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Forecasting Champions

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Football:

Notre Dame has baptized the next head coach and we now hear everything that didn't work out with Herr Commandant Weiss. TaylorTRoom's first question for a new head coach is, "what offense are you running" and to Taylor that answer needed to be the spread.

I think the reversion to the 2-back offense is a good idea for Texas or USC who can load up on the necessary NFL caliber athletes necessary to execute that style but for the teams with 2nd tier talent it's harder to reach the gold without out-scheming someone. Chip Kelly is a spread-man along the lines of Greg Davis. Mastery of a few passing concepts that will lead to ball-control through the air along with some explosive downfield stuff when the opportunity presents itself.

I'm not sure if the spread offers the same schematic advantages as it did, but for a team with a few explosive players it's the best way to maximize them. From there Kelly focuses on execution and player development in building the team. It's significantly different than Weiss' approach of schematic complexity matched with NFL talent.

What's confusing about the hire of Kelly though is how it answers the more pressing problem for the Irish and that's defense. I don't think there's much doubt that Kelly will field a successful offense but whether they will allocate the necessary resources to defense and then build them "marine-style" into a competent unit.

Also over at Dr. Saturday is a brief discussion on an alternative to Alabama as your early national champion pick along with the skewed perspective that comes from bowl victories. Without knowing off the top of my head how many starting OL are returning at USC I'm hard pressed to find a worthy frontrunner. Most likely I think we'll see 1 or 2 loss teams in the final as 2010 swings back towards offense with the breakdown of superior defensive teams at Florida, Bama, OU, Texas and so on.

Don't get me wrong, I like next year's Texas defense a great deal but a high volume of great defensive players have left the college game including a loaded cast of defensive tackles.

Who do ya'll like as National Champion favorites?

Basketball:

Phil Jackson responded to Durant's sensitive response to Jackson's claim of superstar status.

"Good. I mean, whatever"

I'm hoping this fuels Durant to demolish the Lakers in a humiliating 7 game series but it's probably not the likely outcome. I'll say Lakers in six with a few Thunder victories that reveal the potential of Durant and co.

As for the rest of the playoff series, in the West:

I'll take San Antonio over Dallas in 7 as I think Duncan turns it on a little higher while Ginobili's rejuvenation makes the difference. I also like Hill/Parker vs. Kidd and think it all adds up to more than Nowitzki can overcome.

Utah over Denver in 6, Deron Williams is the best player on the court and I don't think the Nuggets can win a single game in Utah.

Phoenix over Portland in 5 games, Brandon Roy is out. It's all over, and have you seen much of Phoenix recently?

In the East:

Cleveland over Chicago in 5: I'm tempted to call it a sweep, not because I don't think Chicago is good but because I think Lebron is on a mission and finally mentally equipped and supported well enough to handle non-elite teams like Yeti vs. that guy who runs at 6 every morning.

Milwaukee vs. Atlanta...I haven't seen either team this season.

Orlando over Charlotte in 6; I think we see the first inkling here of how inferior Carter is to Turkoglu as a crunch time scorer but Howard's David Robinson impression should still be good enough at this level.

Miami over Boston in five: what is there to like about the Celtics right now?

Ultimately I like the Cavs coasting to the finals after dispatching the weakened Magic and then meeting...I don't even know, it comes down to matchups because with Bynum's injury I don't think any team is clearly strong enough to rise to any challenge. What do ya'll think?