Saturday, April 30, 2011

#200: Shocking Results

---SSL Broadcast #39---

Click the banner above for Sports Events International. You can attend Penguins postseason games at Consol Energy Center, get prime seats for Pittsburgh Power games, or tickets for big-draw Pirate games like Skyblast. SEI can not only get you into the game, but get you up close. Click now. Tell 'em you heard about them from Steeltown Mike.


I was actually a bit exhausted while doing this show. It's been a busy week, and I've had less time to follow things in sports, let alone all this nonsense with the Royal Wedding (congratulations and all, but I don't need it shoved in my face) and whatever food product Lady Gaga's outfit is made of today.

That said, it was a fairly involved and organized show (for a change). Take a listen, if you please.

This week's show -

- The Penguins have been eliminated, but it's more a credit to Tampa Bay than a knock on Pittsburgh.

- Was a defensive end the right way for the Steelers to go with the first pick of the NFL draft?

- The Pirates almost seem like they're becoming stable in their starting pitching. Can it possibly hold?

- A Pittsburgh Power nabs MVP of the Week honors from the arena football league.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

#199: NHL Playoffs, Round 2

---Shocking Results---

Right off the bat, I'll mention that the official Steeltown Sports predictions in Round One, as far as winners were concerned, went 4-4 (Washington, San Jose, Detroit, and Nashville were correct).

Professional bettors would never accept that.

Then again, professional bettors typically make their money off of upsets, and there were only two, insofar as seeding (both #5s defeated the #4s).

It's enough to make Barry Melrose (who picked every single higher seed in Round 1) look like a genius.

If you remember from post #197, we also ran an experiment to find out of these was a stronger tendency to predict a series winner factoring in save percentage.

Vancouver, San Jose, Nashville, Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston were correctly predicted in that model, which, of course, is 6-2. With a better corrolation than the current official system, we'll keep following to see if it holds.

Another prediction that seems to be coming true is the one that said NHL fans were in for an exciting postseason. With six series going at least six games, and four going the distance, that doesn't appear to be far off, either. And it should only get better.

First, a thumbnail sketch of the series that were.

Western Conference

#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Chicago

Strange times. Checking the statistics from the seven games as a total, Vancouver outshot Chicago by just two. The Canucks had the lower save percentage (89.8% vs 92.7%) and a lower shooting percentage (8.7% vs. 10.2%).

However, Chicago lost three of four games by just one goal, and won two of their three by 5 goals, which would account for the percentage advantages.

This actually does not bode too well for the Canucks if they want to have a chance at the Cup (which many so-called "experts" are predicting), except that they have drawn the weakest team remaining in the tournament, the Nashville Predators.

Despite season averages, Vancouver actually outshot Chicago in five of the seven games.

And speaking of seventh games, their Game 7 was a classic, with a shorthanded goal by reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner Jonathan Toews with under two minutes to go to force overtime.

More, please...

#2 San Jose vs. #7 Los Angeles

This is one of those series that the Shots-on-Goal Differential (SOGD) + Save percentage formula worked perfectly. The Sharks advanced in a thrilling six games over the game L.A. Kings. Still, the ice was tilted in San Jose's favor much of the series, with the Sharks outshooting Los Angeles by an average of 10 shots per game. I'm not certain if it was Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick's fairly decent 91.3% save percentage or San Jose netminder Antti Niemi's anemic 86.3% that allowed the series to go six games.

#3 Detroit vs. #6 Phoenix

This is one of two series that this blog nailed, accurately predicting a Motor City sweep. Detroit trailed only three times in the series (once early in Game 1, and twice in Game 4). To Phoenix's credit, they did win the shots battle in Game 2 (33-31), but were outshot, on average by 7 shots per game.

#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Nashville

This is the other series that this blog nailed, accurately predicting Nashville winning its first-ever Stanley Cup playoff round in six. This was the only matchup that involved two teams with negative shots on goal differentials for the season, and it was fairly ugly. Nashville outshot Anaheim by an average of about 4.5 shots per game, but Anaheim was also assessed 32 more minutes in penalties (12 of them coming with 10 seconds left in the series).

Neither goalie did particularly well, either. The Ducks' Ray Emery posted a 89.7% save rate, while Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne (another accurate prediction) underperformed with a borderline-terrible 87.6%

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington vs. #8 NY Rangers

This is the only series winner from the East SOGD correctly predicted. Washington won in 5, though had it not been for the Rangers blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 4, the "Washington in 6" might have been a third series predicted accurately.

Despite the talk in the mainstream sports media about how dangerous the Washington Capitals offense is, it was actually pretty quiet against New York. Washington had a little better than one-shot-per-game average over New York. It was actually buoyed by the goaltending of Michal Neuwirth, posting an NHL second-best save percentage of 94.7%. New York's shooting percentage was a pathetic 5.4% (tied for worst in the first round).

On the other side of the rink, Henrik Lundqvist saved an OK (but pretty low for him) 91.7% Washington shot only 8.3%.

#2 Philadelphia vs. #7 Buffalo

Both the official Steeltown Sports pick and the little off-shoot experiment we're running here predicted a 7-game series. The experiment picked the right team.

The Flyers had a slightly higher team save percentage than Buffalo (91.5% vs. 91.2%), but the surprise was that Buffalo only outshot the Flyers in game 3, despite the season differential being in the Sabres favor.

#3 Boston vs. #6 Montreal

Classic, classic, classic.

Any series that goes the distance, and then some, is worth the price of admission.

It wasn't the lowest-scoring series of all time, and perhaps there were a few more goals than expected in a couple of games, but the final four games were decided by a single goal, and three of those took extra time to decide.

Neutral hockey fans, rejoice.

Once again, as with the PHI/BUF series, the Bruins had the better of the Shots-on-Goal battle overall (running counter to the regular season trend), and with comparable goalie play by both teams, the two-shots-per-game advantage the Bruins enjoyed were just enough.

#4 Pittsburgh vs #5 Tampa Bay

Yes, the pick here was Pens in 7. But I had a ton of caveats with it, saying such precient things as:

Pittsburgh can certainly win this series, but it's gonna be a white-knuckler.

And the winner looks like it has a very good chance to play for Lord Stanley's Cup.


Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was cruelly denied a Stanley Cup when he was injured in Game One of what turned out to be a seven-game series loss for his then-Edmonton Oilers to the Carolina Hurricanes, has one more push to make.

And did he ever push. How about a first-round best save percentage of 94.9%, limiting the Penguins to an abysmal 5.4% shooting percentage (tied with the Rangers), allowing his team to rally from a 3-games-to-1 series deficit.

The Penguins, despite being equal with Tampa in the SOGD department for the season, outshot the Bolts in every game, firing at the net a first-round high 257 times. Tampa shot 77 fewer shots (an advantage for the Penguins of +11), and only Roloson's superhuman effort allowed his team to advance.

Some critics complain that it was Pittsburgh settling for low percentage shots much of the time, but they fail to remember things like the low-percentage shot that ultimately won the Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks last year, and, to a lesser extent, the gold medal for Canada in the Winter Olympic games.

The system is correct. As a Penguin fan, I have no real complaints. It was a merely a mixture of lack of execution and a gargantuan effort by an athlete who knows his days in the sport are numbered.

Marc-Andre Fleury needed to be a bit more consistent, in the middle games, too. Despite a shutout in Game 1, and a competitive 95.7% save percentage in Game 7, his average for the series was 89.9%.

That said, I still credit Dwayne Roloson, more than scorn Marc-Andre Fleury for Tampa's triumph.

Now to the next round...

Western Conference

#1 Vancouver vs. #5 Nashville

The only interest I have in this series is to find out of Pekka Rinne can find the skill set that made him a Vezina candidate, because the other side of the ice features fellow candidate (and perennial candidate) Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver's positive SOGD vs. Nashville's negative pretty much tells me that the Predators' party is just about over. For those prediting a Vancouver appearance in the Stanley Cup, this match-up buoys it because San Jose and Detroit are likely to destroy each other in other other Western Conference Semifinal.

Shots on Goal Differential says Vancouver in 5 (official pick) - and for giggles we're going to predict the Preds win game 3

The experimental SOGD with Save Percentage says Vancouver in 6.

#2 San Jose vs. #3 Detroit

Lovers of high-scoring hockey are going to need to change pants often during this series. Detroit has a high shooting percentage, and the Sharks actually put the puck on net with more frequency. There might be a couple of games in this series where the finals resemble first quarter scores in the National Football League (when they play).

If San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi doesn't push his statistics back up to an average level, Detroit may advance, despite San Jose's fairly significant SOGD advantage this season.

SOGD says San Jose in 6. (official pick)

Experiment says San Jose in 6. (dangerous when they agree in round 1...)

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington vs. #5 Tampa Bay

There is a deceptive amount of experience on this Tampa Bay team. Many of these folks have been making playoff runs long before the lockout of a few years ago. Being tested against a Penguin team whose system is almost enough to get by without a superstar now go against a team whose system, while improved, is not on the same level.

Washington is just happy to have avoided a first-round let down. I think Dwayne Roloson will have an easier time of it, whereas Michal Neuwirth will get a rude awakening to the second round. This Lightning team is for real.

SOGD says Tampa Bay in 6. (official pick)

Experiment says (when adjusting Tampa's save percentage slightly for Roloson's addition) Capitals in 6.

Did I mention that I kind of hate what the experiment predicts sometimes?

#2 Philadelphia vs. #3 Boston

Two teams just happy to be here after trailing in their respective first round series and each having to play a decider at home.

Philly is the defending Eastern Conference Champions, and Boston is the expert-predicted 2011 Eastern Conference Champions (but not by me).

Both teams like it rough. Both teams shoot a bunch. Both teams allow other teams to shoot a bunch. Old-time hockey fans should enjoy this one, top to bottom.

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas cannot afford to take a step back if his team is to advance.

SOGD says Flyers in 5. (official pick)

Experiment says Bruins in 6.

With the way things are, I expect the winner of San Jose/Detroit to play for the Cup as they were supposed to meet in the Western Conference Final...but Chicago's loss to Vancouver flipped the script (still predicting the Sharks, though). The East is more wide-open, though I think the Lightning showed people a lot of what they didn't expect. San Jose over Tampa Bay is how it looks to me right now.

Your comments, as well as your own predictions, are welcome.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

#198: Do You Feel a Draft?

---SSL Broadcast #38---

Click the banner above for Sports Events International. You can attend Penguins postseason games at Consol Energy Center, get prime seats for Pittsburgh Power games, or tickets for big-draw Pirate games like Skyblast. SEI can not only get you into the game, but get you up close. Click now. Tell 'em you heard about them from Steeltown Mike.

First, I apologize for having no recording last week. We had a power outage hit the station with about 3 seconds left on my intro, and we had to run on auxiliary power, which took about 8 minutes to get up and running. The auxiliary power only gets the soundboard up and microphone up and running, but not the CD recorder. There was a show, but it was fairly rushed and haphazard, so, if you weren't listening live (over the air, because the internet feed was down, too), you didn't miss much.

What else is new?

This week's show -

- The Pirates, despite a quasi-encouraging start, are doing no better or worse on average than all the other Pirate teams from 1993 and onward.

- I tried to avoid talking about the NFL draft for a number of reasons, but decided at the last minute I should opine about which way the Steelers should go.

- The Penguins can wrap up their first round series with a Game 5 victory Saturday afternoon.

- Snippits from the Power and the Pitt Panthers basketball program, and the weekly rundown.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

#197: NHL Playoff Preview

---2010-2011 Edition---

I'll try yet again to be an outstanding prognosticator of the NHL Postseason. Last year didn't go quite as smoothly, but mainly due to a guy named "Jaroslav Halak." Fortuantely, he plays for the St. Louis Blues this year, and they're not in the tournament (though statistically, maybe they should be...), so he can't ruin it.

Last year's record using the "Shots on Goal Differential" (of "SOGD") comparison: 10-5 (.667). The year before was one game better.

What I'm looking forward to in this postseason is a far more wide-open tournament. There are people talking about all sorts of different teams to win it all. Vancouver has the this year's President's Trophy-winning team, and it wasn't even close (for all the good it did Washington last year...). San Jose seems to have found a solution in goal with 2010 Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi, who was jettisoned by Chicago. Philadelphia is out to defend its Eastern Conference crown. The Penguins nearly managed to win the Atlantic Division despite not having Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin for half the season. Washington is surging. Anaheim is surging. Tampa Bay can score, and on it goes.

However, San Jose (currently my prohibitive favorite to win it all) has the best SOGD in the league (+5.6). This is actually pretty low when you take into account recent years.

Last year, Chicago led the league in that statistic (+9.0 - won the Cup). The three years previous, it was Detroit: +8.4 in '08-'09 - Cup runner-up; +10.9 in '07-'08 - Cup winner; and +9.2 in '06-'07 - slain by Anaheim's goalie J.S. Giguere.

The Sharks' season-leading regular season SOGD is nearly 3 shots per game less than Detroit's "worst" showing over that stretch.

In other words, this year is practically wide open, and there should be plenty of exciting, long series (of course, I said that last year and wasn't quite right...). Nevertheless, I'm highly anticipating using the Shots-on-Goal formula to see if it can predict series upwards of 66.7% again.

I still have not determined a way to figure out when a goalie is primed to counter the differential. As has been said here for a couple years, the only thing that truly defeats a significant Shots-on-Goal Differential advantage over the course of a best-of-seven series is a hot goaltender. Still, we're going to base predictions two different ways and see which is more likely to bear fruit.

That said, all official predictions will be based on the old SOGD formula, but we'll keep track of the save percentages.

A friend of mine is convinced that taking a 5-on-5 Shots on Goal differential average for the season is an even better way than taking into account all shots, but I am not yet convinced. I'll see how this year plays out before I start tinkering with that.

Below is how each team finished the regular season in their respective conferences. Next to each team is its season-long SOGD. Next to the playoff teams only, in parentheses, is the save percentage of each team, which will be used as a tiebreaker if the SOGD are comparable.

Eastern Conference
1. Washington +2.3 (.920)
2. Philadelphia +1.6 (.913)
3. Boston +0.2 (.930)
4. Pittsburgh +3.1 (.916)
5. Tampa Bay +3.1 (.901)
6. Montreal +0.8 (.919)
7. Buffalo +2.1 (.909)
8. NY Rangers +0.5 (.919)
9. Carolina -2.5
10. Toronto -2.2
11. New Jersey +2.3
12. Atlanta -0.9
13. Ottawa -2.2
14. NY Islanders -2.6
15. Florida -1.4

Western Conference
1. Vancouver +1.9 (.927)
2. San Jose +5.6 (.912)
3. Detroit +3.1 (.906)
4. Anaheim -3.8 (.912)
5. Nashville -1.8 (.924)
6. Phoenix -2.3 (.918)
7. Los Angeles +0.9 (.914)
8. Chicago +3.4 (.907)
9. Dallas -3.0
10. Calgary +2.0
11. St Louis +2.5
12. Minnesota -5.8
13. Columbus +0.7
14. Colorado -2.6
15. Edmonton -5.1

Every team in the Eastern Conference has a shot, as they are all in the positive.

Remember, only two teams since 1990 have won the Stanley Cup with a negative SOGD. The 1990-1991 Penguins (acquired face-off man Ron Francis and fearsome defenseman Ulf Samuelsson at the trade deadline...not enough to push the season average into the positive), and the 2008-2009 Penguins (switched coaches - and therefore changed to a Shots-on-Goal system - with only two months to go in the regular season).

From the Western Conference, we can ultimately eliminate Anaheim, Nashville and Phoenix at some point. At least one team will advance to round two because Anaheim and Nashville play each other in the first round.

Western Conference

#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Chicago

Using SOGD, it appears that Chicago is going to win for the third straight year.

Throwing in save percentages from both teams, and calculating them both against how many shots their own team gives up -and- how many shots the other team generates, it looks like Vancouver will have the edge after all.

Chicago shots allowed per game (28.7) times Chicago's save percentage (.907) = number of saves per game expected (26).

Using that formula, Vancouver looks to average 2.7 goals per game (28.7 - 26).

I also took number of shots Vancouver takes per game (32.0) times Chicago's save percentage (.907) = number of Chicago saves expected per game (29).

That way, Vancouver is primed for closer to 3 goals per game (32.0 - 29).

Reversing the data, using Vancouver's save rate (.927) against both number of shots Vancouver allows (30.1) and number of shots Chicago takes (28.7) yields between 2.1 and 2.2 goals allowed per game.

SOGD says Chicago in 6. (official Steeltown Sports prediction)

SOGD with save calculations says Vancouver in 6.

Oh, fun.

#2 San Jose vs. #7 Los Angeles

This might be San Jose's best team in years. L.A., meanwhile, is without superstar Anze Kopitar.

SOGD says San Jose in 5. (official pick)

SOGD with save percentage seems to say San Jose in 6.

#3 Detroit vs. #6 Phoenix

Another rematch from last year, and fans in Phoenix are probably looking forward to it. However, this year's Phoenix squad isn't nearly as fearsome as last year's. Then again, neither is this year's Detroit team. But this time around, home ice belongs to the Red Wings.

SOGD says Detroit in 4. (official pick)

SOGD with save percentage seems to say Phoenix in 7.

The more I do this, the more ridiculous this second approach seems. Then again, the Red Wings in four was last year's pick, and the Coyotes took it to 7 before succumbing, so maybe it's worth watching, just this once...

#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Nashville

Nashville isn't as good as it was last year statistically - though goaltender Pekka "Could-I-Be-Any-More-Finnish?" Rinne should be a Vezina nominee - and Anaheim is vastly overrated. Something has to give. Both teams are in the negative on SOGD, so the winner doesn't look to advance to the Conference Finals.

SOGD says Nashville should win in 6. (official pick)

SOGD with save percentage says Predators in 7.

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington vs. #8 NY Rangers

Washington is back with home ice advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs.

However, this year, the Capitals aren't saddled with the mile-high expectations they had last year when they just crushed everyone and had everything locked up early. They've dealt with injuries this year and stiff competition from Tampa Bay...and even the rest of their division to a point.

And, believe it or not, their SOGD statistic is actually better this year.

The Rangers, after just barely missing the postseason party last year and just barely squeaking in after the statistically inferior Carolina Hurricanes coughed up their chance in their season finale, are just happy to be here.

The Capitals lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round last year in the most colossal upset in recent NHL history, blowing a 3-1 series lead. The year before, the Caps were able to -erase- a 3-1 deficit to these same Rangers.

SOGD says Washington in 6. (official pick)

SOGD with save percentages - Washington in 6. (wouldn't that be interesting if that actually worked out?)

#2 Philadelphia vs. #7 Buffalo

The Flyers find themselves on the other side of the #2/#7 showdown this year, after managing to win the Eastern Conference out of the next-to-last slot last season.

They are actually not as strong this year in the SOGD department, and there is no team in the negative, so a return to the conferences pinnacle appears to be more difficult.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has also actually improved in their differential, despite not winning their division like they did last year. Philadelphia will need to have solid goaltending in this one to escape.

SOGD says Sabres in 7.

SOGD with save percentage says Flyers in 7.

(If nothing else, perhaps we can figure out a better way to determine the length of a series?)

#3 Boston vs. #6 Montreal

Prepare for a low-scoring series here. As a hockey fan who loves low-scoring tilts, this might be my series to watch. Of course, this series is also the most likely to be filled with a number of which time it will cease to be my series to watch. Both teams have had excellent goaltending this year (especially Boston).

The Bruins shoot a lot, but allow a lot of shots in return (read: a more wide-open style of hockey). Montreal doesn't shoot as much, but doesn't give up as much.

SOGD predicts Montreal in 7. (official pick)

SOGD w/ S% indicates Boston in 6.

#4 Pittsburgh vs #5 Tampa Bay

A lot of folks are sitting here in the Steel City area saying, "Tampa Bay is a good draw for the Penguins. Too bad about not being able to catch Philadelphia, but this is a great match-up."

The organization that was once referred to as Pittsburgh-South, as several Penguins found their way there over the semi-recent years (including Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Michel Oullet, Adam Hall, and even Mark Recchi), is still regarded as a somewhat inferior organization that had their heyday the year before the infamous lockout.

The truth is, this Lightning squad could take a significant step toward a Stanley Cup birth with a series win over the Penguins (especially if Sidney Crosby does not return for Round One).

The Pens and the Bolts are tied for the best SOGD in the East (only San Jose and Chicago are better, and Detroit is tied with them).

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was cruelly denied a Stanley Cup when he was injured in Game One of what turned out to be a seven-game series loss for his then-Edmonton Oilers to the Carolina Hurricanes, has one more push to make. His presence has already rescued the team save percentage from sub-.900.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, finally appears to have figured out how to win without either of its two superstars (Crosby and Evegni Malkin) after half a season. They still have to get production from two of their main trade deadline acquisitions, James Neal and Alexei Kovalev. And even the goaltending has improved from last year (up to .916 from .900).

Pittsburgh can certainly win this series, but it's gonna be a white-knuckler.

And the winner looks like it has a very good chance to play for Lord Stanley's Cup.

SOGD is identical, so... using the save percentage as a tie-breaker says Penguins in seven. (official pick)

Actually running the SOGD through the save percentage calculator says Penguins in 6 (would have been 5, except Roloson has helped pull Tampa's save percentage up).

If all the official picks would happen to come through, I would foresee San Jose over Detroit in the Western Final, and Pittsburgh defeating Washington in the East. The Sharks would claim the Cup over the Pens. And this is all in the crystal ball without Sid the Kid.

Visit again for the second round preview, and, by all means, feel free to comment constructively and/or give your predictions.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

#196: Down with the Sickness

---SSL Broadcast #36---

Click the banner above for Sports Events International. You can attend Penguins postseason games at Consol Energy Center, get prime seats for Pittsburgh Power games, or tickets for big-draw Pirate games like Skyblast. SEI can not only get you into the game, but get you up close. Click now.

It took 36 weeks, but I finally forgot to start recording my show at the very top and didn't notice until I was nearly through the first commercial break. As such, the only segment of the show that I would have considered "quality" is lost to the ages. The good news is that you don't have to listen to me as long this week.

I've also been wrestling with an upper respiratory infection all damn week.

That said, there's a pretty good ramble on how hard this NHL Postseason is going to be to call. I plan to do my annual "Shots on Goal Differential" playoff breakdown here on this blog by Sunday evening or Monday afternoon at the latest. This year, we'll try to see if we can find a way to determine which goalie(s) will become "hot."

Other topics on the latest show:

- Pirates are 5-3 to start 2011. Believe it or not, they were 4-4 eight games in the past two seasons. Still, there is a statistical instability that indicates the pitching staff is about to fall apart.

- Some NCAA tournament talk. One part that didn't get recorded was me bragging up predicting Connecticut to win it all from the outset of the tournament, but pretty much going .500 in my bracket. The bragging...and the not recording... karma in advance?

- Power player in trouble with the law.

- Are we still talking about the NFL?


Sunday, April 03, 2011

#195: Say What?

---Mystery Baseball Theater---

I couldn't let this go. Yahoo! cracks me up from time to time. This would have qualified for the short-lived WTF of the Week...

(Also, click the banner above for Sports Events International. You can attend the Penguins home finale on Tuesday against the Devils (sold out), Opening Day at PNC Park (sold out), or one of the first two playoff games at Consol Energy Center (pretty sure those are sold out, too). SEI can not only get you into the game, but get you up close. Click now.)

He what huh? With a...what now?

To be continued...?


Saturday, April 02, 2011

#194: Bucs Opening Day a Blast

---SSL Broadcast #35---

Click the banner above for Sports Events International. You can attend the Penguins home finale on Tuesday against the Devils (sold out), Opening Day at PNC Park (sold out), or one of the first two playoff games at Consol Energy Center (pretty sure those are sold out, too). SEI can not only get you into the game, but get you up close. Click now.

Topics on the latest show:

- Pirates open with a win for the fifth straight year. Not necessarily a great sign considering how the last four seasons went (or the 14 before that...)

- Penguins have had trouble beating playoff contenders in regulation since captain Sidney Crosby was concussed.

- NFL and players union awaiting a ruling by a federal judge on legitimacy of antitrust lawsuit.

- Pick to win the NCAA Championship. And it's the one picked prior to the start of the tourney.