Friday, March 28, 2008

Nice Pink Sweater BOB...

In keeping with the theme that I've created on this here blog. (That I'm a mess and have little ambition or follow through to speak of.) I've decided to scrap the second half of the 20 Things Ive Learned So Far in the NCAA Tournament. Shocking, I know.

Instead, I've decided to work some of these thoughts into picks for tonight's games. If you read the last post, which is doubtful, you already know to pay zero attention to the actual picks here. I'm guessing, completely and totally, but I do watch and play a shit ton of basketball so there's something to gain here if you can sift through all the bullshit. Or not. Lets just get to the picks.

(3) Wisconsin vs. (10) Davidson: I've made it clear how I feel about Dell's kid, as well as Dell's mustache, in the last few posts but I think the Magic carpet ride stops here for the Wildcats, uggh, I hate that fucking nickname. There should be a movement in this country to strip teams of boring, overused mascots like Wildcats and Tigers. Jeebus H, put some damn thought into it people. I'll take a Dirt Worshipper or a Bullet anytime over a Bear. Annnywho, I like Rob's gay paramour Bo Ryan here on the strength of, well their overall team strength on the boards and, of course, because my cousin Travon plays for Sconnie. Badgers (now that's a fucking proper nickname).

(3) Stanford vs. (2) Texas: If I was an NBA GM in need of a big man, the fact that the Lopez twins openly talk of their love for all things Disney and that Brook plans to write a comic book one day would send me scouting in Europe immediately. Hell, I'd try and work a trade for Josh Boone before I'd waste a top 10 pick on that bitch ( I mean, his basketball hero is Arthur Lee. Yes, that Arthur Lee.). So, I guess its obvious I like Texas here...well, I do. DJ Augustin gets all the pub (deservedly so, he's the best point in the country) but AJ Abrams is a deadly shooter and Dameon James is probably the most underrated player in the country. Connor Atchley's shooting should bring one of the Lopez's out of the paint on the high screen and roll, thereby opening up the lane for Augustin to create. Texas' versatility and home support are too much for Stanford and Trent Johnson's quarter sized nostrils.

(12) Villanova vs. (1) Kansas: If anybody else is coaching Kansas, then aren't they a near unanimous pick as the country's best team? I say yes. I've also been burned a number of times by Senor Self in March so I'm speaking with a light wallet here, but still. Look at that roster: 3 talented, experienced bigs, the same goes for the guards and then you have 9th year senior Brandon Rush in the lineup who can play nearly everywhere. They are loaded. Unfortunately, Self probably was last night too. I'll take the Jayhawks over...yep, the Wildcats in a game where Scottie Reynolds doesn't have enough help to make Kansas sweat much. Fun matchup to watch tonight: Corey Fisher vs. Sherron Collins. Both are city pgs, NY and Chicago, respectively. Both undersized, stocky and extremely good off the dribble. Who knows how much they go head to head tonight but when they do, it should be fun.

(Random notes: Scottie Reynolds has to be the least athletic, great player in the country. Watch him play tonight, he's not overly fast or big, he doesn't jump so well and doesn't really look the part of a big time collegiate guard in his on court movements. However, he's great at using different speeds and employing various fakes and pivots to get he and his teammates opportunities. Plus, his jumper opens up tons of lanes for him to drive. Sometimes his unorthodox game leads to some stupid turnovers but he brings far more to the table than he takes off it. A really unique player who's carried 'Nova most of the season.)

(5) Michigan State vs. (1) Memphis: The Big Ten should put special incentives in Tom Izzo's contract. I mean, if it wasn't for Izzo the Big Ten would've lost what little credibility it still has as a basketball power. (That Big Ten-ACC Challenge seems like a bad decision in retrospect, no?). Nearly every year this guy's teams play well above their head in March. Some writer was saying this week that its partially due to the fact that Izzo runs an NBA style offense with only a few sets/plays in the halfcourt and Big Ten teams are more prepared for them than any of the out of conference teams who they meet in the tourney. Sounds good to me. Also, its nice to contrast it against Calipari's offense, which is basically drive the ball and either (a) kick it out, (b) dump it low to a big, or (c) shoot. Seriously, that really is Memphis' offense. I don't think the simplicity matters tonight though. Memphis is going to throw a ton of long, athletic defenders at Drew Neitzel, and Kalin Lucas isn't going to light up Derrick Rose like he did Levance "Chubby Bunny" Fields. I'll take Memphis pulling away late and winning by double digits.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Twenty Things I've Learned So Far in the NCAA Tournament: Part 1

Well, the first (though I'm not counting it) is that there's really no point in trying to predict the outcome of the individual tournament games. First off, everybody and their in-laws is doing it, and secondly, um, I'm just not very good at it, as evidenced by the two previous posts. So, with that in mind, here's the first edition of Things I've learned So Far in the NCAA Tournament:

1. Stephen Curry can/will be a good NBA player. I was of the opposite opinion going into last weekend. Simply put, because he's a small (for college) shooting guard with average athleticism, I didn't see how he could carve out a niche in the pros. However, after watching him for the last two games it's become evident that he's a better ballhandler than I'd previously given him credit for. In addition, he moves extremely well off the ball (like a smaller Kevin Martin). If he sticks around at Davidson for two more years and continues to improve his handle and strength, I could see him being similar to Jason Terry in the NBA. If not, with that jumper, he's at least as good as Jannero Pargo.

2. Duke needs to successfully recruit talented bigs. For all the talk about Duke relying on the 3 too much this year, two things stood out to me through their two tournament games. First, their inability to guard the else do you explain Joe Mazzulla (or Renfroe from Belmont) consistently driving the lane on them? Secondly, Coach K has to figure out how to recruit true big men with talent to Durham. Some may say, that he hasn't recruited for size in recent years, but that simply isn't true. In recent years, he's brought in stiffs like Brian Zoubek, Eric Boateng and Michael Thompson. None of these players have lasted/will last at Duke and the result is that Duke is trotting out players like Lance Thomas and Kyle Singler at the 4 & 5 much of the time. If Duke's going to get back to the top, they'll need at least one big time post scorer and defender (see: Brand, Elton or Boozer, Carlos) to complement the seemingly endless array of jumpshooters that Coach K lures to Tobacco Road.

3. Roy Williams is a douchebag. Actually, I've known this for quite some time. A decade to be exact, ever since Roy Boy had Eddie Fogler call out Billy Donovan for allegedly shady recruiting tactics in the recruitment of Mike Miller. Make no mistake about it, Williams is Bobby Bowden. A lying, deceitful coach who gets over on the media and gets a free pass from many fans with his "aw shucks", good ole boy antics. (Plus, he's pretty overrated when it comes to X's and O's). Was there any good reason for Roy to have his starters in while up 30 with 4 minutes left against Arkansas? Of course there was...Roy Williams is a douchebag.

4. Washington State is the one underdog who nobody really roots for. Sure, you'll root for Wazzu against UNC, but you can bet your ass that you'll be rooting against them in the regional final on Saturday. And you know what? I don't blame you. While their style may be successful and they truly are one of the few major conference teams that can be classified as an underdog, they're nearly as painful to watch as 2 Girls/One Cup. There's just not anything aesthetically pleasing about watching this team advance deep in the tourney. One Bennett coaching in the Final Four (Wisconsin, 2000) is enough for this quarter century, thanks.

5. The ACC is weak. I hate to admit it, but its true. Though I attended an SEC school and grew up in the south, I was raised watching ACC basketball. Back when ACC basketball was the very best the country had to offer. Sadly, that's not the case these days. Too many schools are up and down from year to year and too often the league gets a pass because people erroneously think that its top teams are elite nationally (Duke, UNC) and thus cause more parity in the rest of the league than we see elsewhere. Now, if Clemson doesn't blow that big lead to Villanova then maybe I'm singing a different tune this week (and my bracket looks significantly better) but there's no denying that the ACC is down, and has been since it sent both Maryland and Duke to the Final Four in 2001.

6. All assists are not created equal. To prove this, I point to the games played by Drake's Adam Emmenecker against Western Kentucky and Stanford's Mitch Johnson against Marquette. Johnson posted 16 assists in an OT win to Emmenecker's 15 in an OT loss, but to compare these two games is ludicrous. Emmenecker controlled the game and set up his teammates all day long while handling the ball 80% of the time. Meanwhile, the majority of Johnson's assists were nothing more than lobs into Brook Lopez from 20 feet away, like the pass that set up Stanford's game winning bucket. Futhermore, Johnson wasn't even bringing the ball up court during most of the second half on Saturday. Now, I'm not saying that Johnson didn't play well. He certainly did, and anytime you can notch 16 assists to just 1 turnover its certainly an impressive feat. However, Emmenecker was practically an instructional video for point guards during his brief tournament stay while Johnson was, well, a brief post feeding tutorial.

7. AJ Price sleeps with a black cat underneath a ladder. I have no idea if this is true, but it might as well be. The poor kid just can't seem to catch a break since he arrived on campus in Storrs. After suffering a brain hemorrhage that nearly killed him his freshman year, he fought through adversity and self doubt to emerge as the Big East's best PG this season. He was the reason (along with Thabeet) that UConn seemed poised to return to the national stage this March. Of course, Price tore his ACL while driving for a layup against San Diego. UConn lost and now Price has a summer full of torturous rehab ahead of him. Here's hoping he returns healthy and sans any stolen computers.

8. Its not just PAC-10 refs who want to collectively blow UCLA. I mean, come the fuck on? The no-call against Texas A&M was ridiculous. I genuinely think UCLA is a good team and have a growing man crush on Darren Collison, but, at some point I'd like to see them earn one without the benefit of a call (or no-call) during the crucial moments of a game. Furthermore, why is everyone so damned sure Memphis is the weakest #1 seed when UCLA keeps barely escaping losses in the past month? Is Memphis' free throw shooting that much more worrisome than UCLA's stagnant offense and late game luck?

9. JP Prince will never, ever play the at Tennessee point again. Bruce Pearl moved Prince, the SEC 6th man of the Year, into his starting lineup on Sunday against Butler in order to give his team more size and versatility and also because Ramar Smith has been increasingly inconsistent late in the year. And you know what? It worked out great...until the last 1:30 of the game. That's when having Prince at the point nearly ended UT's season. Prince turned it over on three straight possessions late in regulation, thereby allowing Butler to send the game to OT. Of course, Pearl chained Prince to the bench in OT (quite possibly literally) and Tennessee went on to victory. I don't think you'll see Prince running the point tomorrow night against Louisville, but I do think the lack of solid PG play will be what keeps the Vols from going to San Antonio.

10. Butler got hosed. This doesn't need much explanation. I mean, can anybody really say they think that Butler deserved to get stuck not only with a 7 seed, but also in the East? Maybe Billy Packer or Jim Nantz but those guys molest collies so their opinion ain't worth much. Sure, Butler could've won against UT if they'd made more FTs down the stretch in regulation, but they shouldn't have been in that position. They deserved at least a 5 seed, and probably higher. Its too bad one the best 16 teams in the country isn't playing this weekend because the committee didn't bother to look past RPI and SOS long enough to watch Butler play. We've come a long way in terms of the amount of respect mid-major programs receive but clearly, we haven't come far enough.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fuck yo Bracket! Fuck yo Bracket!!

With the first two brackets out of the way, we'll move on to the South and West this morning before the tournament kicks off in just over (wait for it)...two hours. Good Lord I'm excited.


Memphis vs. Texas-Arlington: The only intrigue in this game is whether or not Worldwide Wes will be on the sidelines. No way, Wes won't show up until at least the Sweet 16. Memphis.

Mississippi St. vs. Oregon: You couldn't have two more mismatched PGs than Jamont Gordon and Tajuan Porter if you tried. Gordon is a big (6'4"), bruising guard who thrives on bullying opponents in the paint while Porter is a midget (5'6") who is an absolute gunner. This guy takes shots that I wouldn't take in a pickup game. Gotta go with the SEC here.

Michigan St. vs. Temple: I have a feeling on this one, Neitzel's gonna struggle to get his shot and Dionte Christmas will introduce himself to at least 1/4 of the nation. Owls...Woo? Owls. (Wow, that was bad).

Pitt vs. Oral Roberts: Traditional tournament flameouts vs. a school known to hate flamers. Flameouts it is, Pitt.

Marquette vs. Stanford: Dominic James erratic jumpshot scares the shit out of me, but not quite as much as the incessant dribbling and questionable shot selection of Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford. Marquette.

Stanford vs. Cornell: The Lopez brothers are waaay too big for the Big Red, at least I think thats what Cornell is called. No matter, its not like I'll have to remember the nickname for long.

St. Mary's vs. Miami: This game feels like a reverse upset. I mean, is anybody picking Miami here? No? Alright, me neither.

Texas vs. Austin Peay: I think Texas is going to go out early this year because they're too dependent on Augustin and Abrams. Just not this early.


UCLA vs. MV State: So who's looks dumber? Jerry Rice when he was still rocking dreads whilst on the Raiders or Kevin Love and his skinny beard. Love, of course.

BYU vs. Texas A&M: TJ hates the Aggies and, well, so do I. BYU's defense is too much in this one.

Drake vs. Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers are underrated but they're running into an efficient and talented bunch from Drake who still feel they have something to prove nationally. Drake.

UConn vs. San Diego: I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid on the Torreros and their late season run. I mean, that could kill my bracket.

Purdue vs. Baylor: Everybody's rooting for Baylor, well, except me. Purdue's scrappy and Matt Painter is an underrated coach.

Xavier vs. Georgia: Fuck Georgia, there I said it. I rooted for them on Sunday (Going against everything I know and love) and there's no way I'm doing that again this decade.

West Virginia vs. Arizona: With all the talk they'll be about Chase Budinger and Joe Alexander in this game, Jerryd Bayless is the best pro prospect you'll see. He's also going to have plenty of time to start prepping for the draft after the 'Cats lose to WVU.

Duke vs. Belmont: Duke's not as good as they're seeded, but they're miles ahead of Belmont, obviously. If this is on your TV, then it might be time to start drinking.

So that's it. Those are all the first round picks. Unlike Jerry, I have actually won money in these pools before. In fact, I've taken first place twice in the past three years so, you know, I'm pretty awesome and you might want to follow my lead here. Actually, I wouldn't ever mimic anything that I do but I've got 30 years worth of hindsight to teach me that lesson.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fuck yo Bracket!

I've been trying to figure out how to approach an NCAA Tournament preview and, well, I can't think of anything. I blame some of this on the fact that the University of Florida isn't involved for the first time since my first year of enrollment in said university. Think about that, thats a long damned time for a school that had no previous basketball "tradition" and is quite an impressive accomplishment for Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley. To say nothing, of the two consecutive national championships that have recently been won by Florida. However, all that shit means nothing this year. The young Gators were a thorough and complete disappointment late in the season and, frankly, I don't expect it to change tonight in the NIT against San Diego State. I'll watch and I'll root hard because I think a long NIT run would be extremely beneficial to this young and somewhat fragile (from a long term perspective) team, but I won't root quite as hard as the last ten years. That's the truth.

You know why? Because the NCAA Tournament is the fucking show. It's my favorite sporting event and these next two days are my favorite sports related days of the year. With that in mind, I'm going to break down each at a time. I'm only doing the first round picks, because that's all we're getting for the next two days. Since we're proudly working with an east coast bias, we'll start in the East.

UNC vs. Mt. St. Mary's: I wish that guy who got kicked out of Virginia for stabbing somebody still played at MSM. I think he'd do a great job guarding Hansbrough.

Indiana vs. Arkansas: John Pelphrey's hair is fucking ridiculous. This things a blowout.

Notre Dame vs. George Mason: Nobody's talking about this but Luke Harangody vs. Will Thomas is one of the best individual first round matchups. I'm picking the white guy, of course.

Washington State vs. Winthrop: The Bennett family is certainly skilled at coaching a winning style of basketball, but good God is it boring. The sooner Wazzu loses the better for all of us, but it ain't happening here.

Oklahoma vs. St. Joe's: Blake Griffin is freak. He's an NBA power forward right now. I'll take him and go against the unexplainable love for St. Joe's.

Louisville vs. Boise State: First round games in Boise are awesome, its in the rules. Unfortunately first round games involving Boise St. suck. Expect to see a 20 point Cardinal win and 30-45 minutes combined of announcer love for David Padgett. Really guys? David fucking Padgett?

Butler vs. South Alabama: I wish that South Alabama had ended up with a different draw because they ain't winning this game. Butler gave Florida all they wanted last year and I think they're going deep this year.

Tennessee vs. American: David Aldridge went to American. Did you know that? Well, now you know half as much about American as I do. I'm sure we'll both learn more together as Tennessee shoots them out of the damn gym.

Now, its time to move on the worst place on earth...the Midwest, naturally.

Kansas vs. Portland St: Every time I watch Kansas I hope that JaRon Rush will come stumbling out onto the court like Shooter in Hoosiers. Maybe this is the one...Jayhawks.

Kent St. vs. UNLV: The Runnin' Unibrows don't have enough talent to beat an underrated Kent St. team.

Clemson vs. Villanova: I like Clemson. I mean, I really really like Clemson. They're deep, they're athletic and Oliver Purnell is an extremely underrated coach. But did you know their starting PG (Hammonds) shoots 43% from the line? That's positively Gottleibesque. It doesn't matter against a one dimensional Nova team though.

Vanderbilt vs. Siena: Not sure why, but I think Siena's gonna knock off a Vanderbilt team whose record doesn't show how inconsistent they were all year.

USC vs. Kansas St: The Wildcats aren't that good outside of Walker and Beasley. Tim Floyd's a great defensive coach who I think will slow them down. OJ Mayo and Davon Jefferson are the freshmen moving on here.

Wisconsin vs. Cal St. Fullerton: Have you seen Bo Ryan do the Soulja Boy? Now you have, Badgers.

Gonzaga vs. Davidson: I'm taking Davidson here against my better judgement. I think they're weaker than last year's team inside but Gonzaga's not exactly known for bullying people so I'll side with my memories of Dell Curry's mustache.

Georgetown vs. UMBC: I guarantee that the bigs at UMBC are saying the same things about Roy Hibbert as Geoff at the Wheelhouse does. Just like when Geoff says it, it won't matter a bit. Hoyas.

Oh yeah...special thanks to Blogger for all the technical assistance. I'll be back tonight with the South and the West.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Over the past few years I've made numerous references to in this space to my litter of illegitimate children. While some may think I'm just talking shit in a (poor) attempt at humor, its the actually the truth. During my earlier years, I was a proud resident of Raw Dog City (Greg's brother Drew, whom many of you know, is the current mayor of RDC.) and thus, sired a number of bastards throughout the southland. I was always careful to keep these kids at least a state away to avoid any messy attachments that often arise when children wish to "reconnect" with their birth parents while also sending enough money to their respective mothers to ensure I would be without the myriad difficulties that may arise should these children choose to search for me on their own. While I went to many lengths to avoid contact with my seeds, its not as if I didn't keep up with their lives from a distance (like any self respecting rolling stone would).

Alas, I have lost track of a few of my brood in recent times as I've become older and more jaded. So, it was with a joyous heart that I watched yesterday as I discovered the first of my children (Tayquan) had not only matriculated to a four year university but had also acquired a few of his proud father's traits. Really, there's nothing like seeing your child become their own person. A person of conviction, a person of principles, a person who hates the University of Tennessee...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spring is in the air...

I had planned to put a post together about my impending visit to my former place of employ, Space Coast Stadium, to watch the St. Louis Cardinals take on your Washington Nationals (You're American, aren't you?) but then I received an email from Jerry berating me for being excited for what is nothing more than a well publicized scrimmage. And you know what, he's right...Spring Training, especially Spring Training at this stage of March, is nothing more than a bunch of still rounding into shape (see: Pedroia, Dustin), pampered athletes trying to not get injured while simultaneously working to impress the local stripper population with whom they share bodily fluids for the month's entirety.

There's virtually no chance I'll get to see Pujols or Glaus or anyone else of consequence on the Cardinals today and, as we've all discovered recently even Elijah Dukes hasn't worked himself into mid-season crazy just yet (Give it time kids, er, foster kids). So, I guess the best I can hope for is a John Goodman sighting, or maybe an on-field appearance by the recently retired Robert Montgomery Knight (I've seen both at this game within the past two years). Well, that and the chance to enjoy a few beers and some beautiful weather with my old man as we discuss what in god's name LaRussa is doing to this franchise as well as how long it will be until somebody puts a bounty out on Bryan Burwell's head. Even if Jerry doesn't approve, I'm still pretty excited at the prospect of sitting in a baseball stadium this afternoon. Finally...just because, well, Spring Football is getting awfully close...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Win and they're in?

Unlike many sports fans, I don't subscribe to the theory that the NCAA Tournament renders the college basketball season meaningless. For some juggernauts, the early season matchups are relatively worthless, but for the vast majority of teams, quality wins are needed no matter where or when they fall on the schedule.

The University of Florida has presented both sides of this case within the past two seasons. When the Gators went on a late season skid last year, there wasn't a high level of concern amongst Florida faithful. Sure, Gator fans were worried about righting the ship in time for another run at a National Title but they never questioned whether or not Florida would receive anything other than a #1 or 2 seed (to say nothing of the lack of attention that most paid to the out of conference schedule). This year, however, has seen Billy Donovan trot out a new team almost entirely, and that new team needed to stack up wins in the early season in order to be adequately prepared for the struggles that would undoubtedly come in conference play for a team that boasts 4 freshman and 2 sophomores in its top 7. Despite some unexpectedly heady play by freshman guards Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas early in the SEC season, Florida's youngsters have struggled to fight through the fatugue that rough and tumble conference play often brings and, as a result, the losses have stacked up in the last few weeks.

So what does all this mean? Well, to put it succintly, Florida needs another win (or two depending on who you ask) to ensure their inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. For a team this young, the tournament experience cannot be understated with regards to building towards future success and that's why today's game against SEC West leader Mississippi State may be the most important game of any of these young Gator's lives. According to me, if Florida captures a victory today, they're in the tourney. With that in mind, I'll be liveblogging the Florida-Mississippi State game in comments here this afternoon. If you're drunk, bored or absolutely hard up for some quasi-human interaction, join me. I'll be the one with his fingers crossed.