Sports: Football Wraps To Bowl Action; NBA Hot Picks

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The college football regular season will close out soon, and that means the Bowl Championship Series bids are starting to shape up. Who do we expect to see? Who are the surprises? Plus, the NBA season is in full swing. Who's hot and who's not? Host Scott Simon talks with our man in the stands, Howard Bryant.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: And were going to talk college basketball in few moments with Coach Roy Williams, University of North Carolina Tar Heels. And they managed to snag the nations top high school player, recruited him, Harrison Barnes, who will play for the Heels next season.

First, talk college football, pro basketball, little baseball - with our man in the stands, Howard Bryant. Morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Im fine, thank you. Look, first off, they found water on the moon and the BCS bids are starting to shape up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRYANT: No, I thought you were going to say they found water on the moon and the Temple Owls football team is eight and two, having lost 27 of the last 29 seasons. How do you like that?

SIMON: You know, Im glad you pointed that out to us, because its not all about the big guys, is it, come to think of it?

BRYANT: Well, I think its its always about the big guys. This is college football and big money, and its what moves the needle. We know that. The hard part about it with the BCS standings is that we know that the system is designed to try to create a national champion, not to put together a playoff system. And when youre the top three teams are what they they always are. Youve got Florida, Alabama and Texas.

But then that number four spot is a tricky spot. Suddenly youve got TCU, the Horned Frogs were there, and before that you had Iowa, and Iowa is the team that everybody was wondering, what does this do to the BCS if they run the table? So what do they do, they go out and they lose last week. So its a very interesting set-up where if no matter what you do, if youre not one of the big top teams like a USC or an Oklahoma or Alabama, you cannot lose. You have to be perfect. And thats what were seeing again this year.

SIMON: Is Boise State a big team now?

Mr. BRYANT: I always said that Boise State deserves a lot more credit than they get, but their schedule is so weak and Ive argued back and forth with our college football experts and they say, look, Boise state can go undefeated every year, their schedule is not strong enough and they dont deserve consideration with the big dogs, with the SEC teams or with the Pac-10 teams. So - or even the Big 10, so Big 12. So it doesnt it doesnt matter what they do, and my position has always been - what is the point of going undefeated if you can never win a national championship? Its really, really silly. I think its obvious that at some point you have to have some form of play-off to determine who the best team in the country is.

SIMON: Well, well take that up. And well talk about NBA later. Celtics and Lakers are opening strong. But let me ask you - free agent market in baseball, hear anything?

MR. BRYANT: Well, I think obviously whats going to happen now, its - talk about big money time: Next month is the winter meetings in Indianapolis and youve got the two big players, Matt Holiday, who was with the Cardinals last year, who famously dropped the fly ball in the playoffs against the Dodgers; and Jason Bay, whos with the Red Sox. And the question is going to be, what transaction is going to move the market? Youve got

SIMON: Fifteen seconds left.

Mr. BRYANT: Ive got 15 seconds left? I can tell you exactly whats going to happen.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: One of those two guys is going to try to get 15 to 20 million dollars a year because Bobby Abreu got nine million from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And then Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, where do they go? Thats the big question.

SIMON: Not Wrigley Field. Howard Bryant of ESPN, thanks so much.

Mr. BRYANT: My pleasure.

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