March only lasts for three more days, but the Madness isn’t over yet as the Final Four tips off Saturday night.With two of Wisconsin’s opponents this season, Oklahoma and Syracuse, still in the running for the national championship, it’s interesting to look back on the development of each team since the last Badgers saw them.Oklahoma and Wisconsin squared off Nov. 29 in Norman, Oklahoma in front of a crowd of just under 9,000 people. The Badgers, 5-2 at that point, were vulnerable and a prime target for the undefeated No. 7 Sooners.Despite having Buddy Hield, a finalist for the Wooden Award, at their disposal, Oklahoma had to rely on the play of other starters and 13 points from the bench to put Wisconsin away. But don’t be fooled — the Badgers were never in the game.Oklahoma demolished Wisconsin’s interior defense, scoring 34 points in the paint compared to Wisconsin’s 10. Hield was held to just 12 points and 5-16 shooting on the night, but his baskets showed all that was wrong with the Badgers’ defense.Hield punished Wisconsin’s lax transition play with his breakout speed and gained inside position numerous times against defenders on fastbreaks. But aside from Zak Showalter and maybe Nigel Hayes, no one on Wisconsin’s roster is a standout defender.The senior put up 46 points in an overtime loss to Kansas, but struggled against Villanova earlier in the season, scoring 18 and going 6-17. Now with Oklahoma set to face Villanova in the Final Four, there is no doubt that Hield will be the focus of the Wildcats’ defensive efforts.But from what Hield has shown this season is that even on an off night, it’s not about if you can stop him, but how much you can limit him too.Immediately following what amounted to a 65-48 loss to the Sooners, Wisconsin then traveled to Syracuse to face the No. 14 Orange.With their backs against the wall, Wisconsin surprised the nation by taking down not only an undefeated, ranked opponent, but they did it on the road as well.In their 66-58 overtime victory, the Badgers broke down the famed Syracuse 2-3 zone behind the play of Ethan Happ and his 18 points.Syracuse shot just 35.7 percent on the night and struggled from behind the three-point line. They continued to stick to outside shooting despite their struggles, scoring only 14 points in the paint and were unable to rebound — allowing the Badgers 18 second chance points.The stat line should have been an alarm for what was to come for the Orange, who would go on a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season and then lose five of their last six games before the NCAA Tournament. They would, however, still squeak into the tournament as a 10-seed before embarking on an improbable Final Four run.Michael Gbinije and Malachi Richardson, while never posting fantastic scoring numbers over long stretches, have been a large part of the Orange’s success in the tournament.But what they showed against Wisconsin holds true of what they’ve done in the tournament thus far, neither are consistently efficient scorers.Gbinije, who had 19 points and went 7-16 against the Badgers, has shot over 40 percent in only one game of the tournament thus far — a 10-14 outing against Middle Tennessee State.While Richardson scored only 8 points and shot 3-11 against Wisconsin, he carried Syracuse’s comeback victory against Virginia with 23 points on a 6-16 night. But he too has only hit over 40 percent shooting in a single game. Against No. 1 seed North Carolina on Saturday, the two will need to buckle down.From the Badgers’ perspective though, they will only be thinking of how they were only two games away from it being them, not North Carolina, to face a familiar opponent.
All of this evenings games throw-in at 7.30. In Group 2 Aherlow Gaels take on Moyle Rovers in Cahir while New Inn is the venue for the clash between Ballyporeen and Drom & inch.Group 3 action has Arravale Rovers up against Moycarkey Borris in Golden while Loughmore Castleiney and Galtee Rovers – St Pecaun meet in Boherlahan.Clonmel Commercials take on Moyne Templetouhy in Fethard in Group 4 while JK Brackens and Cahir meet in Kickham Park.
Fifa honorary president Joao Havelenge has resigned after being named in a report as having received bribes.The report by Fifa’s ethics chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert also names Nicolas Leoz for taking kickbacks from World Cup rights marketing agency International Sport and Leisure.Leoz resigned from the governing body’s executive committee last week.He was accused in the report of being “not fully candid” in his explanations over the affair.However while the report says that payments to Havelenge, Leoz and the former Fifa executive Ricardo Teixeira qualified as bribes they were not crimes at the time. Fifa granted ISL exclusive rights to market World Cup tournaments to some of the world’s biggest brands and ISL received millions more from negotiating television broadcast rights. The company collapsed with huge debts in 2001 and its arrangement with Fifa was subsequently investigated by Swiss authorities.Fifa was last year forced by the Swiss supreme court to release documents relating to the case after repeated attempts to block the confidential papers’ release.It followed a report by the BBC’s Panorama programme in 2010 which alleged three senior Fifa officials took bribes from Swiss-based ISL in the 1990s.Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced in July 2012 that Fifa’s new ethics committee would be looking at the bribery allegations. That investigation resulted in the release of Tuesday’s report.The report says: “It is certain that not inconsiderable amounts were channelled to former Fifa president Havelange and to his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira as well as to Dr Nicolas Leoz, whereby there is no indication that any form of service was given in return by them. “These payments were apparently made via front companies in order to cover up the true recipient and are to be qualified as ‘commissions’, known today as ‘bribes’.”The report states that Havelenge and Teixeira were “morally and ethically reproachable” for accepting the money.Leoz told investigators he donated the money he received to a school project – but only in January 2008.The report states that payments were made between 1992 and May 2000.Questions over Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s conduct have also been raised in the past but the report says there is no evidence he received money from the now-defunct ISL. But it does raise questions about whether Blatter should have known about the bribes to other executives and labels his behaviour in dealing with aspects of the affair as “clumsy”. “There are also no indications whatsoever that President Blatter was responsible for a cash flow to Havelange, Teixeira or Leoz, or that that he himself received any payments from the ISL Group, even in the form of hidden kickback payments.“It must be questioned, however, whether President Blatter knew or should have known over the years before the bankruptcy of ISL that ISL had made payments (bribes) to other Fifa officials.”Eckert is also critical about the controls that Fifa had in place to prevent such corruption from occurring.In response to the publication of the report Blatter said: “I note in particular that, in his conclusions, chairman Eckert states that ‘the ISL case is concluded for the Ethics Committee’ and that ‘no further proceedings related to the ISL matter are warranted against any other football official’. “I also note with satisfaction that this report confirms that ‘President Blatter’s conduct could not be classified in any way as misconduct with regard to any ethics rules’.“I have no doubt that Fifa, thanks to the governance reform process that I proposed, now has the mechanisms and means to ensure that such an issue – which has caused untold damage to the reputation of our institution – does not happen again.” read more