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Philadelphia 76ers Wins NBA Draft Lottery

The NBA Draft Lottery was completed on Tuesday, and it played out quite as it should have, with the worst team in the league being awarded the first overall pick.  The 76ers have been on a pretty consistent decline for the past 5 years and finally hit rock bottom.  Can either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram (the top 2 NBA Draft prospects) help them out of this funk?

The more exciting story may actually be whichever player ends up being taken 2nd by the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve suffered greatly due to the aging Kobe Bryant’s slow NBA departure.  With him now completely out of the fold, it’ll be interesting to see how this draft pick alongside last year’s #2 pick D’Angelo Russell work to rebuild this once great franchise.  Given the allure of LA, the Lakers could possibly bring in some big time free agents too and spark the turnaround sooner rather than later.

But as with all drafts, it will take time to see how these players and picks pan out over the course of their NBA careers.  At least for the short term it’s become clear, the 76ers and the Lakers are set to collect the two best players of the 2016 NBA Draft.

Who won the NFL Draft?

It’s hard to judge an NFL draft so quickly, but in the ever thirst for NFL football coverage, rash and hasty judgment must be made!  Hundreds of players heard their name called this weekend, but which NFL team did the best?  Of course it depends on a variety of factors, such as did a team answer a specific need?  Can the players they chose fill in immediately?  Did the team choose exciting, high-speed players or a trough of big guys to fill the lines?  Does it matter?

With all these questions aside, my pick for the best 2016 NFL draft is awarded to the Tennessee Titans, who made several smart trade deals before settling on their top pick, offensive lineman Jack Conklin, who’ll immediately give Marcus Mariota the protection he needs.

The trade out of the top pick gave the Titans a full stable from which to work with, and gave them the ammunition to move back up to 8 to select Conklin. With three picks in the second round, the Titans boosted their defensive line with Kevin Dodd and Austin Johnson, which should help alleviate their struggles stopping the run.

However, my favorite pick for the Titans was Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who will join up with 2014 NFL rushing champ DeMarco Murray to make a quite formidable backfield for the Titans.

I won’t go into the later round picks because they so rarely pan out, but with 10 total draft picks Tennessee had more bites at the apple than most teams, and this should help them immensely long term should 1 or 2 of the later picks grow into starters.

All in all, you have to commend the Titans for what they did in this draft, dangling the bait of the top pick to the Los Angeles Rams and turning it into a host of picks before trading up to get their guy for the O-line in Conklin.  I feel that this team is on the up and probably won’t be picking near the top of NFL drafts anytime soon!

Embrace March Madness: The 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is Here

The time for talk of rankings and bubble teams is over.  With the official release of the 2016 bracket for the NCAA tournament, it’s put up or shut up time for the top 68 college basketball teams in America.  Here’s what I think will happen:

Despite the fact that there isn’t a top tier of elite national contenders, I expect the top seeded teams will do very well.  Of course there will be some exciting upsets (I’m looking for UNC-Wilmington to upset Duke and for Butler to take down Virginia in the second round), but it seems that come Final Four time, it will be many of the usual suspects.  The fact remains that for any team to win this tournament they need to accumulate 6 straight wins, each against top quality opponents.  It’s simply not feasible for small-time schools and average teams to do this.

For me, the Final Four will consist of Kansas, UNC, Michigan State, and Texas.  The only real surprise of this group is Texas.  I feel like they have that quirky team that will be able to build a strong run, led by intriguing point guard Javan Felix.  That being said, Kansas will be too strong for them at that point.

However, the team I foresee claiming this year’s tournament in North Carolina.  After a relatively inconsistent majority of the season, they really turned it on down the stretch and won the ACC tournament.  They’ve won 5 straight games, each against teams in the NCAA tournament, including a 1-seeded Virginia in the ACC Championship Game.  That win showcased something different for Carolina: an ability to defend.  If they can focus on defending, they will overcome their 3-point shooting woes, and guys like Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige will make the necessary drives and dunks to claim this national title.  It’s UNC all the way!

First Annual AAA Sports Memorabilia Bracket Challenge (and it is free)

password is: aaasports

http://aaasports.mayhem.cbssports.com/e?ttag=BPM16_twt_invite_new

Free to enter in our first annual March Madness Bracket (deadline is tomorrow morning). Feel free to forward along to anyone who you think would be interested.

Grand Prize – Magic Johnson signed basketball PSA/DNA COA

http://www.aaasportsmemorabilia.com/nba/magic-johnson-autographed-indoor-outdoor-spalding-basketball/

2nd Prize – 25% off your next purchase

3rd-5th Place Prize – 15% off your next purchase

Good Luck!

Super Bowl 50 Preview: Panthers Favored but Broncos have Story

Super Bowl 50 is upon us, and it’s going to cap off yet another fantastic year of NFL football.  An intriguing matchup presents two of the team’s top defenses squaring off against two of the league’s finest quarterbacks.  Here’s how I see the game panning out.

The Carolina Panthers march into this game on the heels of an inspirational 15-1 regular season, and recently tore apart the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship game.  The Panthers’ offense is led by rising superstar Cam Newton, who is now living up to the potential that accompanied the number #1 draft pick (2011).  He is an awe-inspiring talent.  He has tremendous size and mobility, comparable to that of a tight end or defensive end.  This helps him elude tacklers and power his way for yardage and touchdowns.  But he’s also a tremendous passer and leader.  He has already earned himself the MVP award this season, but this is his moment to take the league by storm.  Superstar quarterbacks are judged by championships, and this Super Bowl presents his first opportunity.

Across the field is the Broncos’ living legend Peyton Manning, 39 years young and gearing up for his 4th Super Bowl appearance (he was the NFL’s top draft pick in 1998).  As a wily veteran, Manning is all about football smarts and understanding what the defense gives him.  His passing ability has waned in recent years, but he’s still able to command an offense better than anyone else, and his knowledge and experience in these mega-games instills confidence in the fan base.  He also has a Super Bowl ring to his credit.

Defensively, both teams are very good, but I give the edge to the Broncos, whose pass rush and coverage groups can be suffocating (just ask Tom Brady and the New England Patriots who were bounced in the AFC Championship game).  In the end, while the Panthers are favored due in large part to Newton’s supreme athletic ability, I actually think the Broncos will find a way to capture this Super Bowl.  They have the talent to stall the Panthers’ offense, and Manning’s veteran know-how will prove to be the difference in a tight, low scoring game.

AAA Sports Prediction: Broncos win 20-17.

NCAA Basketball Powerhouses in the Mix for 2016

The current NCAA Men’s basketball season is proving to be one for the ages. Without a true frontrunner, it seems that the tournament will be wide open come March.  Promising great excitement and a hearty dose of surprises, this could result in wonderful drama in the postseason.  With nearly all of the typical heavyweights in the fold (and with several Cinderella darlings already batting their eyes), predicting a national champion is practically impossible.  Instead, it will be an intriguing close to the season as we begin to head down the final stretch.

The usual suspects are at it again, with UNC, Kansas, Michigan State, Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky, Villanova, Xavier, and Indiana all off to decent starts.  The only true stumble has been for Duke, who has been on a cold streak of 4 losses in 5 games.  If they don’t fix this immediately, they could be in severe trouble of missing out, given the crowded ACC.  But the really fascinating thing about this season is that each of these usual heavyweights has endured multiple losses.  There’s no true favorite.

What could prove to be interesting is how many other schools are also having good years. Schools like Oklahoma, Iowa, Iowa State, West Virginia, Maryland, and Texas A&M are all ranked near the top 10.  While one usually writes off such hot starts as premature once the tournament rolls around, perhaps with the major programs each not having a truly dominating season, the door could open for a surprise title for one of these schools.

It all spells excitement and fun as the season really starts to heat up heading into February. Who do you think will emerge as the true champion come tournament time?  Please give post your team in the comments section, we would like to hear from you.

AAA Sports Memorabilia LLC Pick: Maryland Terrapins

Who Will Win the College Football Playoff?

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The culmination of the college football season is here, and while most of the bowl games are going to be largely meaningless, the playoff featuring the top 4 schools will be for the ultimate crown of crowns: a national title.  Between Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Michigan State, we will have our national champion.  The only question is, who will win it all?

If last year’s run by 4th seeded Ohio State taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible in these games.  The balance can be swung in an instant, or a single blown call can ruin a season of hard work.  But amidst such possibilities, here’s what I expect to happen.

Alabama is going to win the title.  College football games are often dictated by who runs the ball the best.  Crimson Tide star running back Derrick Henry is the Heisman champion and will punish any defense, especially the largely average defenses presented in this college football playoff.

Clemson is my second favorite, and I expect them to beat Oklahoma, but ultimately they will be undone by Alabama’s fine defense. #Clemson has a great running back in Wayne Gallman, and quarterback Deshaun Watson is as dynamic as anyone in the game, but I feel they will be slowed by Alabama.  And unfortunately their defense will simply not be able to contain Henry, who I expect to have a field day and rush for over 150 yards.

#Oklahoma and #MichiganState have had fine seasons, and their prototypical quarterbacks Connor Cook (MSU) and Baker Mayfield (OKLA) will give their teams a fighting chance.  However, like so many great running backs have proved time and time again over the years, a strong rushing attack and a mighty defense is the recipe for success in college football, not a star quarterback.  These two traits have come together perfectly for #Alabama this season, and I suspect they will have a relatively easy time reclaiming the title.

Fantasy Football Sleepers Ahead of the Playoffs

The fantasy football playoffs are beginning this week. Here are some of these sleepers that I’d recommend picking up for final weeks of fantasy:

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr (62% ownership) – Despite being the 10th highest scoring passer this season, his ownership remains low.  While the upcoming matchup against the top ranked defense, the Denver Broncos, looks intimidating, he could be worth a pickup.

Blake Bortles (55% ownership) – Sure the Jacksonville Jaguars stink, but Bortles is ranked 7th in scoring this season.  Last week he got 32 points.

Running Backs

Mike Tolbert (<1% ownership) – This is a definite risk but let’s think about it.  Premier rushers Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton will be rested as we approach the playoffs meaning more carries for Tolbert.  While his yardage is low this season, he has been able to nab a few touchdowns, especially as a receiver.

David Johnson (61% ownership) – Given a chance by virtue of injuries to Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington, the Arizona Cardinals running back got a season-high 17 points last week and could be poised for more opportunities.

Wide Receivers

Doug Baldwin (55% ownership) – He’s been crushing it, especially in the TD department for the last two weeks with 5.  As part of a Seattle Seahawks team that is in the thick of the playoff race and are known for late-season surges, Baldwin could be your fantasy hero.

Anquan Boldin (50% ownership) – Obviously the San Francisco 49ers have regressed this season, but Boldin is still a great pass catcher.  A soft end to the season schedule could spell wonders for your fantasy title hopes.

Tight End

Richard Rodgers (35% ownership) – After his monster game in Detroit, he could become the focal point of the Green Bay Packers’ offense for the playoff run.

Stay ahead of the competition and good luck to those who have made it to the playoffs!

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