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Showing posts from March, 2018

NCAA Tournament 2018: Darlings and powerhouses clash in Final Four

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Two short weeks ago, the NCAA Tournament tipped off. 68 teams had tackled the gauntlet of the regular season and conference championships, hopeful eyes now focused on being the last team standing come April 2.
Four teams have slugged, hustled, and shot their way to San Antonio. On Monday night, one team will hoist the trophy and cut down the net, crowned champions of the 2017-18 men's college basketball season.
Unlike over on the women's side, which had four number one seeds in the Final Four and very little drama (until Friday night's victory by Notre Dame over UConn), the men's Final Four has an odd collection of teams.
The Kansas Jayhawks and Villanova Wildcats lived up to their end of the bargain, each holding court as number one seeds. The Michigan Wolverines are riding a hot streak -- one that started shortly before the Big Ten conference tournament -- and reached the semifinals as a number three seed.
That leaves Sister Jean and her Loyola Chicago Ramblers.
See…

NCAA Tournament 2018: Excellent Elite Eight is set for liftoff

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Friday night may have lacked the heart palpitating finishes that have highlighted the 2018 NCAA tournament but four hard-fought, action-packed games were delivered nonetheless.
The two remaining number one seeds both advanced, as did the lone remaining number two seed. And the fourth team -- completing the field for the Elite Eight -- isn't too shabby themselves with a number three seed.
In today's game and the reliance on the three-point shot, overcoming a cold-shooting night is a mark of a talented team. The Duke Blue Devils were forced to do exactly that against the Syracuse Orange
Duke was 5-26 (19.2%) from 3-point range, including 3-14 from their sharpshooter Grayson Allen, but used a strong interior presence to hold off Syracuse 69-65.
In the battle of the zone defenses, Duke held out on one end by forcing 16 turnovers and exploited open areas on the other end by finding Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter, Jr. for multiple lobs thrown down for dunks. Lobs on lobs on l…

NCAA Tournament 2018: Four teams punch tickets to Elite Eight

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Sprinting into a teammate's open arms after hitting a game-winning shot is one of the everlasting images that will always be associated with the NCAA tournament.
So, too, will be the heartache. The lone player under the basket, laying on their stomach and inconsolable. A player on the bench, tears flowing with only a sweat-filled towel the only barrier between solitude and the watching world.
Slumped shoulders, disappointment, and lingering thoughts of what might have been.
All can be summed up perfectly in this game between Houston and Michigan in the round of 32: All the feels of March.#MarchMadnesspic.twitter.com/E9eTISNucF — NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2018
Four teams saw their magical runs in the tournament come to end Thursday night while four others kept their title dreams alive for at least one more game.
Big leads were lost and given away, while one team seemed to hardly break a sweat. Free throws were missed, proving again how important they are. And on…

New fantasy novel release: The Blue Gem

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It took nearly four years, but the completion of The Blue Gem, follow-up to 2014's The Dragon Princess, has finally arrived. 
Granted, this is not the over twenty years it took me to complete the first novel. That one took form before I even hit my teens so it can be somewhat excusable the novel took so long to complete.
The Blue Gem, on the other hand, was started a month or so after I self-published The Dragon Princess. The second novel ended up being roughly 40 pages longer, involved more research and I even took some time to draw (possibly unneeded) floor plans. 

Between a busy weekend of NCAA basketball, St. Patrick's Day, and working on other projects, I was able to finally edit (for the 5th time) the final 20 pages of the manuscript. Thus began the process of readying author profiles, updating the manuscript format to fit requirements, and submitting the file to Kindle Direct Publishing. 
We went live late Friday night.
The Blue Gem is now available for download via Kind…

NCAA Tournament 2018: Yes Virginia, there is an UMBC

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Madness.
Pure madness.
The 2018 NCAA tournament was turned upside down on Friday night when UMBC -- that's the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for the less educated -- took down the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers 74-54.
That's right. History was made when a 16-seed took down a 1-seed.
135 of these matchups had been played without this happening before March 16, 2018. UMBC had never beaten a ranked team. Never, never, never.
Forget a Cinderella story. The Retrievers are now officially your favorite child, your best friend, your celebrity and for many of us, wreckers of brackets. That March feeling 🙌#MarchMadnesspic.twitter.com/zKr0kaoCTD — NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2018 There's nowhere officially to go but down for the rest of this tournament.
Not because of the thousands of tourney pools that were ruined. How do you top the 16-seed taking down the 1-seed?
The Retrievers did it in fine fashion, shooting 68% from the field in the second half…

NCAA tournament 2018: A Bull market on day one

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Twelve hours of basketball -- plus change -- and the close of day one of the 2018 NCAA tournament is upon us.

Jumping from venue to venue on television, walking in on a Kentucky Wildcats pep rally, and meeting fans rooting for Arizona, Gonzaga, and beyond, the day has certainly been filled with joy.
The madness has been fairly limited, but Cinderella finally struck near the end of the day when the Buffalo Bulls defeated the Arizona Wildcats.
And it wasn't even close.
The Bulls held a slim two-point lead at halftime but what fans saw in the second half was an absolute throttling. Buffalo fired on all cylinders, knocking down threes and playing swarming defense and often limited Arizona to only one shot per possession, resulting in a 89-68 Bulls victory.

Wes Clark had 25 points and Jeremy Harris had 23 had the Bulls shot 15-30 from behind the arc.
It's not too often you see a 13-seed take down a 4-seed in such a fashion. In the process, many brackets were busted and the Wildcat…

4 teams to keep an eye on during the NCAA tournament

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The weather is warming up (in most places). Birds are singing again. (Loudly, in some cases). And looming in the distance is the annual talk of rock, chalk, upsets, Cinderella stories, and brackets galore.
It's time for March Madness.
As I write this, we are a mere 30 minutes away from the brackets being announced. Already in the past few weeks there has been heartbreaks, colossal fails, and number one teams winning with ease.
For 68 teams, it's time to get back to business. 
Will this be the year a 16-seed finally beats a number one seed? Will we see a George Mason like run to the Final 4? We're about to find out.
The traditional powerhouses like Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova are all present. So are teams like Virginia, Xavier, Kentucky, and Michigan.
We're not here to look at those teams.
We're here to look at four teams -- a couple of who might win it all, a couple who might snag that upset win -- that I think will make an impact on the tournament…

The Academy Awards: No predictions here (okay, maybe a few)

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Sitting here, waiting for the Academy Awards to start, I wonder to myself, "Did I ever enjoy watching the red carpet arrivals? And if so, why?"
The event itself I have enjoyed, at least for the past 20 years. It was around that time I really zeroed in on wanting to be a writer -- specifically a screenwriter or playwright -- so extra attention was paid to that year's ceremony. 
Going forward, and to this day, I don't believe I've missed any showing of the Academy Awards. 
The event itself is a self-congratulatory affair but also one recognizing some of the best work of the previous year. The industry will always be a subjective one -- as it is with writing, music, and art in general -- and so often debates can rage for years about winners (and non-winners) alike. 
Some best picture winners are easily forgotten or looked at differently over time. Others stand the test of time and can be enjoyed by present and future audiences alike.
Do we watch to celebrate these …