In this week’s matchup of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Chris Molicki, challenges staff writer Mike Herold and correspondents Joe Caputo and Greg Oriolo to answer questions about the best March Madness moment so far, if anyone can stop the Heat in the playoffs, and what the Chiefs should do with the No. 1 overall pick.
1. March Madness has been absolutely insane. What do you think has been the best moment or win so far?
MH: I know everyone and their brother is going to say Florida Gulf Coast here, but I’m taking a different approach and saying that Harvard over New Mexico was the best win of the tournament so far. For starters, it was a No. 14 seed beating a No. 3 seed, which is rare in and of itself. But throw in that it was the largest tournament upset an Ivy League school has ever won, and it suddenly becomes a bit more impressive, not to mention meaningful. Add to that Harvard’s lack of EVER WINNING AN NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME and it turns into the biggest win of March Madness. Think about that for a second — Harvard’s been around for about 6,000 years (rough estimate), and this was the first time they’d ever seen the second round. That goes way beyond anything else that’s happened in this tournament, that’s changing ancient history. Plus, we got to see a reaction from an actual Harvard grad, who plays in the NBA currently, which made everything even better.
JC: It’s easy to say, but completely true, that Chase Fieler’s alley-oop dunk off the pass from Brett Comer for FGCU has been the best moment of the tournament so far on so many levels. It was the so-called “dagger” of the game that pretty much sealed the deal for Gulf Coast’s improbable win over No. 2 Georgetown, but at the same time was a microcosm of the way the team played throughout the tournament. Their fun, up-tempo and confident style just made them so much fun to watch, and the Fieler alley-oop will be remembered for years to come when recalling March Madness memories.
GO: The best moment in the tournament so far had to be when No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast beat No. 7 San Diego State to advance into the Sweet 16. The reason for this is because I have never seen such excitement after a game on the court/in the locker room after a non-championship winning game. The crowd, the announcers, social media and, most importantly, the players were celebrating as if they had just won the tournament. More specifically, when all the players surrounded coach Andy Enfield after the game, chanting his name as if he were a king, got my attention most. This is something you don’t see much in sports, and it was amazing to see how appreciative the team was for their coach and how important he was to that team and how they created history. Team sports are meant to bring people together in order to achieve a common goal and there is no doubt in my mind that lowly ranked FGCU making it to the Sweet 16 portrays this better than any other team in the tourney, making it the best moment so far.
Mike gets 3 points for going the unconventional route and talking about how Harvard’s upset of New Mexico may have been the most stunning win of the tournament. Joe gets 2 points for explaining the gravity in the moment of Comer’s alley-oop pass. Greg gets 1 point for saying how FGCU embraced the win and their coach like nothing else.
2. The Heat streak was nothing short of dominant. Is there any team in the NBA that can beat Miami in the playoffs, or will they roll to another title?
MH: There area handful of teams who could beat the Heat. Too bad they all play in the West and will therefore be much too worn out by each other to put up a fight against a Miami team that won’t see much competition in the East. This is a monster team going up against a conference that was lacking in much challenge for them BEFORE you factored in all the injuries. Give Chicago Rose back, Boston a healthy Rondo, and the Knicks Amar’e, and this might be a conversation, but come on. The Heat will cruise through the East, face whatever’s left of the Nuggets/Thunder/Spurs/Grizzlies/Clippers (all of whom have a shot at making it and taking it to the champs if fully rested and healthy), and play around while toying with the drained Western champs. If all those key players on other teams hadn’t been hurt (heck, even Philly with Bynum would’ve been interesting), OKC hadn’t traded Harden for squat, and the Lakers hadn’t D’Antoni’d, the playoffs would be a lot more interesting, but as things stand now, Miami’s going to repeat without much challenge.
JC: There is absolutely no team in the Eastern Conference that can beat the Heat in a seven-game series in the playoffs, provided the Heat remain healthy. Teams like the Knicks, Pacers and Bulls may be able to get a game or two on their home floor, but none of them have nearly enough talent to win games in Miami. As for the Western Conference, it’s a different story. The Heat will definitely not “roll” to another title provided they are matched up with the Spurs, Thunder or Nuggets. The Spurs run the best offense in the NBA and their extraordinary depth would give the Heat some trouble when LeBron and Wade are not on the floor. The Thunder, who lost to the Heat in the finals last year, were a couple bounces here and there from making that series competitive, and it’s becoming nearly impossible lately to beat the Nuggets in Denver. In the end, the team I want to see get a shot at the Heat is Denver, and I honestly think they can give them the best series. Iguodala is the best defensive answer for LeBron, and Denver poses a major issue for Miami on the boards, especially offensively. Additionally, the fact that they can protect their home court with such consistency would make a series between Miami and Denver extremely competitive and entertaining.
GO: The Heat are the clear-cut favorite to come out of the East and to win the NBA Championship for the second straight year. As of now, they are my pick to win it all, but there are a few teams that will challenge them in the East and eventually in the Finals. In the East, teams like Indiana, New York, Brooklyn and Chicago can all hang around with Miami. These four teams are pretty complete, all having star power, a solid rotation and limited holes on offense and defense. Will either of them beat the Heat in seven games? Probably not, but there is no doubt that Miami will have to play up to their caliber to win. Now in the finals, I feel that the Thunder have the best chance of taking down the Heat. The reason for this is because they are the only team that I can say matches up well with Miami. Offensively, the Thunder are more than capable of going basket for basket with Miami and, defensively, the Thunder have the athleticism at every position to contain and disrupt the Miami offense. Come playoff time, these two teams will meet, and it will take seven games for a winner to be determined.
Greg gets 3 points for saying that despite the East being weak, the Heat will still have to fight hard to get to the finals. Joe gets 2 points for picking Denver as a sneaky dark horse to knock off the Heat. Mike gets 1 point for explaining the deficiencies in every NBA contender besides the Heat.
3. With the NFL draft under a month away and the Kansas City Chiefs on the clock, what should they do with the No. 1 overall pick?
MH: Well, since they no longer need a quarterback thanks to the Alex Smith trade, and since we all know how valuable Andy Reid’s QBs are, the Chiefs need to focus on protecting their man in the middle. Fortunately, one of the top prospects in this draft happens to do just that — Luke Joeckel. Not only does he play the perfect position for a team looking to safeguard their passer (which, by the way, the Chiefs happen to really need, since they finished 27th in passer protection last season), but he also happens to be durable and fundamentally sound. These are things Andy Reid enjoys in players (not that he had many durable stars in Philly), and right now the Chiefs have to follow their new coach’s lead. Of course, this is all in the realm of reality — what the Chiefs should really do with that draft pick is attempt to trade it in exchange for, say, another team’s luck. Or give it to the league in exchange for a move to nice, sunny Los Angeles, I hear they’re looking for a new team.
JC: The Chiefs just traded their second round pick this year and a second or third rounder next year for Alex Smith. Although I didn’t agree with what they gave up for Smith, now that the deed is done, they must protect him. Therefore, Luke Joeckel is really the only option for Kansas City with the first overall pick. The Chiefs do have the pieces at skill positions on both sides of the ball, but what fans and teams have been beginning to realize is how important an offensive line is to teams that want to be contenders late in the season. With the talent Kansas City already has and the draft picks that they just gave up for their new quarterback, it is vital that they are able to protect him. When trying to create a top-tier offensive line, everyone knows you start with the blindside.
GO: There is a lot of talk about what the Chiefs may do with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. If I were the general manager of the team, I would either take offensive tackle Luke Joeckel or possibly trade the pick, only if the right offer was made. In terms of picking Luke Joeckel, the team needs to enhance the ability of the offensive line. He is considered the best tackle in the draft and after his pro day, Adam Schefter reported that it would be hard for them to pass him up. Last year, they could not protect their quarterbacks at all. Now having a solid starter in Alex Smith, they need to give him protection. The offense has some quality skill players, so in order for the offense to be effective, Alex Smith needs to stay upright, — that is why Joeckel is a smart pick. In terms of trading the pick, the right pieces need to be offered. The team has many holes and if they get multiple picks (including a top-eight pick), a low second round pick, and at least one other piece, a trade may make sense if management feels that they can get the quality players they need to improve their roster rather than one stud tackle.
Joe gets 3 points for saying how Joeckel is the only choice for the Chiefs. Greg gets 2 points for giving the package necessary for the Chiefs to trade the pick. Mike gets 1 point for talking about how bad the Chiefs were in pass protection.
Joe wins Around the Dorm, 7-6-5.