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Saturday, 24 September 2016

#BetweenTheHashMark:  Week #4 Preview
The battle for conference supremacy begins


NORTH DAKOTA STATE!  Those three words sum up last weekend.  The five-time FCS champion Bisons collected a win many thought could happen but few that would happen.  Quick shameless plug here though, #TwineTime did pull the trigger on calling this upset and sure enough...BANG!  The Bison are undefeated against FBS opponents but this was their first win against a ranked team...and a team with conference championship aspirations.  North Dakota State fully deserves some FBS rankings love.

But the Bisons aren't the only one's to steal the headlines last weekend.  Louisville destroyed previously #2 ranked Florida State (another correct call by #TwineTime btw).  Ohio State beat up Oklahoma.  Michigan State knocked off Notre Dame.  And Clemson finally looked like a complete team...beating a minnow.  The season officially got exciting as results poured in over the day on Saturday.  How can week four live up to the hype?  With the start of conference play of course!

With the results noted above and many other top ranked teams looking strong last weekend, let's check out the updated #PowerRankings:

NCAA

1. Louisville (LW: NR)
2. Alabama (1)
3. Ohio State (4)
4. Houston (3)
5. Clemson (5)
6. North Dakota State (NR)

Congrats Cardinals...you have finally reached the coveted #1 position.  Isn't it kind of exciting to see a new team at the top of the rankings?  One not named Alabama or Ohio State or Florida State.  Louisville is quite capable of running the table if they continue to play the type of game plan they executed against the Seminoles for the rest of their schedule.  Alabama, Ohio State, Houston and Clemson remain in the #CFBPlayoff hunt of course as well, with Clemson still on the outside looking in.  Look at those playoff match up's though if these rankings held until the end of the season:  Louisville vs. Houston and Alabama vs. Ohio State.  Wow!  Oh and you probably noticed the special #6 spot going to our friends from North Dakota State.  Yes, I know the Bisons are not eligible to win the FBS national championship but, for this week anyway, let's give them some mad love for the outstanding program they have put together over the past few years.  Time to bring them up to FBS don't you think?

As for the gridiron north of the border, last weekend saw some exciting results.  Calgary survived a tough road game vs. rival Saskatchewan.  Both Quebec conference top dogs Montreal and Laval continued to steam roll the competition.  Ontario is starting to see some separation in the standings with Ottawa, Laurier, McMaster and Western looking to be the cream of the crop and Carleton trying to stay with them.  And Atlantic sees an early front runner in St. FX.  Here are the updated CIS #PowerRankings:

CIS

1. Calgary (LW: 1)
2. Montreal (2)
3. Ottawa (5)
4. Laurier (NR)
5. Laval (4)
6. McMaster (NR)

The Dino's remain at the top of the mountain after defeating a Top 10 ranked Huskies team in Saskatoon.  The Dino's will be tested again this week though as they stay in Saskatchewan to battle the Rams, a surprise team in Canada West so far this year.  As stated above, Montreal and Laval continue just rolling through their scheduled waiting to play one another yet again in the regular season and, more than likely, again in the Quebec final.  Laurier remained undefeated last week knocking off Ontario giant-killer Carleton while Ottawa continued their winning ways to stay atop the conference.  McMaster (and Western) also continue to win in a push to try and take top spot away from the Gee Gee's and Golden Hawks.  It will be tough for an Atlantic school to crack the rankings but with St. FX starting the season 2-0 and facing Quebec conference foe Concordia this week in the inter-conference game, they could slowly move up the rankings should they continue to win.  Time will tell though if that happens.

Last week's #TwineTimePredictions were pretty successful.  For NCAA, #TwineTime remained consistent in accurately predicting the winner in 84% of the games last week, slightly up from the 82% the previous week.  Overall, the winning percentage squeaked up one percentage point to 82% from 81%.  Not too bad if I can ride out an entire season in the low to mid-80% range for accuracy I say...although I am shooting for an 85%-88% winning percentage still!  Go Big or Go Home right kids?  In CIS action, #TwineTime went 10-3 on the week (including calling the Laurier win over Carleton and Calgary over Saskatchewan), upping the season winning percentage to 72%.  That opening week is still tough to overcome mind you but the winning percentage is slowly getting more and more respectable.

Here are the Week 4 predictions:

NCAA


Last Week:  53 - 10 (84%)
Overall Record:  166 - 36 (82%)

GAME of the Week:  (8) Michigan State def. (11) Wisconsin - Both teams undefeated.  Both teams aiming for a B1G championship.  Both teams have #CFBPlayoff aspirations.  One of them will see those dreams die on the field this Saturday!  Michigan State looked great last week knocking off Notre Dame.  Wisconsin struggled to beat a good, but not great, Georgia Southern.  MSU is at home and has won the past 4 meetings in East Lansing.  Expect that winning streak to continue.

UPSET of the Week:  Wake Forest def. Indiana - Quick, how many of you saw this game on the calendar in Week 4 and thought "Here is a battle of two undefeated teams going at it from two Power 5 conferences"?  Yup...crickets...but alas here we are.  This may be the biggest shocker of the season right here....Wake Forest leaves Bloomington 4-0!  Yup, I'd call that a major upset.

(4) Michigan def. Penn State

Oregon def. Colorado - #GoDucks

(1) Alabama def. Kent State

(23) Ole Miss def. (12) Georgia - HUGE SEC game to kick off the day.  Ole Miss already has two losses on the season and is pretty much out of the running for the SEC title....unless they defeat Georgia and maybe run the table (and get some luck)?  Georgia needs to re-establish their running game and Nick Chubb needs to start running like he wants the Heisman again.  Ole Miss is playing at home and have been playing great football this season despite the 1-2 record.  I smell a mild upset here.

Nevada def. Purdue

Iowa State def. San Jose State - If this game wasn't being played in Ames, I might have gone with the upset here.

Temple def. Charlotte

Iowa def. Rutgers - Time for Iowa to rebound after the big loss to FCS North Dakota State last week.

(13) Florida State def. South Florida - This game should be closer than many expect.  South Florida is undefeated and has been playing great football while FSU enters the game after being totally humiliated on national TV by Louisville last weekend.

Minnesota def. Colorado State - The Gophers are going to be 3-0?

Virginia Tech def. East Carolina - I am always a sucker for the Hokies...I just like them every year.

Central Michigan def. Virginia - Another MAC win vs. the Power 5.

UCONN def. Syracuse - The Huskies go to 3-1 with this win...dark horse team of the year?

Boston College def. Wagner

Ohio def. Gardner Webb

Cincinnati def. Miami (OH)

Northern Illinois def. Western Illinois - The Huskies finally pick up their first win of the season...against a strong (and undefeated) FCS Western Illinois.  Maybe I should re-think this pick....

Appalachian State def. Akron - Ok App St. let's get on the same page here.  I pick you to win, you win!

Boise State def. Oregon State

West Virginia def. BYU - This is a tough game to call.  I like BYU.  I like West Virginia.  Both look like strong football programs this year.  Sure neither are national championship contenders but still playing strong ball this season.

Notre Dame def. Duke - Wow have things changed.  ND is now 1-2 and basically out of the playoff.  Duke lost to Wake Forest and Northwestern after their opening season win.  This game had potential to feature possibly two 3-0 teams...now we get two 1-2 teams.

Mississippi State def. UMASS

(14) Tennessee def. (19) Florida - Ok I may not be a huge SEC fan but this is a game I enjoy watching every season.  These two schools truly hate one another and the rivalry of this game is tough to beat.  With both schools ranked and looking strong early on in the SEC, both would love to eliminate the other from SEC title consideration.  The Vols already have a loss on the season so a second would be tough to overcome.  The Gators are undefeated but are on the road for this one.

Pittsburgh def. North Carolina - Everyone bought into UNC as a dark horse team to watch this season...maybe we should have all been focusing on Pitt though.  Time to tell which of these teams is for real.

Old Dominion def. UTSA

Missouri def. Delaware State

Western Kentucky def. Vanderbilt

Tulsa def. Fresno State

(18) LSU def. Auburn

Ball State def. Florida Atlantic

Rice def. North Texas

(6) Houston def. Texas State

Arkansas State def. Central Arkansas

Troy def. New Mexico State

Nicholls def. South Alabama - Chalk up a W for the FCS over FBS once again!

Western Michigan def. Georgia Southern - Tough call here as both teams are 3-0 and looking strong.  Western Michigan is at home though so I give them the slight advantage.  But let's hope for a close game...perhaps 2OT?

UCF def. Florida International

Middle Tennessee def. Louisiana Tech

Kansas State def. Missouri State

(20) Nebraska def. Northwestern

(16) Baylor def. Oklahoma State - Time to see if the Bears are for real this season or not!

South Carolina def. Kentucky

(7) Stanford def. UCLA

(3) Louisville def. Marshall

Memphis def. Bowling Green - The Tigers go to 3-0 on the season?

Louisiana Lafayette def. Tulane

Southern Mississippi def. UTEP

UNLV def. Idaho

(10) Texas A&M def. (17) Arkansas - Two undefeated teams looking to take an early advantage in a very competitive SEC title hunt.  For these two teams, this is almost an elimination game as neither probably runs the table after this game.  But for the team that does lose this one, that means more than likely at least two losses on the table...which is tough to overcome for an SEC title.

California def. Arizona State

Air Force def. Utah State

Arizona def. (9) Washington - The desert.  At night.  With #Pac12AfterDark in full effect.  A Top 10 ranked team playing on the road.  Hmmm....as a Ducks fan...this sounds eerily familiar...and not in a good way.  Watch out Huskies...this is the perfect time and game for the upset.  Two years ago the #Pac12AfterDark phenomena took shape when Arizona used a hail mary TD completion with no time on the clock to beat Cal.  Could we see a little bit of history repeating this week?

CIS

Last Week:  10 - 3 (77%)
Overall Record:  26 - 10 (72%)

GAME of the Week:  (2) Calgary def. (9) Regina - Could this be a trap game for the hottest team in the nation?  The Dino's escaped rival Saskatchewan last week on the road and now complete the Saskatchewan road trip against the Rams in Regina.  Regina is rolling!  After the OT escape trick they pulled on Manitoba a few weeks back, last weekend the Rams went on the road and defeated the defending Vanier Cup champions UBC.  The Rams sit 2-1 and, if they knock off the Dino's, would be tied for the conference lead and own an important tiebreaker.  Expect LOTS of offence in this game.  The Rams have scored 100 points in 3 games (the most in Canada West) but have also allowed 89 (second worst in Canada West).  Heading into the season Calgary probably circled the games vs. the Huskies as a big match up and might have overlooked the Rams the following week.  This has trap game written all over it....but I still think the Dino's prevail in OT.

UPSET of the Week:  Alberta def. UBC - I'm completely in sell mode with the defending champs.  After the loss at home to Regina last week, all hope is lost for this team right now.  Yes they are 1-2 and are still in the playoff hunt but, given how they have played this season, they are barely hanging on.  Perfect time for the Golden Bears to attack!  Alberta has struggled this season, only scoring 53 points in 3 games and allowing 110.  However UBC is just an inept on offence and struggling on defence.  Alberta will be playing in front of their home fans as well and this could be their best chance at picking up a win this season.  Who knows, if Alberta wins and Manitoba lose, the Golden Bears could find themselves tied for the final playoff spot in the conference.  As for UBC, from Vanier Cup champions to last place in Canada West....oh how the mighty have fallen!  And it couldn't happen to a better coach....

(1) Montreal def. Acadia - Oh yay, the exciting inter-conference match up's between Atlantic and Quebec.  Those usually go well.....ugh....

(4) Western def. Guelph

Queen's def. Toronto - Ok, props to you Toronto on picking up a huge W last week vs. York!  But I highly doubt you celebrate a two game winning streak, sorry.  I think Queen's picks up their first win of the season this weekend.

(6) Ottawa def. Windsor - Expect a blow out in this one....or every game Windsor plays.  #NoDefence

(10) Carleton def. York - Wow York...really?  You were destroyed last week by Toronto...Toronto??!!!  The Ravens dream season hit the wall of reality last week in losing to Laurier but they get the perfect rebound game/team.

(5) Laurier def. Waterloo

(3) Laval def. Mount Allison

McGill def. Sherbrooke

Saint Mary's def. Bishop's

St. FX def. Concordia

(8) Saskatchewan def. Manitoba - Huge game for the Bisons here.  With the Huskies losing to Calgary last week and Regina playing the Dino's this week, the Bisons could jump from 4th to a tie for second if the results go their way.  This is a team many, myself included, thought to be a strong Vanier Cup contender.  Lose this week and all hope could be lost.  As for the Huskies, they need to put the disappointment of last week behind them quickly as they hit the road for this game.  This is a perfect opportunity to stay at the top of the standings close to Calgary and give some breathing room beneath them.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

#BetweenTheSheets:  Team World Domination Continues!
International teams riding a hot start to the 2016/17 curling season
If you have been following along with the #TwineTime blog #curling coverage since the start of the season, you should notice a prominent theme.  From the Season Preview blog post to last week's post, #TwineTime has consistently stated The World Is Coming!  Well, here we are five weeks into the season and the world has arrived!  I had a sneaking feeling this season would be dominated by international teams and, thus far, can anyone really disagree with me?

Over the past four weeks on tour, we have seen three different international women's teams claim titles (Team Hasselborg, Team Tirinzoni, Team Wang).  We have also seen Team Muirhead compete in the championship final the past two weeks.  We have even seen two event finals on tour be contested between two international teams (Oakville OCT Fall Classic, Colonial Square Ladies Classic).  On the men's side, we see similar statistics.  Over the past four weeks, international teams have claimed 6 titles.  In fact, up until last weekend, Canadian men hadn't claimed a title since the opening event win by Team Sturmay in Hokkaido, Japan.  Of course last weekend Canadian men broke the streak and picked up one of the two tour titles.  Team World is taking names and moving up the world rankings at a rapid pace this season.  Whether they can continue their winning ways and tour domination is left to be seen but I wouldn't bet against them right now.

Speaking of results from last weekend, time to take a quick seat in the house, take a deep breath and let loose a #GunnerRunback:

  • The AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic could not have gone any better for the two best teams on tour last season.  Both Team Koe and Team Homan opened their seasons with dominating wins.  Koe went 8-0 in claiming the title, including victories over top ranked teams John Shuster, David Murdoch, Tom Brewster (QF), Nik Edin (SF) and Brad Gushue/Mark Nichols (F).  Props to Team Gushue though on reaching the final minus their skipper and with super spare Charley Thomas.  Team Homan went a perfect 6-0 in claiming the women's title, including victories over Marie-France Larouche (SF) and Allison Flaxey (F).  If this is how both of these dominant teams START their seasons, sky is the limit for success this season.
  • In Surrey, B.C. we saw another international champion crowned when China's Rui Liu defeated B.C.'s Cseke in the final.  Liu ended up going 7-0 over the weekend in claiming his first title of the season (fresh off a finalist appearance in his previous event in Harbin, China).  On the women's draw we see our first title defence of the season as Diane Gushulak became the first female back-to-back Cloverdale Cash Spiel champion besting Lindsay Hudyma in the final.  Similar to Liu, Gushulak was perfect all weekend going 6-0 in claiming the title.
  • At the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, SK, we welcomed back a former world champion to the tour winning circle.  China's 2009 world champion Bingyu Wang claimed her first title on tour since January 2014 (Glynhill Ladies International) when she defeated Eve Muirhead in the final.  Wang lost her opening game to defending SK champ Jolene Campbell and then never lost another game, reaching the playoffs through the B-side and running the table.  Wang went 7-1 over the weekend, including victories over top ranked teams Stef Lawton, Val Sweeting, Anna Hasselborg (SF) and Eve Muirhead (F).  Props to Team Muirhead on reaching another championship final though and doing so the hard way, advancing out of the C-side.
With last week's results in the books, and top teams Koe and Homan opening the season with tour wins and Team World continuing to put up strong results, do we see a change in the #PowerRankings?


MEN

1. Team Koe (LW: 1)
2. Team Gushue (2)
3. Team Edin (4)
4. Team McEwen (3)
5. Team Brewster (NR)

Hon. Mention:  Team Epping, Team Jacobs, Team Smith

WOMEN

1. Team Homan (LW: 1)
2. Team Muirhead (4)
3. Team Tirinzoni (2)
4. Team J. Jones (3)
5. Team Hasselborg (NR)

Hon. Mention:  Team Sweeting, Team Sidorova, Team Flaxey

As probably expected by many, we see little to no movement in the rankings after the results from last week's tour events.  The top four teams in both the men's and women's rankings remain unchanged.  But why would they to be honest?  Koe beat Gushue in a final.  McEwen and Edin both qualified for the playoffs; however, with Edin reaching the SF he does swap rankings spots with McEwen.  Although Koe and Gushue are already starting to separate from the pack.  We do welcome Team Brewster to the Top 5 though.  Brewster has reached the QF in two of three events this season and is looking like the early favourite in Scotland.

The women's rankings see no change with the top four but a similar slight swap in positions.  Team Homan started the season with a victory and remains at the top.  Tirinzoni still qualified this weekend even if they were upset in the QF stage but do see a slight dip in rankings spot because of the stronger results from their European rivals.  Muirhead reached the final in Saskatoon while Jones reached the SF.  As Muirhead does have back-to-back final appearances, it is hard not to move her up to the #2 spot.  Tirinzoni and Jones take a small step down the mountain but still look very comfortable in the top four.  Similar to the men, we welcome a new team to the Top 5 with Sweden's Team Hasselborg.  Hasselborg has been the most consistent team on tour so far in the early part of the season.  They have played three events and qualified each time.  They have a championship title, SF and QF appearance to their credit already and have quickly established themselves as a team to watch out for all season long.

Last week's #TwineTime predictions saw mediocre results.  At the #ShortyJenkins, 7 of 8 men's qualifiers and 4 of 6 women's qualifiers were correct.  While I missed both finalists on the men's side, I did correctly predict Team Homan starting their season off with a W.  Saskatoon saw mixed results with 5 correct qualifiers and predicting Team Muirhead in the final.  I actually called for them winning the title though.  As for the action out west on the ice in Surrey, B.C., only 3 men's teams were correct and 4 women's teams.  I did have Team Gushulak reaching the final but missed out on calling them to repeat their title.

We have a full calendar of spiels this upcoming weekend with action heating up the ice across the country.  Let's get to this week's #TourLifePredictions:

MEN

College Clean Restoration Curling Classic

Saskatoon, SK.

2015 Champion:  Mike McEwen

Format:  31 team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers.

Top Teams Entered:  Team McEwen, Team Edin, Team Jacobs, Team Epping, Team Carruthers, Team Ulsrud, Team Laycock, Team Bottcher

Dark Horse Candidate:  Going back to the #TwineTime preview, I am interested to see how Team Meachem comes out this season.  Last year they surprised many on tour with their strong results all year, pushing Laycock at the Saskatchewan provincial tankard and qualifying for the season ending Champions Cup.  In the off-season, there was a slight line-up change with Adam Casey joining the team from P.E.I.  This will be the first opportunity to see this new team on the ice this season.  Can they continue building on the momentum from last season?  #TwineTime sure likes their odds as being a strong up and comer this year.  And what about former second Brady Scharback?  Maybe keep an eye on him as well, he has moved to the skip position with a new team (including former Sask Junior champ Jake Hersikorn) and will be competing in Saskatoon as well.  Could we see a Meachem vs. Scharback face-off this weekend?  I hope so!

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  Yikes, the competition is going to be INTENSE in Saskatoon this weekend.  So many top teams entered into the spiel means BIG ranking points on the line.  Can teams like Edin, McEwen, Jacobs and Bottcher continue a strong start to the season?  Can Team Laycock turn around a tough start to their season in their home province?  And what about some of these watch out for teams like Team Thomas, Team Shuster, Team Morozumi and Team Lizmore?  This will be the perfect opportunity to see if those "elite" teams continue to dominate the rankings or if the "B-level" teams can finally gain some ground.  This could get interesting....

Qualifiers:  Team McEwen, Team Laycock, Team Edin, Team Jacobs, Team Epping, Team Bottcher, Team Carruthers, Team Thomas

Championship:  Team Edin def. Team Jacobs

Mother Club Fall Curling Classic

Winnipeg, MB.

2015 Champion:  David Bohn

Format:  24 team round robin with 4 pools of 6 teams.  Top 8 qualify.

Top Teams Entered:  Team Gunnlaugson, Team Dunstone,

Dark Horse Candidate:  The junior teams in Manitoba are proving to be the real deal!  We have known for the past few years the junior competition in the province has been above and beyond the competition in other provinces, as proven by the repeated national championships, but now we are seeing these teams compete on the men's level....and they are a dangerous threat against many of the more experienced teams.  Former Canadian and World Champion Team Calvert leads the way in this event as a dark horse team to keep an eye on.  As well, JT Ryan turned some heads last season and he will be looking to continue seeing his stock rise this year.

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  New Team Dunstone vs. Old Team Dunstone!  Without a doubt this is the main story line everyone will be watching.  Skipper Matt Dunstone won last season's Canadian Junior Curling Championship with the "old" Team Dunstone.  In the offseason, Dunstone moved to a new team, formally skipped by now vice Alex Forrest.  Meanwhile, the previous Dunstone team picked up a power skip of their own in Jason Gunnlaugson.  Team Gunnlaugson has found great success so far in the early going's on their new team alliance, playing three events and qualifying in all three (including a SF appearance at their opening event in Oakville).  This will be the first time this season we see Matt Dunstone and his former team playing in the same event.  While they are drawn into different pools, the chances are high we see them face off in the playoffs....and we all want to see that!

Qualifiers:  Team Gunnlaugson, Team Grassie, Team Dunstone, Team Ryan, Team Calvert, Team David Bohn, Team Peters, Team Sigurdson

Championship:  Team Gunnlaugson def. Team Dunstone

KW Fall Classic

Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.

2015 Champion:  Rui Liu

Format:  18 team triple knockout with 8 qualifiers.

Top Teams Entered:  N/A

Dark Horse Candidate:  Could this be the season for Ryan LeDrew?  LeDrew, a former lead for Brad Gushue, has played in three provinces now trying to find his place on tour.  After leaving Gushue and playing with a few other teams in Newfoundland, he moved from one coast to another and competed out of B.C. for two seasons.  After taking a few years off, LeDrew moved to Ontario, started a new team last year and is in year two of skipping his own team.  Last season they played a very limited schedule, officially entering only two events, but they did qualify in one of them.  LeDrew has the experience to succeed on tour and, with a wide open field, could turn a few heads this week.

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  Wide open field!  This is a tough one to call.  We will see many "B-level" Ontario teams competing and this will be the perfect opportunity for a few of these teams to earn some world ranking points.  Some of these teams have already been competing the past few weeks at other spiels within Ontario while others will be sliding out of the hack for the first time this season.  With Ontario being considered a two horse race between Epping and Howard with a few other teams being considered outside challengers, the teams competing at this event have a great shot at moving from an also-ran position to dark horse Ontario Tankard challenger.

Qualifiers:  Team Higgs, Team Heggestad, Team Krell, Team Duhaime, Team Retchless, Team LeDrew, Team Sakrete, Team St. Denis

Championship:  Team Heggestad def. Team Sakrete

Lakeshore Curling Club Cashspiel

Lower Sackville, NS.

2015 Champion:  New Event

Format: 12 team round robin with 2 pools of 6 teams.  Top 6 qualify.

Top Teams Entered:  Team Murphy

Dark Horse Candidate:  All eyes in Lower Sackville will be on the 11 Nova Scotia teams competing on the ice.  However, it could be a team from fellow Atlantic province P.E.I. who shocks the home province fans and takes home the inaugural title.  Keep an eye on Team Newson this weekend.  Newson does not play a full tour schedule but when the team does enter into a spiel, they usually have strong results.  Last year the team competed in only two tour events but qualified in both.  With Team Casey no longer together and competing in P.E.I. the provincial tankard is wide open and this is a perfect opportunity for Newson to put themselves in the driver seat moving forward this season.

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  While more local spiels like this new event out in Nova Scotia may not generate all the buzz and media attention, keep your eyes peeled on these events all season curling fans.  This week will be the first opportunity to see most of the top Nova Scotia men's teams compete this season.  Jamie Murphy will be the early favourite to win the Nova Scotia tankard (and this event to be honest) but anything could happen.  Many of the teams competing have the perfect opportunity to start their season's off on the right foot and prove themselves to be threats in the province.  Teams Stevens, S. Thompson and MacDougall will be strong teams to keep an eye on.

Qualifiers:  Team Murphy, Team MacDougall, Team Newson, Team Stevens, Team S. Thompson, Team Dexter

Championship:  Team Murphy def. Team Stevens


WOMEN

Mother Club Fall Curling Classic

Winnipeg, MB.

2015 Champion:  Michelle Montford

Format:  15 team round robin with 3 pools of 5 teams.  Top 8 qualify.

Top Teams Entered:  Team Englot, Team Overton-Clapham

Dark Horse Candidate:  Beth Peterson and company could be a surprise team to keep an eye out for this weekend.  Peterson reached the final here last year and will be looking for a similar deep run this year.  While many may be looking at more experienced teams like Englot, Overton-Clapham, Spencer, and Peterson, this could be the perfect under the radar team to pull off an upset or two of the top teams.  Peterson does find herself in the same pool as Englot.  They play each other in the final round of pool play, perhaps for a shot at 1st place?

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  Consider this an early season pre-Manitoba women's championship (minus co-favourites Team Jones and Team Einarson).  This field has many of the top teams in the province competing this weekend and some will be stepping on the ice for the first time this year as well.  This is a great opportunity for one of these teams to really step up and show themselves to be a strong contender to the co-favourites in Manitoba this season.  We already have seen Team Englot and Team Overton-Clapham step into the hack with good results this season but can anyone else in this field also make a case for themselves as a real threat in the province?

Qualifiers:  Team Englot, Team Peterson, Team Robertson, Team Kilgallen, Team Overton-Clapham, Team Spencer

Championship:  Team Englot def. Team Overton-Clapham

KW Fall Classic

Kitchener-Waterloo, ON.

2015 Champion:  Allison Flaxey

Format:  16 team round robin with 4 pools of 4 teams.  Top 8 qualify.

Top Teams Entered:  Team Fleury, Team Flaxey, Team Middaugh

Dark Horse Candidate:  USA's Team Christensen is going to a fun team to watch over the season.  Fresh out of the junior ranks, this will be the first full season on tour for the team.  After a runner-up finish at last year's World Junior Curling Championships, Christensen is pegged by many (#TwineTime included) to be a potential world champion and the future for USA women's curling.  They may experience the freshmen growth on tour this season but, being members of the HPP south of the border, this team has the potential to grow and contend in many events in the future.  I said this last season and I will say it again now, this team will represent USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics!

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  This event is Ontario vs. Team World.  We will see 13 of the top Ontario women's teams competing this weekend, providing an early insight into which teams could challenge Team Homan for the Ontario provincial title.  Of course we also see Team Fleury from Northern Ontario in the field as they look to get on a winning streak as well.  The international field is led by Korea's Team Gim and two "newish" USA teams to the tour, Team Schultz and Team Christensen.  All three international teams have a great shot at qualifying this week.  The Ontario teams better come prepared to defend their home ice!

Qualifiers:  Team Fleury, Team Hastings, Team Flaxey, Team Gim, Team Balsdon, Team Middaugh, Team Auld, Team Shultz

Championship:  Team Gim def. Team Fleury

Lakeshore Curling Club Cashspiel

Lower Sackville, NS.

2015 Champion:  New Event

Format:  13 team round robin with one pool of 6 teams and one pool of 7 teams.  Top 6 qualify.

Top Teams Entered:  Team Brothers, Team Breen, Team Clarke, Team Mattatall

Dark Horse Candidate:  Team Clarke without a doubt is the dark horse team in the field.  Well as much of a dark horse as you can be when you enter the season as the current World Junior Curling Champions!  This will be the first event of the season for the adjusted team, losing their world champion skip Mary Fay to her wanting to pursue her education (great decision by the way!!).  We did see this team compete at the season ending Champions Cup last year though and, even in their first event together as a team, proved they can and will be very competitive this season.  The draw is not too daunting for them and this will be a good test to see how they stack up against the top Nova Scotia women's teams, teams they will be competing against for that coveted Scotties berth later in the season.

What 2 Watch 4 (W2W4):  New event means an excellent season opening weekend for the top Nova Scotia women's teams.  Team Brothers, the defending provincial champions, will be looking to start their season off on a winning way.  The team surprised a few curling fans with their strong result at last year's Scotties and expectations are high heading into the year.  Team Breen, Team Mattatall, Team Clarke, Team McConnery and the rest of the field will be looking to take down the provincial champs and state their early claim to Nova Scotia favourite heading into the season.

Qualifiers:  Team Clarke, Team McConnery, Team Brothers, Team Breen, Team Mattatall, Team MacPhee

Championship:  Team Brothers def. Team Clarke

With the start of the grand slam of curling season only a few weeks away, #TwineTime wants to know which #gsoc event you look forward to the most?  Are you a fan of The Masters or The National?  Perhaps you love The Canadian Open or Players Championship the most?  Maybe you like a little change-up in the season and love the Elite 10 format?  Or perhaps the new Champions Cup to close out the season is the event you love to watch?  Either way, have your say now!  Check out the #TwineTime Home Page and vote for YOUR favourite grand slam event.  

Saturday, 17 September 2016

#BetweenTheHashMark: Week #3 Preview
Mid-September always provides potential slip up games for top contenders


Another week of hard work, early mornings and long nights has come and gone.  Welcome to the weekend.  It's time to add a few more deep grooves to that butt indent on your couch and enjoy some college football action sports fans.

In week one we had intense overtime games, massive upsets and a few blowouts.  We had to all know that kind of drama and intrigue wouldn't carry over into week two right?  Well, if you were expecting tons of excitement to match the opening week of the season on the turf last weekend, you probably went to bed Saturday night happy the NFL returned the next morning.  Week two did not provide too much drama to the whole #CFBPlayoff debate.  We did see many quality games on the field mind you...but no major upsets (except you TCU), rather we also saw way more blowouts and less-than-stellar final results too.

The top ranked teams basically dominated their opponents last week (minus one who had to sweat it out).  With blowouts upon blowouts upon blowouts, did any of them impress #TwineTime enough to move up (or down) the weekly #PowerRankings?  Let's find out:

NCAA

1. Alabama (LW: 1)
2. Florida State (3)
3. Houston (4)
4. Ohio State (5)
5. Clemson (2)
6. Washington (NR)

So even though all the top teams barely stressed out a quarter of football last weekend, we do see some movement.  The biggest move is Clemson.  For the second week in a row, the Tigers are looking less and less like a legit national championship contender.  The offense is struggling right now and they barely survived both "weaker" opponents.  And with those sweated out wins Clemson has to move down the rankings and now are below the #CFBPlayoff cut list.  Also worth noting is the new team in the coveted #6 spot: Washington Huskies!  The #6 spot each week will be reserved for a team maybe not quite up there for a playoff spot but a team on the verge of playoff conversation.  The Huskies have A LOT of attention towards them right now and many are considering them a dark horse pick.  Of course whether they survive the Pac-12 is another story...but for now, enjoy your spot with the best teams Huskies.

Up north, the CIS football season is getting very interesting as well.  The defending #VanierCup champions UBC T-Birds are struggling big time and were completely dominated last week by rival Calgary.  Last week we also saw crazy results in Ontario and Quebec.....and the Atlantic schools finally hit the turf.  Here are the updated CIS #PowerRankings:

CIS

1.  Calgary (LW: 4)
2.  Montreal (2)
3.  Carleton (6)
4.  Laval (5)
5.  Ottawa (NR)
6.  Saskatchewan (NR)

LOTS of movement in the rankings after last week's crazy CIS action.  Bye Bye UBC, Hello Calgary!  The Dino's destroyed the defending champs and are looking to be firing on all cylinders right now.  They have a monster of a match up this week on the road against newly ranked Saskatchewan though.  Also, who would have thought at the start of the season Carleton and Ottawa would be the dominant teams in Ontario?  Carleton has already beat Western.  Ottawa upset McMaster last week (as accurately predicted by #TwineTime btw) and has only surrendered 9 points ALL SEASON!  Defense wins championships and the Gee Gee's are looking like a championship contender.

With little to no upsets on the field last week, #TwineTime was able to pick up a high winning percentage with the predictions.  But there were a few notable wins as well, namely predicting Utah over BYU and Ohio beating Kansas.  What do we have in store this week?  It's time for #TwineTimePredictions:

NCAA


Last Week:  60 - 13 (82%)
Overall Record:  113 - 26 (81%)

GAME of the Week:  (10) Louisville def. (2) Florida State - MASSIVE game...both on full #CFBPlayoff implications but also within the ACC.  With Clemson looking very vulnerable right now, the winner of this game should have the inside track towards winning the ACC and earning that playoff berth.  FSU has looked good this season but so have Louisville.  The Cards are playing at home though and the crowd could be the difference.  Everyone is predicting an unpredictable season and upsets, this would be a minor upset based on rankings....but Louisville could turn the season on it's head quick here.

UPSET of the Week:  North Dakota State def. (13) Iowa - Yes! Yes! Yes!  What a HUGE match up we get right here.  We get the dominant FCS champions of North Dakota State going on the road to match up with a highly ranked power conference opponent.  Something has to give right?  Iowa is a good team...but so are the Bisons.  This is the upset everyone has been wanting to see since this match was originally scheduled.  Get excited college football fans, this should be a great game with HUGE upset potential!

Penn State def. Temple

(22) Oregon def. Nebraska - #GoDucks

(15) Tennessee def. Ohio

TCU def. Iowa State

Marshall def. Akron

Rutgers def. New Mexico

Middle Tennessee def. Bowling Green

(5) Clemson def. South Carolina State

Memphis def. Kansas

(9) Wisconsin def. Georgia State

Appalachian State def. (25) Miami (Fl.) - Ok App. State you should already have a ranked team conquest on your season but you fell short in the opening week.  This is redemption time...at home!  Week 3 is always a scary week for ranked teams vs. unranked teams and the Hurricanes should be VERY concerned.

Georgia Tech def. Vanderbilt

UCONN def. Virginia

Tulsa def. North Carolina A&T

Washington State def. Idaho

Kansas State def. Florida Atlantic

Ball State def. Eastern Kentucky

Central Michigan def. UNLV

Toledo def. Fresno State

San Diego State def. Northern Illinois

(4) Michigan def. Colorado

(1) Alabama def. (19) Ole Miss

UMASS def. Florida International

Kent State def. Monmouth

Western Kentucky def. Miami (OH)

North Carolina def. James Madison - Could this be a little trap game for the Heels?

Pittsburgh def. Oklahoma State

South Florida def. Syracuse

Virginia Tech def. Boston College

Western Michigan def. Illinois - The MAC came through for me (kind of) last week with a few upsets, this is a great opportunity for another one.

Kentucky def. New Mexico State

East Carolina def. South Carolina - East Carolina is coming off an upset last week, why not another one this week?  Plus, we kind of like seeing SEC teams upset right?

Colorado State def. Northern Colorado

Wyoming def. UC Davis

Oregon State def. Idaho State

Charlotte def. Eastern Michigan - Just as fast as I like to call a MAC upset win, I also know MAC teams are very prone to upset losses as well.  This could be a perfect example.

NC State def. Old Dominion

Georgia Southern def. Louisiana-Monroe

Wake Forest def. Delaware

Maryland def. UCF

Navy def. Tulane

SMU def. Liberty

Louisiana Lafayette def. South Alabama

Texas Tech def. Louisiana Tech

Southern Mississippi def. Troy

(20) LSU def. Mississippi State

(17) Texas A&M def. Auburn

Army def. UTEP

(24) Arkansas def. Texas State - The Hogs follow-up their huge OT upset win on the road vs. TCU last week with an exciting battle vs. Texas State....yay SEC scheduling!

(23) Florida def. North Texas

(12) Michigan State def. (18) Notre Dame - HUGE HUGE HUGE game right here.  The Irish cannot afford another loss if they are hoping to have any playoff chances.  The Spartans, on the other hand, need to head into B1G action undefeated to keep high playoff chances alive.  Let's hope this game lives up the hype.

(16) Georgia def. Missouri

(14) Oklahoma def. (3) Ohio State - See MSU - ND game above.  The Sooners already have a loss on their schedule and cannot afford another one.  Their entire season could be lost before they even enter conference play if they lose this game at home.  The Buckeyes are similar to the Spartans...they need to enter B1G play undefeated.

Duke def. Northwestern

(7) Stanford def. USC

(8) Washington def. Portland State

Nevada def. Buffalo

BYU def. UCLA

Utah def. San Jose State

(11) Texas def. California

Arizona def. Hawaii

CIS


Last Week:  10 - 2 (83%)
Overall Record:  16 - 7 (70%)

GAME of the Week:  (2) Calgary def. (10) Saskatchewan - The Canada West is so damn competitive, it almost feels like every week we get a match up of two highly ranked national teams.  Calgary is looking unstoppable so far this season though.  Last week they not only defeated UBC, the embarrassed the defending champs 35-8.  Both of these teams are undefeated.  Both of them have been at the top of the Canada West many, many times before.  This is probably the strongest competitive rivalry in Canada West.  Sure the provincial rivalry games are exciting and fun...but these two teams genuinely dislike one another.  USask is playing at home.  UofC has looked better this season though.  I expect another close game, maybe going down the final play, but the Dino's will pick up the big road win.

UPSET of the Week:  (7) Laurier def. (4) Carleton - So here I go praising the Ravens in the new rankings above...and then predict them to lose?  At home?  Say it ain't so #TwineTime!  Well, the OUA has already been unpredictable this season...why not add even more intrigue to the conference playoff race with this "upset".  Let's be fair here though.  Laurier is also undefeated this season and has been playing amazing football.  Remember they put up 74 points against York two weeks ago and do enter this road game following a bye week.  Carleton beat up Toronto 65-7 last week.  Expect a close battle here.

St. Mary's def. Mount Allison

McGill def. Bishop's

(1) Montreal def. Concordia

Manitoba def. Alberta - The loser of this game will have a very tough time making the Canada West playoffs.  I expect this game to basically be an elimination game...in week three!

Acadia def. St. FX - The Atlantic conference favourites look to go to 2-0 and establish themselves as the team to beat out East.

(9) McMaster def. Waterloo - Blowout city!  Waterloo has surrendered 57, 65 and 75 points in their three games this season.  This is going to be ugly way before half time.  Poor Waterloo in a way though.  Last week they played Western after they were upset by Carleton.  This week they get McMaster after they lost to Carleton.  Tough schedule for an already bad team.

(8) Ottawa def. Guelph

York def. Toronto - York you truly confuse me.  One week you win 57-13.  The next week you lose 74-3.  Last week you win 56-32.  Which team shows up this week?  The high offense one or the struggling just to get first down's one?  Given your opponent has surrendered points of 41, 32 and 65 in the first three weeks of the season, I expect to see the 50+ points team on the field this weekend.

(5) Western def. Queen's - Western won 75-14 last week.  Guess we can assume they were still quite pissed off over their upset loss two weeks ago?  Expect the same rage on the field this week...sorry Queen's.

(6) UBC def. Regina - The Rams pulled one of the biggest upsets of the season so far beating Manitoba last week.  Can they keep the upset bus rolling right into BC Place?  UBC is struggling hard as the defending national champions and if they hope to have any shot at the Canada West playoffs, let alone a repeat title, they cannot afford another loss...especially at home.  This could be another close, explosive (OT?) game.

(3) Laval def. Sherbrooke