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.” 


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

Michigan State asks AG to review handling of Larry Nassar investigation

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:03 AM

Michigan State has asked the state Attorney General to do a review of the university’s handling of the Larry Nassar case, president Lou Anna Simon announced Friday.

“The testimony of Nassar’s victims this week made many of us, including me, listen to the survivors and the community in a different way. It is clear to the Board and me that a review by the Attorney General’s Office can provide the answers people need,” Simon said in a statement. “As I told the Attorney General in December, MSU will fully cooperate with any inquiry by law enforcement authorities. I hope this review will help the survivors and the entire MSU community heal and move forward.”

Michigan State asks AG to review handling of Larry Nassar investigation

Simon and other Michigan State officials have faced pressure to step down this week as many of Nassar’s victims called out the university’s and USA Gymnastics’ handling of allegations. As of Friday morning, more than 70 victims had given testimony at Nassar’s sentencing. Nassar, who will spend the rest of his life in prison, used his position as a team doctor with Michigan State and USA Gymnastics to groom and abuse many of his victims.

The Detroit News released a story Thursday detailing how 14 Michigan State officials knew about Nassar’s sexual misconduct. Michigan State’s student newspaper, The State News, called on Simon to resign in an editorial this week, as well.


Tennessee football podcast: Vols might have found a steal in the 2018 recruiting class

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:14 AM

Tennessee is looking to add at least one more wide receiver in the Class of 2018, and it might have just found the guy.

The Vols were the first Power 5 school in on and to offer Conyers, Ga., native Jordan Young.

SBNation’s Bud Elliot dives deep into Young’s highlight  in this article to discover Young looks like a diamond hidden in plain sight.

Young caught 66 passes for 1,562 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for Heritage High school.

It seems Young just got lost in the shuffle of Georgia prospects.

The coaching staff certainly hopes getting in on him before any Power 5 schools will help bring him to Rocky Top. Tennessee holds one commitment from a wide receiver in Alontae Taylor.

The Vols probably want to bring on one or two more wide receiver prospect this cycle. Even with the  supposed return of Jauan Jennings.

WMNL’s Josh Ward discusses the wide receiver situation at this point and how the Vols look in Friday’s SEC Country Podcast. He is also joined by Blake Morgan who  breaks down the official visitors this weekend. There is also some basketball talk as the Vols prepare for South Carolina this weekend after the 59-55 loss to Missouri Wednesday.

Tennessee football podcast

Purdue special teams coordiator Tony Levine resigns

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:07 AM

Purdue special teams coordinator Tony Levine has resigned to “pursue opportunities outside of coaching,” coach Jeff Brohm announced on Friday morning. Levine also served as the Boilermakers’ co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach this past season.

Levine has been a college football coach since 1997 when he directed the wide receivers and tight ends at Texas State. He proceeded to coach at Auburn, Louisiana Tech and Louisville and then jumped to the NFL, where he served as the Carolina Panthers assistant specials teams and strength and conditioning coach in 2006 and 2007.

After his professional stint, Levine returned to the college ranks, eventually becoming the head coach at Houston from 2011-14. From there he moved to Western Kentucky for the 2016 season before joining Brohm’s staff.

Now, after more than 20 years of high-level coaching, Levine seems ready to pursue new challenges.

UCLA football recruiting: Latest updates with Class of 2018

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 5:00 AM


UCLA recruiting has been a roller coaster this season. Once ranked in the Top 10 nationally, the Bruins saw a slew of prospects de-commit following the firing of Jim Mora and subsequent hiring of Chip Kelly, dropping the Bruins like a stone in the rankings. Now Kelly is working on getting “his guys” into the program, which began with signing eight players during the early signing period in December.

UCLA’s 2018 recruiting class currently has eight signees and four commitments, with several highly ranked players still top targets for Kelly and his new staff. And there is room for as many as nine more new players.

Here’s an update on where things stand for the 2018 class:

Where UCLA’s class ranks

UCLA’s 2018 class is ranked No. 38 nationally and No. 4 in the Pac-12, according to the 247Sports composite. The Bruins have an average commit rating of 89.12, which is good for 16th in the country.

Latest headlines

In case you missed anything from this week, here are the latest recruiting headlines:


Offers by the numbers

  • Reported offers: 215
  • 5-star offers: 12
  • 4-star offers: 123
  • In-state recruits offered: 68
  • Florida recruits offered: 29
  • Texas recruits offered: 29



Top uncommitted targets

Position breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the number of signees and commits by position.

  • QB: 1 (Thompson-Robinson)
  • RB: 1 (Allen)
  • TE: 0
  • WR: 3 (Cota, Philips, Parks)
  • OL: 2 (Murray, Anderson)
  • DL: 2 (Mafi, Beckett)
  • LB: 1 (Calvert)
  • CB: 0
  • S: 1 (Blaylock)
  • ATH: 1 (Addison)

Geographical breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of UCLA commits by state:

  • California: 10
  • Oregon: 1
  • Nevada: 1

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