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Kentucky with 34-0 on a mission!

Last year, Kentucky lost a great NCAA championship game to Connecticut, and they have been on target to get back and finish what they lost last year. Kentucky at 34-0 is in the unique position of doing what only a very few teams have achieved: a perfect season. It rarely happens. Last time was 1976, Indiana University, 32-0. UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana ‹ those programs have accomplished such a feat.

But we are reminded as recently as last year when Wichita State was 31-0 and, like Kentucky, was No. 1 entering the NCAA tournament. Las Vegas says even money the Wild Cats can do it.

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It takes a special team to weather that storm, navigating through the field as the pressure mounts. Obviously there are several teams that can ruin the Wild Cats¹ season, like Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin ‹ are all No. 1 seeds.

Then there are Arizona, Virginia, Louisville and North Carolina, all very good and capable teams that are well coached. Kentucky¹s John Calipari is obviously a great coach, and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke seems to get the best talent every year. He is not the most respected or well-liked coach, but if he goes 40-0 he will climb to the top of the coaching circles.

This year the BIG got seven teams ‹ Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa ‹ in the NCAA. Wisconsin is for the first time a No. 1 seed, and remember, they were a Final Four team last year.

The brain trust at Minnesota ran Tubby Smith out of town after beating UCLA in the field of 32 three years ago and after three NCAA appearances in six years. Young Richard Pitino for the second year in a row has failed to reach the field of 68. So far, the magic Pitino name has not delivered.

This year the Gophers with 18-15 did not cut it. They were 11th in the 14-team BIG and failed to even get and invite to defend the NIT title of last spring. When schools like North Dakota State and Northern Iowa are NCAA teams, it¹s embarrassing and makes you wonder what the heck is going on at the University of Minnesota.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

The NFL Money Season begins!

March 10 starts another season for the National Football League, and with the salary cap rising another modest $10 million times 32 teams, it’s only going to make it harder to win. Now, that’s a good thing because the teams and owners who are not in this to win are exposed.

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Last season was one of the most competitive seasons on record. 2015 promises more of the same.

When superstars change teams, it’s like a swinging gate — the market value of players goes sky high. Leaving Detroit, Ndamukong Sue has blown the doors off with his six-year $114 million deal in Miami.

It’s always about the guaranteed money, and Sue getting $60 million guaranteed sets the standard. It’s just the beginning, so it’s an exciting time.

Things would be different had the NFL players not given in during the last lockout when the owners were able to slash by 50 percent the value of guaranteed money on incoming rookie contracts. This allowed the owners to secure the upper hand even more so.
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When a superstar like Adrian Peterson is in potential limbo, that works to his advantage should he not work things out with the Vikings while having three years left on his contract.

His base contract numbers are not likely to go down. He would be in position to get more guaranteed money with his new team.

With 32 teams, it only takes one team to take the lid off. Teams use franchise tags to keep superstars in the short term, but eventually the gig is up and the player gets his max value deal.

That pie which is the salary cap each season now stands at $143.28 million per team, which has to be sliced up carefully in matching talent, potential and value. For the second year in a row, each team’s cap has gone up by $10 million, and the teams have to spend it because it’s TV money.

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It’s a wonderful thing how the system works. It works for both the players and the owners. It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s the primary reason why the NFL game is the professional sports league runaway leader of the pack. Because of ratings and record revenues and popularity even with controversy and off-the-field issues, it still works for the NFL.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Adrian Peterson active again

Not many people a year ago knew anything about the Commissioner’s Exempt List. Adrian Peterson was placed on this seldom-used list last season while he dealt with the personal indictment for spanking his four-year-old son.

The public over time has viewed the pictures. Some of the Vikings’ sponsors even pulled out rather than associate with the team after the charges. Still others, led by Governor Mark Dayton, demanded the Vikings separate themselves from Peterson.
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After coming off that list with six weeks left in the 2014 season, having won a no-contest decision on the indictment, Peterson was suspended by Roger Goodell until April 15, 2015. Peterson, through the NFLPA, challenged and won his appeal of the decision made by an arbitrator of the decision made by Goodell. A federal court ruling by Judge David Doty ended the suspension.

However, the NFL then appealed that decision, and now finally Peterson, the face of the franchise, is active again after missing 15 games in 2014. The Vikings are welcoming him back. They have been telling all that Peterson has a three-year contract that they will honor this season.

Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, has been speaking on Peterson’s behalf, saying that Peterson does not want to return to the Vikings. He has not been around his teammates in over a year. He has gotten married for the first time and according to sources has been doing the required community service that is a part of his “no-contest agreement.”

His image has taken a few blows. It seems everyone has strong opinions about Peterson, who still believes his actions were not intended to harm his child. And he feels like the Vikings management did not support him.

Peterson has obviously been about the business of moving forward. He’s been misunderstood. Many think he should just walk back in to the Vikings no questions asked and continue his career as if nothing happened — just play ball. That is obviously not realistic.

Some others believe the former NFL MVP’s career is Hall of Fame-bound and he should get back to the business of football. Both sides have been wounded by the controversy of the events of last year.

Over the next month, with the Draft coming April 30, we will be watching closely the next chapter in the drama that is the career of Adrian Peterson. In the meantime, the Vikings (OTA’s team) workouts start this week and Adrian Peterson is not expected to report. Workouts are voluntary.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.