On Sports

Former Providence Journal sports writer Mike Szostak blogs regularly with news and analysis about sports in Rhode Island.

The Celtics will win Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals Monday against Washington at TD Garden because of the home court advantage. The home team has won each of the first six games in this series.

Forget about Boston’s franchise history of success in Game 7s. Yes, the Celtics can boast 21 victories against 8 losses in the last game of a seven-game series. And yes, the Celtics are 18-4 in Game 7s played in Boston.

The Impossible Dream. For Red Sox fans who endured the Yankees dynasty of the 1950s or who grew up during the futile years of the early and mid-1960s, those three words mean only one thing: the 1967 Boston Red Sox. The 100-1 long shots who won the American League pennant on the last day of the season. The Cardiac Kids who had us glued to our transistor radios and black and white televisions during that thrilling, electrifying summer.

In San Francisco they wore flowers in their hair in 1967. In Boston, it was baseball in the air.

Ten things you need to know about Gonzaga University to better appreciate its first appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Monday night against North Carolina.

One play doesn’t cost you a game, but one play can win you a game.

They could have won. They could have beaten third-seeded Oregon and earned a trip to the Sweet 16. Victory was so close they could certainly see it, feel it, taste it.

But in the end, victory Sunday night was not to be for the University of Rhode Island Rams. Oregon was a three-point basket better than URI and left Sacramento with a 75-72 triumph in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks (31-5) moved on while the Rams (25-10) came home to reflect on their best season in 18 years.

They can do it. They can win. The University of Rhode Island can beat Oregon Sunday night at Sacramento.

Sure, Oregon (30-5) is seeded No. 3 in the Midwest Regional and URI No. 11. Sure, the Ducks have Dillon Brooks, the Pac-12 player of the year, and Jordan Bell, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year. And they have a former blue chip recruit in sophomore shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, who scored 24 points in Oregon’s 93-77 rout of Iona in the first round Friday.

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Repeat it, PC basketball fans.

We weren’t supposed to be there. We weren’t supposed to be there.

Say those words every four hours – Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, wash them down with a Guinness – and you should feel better.

If you are a college basketball fan in Rhode Island, it doesn’t get much better than the thrills URI provided its long-suffering fans on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Rams stymied a late rally by second-seeded Virginia Commonwealth and won the Atlantic-10 Championship, 70-63, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

As balloons descended from the rafters, Rhody players pulled championship T-shirts over their uniforms, hugged each other and hugged the impressive championship trophy. The real prize, though, was the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This is how it was supposed to be, back in November when the Rhode Island Rams were ranked nationally and considered a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. This is how it was supposed to be come the second weekend in March, the Rams playing for the Atlantic-10 Conference Championship.

I really, really hope the University of Rhode Island beats Davidson in the Atlantic 10 semifinals Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh and then defeats Virginia Commonwealth or Richmond on Sunday for the championship.

There, I’ve said it. After close to 40 years of no cheering in the press box while I was a newspaper guy, I can take sides now that I am a blogger.

Two teams from Rhode Island in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? With a little luck, and another victory or two in conference tournaments this week, it could happen.

Now that the Patriots have established without a doubt that they are THE dynasty of the Super Bowl era, let’s pause to cheer another New England dynasty, University of Connecticut women’s basketball.

Never in six decades of playing, watching and writing about sports have I seen anything like the dramatic comeback the New England Patriots mounted in Super Bowl LI Sunday night.

N-E-V-E-R.

Tom Brady’s start at quarterback for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI Sunday night will bookend an unforgettable week for aging champions.

The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl for the seventh time in the B&B Dynasty. That’s Belichick & Brady, if you hail from somewhere other than New England.

Think about it. Seven Super Bowls in 17 seasons. Seven! That’s a trip to The Big Game every two years or so. How awesome is that? Most players and coaches consider themselves fortunate to appear in one Super Bowl. Come Feb. 5, B&B will have gone seven times. That’s insane!

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