BVSA Sports Show: Episode 21
Joe – We are live episode 21, our long-awaited return. I’m Joe, that’s Matt. We have so much that we’ve missed, so much to get into. We’re talking two, three months back. I think the last time we spoke, it was actually me alone in Frank’s office breaking down my March Madness bracket. Obviously, we’re not gonna dive into any of that stuff; it’s obviously too far gone. But I need to officially on camera phone up to my horrid March Madness bracket and officially apologize to all the great people of Connecticut for doubting UConn round after round, particularly Rob Faugno. I owe you my deepest apologies. My talent on this was around they’re going. So I officially own up to that. On the flip side of that, I want to officially pat myself on the back for the World Baseball Classic. I did pick Japan on camera before it started to win the whole thing. We haven’t spoken since, so I’m gonna give myself a little bit of credit for that. The reason I bring up March Madness is that I want to tie it into what’s going on right now in the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs. Both are in their Conference Finals. There are four teams left, and across the board, all three sports and tournaments, whatever, there have been so many upsets, so many underdogs advancing. And usually, it’s one round, it’s two rounds, especially in March Madness, right? But we saw UConn at the four, I think San Diego State at the five, and then the Miami Heat are in an eight seed currently in the conference final against Boston. And you have the Florida Panthers beating arguably the greatest regular season hockey team in NHL history in the Boston Bruins, and now they’re in the final against Carolina. So I’ll let you start: Is this a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Does it depend on the sport? Where do you stand with how all this is going?
Matt – To start with hockey, because obviously I just really got into it this year, started to follow it. I enjoyed it, obviously watching the Islanders. I mean, they actually had a chance, so it wasn’t the worst thing. Seeing like, obviously, hockey, I don’t really know much about it. I’ve seen the Lightning the past four years; they won it, what, three of the last four years. So it’s like, to me, I mean, knowing the NBA a little more, it was very similar; the Warriors were doing that kind of thing, but then everyone wanted to see that Warriors-LeBron matchup, which, whatever team he was on, whether it was the Cavs or the Lakers this year or whatever. I don’t hate it because I think it’s entertaining. The only thing is, like, once they beat the high seed to get to the next round, I feel like it loses its luster. Like, it beats the good team, then they’ll play like that middle-seated team, and it’s just not as, I don’t know, it just doesn’t make it as fun. I think about the Super Bowl last year where it was the two best teams, obviously completely different sport. It’s not a series; it’s one game each round, so very different. But those two best teams made one of the most enjoyable games we’ve ever seen. So I think that there is something to having the better teams being left because of the quality of play, but also for those teams to get there, obviously, they had to do something right, so I think it’s good and bad. I think that it’s good to have variation, I think it’s good to see different teams do well because that means that they’re doing something right with the draft, with trades, with free agency, all that stuff. So I think it’s okay. NHL, I’m still learning about it, but for the NBA, I think it’s good for the NBA for sure because yes, LeBron is still LeBron. He’s still with the final four, right? He’s not the same guy he was five years ago, obviously, but for him to bring a team as the seventh seed halfway through the year, they looked like they were done. They beat the Warriors, the defending champions. Obviously, the Warriors have plenty of flaws this year; it’s a little different, but that series was awesome. I watched a lot of that series. I’m not a huge NBA guy, but I watch basketball usually in the playoffs, really good series. So again, like I enjoy seeing that the Heat, they made it three of the past four years to the Conference Finals. They look like a legit team, even though they were in eight seed. They just get to the playoffs, and they turn something on. So I think it’s enjoyable. I think it’s great. I think it’s great for the NBA for sure. So, yeah, I think it’s interesting to see. I think it’ll be great to see the finals for both of those sports. I think it’ll be good.
Joe – Yeah, I think I’m with you on the NBA 100%. I stopped watching the NBA, in part because if you’re not a fan of one of six teams and probably that’s even generous, you really don’t think you have a realistic shot. So I started watching more playoffs this year than years past, and I’m following the Kings, hoping they make a run. I’m following the Knicks; that was a really enjoyable Knicks team that was able to make some noise. And like you said, the Heat are the eight seed, the Lakers are the seven seed. It’s still LeBron James, and it’s still the four teams that were in the conference final three years ago. So it’s showing that these teams and how they rebuild or how they continue to stay relevant. And I actually saw this morning the teams that were left in the NBA were a one through eight seed. There was a one, a two, or three all the way down to eight left, one of each. So that’s pretty cool. And at the end of the day, there’s still the two one seeds left, no? Denver and Boston. Like you just expressed with the Super Bowl, the best teams were there at the end. So for me, these runs are kind of cool. I don’t want to see Miami in the final; I want to see Boston. The other side doesn’t matter as much. I know the Lakers are a seven seed, but it’s still LeBron. So that to me, I think is great for the sport. I think NBA, it’s perfect. Now, on the flip side, same sport, just the college level, I think it was awful for college basketball. Yeah, it’s really cool to see; who was it? Fairleigh Dickinson got the 16 seed beat Purdue, that’s really cool. If every year a 16 seed can knock off a one, make them think they have a chance in the tournament, great. But then if you really think about it, you got a 16 playing a nine in the second round, a lot less appealing. It was supposed to be like Purdue and Memphis, was that one-eight matchup? That would have been sick. Instead, you get FAU and Fairleigh Dickinson. And now FAU made that run to the final four, right? You had a couple nine seeds go far, and we were interested here in Connecticut because it was UConn. I don’t think many people cared about UConn San Diego State in the final, probably. So I don’t think it’s that good for college basketball. I think these teams, it’s really cool to see them make, you know, win a game, win two games, maybe have a double-digit seed in the elite eight, maybe even the final four. But in the end, you want to see one if not two of those top teams at the end. The way you talk about the Chiefs and the Eagles, same way, hopefully it’s Denver and Boston. Now with hockey, I think it’s kind of a similar path. Maybe I’m biased, and maybe it’s a market thing, but you look at who was in the East, those 8 teams. I’ll see if I can name all of them right now: the two New York teams are out, the Devils are out, the Bruins are out, the Lightning are out, the Maple Leafs are out. A loaded Eastern Conference, and you’re stuck with the Florida Panthers and the banged up Carolina Hurricanes. I’m not going to tune in for a minute of any of those games. And then on the other side, it’s a little bit better. You have Vegas and you have Dallas, higher seeds. There are better teams all year. But for me, it was more of like Edmonton and Connor McDavid. I wanted to see. Seattle’s a new team I wanted to see. So I don’t think it’s as bad for the NHL. You do have Vegas, who, I believe, this is now like four of six years in existence they made it to the Conference Finals. You can argue that’s good or bad for hockey, that a brand new expansion team is making runs. Seattle, a brand new team, made a run. Tampa being the dynasty. I think there’s a huge difference between the dynasty and the new teams. But nonetheless, it’s not as bad as I think college, as it was for March Madness. But still, you wanted to see that Boston Bruins team make a little bit of a run, as much as you might like or not like them. As much as I hate the Rangers, I think I’d rather see them play Carolina right now than Florida or at least play that Florida team that upset Boston. So I think it just goes one too many steps. I think this is going to be one of the least viewed Conference Final matchups on both sides. And then the Stanley Cup, I don’t even know what your best-case scenario is. Both those teams in the East are not fun to watch. I guess you’re watching for the west side, but I don’t think too many people are going to care in comparison to if you had Boston against Conor McDavid in the Oilers. So a much different scenario. Obviously, we’ll see how it all plays out, but I think it really depends on the sport. Football’s totally different because you brought up football. It’s one game, yeah, so you can go on a run. You can win three games in a row at the right time, right? Whereas these sports, hockey and the NBA, it’s so different because the seven-game series, you would think that it’ll right the ship. Like the Milwaukee Bucks can fall to nothing or whoever, eventually, it’ll play itself out. It’s really hard to beat them far and away better team in a seven-game series. So a lot going on there, good or bad for the sport moving forward, whatever it is, we’ll see how it all plays out.
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