Posted 02/27/2008 at 02:50 PM
How about the state of basketball in Tennessee? It is literally the State of Basketball this season in the college basketball landscape. Sure Memphis is no longer #1, and soon Tennessee will no longer be #1 but the state could feature three top ten teams in next week’s rankings with Memphis, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.
In the NCAA tournament there is a great chance that five teams from Tennessee could be represented as Belmont currently leads the Atlantic Sun Conference and Austin Peay leads the Ohio Valley Conference. Chattanooga will also be a threat in the Southern Conference tournament although Davidson will be a huge favorite to earn that bid. It is difficult to dig up history on NCAA tournament teams by state but it is not that unusual for a state like California, Texas, or North Carolina to have four or five teams in the tournament (Texas had five last year, California had four) but for Tennessee to have four teams in last year and possibly five this year is a pretty big deal. Indiana is also likely to have four teams in for the second straight year.
Spring Training games start today as odd as it sounds to be talking baseball in February. The Tampa Bay Rays are building some buzz this spring and topping the franchise record for wins seems like a real possibility despite being stuck in the tough AL East. Granted a franchise record for wins could mean as few as 71 wins but things are looking up for Tampa baseball. Some bad news this week came with a potential injury to last year’s AL strikeout leader Scott Kazmir, at this point it looks minor but pitching injuries can certainly linger. Barry Bonds has been rumored to be a candidate for the Rays to sign as a free agent but don’t expect it to happen. The Rays cleared out several players with baggage last season with Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young out of the organization and acquiring Bonds just doesn’t fit with the course the Rays appear to be heading on. They even removed ‘Devil’ from the team name and changed logos and uniforms so adding the distractions and clubhouse woes that come with Bonds and his great on-base-percentage probably is not worth it. If you get a chance, check out the renderings for a proposed ballpark in St. Petersburg. The waterfront stadium features a giant sail-like roof that keeps the stadium open air on the sides. It is very impressive looking and could really turn things around for professional baseball in the area.