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NBA Playoffs 2016: The Utah Jazz will make some noise down the stretch, and March Madness illness is spreading fast! - Downbeat #1863

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The NBA Playoffs, the Olympics, and oh, March Madness too!

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Will the Utah Jazz make the NBA Playoffs? Will they even go .500 over the last 20 games? I don't know the answer to either, but I think it's likely that things work out for our guys. I actually do. But even if the playoffs aren't in the cards this year, this summer Jazz fans will have a lot of basketball to watch this summer. We take a look at some of the teams playing, and which players we will be caring about. Hint: one of them is going to be 20 year old Dante Exum. We also take a look at March Madness history, which players and teams we hate, and the mysterious case of Jimmer Fredette.

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Are the Utah Jazz going to make the NBA Playoffs this year? I really hope so, and I think they will, but it's not going to be easy. With 20 games left to play the team has some "gimmies", and very few tough games. But what has been troubling is that the team seems to give up the hard fought games and lose games they should win easily alike! The team hasn't inspired a lot of confidence of late with their five game slide. Diana wants to know what do you want to see the rest of the way, and frankly, I agree with her. I want to see the team play with more heart and effort. Sometimes the easiest baskets to get are in transition -- and this team has been very poor at that all season long. I want to know how many of these 20 games will this team actually get?

Right now I think they have a shot to win 14 of 20. But it may ultimately be too little too late.

I don't think the Jazz can catch Memphis, but it's not out of the realm of possibility to catch Houston. These two teams play once more, and if Utah wins that then they will only be 0.5 games behind H-town.

Whatever happens, I think Jazz fans are going to see something to root for down the stretch.

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This is a little down the line, but there's (in theory) an Olympics happening this summer. (So even if we miss the playoffs there's that.) We don't know if Gordon Hayward is going to make Team USA, but there are a number of other Jazzmen who will be playing. So far nine of the 12 spots have been filled for Men's qualification: USA, Brazil (Raul Neto), Australia (Dante Exum, Joe Ingles), Nigeria, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania, and China. There are three spots remaining and in July these the following teams tango for the Top 3 spots:

Group A (Serbia, Angola, Puerto Rico)

Group B (Japan, Czech Republic, Latvia)

Group "C" (Turkey, Senegal, Canada)

Group "D" (France, New Zealand, Philippines)

Group "E" (Greece, Mexico, Iran)

Group "F" (Tunisia, Croatia, Italy)

(N.B. There are three tournament locations, and they are Group A and B for each site.)

For Jazz fans it's the Manila, Philippines bracket that we will be watching, as Turkey (Enes Kanter?), Canada (Trey Lyles? Olivier Hanlan?), and France (Rudy Gobert) all go to war in it. One of these three teams will make it out to the Olympics, so that simplifies things a bit. In the Turin, Italy bracket Croatia should make it out, and with them, Ante Tomic. In the third, and final, bracket we have a bunch of teams going to battle in Belgrade, Serbia. I expect the home team to mop up their competition.

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But let's circle back and check out Dante Exum, who could make the Olympic team -- and his team is already in the Olympics by virtue of beating New Zealand in a two-game tournament.

Even if they don't win a lot of games, that should be an exciting squad to watch. Furthermore:

I think this kid needs to play as much high-level basketball as possible. Now, his squad has a bunch of guards already in Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Kevin Lisch, Chris Goulding, Damien Martin, and our own Dante. Personally I hope Dante makes the team, but it will be worthless if Brock Motum does not. But that's just me.

Anyway, peep that article about Dante. This kid is someone to be excited about, even if he has been "out of sight / out of mind" for the entire season.

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We can't avoid talking about Jimmer Fredette. His 10-Day contract with the New York Knicks (the team he grew up rooting for back in Glen Falls, NY) expired and he's back playing for the NBADL team the Westchester Knicks. (For those keeping score at home, it's about a 175 mile drive for him.) In his five total minutes with the Knicks he got into two different games. He made a three, his only shot. He also went 4/5 from the free throw line. He also had a turn over and a foul.

Probably the most newsworthy thing was his on-court altercation with Portland Trail Blazers bigman Meyers Leonard, and how quickly they kissed and made up after the game. Behold:

First, this is cool to see. Second, these guys seem like classy players. Third, they seem precisely like the types of players that will accept someone depositing their finger in your ear during a stoppage of play. (Or something along those lines.) (Get well soon, Delonte West.)

It's tough to see a guy who dominated NCAA and the NBADL struggle to make it in the NBA. But he's not the only guy to have this difficulty, we only need to look as far back in our own draft history as Morris Almond. I'm not pro-Jimmer like so many vocal people are, but I'm not specifically against his success either. I hope he finds his place somewhere. He's 27 years old and has played in NBA games for the Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, and Knicks. He has also been in training camp and played preseason games for the San Antonio Spurs.

How many chances does someone get? Or do you believe that while Jimmer has played his way onto NBA rosters he still hasn't get gotten a chance to show what he can do on an NBA court? He's a divisive player for sure. But he shouldn't be a hated player.

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After all, nothing makes you hate a player like March Madness. It's March. And the NCAA tournament is going to start again soon. The Big Dance is where we truly find heroes and villains. The Sporting News ranked the most-hated NCAA players of all-time. Check out this list:

Anyone there that you hated? Or Loved? For me, I don't like guys from Arizona or Wake Forest. I got wait-listed by Duke as an undergrad, but don't bear them any specific ill-will. But if you love Duke you may take umbrage with that list. There are a lot of Dookies on it. (No, no Quin Synder or Rodney Hood though.)