PCI: The Virginia Cavaliers Will Win the NCAA Tournament
by Chris McCormack ’18
The Conference Tournaments have officially ended, which means it is now time for the greatest sporting event of the year. NCAA March Madness holds a special place in my heart, especially when our own school is competing.
The field has a lot of strong teams as well as many teams that can make a few surprises. The top four seeds are the University of Virginia from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East’s Villanova University and Xavier University and the University of Kansas out of the Big 12. All hold the capability of making a run but also will face tough competition with the two and three seeds.
However, the team with the best chance to win is the number one overall Virginia Cavaliers. They are coming into the tournament with only two losses and only one coming in arguably the best conference in the nation. They have gone 5-0 against the two seeds from the ACC, Duke and the University of North Carolina. Both teams also have solid title chances but the fact that the Virginia Cavaliers have been able to handle the strength of these teams with ease is the number one reason I think they are going to make a run at it all.
That said, however, no run at the championship ever comes easy and this is no exception. In their bracket they have a tough Cincinnati team at the two seed that they could possibly meet in the Elite Eight. Before that, they may have to play either University of Arizona or University of Kentucky.
Arizona has the best player in the NCAA with DeAndre Ayton who is projected to be the number one pick in the NBA draft. Kentucky is always a dangerous team in the tournament and riding a hot streak from the end of the regular season that ultimately ended with them winning the SEC Tournament.
Both teams could provide trouble for the Cavaliers but I think they will ultimately prevail as they are the best defensive team in the country. They have a way of controlling the pace of play in all their games that has caused teams issues all season. Another team that could be a surprise Cinderella story in Virginia’s bracket are the University of Nevada Wolf Pack.
The Wolf Pack come from the Mountain West Conference and have been in and out of the top 25 all season. They are the seventh seed in this bracket, but many experts think they deserve higher than that. It would be a very tough road for them as they would likely play Cincinnati in their second game, but if they are able to pull off the upset and meet Virginia in the Elite Eight then anything could happen.
However, as I said before any team that is going to win this tournament is going to have a tough go and for that reason I think Virginia is the most fit to do so. They have great experience and as people have said for decades, defense wins championships.
Why the Summer Olympics are the Best
By Chris McCormack ’18
With the Winter Olympics right around the corner, there is always some debate on which Games are better: Summer or Winter? With that in mind it is necessary to understand the basic facts of the two. The Summer Olympics have been around for over a century, starting in 1896 in Athens, Greece. The Winter Olympics have not been around for as long, dating back to the 1924 Games in Chamonix, France. The summer games also host more countries, 206 countries participated in 2016 compared to the 91 that are participating in this year’s games. With just history and the number of participants in mind, it is hard to see why one would prefer the winter games.
As Americans, however, we tend to like the winter games because of sports like ice hockey and games like the one in 1980, in which the U.S. defeated the Soviet Union. However, athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Usain Bolt have increased the popularity the Summer Olympics with their incredible athleticism.
Another reason the summer games are more entertaining than the winter games is because of Team USA Basketball. With the NHL no longer allowing their athletes to participate in the games, USA Basketball is really our country’s only chance to see the professional athletes of our country participate against their worldwide counterparts. It is always enjoyable to see the best basketball players combine forces in super team fashion and compete.
For reasons that include history, inclusivity, and the inclusion of big name professional athletes, the Summer Olympics are more enjoyable than the Winter Olympics. Regardless of how you feel, however, it is always nice to see the increased patriotism around the times of the games and for that reason, it is hard to dislike either one.
Friars Reignite Their Fire
By Chris McCormack ’18
Providence College Men’s Basketball Team turned their season around when they needed it most. After a rough start to Big East play with a near 20-point loss to Creighton University on the road and a tough overtime loss to Marquette University at home, the Friars came into what seemed to be a must-win game against the 5th ranked Xavier Musketeers.
Xavier was riding a 10-game win streak and seemed to have destiny waiting to make it 11 games going into a matchup against the top team overall, the Villanova University Wildcats. The Friars had other plans.
Kyron Cartwright ‘18 led the team with a packed stat sheet featuring 19 points, 9 assists and 4 steals helping boost the team to a much needed 81-72 win. The Friars then traveled to the Windy City to face the DePaul Blue Demons, where they won with a score of 71-64. The story of that game was the 22-0 run they had in the middle of the second half, which turned the game around.
That run turned a 10-point deficit for the Friars into a 12-point lead and that was all they needed to finish off DePaul.
The team then looked to their next matchup against Butler University which was the first game of the second semester, and this showed.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center was rocking in the second half as the Friars were able to get off to a hot start and take the lead. The game remained close throughout, but they held off a tough Butler team with a score of 70-60.
The team had four players in double figures, led by a great second half performance from Cartwright who finished with 18 points and 11 assists. Jalen Lindsey ‘18 notched 13 points including his three 3-pointers that all came at crucial times in the game. Rodney Bullock ‘18 and Alpha Diallo‘20 also put up double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The team gets some time off before they look to seek revenge in another tough matchup against Creighton on Saturday. The Bluejays, led by Senior guard Marcus Foster, are coming off a blow-out loss against Xavier this weekend and play a tough Seton Hall team before coming to the Dunk.
The team is going to need a similar atmosphere to the one against Butler. Students need to be loud and energetic if the Friars are going to beat this team. Given the loss earlier in conference play, look for Ed Cooley and the guys to study the film and change what they need to change before taking the court.
After Creighton, the team heads to Philadelphia to take on the current best team in the country, the Villanova Wildcats. It is never good to be look past the next matchup, but if the Friars are able to beat Creighton, they are going to be right where they need to be heading into the matchup against number-one Villanova.
PCI: College Athletes Should be Paid
By Chris McCormack ’18
The NCAA has a severe money problem. In 2016, the collegiate sports organization posted a revenue of $995.9 million. Meanwhile, the athletes, who are to thank for this revenue, do not see a dime of this.
Many argue that they get paid with a free tuition, which should be enough. However, many of the athletes are not there for the education. As disappointing as this may sound to some, this is the sad truth.
For example, many of the top athletes in college basketball are there for one year and leave for the NBA, either because they have the skills necessary or they are in desperate need of the money. Plenty of athletes come from lower-income areas and families which makes the money that much more appealing. If the NCAA paid their athletes, more players may stay longer because they no longer have the desperate need for the money the NBA has to offer.
Both college football and basketball are multi-billion dollar industries and possess the ability to pay the coaches large million-dollar contracts. Why does it make sense for the coaches to bring in large sums of money to support their families and lifestyles but the athletes, who are the ones drawing the attention to the sport, do not have this benefit?
A study came out this year that put a value on the athletes of many Division I schools. Texas had the highest value per player at $670,000, and Alabama came in second with a value of $536,485. The Division I-A average came in at a substantial $163,689. None of these amounts are small to the average athlete.
However, the NCAA thinks paying players is unethical because the athletes are there for the education. At the end of the day, it is not going to be easy for the current rules to change. The people running the NCAA love the paychecks they get from the money that is brought in by the players, and the head coaches are not going to complain about the millions of dollars they get from the institutions. However, until changes are made, I would not be surprised to see more corruption scandals pop up like the one we saw earlier in the year.
Men’s Basketball Splits First Weekend of Play
By Chris McCormack ’18
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team kicked off their season last weekend with a 84-55 win over the Houston Baptist Huskies in Alumni Hall. With comic-con being held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Nov. 10, the Friars were able to play the first men’s basketball game on campus since 1972.
After this win, the Friars went into one of their biggest out of conference games this season against the no. 15 ranked, Minnesota Gophers. The Gophers, coached by Richard Pitino ’05, proved to be resilient as their veteran team was able to fight off the Friars and win with a final score of 84-72.
Although they lost, the Friars looked solid throughout most of the game and there were a lot of positive things to take away. They got off to a slow start as Minnesota opened the game with a 12-2 run, but they quickly recovered with a run of their own and closed the half out with a three-point lead 39-36.
The second half started similarly to the first with both teams going back and forth up until about the 10 minute mark. The Friars offense seemed to cool off while the Gophers continued to flourish offensively. The Friars seemed to miss Emmitt Holt ‘18, who is out indefinitely after having stomach surgery. The Gophers’ Jordan Murphy scored 23 points with 14 rebounds. As a 6’6” forward, this seems to be the ideal player for Holt to be guarding. The Friars were still able to put up a bit of a fight with a pretty solid offensive performance.
Four players scored in double figures, but what they needed was someone to step up as the rest of the team cooled down. Regardless of the result, there is no doubt they have a promising season ahead of them. They will travel to New York City and face Washington University at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
The remaining out-of conference games are games the Friars should win. It is definitely a good thing for them to face such a tough opponent early in the season as it will prove to be a learning experience and they will improve as the season goes on. Given the atmosphere in the Dunk on Monday, there is no doubt Friars fans are ready for this season.
Why Men’s Basketball is PC’s Best Winter Sport
By Chris McCormack ’18
The winter sports season is arguably the biggest season for Providence College. With two of our programs on the national stage, it is hard to overlook it as one of the better seasons. Both the Men’s Hockey and Men’s Basketball Teams are ranked in the preseason rankings.
PC men’s hockey currently sits at number six in the USCHO.com rankings. Men’s basketball is currently ranked number 23 according to ESPN’s preseason power rankings. That said, it is time to settle a long discussed debate of which winter sport’s team is the most exciting.
In an attempt to take nothing away from all the winter athletes, it is only right to say that our men’s basketball team takes the cake for most exciting. With most of the team returning from last year and the addition of three highly touted recruits, including a top 40 recruit in Makai Ashton-Langford ‘21, it is hard to see a situation where they would not be the most exciting. Kyron Cartwright ‘18 looks to make a strong case for best point guard in the country while also trying to get the team to a Big East Championship and make a fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament.
The Big East is wide open this year as there is no team that is clearly above and beyond better than the rest of the field. That said, with the talent PC has on this roster and the anticipation of all of our students, it is not out of the question for this team to make a run.
By taking all this into consideration, it makes sense to call this team the most exciting of all winter sports. This team’s roster has the potential to be the best Friars basketball team in a while, and given the phenomenal coaching ability of Ed Cooley, the whole Friar family should be excited for this year’s season.
College Basketball in the Hot Seat
By Chris McCormack ’18
It was a sad week for college basketball last week as 10 people, including four assistant coaches, were arrested for their part in a corruption and bribery scandal that put all eyes on the NCAA. Former Providence College Head Coach Rick Pitino was put on unpaid administrative leave and was eventually relieved of his coaching duties at the University of Louisville completely.
The investigation performed by the FBI began last year when a financial adviser Marty Blazer was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud allegations and accused of taking $2.35 million from five of his clients who were professional athletes. As part of the plea agreement that Blazer ultimately signed, he agreed to work under the FBI as a key witness and helped provide evidence that contributed to the 10 arrests made last week.
During his time at PC, Pitino helped coach the Friars to a Final Four in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. As one of the most successful coaches in NCAA, many people looked up to Pitino. However, in recent years he has been the face behind many scandals and this one seems like it is going to put him out of a coaching job for the rest of his life.
Pitino has been the center of attention for three other major scandals over the past 10 years. In 2009, a woman named Karen Sypher demanded money and cars from Pitino after they engaged in a sexual encounter in 2003. Sypher was ultimately arrested and Pitino faced no consequences.
In 2015, a former escort in the Louisville area published a book that documented the times she was paid by a graduate assistant to go to the dorms and visit potential recruits. Pitino claimed to have no idea these things were going on and the program was eventually suspended from participating in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Finally, the findings of last weeks investigation shows a coach from an unnamed program matching the description of Louisville allegedly paying $100,000 to a basketball recruit’s family.
These three investigations will result in Pitino’s legacy being forever tainted. The latest investigation is just one of many for the NCAA and players illegally receiving money from teams.
Pitino is the biggest name in this scandal but there are many others involved from other schools such as Auburn University, University of Southern California, University of Arizona, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Miami.
Arizona’s assistant coach Emmanuel Richardson is one of the coaches who was arrested last week. He is accused of accepting bribes from agent Christian Dawkins as well as financial adviser Munish Sood in exchange for pushing Arizona players to them as they reach the professional level. Richardson was relieved of all duties at the university.
Like Richardson, Auburn’s associate head coach Chuck Person was also arrested. He is accused of accepting a $50,000 bribe from Rashan Michel, owner of a clothing line based in Atlanta. Richardson accepted the bribe on the terms he would convince his players to sign with the clothing line once they make it to the pros.
Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans is also accused of accepting a bribe of $22,000 from Dawkins and Sood. He was a former coach at the University of South Carolina. At both Oklahoma State and South Carolina, he influenced players to sign with Dawkins and Sood.
University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland is accused of being bedding with the two bribers. He allegedly took a bribe of $13,000 and had Dawkins and Sood pay $9,000 to the families of two USC athletes.
All of these coaches, along with Dawkins and Sood, have been arrested and charged with fraud. It is the sad truth that this probably will not be the last time we hear about coaches and players violating NCAA standards.
Giants Face a Must-Win Week 4
by Chris McCormack ’18
Just three weeks into the NFL season, we have already seen some shocking storylines. Whether it be Ezekiel Elliott avoiding suspension, the New York Jets winning a game, or the increased number of national anthem protests, it has been an eventful few weeks.
That said, however, the most significant storyline comes from the other team from the Meadowlands, the New York Giants. Coming into the season, the Westgate Sportsbook posted a list of the teams with the most bets to win the Super Bowl. The Giants came in fourth behind the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, and their NFC East counterpart the Dallas Cowboys.
Many people liked the Giants’ chances coming into the season, but here we are coming up on week four and they are 0-3. The Giants had the second best defense in the NFL last year and the best in the NFC. With key off-season acquisitions including wide receiver Brandon Marshall, offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, and their first-round draft pick, tight end Evan Engram, many fans had high hopes going into the season.
Those expectations were quickly shot down within the first two weeks where they only scored one touchdown against the Cowboys and Lions combined. Week three came around, and brought the Giants a crucial matchup against their division rival, Philadelphia Eagles.
After an extremely slow start, not scoring a point until the fourth quarter, they were able to crawl back into it and tie the game up at 24. The tie game did not last long as the Eagles’ kicker Jake Elliot kicked a 61-yard field goal as time expired.
The Giants are now 0-3 in their division while the Eagles sit atop the NFC East with a 2-1 record and a 2-0 record in the division. With a 0-3 start for the Giants, the rest of the season does not look promising. According to oddshark.com, there have been 168 teams to start 0-3 since 1980. Of those teams, only five have gone on to make the playoffs.
If the Giants hope to reach the postseason they need to fix important parts of their team. The biggest blunder for this team has been the offensive line. Quarterback Eli Manning has been sacked eight times this season, which ranks 12th worst in the league.
The finger can also be pointed at Eli Manning for some of these issues. Manning has thrown four interceptions which is tied for second most among quarterbacks this season.
The last hiccup the Giants need to figure out is rushing the ball. The Giants rank 30th out of 32 teams in the league in rushing yards with 146 yards. Their best rusher is Orleans Darkwa who comes in with a mere 53 yards over the 3 games. There are many offensive issues that this team must figure out, which is the most surprising part of their season given the additions they made this offseason as well as Eli Manning’s veteran status.
If they are not able to turn this season around, expect the team to turn to the draft and look at many of the quarterback prospects in the 2018 draft class.
Why the Yankees Will Win the American League East
By Chris McCormack ’18
The greatest baseball franchise in MLB history is back and looking toward October baseball. The New York Yankees are finally winning again and doing so with a stacked lineup backed up by some dominant pitching. As all baseball fans know, Aaron Judge went through quite the slump after the all-star break, but it appears he may have gotten his groove back. With three home runs in his last seven games, Judge became just the second player ever to hit 40 home runs in his first season. Joining one of baseball’s greatest, Mark McGwire, there is no doubt he is the real deal. Alongside teammate, Gary Sanchez, the two young guns have mashed 70 home runs and now look to lead the team in taking the American League East division.
The Boston Red Sox have not been playing their best baseball and are a slim 3.5 games ahead of the Bronx Bombers. With a starting rotation led by Luis Severino and capped off with Masahiro Tanaka, New York has consistency from top to bottom. The starting rotation paired with a dominant bullpen and an offense that looks as good as it did to start are three reasons why the Yankees can overtake first place in the last 20 games. That said, however, whoever does end up winning the division is going to be rewarded by playing either the hottest team in baseball, the Cleveland Indians, or the team with the league’s deepest lineups, the Houston Astros. No matter what happens both teams will make the playoffs and the playoffs will be as exciting as ever.