Bring Out the Nova Hating

Bring Out the Nova Hating

Hotel, flights, and tickets to the game have been taken care of since last week.  Boston College and Villanova did what they had to do over the weekend to setup an absolute kick ass road trip.

My Boston College Eagles almost gave me a heart attack on Thursday and cruised on Saturday.  Nova allowed Arizona to give them a scare in the final minutes but advanced.  My sometimes dislike for 'Nova has turned into full blown hatred, for the week at least.

The New York Times and Al Skinner are saying what I've been saying for years: Craig Smith is a beast.  Bob Ryan thinks the squad from Chestnut Hill needs to ignore the media all week.

I've said before that Villanova is a great team, but that doesn't mean I have to like them.  The media has been in love with B.C. over the past few weeks, with B.C. giving Duke a big scare in the ACC Championship game, but I'm not buying into it.  I've seen too many Kenny Harley moments in my day to be confident.  Hey, I'm from Philly.  No matter what the outcome, it should be a kick ass game and one hell of a trip.

-Boston College Uses a 'Beast' to Put Away Plucky Montana [NYT]
-No Reading All About It, Bob Ryan [Boston Globe]
-Ray, Wildcats, Block Out the Doubts, Phil Sheridan [Inqy]
-2001 NCAA Men's Tourney: USC 74, BC 71 [CNNSI]
-The 700 Level is going dancing [The700Level]
-Minneapolis Bracket page at ESPN [ESPN]

Flyers hold brief practice amid 'stresses' of trade deadline day

Flyers hold brief practice amid 'stresses' of trade deadline day

VOORHEES, N.J. – The Flyers held a very brief morning practice on trade deadline day.

It wasn't a coincidence.

It was by design.

"We wanted to go out and get a good work day in, get a good sweat and we went short, went 20 minutes," coach Dave Hakstol said.

"Just pace and execution. Certainly, you want to be respectful of some of the stresses of today. Those are legitimate stresses for players and I am understanding of that."

For one day, the focus wasn't on the Flyers critical upcoming game Thursday against Florida but whether they'll all be around to see it.

Players seemed nervous in the dressing room. Some quickly undressed and left the room. This wasn't like last season when the Flyers were already on a playoff push and had some momentum. Guys weren't as nervous.

Not so this time around. The Flyers have been terribly inconsistent and most of their forwards have flat-lined in goal production. Their playoff chances are "iffy." Sportsclubstats.com rated this chance of qualifying at 2.3 percent.

"Guys checking [their] phone to find what's going on," Jakub Voracek said of the mood today. "It's never a very good day.

"If we were seven or eight points in the playoffs, it would be a different scenario. There's nothing in our control right now."

If the Flyers were seven or eight points up in the wild card, general manager Ron Hextall would likely be standing pat.

One player generating some interest, reportedly from Pittsburgh, was defenseman Michael Del Zotto. He admitted there was tension within the dressing room today.

"I've been through eight deadlines every year and it's the same every year," Del Zotto said. "My teammates and best friends have been traded. You learn early on how to deal with that.

"It's not easy, but it's part of the business. It’s tough. You're with these guys 8-10 months of the year. All day, every day. They become your second family. It's always tough when you see guys leave."

Sixers-Heat 5 things: Waiters welcomes the Sixers to Miami

Sixers-Heat 5 things: Waiters welcomes the Sixers to Miami

The Sixers (22-37) open March against the Miami Heat (27-33) at American Airlines Arena (7:30 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Gold rush
If you would have told the Sixers beforehand that they would limit the Golden State Warriors to 44.9 percent shooting from the field and 20.7 percent from three-point range that included Stephen Curry going 0 for 11 from deep, they might have expected to win the game.

Instead, the Sixers suffered a 119-108 loss on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

While the defeat had a lot to do with the team's turnover problem rearing its head yet again (23 turnovers that led to 23 points), a bigger reason was the Warriors' ability to turn to their multiple stars when things got tense.

"That's the holy grail, what they have. That is the king, in my opinion, in our league as we speak," Brett Brown said.

2. Chasing revenge
The Heat may not be on a likely track for the NBA Finals like the Warriors, but they still have postseason aspirations. They are currently two games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

If continuing their pursuit of the playoffs wasn't enough reason to be on their game, the Heat will also be out for a little payback against the Sixers.

In the last meeting between these two teams on Feb. 11, the Sixers snapped Miami's 13-game win streak. The Sixers had seven players score in double figures while they limited Hassan Whiteside to 12 points in 34 minutes during the 117-109 victory.

"They were relentless," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after that game. "They had us on our heels from the tip all the way to the end. They never let up."

3. Welcome to my house
One factor behind the Sixers' ability to knock off the Heat that night and snap their streak at 13 was the absence of Dion Waiters. The Philly native missed the game for the Heat with an ankle sprain.

Now Waiters welcomes the Sixers to Miami, where the shooting guard is enjoying the best season of his career. Waiters is averaging career highs in points (15.9, tied with his second season), assists (4.5), rebounds (3.5) and three-point percentage (38.9).

Waiters' scoring has been even better since returning from his ankle injury. He's reached the 20-point mark in three of the five games he has played since getting back on the court.

4. Injuries
Joel Embiid (knee), Tiago Splitter (calf), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Willie Reed (calf), Josh McRoberts (foot), Justise Winslow (shoulder) and Chris Bosh (calf) are out for the Heat.

5. This and that
• This is the fourth and final matchup between the Sixers and Heat this season. Each team has protected home court with the Sixers winning in Philadelphia on Nov. 21 and Feb. 11 and Heat victorious in Miami on Feb. 4.

• Whiteside has averaged 24.7 points and 17.3 boards a game against the Sixers this season.

• The Sixers scored 50 points in the paint during their last matchup with the Heat.