The Sports Weekender

1205763055In this edition of the Weekender, Boston gets left out of the Big Dance, the Red Sox get closer to Japan, and the Celtics win the Atlantic.

The best sporting event of the year is set to begin three days hence, and there are no representatives from the Bay State. Outside of Connecticut, the entire New England region was shutout. Our best hope, Massachusetts, doomed itself when the Minutemen blew a double-digit lead to Charlotte and then saw its at-large hopes dry up in an all-Philly Atlantic-10 final.

Boston College never got out of the blocks, and while the Eagles at least performed the admirable duty of putting Maryland out of its misery, they got hammered by Clemson in the ACC quarters. BU, the preseason pick in the America East Conference, lost in the semifinals. And Northeastern acquitted itself well in the CAA but isn’t ready to compete with the George Masons and Virginia Commonwealths in an underrated league.

So Boston won’t be dancing.

It didn’t get any better to the south. URI collapsed in the middle, Providence lost a ton of games and then lost its coach. Even Sacred Heart couldn’t close the deal playing at home in the finals of the NEC. So, we’re left with Jim Calhoun‘s schizo-UConn squad, which is capable of going deep or going home early.

Early upset predictions: Winthrop over Washington State (a surprise 4-seed), Siena over Vandy, and Saint Joe’s over Oklahoma.

Now that Josh Beckett has been ruled out for the Red Sox opening series in Japan, the smart money has Jon Lester and new father Daisuke Matzuska in line to pitch the two games against the A’s.

Now, can everyone take a deep breath please? Beckett will be fine, Tim Wakefield will adjust to Kevin Cash, and, who knows, maybe Cash will even hit his weight, and afford Jason Varitek a day off every now and then. The way people are acting, you’d think the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series in the last couple of months or something.

The Celtics made it official with a loss to Utah Friday. They are Atlantic Division champs. Not that anyone stopped to notice. Still, 50 wins and a division title are nothing to dismiss, especially with 17 games left to play.

Things are about to get interesting as they kick off the Texas three-step tonight against San Antonio. The 21-straight-wins Rockets are next, followed by Dallas and New Orleans. It is the final regular-season test, and it will be interesting to see how Doc Rivers approaches the games.

Anyone else think that the Celtics snap Houston’s winning streak?