The Duffle Bag Returns…

For the past two years, my assignment was the UConn men’s basketball beat, which I considered a truly awesome experience.

I’m moving on, though, and The Duffle Bag is coming with me. Starting this week, I’ll be the sports columnist at Hearst Connecticut Media Group (Connecticut Post, Danbury News-Times, Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time). I’ll be sharing opinions and telling stories about UConn, state sports and professional sports, as well.

Here on The Duffle Bag, you’ll be able to find my rapid reaction to regional sports news and some random thoughts. Like this:

James Southerland (AP)

*I know Syracuse slid down the stretch, but the Orange is dangerous. I watched ‘Cuse courtside against Seton Hall this past week (yes, I’m aware that Seton Hall is terrible) and the length of the Orange really stood out. Every second half bucket was a struggle for the Pirates, who spread four shooters around the perimeter. In a surely wild NCAA tournament, I can see James Southerland and Co. making a run to the Final Four.

*Tell me if there’s any logic here: If Louisville wins the Big East title tonight, I’m picking either Florida or Kansas to win the national championship. If Louisville loses, I’m picking the Cards.

And sure, I’ll join your office pool.

*There has to be a mid-major in this year’s Final Four, right? UNLV, led by freshman sensation Anthony Bennett, could be a candidate. It’s obvious, but VCU is capable of a deep run, as well.

*Wes Welker  inked a two-year, $12 million deal with Peyton Manning and Denver, which (on paper) makes the Broncos the class of the AFC.  Critics will say the Pats should have spent the extra $2-3 mil to retain Welker, the NFL’s leader in receptions (672) over the past six seasons. History says the Pats should be alright. In the Tom Brady Era, New England has successfully plugged in players who fit the system. The combination of Danny Amendola, Aaron Hernandez, Gronk and whoever else New England deems suitable will be just fine. Expect another year of offensive brilliance (a side note, the Pats cut Brandon Lloyd Saturday).

*My favorite signing from the NFL offseason: Reggie Bush to Detroit. Two things came to mind — Bush stepping off the plane from Miami thinking, “Why the hell did I do this?” and Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan ripping the section titled “Running Plays” from his playbook.

*If you haven’t seen this yet, take the 1:22 out of your day and watch. Easily the best highlight from the week in college basketball.