Why New England Patriots Are the Miami Heat of NFL

Marquee leaders, playoff fixtures and a following as partisan as politics. As LeBron James and the Miami Heat battle the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals, we cannot ignore the parallels between the boys from South Beach and the New England Patriots.

Considering their polarizing natures, the talents and personalities of their leaders and their recent disappointments in the postseason, we may aptly consider the New England Patriots the “Miami Heat of the NFL.”

Or, you may think of the Miami Heat as the “New England Patriots of the NBA.” if that sounds better.

To begin, both franchises are highly divisive. You are either sipping the Miami Heat Kool-Aid or rejecting it with disdain. Likewise, you either love seeing the stoic Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead their troops into battle, or convulse in disgust when they take the field.

Fans of the franchises will say the teams are what make sports fun. They point out that New England and Miami play at consistently high levels that elevate their respective sports, showcase two of the greatest players in sports in James and Brady and make for first-rate entertainment.

Those averse to the Patriots, meanwhile, seem to be allergic to the sight of the team. They are annoyed by the way Brady and co. coolly and confidently dispose of their competition and march through the playoffs year after year.

Similarly, the Heat-haters are fed up with the obsession with the “Big Three” of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as LeBron James’ growing legend. To people in this category, the Heat may seem like a pampered and self-centered cadre of egos rather than a cohesive and selfless team.

Neither side is right or wrong. The beauty of democracy is we are free to have our own opinions. And the thick boundary between the opposing views heightens the drama and entertainment. You won’t find many sports fans that don’t have interest in keeping up with the Pats and Heat, regardless of what they may think of the teams.

Back to the similarities. The two teams also share the burden of falling short of expectations on the biggest stage recently. The Pats have fallen short in their last two Super Bowls, losing to the underdog Giants once again last season in Indianapolis, 21-17.

In South Beach, the Big Three couldn’t strike big their first season together amid enormous hype. They fell to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals. We will see shortly if the Heat will hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in 2012.

Regardless of conversions in championships, both Miami and New England fans can happily reflect on titles in 2005 (Patriots) and 2006 (Heat).  

Clearly, the bar has been set incredibly high for both teams, and both should be fixtures in their respective playoffs for the foreseeable future.

A third clear parallel between Miami and New England is Brady and James. Both stars, the unquestioned leaders and most visible figures of their teams, are already in line to go down as among the best ever in their respective sports.

All Brady has done in ten seasons is win three Super Bowls, earn two Super Bowl MVP Awards, attain Pro Bowl honors seven times and become the youngest quarterback ever to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

As for James, he’s churned out three MVP awards, eight All-Star selections and four NBA All-Defensive First Team honors in his nine seasons.

The only clear disparity between the two superstars is James’ lack of a title. But he is on pace to eliminate that incongruity.

Without a doubt, Brady has cemented himself as among the best ever to play pro football. For James, a championship would boost his legacy greatly, but he is all but guaranteed a spot in the pantheon of the greatest to grace the hardwood.

Lastly, we must acknowledge the arrogance of both teams. Coach Belichick brings his share of pomposity to the sidelines with his ever-present smirk, aggressive play-calling and fickleness with the media.

For the Heat, King James is never lacking in self-assuredness. He may be the best basketball player on Earth, but he makes it obvious just how much he enjoys himself and the show he puts on for fans.

Of course, both Belichick and James walk the walk, and their self-confidence is part of the reason they are so successful.

The Patriots are fresh off an agonizing Super Bowl loss, while the Heat have the upper hand in the NBA Finals. Without a doubt, both teams will be in the thick of championship races—and water cooler discussions—for years to come. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

George Mason Basketball: How the Patriots Can Beat ODU on Homecoming

The George Mason Patriots are coming off of only their second loss of the year in the CAA; a disappointing 65-60 result to Delaware.

The team was finally caught after a number of subpar efforts, and their sluggish efforts offensively led to their downfall against a team they beat handily only two weeks prior. The loss dropped the previously first-place Patriots into third, due to tiebreakers.

However, Saturday is a new day, and for George Mason, it isn’t your typical Saturday either. This weekend is Mason’s homecoming, making their highly anticipated matchup with rival Old Dominion that much more important.

George Mason will tip off at 5 p.m. against the Monarchs on ESPNU. The Patriots and Monarchs met earlier this season, with Mason coming away with their first victory in Norfolk in eight years.

For Mason to complete the sweep, they are going to have to do a number of things, and I, of course, will gladly tell you them. But in the spirit of Mason’s Homecoming theme, “Where the Magic Happens,” or in layman’s terms, Disney, I figured I’d use a more unique way to outline my keys to the game.

So without further adieu, here’s how George Mason can come away with a much needed victory over Old Dominion, with a little help from our friends at Disney.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

George Mason Basketball: How Andre Cornelius Will Help the Patriots

Wednesday night’s game against Duquesne marks the long-awaited return of senior guard Andre Cornelius to the George Mason Patriots. As those of you who follow Mason basketball know, Andre was suspended for 10 games (via ESPN) at the beginning of the season for misdemeanor credit card fraud, but finally, his 10 games are up, and Cornelius can now join a Patriots team that has sorely missed him.

First, let’s look at where Mason has been severely lacking so far this season. The guard play all season has been hot and cold, and much of this is due to a lack of real experience in the backcourt. Of the two men running the point, Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen, Edwards is a true freshman and Allen played very limited minutes last season.

There has also been a real lack of depth in the backcourt, particularly once injuries or foul trouble hit. There was even a point so far in this season where walk-on Bryce Lewis had to play minutes in the first half just to give the point guards a breather.

Mason has also struggled in its perimeter defense, and most of the problems have come from Mason just allowing way too many open looks from deep. Most recently, Mason allowed 20 three-pointers over its three-game road trip, including eight to a poor shooting Towson team and seven to a Virginia team that has struggled to get production from its guards.

Speaking of guard play, opposing guards have routinely lit up Mason’s defense, including allowing 38 points to Rhode Island’s Jamal Wilson, a career high; 23 points to Bucknell’s Cameron Ayers, tied for his career high; and 18 points to Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski, his season high. 

Mason has also not been able to answer any of these three-pointers of late. Much of this problem stems from Vertrail Vaughns, the team’s three-point specialist, cooling down Since Mason’s game against Albany, Vaughns has attempted 21 three-pointers, hitting only three of them.

All of this has led to Mason not being able to light up the scoreboard like it expected—not being able to stretch out defenses, not being able to stop teams defensively and not being able to come back from large deficits.

Now, Cornelius’ return obviously won’t make all of these problems go away, but there is no denying that he will help. For three years now, Cornelius has played the point guard position, and although he can be wild with the ball at times, he has the big-game experience to help out the young point guards and to be a steady hand when Mason needs him most. 

Cornelius has also been one of Mason’s better man-on-man perimeter defenders over the past few seasons. He plays a very fast, in-your-face style defense, and provided that he doesn’t get too many reach-in fouls, is a pain to try to get open and score on.

Cornelius is also one of Mason’s most prolific three-point shooters, and you can bet we will see him try to get his shot going early and often on Wednesday. Cornelius is a historically streaky shooter, but when he is hot, as he was against UNI last season, he is nearly unstoppable and can keep Mason in any game even if it is playing poorly. 

Personally, I would like to see Cornelius start at the shooting guard position tomorrow. Despite the inexperience of the current point guards, both Edwards and Allen have shown steady improvement over the season, and I think it will help in the long run if both of them continue to get experience running the point.

By starting Cornelius at the shooting guard spot, it allows him to only focus on getting open and hitting his shots offensively. While guys like Corey Edwards are more pass-first players, Cornelius has always been shooting-oriented, so why not just put him in a position where this is encouraged?

The move would also allow the beleaguered Vaughns to come off the bench again, a role which he thrived in last year. Having him come off the bench, I think, will help him get his explosiveness back shooting the ball and make him the instant offense again that he was last season.

Overall, Cornelius’ return just makes this Mason team better, and considering it went a respectable 7-3 without him is pretty scary. I expect to see some rust on him tomorrow night against Duquesne, but once that rust wears off, opposing teams better watch out, because Mason just added one more dangerous weapon to its lineup.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

George Mason Video: Watch Patriots Party Rock the Night at Midnight Madness

George Mason made their name when as the Cinderella story of the 2005-2006 NCAA basketball season.

During the NCAA tournament, they beat perennial big fish and No. 2-ranked UConn. The thrilling overtime win allowed George Mason to reach the Final Four.

This has since put the school and the program into the spotlight. They gained national attention and become a household name.

The school’s basketball program gained the respect and built the reputation that they deserve.

So when you come across a video of the Patriots’ Midnight Madness, you understand why you want to get behind the team.

The students have a blast as they prepare for another season, even if they will not be the Cinderella story now that they are on the national stage, and this is something to party about.

Their band plays “Party Rock,” and the floor erupts with different choreography. It becomes quite the site.

The conductor bounces around and becomes a person of interest. Watch how he moves in the opening seconds.

George Mason will likely have another strong squad and will give their fans something to rock about, and the song will be a consistent theme for the team as they run through the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Patriots will gain another NCAA tournament birth, and we will see if they are still rocking come March.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Rajon Rondo visits Patriots camp

Boston Celtics all star point gaurd Rajon Rondo stopped by the New England Patriots training camp this weekend and met up with new Patriot Chad Ochocinco.

Link to original article: Rajon Rondo Visits Patriots Training Camp Article found on: Cosby Sweaters

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Tom Brady: Patriots Star Offers Strongest NFL Lockout Comments to Date

The NFL lockout is getting ridiculous for New England Patriots QB Tom Brady.

As the calender hits mid-July, player’s all around the league are getting antsy. The threat of losing regular season games are becoming real.

Now three of the faces of the league are using their stature in an attempt to push the owners into a deal. In addition to Brady, Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees all contrived a letter on behalf of the player’s.

In a statement released to The Associated Press via the NFL Players Association, the message was clear:

We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done. This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way.

As training camp sits just a few weeks away, the urgency to get this whole thing ironed out has never been higher.

The last two issues that seem to be muddying the negotiations involve the rookie wage scale and how to treat free agency for 2011 and beyond.

The amount of money guaranteed to the top picks have gotten out of hand and both sides know this. Yet the players are trying to ensure it doesn’t go too far in the other direction. The issue, as always, comes down to money. How much lower are the players willing to go? After all, none of the people making the decision will ever be dealing with being a first round draft pick.

Free agency is a bit different.

There are a lot of varying opinions on the rules with franchise tags and how to handle players who demand trades. Not to mention the two sides have no idea what’s going to happen as soon as the 2011 free agency begins and chaos ensues.

When the NFL players bust out the big guns to try and speed up an agreement—you know they mean business and are ready to get a deal done.

But are the owners feeling this same urgency?

Follow me on Twitter: BigLeagueEball

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

NCAA Tournament Schedule: George Mason Patriots Vs. Villanova Wildcats

NCAA Tournament Schedule Has A Slumping Villanova Taking On George Mason, But Will The Patriots Continue On?

The words George Mason are instantly recognizable when you talk about the NCAA Tournament, and today, the Patriots will try and capture the magic that sent the program and a Cinderella run to end all Cinderella runs years ago.

First up will be a matchup against the Villanova Wildcats, a team that is playing terrible basketball and limped into the NCAA Tournament after losing its last five games and seven of its last nine, including an embarrassing loss to South Florida in the Big East Tournament. Jay Wright’s team had looked like the best team in the Big East at one point this year, but it’s clear that this team has nothing left in the gas tank and that George Mason should advance in this tournament.

It almost doesn’t seem like it could possibly happen after the way Villanova played earlier in the season, but it’s true, and when this game tips off at 2:10 p.m. on TNT, you’ll see how this team could have fallen so far. The Wildcats have been banged up and demoralized in recent weeks and that is not the way you want to head into the big dance.

The Patriots will get past this game and we’ll see what this team can do against Ohio State. While another Cinderella run is possible, I don’t see it happening and I see George Mason going home after giving the Buckeyes all they can handle.

That’s really all you can ask from a team like the Patriots.

For more on March Madness, be sure to check out Bleacher Report’s hub for all things related to the NCAA Tournament.

Also, if you’re looking for a bracket to fill out to keep handy for this weekend, be sure to download Bleacher Report’s printable tournament bracket.

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

NCAA Bracket 2011 Predictions: George Mason Patriots vs Villanova Wildcats

In one of the toughest games to call in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the 8th-seeded George Mason Patriots will face the 9th-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the East Region. 

This game is set to tip at 2:10 EST on Friday, March 18th. 

The higher-seeded Patriots are the favorite according to the NCAA Tournament odds, which has set a spread of George Mason -1.5 over Villanova. 

Below I will offer insight into each team while also giving away my NCAA Tournament predictions on which squad comes out on top.

 

George Mason Patriots

This is a team that made a Final Four run out of nowhere a few year’s back.  The Patriots, who reeled off 16 straight victories before losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA Tournament for a 26-6 record, are back in the Big Dance.  George Mason earned an at-large berth thanks to their record, which included three RPI Top 50 wins over Harvard (66-53), Old Dominion (62-45) and VCU (71-51).

George Mason is very efficient offensively, scoring 73.0 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting, and are also stingy defensively, allowing 61.5 points on 40.7 percent shooting.  The versatility of their players, who can put the ball on the floor and make open shots from the perimeter, makes them tough to defend. 

In fact, the Patriots shoot 39.7 percent from 3-point range and had six different players notch game-high scoring honors this season.  Four of their five starters average in double-figures, led by senior guard Cam Long (15.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and junior forward Ryan Pearson (14.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

 

Villanova Wildcats

The Wildcats come into the tournament colder than any other team in the field.  Villanova lost 10 of their last 15 games overall and five straight to close out the season.  They are far from the team that was once ranked in the Top 10 and their confidence is shaken. 

The Wildcats went 21-11 this season and if they can put it all together, they will be a scary team to have to face in this field.

Head coach Jay Wright needs to come up with answers quickly.  He continues loading his teams with guards, and this has been their downfall in recent seasons.  They must get out in transition and find easy buckets to make up for their lack of an inside presence. 

The senior guard tandem of Corey Fisher (15.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Corey Stokes (14.9 ppg) are as good as any in the country.  Sophomore Maalik Wayns (13.7 ppg, 4.6 apg) can also light it up when called upon.  Freshman forward Antonio Pena (10.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg) must grow up in a hurry, while sophomore center Mouphtaou Yarou (8.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) must hold his own against some of the dominant big men he will face. 

This is a great starting five, but the Wildcats don’t get nearly enough production from their bench to be considered serious contenders.

 

My Prediction: Villanova Wins

While George Mason is certainly a formidable opponent, I am rolling the dice with Villanova, knowing that they have had plenty of time to get things figured out since getting bounced from the Big East Tournament. 

This team is still loaded with talent and senior guards Stokes and Fisher are not ready to go quietly.  Look for the Wildcats to finish off the Patriots in the final minutes behind their free throw shooting (75.8 percent) which ranks tops in the Big East.

I wish you the best of luck with your NCAA Tournament picks and hope you take down every pool you decide to enter.  To do so, you must be correct with your Final Four predictions but with enough research you will give yourself a great chance to win.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Tom Brady: Patriots Quarterback Named AP Offensive Player of the Year

Tom Brady Beats Out Michael Vick For AP Honors

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots saw their season come to a swift and unexpected end at the hands of the New York Jets a couple weeks ago, but that didn’t deter the Associated Press from naming Brady as their Offensive Player of the Year for 2010.

The news came straight from the AP just a few short minutes ago, which reported that Brady received 21 of 50 votes from a nationwide panel of football writers. Coming in at a distant second was Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who received 11 votes.

Brady led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and a 111.0 QB rating, and guided the Patriots to a league-best 14-2 record.

This is the second time Brady has received honors from the AP. The first was back in 2007, when he set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes.

Either way, unlike when Troy Polamalu was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, this was more or less a foregone conclusion. The other difference between the two is that Polamalu has a chance to win the Super Bowl this year, as his Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take on the Green Bay Packers in Cowboys Stadium this coming Sunday. Brady will presumably be watching from home, with surgically-repaired foot propped up on a pillow.

The good news for Brady is that the NFL hands out the MVP on Sunday, and it will be a shock if they name somebody other than him.

For more Super Bowl goodness, check out our countdown of the 20 Most Memorable Plays in Super Bowl History.

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

NFL Week 11 Picks: Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots

NFL Week 11 Picks: Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots

Sunday, November 21, 4:15 EST

Here is a matchup between two AFC powerhouses, as well as, a pair of big name quarterbacks.

Looking back at last week’s game, both quarterbacks had quite different performances.

Brady accounted for three passing touchdowns and one rushing score.  While, Peyton Manning was held without a touchdown pass.

Prior to dispatching the Steelers on Sunday, there were growing concerns about the stagnant New England passing game.

But after last week’s performance, it seems as through Brady still has it in him.  He just needs to find production from formerly trusty vets Wes Welker and Deion Branch.

It was also impressive how the Pats ran the ball successfully against the Steelers.

There’s also reason for concern for the Colts.  Their injuries have been mounting and Peyton Manning has not been his usual self with only one touchdown in two games.  

It’s hard to see them shaking it off against the Patriots, on the road.

Prediction: Patriots 31, Colts 24

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA