1. Will the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats season end again in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament?
Chelsea: If the team did get past its first weekend, then it would be “March Madness.” Since the Wildcats have yet to accomplish that feat since 2009, I say they have a slim chance. I like to root for the underdog, but I can’t support the Wildcats — the team doesn’t win when it matters most. The team has an impressive knack for winning streaks, but also one for choking under pressure. While the team may be first now, it doesn’t have enough of a substantial lead over the Kansas Jayhawks to prove it is worthy of winning. The Wildcats have to get their heads in the game (yes, that was a “High School Musical” reference) if they want to get past the first weekend. Villanova’s only chance of advancing is some fancy footwork and spontaneous singing solos that might just distract the opponents long enough for the team to shoot the winning basket.
Matt: Villanova is not a championship team. However, the team is good enough to end its streak and make it past the first few rounds. Villanova plays well against bad teams, but also plays badly against good teams. All of the team’s losses have come against ranked opponents, with three of those losses coming against top-10 teams, while the other 21 wins have come against unranked teams. With this year’s tournament shaping up to be the tightest in years, it would not shock me to see Nova make a deep run. What sets this year’s team apart from the past disappointments is the emergence of junior guard Josh Hart. For once, Nova, which typically plays a team-oriented style of play, has one true player that can put the team on his back when needed. For that reason, Hart can lead the Wildcats to at least a couple of tourney wins.
Connor: Currently No. 1 overall in the Associated Press Division I rankings, Villanova is on pace for another Final Four run. Assuming Villanova steamrolls its final two unranked opponents, only a Big East Championship rematch with No. 5 Xavier will stand in the team’s way of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Historically, a No. 1 seed has never lost in the first round of March Madness. Coach Jay Wright is experienced enough to keep his players hungry, rather than complacent. It also helps when your coach’s spouse is actually named Patricia Reilly (Try getting the image of Pat Reilly with a wig out of your head now). The Wildcats are at the front of a hyper-competitive pack. I trust the team will be ready for anything a low-seed throws at them.
Chelsea gets 3 points for a HSM reference (and for being realistic). Matt gets 2 points for noting Hart’s contributions and Connor gets 2 points for his glowing optimism.
2. With the NFL scouting combine kicking off, which rookie stands out among the rest?
Chelsea: Florida State University’s Jalen Ramsey doesn’t just stand out — he leaps above the rest. As a long jump champion and track star at Florida, he is sure to be a frontrunner during the combine. Those skills will definitely aid him as a defensive back, as he will hurdle over his opponents. Each of the NFL’s mock drafts include Ramsey in their top-five picks and the team’s first choice for cornerback. Ramsey is a good player for several reasons, including the fact that he’s quick on his feet and able to cross the field faster than Forrest Gump. You would definitely be intimidated if Ramsey, with his athletic build and confidence, was coming at you. Although he still needs to work on his reaction time and put on some more muscle mass to up his intimidation factor, he is a solid pick.
Matt: With no clear-cut top player or quarterback in this year’s draft, the players to watch at this year’s combine are two that are not participating. University of California-Los Angeles’s Myles Jack and University of Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, both linebackers, suffered season-ending injuries in 2015 and are looking to prove their health. Both have incredible talent and teams will use the combine‘s medical testing to determine the health of both players in order to weigh the risk in taking a player so high in the draft with a serious injury. If either has shown positive signs of recovery at the combine, some team will surely use an early first-round pick on them.
Connor: Experts are writing off Derrick Henry due to his body type. It seems absurd that a running back that shredded through the top defenses in college football isn’t even ranked No. 1 at his position. His combine performance has cemented the fact that Henry is immensely talented. At 247 pounds, Henry outpaced all running backs with a 4.54 second 40-yard dash. Power running backs can see long-term success in the NFL. Marshawn Lynch proved that in his final years with the Seattle Seahawks. He is beginning to show parallels to Tim Tebow — they both won a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship before being cast aside. The difference is Henry has few mechanical flaws — he’s immensely talented and might even get lucky if he falls towards the higher-performing teams.
Connor gets 3 points because Henry is a tank. Chelsea gets 2 points for track puns and a Forrest Gump nod (and noting speed) and Matt gets 1 point for picking two injured players.
3. Which Canadian NHL team has the best chances of making it to the playoffs?
Chelsea: Like Robin Scherbatsky from “How I Met your Mother,” I would have liked to see the Vancouver Canucks at the playoffs this year. Since that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, I have to go with the Ottawa Senators, eh. With a 29-26 record and currently the most points overall for the Canadian teams, I feel that the Senators have the best chance. In a close second is the Montréal Canadiens — and these two teams are neck and neck. Though both teams have a slight shot at the playoffs, both are struggling hard to surpass the Americans. Oh Canada, good luck trying to keep up with the Washington Capitals or the Dallas Stars. Whatever happens, I will be on the edge of my seat (and eating a Tim Horton’s Maple Dip doughnut) anxiously waiting to see which Canadian team comes “oot” on top.
Matt: Realistically, no Canadian teams will, for the first time since 1979, make the playoffs, eh. Montreal looked like a sure-fire playoff team until Carey Price, arguably the best goalie in the NHL, was injured early in the year, eh. After getting off to the hottest start in the league, the team is five points out of a wildcard spot and can’t seriously be thinking a-boot the postseason. They’ll be drinking Molson’s and mainlining maple syrup into their veins at home this spring. Sorry, eh.
Connor: The Senators have 66 points compared to Vancouver’s mere 60. Montreal is also in the playoff hunt with 65 points. Despite that clearly representative information on all three teams, I’m picking Vancouver as the best bet to make the playoffs. Conferences favor the Canucks, a team with only two others between it and a playoff berth. According to Sport Club Stats, which uses thousands of simulations based on strength of schedule, Vancouver has an 8.1 percent chance versus Ottawa’s 5.6 percent. Vancouver will have a better chance at the playoffs because it has more opportunities and less competition. The Eastern Conference Canadian teams must beat out five equally-competitive teams, meaning a lot more must happen for one of them to make the playoffs. It’s usually not wise to bet on the worst performing team, but I’m confident in Vancouver’s chances versus its counterparts.
Chelsea gets 3 points for being realistic again. Matt gets 2 points for including too many “ehs” (and counting out Montreal) and Connor gets 2 points for not including an “eh.”
Chelsea wins Around the Dorm 8-7-5.