NEW: Keeping it Loose Podcast 1/17/17

Getting back in the game this semester. JT and Ryan talk about some NBA spreads for Wednesday and the upcoming NFL games. Warning extreme looseness.

Hockey East Playoffs

The Friars of Providence kicked off their bid to win the Hockey East this past weekend in a three game set against the Warriors of Merrimack. Based off the Friars stellar regular season, in which they tied Boston College for first in the league, they obtained home ice advantage for round one.

In game one, which took place on Friday, March 11, the Friars almost lacked home ice advantage as Merrimack fans poured into Schneider Arena in Providence, RI, loud and signs in hand. This, however did not faze the Friars for even a second. Less than seven minutes into the contest, Nick Saracino found the twine, and gave Providence a 1-0 lead. The lead remained as such until the third when Merrimack came back and tied things up, but not for long. A late goal by Friar Freshman Erik Foley gave Providence a 2-1 lead, which was then backed up by an empty netter by Trevor Mingoia to secure a 3-1 win for Providence.

Game two was a little bit of a different story. Once again the Merrimack fans poured in, however, the Friar Faithful were ready this time, as they too flocked to the arena. The game started slow and there were no goals until the third period, but when the Friars finally lit the lamp on a goal by Garrett Gamez just past the midway point in the final period, they never relinquished the lead. This game was locked up on an empty net goal by Kevin Rooney, and the Friars ensured that they would be advancing to Boston.

The playoffs continue this Friday as the final four contain match-ups of Providence vs. UMass Lowell, and Boston College vs. Northeastern. The finals take place Saturday night and will give the winner about a week to prepare for the big tournament as teams duke it out to become National Champions.

– K. Troy

NLCS Rematch?

(Photo via nymag.com)

The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs met in the NLCS in 2015, ending with the Mets taking care of the Cubs in 4 straight games. It came as such a shock that these 2 teams met in the championship series. With the Mets having the Nationals in their division and the Cubs having the Cardinals and Pirates in theirs, nobody picked either of these teams to make it out of the National League. 2016 will be a different story.

Both teams came up short of their goal of winning it all last year, but they both gained one thing: experience. Both of these teams are loaded with young talent and are expected to be a force in the National League for years to come. For most of these guys, this was their first time in the postseason. And with both teams making it deep into the playoffs last year, it is safe to say we could see a rematch in 2016. With the signing of Ben Zobrist, the Cubs have added a veteran player with plenty of playoff experience. And for the Mets, they managed to keep Yoenis Cespedes, they guy that catapulted this team into the postseason last season.

With both teams adding talent and experience to their already playoff bound roster, we might be looking at a Mets-Cubs NLCS rematch. We all know how stacked the Cubs’ lineup is, plus the strong pitching of Jake Arietta and Jon Lester. However, last year the Mets young pitching staff proved to the league that they are the real deal. Bringing back Cespedes gives the team and their fans the confidence they need to go all the way. On their 30 year anniversary of their last World Series title, we will see if the Mets can finish what they started last year.

– T. Ilardi

What’s going on in Canada, aye?

(Photo via trapdsince95.com)

Really big things happening north of the boarder.  The Toronto Raptors have been flying under the radar up until this point. Their success has been hidden by a smokescreen I call, the Wild West.  Sheriff Curry and Deputy Tompson have taken out the latest threat, the San Antonio Spurs. After the 30 point rout of Popovich’s gang, the news in the west has settled.

Then, the breaking news in Cleveland of the fire of their then head coach, David Blatt, provided another cover as the Raptors continued pumping out wins. As of last night, they beat the New York Knicks by ten to win their tenth consecutive game (a franchise record).  Lebron and the Cavs might have to watch out as the East may no longer be a cakewalk.

In the latest B/R Power Rankings, according to bleacherreport.com, the Raptors have elevated up to fourth spot, behind only the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder in that order. Yep, you read that right, this week has the Raptors ranked higher than the Cavs. Look out Lebron, because as of now, it looks as if there is a better chance that the Raptors pass Cleveland than fall behind the Atlanta Hawks, who are currently third in the East.

I love a good underdog story, but if Toronto keeps it up, they might not be considered an underdog anymore. However, they have a big test finishing out this season that will show the NBA and fans if they are up for the challange. As media buzz shifts north, there will be added pressure each and every night to try and catch the Cavs. Lets find out if the Toronto Raptors have what it takes, or are they just another Cinderella story that the clock hasn’t struck midnight on yet?

– R. Ilardi

NFC Championship Preview

(Photo via bleacherreport.com)

Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals

With a big NFC showdown in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend, Panthers fans are recharging their batteries after their cardiac cats held off  The Seattle Seahawks to win the NFC divisional round.  Up next for the Panthers, is a talented Arizona team that many experts believed was the pre-season favorite to win Super Bowl 50.  Not only does this game have Super Bowl implications, but for the first time in NFL history, the world will see two Heisman Trophy winners square off and try to take their team to San Francisco.

While Cameron Jerrell Newton, 26, might be the younger quarterback, he is indeed the more consistent winner in this match-up.  Carson Palmer, 36, is 1-2 all-time in the playoffs, with just his first win coming over Green Bay this past weekend.  Newton, who is 2-2 all time in the NFL playoffs, has been selected NFL MVP by the Pro Football Writers of America.  “Newton is the 41st MVP honored by the Pro Football Writers and is the first Panthers player to win the award,” said Pro Football Talk.

There are two major keys to the Panthers winning this weekend’s game.  The first is to establish a physical running attack and control the line of scrimmage.  Very cliché, but true!  Green Bay was able to protect Aaron Rodgers and get Eddie Lacy Going.  I truly doubt that any Packers fan believed that Lacy was going to rush for 89 yards with 7.2 yards per carry.  The final key is to stop the slot receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.  Panthers’ secondary and especially nickel corner, Cortland Finnegan, will have their work cut out for them, as they try and stop a prolific passing offence.  Carolina must be able to sustain long drives like Green Bay did and score touchdowns, not field goals.

– J. Tennent