Just give Duke the title already

Why even bother with the NCAA Tournament?

By: Jesse

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Before we start: I reserve the right to write about any team in college basketball, and basketball in general, because…well, I live in Indiana, and basketball is king.

Is anyone surprised by what we’ve seen so far this season? I could have written this over a year ago when Zion committed to Duke and gave them four of the top 12 recruits.

Now, to be fair, I FULLY want the NCAA Tournament to still be played. March Madness is my absolute favorite sporting event, and I treat those first four days of the tournament like the biggest holiday of the year.

That said, this team has been nothing short of special. The 23-point comeback at Louisville this week was just ridiculous. I looked at the score early in the second half, saw Duke was down by 16 at that point, and decided not to turn it on. Instead, I went to bed.

What happened?

Cam Reddish celebrates after the 23-point comeback victory at Louisville (Getty)

You can imagine my surprise.

As much as I hate to write this, the 2015 Kentucky squad was special. That roster was just unreal. But even though they started the season 38-0 (how’d that season end, by the way?), I think this Duke team has more pure talent than that UK squad, and it’s hard to argue that Duke doesn’t have the best coach in college basketball.

Yeah…that guy. By the way, it’s “Krzyzewski” (The News & Observer)

As an opposing coach, how do you game plan for Duke? Of course you have to focus on Zion Williamson, but then what about RJ Barrett, the #1 rated recruit in that class? Sure, focus on RJ. But what about Cam Reddish, the #3 recruit? Not to mention, Tre Jones, the starting point guard, was the 12th-ranked recruit.

It’s almost not fair.

I went to Indiana University for my formal education, and I love the Hoosiers. I wish I could write this story about them, and how incredible they’ve been…but that’s just not reality.

In reality, I would be absolutely shocked if Duke does not win the 2019 NCAA title. Of course, writing this in mid-February is a dangerous game to play. You could all come right back here in a month if Duke loses and shove it in my face. I can take that.

There are some excellent teams in the NCAA this year, including Virginia, Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Kentucky, just to name a few. I just don’t think I would bet against Duke in any of those matchups. They’ve already beaten Virginia twice, and they demolished Kentucky on the season’s opening night. One of Duke’s two losses came to Gonzaga in Maui, so there’s an argument to be made there, but if those two teams were to meet again, I’m just not positive that the Zags could pull it off twice in a year.

But that’s what makes March Madness so special. Anything can happen…literally anything. We used to say anything* could happen (the exception being a 16 seed upsetting a 1 seed), but UMBC erased that asterisk last year.

I would be devastated if Duke lost to a 16 seed in the opening round (assuming they finish the season strong and get a #1 seed), but I’ll never rule it out. Not anymore. I don’t trust anything in March except for the team I draw out of a hat during a school-sanctioned competition.

But let’s be real. It certainly seems that at the end of the year, the only thing we’ll see is more of this.

Duke players and Krzyzewski celebrate the 2015 National Championship after defeating Wisconsin (Getty)

Trevor Lawrence is definitely going to the Packers

By: Jesse

Trevor Lawrence throws a pass during the 2018-19 season (Getty Images)

Don’t say I didn’t warn you when it happens.

Look, I’ve been a Bears fan for basically my whole life (there was a stint early on when I was a Colts guy). This past regular season was great. The Bears way over achieved, Trubisky was fantastic, and Matt Nagy…what a hire. That guy is something else. Plus, being bald and wearing a visor is an extremely bold move.

Bald + Visor = Not a single care to give (Getty Images)

But, I want to prepare you, fellow Bears fans (and I guess everyone else in the NFC North). There’s absolutely no way this doesn’t end poorly for all of us.

Lawrence still has two years left until he can enter the NFL Draft, so the Bears window to win a Super Bowl and keep Green Bay in the cellar is pretty short.

I literally had a nightmare about this a few weeks ago. Here’s the scenario:

In 2019, the NFC North is going to be a two-team race between the Bears and the Packers. The Lions are a laughingstock, and the Vikings paid Kirk Cousins way too much money to be the mediocre QB that he is. Rodgers could have a comeback year, and I think both of these teams make the playoffs next year.

In 2020, one of two things happens:

  1. The Bears and Packers duke it out for the second straight season, or
  2. Rodgers gets hurt early on, the Packers tank, and lock up the #1 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

If #2 happens…it’s over. The Packers will take Lawrence, let him learn behind Rodgers, one of the all-time greats, and when A-a-ron is ready to retire, Lawrence will lead another 15 year campaign of misery and hell for Bears fans everywhere. Does that sound familiar? It hurt me to write that.

Aug 29, 2018; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks on during the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce Welcome Back Packers Luncheon at Lambeau Field. Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY NETWORK

I mean, gross. Look at him.

If the Packers don’t tank and Rodgers stays healthy, I think Ted Thompson is (unfortunately) savvy enough to realize the kind of talent Trevor Lawrence is, and I think he’ll offer up three or four future first round picks in exchange for the 2021 #1 overall selection. The only hope we (I’m mostly writing this for Bears fans, but it applies to all other NFL teams, I guess) have here is that whoever has the #1 pick in 2021 – probably the Jets, Browns, or Jaguars – doesn’t give in to Thompson.

I have never, ever wanted to be more wrong about something than this. But the experience of being a nearly-lifelong Bears fan – and Cubs fan, and growing up a Pacers fan during the Jordan era – well, I know how to prepare for disappointment.

Good thing the Cubs won in 2016, otherwise I might have just quit by now.

A New Venture

Hey. Thanks for joining me on this new journey.

My goal with Midwest Sports Pulse is to provide sporting news and commentary to you, my valued reader, about the teams you care most about. I intend to cover as much as I possibly can, but starting out, it’s a one man show.

I am always open to suggestions on what or who to write about, what teams I should incorporate here, and what you want to see. Leave a comment or shoot me an email – midwestsportspulse@gmail.com (for now).

Thanks again. Here’s to us.

JM