Category Archives: Sports

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Marching Toward Madness: Sports Illustrated’s Best NCAA Tournament Cinderella Cover Stories

Best Sports Illustrated Cinderella Cover Stories Despite their bracket-bustin’ ways, you have to love an NCAA tournament underdog. Today we’re celebrating the madness with Sports Illustrated’s best Cinderella cover stories.

About this time of year, even the most manly of men start talking about the Big Dance, Cinderellas and glass slippers.

But they’re not suddenly into fairy tales, unless you count the NCAA men’s basketball tournament which enters Sweet 16 play tonight.

Fans of college basketball know the teams who typically get invitations–the Dukes, the Kansases, the Pittsburghs and the UCLAs.

But what makes the dance exciting to watch is the potential of the underdog teams–the ones whose mascots you usually have to look up–to live out their hoop dreams (and often bust your bracket in the process).

So as Cinderellas like La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast are still dancing in this year’s tournament, here are Sports Illustrated magazine‘s six best covers that celebrate the madness caused by teams like them:

April 11, 1983, “Miracle Workers”: Though no strangers to the Big Dance, the North Carolina State Wolfpack made one of the more improbable runs to the trophy. The return of injured starting guard Dereck Whittenburg in time to win the ACC tournament propelled the No. 6-seeded Wolfpack through a number of close calls, including the championship game which they won 54-52 on a last-second dunk.

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March 26, 1990, “For You, Hank”: They didn’t get the automatic bid, but the Loyola-Marymount Lions were tapped to represent the West Coast Conference based on their regular-season record after the death of guard Hank Gathers ended conference tournament play. The No. 11 seed played valiantly in memory of their fallen teammate, upsetting three higher seeds to advance to the Elite Eight before losing to UNLV, 101-131.

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March 27, 2006, “Sweet Surprises: George Mason”: Call it the year of the deep tournament upsets, as three SI covers on this date featured as many underdogs coming out on top. The 11-seeded George Mason Patriots no doubt wore the slipper the longest, as they reached the Final Four, upsetting powerhouses Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn before falling to the eventual champion Florida Gators, 58-73.

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March 27, 2006, “Sweet Surprises: Wichita State”: The No. 7-seeded and appropriately named Wichita State Shockers were the higher seed in the first round of the tournament, but the tables were quickly turned–at least on paper. As the underdog, they upset No. 2-seed Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16, where they faced the lower-seeded George Mason Patriots, on a fairytale of a run of their own, and lost, 55-63.

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March 27, 2006, “Sweet Surprises: Bradley Braves”: The Bradley Braves from the Missouri Valley Conference arrived at the Big Dance a No. 13 seed, but you would have never known it from the way they played. After upsetting such conference fixtures as Kansas and Pittsburgh, the Braves took on No. 1-seeded Memphis in the Sweet 16, but lost 64-80.

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March 29, 2010, “Divine Madness”: If the Northern Iowa Panthers were a lightly-regarded No. 9 seed when they met No. 8 UNLV in the first round of play, then the Missouri Valley Champion must have turned some into believers after knocking off No. 1-seeded Kansas. The Panthers fell to Michigan State, 52-59, in the Sweet 16, but busted many a bracket on their unexpected run.

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Bracket March Madness

5 March Madness Facts That May (or May Not) Help You Fill Out Your Bracket

March Madness Bracket

How will you fill out your bracket this year?

March Madness officially tips off this week, meaning you’ll have to answer one important question between now and then: How are you going to fill out your NCAA bracket?

By the end of Selection Sunday, the invitations will have been sent and the dance cards will have been filled, then the madness will tip off this week, which means you’ve got some important decisions to make between now and then.

Filling out your bracket for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is crucial to winning your office pool or earning bragging rights, so it’s a process not to be taken lightly.

Some matchups are fairly easy to pick, while you just have to go with your gut—or the better mascot or Cinderella story—in predicting some of the upsets that have become such a hallmark of the tournament.

I have several teams I (almost) always pick against. They’re the teams I just can’t cheer for given a certain SEC team allegiance, teams that have busted my bracket wide open on more than one occasion and teams that I’ve had good luck picking against in the past.

But even with my approach that’s a mix of loose science and just plain guessing, there’s really no telling what’s going to happen these next couple of weeks. The biggest team could fall, and the smallest school could win it all. That’s what makes it worth watching.

In the spirit of the madness that’s about to befall us, here are five March Madness facts that, whether they help you fill out your bracket or not, are still good to know.

1. Stick with the No. 1’s, at least in the first round. That’s because, as much as we might root for the underdog, no No. 16 seed has ever topped its opponent and advanced to the next round. As the tourney wears on, however, the No. 1 seed has an almost even chance of winning—or losing—in the semifinal game.

2. It’s not all about the SEC. Looking back over past champions, there’s nearly equal representation among the Big East, ACC, SEC and Big Ten. But, there was a period under legendary coach John Wooden when the UCLA Bruins cut down the nets an impressive seven years in a row.

3. The 5-12 upset hype is more fiction than fact. In the single-elimination tournament design, upsets are bound to happen, and every year analysts and prognosticators seem to hype up the 5-12 matchup as the common one. However, it only happens about 30 percent of the time, according to recent research.

4. Don’t obsess over building the perfect bracket. The odds are stacked against you here, as you have a 1 in over 18 quintillion chance of scoring the perfect bracket. So, no matter how much you read Sports Illustrated or study all the bracketology that’s out there, there’s no exact science to the madness.

5. Speaking of the madness, it hasn’t always been around. Well, not in relation to the college game anyway. The term “March Madness” was first used in 1939 (coincidentally when the NCAA tourney began) to describe the state of Illinois’ high school basketball tournament. Broadcaster Brent Musburger was the first to apply the tournament’s now nearly synonymous term to the college game in 1982.

 

March Madness Magazines Sale_featured

Using Your NCAA Bracket Strategy to Pick a March Madness Magazine Deal

March Madness SaleWhat magazine does your basketball bracket strategy suggest you read? Here, we offer some pointers by highlighting our March Madness sale titles with 70-90 percent savings.

If you’re a college basketball fan, you know March is all about the madness that’s about to ensue. It’s about bubble teams and a “Big Dance” and Cinderellas hoping the glass slipper fits.

It’s about filling out one (or maybe more) of those all-important brackets and hoping it isn’t completely busted after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Not a basketball fan? It doesn’t matter. Filling out a bracket is practically a rite of spring, and exactly how you’d do it can help determine what magazine you should read whether you’re into the games or not.

Even better, these deals and more are 70-90 percent off during our Madness Sale that continues through the end of March.

You’d pick teams based on facts. You’re all too familiar with RPI, strength of schedule and how one team’s defense can exploit another’s weakness. Odds are good you may already be a Sports Illustrated subscriber, but if not, that’s the magazine for you.

You’d pick teams based on school colors and mascots. You know the importance of just the right look. It can be a confidence-booster, after all. So it’s no surprise that you should turn to magazines like InStyle and Marie Claire to keep you in tip-top style on and off the court.

You’d pick teams based on home-court advantage. You believe there’s no place like home, so in the regional rounds, it’s a no-brainer to advance the home team—or the closest thing to it. Celebrate your own home-court advantage with Southern Living or Sunset.

You’d pick teams based on history. Forget the famed 5/12 upset the experts tend to over-hype—history says it’s only accurate about 30 percent of the time. And no No. 16 seed has ever toppled a No. 1. If you tend to side with the past, of course we’d recommend Smithsonian.

You’d pick teams based on the hot hand. Teams getting noticed now tend to carry some of that momentum over into the tournament. Since headline-grabbing news gets your attention, you’d love the hot topics covered in US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly.

You’d pick teams based on their underdog status. This is, after all, what all the madness is about–rooting for the small school to win big, even as it busts brackets in the process. It’s a risk, sure, but that’s part of the game. In that case, Entrepreneur is a perfect fit.

 

Watching football

4 Qualities That Can Make a Super Bowl Ad a Classic

Super Bowl commercialsThe Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, and now begins the best commercial debate. It takes these four qualities to make a good ad—and spending lots of money isn’t one of them.

Did you happen to tune in to a little thing called the Super Bowl last night? If you’re an advertiser and want to tap into the viewing audience of one of the most hyped sporting events of the year, it’s going to cost a pretty penny.

There’s plenty of hype about those high-dollar ads too. While fans of the winning team are still reveling in victory and the runner-up licks its wounds, the rest of us busy ourselves with a different game: Who had the best commercial?

According to the Washington Post, Best Buy’s “Asking Amy” and Tide’s “Miracle Stain” commercials were among the top five, along with Budweiser’s tearjerker “The Clydesdales: Brotherhood.” Earning low marks, according to the Washington Post, were any GoDaddy.com commercial, Volkswagen’s “Get Happy” and Gildan’s “Getaway.”

But while the debate rages on, what fundamentals should you stick to to get your money’s worth? Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine tackled that question with a Syracuse University advertising professor. Dr. Edward W. Russell said a commercial that touched on these traits could make a pricey ad a most memorable one as well. And to prove his point, we’ll jog your memory by referencing some of the best Super Bowl commercials from the past.

The Element of Surprise. Didn’t see that striped beetle turning out to be a Volkswagen ad or Joan Rivers being unveiled as the GoDaddy girl? That unexpected twist can help make a commercial a classic. Remember the debut of Snickers’ ad with Betty White? Of course you do.

Quality Storytelling. What kid (or kid in us) can’t relate to Volkswagen’s “The Force” ad with a pint-sized Darth Vader trying to wield his “powers?” Or haven’t we all had a parking lot experience similar to the CareerBuilder.com chimps? Yeah, they’re simple stories, but that just keeps ‘em relatable.

Good Sense of Humor. The majority of the Super Bowl viewing audience is male, but guys don’t mind laughing at themselves. They forget things, say the wrong things (sometimes), but we still love ‘em. Doritos’ “Healing Power” commercial was pretty spot on poking fun at the friend who forgets to water the plants or feed the fish.

The Lovable Underdog. There’s one in every game, every competition, nearly every scenario. In the absence of our team in the big game, the underdog team usually can pick up a few extra “fans” because we love to see the little guy win. One of the most timeless of these came from Budweiser featuring the donkey who fancied himself a Clydesdale.

What Super Bowl commercial gets your vote as the best?

 

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Sports Illustrated Magazine’s Best Super Bowl Winner Covers

Sports Illustrated magazinesWhat great moment from tonight’s Super Bowl will be immortalized on a Sports Illustrated magazine cover? Here’s some of the best from previous matchups.

Whether you’re playing or spectating, any sport can be a delicate tango of superstitions, a little luck and a whole lot of talent. So just imagine the hype surrounding the most super event of all.

Various football fanatics have duly noted all those intricacies for today’s game—but most importantly the first-ever brother against brother coaching matchup in what’s been dubbed the “HarBowl.”

With anticipation for tonight’s kickoff, we take a look back at Sports Illustrated magazine‘s best Super Bowl covers.

1. Jan. 20, 1969, “Super Hero, Super Joe”: Take one look at this cover, and it looks like New York Jets QB Joe Namath never once doubted his brash guarantee that his underdog squad would upset the Baltimore Colts. They did, 16-7, and Namath was named the game’s MVP, despite throwing for zero touchdowns.

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2. Feb. 5, 1990, “Joe Knows Super Bowls”: Four Super Bowl championships, three Super Bowl MVP awards, back-to-back titles. San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana saved his best performance for the Bay Area for last in this dominant 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. It’s no wonder No. 16′s jersey was retired. He did know Super Bowls.

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3. Feb. 8, 1993, “Ride ‘Em Cowboy”: Completing 22-of-30 for 273 yards and four touchdowns, Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman was close to perfect in his MVP-winning performance in this 52-17 win over the hapless Buffalo Bills—the first of the three Super Bowl titles he’d bring home to Dallas, making this cover headline nearly prophetic.

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4. Feb. 2, 1998, “Sweet Redemption”: After leading the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl three times in four years and losing—then waiting another eight years to get back—QB John Elway got redemption for those first three losses, but it wasn’t pretty. Despite his non-MVP performance—50 percent pass completion, one touchdown pass and an interception—he brought the Mile High City its first league championship.

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5. Feb. 9, 2004, “The Hero (Again)”: Then-two-time Super Bowl Champ and MVP New England Patriots QB Tom Brady looks authentically jubilant on this cover. In what could be the “greatest Super Bowl ever”—at least according to Sports Illustrated writer Peter King—Brady and the Patriots narrowly defeated the Carolina Panthers 32-29 on a final drive that set up the 41-yard, game-winning field goal with four seconds left on the clock.

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6. Feb. 12, 2007, “Colt Heroes”: One of the most decorated NFL players and only one Super Bowl victory to his credit, Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning helped engineer a come-from-behind—and MVP-winning—performance to beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 for the franchise’s first league championship since moving from Baltimore in 1984. Colt heroes, indeed.

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7. Feb. 15, 2010, “Heart and Soul”: One of the most poignant Super Bowl wins deserves this heartfelt moment of New Orleans Saints QB and game MVP Drew Brees celebrating with his young son and wife. And in bringing home the first-ever league championship to the perennial lovable losers, Brees endeared himself to the Who Dat Nation and the Big Easy forever.

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8. Feb. 13, 2012, “They Must Be Giants”: The most-watched Super Bowl (so far) between the New York Giants and New England Patriots saw little brother Eli Manning emerge from big brother Peyton’s long shadow over the sport. The Giants’ QB led his team to its second Super Bowl win with him at the helm, and in the process, he earned MVP honors for a second time for his victorious performance—and all in Lucas Oil Stadium, what used to be Peyton’s backyard.

 

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Get Ready for the Big Game With Super Deals on Magazines, Books and More

Super Sports DealsEven if your team isn’t in the Super Bowl, we’ve got deals that will make you stand up and cheer. Save up to 81% on select football-related magazines, books, calendars and DVDs.

There’s more to the Super Bowl than just a football game—no matter how big its implications are. Aside from that all-important “world champions” title on the line, there’s the sideshow of the commercials, the party food and maybe a little friendly wagering.

Just like the Super Bowl, there’s more to Magazines.com than, well, just magazines. And to help spread the word, we’re offering “super” deals on sports- and football-related magazines, books, calendars and DVDs.

You don’t even have to be a 49ers or Ravens fan to find something to suit your taste. If you’re a football fan period, you’ll love these great offers.

Sports Illustrated: This weekly magazine is about the best way to keep up with all your favorite sports—like the NFL and fantasy football—and even learn a thing or two about some others. And whether you choose a 6-month, or 1- or 2-year subscription, you’ll pay less than $1 an issue.

Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity: This book by Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees details his comeback from a serious shoulder injury, as well as New Orleans recovering from Hurricane Katrina and the Saints’ franchise fighting to survive.

Before They Were the Packers: Green Bay’s Town Team Days: What was life like before the NFL? Well, there was still football in Green Bay, and this book details those early days before the town’s beloved Packers became founding members of the professional  league.

Manning: One of the most recognizable last names in the NFL, this book is a collaboration between father, Archie, and Super Bowl-winning son Peyton. It’s a lot about football and family, as well as the Manning patriarch’s take on competitiveness among today’s youth and the new-look NFL.

Dallas Cowboys Calendar: It’s been awhile since the five-time Super Bowl-winning Cowboys hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, but true fans of America’s Team aren’t about to give up hope. Display your Dallas pride with this calendar that includes the team’s 2013 schedule, trivia, stats and more.

Redskins Warpath: Washington fans were hoping rookie sensations Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris could help propel the Redskins beyond the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Not a bad year overall, but what’s next? Stay on top of the latest news and developments with this insider magazine.

Super Bowl I-XLVI Collection: Just how much do you love the biggest game in the NFL? This 23-disc set takes a look back at the unforgettable highlights and legends over the past 45 years. Also included are a 26-page book and countdown of the top 10 Super Bowls as rated by the NFL Network.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Behind the Steel Curtain: If the saying that defense wins championships is true, then no defense has proven itself better than the Steelers’.  This DVD explores the vaunted “Steel Curtain” defense of the 1970’s, when the team’s championship dynasty of winning a league-record six Super Bowls was just getting started.