR players

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 1:28 PM

Cincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart runs the bases after hitting a solo home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl during the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Cincinnati.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Cincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart runs the bases after hitting a solo home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl during the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Cincinnati.(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

With Zack Cozart’s and Scooter Gennett’s homers on Tuesday night, the Reds are approaching a baseball benchmark reached only one other time in MLB history.

If Cozart hits two more home runs, Cincinnati would be the second team ever to have six players with 25 or more homers.