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Rachel Geiger

March Madness Predictions

As you college basketball fans already know, the past week has been what us fans have waited all year for: March Madness. For those of you not up to date on college basketball, the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament has 68 of the best basketball teams in the country going head to head. After playing a number of games, the championship is finally reached. We’re already heading into the Sweet 16 games starting tomorrow. I thought it’d be a good idea to get us all up to speed and preview the games coming up this weekend. Side note: the numbers listed beside the team names are what the NCAA ranked each team going into the tournament during Selection Sunday. Many big seeds have already went down. Most notably, 1 seed Villanova who was beaten by NC State (8 seed) in the third round. 2 seeds Kansas and Virginia were beaten by Wichita State and Michigan State. Now, that’s about it. Let’s get into the matchups and what upsets might go down.
Thursday night games:

Wichita State (7) vs. Notre Dame (3)
In my own personal bracket, I have Wichita State over Notre Dame. The Shockers are coming off of a big win to their in state rivals the Kansas Jayhawks. Surprisingly, Notre Dame is rated as the 1-point underdog going into this game. All in all, it’ll be an offense vs. defense matchup. The Fighting Irish was rated the 12th best offense while Wichita State was ranked the 6th best defense. Expect it to be a physical game that’s all going to come down to which team can find a way to score.
Prediction: Wichita State 71, Notre Dame 70

Wisconsin (1) vs. University of North Carolina (4)
With one number one seed already out, Wisconsin has even more pressure to win this game. They are predicted to win by 5.5 points but regardless, the team will be faced with its biggest challenge yet. Wisconsin has already won their games by much fewer points than was previously predicted. They aren’t shooting the ball as dominantly as many expected them to. If UNC can uncover their weaknesses, I’d say UNC can definitely win this one.
Prediction: UNC 80, Wisconsin 78

West Virginia University (5) vs. Kentucky (1)
Even if you aren’t a follower of college basketball, it’s nearly impossible to not hear the news about Kentucky. The team has had a perfect season so far with a 36-0 record. They are also the biggest favorite to win the whole tournament. They have been tested a few times, but they’ve managed to somehow pull through and get the win. I’m certainly biased with this game, I’m born and raised in West Virginia so WVU basketball means a great deal to me. All bias aside, the Mountaineers have had a terrific season with senior Point Guard Juwan Staten leading the way. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s going to be a challenge for the Mountaineers to win this one. We aren’t the best when it comes to shooting but our defense is very good, so is Kentucky’s. Expect this one to be a low scoring, defense heavy game.
Prediction: Kentucky 65, WVU 58

Xavier (6) vs. Arizona (2)
Xavier has a good history with getting wins in the NCAA tournament. However, my prediction is this run is just about to come to an end. The Wildcats could have easily been a 1 seed, they have dominated so far. They are the 11-point favorite going into the game. I think it will end up a little bit closer than that but Arizona should be the winner.
Prediction: Arizona 72, Xavier 68

UCLA (11) vs. Gonzaga (2)
Many people didn’t even think UCLA deserved to be in the tournament at all. Yet they’ve managed to earn some respect by pulling out several wins. I just think Gonzaga would have to be playing an extremely off game for UCLA to win. The Bulldogs are the 10-point favorites in this matchup. One of the big statistics that stands out to me is that number 2 seeds have won eight of their last nine games in the Sweet 16.
Prediction: Gonzaga 76, UCLA 64

NC State (8) vs. Louisville (4)
This is an interesting matchup. Just a few weeks ago, the Wolfpack beat the Cardinals on the road. This is still a pretty recent win. Louisville is a solid team who’s had a nice run so far in the tournament. NC State has been a fun team to watch. They have been hot after managing to beat LSU in a comeback effort and then taking down the top seeded Villanova. I’m going to have to take the Wolfpack here.
Prediction: NC State 78, Louisville 76

Utah (5) vs. Duke (1)
Utah is a scrappy defensive team that will likely be a challenge for Duke. I predict this will be low scoring and physical throughout the whole game. However, there’s really no statistics that can predict that Utah will be able to pull this one off. Duke has had dominant wins this whole season and doesn’t seem to be slowly down just yet.
Prediction: Duke 55, Utah 45

Michigan State (7) vs. Oklahoma (3)
MSU has a terrific dynamic player in Travis Trice, who helped lead the Spartans pretty easily over a good Virginia team. This one should come down to the very last minute. Oklahoma is also a very good team both offensively and defensively. They certainly won’t go down without a fight.
Prediction: MSU 80, Oklahoma 78

The Voice Recap Part 2

Last night’s episode of the voice marked the second week to the blind auditions. Each coaches team is quickly being filled with some pretty amazing artists thus far! We’ve already seen some frontrunners that are likely to reach the end of the competition.

However, The Voice is one of those singing shows that isn’t always that predictable. Most of the time, the four chair turns don’t always win. They may seem like a frontrunner but then it’ll turn out that they are unable to sing well with others and they fail to advance in the competition.

We also saw a mix of both young and older singers. Kelsie May kicked off the show, a fifteen-year old country singer who sang a classic Loretta Lynn song and managed to get three chairs to turn around for her. She obviously went with Blake, she would have been crazy not to, but Pharrell had a charming pitch to her as well. Adam struggled last week to get any singers to join his team, Christina struggled this week.

Most of the singers are going with Pharrell due to his laid back and humble approach to each contestant. He doesn’t overpitch like Adam or say anything ridiculous like Blake, he just act naturally which makes the artists like him more.

Towards the end of the competition, we saw the show’s oldest contestant. This artist is 52-year-old Barry and he has a very soulful voice. Adam hit his button at the last minute to keep this singers dream alive.

Singer India Carney closed off the show with “New York State Of Mind” and she blew away the judges. This was the only contestant that got a four chair turn on this episode. I’m not going to include Adam Levine’s blind audition in here since it doesn’t really count. Yes, you read that right, Adam Levine decided to do a blind audition but it wasn’t really blind since all the coaches knew that it was him. In my opinion, it was just a waste of time that could’ve gone towards another artist that is actually auditioning.

Sometimes I feel as if the show focuses way too much on the judges when it should really be focused on the artists.

The Clearwater Festival Lineup Announced

The late and great folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, who’s pictured above, founded Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival which is along the Hudson River. He founded the festival with his wife Toshi. Although both passed away over a year ago, the festival still goes on. The festival is held every summer and this year the dates are June 20-21. I also find it important to mention that kids 12 and under get in free so it’s a great and cheap family affair!

The lineup for the festival is a mixture of both upcoming and experienced artists. Here is the lineup that’s been released so far: The Mavericks, Neko Case, Guster, Ani DiFranco, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Blind Boys of Alabama, Angélique Kidjo, Shelby Lynne, Bettye LaVette, The Pine Hill Project feat. Richard Shindell & Lucy Kaplansky, The Felice Brothers, The Lone Bellow, Todd Snider, Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely, Joseph Arthur, The Klezmatics, and Tom Paxton. More will be released in the future at www.clearwaterfestival.org.

The festival has a great family environment with many events catered towards kids. Some of these include: juggling and roving artists, Children’s area, storytelling, river beach combing, vendors for kids, and special performances.

This has become something much bigger than just a music festival. Pete Seeger built the sloop, Clearwater which is a tall boat that has become a classic tourist attraction. Those who attend the festival can take a ride on this timeless boat. Other big events the festival has to offer is: The Handcrafters’ Village which showcases work from crafters and folk artists, workshops, demonstrations, and a booth that teaches you more about the environment, something very important to Pete Seeger and the festival.

Go ahead and buy your tickets now! Early bird tickets are available now through March 23th on the Clearwater Festival website. 

The Voice Recap

Monday night’s episode of The Voice featured a lot of Adam Levine pouting and many young artists. At the end of the night, Adam Levine ended up with nobody on his team. The other three coaches are moving along and putting together their team but Adam is definitely struggling. I think a major reason why he’s so behind is because he tries way too hard! How many times have we watched him say he’s going to take that artist all the way only to drop them in like the battle rounds? He makes big promises that he doesn’t keep which is now catching up to him.

Now back to the voices, the talent level on The Voice is higher than any other show for sure. Even the contestants that don’t get picked aren’t bad, they just have some room to grow and would probably get in if it were any other singing show.

Adam Levine fought ridiculously hard for country crooner Cody Wickline. Side note: Wickline just so happens to be from my home state of West Virginia! He lives about 2 hours from where I live. It was cool to see him do so well, he earned a four chair turn. Adam told him that he had “a truly brilliant voice that can transcend all genres.” Despite the complement, it’s not too hard to guess that Wickline went with the only true country artist among the coaches. Shelton was clearly the best coach for him considering the genre he wishes to pursue but it would have been cool to see him change it up and go with someone not country.

As I mentioned earlier, a few younger contestants blew the coaches away. The one that came out the frontrunner after Monday nights show was definitely Sawyer Fredericks who is only fifteen years old! Fredericks sang the song “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?” He put his unique twist on it and ended up getting all four coaches to turn around and also received a standing ovation from all the coaches.

Monday night has showed us that the top rated singing show is back for another fiercely competitive season and I for one can’t wait to watch it unfold!

Lionsgate Releases Mockingjay In IMAX

Lionsgate has announced that they will release the fourth “Hunger Games” movie in IMAX theaters. The movie is “Mockingjay – Part 2” and it will hit theatres across the country starting on November 20th. 

3-D movies have become extremely popular over the last several years. They enhance the sound and visual quality of the movie. Being able to see this final part in an incredibly successful franchise is a great way to go out with a final bang. It will grant the audience an opportunity to feel as if they are actually in the movie, not just watching it. 

“Mockingjay – Part 2” will continue telling the story of Katniss Everdeen and her battle against President Snow. She fights to keep her family and friends safe. She also is forced to face Peeta, her close friend who was captured and brainwashed by the Capitol, thinking Katniss was the enemy. The last movie concluded with Peeta trying to kill Katniss. That storyline among others as Katniss adjusts to the new district she’s living in and other decisions will revolve around the movie. Expect an exciting conclusion!

These events will only be more visually intense due to the IMAX experience. Lionsgate had a box office hit with the previous movies in the franchise. The last two installments have become the highest-grossing releases at the domestic box office each of the past two years, the first time ever for back-to-back sequals. 

Expect even more impressive numbers as the series wraps up this fall. This is one you won’t want to miss. Make sure you see it, starting in theatres November 20th. 

Introducing Singer-Songwriter Michelle Raitzin

Michelle Raitzin is a 22-year-old independent singer-songwriter who has recently released the song “Bitter Valentine.” The song tells a story about being heartbroken and destroyed by someone that you deeply love. The track is memorable largely due to Raitzin’s beautiful and powerful voice. The artist definitely has a soulful voice that is similar to a mixture of Adele and Christina Aguilera. The dance mix by Kaw Beats takes this sad ballad into a dance jam! Raitzin’s striking voice still remains as the strong center of the song. It’s a fun remix for “Bitter Valentine.”

Michelle Raitzin is best known for being on NBC’s “The Voice.” During season four, she was on Team Blake, where she learned a lot from the talented country singer. Besides being on the popular singing show, the artist has also performed in musicals such as “Into The Woods.” She has continued performing in venues such as coffee houses along with Hotel Café and House of Blues. Her energy and passion radiates to her audiences.

Most recently, Michelle has announced that she will be releasing a four-song EP. The songs will be filled with sounds similar to the genre that “Bitter Valentine” falls into. The genre is pop music blended in with jazz and soul. Based on what we’ve heard so far, this EP will be an amazing one and I personally look forward to hearing more from this artist!

Beck Adds New Tour Dates

Only a little over a week after Beck won Album of the Year, he added some new tour dates for May. It’s safe to say that Beck’s life has consisted of a lot of drama since the Grammy’s. The singer has become much more popular ever since Kanye West stormed the stage when he beat out Beyonce for Album of the Year.

Despite all the hype, it’s safe to say he’s an incredible artist and his work in Morning Phase proves that. These dates give fans even more chances to see him perform live. Check out the added dates below and visit his website www.beck.com for the full list. 

May 16 – Memphis, TN – Mud Island Amphitheater
May 19 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Performing Arts Center
May 20 – Charlottesville, VA – nTelos Wireless Pavilion

NBA All-Star Weekend Preview

This weekend is obviously Valentine’s Day but it’s also NBA All-Star weekend as well! The event is going to be held in New York City this year. There have been several players that have already had to drop out due to injuries. But it’ll still be a fun weekend filled with tons of different events that aren’t always all that exciting, but there’s definitely some things to look out for.

• The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
This will happen Saturday night. Some of the big contenders to look for are: Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Stephen Curry. I will confess that I’m not all that familiar with the other players besides Mario Belinelli from the Spurs. I think one of the big three players that I named are going to take the title but one of the lesser known names could easily take it as well.

• Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
This is always one of the biggest contests to look for during All-Star weekend. They used to have really big named players but this year they don’t have very many of those. There’s only four contestants in it this year and it’s guaranteed to be a first time winner. One of the players is a rookie and the other three are second year players. The only name I recognize is Mason Plumlee who played at Duke University in college. He had some sick dunks back in college and I’d say he’s only improved since then so definitely look out to see what he’s capable of in this contest!

• The All-Star Game
The big names playing for the Eastern Conference are: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, John Wall, Chris Bosh, and Kyrie Irving. The big names for the Western Conference are: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. I think both conferences have many good players and although the West has some key players missing, (Kobe and Blake Griffin) I think the West will end up winning the game.

• Degree Shooting Stars
This isn’t really a big one but I figured I’d note it anyway. One star NBA player teams up with another WNBA player and a legendary player and they take on other teams. The four big NBA stars are: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Chris Bosh. Although I’m pretty sure someone is replacing Davis since he’s hurt but we’ll see who the replacement is. It should be fun to watch!