As I sit here sulking over not winning my Grammy moment with Justin Timberlake last night, here are some links:
(1) Close Call Would Have Helped on Selection Sunday (Mark Tupper Weblog) - Putting aside my disdain for Satan’s Spawn, Illinois missed a golden opportunity to virtually lock up an NCAA Tournament bid by faltering in the final minute on the road against Indiana on Saturday. As Mark Tupper alludes to in the link, Illini fans are now going to be extremely nervous heading into Selection Sunday. I still believe that a 9-7 record in the Big Ten ought to be enough for a bid (which would require us to win 3 out of the last 4, but we’d better also win at least 1 game in the Big Ten Tournament on top of that to be sure.
(2) Bubble Watch (ESPN.com) - Speaking of the NCAA Tournament and Selection Sunday, ESPN is back with its overview of the bubble teams. What’s amazing is that UConn and LSU, who were simply dominant last year, are almost certainly not going to be invited to the dance unless they win their conference tournaments while Michigan State is pretty close to being in the same position.
(3) A New Chandler in Chicago (Zoner Sports) – In one more note on college basketball before getting onto other subjects, it should be reiterated that Wilson Chandler of DePaul simply rules. That being said, DePaul has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. With victories against Kansas, UConn, and, most recently, Notre Dame, the Blue Demons should have been a lock for the NCAA Tournament along with being at least a middle seed in the Big East Tournament. However, with 3 horrible losses to sub-100 teams in the RPI (including a dreary 49-39 early season loss to Northwestern that had George Mikan rolling in his grave), DePaul isn’t even considered to be a bubble team anymore and still could miss the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden for the second time in as many seasons as a Big East member. The remaining regular season schedule ought to play in DePaul’s favor (besides a home game versus Marquette and a return road game at Notre Dame, the Demons have 2 games against bottom-feeder USF plus a putrid Cincinnati team at home), but their game-to-game inconsistencies have made the Illini look stable in comparison.
(4) Obama Questions Rivals on Iraq (Washington Post) - The most prominent political story in Chicago and the nation from this past weekend was the inevitable announcement by Senator Barack Obama that he will be running for President. As I’ve said before, I never thought that his relative lack of experience in the Senate would matter much on the campaign trail (otherwise, the history books would be peppered with stories about Presidents Dole and Kerry).
However, the main disadavantage that Obama has against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and, if he survives that, Rudy Giuliani or John McCain in the general election, is that the Presidential campaign will be the first time that the Senator from Illinois will ever experience the invasive and daily media scrutiny that comes with being on the national stage. While Obama has received almost universal fawning from the national media since his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, the negative press is going to eventually come and we have no idea how he’s going to react to it. As John Kass pointed out in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, the national and international media has been ignorant with regard to (or at least ignoring) the Tony Rezko scandal so far – I’d be willing to bet on a lot more damaging stories surfacing as we go along. (I’m not saying Obama is by any means a nefarious person, but bad stories are simply going to come up no matter what.)
Meanwhile, is there anything that can be thrown at Hillary that could be any worse than the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals while her husband was in the White House? By the same token, what hasn’t Rudy Giuliani heard while having to deal with the rabid New York press on a daily basis for 8 years? If Barack Obama is going to win the Presidency, the key for him will be how he deals with his lack of experience of dealing with the negative, if not personally invasive, media stories that will eventually come to fruition as opposed to only having two years on the national stage in the Senate.
(5) Las Vegas Has Got the Game, but It Wants a Team (New York Times) - If you thought a Super Bowl in Miami was insane, just watch out when the highest-paid athletes in all of sports all get together this weekend in Las Vegas for the NBA All-Star Game. It takes a town with 124,000 hotel rooms to be able to hold that many entourages and posses. Honestly, I’d skip the game just to watch Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley take on the house in blackjack.
On another note, it’s simply criminal that none of the professional sports leagues have set up shop in Las Vegas yet. I can understand the NFL’s reservations since pro football is by far the most wagered on sport (followed by college football and a smattering of college basketball games), but the amount of dollars placed on Major League Baseball,NBA, and NHL games are minimal. As alluded to in the linked article, the best compromise would be for the casinos to take any games played by the Las Vegas franchises off of the board, which would eliminate the largest preceived (if not misguided) fear of illicit activity by the mere presence of teams in the city. With a town that is at the center of one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas, a magnet for tourists from across the world, and more than flush with potential customers with a ton of cash, it’s only a matter of time before one of the leagues makes the plunge.
(6) Bow Wow Launches New Label, Crew (AllHipHop.com) - Anyone can launch a new record label. Launching a new crew, on the other hand…