1. We’re one step closer to an epic matchup in the Dallas Regional final of the women’s NCAA basketball tournament after Baylor dispatched of West Virginia 82-68 and Texas A&M blew out Rutgers 70-48. If each team can win their next game (Baylor vs Green Bay, A&M vs Georgia), then the Bears and Aggies will face off in Dallas for the right to go to the Final Four.
It’s an exciting possibility. You don’t have to know much about women’s college basketball to know that these have been the two best teams in Texas for some time and to meet in the state with so much on the line should draw any Texas sports fan to the television.
Baylor would be the favorite because of their three wins in the series this year alone, but A&M is on a mission and proved that they could hang with the Bears in the Big 12 Tournament championship game when the Aggies hung with them the whole game, led in the 2nd half, and had a shot to tie at the final buzzer.
Think it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season? How about four. A win for A&M would be the biggest in school history and would take them to their first Final Four.
So no matter who you want to win the game if it happens, make sure you’re rooting for both teams on Sunday, because we really want to see that game.
2. There seems to be plenty of injury news in the NBA lately, but we’ll get to Tim Duncan in a second. We’ll start with Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies, who we just found out yesterday will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
That’s good news for the Houston Rockets, who sit two game behind Memphis in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and are playing the kind of basketball that could vault them to the #8 seed.
A couple of days ago, I was surprised to see that the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice firmly believes that the Rockets won’t make the playoffs. It was surprising to see because two games is nothing and Houston is playing better basketball right now than Memphis. As tough as Houston’s schedule is down the stretch with games against Miami, San Antonio, and Dallas, Memphis has to play the Celtics, Bulls, and Spurs their next three games and still have two games against New Orleans and a trip to Portland left.
All Houston has to do is tie Memphis at the end of the season because they hold the tiebreaker thanks to their 3-1 series edge this year.
We’ll likely find out over the next three games if the Grizzlies have what it takes to hang on the last playoff spot in the west. Without Rudy Gay, having gone 6-5 in their last 11 games, I don’t think they do. And that opens things up for Houston.
If somehow Memphis does hold on though, they’re a significantly easier team to face in the first round for the San Antonio Spurs without Gay.
3. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen put together a 10-point slide show explaining what the Rockets need to do to make the playoffs that’s worth a look.
4. As for Tim Duncan, he won’t be joining the team on San Antonio’s three-game road trip through Denver, Portland and Memphis because of the ankle injury he suffered in the team’s victory over Golden State:
Something occurred to me watching him go down with that injury, and that was the look on his face. And that look was confirmed to me by Joe Herrera, a good friend and Univision photographer who was right in front of Duncan when he went down at the AT&T Center. He didn’t look like he was in pain. He looked like he was mad and disappointed because he could immediately tell how badly he was hurt and what the implications would be for the rest of the season. You could see him doing the math in his head: “I’m going to be fine, but I’ll miss the next two weeks and probably won’t be 100% on this ankle until the end of the first round of the playoffs.”
X-Rays luckily came back negative and MRI’s suggest that there’s nothing structurally wrong with the ankle, which is sort of a best-case scenario. Duncan was seen on crutches recently, likely avoiding any pressure to the ankle so the swelling can subside quickly and he can speed up the healing process.
But whether Duncan could be ready to go in a week seems moot to a coach like Gregg Popovich. Expect Duncan to miss at least two weeks and to come off the bench once he does return. Because there’s so little time left in the regular season, I don’t think he’ll start again until the playoffs. Years of watching Pop handle injuries, especially with his star players, I’d predict that Duncan comes off the bench at home against the Sacramento Kings on April 6th. The game seems perfect since the Spurs will get two days off before playing again at home against Utah. He’ll likely come off the bench again, playing more minutes against the Jazz. Sadly, San Antonio ends the season on a back-to-back set on the road against the Lakers and Suns. So while Duncan could see significant minutes off the bench against LA, he and the rest of San Antonio’s key veterans will likely be in street clothes against Phoenix.
We’ll certainly learn a lot about this Spurs team over the next 12 games. Luckily, San Antonio probably only needs to win five or six of those games to secure the top spot in the west. But the games against future playoff teams will be telling. Duncan’s impact on the team goes beyond the numbers and they will miss him. All Spurs fans can hope for is that he recovers well enough to play well in the 1st round of the playoffs and can help the team advance and be close to 100% by round 2.
If San Antonio severely struggles without him, that’s fine. It’s almost expected. But if Duncan can’t heal in time, then that’s a recipe for disaster that would bring a disappointing end to a historic season.
5. In one of the strangest stories I’ve seen about a Dallas Cowboy, Dez Bryant has been banned from a Dallas mall for various incidents including refusing to pull his pants up, cutting in line, and parking in a fire lane.
My good friend Andy Lee from ESPN Radio in El Paso has a funny recap of all of Bryant’s indiscretions.
I doubt that Bryant is done with that mall and he should take a cue from Kevin Smith on how to deal with any mall cops that try to keep him out next time:
6. And speaking of movies, Deadspin.com has broken down a few sports movies statistically including Hoosiers and Space Jam (two movies I love and own). But I was most interested in their analysis of BASEketball, a hilarious movie that doesn’t get enough credit for how funny it is. Where else can you see Bob Costas commenting on his nipples?
What does this have to do with pro and college sports in the state of Texas? Well, the biggest rival of the Milwaukee Beers is the Dallas Convicts, so there’s my in.
Extra shot: Have you ever seen BASEketball? If you haven’t, the first few minutes is the best, and most hilarious satirical commentary of modern American sports I’ve ever seen: