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Rutgers loses to St. Peter's

The Scarlet Knights dropped their opening game in disappointing fashion losing to St. Peterís 56-52 last night at the RAC. Rutgers was picked to finished 11th in the Big East this season and ESPNís Joe Lunardi has them as one of the first four teams out of the NCAA tournament. You can see his bracketology here, Really Long Link

Mike Rice, Rutgers
Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
The team looked bad from the beginning especially the guards. Jerome Seagers, Eli Carter and Myles Mack combined for fifteen points on the night and they only made five shots between all of them. Carter shot two of twelve from the field for only five points on the night.

Wally Judge made his Rutgers debut and posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Judge is a 6-foot-9 junior who sat out last season after transferring from Kansas State. Senior Austin Johnson collected 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench to join Judge in double figures. Fellow senior Dane Miller scored nine points to go along with 12 rebounds.

St. Peterís was led by sophomore guard Desi Washington who had a game-high 18 points. The Peacocks were picked to finish last in the MAAC Conference this season after winning just five games a year ago. They defeated Rutgers on their home court back in 2007.

Rutgers will be back in action at home on Monday against Sacred Heart. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm ET.
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Devils Stay Alive

The Devils will live to play another game after defeating the Kings last night 3-1 in the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils in the win. The game was scoreless going into the third period when Elias put home a rebound that Jonathan Quick initially made the stop on.

The lead did not last long as David Clarkson was called for a very questionable boarding penalty a minute later. Drew Doughty scored right off the face to tie up the game and the crowd started going crazy. I couldnít believe the penalty call and when the Kings scored it made me wonder if the Devils would just fold after that.

The Kings were all over the Devils after tying the game but then Clarkson found Henrique coming down the left hand side of the ice and he put home a beautiful goal over Quickís shoulder to get the lead back. It was a huge goal that came with under four minutes to go. Henrique has been unbelievable this postseason scoring all the big goals for the Devils including the game winner in game seven against the Panthers and game six versus the Rangers. Ilya Kovalchuk finished the scoring with an empty net goal.

Martin Broduer may have played his best game of the postseason stopping 21 shots. The shots may seem low but he had to face a few odd man advantages when the Devils started to press. The team is now down 3-1 with the series shifting back to New Jersey on Saturday.
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Devils look to advance to Finals tonight

18 years ago today the Devils had a chance to play for the Stanley Cup Finals but they lost a game 4-2 to the Rangers who forced a game seven with the win. This was the famous Mark Messier guarantee game where he said the Rangers would win. He happened to have a hat trick that night as well.

In net that day was a 22 year old goalie named Martin Brodeur. Brodeur will again be in goal tonight trying to knock the Rangers out while advancing to his fifth Stanley Cup Final. He has won three (Red Wings, Stars, and Ducks) while losing one to the Colorado Avalanche. This could very well be his last chance at a Cup as the goalie turned 40 years old during the playoffs.

Iím not worried about the Rangers coming back this time. These Rangers donít have a Mark Messier, Brian Leetch or Adam Graves coming onto the ice tonight. I saw Mike Richter play unbelievable in the playoffs and Iím not so sure Henrik Lundqvist is as good. The Rangers team in 1994 was a solid group of veterans who had won before. Itís almost like the Rangers were the old in Edmonton Oiler team.

The Rangers just played arguably their best game in the series but still lost Wednesday night by a 5-3 score. The Devils will play just as desperate tonight and since they are home they get the last line change. I expect to see a Devil team with an intense forecheck tonight. I expect Martin Brodeur to play his best game of the season as well.

Weíll find out tonight at 8:00 pm.

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Devils Tie Up Series

The Devils evened up the Eastern Conference Finals yet again with a dominating 4-1 victory last night in a very physical game against the Rangers. Bryce Salvador once again scored a goal after not scoring at all in the regular season. Salvador opened up the scoring at 8:10 of the first period. It was a huge goal for the Devils after being shut out in the last game.

Zach Parise and Travis Zajac executed a perfect 2 on 1 odd man rush with Zajac finishing it about 12 minutes into the first period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead in the game. The Devils were able to get their forecheck game going again and the Rangers had no answer


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Devils Look to Even Series

The Devils will try to even up their series with the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers blanked them in game one on Monday night. The game tonight will be played at 8:00 pm ET.

The biggest key to a potential Devils victory tonight will be the ability to get pucks pass the Rangers defense and into Henrik Lundqvist as the team blocked 26 shots the other night. It seems as though Peter DeBoer is switching up the lines for tonight


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Devils Drop Opener

The Devils dropped the first game of their playoff series with the Flyers yesterday by a 4-3 score in overtime. I DVRíd the game and havenít had a chance to watch it as of yet but in reading the newspapers it sounds like we had a great first period and the Flyers dominated after that.

I had a feeling we would do very well in the first period due to the Flyers being off for a week but it would be a tough game after that. The Flyers play exceptionally well at home and feed off the energy of the crowd. They took six penalties in the game and gave up 1 power play goal


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Crushing Loss for the Devils

The Devils blew a 3-0 first period last night and lost to the Panthers by a score of 4-3. Both starting goalies got pulled from the game as well. The Panthers now lead the best of seven series, two games to one.

The Devils have not been able to stop the power play by the Panthers. They were up 3-0 midway through the first period when Patrik Elias took a penalty which led to the first Florida goal. Bryce Salvador next took a penalty late in the first period and the Panthers scored a goal with seven seconds left in the period. It seemed the Devils got flat after this goal


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Final Four

The Final Four begins tonight with two really good games featuring some of college basketball heavyweights. The game getting the most attention is the rivalry game of Kentucky versus Louisville. The best part of this game is the fans without a doubt. There was a ridiculous story the other day of two old men getting into a fight at dialysis. Can you believe that? As much as I love a good upset I can not see Louisville beating Kentucky. Kentucky is just too talented with Anthony Davis protecting the paint. I think this will be a close game for a little while but Kentucky pulls away in the second half.

The other game that no one is talking about is Kansas playing Ohio State. If Ohio State has any chance at winning they are going to need a big game from Center Jared Sullinger. Sullinger missed the game these two teams played earlier this year where Kansas won 78-67. I do not think it is going to be enough though and I believe Kansas wins in a tight defensive game


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Tough times for NJ Basketball

I canít get into the NCAA Tournament this year, I watched some of the Syracuse Ė Wisconsin game last night but I donít have that excitement to watch any of the games like Iíve had in previous seasons. Even tonight there are a few games on and I havenít looked at them. I was glad to see the Big East do well last night with Syracuse and Louisville advancing. Louisville probably had the most impressive victory knocking out number 1 seed Michigan State.

Iíd like to see one of the local teams make it one year. Seton Hall made the NIT but lost in the 2nd round to UMass at home. They seemed like they didnít even want to play, maybe it was the early tip off. The game last Saturday started at 11 am in the morning. Rutgers hasnít made the NCAA Tournament since 1991. They also lost one of their best front court players this week when Gil Biruta announced he was transferring from the school. The menís team just canít seem to keep kids in the program


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Random Sports Notes

Yesterday was a rather mild day of the NCAA Tournament unlike the day before. All of the higher ranked seeds won their games yesterday. The best game I thought was VCU and Indiana where Indiana won on a jumper with around 10 seconds left. I was pulling for VCU but it looks like Indiana is finally back.

The game Iím expecting most people to be into will be the 15 seed Lehigh taking on 10 seed Xavier after they both pulled off upsets in the first round. If you didnít see it Lehigh knocked off Duke on Friday night and Xavier sent home Notre Dame. The Lehigh game is on at 7:45 ET tonight


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NCAA upsets

Wow, what a second day of the NCAA Tournament we had yesterday. After most of the favorites won on the first day, we saw all types of upsets with high seeds winning. The first upset and bracket killer was seeing the 2 seed Missouri lose to 15 seed Norfolk State by a score of 86-84. It was the first time in 11 years that a 2 seed lost to a 15 seed. Hours later another 2 seed lost and this one was probably more surprising. Perennial Sweet Sixteen or Final Four representative Duke lost to Lehigh in the evening by five points, 75-70. With Duke and Missouri losing that took out two of my Sweet Sixteen schools in my bracket.

Right before the Duke game ended we also saw a 13 seed defeat a 4 seed. The underdog Ohio defeated Michigan 65-60. Michigan was my third Sweet Sixteen removed from my bracket. Almost every year we also see a 12 seed defeat a 5 seed and this happened last night as well when Big East member South Florida defeated Temple 58-44


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My 2012 NCAA Bracket

I wanted to share one of my brackets with everyone here. I write a few articles a week at www.autzenzoo.com about the University of Oregon athletics and here is the article I published earlier this week.

The best postseason in sports is upon us that being the NCAA Tournament. I thought I would share out my picks and see what everyone else has. I will list the winners by bracket and Iíll have my Final Four at the end of the article


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Upsetting day of Sports

What started as an exciting day in sports went against my teams today. Weíve heard for months that Dwight Howard wanted to play in Brooklyn. The worst case scenario would be the Nets wouldnít be able to trade for him at the trade deadline, so they would have an opportunity to sign him in July as a free agent. No one that I can remember actually picked up their own player option and bypass free agency. This could only happen to the Nets. I know will root against Dwight Howard. The Nets picked up Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trailblazers for two expiring contracts and a first round pick next season. I donít understand why they had to throw in a pick when that is easily going to be in the top 10.

The Nets have to try and convince Deron Williams to stay now which seems like it wonít happen. The sad part is I donít think the Nets are that bad if they had a healthy Brook Lopez all year but heís missed all but 4 or 5 games


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Enjoy the Madness

The NCAA Tournament is now upon as with the conclusion of Selection Sunday yesterday. Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse and Michigan State all earned 1 seeds in their respective region. I thought Missouri might have a shot at a 1 seed but they ended up with a 2 seed in the West Region. There doesnít seem to be as much complaining about the bracket this year as compared to other years. The only team that seems to bring up some debate is Iona. Iona did not win their conference tournament (MAAC) but still received an at-large bid.

Iím sure there are thousands of people at work today filling in their brackets which I think is the best playoff system in sports. Every year we wait for the Cinderella team to knock off one of the big schools from a ďpowerĒ conference. Everyone complained about VCU making the tournament last year and they ended up going to the Final Four. America loves the underdog. If there was a tournament with just teams from the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC, etc I donít think there would be that much interest


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Will Seton Hall make the tourney?

Today is going to be a big day for one local team. Seton Hall is squarely on the bubble to try and make it to the field of 68 teams that make the NCAA Tournament. According to ESPN, right now they would be one of the final four teams in. Seton Hall had a very good season going 20-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big East. They actually started the season 15-2 and getting into the Top 25.

The season swung in the other direction after a close loss to South Florida on January 13th. They ended up losing that game by one point after senior point guard Jordan Theodore missed a free throw. Seton Hall would lose six Big East games in a row before stopping the streak with a win at Rutgers. It was widely believed they would make the NCAA Tournament after beating a ranked Georgetown team at the end of February. After the emotional win they ended the regular season with bad losses at home to Rutgers and on the road at DePaul


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March Madness: Best Sports Month of the Year

I don't know about you but I hate leaving the TV the first four days of the NCAA Tournament. It basically feels like there is basketball on all day and it's even on after you go to bed. Well unless you live on the West coast then you can watch any game at any time.

You better believe I'm one of those guys that has the games on at work because it's really not fair that you should miss a single minute. I guess if you are busy, do what you need to do at work but do yourself a favor and catch the last 5 minutes of a close game


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Barnes Stays

The UNC Tarheels had a very forgettable 2009-2010 season. They missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Roy Williams; the only bright side was a run in the NIT that left the Tarheels with a 20-17 overall record. Fans were discouraged but maintained hope coming into the 2010-2011 season.

Williams returned big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller to go along with one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Harrison Barnes was the big name, ranked as the top freshman in the nation. The class also included Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall. While many argue that Marshall fueled the Tarheels turnaround this winter by taking over the point guard position from Larry Drew, Barnes was the Tarheelsí biggest offensive threat. From a late February victory against Maryland through UNCís tournament run, Barnes averaged 21.5 points per game, including a 40 point outburst against Clemson


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Williams Goes Pro

East coast bias. This is what I'm going to use as my reason for not seeing much of Derrick Williams during the regular season. The power-packed Big East made headlines all year, with star and now national champion Kemba Walker leading the way. Nolan Smith and the Blue Devils also had their fair share of the spotlight. Then of course there was Jimmer Mania. Fredette was about as close as I got to the Pac 10 this year. The conference's games were late for us on the East Coast and really their teams just weren't worth my beauty sleep. At least this is what I thought before a certain Thursday night in March.

derrick williams
Williams saw his draft stock soar during the Big Dance

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One and Done

With the end of the men's college basketball tournament, fans begin holding their breath for what has become the inevitable. Teams with star recruits with pro potential begin making statements that their young players have decided to forgo their senior, junior, or even sophomore seasons to try their luck in the NBA. While teams wait until this point to formally make the announcements, it is usually a foregone conclusion that certain players are going to be one and done.

The season's first big name player has come out and said that he will be putting his name into this year's NBA Draft. Coach K notified the public that Kyrie Irving will be leaving school early, even after he missed 26 games this season with a bum toe


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