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Favorable matchups

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Basketball:

Since Avery Bradley is likely departing that leaves us with the Trips Right plan for 2010. Barnes failure to land players that fit his scheme and can be long-term program contributors is really burning the team right now, particularly inside where Tristan Thompson is virtually a lock to start. This Tournament we saw Duke and Butler because all of the NBA loaded teams were short on fundamentals and discipline. It was a perfect opportunity for the more team-oriented squads to fill the power vacuum.

Texas was one such team that was long on draft picks and short on smart play and this must be rectified sooner than later if Barnes wants to hang around. As far as the defensive dilemma posed by Trips I think a 2-3 is most definitely the answer and I'm a little less worried about the rebounding and defense overall in the zone because: Texas has length (Trips' proposed lineup pre-Ward goes 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-9), a shot blocking presence inside with Thompson, and good rebounding from Johnson, Thompson and Hamilton.

What's more, Barnes has been discipled on the zone already from Boeheim and produced good 2-3 defenses in the past. It doesn't terrify me and neither does the possibility of returning Bradley and not having Joseph. I think the random screening offense can be run effectively between Hamilton and Brown/Ward and the overall shooting next year should be better with Williams, Hamilton, Brown, Bradley/Joseph and Thompson and GJ at mid-range.

Next year's personnel doesn't have the young talent meets veteran leadership element or the overall talent level but it's a better fit for what Barnes wants to do on offense. I don't think the Final Four is in play but the Sweet Sixteen is possible.

Another team close to most Barker's hearts, The Thunder, are also looking at the round of Sixteen in their future as they've clinched a playoff spot that currently pits them against the LA Lakers in the first round.

Laker fans will vehemently disagree but I think the Thunder could pose a serious problem, especially before Dr. Phil has them in rhythm. Remember, this is the fan base that thought the Rockets would be no trouble and expected immediate victory after Yao went down.

The Lakers have 3 weaknesses that can bring them down against the right foe. Foremost is the inability of Derek Fisher to guard speedy points that spells trouble against Russel Westbrook. Second is Lamar Odom's sweet tooth, he apparently has a love for candy that very likely is a direct contributor to his inconsistent play. The Lakers are always dangerous but when Odom is playing to his potential they are overwhelming.

Finally the surest way to beat the Lakers is when Kobe goes into Teen Wolf mode and has one of those 11-35 games with 26 points and the rest of the talented squad, like Gasol, are ignored. The Rockets had a perfect bait in Battier's reputation as a defender particularly against the Mamba. The Thunder have Sefolosha to try and accomplish that when possible.

Another means of trapping Teen Wolf is if he feels his standing in the game is being challenged by Durant and he is lured into a scoring match with the Durantula where his inefficiency could destroy the Lakers. Obviously I'm rooting for this outcome but it's only an outside shot that the Lakers overall talent won't carry them.

Football:

Scipio had a nice bit on the OL of the past and present and his general OL thesis that scheme can breed aggressiveness and effective play. I'm not sure what Hix is frustrated about from the old scheme that usually let him carry a defensive end down the field although I'm sure he loves the chance to not play pass protection 50x per game.

I'm betting on Huey emerging as the biggest winner from the new scheme that will put his 6'5" 310 pound body in favorable matchups. Overall it will be the interior OL that will love the new scheme as they will be freed from the challenge of reach blocking and passing off defensive tackles.

Also, I'm going to need someone to show me the difference between the inside zone and the zone-read other than the quarterback read part, it's zone blocking for the running back either way. At least it is as Texas with Colt, Oregon, and everyone else I know uses it. The backside threat makes all the difference, I don't think the blocking assignments change.

UFC:

UFC 112 promises to be one of the better pay-per-views perhaps since 100. I'm not really familiar with the card up to the third from the last but then some big time matchups take place. First is Matt Hughes returning to take on a Gracie. Hughes was pretty much redundant by George St. Pierre who's ground and pound is like the Vince Young Zone Read. You know it's coming but it can't be defended without selling out everything and even then is a questionable venture.

Hughes is one of the all-time greats though and I would be watching just to see him fight again. After that Baby Jay Penn makes another title defense against Frankie Edgar.

Although not enough to handle St. Pierre at 175, Penn's new dedication to strength and conditioning mixed with his incredible flexibility, jiu-jitsu, and boxing have made him a god of war at 155 and I'm not betting against him against any contender I've yet seen. I don't think Edgar is anything more than an opportunity to watch Penn the submission artist.

Similar story with the main bout, Anderson Silva vs. Demian (of the) Maia. Silva has been cleaning out the middleweight division and even took an extra opportunity to to embarrass Forrest Griffin. Maia is a fill-in for Vitor Belfort and likely just another fly caught in the spider's web. Altogether it's a chance to see 3 legends work their magic.