Tag Archives: Florida

March Madness Notebook: Previewing Three New England Matchups

NS March Madness 2019

By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

The March Madness field is set after the conclusion of last nights ‘first four’ contests.

In case you missed it Farleigh Dickinson, Belmont, Arizona State, and North Dakota State punched tickets to the big dance.

The tournament will start today with Louisville and Minnesota tipping-off in Des Moines, Iowa at 12:15 p.m.

Looking around New England there are three teams with high hopes to be one of the Cinderella teams. Here’s a close up look at the three teams and the first round matchups.


No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale: Yale picked up the Ivy League’s automatic bid with a decisive 97-85 win over arch rival Harvard in the conference championship final last weekend.

The Bulldogs are the real deal and could cause problems for LSU with a veteran lineup and an explosive offense led by Ivy League Player of Year Miye Oni, who enters today’s contest averaging 17.6 points per game. Oni is projected by many to be a second-round NBA draft pick and if the dynamic point guard is allowed to control tempo this game could result in a win for the Blue and White.

LSU is one of the country’s most athletic and talented squads and most deserving of the third seed, as well. However, there are questions and controversy surrounding the Tigers because they had a first-round flameout in the SEC tournament and their head coach Will Wade is embroiled in an FBI recruiting investigation.

LSU and Yale will meet in Jacksonville, Florida this afternoon where the Bulldogs will attempt to improve to 2-0 in the Sunshine State after rallying to beat Miami last December at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena.


No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont: Gotta love the Catamounts who play in basketball-crazy Burlington, Vermont.

UVM is led by junior Anthony Lamb, who averages 21.4 points per game – expect Lamb to be a factor in his team’s early afternoon clash, as well as the team’s lockdown defense which may give the ‘Noles trouble in the opening minutes.

Florida State is playing excellent basketball having defeated Virginia is the ACC tournament before losing to Duke in the title game.

Many feel Leonard Hamilton’s squad has the length, athleticism, and skill to go all the way but will patience or lack thereof cause them to stumble under tournament pressure? Either way, I like the ‘Noles to win this contest but it won’t be easy.


No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern: Bill Cohen‘s Huskies punched their ticket to the big dance with a solid 82-74 takedown over Hofstra in the CAA title game last week.

Northeastern’s explosive point guard Vasa Pusica led the way with 21 points on seven three-pointers. The Huskies are one of the country’s top three-point shooting teams and if they can adjust to the change in elevation in Salt Lake City then it may cause the Jayhawks some trouble.

This past season hasn’t been one of Bill Self’s better teams which saw its record of 14 Big 12 Conference regular-season titles come to an end. Injuries have plagued Kansas and as a result, Self has been forced to play a bunch of first-year players.

The Huskies with Pusica at the controls will make life difficult for one of college basketball’s elite programs but in the end, I like Kansas.


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England basketball coverage on Twitter @Noontime_Hoops 

Kilpatrick: College Softball World Series Reflections

The Roll Tide didn't roll past the Gators this past weekend, as Alabama ended its World Series run on Sunday.

By Stacey Kilpatrick 

My father must be joking.

Such was the phrase ringing in my head upon hearing him ask me, “Aren’t you tired of watching college softball?” I held my head in my hands as I shrugged at the remark while watching No. 2 Alabama was face a 9-2 deficit against No. 4 Florida in the elimination game Sunday night.

I have been obsessed with the sport of softball for the three weeks that ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU have been broadcasting the Women’s College World Series.  So obsessed, in fact, that I will not go out with you to the bar. I will schedule my other game coverage around Alabama.  I have been content to plop myself down on my futon and leave only to grab some Gatorade and a tuna sandwich.

This past Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the double-elimination rounds. Eight teams were whittled down to four and four down to the final two for the championship.

Alabama, Baylor, Arizona State and Florida all won their opening games to start out (1-0) over California, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Missouri, respectively. But here it was, Sunday night at 9:35 p.m., a smile long-gone from my face, as Alabama was trailing Florida by seven runs with its final three outs left against Gator freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers.

With Whitney Larsen at the plate, Rogers made a mistake and saw Larsen triple down the right field line to score Jennifer Fenton and get ‘Bama across for its first run of game 2.  Earlier in the inning, Jackie Traina walked putting runners at the corners for the Crimson Tide. Jazlyn Lunceford struck out, Cassie Reilly-Boccia singled to center field, and Keima Davis, pinch running for Traina, advanced to second as Larsen came home for a 9-2 score.

Perhaps a little momentum could go a long way for Alabama.

The Tide’s Kaila Hunt reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Reilly-Boccia for the second out. With Davis advancing to third, Alabama faced its final out.  Florida’s Hanna Rogers turned Alabama’s Kendall Dawson into Gator bait with a strikeout as Florida won.

All Alabama needed to do was beat Florida to secure their spot in the championship. The Crimson Tide beat Cal 1-0 on Thursday and Baylor 3-0 on Friday, going 2-0.  Florida lost 6-5 on an Arizona State walk-off Friday night and was one loss away from being eliminated from the tournament.

Sunday was ‘Bama’s day to toss the Gators and move ahead. But instead, they themselves were demoralized in game 1, losing 16-2, forcing the ‘if necessary’ where Alabama was ultimately taken out of contention.

It was never a day for optimism for Tide fans, as Alabama faced an 11-0 deficit in the first inning of Game 1, the most runs ever scored in the first inning of a Women’s College World Series game.

Alabama senior pitcher Kelsi Dunne probably gave the best performance of her career Thursday night in her win over Cal, but on Sunday she played her worst, and freshman Traina couldn’t help either. The Gators smacked a home run, walked to score several runs with the bases juiced and for good measure, Brittany Schutte hit a grand slam to all but seal Alabama’s fate.

‘Bama’s two runs came from homers by Lunceford and Larsen, but Alabama played uncharacteristically poor softball.

Six runs were the most the Crimson Tide had allowed in a game all year, and Sunday they gave up 16 to Florida in the first game of the day. Dunne, Traina and freshman Lauren Sewell each pitched and combined for 4.0 innings while allowing eight hits, eight walks and merely struck out two with 29 batters faced.  Florida senior Stephanie Brombacher threw 5.0 innings, allowed three hits, two runs, zero walks and earned seven strikeouts while facing 18 batters.

An SEC team is still in this, as Florida, the 2009 runner-ups to the University of Washington Huskies, are seeking their first (and the SEC’s first) WCWS title.

No. 1 Arizona State University, boasting 58 victories and backed behind freshman star, Dallas Escobedo, is chasing their second chance to hold the trophy after doing so in 2008.

Monday night at 8 p.m. ET will be a pitcher’s duel, between, most likely, freshmen Rogers and Escobedo.

Either the Gators will chomp their way to a historical victory or the ASU Devils will raise their pitchforks high in the Oklahoma City air.

You best believe that I will be stuck on my futon for the next two, possibly three days.

Women’s College World Series: Opening Round Roundup

It was an exciting finish for Baylor, as they earned an impressive Day 1 win!

By Stacey Kilpatrick 

It was a pitcher’s day on Thursday, as the Women’s College World Series softball championship began at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Eight teams – four from the Big 12, two from the SEC and two from the PAC-10 played in their first of many double elimination games in front of a record crowd of 15,432.

And when I say “pitcher’s day,” let’s just say it didn’t end well for all.

No. 2 Alabama 1, No. 7 California 0:

The Crimson Tide [1-0] did a lot of things right in their win against the California Golden Bears [0-1].

In its seventh trip to the WCWS, ‘Bama earned its first WCWS win, as they improved their record to [1-6].

The Roll Tide scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Kaila Hunt, which happened to be her first collegiate at bat in the WCWS. She increased Alabama’s first-to-score stats to 3-of-7 in its appearances. Senior pitcher Kelsi Dunne had one of her best performances of the season, if not the best, while freshman Jackie Traina closed out the victory.

Dunne, the only senior pitching in the WCWS, allowed only one hit and one walk while striking out a WCWS career-high 11 batters in her six innings on the mound. She also eclipsed the 1,200 strikeout mark for her career, placing her 24th on the NCAA career strikeout list.

After Alabama’s win, ESPN’s Holly Rowe talked to Dunne about how she kept the winning momentum.

“Just kept mixing speeds,” Dunne said. “It’s important to keep the other team off balance and that’s what we did.”

One of the best performances of the game came from Alabama sophomore and 2010 SEC Freshman Player of the Year, Kayla Braud, as she made a fantastic diving catch in left center to grab Cal’s second out early in the game.

No. 11 Baylor 1, Oklahoma State 0:

Baylor’s sophomore pitcher Whitney Canion earned her 30th win of the season, pitching eight innings, allowing two walks, three hits and striking out 10.

The Bears [1-0] ended the scoreless game in the bottom of the eighth, when, facing an 0-2 count with two outs, Baylor freshman Kelsi Kettler slammed a walk-off solo home run far into left field, just inches from foul territory, getting her team the 1-0 victory.

“It looked like our bats had holes in them,” said Baylor coach Glenn Moore during a post-game interview with ESPN. “Tough to get a runner past second base. Looked like it was going to take a long ball to win it.”

Oklahoma State [0-1] came close to scoring at the plate when Ari Morrison rounded third and headed home, but was tossed at the plate by Kettler.

No. 1 Arizona State 3, No. 9 Oklahoma 1:

Freshman ASU pitcher Dallas Escobedo got her 33rd win of the season, as she struck out six and allowed one run on five hits. She threw a complete game, walked two batters and had one error.

The Sun Devils [1-0] took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Kayla Ketchum and Bailey Wigness both crossed home plate.

But Oklahoma’s Haley Nix made it a one-run game in the top of the fifth with two outs, smacking her 10th double of the season, putting OU [0-1] on the board.

Arizona State came back with another run of their own, topping the local favorites 3-1 with the leadoff home run in the bottom of the fifth by Katelyn Boyd, her 18th of the season.

Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts, a powerful name in the sport of Division 1 softball, gave up three runs on six hits in six innings in the loss.

No. 4 Florida 6, No. 5 Missouri 2:

Missouri red shirt sophomore, Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Chelsea Thomas had an unusual game Thursday during the final first round game. She allowed six Florida runs – the most runs she’s allowed the entire season, as well as two home runs.

Thomas had six errors, four walks and eight strikeouts for Missouri [0-1].

Florida [1-0)] saw two pitchers on the mound with senior Stephanie Brombacher and freshman Hannah Rogers. Brombacher has won 90% of her starts this season and has been pitching for the last month and a half with a torn bicep.

The senior threw 2.1 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and earning two strikeouts. But it was the freshman Rogers who earned the win. She pitched 4.2 innings and allowed two hits, two runs, two errors, three walks, but managed to strike out four batters.

Rogers got the bases loaded after she walked her first at-bat in the top of the third with one out, but was able to close the inning safely for the Gators.

Florida’s player of the game is Michelle Moultrie. She nabbed her third home run of the season, getting a lead-off homer into center in the bottom of the third, putting the gators up 3-0 against Thomas.

Kelsey Bruder had a triple in the first to score Moultrie and Brittany Schutte.

Senior Megan Bush added Florida’s fourth run in the bottom of the third, breaking her home run streak from April 23, earning a new single-season record for Florida with 21 home runs. She scored herself and Bruder.

Missouri finally got a couple of runs in the top of sixth, making it a 5-2 game, when Lisa Simmons hit a two-run double in left center with two outs.

But Florida earned its sixth run in the bottom of the sixth and took the win for the SEC.

In the winning bracket, Alabama plays Baylor on Friday at 7 p.m. ET in game 5. Arizona State faces Florida at 9:30 p.m. ET in game 6.

In the losing bracket, California plays Oklahoma State on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET in game 7. Oklahoma faces Missouri at 2:30 p.m. ET in game 8. 

The Lessons Learned from Butler’s March Madness Experiences

By Matt Noonan

It wasn’t meant to be, let’s leave it like that. Butler University is not a school of champions, but instead, a college that defines the true meaning of the “student athlete.”

One would certainly not rank the Bulldogs as a school that is equal to Texas, LSU, University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, Florida or Alabama, but instead, they are the Division I equivalent to an Amherst College or Williams College, (Yes, I just compared Butler to two well-recognized New England institutions).

The college alone has watched their 19 intercollegiate teams earn 26 conference titles over the years, as well as witnessed their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams compete in the NCAA tournament.

Yet, while they may not be known for their championships or banners that hang in their athletic department’s gymnasium, instead, they are and will always be recognized as the true underdog.

You have to wonder what the term “underdog” means to head coach Brad Stevens, who has led his young team of rag tag college students to the past two NCAA Division I men’s basketball finals, which resulted in two back-to-back loses. Stevens has watched Gordon Hayward’s desperation three bounce off the front rim against Duke, as well as endured a heartbreaking loss to Jim Calhoun’s UConn Huskies on Monday.

Although, is “heartbreaking” the right word to describe one of the sloppiest college basketball games ever? Probably not, but hey, I tried.

The Bulldogs game plan against the Huskies was dreadful, as they decided to forgo shots in the paint and only converted 12 of their 64 shots. They even finished the game, [9-33] from beyond the arc, which is something no coach would be pleased about, especially after that particular contest.

Let’s face it, that particular championship was ugly and downright boring. Did anyone truly stay awake to see if Butler could pull off the upset? I know I did, but again, who agrees that it was truly painful to watch?

The Bulldogs are indeed underdogs because no one expects them to succeed, but going toe-to-toe with two of the top basketball schools in the nation is certainly an achievement that they can be proud of, despite losing both times.

What Stevens and his team have proved is that anything is indeed possible, as long as you put your mind and effort to it.

Sure, they may have returned home to the great state of Indiana on Tuesday with no championship trophy in their hands, but the young men certainly have a lot of reasons to keep their chins up, especially after the past two seasons.

The may have finished their 2010-2011 campaign with a [28-10] record, but who truly predicted that the Bulldogs would once again make it back to the title game in Houston? Did anyone you know pick Butler to have another successful season and then dominate the March Madness tournament? If you did, congratulations, but I am sure that you jumped on their bandwagon just like the rest of the country did this past March.

Who would have imagined that head coach Brad Stevens would have led the Bulldogs to two NCAA Championships?

Butler earned some impressive wins in the tournament, as they defeated Old Dominion at the buzzer, thanks to Matt Howard, as well as busted everyone’s bracket when they knocked off top seeded Pittsburgh, 71-70.

In New Orleans, their magic continued as they defeated Wisconsin and then rallied to beat Florida in the NCAA Regional Final.

After arriving to Houston and getting settled, the excitement continued, as they beat another surprise team, Virginia Commonwealth in the Final Four, but after their exciting win against the Rams, their luck ran out and the clock struck midnight, once again.

Sure, they played awful against Connecticut and looked like a Division III team at time that couldn’t play defense, but once again, they defied the odds and showed the nation that hard work does pay off.

The Huskies may have talented players, such as Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, but seriously, has their hard work measured up to the Bulldogs? I’d say, no, but again, what do I know? Walker and Lamb could be shooting around in an empty gymnasium, while I sit here and digest the March Madness final.

Butler has proved that once again the underdog still matters, especially in sports and life. Whether one wins or loses, it’s not about the scoreboard at the end of the game, but instead, it’s about giving it your absolute best effort.

Why not root for the Bulldogs? Why wouldn’t you not want to root for a team that goes to class, studies the same in the same library and eats at the same table in the cafeteria. These are student athletes that want to be your friends, but also, represent the true meaning of their school and if one can read between the lines, they’ll understand that Butler is truly a school of champions and students that will never back down from a challenge.

The Lessons Learned from Butler's March Madness Experiences

By Matt Noonan

It wasn’t meant to be, let’s leave it like that. Butler University is not a school of champions, but instead, a college that defines the true meaning of the “student athlete.”

One would certainly not rank the Bulldogs as a school that is equal to Texas, LSU, University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, Florida or Alabama, but instead, they are the Division I equivalent to an Amherst College or Williams College, (Yes, I just compared Butler to two well-recognized New England institutions).

The college alone has watched their 19 intercollegiate teams earn 26 conference titles over the years, as well as witnessed their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams compete in the NCAA tournament.

Yet, while they may not be known for their championships or banners that hang in their athletic department’s gymnasium, instead, they are and will always be recognized as the true underdog.

You have to wonder what the term “underdog” means to head coach Brad Stevens, who has led his young team of rag tag college students to the past two NCAA Division I men’s basketball finals, which resulted in two back-to-back loses. Stevens has watched Gordon Hayward’s desperation three bounce off the front rim against Duke, as well as endured a heartbreaking loss to Jim Calhoun’s UConn Huskies on Monday.

Although, is “heartbreaking” the right word to describe one of the sloppiest college basketball games ever? Probably not, but hey, I tried.

The Bulldogs game plan against the Huskies was dreadful, as they decided to forgo shots in the paint and only converted 12 of their 64 shots. They even finished the game, [9-33] from beyond the arc, which is something no coach would be pleased about, especially after that particular contest.

Let’s face it, that particular championship was ugly and downright boring. Did anyone truly stay awake to see if Butler could pull off the upset? I know I did, but again, who agrees that it was truly painful to watch?

The Bulldogs are indeed underdogs because no one expects them to succeed, but going toe-to-toe with two of the top basketball schools in the nation is certainly an achievement that they can be proud of, despite losing both times.

What Stevens and his team have proved is that anything is indeed possible, as long as you put your mind and effort to it.

Sure, they may have returned home to the great state of Indiana on Tuesday with no championship trophy in their hands, but the young men certainly have a lot of reasons to keep their chins up, especially after the past two seasons.

The may have finished their 2010-2011 campaign with a [28-10] record, but who truly predicted that the Bulldogs would once again make it back to the title game in Houston? Did anyone you know pick Butler to have another successful season and then dominate the March Madness tournament? If you did, congratulations, but I am sure that you jumped on their bandwagon just like the rest of the country did this past March.

Who would have imagined that head coach Brad Stevens would have led the Bulldogs to two NCAA Championships?

Butler earned some impressive wins in the tournament, as they defeated Old Dominion at the buzzer, thanks to Matt Howard, as well as busted everyone’s bracket when they knocked off top seeded Pittsburgh, 71-70.

In New Orleans, their magic continued as they defeated Wisconsin and then rallied to beat Florida in the NCAA Regional Final.

After arriving to Houston and getting settled, the excitement continued, as they beat another surprise team, Virginia Commonwealth in the Final Four, but after their exciting win against the Rams, their luck ran out and the clock struck midnight, once again.

Sure, they played awful against Connecticut and looked like a Division III team at time that couldn’t play defense, but once again, they defied the odds and showed the nation that hard work does pay off.

The Huskies may have talented players, such as Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, but seriously, has their hard work measured up to the Bulldogs? I’d say, no, but again, what do I know? Walker and Lamb could be shooting around in an empty gymnasium, while I sit here and digest the March Madness final.

Butler has proved that once again the underdog still matters, especially in sports and life. Whether one wins or loses, it’s not about the scoreboard at the end of the game, but instead, it’s about giving it your absolute best effort.

Why not root for the Bulldogs? Why wouldn’t you not want to root for a team that goes to class, studies the same in the same library and eats at the same table in the cafeteria. These are student athletes that want to be your friends, but also, represent the true meaning of their school and if one can read between the lines, they’ll understand that Butler is truly a school of champions and students that will never back down from a challenge.

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