Monday, March 31, 2008

Final Four of 1-seeds

The Final 4 is here... and from purely a basketball perspective, it should be a phenomenal weekend with all 1-seeds duking it out. To be honest, I can't wait to see what will happen, because anything truly is possible.

However, I can't stop the anger that's been building up inside of me, since Davidson fell short of knocking off Kansas. All 1-seeds in the Final 4? It's never happened before. From a bracketology perspective, I've never been more mad.

I feel like I'm Bruce Banner, just trying to keep the Incredible Hulk inside me during my morning commute through rush hour...

UNC, Kansas, Memphis, and UCLA just rewarded all the spineless, gutless, slugs out there who pick all the 1-seeds!!!!!!!!!!

As most of the readers probably know, it is my dream to one day pick the entire Final 4. I may not have picked all of the Final 4 correctly this year, but you know what? I would be ASHAMED if I had done it this year! Picking all the 1-seeds is the biggest cop-out! So, if anyone ever tells me that they once picked the Final 4 correctly, I will immediately have one follow up question: "Is it because you picked all the 1-seeds during 2008?" And if the answer is "yes," then I will know that that person has no balls. No guts. No glory... and a big fat asterisk next to their accomplishment, maybe even bigger than the one that Barry Bonds has. I may never pick the entire Final 4 correctly, but if there's one thing I still have left, it is my DIGNITY.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Goliath is King

For all these years despite the fact that #1 seeds should be making the Final 4 it has never happened that all 4 did. This year though Goliath smashed the Cinderallas. Yeah Davidson and Stephen was a great story. Yeah Xavier put up a nice fight. But in the end they were no match for the Goliaths. UNC, UCLA, Kansas and Memphis who have been fighting and jousting for the top spot all year will get to play a single elimination tournament to determine this year's winner. Its hard to remember a time when four teams where so far ahead of any other team. There is no doubt that these are the 4 best teams.

UNC boasts probably the deepest team. Tyler "Psycho T" Hansborough may or may not be a decent pro but in college he is tops. Couple him with a 2 deep hockey style line shifts, a great coach and a style of play that can wear any team down.

Kansas - Finally has lived up to its hype of two years ago and is powered by the best guard play in the tournament (possibly because they have 3) couple that with Darell Arthur inside play and its a complete team.

UCLA - The Vegas Odds favorite at the start of the tournament. Kevin Love continues to be the most dominant big man with an inside or outside. Russel Westbrook and Collison are great guards too and will be great pros someday as well.

Memphis - Has the most athletic team in the tournament. With 4 of their 5 starters potential first round draft picks they easily are stronger, faster and bigger than anyone else theyre going to be playing. They're led by top 2 draft pick point guard Derrick Rose.

An argument can be mode for any of these teams winning it all and any argument can be made for any team getting knocked out on the first night.

If I had to bet now I'm going with Memphis over UNC. So who do you got ?

Thor - God of Metal

Some Sunday musings...For those that are unaware while the patron saint of this blog is in fact Scarlett Johansson. Our patron deity is in fact Thor.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blogging during the Sweet 16

Since I'm watching the games at home, alone, in HD... i figured I'd blog away while I do it.

7:30 Why can't I watch every game? Why couldn't they start the early games at 4pm, so I could see every game. I would have left work early to watch! Or at least time it so that the entire half time How is it profit maximizing to show 2 games tonight when you could have shown 4!? In particular, not being able to see Xavier AND Washington State really irritates me, as those two head coaches are currently the favorites to get the IU position - at least, if you read ESPN or the IU news blogs.

7:37 Holy shit - they flashed back to the Xavier game - they're up 26-10. I feel like I missed the whole game!

7:39 I'll have to admit that this is the first time I've seen WashState play. My first thought: Wow they're really white! Whiter than the Ivies, and competing with BYU!

7:42 While I'm thinking about it - has anyone noticed that the Big 10 network does not put any stats up on the screen during the game? Watching CBS or ESPN is much, much better. If you're in a bar, you absolutely cannot tell what's going on in the game. You have to count fouls yourself! Which brings me to the Big 10 in general. All year I've been irritated about the greed of the Big 10 schools. These are public universities, and as such, are providing a public good in a sports team - or, at least, that's the justification for spending millions on the athletic programs. But then they try to monopolize their product and increase revenue (though, one nice benefit is being able to provide an outlet for other sports, and womens sports, even if I never watch these). Meanwhile, the local cable monopoly doesn't carry the Big 10 network. The whole thing blows my mind, as do the ineffectual efforts of local politicians who "write letters" to Comcast or Insight telling them to carry the channel. Write letters? That's something an 8 year old or a grandpa would do. You're a fucking congressman, why don't you hold some hearings about telecom monopolies. You're the fucking mayor, why don't you regulate that shit! Speaking of which, Comcast just sent me a letter raising my rates 15% (this is after Insight had just raised the rates by 25%, and after they failed to increase the quality of the service or, say, the having the Big 10 networkness of the service) so I just signed up for DirecTv. This change will still cost me about 10% more (though 5% less than Cable)... but I figured that every IU game I go see in a bar costs me $20 - $30. To be honest, its quite amazing to me that Insight and or Comcast has pursued these tactics. It used to be in your best interest to get cable because it was about 10-20% cheaper than a similar package with DirecTv. Now, DirecTv has the best price, and like 30 more HD channels.

8:00 The announcer just declared how great of a defensive team UNC is and said "They might even be a top 20 defensive team in the country." I sure as fuck would hope so if they're ranked #1 overall!

8:20 The only thing thats more irritating that someone's car alarm beeping outside is the car that's continuously beeping on the VW commercial on TV. Funny the first 5-10 times, not so much anymore. Also, Apple used to change their commercials regularly. We've had this Airbook commercial for several months now. I'm done with it. Enough.

10:00 So, the jury is still out - Sean Miller? Or Tony Bennett. Sean Miller's team almost blew a 18 point lead to a lesser team. Tony Bennett's team got annihilated, just like everyone else to UNC (and we didn't get to see it).

10:41 There's been a lot of talk that IU should try to get Bruce Pearl or Rick Pitino. First of all, we're not going to get either. Both are quite happy where they are, and there's no way that IU has enough money to pry them away. I think I saw a memo recently which advised that IU is currently paying $3 million a year to coaches who are no longer coaching at the school. Fire the athletic director! Watching this game however, makes me doubt both as coaches. SO many turnovers. Both teams are playing completely out of control - wildly throwing the ball around the court and heaving up ill-advised shots. The announcers call this "organized chaos". If either team could just slow the ball down and stop attempting 30 yard passes, they'd clearly dominate the game. Neither of these teams can possibly compete against UNC with this kind of carelessness. The two teams, combined, are averaging 1.4 turnovers per minute of play!

11:00 Why is Isaiah Thomas' job safe? I'm cheering the decision, because with each year the Knicks continue to be comically bad (which is every year under Thomas) the smaller the chance that LeBron would want to leave Cleveland for NY. Granted he might go elsewhere, but to the commentators who have been talking about LeBron's guaranteed departure for New York in several years, I feel quite safe, as long as Thomas is in charge!

11:25 While I'm here at the computer... Who are the 'draftniks' who supposedly know how good these college players are going to be in the pros? Do they watch the games? Do they care whether or not a player is any good in college? Here's the point: Eric Gordon is terrible. He can't dribble, he can't pass, he's a turnover machine. Yet on the draftboards he's still in the top 10. He's only leading in scoring because he takes more shots than anyone else in the NCAA. His 23 ppg scoring average was bolstered by the amount of crappy teams that IU played who couldn't guard him at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile DJ White, who single-handedly carried the Hoosiers to the tournament, and who nobody could stop, is projected as late first round. If I were GM, I would take White over Gordon any day - forget about upside - you have to be able to dribble to play in the NBA. White will be like Carlos Boozer, Gordon is the second coming of Dajuan Wagner, or Derek Anderson. For the record, I'll put OJ Mayo in the same category as Gordon. The fact is that these guys get hyped when they're 15 years old, and nobody ever reevaluates the decision to hype them.

Also while I'm here at the computer since people are considering their fantasy baseball drafts - if they haven't had them already - I'd like to comment on fantasy baseball affirmative action. This is where, when in doubt, you draft the guy from the team you like. I ended up drafting about half the Indians this year. Then, after the draft, I traded Johan Santana and Roy Oswalt for CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett. Maybe this is why I haven't finished in the top half of my league in at least 5 years.

11:27 - Does anyone else think that Rick Pitino resembles Joe Pesci? Whenever they have Pitino mouthing words, I keep hearing Pesci's irritating voice.

Identical twins.

12:10 Back to the WKY UCLA game. What the fuck is a hilltopper? Does it refer to mountaintop removal coal mining - a horrible practice for the environment? Or does it have to do with moonshine makers? Or - perhaps none of the above? As it turns out, it is completely meaningless. From the WKY website: "Since the summit of "the Hill" rises 232 feet above nearby Barren River and the comparatively level plain that surrounds it, it was only natural that the athletes who represented the institution should come to be known as the "Hilltoppers."" Naturally. Try getting a name that makes sense... like Hoosiers.

12:18 WKY is looking more and more like George Mason, until UCLA throws up a dagger - a line drive at the basket with 2 on the shot clock that happens to go in, extending the lead back to 9, sealing WKY's demise.

12:29 1.7 million reasons that IU isn't going to hire Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, or any other major established coach. Some delusional Hoosier fans believe that these characters would jump at the chance to coach at IU. First of all, they're wrong. Second of all, if the hiring of Sampson is indicative of what IU is willing to spend on a coach, we're looking at about 1.1 million a year. Here is what some of the top coaches actually making now (realize that to hire them away from their current school, one would assume we'd have to pay them at least 20% more!)

Thad Matta 1.75 million
Rick Barnes 1.8 million
Tubby Smith 2 million
Tom Crean 1.7 million
Tom Izzo 1.7 million + 2 cars, + a 9.8 million signing bonus
So, to any Hoosier fans out there - never mention these names again for the IU job. Its simply not possible, unless Mark Cuban decides to pony up $2 million a year to hire a big name coach.

But - how about the Western Kentucky guy as an up and coming name. I mean, we can probably do better but nobody's mentioned his name... Darrin Horn - who is 82-41 in previous 4 years with the Hilltoppers, was an assistant under Crean, and clearly did well this year with the Hilltoppers. More on the future of the IU coaching position later.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Creating a Tournament Bracket

So, most of our brackets are already decimated. Those who are lucky enough to have all four Final Four teams remaining in play should be quite thrilled to be where we are. Most of us measure our success against our friends and against the other users, but here I propose a simpler comparison:

I created about 6 brackets this year. Several of the brackets were absurd - lottery-ticket attempts to win the $10,000 if something crazy happens. In order to pursue the $10,000, you have to choose some random team to go really far into the tournament. On the off-chance you pick a team like George Mason to advance, and they actually advance, you're sitting on a winning lottery ticket. Several years ago, when George Mason advanced to the Final Four only 4 people had picked the four Final Four teams (and one of them thought they were picking GW, not George Mason!) Several of the brackets I created were attempts to win among my group of friends - I picked them as my not-so-expert analysis dictated. And last, for the first time ever, I created a bracket with absolutely no upsets - a control - which will gauge if I (or anyone else) knows anything about college basketball - or at least - more than the selection committee.

While we're only at the Sweet 16, I'd like to note that the control bracket - with no upsets - is in the 93rd percentile of all brackets. My next best bracket is in the 86th percentile. I'll keep you updated as we advance through the tournament. But as of now, the selection committee is kicking most of our asses. So, next time you gauge the success of your bracket - don't just compare it to your retarded friends' brackets - but compare it to what would have happened if you simply did not think at all, and chose the lower number each time until you get to the Final Four. This way, you can see how unproductive all the thought you put into your bracket truly is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yearning for Mike Davis...

Editor's Note: This article is brought to us by Hoosierfan...

By all means, I was never a huge Mike Davis fan. I saw him for what he was - a good recruiter, a coach that didn't make very great game decisions, a coach whose teams underperformed. His teams had difficulties in-bounding the ball. They ran an 'NBA-style' offense where everyone would stand around and wait for Bracey Wright (who wasn't all that good) to shoot. Notably, Sampsons' teams would later have the same offensive ineptitude. Davis didn't get along with the media, he always had a scowl on his face, he wasn't a good public speaker, and he was often the victim of rural-folk Indiana prejudices.

By the 2005-06 season, Davis was on the hot seat. The Hoosiers had missed the tournament in 2004 and in 2005 for the first times since 1995. This was also the first year he'd have all of "his guys". His 2004-05 star recruiting class (DJ White, AJ Ratliff, & Robert Vaden were no longer freshmen (Josh Smith, who bypassed college and went to the Hawks, and James Hardy, who left to focus on football and will be drafted this May, were also part of the class). We had Marco Killingsworth - a hired hand to help us advance far into the tournament. When the Hoosiers lost 5 games in a row, Davis had lost all respect with the fans. I was disappointed - I felt that decisions of the program's future should at least wait until the end of the season. Davis was bought out of his contract, effective at the end of the season. Meanwhile, despite missing an injured DJ White - the players, fiercely loyal to Davis, rallied around him, finishing the season strongly. They advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, losing to Gonzaga. I, among others, wondered if the best candidate to replace Mike Davis, was Mike Davis.

Meanwhile, Vaden transferred to UAB with Davis, and a variety of other Davis recruits eventually transferred out. Joey Shaw is headed to Nevada, AJ Ratliff eventually dropped off the team, and who knows what happened to the seven-foot sweet-shooting Ben Allen?! (further research shows he has signed with Saint Mary's).

In comes Kelvin Sampson, the savior of Indiana basketball, who received a slightly warmer than tepid reception. People were wary of his cheating resume, the possibility of bringing sanctions with him, and his reliance on JC transfers. But, he brought Eric Gordon. No more be said. Eric Gordon - the future savior of Indiana Basketball. Yada yada yada - we all know what happened.

I have since heard the yearning for Mike Davis. He was clean. He could recruit, and he brought no sanctions. Look at that 2004-05 recruiting class - if only we had Robert Vaden now (22 ppg) - he could hit shots in the clutch. If only Ratliff had continued to follow the projection of his career. If only Josh Smith hadn't spurned Indiana for the NBA and James Hardy hadn't been so good at football. Mike Davis wasn't a great coach, and he needed serious PR help, but he was also unlucky. DJ White was injured that last year (as well as the year before) - yet we advanced to the 2nd round of the tournament without him. With DJ White healthy that year, who knows what we could have achieved... Mike Davis, who brought the UAB team to a 22-9 record this year, who came within 1 point of defeating Memphis, and placed 2nd in Conference USA, could have led IU to greatness this year. Or maybe not. But certainly better than (not) having Sampson.

Guide To the Sweet 16

I think my favorite round of the Tournament might just be the Sweet 16. Its far enough into the tournament that all of the teams left are evenly matched or at least playing at a high level. On the other hand its not too late into the tournament that you can't view those that got their via crazy zany upsets. Sure occasionally you get the George Mason but typically the Sweet 16 is the Alamo of the Mid-Majors. So here's a guide to the Sweet 16. Enjoy

1) Safety First, Last and Always
There first thing you need to do is make sure you have a safe environment while watching the Sweet 16. I can't stress this enough. Many of my tournament viewings have been ruined by snowstorms, floods, Zombie attacks, Canadian invasions, Canadian Zombie Invasions, and the ever present danger of Bob Knight on rabies (Hey am I the only to notice how subdued Knight is on ESPN? I swear he barely has the energy to raise his head. He's like one of those tigers in Vegas. You just know someone is going to miss his daily injection and then Knight will eat Diggers Phelps on air) Anyway so I recommend a safe house, bomb shelter, or a small island nation to watch the game at to avoid interruptions.

2) Pick a Team to Root For
What you say you can only root for the school you went to or were conceived at? Well to that I reply: To quote Dante "Suck on my Italian balls "(although my Medieval Tuscan is a bit rusty so I might be a little off on that). In any event there's too many games, with too few chances of you being directly connected to your team not pick a team to root for. So pick a team from the same state your from, family members attended, visited, had a 3 way with underage Thai women (Publius I'm looking at you). I suppose you could pick the Peter King method (pick the school with the best white guy) but that seems, well, racist. That said individual players can be used to select teams . Hey maybe you love Brook Lopez's hair (is he the brother with floppy curls? Gets me every time) or Tyler Hansborough's hustle or Kareem Rush's brother because you remember Kareem's motivational speech "Banging Midgets: An Issue of Equity".

3) Pick a Team To Hate
As important as it is to pick teams you like you need to also find teams to hate. Again there's just too many games just to root for "competitive games" or something lame like that. Methods for selecting team's to hate include if the university's name is Duke... that is all. Need more rules? Fine. Teams that have screwed over your brackets in the past (FUCKING KANSAS) are fair game. Finally its ok to hate teams for no apparent reason like how I hate Georgetown (ok not random John Thompson II punched Dean Smith's dog for no good reason for which I'll never forgive him).

4) Root For and Against Your Brackets Simultaneously
Much like fantasy football tournament time brings a divided heart. Do you only root for your bracket? Well that seems fairly soulless especially if it involved having a UConn player blow out his knee to get you that upset. Plus you already picked out the teams you like and dislike and you'd have wasted all that effort. So the key here is to root for and against your bracket simultaneously. Impossible you say? Yes. Crazy you say? Yes. Impossible you say? No. It just requires short term memory loss. There's 9 million reasons to cheer when anything any team does affects you somehow and its absolutely unconnected to any other thought/emotions you just had.

5) Denial is Not Just a River in Egypt

Sometimes through no fault of your own (well probably no fault of your own) you don't get the result you want. Maybe that team you had winning the championship gets knocked out. Or maybe that team you rooted for/against/neutral won/lost/tied. A pretty crushing blow. The important thing though its only a few days away from getting revenge. Yes only a few hours of waiting and that team that you didn't want to do well will have a chance to absolutely implode. So redouble your efforts, never admit failure, and hold your ground no matter what the evidence says otherwise. Err for the Elite 8 (why is there something else that speech reminds you of?)

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008's Sweet 16

Time to review and preview the March Madness...

Best 1st round Buzzer Beater: Easy one here, it's Western Kentucky’s guy shooting it with 2 guys in his face after hardly taking any shots all game. And now, W. Kentucky’s in the sweet 16!

Craziest Game of the 2nd Round: Many candidates here, but there can be only one. I’m going with the Marquette-Stanford game, as already talked about by Mighty. The contrasts in style just made the game sensational. And Brook Lopez’s absurd rattling last-second shot. Honorable mention: Tennessee-Butler, Davidson-Georgetown

#1 Seed Most Likely to Lose in the Sweet 16: Memphis is looking like an easy pick here. First off, Coach Izzo on Michigan state is like 5-0 in the sweet 16 (2005- Final Four as a 5-seed, 2003 - Elite 8 as a 7-seed, 1999 - 2001 - three Final 4s w/ Championship in 2000). It’s absurd. Even if Memphis survives that game, they’ll still have to deal with either a similar Texas team (guards) or the Twin Towers of Stanford.

Mid-Major Most Likely to Do More Damage: Clearly, the easy pick here is Xavier. Xavier’s a 3-seed, so it’s kind of a cop-out and everyone's been aware of them all season. The question most of America will want answers is to see how Wisconsin deals with Stephen Curry and Davidson.

Guy Who Lost a Lot of Money: Coach Dan Dakich, Indiana. Coach Dakich was the head coach at Bowling Green for 10 years but never ever made the Big Dance surprisingly. Dakich finally gets his shot with a star-studded IU team… and they get creamed. It’s not all Dakich’s fault. However, he probably isn’t ever going to get a chance to be a head coach at any prominent program. Oh well. I’m sure if Dakich made the sweet 16, he would have been able to find a head job somewhere next year.

Most Intriguing Matchup: Tennessee-Louisville. Are you kidding me? Two teams that both like to press, run, and play crazy zones! This game should have it all! I just hope Coach Bruce Pearl sweats through his suit. That's when you know it's a good game.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Madness Continues Round 2

Well Round 2 in the books in and the Madness continues to infect the tournament like insanity and Britney Spears.

Curry Carries Davidson
Stephen Curry , son of Dell Curry, last of clod hoppers downed another favorite. Georgetown ran out to a big lead before Curry took over the second half draining ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot. In graphic terms Roy Hibbert was no match for Davidson's balls to chin style play. 10th seed marches on.....

Volunteers Squeezed.....
Butler (who is the only team in the NCAA without a mascot) managed to give Bruce Pearl a heart attack with a last second comeback that came up just short. Butler made a last second run, tied it, sent it to overtime, lost all its money at the slots, had another comeback, but fell just short

Holy Crap
Marquette and Stanford pulled in probably the best game of the tournament. A clash of styles, twin seven footers, overtime, last second shots, public nudity, and best of all I got the game right in my brackets.

Holy Crap II
UCLA over A&M. Teams trading shots...check Fade away by freshman superstar.... check a Tynus Edney small guy coast to coast last second shot to win...check. Much like accidently getting shipped a Victoria's Secret catalog I didn't expect it but I sure enjoyed it....

Other Memorable Moments?

Blogging Live from Friday's Games...

Editor's Note: One of my friends, let's just call him "Hoosierfan," decided not to do anything on Friday except watch games and send emails to me while I was working to update me on the action. He agreed to let me post his account of what transpired on Friday afternoon, along with some of my own editorial comments.

From: Hoosierfan
To: Gutsy Goldberg
Subject: Referees Support Tennessee
Date: Fri, 3/21/08, 2:17PM

First of all... Davidson is really good, and I wish I had picked them. They're doing quite well against gonzaga, but - gonzaga has to play at north carolina (which is much closer to Davidson), so Gonzaga got the shaft.

American, on the other hand, should be beating Tennessee, but there have been 12 "steals". By "Steals", I mean, the tennessee guy grabs the American's guy arm and takes the ball away, and then they call the american guy for a foul! Of course, the announcers don't even comment on it - they say - "Wow, those American guys have to figure out how to not turn the ball over."

Subject: Refs Blew the Drake Game in Regulation
Time: 2:50PM

The refs blew it in the drake- W.Kentucky game (and the announcers support
the refs, of course - its like part of the contract to air the games);
With 20 seconds left, tie game, WKY ball. WKY guy drives along the baseline, a drake guy throws himself in front of him, and somehow draws a charge. It should have been a blocking call, or no call. Definitely not a charge. This call helps to get the game into overtime.

Subject: W. Kentucky buzzer-beater!
Time: 3:09PM

Holy crap! WKY hit a buzzer beater from like 30 feet to win with 2 guys in the guys face! (Editor's Note: This was all part of the refs screwing up the game in regulation. It was part of their plan clearly).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Madness Round One: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Some days the Madness strikes out (umm Day 1). No major upsets , very few close games. Other days well the Madness is a sea otter bringing a case of Bud Light (i.e. an awesome thing until you realize its probably not hygienic)

Calhoun Out in the First Round: For the first time ever Calhoun's UConn is out in the first round. San Diego Fighitng Banjos or whatever got the luck of the Irish when the unfortunate star PG (Price) went down with a torn ACL. However they took advantage of the situation, hit a crazy shot in OT and finished off the Huskies. If it makes them feel any better they weren't alone as Villonova, Siena, the United Auto Workers and Kuomintang also pulled off upsets...

Not For Prime Time:
So much for the NBA preview of Beasley v. Mayo. Both were overshadowed by fellow Freshman K-State's Walker as both the top 10 picks struggled. I was came across impressed with the passing abilities of both. Beasley off the double team, Mayo off the dribble penetration. They'll be pros soon enough and we'll see if they can do better on the pro stage.

Close But.... Some of the heart breaking moments of the tournament is the almost major upsets. Duke almost lost to Belmont. American almost got Tennessee. However close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and elections where Florida is involved. Now the question is how the big boys respond. Was it sign that they don't have the stuff in the long run or just a one night caught with the girls sister in their bed o'crap it won't happen again (but baby she said she had a better body I had to check).

Erica Ellyson wonders what she has to do to get C&J gal of the week?

Other Madness thoughts?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Let the Madness Begin

Time for the yearly (or in some cases hourly) ritual of taking leave of our senses and enjoying the Madness

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Journey Into The Heart Of Darkness: Prologue

“Saigon... shit; I’m still only in Saigon... Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle. When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. I’d wake up and there’d be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said "yes" to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I’m here a week now... waiting for a mission... getting softer; every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter.” – Captain Benjamin T. Willard

I got my assignment a year ago. I’ve known about this trip for a year. And yet, somehow, you can never fully prepare yourself for a trip like this. “Know thine enemy,” warned the philosopher Sun Tzu. And know him I do.

Colonel Sanders is a cunning foe. He crawls, he slithers, along the edge of a straight razor. He survives. How would I survive five days in the Colorado wilderness with the Colonel and his wife? Vagabonds, they’ve been running from the law for years. With a cache of arms ample enough to fuel revolutions from Iquique to Trincomalee and with an appetite for anarchy, mayhem, and madness, I was facing danger. Grave danger.

My mission was simple: to attend the first two rounds of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and to avoid the Colonel’s overtures to join his ragged band of mercenaries running amok in the Rocky Mountains.

To be continued…

St. Patty's Day Tribute

Yes its a day late but the office closed early due to a bad case of what I believe is referred to as "Binge Drinking

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March Madness 2008 - Instantaneous Analysis

One of the greatest day in sports is the day the brackets come out (at least in my humble opinion). Now, it's time for everyone in America to suddenly become basketball experts! Let's take a look at how this year's bracket shapes up:

Best 1st round matchup- USC vs. Kansas St. - No question in my mind... USC's prized freshman in OJ Mayo battling the one-man team of Kansas State and player of the year Michael Beasley. It's a juicy matchup, plus it really is unclear if USC has the big men to slow Beasley down enough to win the game. The other exciting thing about this game is that the winner gets to play Wisconsin, in a truly difficult 2nd round game... eesh.

Most anticipated 2nd round matchup – First, a little history lesson proving how my personal anticipated 2nd round matchup often never happens.
In 2007 my “anticipated” matchup actually happened [Boston College vs. former Big East rival Georgetown], but 2007’s 2nd round matchups were relatively weak.
In 2006, my matchup [Mich. St. vs. UNC] never happened as George Mason wiped out Mich. St. then UNC.
In 2005, I didn’t specifically anoint one matchup, but I alluded to the Kansas-Wisconsin game, but Bucknell took out Kansas in the 1st round to prevent that from happening
This year, I've got two games I'm looking at, both in the same region: the sexy one is UNC-Indiana. Yes, Indiana has come across some tough times now and haven't looked as good at late but they still have two super players in the inside-outside combination of Eric Gordon (freshman guard) and senior big-man DJ White. The other matchup I'm looking at is Washington State vs. Notre Dame. Both teams suffered disappointing exits last year (Wash St in the 2nd round, Notre Dame in the 1st) and both should be focused on revenge and using the 3-pointer as their dagger. Honorable mention goes out to the Butler-Tennessee game, also in the bottom half of the UNC region.

Region of Death- UNC's region! Without question, it's the hardest, which is unfair, considering that UNC is the "#1 overall seed". This region has it all: best 2-seed (Tennessee), top-10 ranked mid-major (Butler), successful Big East teams (Louisville, Notre Dame), an experienced PAC-10 team (Wash. St.) and even an underachieving, but very talented team (Indiana). I was all excited before the tournament to have Tennessee and UNC play each other - just not in the regional finals. Now, I'm scared we won't even see that.

Cinderella Final 4 Team- I haven’t been very successful with this, though I did break the rules and just picked UCLA as a “Cinderella 2-seed” in 2006. This year, I'm going with USC. Beyond having OJ Mayo, USC also plays great team defense. Granted, it's going to take a miracle for them to survive almost all of the best big men in the country in Beasley (Kansas St), Beard (Wisconsin), then Hibbert (Georgetown), just to reach a more favorable matchup against Kansas.
Xavier – Xavier could really benefit if UCLA’s big men Mbah a Moute [ankle sprain] and Kevin Love [back spasms] aren’t able to get healthy soon. It stinks having an injury situation like this for UCLA, so hopefully, there will be some news on their players’ health before Thursday, though the coaches probably won’t say much of anything definitively.
Marquette - They are the opposite of Stanford who they play in the 2nd round. Could be an interesting darkhorse pick since they are battle-tested in the Big East, and they have a big marquee victory over Wisconsin.

Team that got Royally Screwed Over: Butler - Not only did the Selection Committee bump them down a number of seeds for not having many (any?) quality wins, they bumped them to a 7-seed. Then, to add insult to injury, they are playing in Alabama... and their 1st round opponent just happens to be a school in the state of Alabama! Oh... and Butler's prize for winning the 1st round? A date with Tennessee in the 2nd round!

Now, on to the rules I've devised to analyze the tournament! If you want to see the rules I’ve devised, check out the link to 2005’s blog article on the "Rules of Engagement".

Rule#4: A 12-seed always beats a 5 (except in 2000 and 2007)- In 2001, the year after all the 12-seeds lost, two 12-seeds one games, and one even went to the sweet 16. This year, each of the 5-seeds should be cautiously selected. I like Temple over Mich. St. and Villanova over Clemson as the better choices.

Rule#6: There always is one conference w/ multiple teams in the final4 (except in 2007) – My favorite options:
UNC, USC, UCLA, Texas (PAC-10)
UNC, Kansas, UCLA, Stanford (PAC-10)
Tennessee, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Memphis (SEC)
Louisville, Georgetown, UCLA, Memphis (Big East)
UNC, Kansas, Duke, Texas (ACC)

Rule 8 - The MAC has never gone consecutive years w/o winning a tourney game (well, since 1994 anyway and the MAC Depression of 2004-2007).
I’m expecting Kent St. to end the streak this year. Granted, this may not be a good expectation, because my alma mater, the Miami Redhawks, almost took them out in the semifinals in what turned into a steel cage match because the refs just “wanted to let them play.” Kent St. only has two quality wins all season (St. Mary’s, in the bracket buster and Illinois State back in November). I’m curious to see how Kent St. performs this time in the tournament.

Rule#9: If you win your power conference tourney, you won't do well in the NCAA tourney. (Exception: top 10 teams):
In 2005, one team lost in the 1st round, the other in the 2nd round
In 2006, all 3 that qualified got bounced in the 1st round.
In 2007, one team qualified [Oregon], but they made the elite 8. I still say Oregon had an easy draw though.
In 2008, Pitt (Big East) and Georgia (SEC) are the only teams that qualified. Georgia is a 14-seed playing Xavier and Georgia's miracle run will end then. As for Pitt, this gets a bit trickier, as they are playing in a relatively weaker foursome (Pitt-Oral Roberts, Mich. St-Temple). The rules have treated me well, so I will place Pitt as a 2nd-round loser.

Experimental Rule #11: The 1-seed with the worst Sagarin strength of schedule will NOT make the Final 4.
Actually, this rule doesn’t work well at all. In the 3 years of data I have, Illinois and Florida already bucked the trend (and Florida won anyways). Granted, Kansas was fractions of a point behind Florida and ended up bowing out in the Elite Eight. This year, Memphis is the clear loser, so I will avoid them and their awful free throw shooting.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Midweek Thoughts

Work. Work. Work. Hello boys, miss me?

Yes I've been a little slow with the posting lately. Unfortunately work has gotten has gotten the better of my creative skills and has kept me from my blogging duties. Luckily the editor in chief has yelled bloody murder so I'm back baby. Here's a few thoughts

Next Year: Is not the battle cry normally cheered but for the fans of Cleveland State it is. For a long time the Vikings have dwelt in the cellars of the Horizon League. With new coach Gary Waters thought CSU turned things around. Only 10th ranked Butler and a crippling injury to their best player during the Championship game kept CSU from their birth in 22 years. But with no seniors perhaps next year is the year.

Bye Bye 'Cuse - Another year and another wipe out for Boeheim. Syracuse not too long ago was a champion, a perenial powerhouse ...but this is year two out of the tournament...

This weeks funny: The Rockets doing their imitation of Mt. Mutumbo

Health: Going into the playoffs health will be a big factor. Two of the favorites, Lakers and Cavs are nearing fully healthy. The big man Bynum and the little engine Boobie Gibson are still a few weeks away but how they're integrated and how healthy they are could be the difference in reaching the playoffs and not.

Quiet: Hey can anyone remember a time when the NFL has been this quit? Usually March is still buzzing with free agency and draft previews. But the lack of big movement or big names moving coupled with whats expected to be a lousy draft and the NFL is out of the limelight

And your Midweek Thought Girl to help you keep going (well more importantly me going) .....The Return of Megan Fox

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

PAC-10 - 2008 Facts, Stats, and Attempted Analysis

Here it goes – my final breakdown… the PAC-10 is the best conference in the land (at least according to Sagarin)…

UCLA, Sag #3, 1st in conference at 16-2, 28-3
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Mich. St., Stanford (twice), Wash St (twice), USC (split)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Texas, USC, Wasington (that’s it)
3P% - 34.2%, Reb. Margin = +9.2 , FT 74.5%, FG 48.2%, Opp. FG 42.7% –
Obviously a 1-seed, the only question is “how far will they go?” Freshman Kevin Love is a beast (in the college game) and gets 17.4 ppg (on 57% FG) and 10.9 reb. They have a plethora of big men (Mbah a Moute, Aboya, Mata) compared to most schools, but the guards are the real question. How good are Collison (14.6ppg, 50% 3p, 4 assists, 2TO) and Shipp (13.2 ppg) and Westbrook (12.8 ppg, 49%FG, 4.4 assist )???

Stanford, Sag #12, 2nd in conference at 13-5, 24-6
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Colorado?, Texas Tech? (they really didn’t play anyone out of conference); USC, Wash St (twice), Arizona (twice)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Siena!, Oregon, Arizona St.
3P% - 36.4%, Reb. Margin = +8.0 , FT 69.2%, FG 44.9%, Opp. FG 39.5% –
It’s kind of strange to have such a big team that outrebounds opponents, yet they still have a poor field goal percentage. This team is one of the most intriguing in my mind. They have 7-foot twins for the second time in school history (remember the Collins brothers? – Jason and Jarron – they still play in the NBA!) This time – Stanford has Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez. Fittingly, Robin is the sidekick. I like to call Brook Lopez, “Lottery Lopez” because that’s where he’s going after this season I assume (7-footer who has 18.9 ppg, 8.2 reb, 2.2 blocks). Robin Lopez is really a “Poor Man’s Lopez” (9.9ppg, 5.6 reb, 2.2 blocks). Lottery Lopez actually has some quickness, at least in comparison to Poor Man’s Lopez. Anyways, what makes this team so damn intriguing is:
1) two 7-footers;
2) the revenge factor since they got obliterated by Louisville last year in the 1st round;
3) The fact that one of their main guys in the rotation has a last name of “Finger” meaning that the amount of insane catch phrases are endless. I’m not sure what the catch-phrase should be, I’m just saying it’s interesting.

Washington St., Sag #13, 3rd in conference at 11-7, 23-7
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Baylor, Gonzaga, USC (twice),
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Cal, UCLA (twice), Standord (twice), Arizona (twice)
3P% - 37.1%, Reb. Margin = +0.4 , FT 73.8%, FG 47.8%, Opp. FG 41.7% –
A year later, it’s kind of ironic how they were a “darkhorse” 3-seed who got “upset” by a 6-seeded Vanderbilt team that no one knew anything about. Now, Vanderbilt has been ranked all season, and Washington St became overmatched during the conference season to become a much lower seed than last season. This is a small team, led by guard Derrick Low (13.9ppg, 39% 3pointers) who likes to shoot it. To be honest, I don’t see any reason why we should expect a sweet 16 from this team this year either, unless they somehow avoid any big men.

USC, Sag #21, 3rd in conference at 11-7, 20-10,
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Miami(OH), San Diego, So. Illinois, Oklahoma, UCLA (split), Stanford (split)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Mercer!, Kansas, Memphis, Wash St (twice)
3P% - 38.9%, Reb. Margin = +0.1 , FT 68.3%, FG 48.5%, Opp. FG 39.3% –
I did a double-take when I saw that USC, NOT UCLA, is leading the conference in opponents’ field goal percentage. Unfortunately for USC, they need that just to survive because they get completely outrebounded against any of the bigger teams. OJ Mayo leads the way (20.9ppg, 4.7 reb, 3.6TO, 41%3pointers), but he hasn’t been as dominating as everyone expected. Taj Gibson mixes it up down low (11ppg, 7.7reb, 2.5 blocks, 59%FG on limited shooting)

Arizona St., Sag #41, 5th in conference at 9-9, 19-11
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Xavier, Stanford, USC,
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Illinois, Nebraska, Washington, Cal, Oregon
3P% - 36.1%, Reb. Margin = -0.1 , FT 74.0%, FG 46.9%, Opp. FG 41.2% –
They lost 7 of 9 in the middle of PAC-10 season, to put them squarely on the bubble (and probably still need a couple wins in the tourney). They beat good teams, they lose to bad teams, it’s really quite an unpredictable team. They don’t rebound well, but they have 5 different guys who regularly shoot 3s, just not consistently! They are led by James Harden (17.7ppg, 5 reb, 42% 3pointers)

Oregon, Sag #36, 5th in conference at 9-9, 18-12
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: W. Mich, Kansas St, Stanford (split), Arizona (twice)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: St. Mary’s, Nebraska, Oakland, Washington, UCLA (twice), USC (twice)
3P% - 40.1%, Reb. Margin = +1.9 , FT 68.9%, FG 48.4%, Opp. FG 44.1% –
Just like last season, these guys don’t play much defense. Unlike last season, they don’t have PG Aaron Brooks. Like last season, these guys have lots of 3-point shooters, and unlike Arizona St, they tend to hit their shots. What’s most concerning about this team is that they really lost to all the teams they were supposed to, except for Stanford.

Arizona, Sag #29, 7th in conference at 8-10, 18-13
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Texas A&M, Wash St (twice), USC (split), Houston
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Virginia, Kansas, Memphis, Oregon (twice), Arizona St (twice)
3P% - 38.5%, Reb. Margin = -1.2 , FT 74.0%, FG 48.0%, Opp. FG 44.3% –
Lute Olson is on a leave of absence. They have talented guards/swingmen (PG Bayless – 20.3ppg, 4.2 assist, 40% 3pointers; SF Chase Budinger 17.2ppg, 5.4 reb, 37% 3pointers), but they get outrebounded often. And they don’t really play much defense. I watched them play against UCLA and without any big men, it was an ugly slaughter. Arizona played a brutal schedule, but really didn’t pick up any good out of conference wins. They’ve lost 7 of their last 10, and a quick exit from the tourney could be disastrous, with the committee putting such emphasis on “recent play”.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Shut Your Piehole! Remember the Alamo Edition

On NBA Fastbreak last night, after the studio crew compared records and stats of last year's San Antonio Spurs to this year's team, Jamal Mashburn was asked which team he thought was better. Last year's team, Mash said. Why?

"Last year's team won the championship."

Shame on you, 2007-08 Spurs! For fuck's sake, it's March 7 and you're still messing around with the regular season! Why haven't you won a title this year, Timmy Duncan? Where are your priorities, Manu? You and your Western Conference-leading ways - you have no idea how much this hurts me, to see you floundering like this.

Jamal Mashburn: shut your underachieving piehole!

Cheers and Jeers: Spring Edition


Well we're in the heart of the Midwestern Spring here in dreary C-Bus. Its hot , its cold, its wet, its windy, there are small showers of blood, frogs and copies of Ben Affleck movies (mainly just Daredevil). So its hard to do cheering and jeering. As such we here at C&J LLC will do a pivot and instead let people know things to keep an eye on....

Keep an Eye on....Conference Tourneys. The Selection Committee has been using conference tourneys (i.e. late season momentum) more and more with about 6-8 teams in the running for the coveted number one seeds the Tourneys will decide a lot.

Keep an Eye on...Those Houston Rockets who keep winning despite Yao's injury. Can it continue? Umm probably not. But given how this year has gone I'm not writing off any underdogs. Although this martini I'm having right now I am writing off as a business expense. Its 8:30 you say? Well its an eye opener

Keep an Eye on....The renaming of Wrigley Field. Personally I don't care but on the other hand I wouldn't have to live next to GoDaddy.Com Field

Keep an Eye on..... Not landing in the middle of a fight between Godzilla and some giant Chimera-like beast.

And keep an Eye on your C&J gal of the week.....Jolene Blalock.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Faint Glimmer Of Hope For The Dying Republic...

Holy unexpectedly sensible Congressman, Batman! Though this small gesture doesn’t restore my faith in this country or our totally broken legislature, it’s comforting to know that at least one out of the 535 members who sit on Capitol Hill realize how low this issue should be on our list of national priorities.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Favre Retires

Doctors were unfortunately unable to revive Peter King after he heard the news.
What's your favorite Favre story? Mine's the one where he and the Fonz jumped over a shark....

Monday, March 03, 2008

MVC and Big East - Facts, Stats, and Attempted Analysis

Time to quickly preview the 4 teams worth talking about in the MVC, and the whopping 10 worth talking about in the Big East. Just for simplicity, ESPN currently projects only 1 MVC team and 7 Big East teams. I can already tell you that I support two from the MVC which ranks as the 7th best conference at the moment according to Sagarin , right behind the six power conferences.


Drake, Sag #20, 1st in conference at 15-3, 25-4 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Butler, Illinois St (twice), Creighton (twice)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: St. Mary’s, So. Ill, Bradley, Missouri St
3P% - 36.8%, Reb. Margin = +2.7 , FT 75.3%, FG 44.8%, Opp. FG 43.7% –
Only non-conference loss was to St. Mary’s, but playing Iowa and Iowa St this year was meaningless b/c those teams stunk. What concerns me is that they don’t do any one thing well, other than shoot free throws, including playing defense. They beat Butler in the marquee Bracketbusters matchup, to give them their best win by far. Their top 4 scorers all like to shoot 3-pointers. Their fourth-leading scorer is Klayton Korver, brother of Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz. Apparently, another brother, Kaleb is playing at Creighton, and a fourth brother is a senior in high school. Also, their mom supposedly scored 74 points in a high school game. That’s what we call good genes. If my mom played, she’d shoot grandpa-style and throw it under-handed. Anyways, their biggest guy is 6-8.

Illinois St, Sag #44, 2nd in conference at 13-5, 22-8 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Creighton (twice), Cincy, Missouri,
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Indiana, Kent St., E. Mich, Indiana St, Drake (twice)
3P% - 38.2%, Reb. Margin = +1.6 , FT 63.8%, FG 46.1%, Opp. FG 40.2% –
They can’t shoot free throws at all, but they do play defense and can shoot the three. This would be an interesting team if they make the tourney, only b/c the question the entire game would be whether the free throw shooting is going to cause them to lose. This team has gotten hot at the right time, winning their last 4 including wins over Creighton and So. Illinois to grab 2nd place in conference. They are led by Osiris Eldridge, a 6-3 guard, averages 16.3 ppg, 5.6 reb, and shoots 41.7% from 3-point land. They have a 6-11 center who only averages 2.6 reb/game, so he must be very uncoordinated. Other than that, not much size on this team, though 6-7 forward A. Slack grabs 7.1 rebs/game.

Southern Illinois, Sag #50, 3rd in conference at 11-7, 17-13 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Miss. St., Creighton (split), Drake (split), St. Mary’s
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: USC, Indiana, Charlotte, W. Mich, Butler
3P% - 34.2%, Reb. Margin = +1.3 , FT 71.4%, FG 42.8%, Opp. FG 42.5% –
What’s encouraging is that they have two quality victories (Miss. St., St. Mary’s) out of conference, plus they did get splits with Creighton and Drake. It shows a lot of potential. For those wondering, this is the team that went to the sweet 16 and lost to Kansas last year. They still have their bruising 6-7 forward from last year’s team, Randal Falker, who averages 12.9 ppg, 7.1 reb, and shoots 56.2% from the field. They graduated their top guard and scorer from last year’s team, hence the drop-off in wins and expectations.

Creighton, Sag #50, 4th in conference at 10-8, 20-9 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: DePaul, Nebraska, St. Joe’s, So. Ill (split)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Xavier, Ill. St (twice), Drake (twice)
3P% - 37.5%, Reb. Margin = +1.8 , FT 71.7%, FG 47.5%, Opp. FG 41.5% –
They played the easiest non-conference schedule in the MVC; only good team they played was Xavier. It’s hard to figure out this team by looking at the stats… their 3rd and 4th leading scorers play limited minutes off the bench, and their PG is not a scoring threat as he shoots 30% from the field. These guys need to win the tourney to make it, and it ain’t going to happen barring a miracle.

The MVC tourney is this week, and if #2-seed Illinois St and #3 seed Southern Illinois play in the semis (Saturday March 8th at 4PM), it’s entirely possible that the winner could get an at large NCAA bid just for making the MVC finals. Personally, I think So. Illinois’s profile looks much better with the quality wins. Hopefully, the committee will just let the winner of that game (if it happens) go to the tourney, because I’d rather see the 2nd place team from this conference than some questionable sub-500 team from one of the power conferences.


Georgetown, Sag #9, 1st in conference at 14-3, 24-4 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Michigan, Alabama, Uconn, Notre Dame, Marquette
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Memphis, Pitt, Louisville, Syracuse
3P% - 36.7%, Reb. Margin = +2.5 , FT 66.9%, FG 48.2%, Opp. FG 36.2% –
The non-conference schedule was pretty easy and they only lost to Memphis, the only good team on the entire slate. In conference, Georgetown has obviously been putting the smack down. They are playing the same style as last year’s final 4 team, which is limited possessions, with the same type of offense involving cuts and motions which confuses teams and leads to easy baskets. And… they have a star Senior in Dr. Hibbert (13.6 ppg, 6.4 reb, 2.4 blks)! Guard Jonathon Wallace is their main 3-point threat shooting 42.7% from 3-point land.

Louisville, Sag #14, 1st in conference at 14-3, 24-6 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: UNLV, Kentucky, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Marquette, Nova, Pitt
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: BYU, Dayton, Purdue [w/ injury problems to best player] ; Cincy, Seton Hall, UConn
3P% - 35.0%, Reb. Margin = +3.1 , FT 66.0%, FG 45.8%, Opp. FG 37.8% –
They had some injury problems (with center D. Padgett and Palacios out), which partially caused them to lose to Dayton, Purdue, and BYU. But they have really rised to the occasion in the big east since being healthy, despite losing to some bad teams and beating a lot of the good teams. Top 4 scorers all average between 10.5 and 12 ppg. Padgett shoots an absurd 68.2% from the field. Best 3-point threat is Jerry Smith, who shoots 40.4% from downtown. This team has really taken to heart Coach Pitino’s lessons on defense.

UConn, Sag #16, 3rd in conference at 12-4, 23-6 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Indiana, Marquette, Notre Dame, W. Virginia, Louisville,
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Memphis, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Providence
3P% - 35.8%, Reb. Margin = +6.7 , FT 71.2%, FG 46.2%, Opp. FG 38.3% –
They really didn’t start to come together until they beat Indiana in Bloomington. They’ve actually won 12 of 13 and are red-hot at the moment. Jeff Adrien, a 6-7 forward, and AJ Price, a 6-2 guard, both get 15 ppg. Adrien also grabs 9.3 rebs. Price shoots 38.7% from 3-point land and delivers 6 assists per game.

Notre Dame, Sag #17, 3rd in conference at 12-4, 22-6 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Kansas St., Villanova, Marquette, PittNon-conference losses & key conference losses: Baylor, Geo. Tech, Georgeotwn, Louisville, Uconn, Marquette
3P% - 40.9%, Reb. Margin = +7.4 , FT 74.1%, FG 45.2%, Opp. FG 40.7% –
These guys take my 2008 award for Best Overall Statistics thus far! Last year’s winner, Maryland, bowed out in the 2nd round, so let’s hope for all the Irish fans out there, that Notre Dame can do a bit better. I’m also curious to see if they play well in the tourney to overcome last year’s pathetic showing in a loss to Winthrop in the 1st round. Anyways, this team is led by three main players: Luke Harangody, Kyle McAlarney, and Rob Kurz. Harangody, a 6-8 sophomore, gets 21ppg, 10.6 reb, and shoots 50% from the floor. McAlarney, a 6-0 junior, gets 15.3 ppg and takes 7.5 3pointers per game but shoots 45% from out there! Kurz, a 6-9 senior, gets 12.3 ppg, 7.7 reb, and 1.4 blocks. I’m going to blindly rely on these guys in the tourney if for no other reason, because they lost to Winthrop last year and I like teams that have revenge on their mind.

Marquette, Sag #13, 5th in conference at 11-6, 21-7 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Ok St., Wisconsin, Notre Dame (split), Pitt, Nova
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Duke, W. Va, Louisville (twice), Uconn, Georgetown
3P% - 36.1%, Reb. Margin = +1.4 , FT 70.6%, FG 45.4%, Opp. FG 41.0% –
These guys have a high ranking in Sagarin mainly because of the scores of their games and the number of close losses (4 points to duke, 3 points to notre dame, 2 points to georgetown).) They have a balanced attack with 3 guys averaging 13 ppg. Their best 3-point threat is Lazar Hayward, but he only attempts 2.4 per game. I hope it’s pronounced “Lazer” because that would make the games more exciting.

Pitt, Sag #22, 6th in conference at 9-7, 21-8 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Duke, Georgetown, Nova, W. Va
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Dayton, Rutgers, Cincy, Marquette, Louisville
3P% - 33.6%, Reb. Margin = +5.0 , FT 68.4%, FG 45.7%, Opp. FG 42.3% –
Pitt beat Duke in the regular season, but as we’ve all realized, that really isn’t too special of a feat. Pitt’s been in a bit of a funk and was on a 3-game losing streak before toppling Cincy and Syracuse (non-tourney teams). Pitt is led by Sam Young, a 6-6 forward, who averages 18.2 ppg, 6.5 reb, and shoots 41% beyond the arc. They also have DeJuan Blair, a 6-7 forward, who averages 12ppg, 9.5 reb, and shoots 53% from the field.

W. Virginia, Sag #24, 6th in conference at 9-7, 20-9 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Auburn, Marquette, Syracuse
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Tennessee, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Cincy, Uconn, Georgeotwn
3P% - 35.9%, Reb. Margin = +2.0 , FT 67.6%, FG 45.2%, Opp. FG 41.1% –
Played a weak non-conference slate and still don’t have much of a good resume, given all the tough games in the big east. Led by J. Alexander (6’8”) (15.1ppg, 6 reb) ; A. Ruoff (14 ppg, 3.1 assists, 41.8% 3p%).

Villanova, Sag #63, 9th in conference at 7-9, 17-11 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: G. Mason, LSU, Temple, Pitt, Syracuse, W. Virginia, Uconn
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: NC St, Depaul, Cincy, Rutgers, St. Joe’s
3P% - 34.7%, Reb. Margin = +2.5 , FT 71.6%, FG 43.2%, Opp. FG 43.9% –
They don’t play defense, they lost to St. Joe’s who is also fighting for a ticket to the big dance, and they’ve lost to a lot of the bad teams in the conference. It doesn’t look good for them despite being ranked early on. However, they had very questionable calls that resulted in losses to NC St. and Georgetown. Nonetheless, their best player is Scottie Reynolds (16.3 ppg, 36.3% 3pointers on 6.2 attempts per game). It kind of reminds me of another Scottie, Scotty Thurman on that Arkansas championship team, who also loved to throw up 3-pointers! Granted, Villanova needs to sell its soul to the devil to win it all this year.

Syracuse, Sag #49, 9th in conference at 7-9, 17-12 overall
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: UAB, Syracuse, Providence
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Boston College, Dayton, St. Louis, Temple
3P% - 33.3%, Reb. Margin = +5.6 , FT 67.1%, FG 48.2%, Opp. FG 42.3% –
I just wanted to put them on the list to say that they have no business going to the tourney unless they actually win the Big East tournament. And I don’t see Carmelo, Hakim Warrick, or J-Mac saving them.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Izzo: The Modern Day Robert Johnson

Editor's Note: This article was submitted by "Nat McCarron" aka my friend who is a Super-Indiana Hoosier-fan. She wrote an article last year on All-Star NBA Players she would take on in a fight.

I believe most people who haven't spent their lives under a rock are familiar with the story of how Robert Johnson went down to the Crossroads and sold his soul to the devil so that he could play the blues guitar. It's a classic tale that combines the desperation of a young man wanting to better his position and skills with the intrigue of the most basic of existential predicaments: would you sell your soul to the devil for your most instant desire?

I honestly didn't think this happened anymore. For example, I accepted the fact that American Idol was a pop-culture phenomenon and Simon Cowell might actually be liked by the general public. I bought into the notion that George W. Bush was fairly elected by the electoral college. I was even willing to believe that Fergie might actually be talented enough to appeal to a pre-pubescent fan base who would legitimately purchase her records. But Tom Izzo is another story.

I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced of his innately evil depravity until this Sunday’s basketball game against Indiana, where Izzo's Michigan State Spartans outscored the Hoosiers by 30 points and shot 80% during the first half of the game. Finally, during the second half, I caught a reflection on the backboard – and it was probably a reflection I was not supposed to see, and I’m not sure how many other people caught it. The reflection looked like Tom Izzo, but it was so much more evil. Plus, you know, Tom Izzo doesn’t wear a red cape or carry a red pitchfork.

At one point, there was a three-pointer, shot all the way from Ann Arbor, and by no uncertain terms, it should NOT have gone in. There’s just no way it was able to deviate from it’s haphazard course and into the basket like that – unless it had a little help. And that’s when I saw El Diablo staring right back from the glass. It suddenly made sense! Tom Izzo went down to the Crossroads, and made a barter, and that is what happened on Sunday afternoon! There is simply no other explanation for what happened during this game! And then, when I thought about it more, I came across absolutely conclusive evidence:

Exhibit AJack Breslin Student Events Center - Sure, it would appear that the Spartans play at a student center named for a generous benefactor. However, when you rearrange the letters of that name, here’s what you get:
Dante’s Cult Sent Brine Jerk Events C
Is it simply a coincidence that re-arranging the letters of this dark and deceptive pit of debauchery incites imagery of Hell itself (Dante’s Inferno anyone?), and cult activity involving corrosive substances and horribly hellish participants? And the letter C? C as in "Curse" or "Cult" or "Come-on-over-and-I’ll-send-you-to-hell-Love"!
Lucifer? Really? Coincidence? I think not.

Exhibit BTom Izzo is rocking the Prince of Darkness ‘Do - Is there anyone who disagrees that Satan has dark hair? Not since Rick Petino’s spot-on rendition of Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate” have I been more convinced that the Devil is alive and well, and currently resides in East Lansing, Michigan. Such an evil haircut – it was actually the initial plan for Javier Bardem’s evil hairstyle in “No Country For OldMen” but ultimately considered “too sick, twisted, and sinister” for such a gentle, kind-hearted character. True Story.

Exhibit CThey’re the Spartans - Spartans are evil. Simple as that. They just are. Did you know that the opening weekend gross of the movie “Meet the Spartans” was $6,660,000? Yeah,that’s right – 666. Plus, they look stupid. Those dumb outfits, and they’re too much of punks to wear the official headdress and regalia. How insulting. If they’re going to embrace such a sinister mascot, don’t half-ass it. Punk ass bitches.

And I rest my case. With evidence so compelling, it’sonly a matter of time before Miles Brand will comedown from his high horse at the NCAA and ban "bartering with Satan" from the game, which I firmly believe will bring a breath of fresh air to the sport of basketball and to the NCAA as a whol, and open up the market for other creatures who wish to barter for skills as well.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the soulistic barter, or at least the fable of it all, but Spartan Basketball is not on par with Robert Johnson’s blues guitar. If Izzo did, as I suspect, trade his soul for a great game, he got hosed.

NFL Offseason: Opportunity Costs

For those that don't have master's in economics or political economy or cake baking allow me to introduce the concept of opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are the costs an alternative that must be forgone to pursue an option. For example if I have a tasty bagel I have to decide whether to use cream cheese or country crock butter. In the end my expected utility (happiness) is the selection of cream cheese minus the value I get if I had used country crock (or we could come up with an example of Howie Long starring at Britney Spears pre-insanity).
This NFL season has been especially rift with trade-offs. Given the dearth of quality free agents coupled with the usage of the franchise tag teams are now faced with the hard choice of building through the draft OR through veterans. In essence should I trade draft choices in exchange for semi-known commodities. Without over-stating it a lot of teams are saying yes the opportunity cost of the draft is well worth veteran players. Buffalo traded for Marcus Stroud, New Orleans Jonathan Vilma, Cleveland for two defensivelineman, Jacksonville Williamson. I doubt this list is inclusive (my opportunity costs on time) let alone this is the end of the trading season. Whether teams are driven by a win now mentality or this is a not so subtle dig at the quality of the NFL draft. After all supposed draft guru Phil Savage (of the Browns) has now traded away his first three picks.

Given all the opportunity costs whether in the form of trading away picks or the high costs of the players (Samuel, Faneca, Justin Smith) its hard to say any team is a winner. Is Asante Samuels really worth that kind of money? Would the Browns have been better served drafting defensive linemen versus saying older veterans. At best its inconclusive but it might be a sign that stability will reign for next year.

On a personal note I was too busy the past week with work to post Cheers and Jeers. To make amends I humbly throw myself on the Patron Saint of this blog...Scarlett Johansson.