Friday, November 30, 2012

Steelers Game 12 Preview - @ Baltimore Ravens

Nothing like playing your biggest rival in the division twice in a three week span. I am not really sure what the schedulers were thinking when this came up but it could have went one of two ways. The first, and most ideal, would have been that both teams were healthy and this three week stretch would be Steelers/Ravens games that we all have come to know and love. The second situation is that one of the teams was going to have a key injury or two that would really make these games not as exciting.

It turns out that it was a variation of the second scenario but the Steelers are more on the short end with Ben Roethlisberger missing both games. Not good for the Steelers.

Anyways, the Ravens are running away with the division with a 9-2 record while the Steelers still have a (very slim) outside shot to catch them but they are way back at 6-5. Not only are the Steelers having to play without Roethlisberger but they are also playing without backup Byron Leftwich and have to play with Charlie Batch.

No idea what to expect. Here is the preview:

The stats:

Last Week:

Cleveland 20, Pittsburgh 14
Passing: Batch: 20-34, 199 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Dwyer: 9 car., 19 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Sanders: 5 rec., 75 yards, 0 TD

Baltimore 16, San Diego 13 (OT)
Passing: Flacco: 30-51, 355 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Rice: 22 car., 97 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Smith: 7 rec., 144 yards, 0 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 339.8 yards/game (t19th)
Baltimore: 348.2 yards/game (16th)

Pittsburgh: 238.3 yards/game (15th)
Baltimore: 246.5 yards/game (11th)

Pittsburgh: 101.5 yards/game (22nd)
Baltimore: 101.6 yards/game (21st)

Pittsburgh: 21.0 points/game (20th)
Baltimore: 25.7 points/game (9th)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 257.2 yards/game (1st)
Baltimore: 372.8 yards/game (24th)

Pittsburgh: 165.7 yards/game (1st)
Baltimore: 244.4 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 91.5 yards/game (t5th)
Baltimore: 128.5 yards/game (26th)

Pittsburgh: 19.1 points/game (4th)
Baltimore: 19.9 points/game (7th)

All-Time Record vs. Baltimore: 18-15-0 (3-0 Playoffs)

Last Five Meetings
November 18, 2012 - Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10
November 6, 2011 - Baltimore 23, Pittsburgh 20
September 11, 2011 - Baltimore 35, Pittsburgh 7
January 15, 2011 - Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 24
December 5, 2010 - Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview

Terrell Suggs Has No Idea What A Blood Diamond Is

I don't think Ball So Hard University has any idea what a Blood Diamond actually is. Maybe they just choose to ignore the fact that a blood diamond isn't just getting a bloody finger if a diamond you got scratches you or if you bleed from playing a football game to win a ring.

I am sure Mr. Suggs didn't mean it to come out like that, but that is a pretty insensitive and idiotic thing to say.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pirates Sign Russell Martin

It seems like I haven't written much about the Pirates in a while and that is because I haven't there hasn't been much to talk about and the stuff that people are talking about is meaningless and overblown. Well, today they made a significant splash in the free agent market signing Russell Martin to a two year, $17 million deal.

Martin played the 2011 season with the New York Yankees when he hit for a .211/.311/.403 with 21 home runs and 50 runs scored.

Here are Martin's career numbers:

2006 23 LAD 121 468 415 65 117 26 4 10 65 10 5 45 57 .282 .355 .436 .792 101 181
2007 24 LAD 151 620 540 87 158 32 3 19 87 21 9 67 89 .293 .374 .469 .843 116 253
2008 25 LAD 155 650 553 87 155 25 0 13 69 18 6 90 83 .280 .385 .396 .781 108 219
2009 26 LAD 143 588 505 63 126 19 0 7 53 11 6 69 80 .250 .352 .329 .680 86 166
2010 27 LAD 97 387 331 45 82 13 0 5 26 6 2 48 61 .248 .347 .332 .679 88 110
2011 28 NYY 125 476 417 57 99 17 0 18 65 8 2 50 81 .237 .324 .408 .732 95 170
2012 29 NYY 133 485 422 50 89 18 0 21 53 6 1 53 95 .211 .311 .403 .713 92 170
7 Yrs 925 3674 3183 454 826 150 7 93 418 80 31 422 546 .260 .352 .399 .751 99 1269
162 Game Avg. 162 643 557 80 145 26 1 16 73 14 5 74 96 .260 .352 .399 .751 99 222
LAD (5 yrs) 667 2713 2344 347 638 115 7 54 300 66 28 319 370 .272 .365 .396 .761 101 929
NYY (2 yrs) 258 961 839 107 188 35 0 39 118 14 3 103 176 .224 .317 .405 .723 94 340
NL (5 yrs) 667 2713 2344 347 638 115 7 54 300 66 28 319 370 .272 .365 .396 .761 101 929
AL (2 yrs) 258 961 839 107 188 35 0 39 118 14 3 103 176 .224 .317 .405 .723 94 340
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/29/2012.

Martin was regarded as one of the best free agent catchers on the market this season and while he had a pretty bad year at the plate last season he has a pretty good career line with a little bit of pop and some pretty good OBP. The one thing that the Pirates team struggles with is OBP and Martin is a guy that will take a walk. His walk rate over his career is 11.8% and while that was a little lower last year (10.9%) it still would have been the best on the Pirates team. Add in a little pop to the bat and it brings some value despite a low average.

All-in-all I am pretty neutral on Martin. While he has had some really good success in the past his play has taken a dip over the past three years on the offensive end despite him setting a career high in home runs during the 2012 season.

Obviously this is an upgrade over Rod Barajas, but to be truthful you or I behind the plate would have been an improvement. Martin is a nice improvement and one of the best on the market and while I don't think that he will replicate his 21 home run season (as a right handed hitter at PNC Park) I do think that he will be a little closer to Bill James' projections of .242/.340/.394 that he has set for Martin next season. While Martin had a bad year at the plate he was still over a two win player and has been for the past three seasons.

I do like that this is only a two year deal. When people were talking about Martin being a Pirate they were in the three year range around $22-25M but to get him at only two years is a plus in my eyes. They obviously had to pay a little more to get only two years but that is something that the Pirates front office thought it was the right move to make. Is he worth the $8.5M over two years? Probably not, but he absolutely makes the team better at a position they were just awful at last season. Not saying that is the right way to do business but right now the only catcher the Pirates have on the big club is Michael McKenry and in my humble opinion I really don't think Tony Sanchez is ready to move up.

The other thing to remember is that this will only be Martin's age 30 season. I am not going to lie when I was thinking about Martin I thought he was a little older than that but you are talking about one of the younger guys on the market with some previously talent.

Some are obviously going to point to the fact that Martin has thrown about about an average of 30% of runners at this point in his career and last season the Pirates were around about 8%. He is a pretty good guy to have behind the plate but lets not pretend like he is going to solve the problem of teams running against the Pirates. Most of the problems with stealing base stealers is that Clint Hurdle just flat refuses to have his pitchers hold runners on. Until that changes the struggles against base runners will not improve. Bottom line. One place that will be improved is framing pitchers where Martin did a pretty good job last year and in a Baseball Prospectus article they had him as the second-best pitch receiver in the league.

While I know a lot of people are going to bang on Martin for his bad year at the plate last year I would be remised if I didn't mention that in the second half of the year Martin hit .242/.321/.456. I would take that in a second.

Like I said before I am pretty neutral on the deal. I see the reasons why the Pirates shouldn't have signed him and I laid out a few reason why maybe this isn't the worst signing in the world as most people think it is. Bottom line is that right now, today, the Pirates are better at a position they were really bad at. Other than that I will wait to see what Martin brings when the season starts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Steelers Game 11 Recap - Browns 20, Steelers 14

Typically a Browns/Steelers game goes one of two ways: 1) The Steelers dominate the game to the point that the second half doesn't really matter or 2) the Steelers play some pretty bad football but the Browns fumble the chance to win the football game. Yesterday was shaping up to be in the second category but the Steelers out-sucked the Browns and dropped a game to them for only the second time in 17 games. Was it that bad? It was that bad.

Here is a quick recap:

The Good:

-There really wasn't much. Starting on the offensive side the good was only two players and they were Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller. With the receiving core broken down with a ton of injuries and having two guys dress (out of the four) who haven't been on field at all this season. Sanders has been very good since Antonio Brown went out and Jerricho Cotchery did the same. Sanders led the team with 75 yards receiving and when Charlie Batch couldn't get anything going he was able to adjust routes and make the plays. In the same way that Sanders was making plays Heath Miller was the security blanket for Batch and made a team-best six catches for 63 yards. he would have almost had 100 yards receiving on the day if it weren't for a negated 33 yard grab in the fourth quarter. Interesting that the Steelers didn't try to utilize Miller more and if they did I think they could have had a much better shot of moving up and down the field.

-The entire defense was outstanding. You can look at the final score and see that the Browns scored 20 points but nearly all those points were scored on short fields where the defense really had no chance to make a stop. Lawrence Timmons continues to play some really good football with a pick-6 on the Browns first possession and continually gave the Browns no lanes in either the run or pass game. Cleveland finished the game with only 238 total yards and a mere 130 passing yards. The Browns scored on three different possessions that went 33, 10 and 31 yards. You can't ask for a ton more from a defense. The only criticism you could remotely come up with is that they let a few picks go through their hands but other than that it was another great game for the defense. They forced the Browns to punt the ball ten (!) times and if the offense wasn't giving it back to Cleveland every possession they probably win this game easy. Individually you have to give a shout out to James Harrison. At the start of the season he wasn't on the field and when he did come back on the field he looked liked he lost a few steps. The past couple of games looks like he found his stride and he was one of the best defensive players on the field on Sunday. It is sure a good sight to see.

-The specials teams were pretty good, especially punter Drew Butler. He hasn't been completely consistent this year but Butler was very good at flipping the field position and with the help of some good coverage units limited the Browns to some pretty shoddy field position. Butler finished the game with six punts that averaged nearly 46 yards per punt with a long of 55. The Steelers won the special teams battle but it didn't really mean all that much in the end.

The bad. The Terrible. The Horrible.

-Yup, there were really only three positives in the game. It was that bad.

-The Steelers turned the ball over eight times. Eight. They tallied five lost fumbles and three interceptions. As bad as that sounds they actually fumbled the ball eight times but had enough dumb luck to have three either go out of play or recover them. Each of the four running backs fumbled at least once while Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Rainey and Sanders each fumbled a pair of times. I literally have no idea how the Steelers only lost by six.

-Batch wasn't nearly the only reason that the Steelers lost but man he was pretty brutal. He was consistently missing receivers and wasn't able to push the ball down field and was picked on three different passes that weren't very good throws. He had Mike Wallace open down the middle of the field on a deep ball and under threw him pretty bad and just didn't have the arm strength on it to get the ball to his receivers on out routes. I guess there was a reason he wasn't brought in against Baltimore. I like Chuck, but, man, it was bad.

-The offensive line was pretty decent in pass blocking but the run blocking was pretty brutal. Sure, the running back couldn't hold on to the football but they were getting hit at or behind the line of scrimmage and that resulted in only 49 rushing yards on 20 carries between about a million backs. With the inability of Batch to throw the ball really at all the Browns were able to stack the line of scrimmage and stuff the run.

-The Steelers have had a really tough time with penalties all season and that portion came up again. The Steelers were penalized nine times for 68 yards and a majority of those were holding penalties that wiped out positive gaining plays and put the Steelers in a bunch of 1st-and-20 situation where they weren't able to have success. I would say that they can have this cleaned up and that it is something that is changeable but at this point in the season I am not sure how much change can happen.

-The injury bug was bad before the game and it got much worse against the Browns. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley and tackle Mike Adams were both lost due to ankle injuries and that just added to the loss of Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu just for a start. Earlier on Monday Marcus Gilbert was placed on the IR which ended his season. While Adams looks like he is going to miss a few weeks it seems as if most of the other walking wounded could play on Sunday afternoon but as it sits right now the injury situation is a huge reason the Steelers fell in back-to-back games.

-I could go through a lot of other negative things but the fact remains that the Steelers still lost to the Browns, which stings.

The Steelers are now in an interesting position. At 6-5 they still sit in the playoffs as they hold the tiebreaker over the Bengals. Basically this is a three team race for the final two spots between Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Miami Dolphins still have only six losses but they have a brutal finish to the season and the Chargers are all but out of it with seven losses. I know there isn't much substance to this but the last playoff spot is really going to come down to the December 23rd Steelers/Bengals game. Winner probably gets in. I know a ton of people are really down on the Steelers right now but barring a huge collapse or the Steelers just not getting healthy I still think this is a playoff team. If they get healthy this team can still be really good, especially with how well the defense has played. Oh yea, and having Big Ben.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Steelers Game Day 11 Preview - @ Cleveland Browns

The Steelers and Browns used to be a pretty good rivalry back in the day. Now, not so much. The Browns are in the middle of trying to figure out who they really are and the Steelers have been one of the best franchises in football during that stretch.

The Steelers are up against the wall to some point now playing their third string quarterback and sitting two games back of the Ravens with the season already in the second half. A win here is pretty important if they want to have a chance at the division and a loss would have them setting their priorities primarily on the wild card.

Bad Browns teams have beaten the Steelers before. Hopefully Sunday won’t be one of those days.

Let’s get this preview rolling.

The stats:

Last Week:

Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10
Passing: Leftwich: 18-39, 201 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dwyer: 12 car., 55 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Sanders: 3 rec., 82 yards, 0 TD

Dallas 23, Cleveland 20 (OT)
Passing: Weeden: 20-35, 210 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Richardson: 28 car., 95 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Gordon: 5 rec., 53 yards, 0 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 349.8 yards/game (17th)
Cleveland: 311.9 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 243.0 yards/game (13th)
Cleveland: 219.7 yards/game (19th)

Pittsburgh: 106.8 yards/game (17th)
Cleveland: 92.2 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 21.7 points/game (19th)
Cleveland: 28.2 points/game (25th)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 259.1 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 374.1 yards/game (23rd)

Pittsburgh: 169.3 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 248.8 yards/game (22nd)

Pittsburgh: 89.8 yards/game (4th)
Cleveland: 125.3 yards/game (24th)

Pittsburgh: 19.0 points/game (5th)
Cleveland: 23.4 points/game (18th)

All-Time Record vs. Cleveland: 62-56-0 (2-0 Playoffs)

Last Five Meetings
January 1, 2012 – Pittsburgh 13, Cleveland 9
December 8, 2011 – Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3
January 2, 2011 – Pittsbrugh 41, Cleveland 9
October 17, 2010 – Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 10
December 10, 2009 – Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big Ten Expansion: More Musical Chairs (by @BigBurgher)

I typically don't do a whole ton with college athletics over here. Between the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins there is a lot to do and I am only a one man show with a real job that takes up a majority of my time college stuff just sort of falls through the cracks even though I am a college sports fan.

My buddy Adam (or as you may know him on twitter @BigBurgher), approached me and asked if I would be interested in a post from some of the Maryland news that was going on between them and the B1G. I was absolutely interested in this. When Pitt moved to the ACC I threw something up and with Adam being a Maryland grad and a strong supporter of the Maryland programs this was a great way to sort of break out of the pro sports mold that we (I) have going on over here.

Needless to say this was a topic close to the heart for Adam so please enjoy this as he does an outstanding job laying it all out for you.

I must also give a huge thanks to Adam for doing this. He's the man.

What just happened?

Sometime late last week The Big Ten extended an offer to The University of Maryland to join their conference beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. Maryland's Chancellor was inclined to accept the offer almost immediately, having likely visited the issue as rumors swirled last spring, but met with University President and then University's Board of Regents late Sunday night in order to keep all on the same proverbial page. The Board voted overwhelmingly Monday morning to accept The Big Ten's offer. Maryland completed their application Monday and it was accepted and approved within an hour.

NOTE: ESPN and other outlets are reporting Rutgers received a similar offer some time after Maryland, possibly contingent on Maryland's acceptance. Rutgers is believed to be joining Tuesday.

Why would this happen?

Money. The answer to most of the questions related to conference expansion/raiding/defecting is money. However, in this instance it is not as simple as a "Cash Grab" by any of the parties.

The Big Ten had been courting Notre Dame (and their ma$$ive following) for some time until their recent deal this fall to sortof join the ACC. I will not belabor the details of ND's agreement to play ACC opponents in football and basketball, but suffice it to say: they are an ex officio member of sorts. An expansion to fourteen (or possibly even sixteen) teams is something that many figured would add stability to the Big Ten Network in the face of an increasingly shifting college athletics landscape and a not insignificant growing claim by The SEC to the title of "The Far And Away Leader In College Football, Don't Even Bring It Up, It's Not Up For Debate." Notre Dame has a VERY strong nationwide pull and when that was off the table The Big Ten likely intensified their search for prospective targets for tv dollar-driven expansion. Enter The NYC and DC markets at #1 and #4, respectively. When the Big Ten Network sits down the negotiating table with their cable distributors they'll be able to point to this. Regardless of either school's athletic prowess, academic achievement or anything, really: they have a REASON to broadcast to those markets now. 

As for the Maryland side, it's not nearly as simple. First, the money: Maryland has fell on hard times financially. Debbie Yow, athletic director from 1994 to 2010 at Maryland oversaw the school's winning of TWENTY D1 National Championships in athletics...but at what cost? Stating from the beginning it was her goal to expand Maryland into the "UCLA of The East" Maryland grew to a bloated size with a matching debt. Forced to cut nine of 27 programs just last year, there is no question that Yow left Maryland in dire straits. Prior to this move, Maryland's athletic department would not have been out of the red until 2019, and that's with an assurance to creditors that both Basketball and Football draw significant revenue. I could go on ad nauseum about Yow, how she quit before she was fired and fled to NC State, but just ask me @BigBurgher, it's easier.Big Ten schools are all members of the AAU, a higher-tier organization whose members are universities which share pooled resources such as research knowledge, programming and most importantly FUNDING (except Nebraska who was just ousted). Maryland, already a member of the AAU was a logical fit and will now be part of the CIC, the Big Ten's branch of the the tune of somewhere between $50-70M per annum in funding. It's important to recognize this: If you were completely dispassionate about college athletics this fact alone would make the move an absolute "no-brainer" as it is a complete windfall for both Maryland or any other school.

Second, the stability: If you've informed yourself of anything pertaining to the mess that are all these conference shifts it should be this: Football Rules All. Consider that Indiana Football, arguably the lowest in the Big Ten, made more money than Maryland basketball last year. Nationally, it's a ten-to-one ration of football to basketball dollars at worst. This means that a conference like the ACC, who at best will have one or two nationally relevant programs in football on any given year, is actually more precariously perched than some may think. Consider this: Wake Forest has 4,500 students undergrad. That's less than Robert Morris University. Sure, Duke is a hoops powerhouse...but they were unheard of before Coach K was there. Can you guarantee their continued relevance? What about persistent rumors that Florida State and Clemson are seeking to be members of The SEC or Big12? One thing is far more stable: The Big Ten will be around, in some form, for the foreseeable future, but the ACC may not be.

Third, the feelings: As a charter member of the ACC it may seem puzzling that Maryland would "abandon" it's brethren. The ironic and sad part of all this is that when The ACC was a 9-team conference, back in 2003, the move was made to invite Virginia Tech and Miami for the football strength they would bring. So strong was the case that football would win out that Boston College left THE LEAD SEAT at the table of Big East schools bringing legal action against The ACC to join the conference. But it has not worked. Maryland and Duke, then the loan dissenting votes at the table for that original expansion have rarely found such common ground. Sure, Marylanders may suffer from an inferiority complex at the behest of UNC, Duke and even NC State at times. But there is little room for discussion on the notion of a "Carolina Bias"...take for example The ACC's want not to move the annual basketball tournament from Greensboro. Or their refusal to give member universities a say in the Notre Dame offer. Or the recent massive increase in punitive exit fees. If you're a Pitt fan and you're reading this you don't have to take my word for it. Wait until you play Duke in Cameron, then tell me about bias. Of course, emotions have little to no place in a decision involving milions of dollars, let alone the educational direction of a publicly funded institution. A great example of this has been watching a number of highly visible alum and athletes (Torrey Smith, Len Elmore...even some of the Board of Regents) speak out initially about this move only to come on board with it as the details of the situation have become public. The fact is this: Maryland's dilemma and resulting decision is not even accurately portrayed in the "winning lottery ticket" metaphor that you likely have heard ascribed, it's more akin to their proverbial mortgage being paid off first, too.

Lastly, the potential: Under Armour. You've seen it. You've likely worn it. You probably remember those "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!" ads on television. Kevin Plank, Under Armour's inventor and CEO is a Maryland alum, former player, booster and a growing personality on the college athletic scene. His sights are set directly on Nike and their crown jewel Oregon Ducks program and he means Maryland to be his vehicle to get there. The exposure offered him via Maryland's appearance on The Big Ten Network and massive Big Ten ESPN coverage deal would mean a serious uptick in notoriety. The original "house" to be protected, it's already being said that an expansion to Maryland's Byrd Stadium will be soon to follow this deal. It's also worth noting Maryland is on "The Come Up" in both revenue sports. Gary Williams, God love him, was old school. One of the chief reasons he stepped away from the college game was the increasing importance of AAU and JuCo recruiting...and his refusal to participate (imagine if Kevin Durant or Carmelo had actually been Terps). Add to that the fact that The Balt/Wash area is literally a top 3 area for high school hoops and...well...Terps have some phenomenal recruiting classes already lined up. The same cannot be said about football, at least not to that degree, but with Penn State having a downturn recently, Maryland has locked up some impressive talent, most notably Stephon Diggs, the nation's top freshman WR recruit last season. Need more proof of football success en route? How about Pittsburgh becoming Terp territory lately? QBs 1 and 2 on Maryland's depth chart this year were from Central Catholic and Seneca Valley, along with a top WR and more on the way. Will Maryland be another Oregon? Probably not. But do they have a better chance of becoming one in the Big Ten? Absolutely.

What does this mean to me?

I suppose it depends on who you root for. If you're a Pitt fan, I apologize as it appears The Terps and Panthers will only meet one awkward season of The ACC as the basketball SUPER CONFERENCE next year. It also means more shifting landscape. It's possible UVA & UNC will be sought by the BigTen to keep up if The SEC makes a move toward 16 teams as many have suggested. As mentioned above, those plans could involve FSU, Clemson or even VTech. As for replacement schools, UConn has been wanting into The ACC since 2003 according to many. I think that happens now. If you're a PSU fan, it likely means realignment. Spanning New Jersey to Minnesota, the travel budgets for Big Ten schools will have to be sizable. I would not be surprised to see Legends & Leaders divisions to give way to more East & West groupings. If you are a fan of literally any other top 100 program in either sport: Hold on to your hats.

I won't pretend for a second to be a nonpartisan on this issue. As a 2004 graduate of The University of Maryland who has family in that area, I have followed the school's athletic development for around fifteen years. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, I am a fan of the region's three professional sports franchises, ACC Hoops was the lone outlier in my sports fandom. I'll certainly be sad to see the basketball history fall by the wayside. The truth is it has not been the same since 2003. Giving up the "Home & Away" 9-team schedule changed much of the fabric of ACC Hoops. And if what was left didn't go out the door with adding Syracuse and Pitt, I think it can be said it has now.

As a graduate, my chief concern is with the value UMD provides myself and my family, namely the diploma that hangs on my wall. This move unquestionably raises that value. Living in Pittsburgh, the last few years I would often get into arguments with people as to which conference was superior in basketball: Big East or ACC. I will admit, that last season (and potentially a few before) the answer was not what I wanted it to be. Now, I will not have a dog in that fight. Instead, I will likely be defending my alma mater as a "villain" of sorts. An institute of higher learning's first priority should be to educate, this move unquestionably increases Maryland's ability to do so. Hopefully, people will take the time to understand the above and why this has all happened.