* Can Indiana State beat Wichita State at Koch Arena on Saturday afternoon? Yes, but there are some caveats. First, the Shockers would have to play a sub-par game. And the feeling I have about tomorrow’s battle of Missouri Valley Conference unbeatens is that the Shockers are primed for their best game in a while.
* Why do I think that? A few reasons. The Shockers are at home and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. There are critics of Wichita State and what is perceived as a soft schedule. The Shockers will want to make a statement to one of the biggest viewing audiences they’ve had this season. Also, it’s Hall of Fame day at Koch Arena. Six former Wichita State athletes, including three of the greatest players in Shocker basketball history, will be honored at halftime. There are years in which the Hall of Fame ceremony would not necessary have much to do with the performance of a team. But tomorrow is different. Robert Elmore, Jason Perez and Joe Stevens are big names in the history of WSU basketball. Perez and Stevens still live in Wichita and will have large contingents of friends and family. And by know you know Elmore’s story.
* I’m honored that later this evening I will be introducing Len Elmore and the rest of the Elmore family during the Shocker Sports Hall of Fame banquet at Koch Arena. This is one of the highlights of my career, honestly. I am thankful to the Hall of Fame committee for voting Elmore into this hall. And I’m happy that some of his family members will be here to enjoy the ceremonies.
* I look for the Shockers to win handily against Indiana State. The Sycamores are a good team, not a great one. They lack depth but are dangerous. The point guard match-up between Jake Odum and the Shockers’ Fred VanVleet will be one of the best in the country so far this season. Odum has an advantage in size and experience. Something tells me, though, that VanVleet will rise to this occasion as he has written to every occasion of his young career.
* Prediction? Wichita State 72, Indiana State 62.
* Oklahoma State visits the scene of the crime Saturday in Lawrence, where the Cowboys knocked off Kansas last season inside Allen Fieldhouse. Of course, the Cowboys are good enough to make it two in a row. But Kansas has such an advantage in size that I look for KU to take care of business. It will be interesting to see how this team continues to grow and mature. It’s been a fascinating season for Bill Self and his coaching staff, as they try to mold together a young and talented team with at least two players – Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid – who will probably head to the NBA draft after just one season.
* Kansas State is at home against West Virginia on Saturday. The Cats should roll a Mountaineers team that has been abysmal so far on the road.
* We’re taking about 75 kids and their parents to the Wichita Thunder game on Sunday afternoon at Intrust Bank Arena. Which means I won’t be watching the two NFL conference championship games live. I am recording and my plan is to avoid being told or stumbling on to the scores while we’re at the hockey game. But you know how that goes. I do like Seattle and New England to advance, though. I think most are picking San Francisco and Denver. Until proven otherwise, I think the Patriots are inside Peyton Manning’s head. We’ll see.
* I was stunned, then angered, about Emma Thompson’s snub in the best actress category for the Academy Awards. She was great as P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Absolutely great. She stole the movie. It was one of the best performances of the year, in my opinion. And then no nomination? Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock, as expected, was nominated for Gravity, one of the most overrated movies of all-time. I’m getting angry as I write this, honestly. I had calmed down and now I’m getting worked up again.
* Why do I care about Oscar nominations? Good question. I shouldn’t. These things are a million miles from me and do not affect me in the least. Or at least they shouldn’t. I suppose I want my opinions validated. I suppose, like my friends have told me for years, I think I’m always right.
* Here are the actors and the movie I hope win the five major awards at the Oscars. Best picture: 12 Years a Slave; Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofar, 12 Years a Slave; Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Supporting actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Supporting actress: June Squibb, Nebraska.
* I’ve seen five of the nominated movies: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave. I haven’t seen: Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Philomena, The Wolf of Wall Street. I hope we’re going to the late showing of Philomena tonight.
* If you listen to Sports Daily, you know music is a big part of the show. This week was Van Halen week and it was one of my favorites. I had no idea what a big Van Halen fan I was until we started playing their songs as we came back from commercial breaks this week.
* Interested in coaching baseball? Let me know. We’re looking for folks to coach in League 42 and I think it would be a great experience for you guys who like kids and baseball.
* I was paying some attention to the NBA and then I just stopped. I apologize to all of you NBA fans out there. I was checking box scores every morning, trying to get excited about the league. But it’s so hard. Not that the NBA isn’t worthwhile. It is. But only for the playoffs. The rest of this stuff seems so meaningless to me.
* I won’t pass judgement yet on the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball. I want to see how it works. I’m optimistic, slightly, that it will be of assistance to the game. We live in an age where we want the right calls and we’re less tolerant of the human element. That’s understandable. But we also don’t want to prolong these games any more than they already are prolonged.
* I’m hoping for 4 degrees and blowing snow for the Super Bowl in New York/New Jersey. How about you?
* I’m getting back on the road for Missouri Valley Conference games. Next week, I’ll be at Illinois State and Drake. I’ve already been to Missouri State. I haven’t been on the road in the Valley regularly since the 1994-95 season. It’s going to be fun.
* Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading. I’ll be in touch.