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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cabrera Takes a Grounder Off the Face - 16 things you need to know about the Sweet-16

Miguel Cabrera gushes blood after taking grounder off face (Video)

Everybody's going to point and snicker and say, "And that's why Miguel Cabrera shouldn't be playing third base," after the Detroit Tigers slugger took a grounder off his face Monday.
Everybody should cool it. Cabrera has been receiving a lot of attention (medical and otherwise) after the impact of a grounder hitting just below his right eye caused profuse bleeding, prompting him to leave a Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Cabrera's eye seemed to be OK, but he was taken to a hospital, reportedly for stitches and X-rays.
As the video replay appears to show, Hunter Pence hit a sharp grounder that bounced off the lip of the infield dirt, taking a bad hop, hitting Cabrera in the right cheek after shattering a lens of his sunglasses. (Perhaps a cut by the plastic is what caused the blood.) Regardless, it's a play that could happen to anyone, even a great third baseman. Even someone who isn't a great third baseman but still has great hand/eye coordination like Cabrera does.
Cabrera hasn't played third regularly since the first weeks of the 2008 season, when he was so bad that Tigers manager Jim Leyland moved him to first base. But because of Prince Fielder's arrival and other roster-wide limitations, the Tigers are asking Cabrera to move back to his old position. To his credit, Cabrera has answered the call by slimming down and trying his best enthusiastically.
Perhaps it's not the best solution, especially for the likes of pitchers Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, who will rely on their defense more than other pitchers. And maybe the Tigers won't use Cabrera that much at third by the time the season is said and done.
But sometimes a bad hop is just a bad hop. Flukes happen at first base, too. The Tigers can't use nine DHs, no matter how much they might want to.

16 things you need to know about the Sweet-16
Troy Machir

1. Mid-Major Madness?
Mid-major teams are just 32-53 in Sweet-16 games since 1985. The most success by mid-majors came last year, when five small-conference schools made the Sweet-16 and two of them advanced to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four. Xavier and Ohio are the only mid-majors in the Sweet-16 this season. This is Xavier’s fourth Sweet-16 appearance since 2008, but had never been seeded lower than sixth. Only five mid-major teams seeded No.10 or higher have advanced past the Sweet-16 since 200.

2. Lower Seeds Struggle
Since 1985, teams seeded No.10 and higher have gone just 13-46. Only two No.14-seeds have made the Sweet-16 (Chattanooga – ’97 and Cleveland State – ’86), and both teams lost. Three No.13-seeds have made the Sweet-16 and all three (Bradley – ’06, Valparaiso – ’98, and Richmond – ’88) lost. Since 2000, teams seeded No.10 or lower have won just six times, and have lost 20 out of 26 games. This season there are three teams seeded No.10 or lower competing in the Sweet-16. This is also the third consecutive year that three teams seeded No.10 or lower have advanced to the Sweet-16. The most teams seeded No.10 or lower to ever compete in the Sweet-16 in one season was four back in 1999.

3. Straight Chalk
This is just the seventh time since 2000 that all No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Since 2010, only six No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16, and of that group, only three teams advanced to the Elite Eight.

4. Four Alive in Ohio
For the first time in tournament history, four teams from one state have advanced to the Sweet-16. No.2 Ohio State, No.6 Cincinnati, No.10 Xavier, and No.13 Ohio all advanced to the Sweet-16. Cincinnati and Ohio State will face-off in an interstate battle to determine one of the Elite Eight teams from the East region.

5. No Fives Alive
This is the first time since 1992 that no No.5-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Only two No.5-seeds advanced to the Round of 32 this year, and both teams, New Mexico and Vanderbilt, lost.

6. The Scores
In 1988, No.1-seed Oklahoma set a Sweet-16 record by scoring 108 points against No.5-seed Louisville. The final score was 108-98, which is the Sweet-16 record for most combined points scored in one game. The least amount of points scored by one team in a Sweet-16 game was 43, set by No.5-seed Maryland back in 1985 and by No.10-seed Miami (OH) in 1999. Maryland lost to No.8-seed Villanova by a final score of 46-43, which still stands as a Sweet-16 record for the fewest combined points scored in one game. The largest point differential in a Sweet-16 game was recorded in 2009 when No.1 Louisville defeated No.12 Arizona by 39 points, in a 103-64 blowout.

7. The West Was Not Won
No teams from the Mountain and Pacific time zones are in the Sweet-16. Only three teams from the two time zones made the Round of 32 and all three teams lost. Baylor is the Western-most team remaining in the tournament.

8. The Rematch
No.1-seed Kentucky and No.4-seed Indiana meet in a rematch of their instant classic from December 10, when Christian Watford hit a buzzer-beater to defeat the Wildcats 73-72. The game will take place in Atlanta on Friday at 9:45PM. This is the only tournament game thus far that has been a rematch of a regular season game.

9. High School Sweethearts
18 different high schools have more than one former-player on Sweet-16 roster. The Brewster Academy has five former-players still standing, the most of any high school.

10. State’s Rights
The state of Indiana has more players competing in the Sweet-16 than any other state. 25 Indiana-natives still have a chance to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Ohio has the second-most representatives with 23, and North Carolina has 18. In all, 36 different states have representatives on Sweet-16 rosters.

11. The Wolf Pack is Back
This is the first time since 1985 that North Carolina State has advanced further in the tournament than Duke. This is just NC-State’s first Sweet-16 appearance since 2005 when they were a No.10-seed. Overall, NC-State is 2-2 in Sweet-16 games since 1985.

12. No Home-Court Advantage Out West
The West Regional in Phoenix, AZ will have no teams participating that are located within 1,500 miles of the arena. Marquette and Louisville are both located roughly 1,700 miles away, while Michigan State is 1,900 miles away and Florida over 2,000 miles away. The three other Regional sites have at least one participating team that is located with-in 500 miles of the arena.

13. Bobcats are Lucky No.13
Ohio has made the NCAA five different times, once as a No.12-seed, twice as a No.13-seed and twice as a No.14-seed. They have won as many games in the 2012 NCAA tournament as they have in their entire tournament history. They become just the fifth No.13-seed to make the Sweet-16, and if they can beat No.1-seed UNC, will become the first No.13-seed to ever advance to the Elite Eight.

14. The Six-Game Streak
14 of the 16 remaining teams will not play for the 2012 National Championship. Since 2002, Every National Champion has compiled two regular season win streaks of at least five games and has advanced to the semifinals of their conference tournament. Of the 16 remaining teams, three teams (Marquette, Indiana and North Carolina State) do not meet the requirements.

15. No No.15-seeds in Sweet-16
This was the first time in Tournament history that two No.15-seeds had advanced to the Round of 32, but thanks to Xavier and Florida, this will be the 27th consecutive year that a No.15-seed has be absent from the Sweet-16.

16. 16 Teams Remain, But There Is Only One Kentucky
Of the 16 remaining teams, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets iN New Orleans. The odds of them winning the entire tournament from here on out are at a staggering 9-5. Only the Florida Gators have a larger average margin of victory (30) than the Wildcats (15.5). But the Wildcats defeated the Gators three times during the regular season with a an 12.6 point margin of victory average.

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