Some random and varied observations from the weekend in sports.
1) I had Louisville and Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament final Monday night with the Cardinals winning it all.
Saturday, Rick Pitino and his boys took care of business. Their pressure defense was too much for the Wichita State Shockers to handle, especially in the second half when the Cardinals erased a double-digit lead in the second half and pulled out a 72-68 win.
Louisville was down 12 points with 13:35 left on the game clock. Enter guard Luke Hancock.
The junior sharpshooter, who had scored all of 27 points in the first four games of the tournament, ignited the Cardinal comeback with 20 points off the bench.
(Check out this cool story about Hancock and his dad from Yahoo! Sports)
2) Syracuse did not hold up its end of the bargain, however, falling to Michigan 61-56.
If you remember my In the Zone blog from last week previewing the Final Four, I spent a lot of time talking up the Michigan team and all of the weapons they had capable of beating the vaunted 2-3 zone defense of the Orangemen.
Then I (for some reason) picked Syracuse to win the game. Shame on me.
Though Syracuse kept AP National Player of the Year Trey Burke in check -- seven points on just 1-of-8 shooting -- Michigan got enough from its very deep and talented roster:
- Freshman tournament sensation Mitch McGary had 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
- Freshman forward Glenn Robinson III had 10 points and six rebounds.
- Junior guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. was not efficient shooting the basketball, scoring a team-high 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, but he did chip in 6 rebounds and five assists.
3) All told, there very well may be 8-10 NBA players on the court inside the Georgia Dome Monday evening. Michigan has easily got four or five. Louisville is the same way.
I picked Louisville to win it all last week and I'm sticking with my guns: Louisville 83, Michigan 75.
4) The St. Louis Cardinals hammered Matt Cain Sunday afternoon to escape San Francisco with a .500 record.
After getting shut out by Barry Zito Friday afternoon, the Redbirds finally figured out how to hit the San Francisco pitching staff. St. Louis pelted AT&T park with 26 hits over the final two games of the series and netted 20 runs.
We've seen this before, though.
Too often in 2012, the Cardinals were feast or famine at the plate. This lineup will average five runs a game this year, but they need to have more stretches of 4,6,5,5,7,6,3,5 runs a game than 13,8,1,0,0,2,9,10,1,0.
Through six games, St. Louis' pitching staff has been effective but just as inconsistent. The staff has a 3.47 ERA, but only two of the six starts were quality starts (six-plus innings while allowing three earned runs or less).
St. Louis' home opener Monday comes against the NL Central rival Cincinnati Reds, and the lineup should get a boost by the return of third baseman David Freese.
5) The Kansas City Royals also come back to the Show-Me State for their home opener Monday coming off a 3-3 road trip to begin the season. That's the good news.
The bad news? The Royals bullpen is going to increase hypertension rates in Kansas City by 476% this summer if Ned Yost doesn't do something; namely, pull Greg Holland from the ninth inning and hand the closer job to Kelvin Herrera.
Sunday in Philadelphia, James Shields and Tim Collins brought a 9-4 Royals lead to the ninth inning. J.C. Gutierrez promptly surrendered a three-run homer to Jimmy Rollins, pulling the Phillies to within one run.
Ned Yost called on Holland.
Holland responded by recording one out, but giving up two hits.
With two outs and two on, desperation sinking in, Yost called on Herrera. Laynce Nix welcomed him by smoking a single up the middle to score Ryan Howard (a run, by the way, that was charged to Holland).