Ray Jr. on Sports



Panthers to Face Syracuse  Weds. at Noon.

  1. The Pitt Panthers’ stay at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament ended with an 88-71 loss to top-seeded North Carolina. This took place a day after they beat the Syracuse Orange 72-71. I wish Pitt would’ve went further, but they fell to the best.
  2. But let’s be fair: The score didn’t indicate the game. Pitt stormed to an 8-0 lead and led most of the first half, and actually led by 8 points before they fell behind at halftime. In the second half, that’s when the Panthers started playing like the Panthers (turnovers, missed opportunities) and the Tar Heels ran away.
  3. Looking at the stats, Mike Young and Jamel Artis each had 19 points, but Wednesday’s hero Cameron Johnson (24 points) had only 4 in Thursday’s game. That’s not going to help this team. Johnson was also given the start.
  4. Now the biggest question is: Will Pitt get into the NCAA Tournament? I think they do. Beating Duke a few weeks ago and then beating Syracuse basically punched their ticket, in my opinion. But it’s up to the Committee to determine that and we’ll find out on Selection Sunday in a few days.
  5. My prediction is that the Tar Heels will still win the ACC Tournament, but they will have to get past teams like Duke, Virginia and Miami. Needless to say, it’s going to be an interesting finish to this Tourney.
  6. Since we’re approaching The Big Dance, here are my predicted #1 seeds: Kansas, Michigan State, Villanova and Virginia (depending on their ACC finish) but North Carolina could have an outside shot if they win the ACC (but then again, so could Xavier, and Oklahoma too.)
  7. But the best local team is West Virginia, who is about to begin their round in the Big 12 Tournament. The Mountaineers are the #2 seed and have progressed in the conference that many thought it was a mistake for them to join after years in the Big East.
  8. Well, in my opinion, WVU should be in the ACC with Pitt, so the Backyard Brawl could continue. But the Mountaineers are the #2 seed and are the best team in the Big 12-not named Kansas. They could very well earn a #2 seed.
  9. As for the rest of the local team: Duquesne, Penn State and Robert Morris have ZERO chance at making the Big Dance. Penn State might have a shot at the NIT, and possibly Duquesne but in most cases, their season is over.
  10. Now onto the NFL (Of course they’re still in the news) the Free Agency period has started and there have been some signings. Especially the big one that happened in Denver. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the way the SB Champion Denver Broncos wanted it as they saw QB Brock Osweiler leave for the Houston Texans for $72 million.
  11. I mean; can you blame him? Osweiler got paid. Plus, the Texans won the AFC South last year-without a decent QB, so what might they do with a decent one? Question is, can Osweiler handle the high expectations of being ‘the man’ for 16 games? Time will tell.
  12. The other question is, what will the Broncos do? QB Peyton Manning retired Monday, Osweiler left Wednesday. So who’s left? Not their 3rd string QB. They need to make a move and the rumors are that the Broncos are either looking at signing former Redskins QB Robert Griffin III or trading for 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. I’d vote for Kaepernick. He took a team to the Super Bowl. Plus, he needs a new start.
  13. Other Free Agent signings: former Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu gets five-year deal with Falcons, former Dolphins RB Lamar Miller joins the Texans, RB Matt Forte joins the NY Jets after years with the Bears, former Browns C Alex Mack joins the Falcons and former Bengals WR Marvin Jones signed with the Lions.
  14. And then there’s the Pittsburgh Steelers who re-signed CB William Gay, S Robert Golden and G Ramon Foster, but those weren’t the news of their week. No, the Steelers actually made an outside free agent move, signing TE Ladarius Green from the San Diego Chargers. Green had been backing up All-Pro TE Antonio Gates in previous years.
  15. I like this signing. Green is 6-6, 250. He scored 4 TDs for the Chargers last season and filled in for Gates when he was suspended. The biggest question is; can he block? Many feel like he’s the replacement for the retired Heath Miller. Time will tell if he, or last year’s rookie Jesse James will take the starting spot.
  16. I hope the Steelers aren’t done. I would like to see them get a Strong Safety-and go back to the Chargers to get Eric Weddle. But you know the Steelers, they may opt to draft a safety. Plus, Veteran Will Allen is still available. He’s a good backup that the Steelers would be foolish to let walk.
  17. In additions to Manning and Miller, what about the official retirement of Lions WR Calvin ‘Metatron’ Johnson? I respect him for taking his time to be sure, and I truly respect him for making this decision. He didn’t give a reason, but he was very classy and professional about it.
  18. Johnson holds very WR record for the Lions. He was the best in the NFL for a few years, and in 2012, he almost became the first WR in NFL history to post a 2,000-yard season (1,964) is he a Hall of Famer? Eventually. he posted over 11,000 receiving yards.
  19. As for the NBA, you still have the Golden State Warriors (57-6) and the San Antonio Spurs (54-10) as not only the best in the Western Conference, but in basketball. In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers (45-18) still lead the pack, followed by the Toronto Raptors (42-20) proving that last season was no fluke.
  20. And the worst of the NBA? It doesn’t take Einstein to guess that the Philadelphia 76ers (8-56) hold that title, and in the Western Conference? The LA Lakers at 14-51.

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