MARCH 27 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
NCAA Pool. With no local NCAA tournament pools to enter, I took to the Internet and landed in ESPN’s pool with three entries. Only in a biggie like this can you correctly pick 12 out of the sweet 16 teams correctly and still be in 1,027th place.
What I like about the ESPN pool is you can join individual groups. My best one is in a group started by Mike and Mike in the morning, ESPN’s radio show that also airs on TV. Another entry is in a Fans of Iowa group, and that one is basically done and my third one is independent. It is cooked as well.
Other than a few Hawkeye games, I rarely watched any college basketball this season until this past week’s tournament games. One thing I have learned is there are some basketball players out there that are so much better than what you see on Iowa’s roster.
Once Iowa can recruit two or three of these guys, you should see their program really take off. Even watching Iowa State play Ohio State yesterday you can see a little bit better talent level in the Cyclone program.
NCAA wrestling. The once mighty Hawkeye wrestling program isn’t any more. Penn State is the king of the mat now, having wrapped up their third consecutive national championship.
I’ve asked this question before: What’s it going to take to get the Hawks back to the glory days where no one wanted to draw a Hawkeye wrestler in the tournament? Better wrestlers? A change in philosophy?
Right now the state of Pennsylvania is fertile ground when it comes to high school wrestling and PSU coach Cael Sanderson is locking down his borders. Iowa needs to find an opening in recruiting some of these kids.
MLB baseball. Hard to believe the baseball season is about to start in a week or so. The way the weather has been there just may be a couple of snow-outs here and there. I’m anxious to see how the Cubs season develops. They seem to be hitting the ball well this spring but as usual, pitching will be the key. And staying healthy as well.
Here are my early predictions for the upcoming season. Starting with the American League, I think Baltimore will win the East, Detroit to repeat in the Central and Texas to win the West. The two wild card teams will be Kansas City and Tampa Bay.
In the National League, Washington will win the East, St. Louis the Central and San Francisco will repeat in the West. Your two wild card teams will be Atlanta and the Dodgers.
In the World Series you will see a Detroit – Washington matchup with the Tigers winning it all.