RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—The Carolina Hurricanes took advantage of a tired, Brodeur-less Devils team and cushioned themselves a bit in the standings. Carolina's special teams went to work and scored three power play goals, including two by defenseman Anton Babchuk. The 'Canes won the contest 4-2.
Those in attendance let out a collective, relieved exhale when they learned that Martin Brodeur, who took over first place in all-time NHL wins last night against Chicago, would be benched in favor of familiar face Kevin Weekes. Brodeur broke Patrick Roy’s record last night and became the winningest goaltender in league history.
“552 [wins] speaks for itself, so we’re glad he got the start last night,” Sergei Samsonov said of Brodeur.
Brodeur and his teammates decided to commemorate the event with a ceremony ACC fans know well; he took a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the net off the crossbars and base. It took several players and quite a bit of time – there’s a lot more surface area on that sucker than the one on a basketball hoop. Brodeur waved the detached net in the air and wore it like a cape.
Tyler Hansbrough, take notes.
Here's a look at what some of Triangle Offense's contributors are thinking about the bracket's Final Four, champion, possible sleepers and disappointments.
Final Four: Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and North Carolina
More so than most seasons, this year most of the national contenders excel either on offense or defense, but not both. Last season, Kansas and Memphis were exceptional at both facets of the game, but no team has demonstrated that kind of dominance this season. So, I hedged. UNC and Pittsburgh are Nos. 1 and 2 on offense according to Pomeroy statistics, and Louisville and UConn are Nos. 2 and 3 on defense.
Noted without comment ...
UPDATE: Here's someone else's commentary, published on Huffington Post. Turns out that TARP money is being showered widely over the sports biz. Some think it's not such a bad thing. And, I didn't know Bank of America sponsored Liverpool (but not on the jersey). That gives last weekend's game, a 4:1 thrashing of the Mancunians by the Merseysiders, a whole new dimension: Bank of America>AIG.
Tonight, the National Invitation Tournament unveiled their 2009 men's basketball brackets, and, unfortunately, N.C. State was not among those chosen for the post-season tournament. The ACC teams selected were Virginia Tech and Miami, whose NCAA bubbles burst earlier this evening. Davidson also made the NIT and will open the tournament at South Carolina on Tuesday, March 17.
N.C. State (16-14) is surely disappointed, but, in reviewing the NIT brackets, the Wolfpack have little to quibble about. Only five teams with as many total losses as the Wolfpack were selected: Va Tech, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Baylor, and Washington State (who has 15 losses). However, all those teams have a RPI in the nation's top 100, while N.C. State's RPI is 111. And, of those five teams, the one with the lowest strength of schedule (SOS) ranking is Washington State at 54. Meanwhile, N.C. State's SOS is 71.
Will seven ACC teams get in? We'll find out shortly who's in and who's out.
Yep, seven ACC teams, as forecast. The No. 1 seeds are:
Louisville (Midwest), Pittsburgh (East), UNC (South) and UConn (West)
And the six other ACC teams invited are:
Wake Forest (No. 4 in Midwest)
Boston College (No. 7 in Midwest)
Maryland (No. 10 in West)
Florida St. (No. 5 in East)
Duke (No. 2 in East)
Clemson (No. 7 in South)
In something of a confrontation through negation, yesterday's UNC-FSU game allowed us to compare the top vote-getters for ACC Player of the Year. Lawson won the award, of course, while FSU's Toney Douglas finished second, one place ahead of Tyler Hansbrough. How do we assess Lawson and Douglas' respective merits in this game?
On Lawson's side: He sits, UNC loses. There's evidence of his value. Then there's FSU, which needed every one of Douglas' 27 points and 38 minutes to knock off the Heels. Considering that UNC likely would have won if Danny Green had shot poorly instead of disastrously (say, 3-12 instead of 1-12), it seems that Douglas wins this round of most-valuableness.
Interesting to watch Roy Williams let his team run their final play against FSU yesterday without a timeout to set it up. He seemed to have decided to let things go according to their own plan in the ACC Tournament; a tad more micromanagement here and there might have tipped yesterday's game in UNC's favor. Danny Green (hello?) would have helped, too. It almost looked like he was getting paid to throw the games this weekend. That's not an accusation, just a measure of how awful and tentative he looked.
On the other hand, Mike Krzyzewski has apparently decided that winning this tournament is really important -- probably because his team will be guaranteed a #2 seed by running the table and might even fool the Selection Committee into giving them a #1. To that end he has implemented a slow-down game to preserve the energy of his overworked horses. If Singler, Scheyer et al had to run up and down the court for three straight days, it's hard to imagine them having anything left in the tank by now. Coach K knows his team's strength: shoot three-pointers. As long as his guys have the wind and legs to do that, they have a good chance to win again today, so look for another walk-it-up affair against the Seminoles. But who's going to stop Toney Douglas for Duke?
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—UNC may have lost today, but the surprisingly healthy crowd of 2,700 soccer fans that braved the gruesome weather in Cary tonight went home thrilled. The revamped Carolina RailHawks showed off a confident, organized attack and a strong defense to knock off the visiting New England Revolution, 1-0.
Defender Mark Schulte scored on a first-half header, in the 16th minute, and second-half substitute goalie Caleb Patterson saved the victory with a sensational stop on a Revolution breakaway in the 86th minute.
The game afforded an opportunity to see new faces in action and there were numerous surprises. Look for Chris Gaffney's match report later this weekend.
We're midway through the four-day sprint-march-slog that is the ACC Tournament. It's the third game in three days for Maryland and Florida State, while both UNC and Duke are coming off grueling Friday victories.
Questions for the day: With a No. 1 seed in the NCAA assured, will Roy Williams do the expedient thing and keep Lawson on the bench, no matter how tired Bobby Frasor gets against ACC Defensive Player of the Year Toney Douglas? How will Kyle Singler hold up after playing 40 minutes against Boston College?
Will Grievous Vasquez and the Terps exact revenge on the Blue Devils? Triangle Offense's Ryan Campbell thinks there's a more important consideration for Gary Williams' side: They may need this win today to get into the NCAAs. As he writes in our Friday open thread:
As I look over the scores this morning I'll add Baylor, Southern Cal, and the A-10 winner (Temple/Duquesne) to the long list of bid-stealers. I'm afraid that Maryland will need a win today, they're looking up at a number of teams who are fighting for fewer spots than normal.
It's a rainy day outside, so you know where we'll be...
First, there are now 25 players listed on the RailHawks roster (which doesn't include confirmed signing Matt Watson, who is still playing for his indoor team in Baltimore). Officially, the team has 20 players, but three new names have slipped out in recent press releases, including backup keeper Brian Levey, evidently returning for another year; Devon McKenney, a defender who played last year for the Columbus Crew reserves; and Nate Norman, who played for Notre Dame before spending time with the Chicago Fire and the Charleston Battery and who, most recently, was coaching high schoolers in Michigan.
Then there are some names that haven't emerged from official sources before now—and we're not sure if they're under contract. Most intriguingly, there's a veteran striker named Gavin Glinton, a native of Turks and Caicos Island whose career has taken him to stints with the LA Galaxy, Dallas Burn, the USL's Charleston Battery and, last season, the San Jose Earthquakes. His most productive stop was two seasons in Charleston, 2005-06, in which he scored 13 times in 26 appearances.
There's also a third keeper, Caleb Patterson, a 21-year-old native of Australia who apparently spent last year training with Red Bull New York.
The final new name is defender and Wake Forest grad Amir Lowery, who caught Triangle Offense's eye with his assured play when we visited training camp a month ago.
The weather will continue to be miserable, but we couldn't be more excited about tonight's game at WakeMed. Kickoff is 7 p.m.