Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tournament Thoughts - Second Round Saturday

Jared Sullinger hits 3s? Jeez

Gonzaga has John Stockton's son. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I love the way Gonzaga plays offense, lots of driving, passing and moving without the ball. That's how Gonzaga made that late game run. Drive and kick and nail the 3s. But then the shot stopped falling.

The refs are letting them play, no calls in a couple questions block/charge scenarios.

What's scary about Ohio State is that when Sullinger was in foul trouble Thomas and Craft stepped up. But when they absolutely need a basket they went to Sullinger, and he made the shot. One problem they had, their starting 5 played pretty much the entire game.

Fun game between Murray State and Marquette. Both teams looking to run off every missed shot. Both teams full of midsized athletic players who can shoot, dribble and pass and no big men to slow it down.

Verne Lundquist called Jae Crowder's brother fat. He is, but how come its ok to say it about him, but not the Lehigh cheerleader?

I really like these guys on Marquette, DJO, Crowder, Junior Cadougan. I should hate them since they beat Syracuse last year but they are good players who are fun to watch and have been around forever.

Wisconsin is such an interesting team. Tons of big guys, and they all shoot from the outside.

Vander Blue sounds like the name of a gay porn star.

Buzz Williams might want to yell a little less. That was the best post-game interview ever.

Because of the staggered starts I'm really only seeing the second halves of these games. Wisconsin's started just after Marquette ended, then on to Indiana-VCU.

Wisconsin's defense definitely did thwart Vanderbilt's 3-point shooting. Festus Ezeli got his points but their big outside shooters, Taylor and Jenkins (7-24, 3-14 from 3) struggled. Vandy's comeback started when they worked that high-low game. Ezeli and Golbourne setting a pick and rolling to the basket.

Wisconsin sealed this one with two deep 3s, one from Brusk and one from Taylor. And two big offensive rebounds on that possession.

I just don't know why Jenkins took a 3. Get in there and shoot a 2. Get fouled or something. Why force a 3 to try to win when you don't need to.

I hope Rick Pitino saw that. The benefit of guarding the inbounder. 20 years later and I still can't believe what a huge mistake that was.

And down goes a very trendy Final Four pick. I'll admit I had Vandy in the Elite 8, but I was skeptical of the whole "hot team" thing. Winning a conference tournament is no guarantee of tournament success.

I normally don't freak out about teams playing where they have a lot of fans. But Kentucky is basically playing a home game. Oh well, they earned it.

Does Jae Crowder wash his hair in the shower after games? He can't can he? But Crowder didn't even have the best hair in his game. That honor goes to Edward Daniel whose afro is the best thing I've seen in this tournament.

Fantastic finish to VCU-Indiana. But VCU had a Notre Dame-esque final minute. If you have the ball and a 3-point lead with a minute to go you need to win that game. First there were the 2 missed free throws by Burgess. Then there was the foul on Oladipo which led to an and-1 that tied the game. Then there was an early 3 in a tie game. Why? I know its open, but there's a reason they're giving you that shot. Then Indiana got the ball and pushed it (no timeout, good coaching by Crean) and hit the baseline jumper which became the game winner.

Still impressed by VCU but I think this time Shaka Smart will leave.

Kudos to Iowa State. They are playing in a hostile environment against a much better team and every time Kentucky makes a run they answer. Two huge comebacks by Iowa State, the second one tying the game early in the second half.

But Kentucky is just too good. They just get out on the fast break and you can't stop em. They get dunks they hit 3s. Just too much talent. After they tied it at 42, Kentucky went on a 20-2 run.

Kid Gilchrist sounds like a Depression-era Irish boxer.

Very thoughtful analysis from Ashley Judd. But it got so loud because the Mayor went nuts, you couldn't here anything they were saying.

Cool play in the Baylor game. Carlon Brown drives the lane, falls on his wrist and hurts it. He has to leave the game. The rule is, if the fouled player can't make his shots, the opposing coach gets to pick the player to shoot, from the other four guys who were on the floor. Brown shoots 73%, Andre Roberson shoots 60% so Scott Drew chose him, and he made both shots. And then he nailed a 3.

Remember when I said I liked it when both teams wore uniforms of color? Well not when one of them is Baylor. At least Colorado has no chance of passing to the wrong team.

Brady Heslip nailed 6 3-pointers (on 6 attempts) in the first half. Reminds me of Gerry McNamara in the title game in 2003. Heslip was so hot I thought he was an autistic kid who got put into the game out of sympathy.

Pierre Jackson also played a great game, hitting some incredible shots both in the lane and from way beyond the arc.

This game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. Baylor just got hot from deep late.

And there goes another team that won their conference tournament, Colorado.

Half of Quincy Acy's buckets in his career are dunks. Baylor has a really deep balanced team. I like the upsets and everything but I really want to see Baylor vs. Kentucky in the regional final.

Now Louisville has everyone talking, are they this year's UConn? Is the Big East Tournament some kind of breeding ground for champions?

The Big East now has 3 in the Sweet 16, three out and three playing tomorrow.

Syracuse vs. Kansas State

I'm not surprised Syracuse won, I'm surprised at how easy it was, especially after that first half.

Kansas State was dominating on the glass, just throwing it up and getting the rebounds. But for some reason they didn't do that as much in the second half, and the back line of Christmas and Southerland did a great job rebounding. For the game, SU got 23 defensive rebounds, and Kansas State had 22 offensive rebounds. Just for the record, getting two-thirds of your opponents misses is bad, getting only half is terrible.

Or turrrrrrrrible as Charles Barkley might say. During halftime he said the zone is the easiest defense to play against because you can do exactly what K-State was doing, penetrate then get the rebounds. Kenny Smith agreed. And I have been saying it for years.

But Syracuse won despite that weakness because of other things, mainly, shot-making. Scoop Jardine did make 6 turnovers, but he also made all 3 of his 3s, including 2 in the run that took the lead from 2 points to 10. Jardine also showed great hustle diving over the scorer's table for a loose ball. Yes, those are his feet.

All season we wondered why Boeheim bothered to start Rakeem Christmas if he was just going to pull him from the game and never put him back. Now he see his real potential. He did a great job inside, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks and then he got going on offense, with those three straight layups when he got open inside and the point guards found him.

Rakeem made it a merry Christmas in March

The other charged with making up for Fab Melo's loss is James Southerland. An incredible all around game with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks and a couple other good hustle plays, including a big save on a loose ball. And he contributed his normal shooting, adding 15 points and making both his 3-point attempts. Wait, Southerland played also those minutes and only attempted 2 3-pointers? Yes, and that was a big difference, because he is realizing he can contribute in other ways.

James Southerland might as well be wearing knickers

My only complaint about his game is that he had his socks pulled all the way up to his shorts. He looked like Payne Stewart out there.

Those three guys were key, but you can't overlook Dion Waiters who continues to be exceptional. Joseph had a rough shooting game but he made his free throws. Those t hit 14 of 15, and as a team SU made 80% from the line.

Billy asked me who was the crazy guy with the beard they always show at SU games, it's Scoop Jardine's father:

The other crazy guy was Joe Biden. What's he doing there? I know he went to Syracuse but still.

After Thursday's disputed game I think SU did get some unfavorable calls (no foul on Christmas on a missed dunk, Henriquez jumped backwards, was called for a travel and then it was changed to a foul, and a play in the first half when I yelled "make a video of that and put it on the internet" but now neither Bill nor I remember what it was), but I don't think it was a makeup. Referees' calls like everything else come in streaks and even out over time.

But I have never seen so many jump balls in as there were in the game. Not saying good or bad, just every time there was a contested play, they called a held-ball.

Thank Frank Martin halftime speech was bullshit. He was all calm and quiet, you know he erupted on them as soon as the camera crew left.

this is the real Frank Martin

At least Syracuse cheerleaders are cuter than Lehigh cheerleaders.

cuter than Lehigh's cheerleader

Glad those big-head Boeheim idiots make the trip. But who are these guys? Normally you'd think people who have enough money to get these tickets and pay for hotel and airfare might be a little more sophisticated than to were a cardboard faux-face. But I guess not.

The Him Boeheim bigheads made the trip

My guess is we'll seem them in Boston, just like we will see all of you.

What Do You Give Me For? Hollie Cavanagh & Amanda Leatherman

What do you give me for American Idol's Hollie Cavanagh and poker hostess hottie Amanda Leatherman?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tournament Thoughts - First Round Late Friday

I am starting to get exhausted from watching four games at once for 12 hours a day for two straight days. I love the staggered starts so games don't end all at once but all these games are good and I can only see two at a time. I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow when the most there will be is three simultaneous games.

Let's start with St. Louis and Memphis. There isn't a bigger contrast in coaches than Rick Majerus, fat, old, grumpy and frumpy and Josh Pastner, young, curly-haired, energetic. St.Louis hit a miracle bank shot at the end of the first half and Rick Majerus credited the fact that St. Louis is a Catholic school.

Memphis went incredibly cold from 3 for a spell (I think it was 11 misses in a row) and that gave St. Louis the chance to get enough of a lead that they were able to salt it away with free throws.

Then I put Michigan-Ohio (a rivalry dating back to the Battle of Toledo) on the TV and Duke-Lehigh on the computer.

Ohio was really in control of this one throughout. They never seemed worried or flustered that Michigan would make a comeback. I do like Tim Hardaway Jr, very good player.

Whenever an announcer says a player got a good look at a shot, I always think he is going to say a t-bone steak.

At Duke, even the black kids (Seth Curry, Austin Rivers) are privileged upper-crust assholes.

I like when the home team wears colored jerseys. I like this yellow versus green in Michigan vs. Ohio.

Ohio's Alex Kellogg is the son of CBS's Clark. I wonder what would happen if by some miracle they made the Final Four. Would Clark be able to do the games? It's a shame Clark can't see his son play. I remember Big John Thompson demanded that Westwood One assign him to Georgetown's region or he wouldn't do any games. No one had the balls to tell him that calling his son's games was not a good idea. He did call the Georgetown-Belmont game today.

Terrible crucial late possession by Michigan. Killed 20 seconds and ended up jacking a bad 3. And even when they got another chance Smotryce blew it. And the three possessions before that weren't too great either. They panicked too early and it led to another major upset. Wow.

Peter King (Ohio) made a bet with Rich Eisen (Michigan) and he refused to take points. Now I think Eisen has to sing the Ohio fight song on NFL Network.

Somewhere I can hear Focks screaming. And blaming Lloyd Carr.

Damino has been saying it all year, this is not a traditionally good Duke team. They have good players but lack a certain something. I like Austin Rivers as a player, think he is tougher than the rest of the Duke pussies, but he seems way too arrogant given how little he's actually accomplished.

Why did Lehigh keep fouling Rivers? Get out of the fuckin way.

Wow this officially became the biggest day for upsets in the first round in a really long time. This could be the most surprising upset in first round history.

Lehigh's coach doesn't even look happy.

The Lehigh cheerleader looks happy. Little does she know she is getting ripped on Twitter. Poor thing. Fat Lehigh cheerleader might be trending.

one of the poor Lehigh cheerleader's whose moment of joy was turned into a moment of national embarrassment

And while all that was happening Purdue held on for a win against St. Mary's. Good for Robbie Hummel who had so many injuries and bad luck in his career.

Holy shit, there's still four games left tonight.

South Florida is putrid. 3 out of 27 (11%) from the field. And they're only down 4 points. 34 points scored total by both teams. If I didn't have this as a 12-5 upset I would not watch the second half.

Where is Fran Dunphy's mustache?

what happened to Fran Dunphy's mustache?

The opposite would be Notre Dame vs Xavier which is one of the best played games I've seen over the past two days. Very few turnovers (only 18 turnovers), great passing (29 assists on 47 baskets), good outside shooting (14 of 31 from 3), movement without the ball. The only reason isn't wasn't very high-scoring is that both teams were very deliberate in passing the ball around to get the best shot.

I guess everyone at the game was a Duke fan because no one stuck around for this game.

Michigan State finally pulled away and put LIU away. LIU has some good athletes and good shooters and it was impressive they stayed in as long as they did.

All of you who laughed at me for my exuberance over Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. Draymond Green really is special. He can do everything. Maybe not well enough to be a good NBA player but certainly good enough to lead his team to a long tournament run.

Similar story for Kansas which let Detroit hang around and then Thomas Robinson started to be too much.

Notre Dame had the worst choke job in history. Not only did they blow a 10-point lead, they still had a chance to win before an epic meltdown. With 41 seconds left Notre Dame had the lead and the ball. Xavier didn't seem to want to foul so ND could have run it down and made Xavier shoot a game-winning shot with just a few seconds left. When the double team came, Notre Dame tried a cross-court pass that went out of bounds. Terrible stupid move. Then with 3 seconds left Notre Dame had 2 free throws to tie. And they violated the lane. And if there was even a prayer left, they grabbed a jersey and got an intentional foul. Worst meltdown ever.

Every year I pick a 2 seed that won't make the Sweet 16. I almost always get it right (like Duke this year) but I always get the team to beat them wrong (this year Xavier).

At least my first round ends with me getting a 12 over a 5 correct. After 22 straight misses in the first South Florida got hot in the second to knock off Temple.

Tournament Thoughts - Early Friday

Texas scored two points in the first 12 minutes of the game. Yes I picked them.
They were absolutely putrid, shooting 1 of 16, and even missing two free throws.

I can't believe the announcers are making the brawl with Xavier into a positive for Cincinnati. I don't believe getting into a violent brawl is ever a positive.

Texas made an amazing comeback once they started driving the ball with Myck Kabongo and J'Covan Brown. They split the defense and kicked out for 3s. They would have won the game but they gave away some possessions. Missed a dunk, a bad pass, a jacked 3 and one possession where the ballhandler looked up and got his pocket picked. You just can't make those mistakes when you want to overcome a big deficit.

Look at Creighton, they were down big to Alabama, made a run, then the Tide opened it up again. But Creighton stayed patient, worked the ball inside, never shot bad 3s, and ended up taking the lead. But then they missed a bunch of free throws and gave Alabama one last chance. Until Anthony Grant (the first impressive young black coach from VCU) overcoached, called 2 timeouts in 2 seconds and cost his team a chance at a good look.

I picked 2 #11s over #6s. And that's exactly what happened. Except I picked the wrong ones. Why does this happen to me every year?

I guess I didn't pay enough attention to conference tournaments. Both Colarado and NC State earned their way in and both those teams pulled off upsets.

Wow Florida State held on just barely. A great ending with both teams nailing threes. The key was the backtap on the missed free throw. That was huge for FSU. Even though they won (which is all that matters) this showed the problem with Florida State, if Snaer has a bad game (he did not score, missed all 7 shots) where does their offense come from? Should be a meat grinder of a game against Cincinnati on Sunday.

No real problems for Georgetown or North Carolina. Good move by Roy Williams sitting out Henson, no need to risk it.

And Boom we have our upset. Missouri a trendy final Four pick vanquished by Norfolk State.

Norfolk State was not intimidated and had a few guys get hot at the right time. Only five of their players scored. But Williams and McEachin combined to hit 8 of 12 3s.

And Kyle O'Quinn was dominant. 26 points, 14 rebounds and one key play that didn't show up in the box score. He tipped that missed free throw resulting in a held ball giving NSU another possession.

It must be the luck of the Irish before St. Patrick's Day. I mean Kyle O'Quinn has to be Irish right?

Kyle OQuinn dominated Missouri and inside and celebrates Norfolk State's huge upset

Rough game for Kim English who is normally an excellent player. Marcus Denmon also didn't have a great second half. The Pressey Bbrothers played well and in case I wasn't the only one wondering, yes, they are the sons of former Milwaukee Buck Paul Pressey.

The Norfolk State band played former Song of the Week "I Do" by Young Jeezy during a break in the action.

Now I don't want to brag too much because I am so horrible about picking games, but my defense is when I pick teams I know, I do a little better evaluating them.

In my Initial Bracket Breakdown I said I liked Michigan State to use its size against Missouri. That's what happened, except not by Draymond Green, by Kyle O'Quinn. That's why I picked Missouri to lose to Marquette in all of my brackets.

As opposed to JLeary who said this: Missouri is going to be a tough out I think. I pick them in the final 4. And then he ended up picking Missouri to win it all.

But God must love idiots, cuz he made so many, look what Damino said "Agree with Jleary re: Mizzou. Arguably the best offensive team in the country."

Sorry guys, I have nothing else to brag about with these brackets.

Just for the record this is the 5th time a 15 has beaten a 2 in the first round, but the first time in an odd-numbered year.
Richmond over Syracuse in 1991
Santa Clara over Arizona in 1993
Coppin State over South Carolina 1997
Hampton over Iowa State in 2001
Norfolk State over Missouri in 2012

Stop the Whining

I will be the first one to admit Syracuse played badly and got lucky to beat UNC-Asheville but the the cries that the game was fixed and the referees handed them a game they surely would have lost otherwise are completely false, and I have the video evidence to prove it.

Here is the disputed free throw by Scoop Jardine that was reshot because of a lane violation:

Look carefully, the guy on the left has his foot in the lane while the ball is still in Scoop's hand. Reggie Miller got confused because of where the referee pointed. And because he's a moron. But this is a clear lane violation and I don't want to hear that it's never called. It was a violation and it was the right call.

And here's the Brandon Triche out of bounds play:

Yes, the ball went out of bounds off Triche, and yes the call was wrong, but if anything it was in Asheville's favor. They should have called a foul and put Syracuse's best shooter on the line. Even though the foul occurred after the ball ricocheted off Triche's hand, it was still a clear foul and it happened before the ball landed out of bounds, so it was still in play.

Yes, the refs missed a goaltending in the first half. But they also screwed up the Triche call at the end of the half. He was clearly fouled with a second on the shot clock but they wiped the entire play off.

Yes there were some bad calls and unusual plays. You could even say SU got the benefit of the calls. But you can't say it was the only reason they won. And you can't say there was a vast right-wing conspiracy to keep the reeling Orange in the tournament and prevent poor little UNC-Asheville from making history.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tournament Thoughts - Late Thursday

Now that is how a #1 seed is supposed to play. Let the little guy hang in there then beat his ass. I actually saw one play where a Hilltopper took it to Anthony Davis and scored over him. Shortly after that, Kentucky went nuts.

Footnote to earlier game: Apparently Southern Mississippi band members chanted "where's your green card" at Kansas State's Angel Rodriguez. He's from Puerto Rico which is of course a US protectorate. But USM apologized and you can hear the chant faintly about 10 seconds into this video:

Great game between Wichita State and VCU. Always getthing those 12-5 upsets wrong. Usually when an upset pick is popular it does actually happen. I just thought the Shockers were underrated and underseeded.

There was an awesome sequence at the end of this game when the teams traded 3 3-pointers in a little over a minute.

Wichita State lost because they could not take and keep the lead. Having the lead completely changes strategy. When Garrett Stutz missed that layup and gave VCU the ball back with the lead, that's when their fate was sealed.

Shaka Smart really is awesome. He deserves a big time job. I'm just not sure if Illinois is the place. Reminds me of Dan Monson whom we saw earlier. Was awesome at Gonzaga, went to Minnesota couldn't turn it around, probably no fault of his own. Now Monson back at a mid-major and doing well.

A total no-show by West Virginia, what an embarrassment.

Robert Sacre could be this year's big guy who does well in the tournament, gets drafted high and is never heard from again. Previous winners are Patrick O'Bryant and Rafael Araujo.

Baylor got off to a slow start against South Dakota State then went on a huge run. But give the Jackrabbits credit. They fought back in the second half. They really gave Baylor all they could handle. And if they had been a little more careful with the ball at a few points of the game maybe they could have pulled off the huge upset. Maybe because of their great fan support.

Those Baylor uniforms are blinding. If you watch in vivid color and high definition they literally hurt your eyes.

UConn pulls off another no-show by a Big East team. They made a brief run at the end of the first half, but never got it under 6 points. I don't think this will be Calhoun's last game. He just won't quit. They are going to have to pull him out of there, probably in a body bag.

Amazing comeback by UNLV. But they fell short because they fell in love with the 3-point shot a little early.

Add the 11 over 6 upset to another thing I can never get right. I'm 1-4 in games involving those seeds so far. And I have USF over Temple and Texas over Cincinnati tomorrow.

Two of UNLV's best players (Mike Moser and Chace Stanback) came from the dysfunctional UCLA program. Both guys had bad games tonight (7-27 FG) and that really hurt UNLV. I thought they were an excellent team all season they just had a bad game at the wrong time.

And Colorado on the other hand is getting hot at the right time. They wouldn't have even been in the tournament if they hadn't won the Pac-12 Tournament and now they have an NCAA Tournament win to go along with it.

Easy victories for Indiana and Ohio State push the Big 10 to 3-0. They can easily go 6-0 with Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue (this will be the tough one) tomorrow. The Big Ten has years of coming up short, but this year it was probably the best conference in the country, so let's see if this success keeps up in round 2.

By the way, I will never call the round of 64 anything other than the first round until they expand to 96 or maybe even 128.

First Round - Early Thursday Thoughts

Colorado State has a beast named Pierce Hornung. He must be Paul Hornung's grandson. Lesley Visser interviewed him and he looked terrible and sounded worse.

Colorado State led by 1 at halftime and coach Tim (not Les, thanfully) Miles tweeted, "win the half, win the game." Good call coach. Maybe old farts will say a coach shouldn't be tweeting at halftime, but what harm can it do, really? How long did it take, 10 seconds? Then his team shit the bed scoring only 17 points in the second half. Might wanna skip the tweet next time coach.

Rodney (I wanna call him Scooter) Magruder was on fire. Kind of reminds me of when Jacob Pullen was bombing away for K-State a few years ago.

I really missed Larry Eustachy. His firing really was bullshit. A few pictures with co-eds? Big deal. No wait now I'm remembering more details, yeah it was pretty bad. Glad he bounced back though.

Louisville has really gotten better as the season's gone on. They could be dangerous against Michigan State.

Marquette is another really good team. I think Missouri is a favorable match-up for them if they both get that far. Murray State also isn't a team that can overwhelm Marquette with size. Maybe this is the year the Big East doesn't disappoint with a bunch of big teams going out early.

Long Beach State vs New Mexico was the best game of the early session, such as it was. No really exciting games. This one was back and forth most of the way. Casper Ware is one of those players you never get to see but is really fun to watch. But he did hurt The Beach down the stretch with some bad shots. And New Mexico nailed its free throws.

In the last 11 years, 12 seeds have won 2 games in 10 of them. So how come I always get those games wrong?

What a comeback by Harvard. They just got behind by a little too much with too little time remaining. A 14-3 run in 3 minutes, but Vandy hit their free throws.

Syracuse vs. UNC-Asheville

Of course, even without Fab Melo there is no way Syracuse should lose this game. Or even allow it to be close.

The biggest advantage the 1s have over the 16s, other than talent and size, is what Mike Tyson used to have. Opponents are awed by your size and feel defeated before the fight/game even begins.

In all NCAA tournament upsets, the little guy has to feel like he can win. Asheville probably had a false sense of confidence coming in just because Melo was out. Then they came out and starting hitting 3s and taking the lead. They really believe they can win.

Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita can't catch a pass. A black hole on offense. Speaking of black holes, James Southerland is actually passing a little bit.

I still can't believe Asheville made a 4-point play.

I think Kevin Harlan just likes saying Dickey.

Dion Waiters is awesome. He's making a lot of shots, because he is taking good ones.

It never ceases to amaze me how bad Syracuse can be from the line. And missing the front end of 1-and-1s just kills you.

Asheville has Bruce Hornsby's son. If he could read the above line he would say "some things'll never change. That's just the way it is." Yikes, Bruce Hornsby's hair is terrible.

Asheville had 5 3s in the first half, almost all of them the result of defensive laziness. Syracuse missed 12 3-pointers (on 13 attempts) almost all the result of poor shot selection.

Looks like that play at the should have been ruled a foul. Triche was smacked on the arm with 1 second left on the shot clock.

But SU clearly got away with a goaltend on what should have been an And-1.

Asheville went to the Jim Boeheim Memorial no points offense with a one point lead and ten minutes left.

This is what starts to happen when 1s trail 16s. The 16 gets tight and plays not to lose. And the 1s start to play more aggressively.

Syracuse got very lucky on that lane violation, though I think there really was a foot in the lane. Good strategy to foul Scoop when in the 1-and-1 because he is only a 49% shooter.

Syracuse also got lucky on the out of bounds play with Triche because it was clearly off his hands, but they did not call the obvious foul when the guy ran him over, even though the ball had already bounced away.

I have never seen a team with a lead at the end of a close game foul as often as Syracuse. 6 points in the last two minutes for Asheville with the clock stopped.

For all the Scoop haters out there, and I know you are reading this, remember it was Scoop who scored 7 points early in the second half to get the game back under control. And it was Scoop who hit 4 straight free throws to prevent a miraculous comeback.

Great game by James Southerland, maybe the best of his career given the circumstances. 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 of 5 from 3.

Kris Joseph and CJ Fair shout 4 of 17. Dion Waiters did nothing in the second half except commit bad fouls. But this is how the team has played all season. Someone has a bad game, someone else picks him up. And then carries the team in the next game. Syracuse is going to have to play a lot better against Kansas State. But if they played this bad consistently they wouldn't be 32-2.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why I Was Detained By Secret Service

de·tain [dih-teyn] verb (used with object)
1. to keep from proceeding; keep waiting; delay.

As I was leaving work today I was stopped in the elevator bank by a very serious looking man in a suit. He said "just one minute sir, stay there," and he stood in front of me to impede if I were to disobey his request.
I noticed five men in suits walking formation around another man, Mitt Romney. They walked off the elevator and to the door at the other end of the vestibule. Then another elevator opened and four more people stepped off and followed the group into the main area of the floor.
When they were all through the door, the Secret Service agent (I think half were Secret Service, the other half regular building security) thanked me and allowed me to continue.
On the other side, the door through which the group entered the floor, was a co-worker of mine who was similarly stopped from proceeding to the elevators.
Kind of excessive if you ask me, especially because President Obama was freely shaking hands and kissing babies at the NCAA tournament game last night without any visible sign of protection.
But regardless, I think it's a pretty cool story to tell about the time I was detained by Secret Service.

Evaluating Syracuse's Chances

This Syracuse season has been a dream so far but it will become a nightmare if Syracuse suffers another early exit at the hand of a lesser team.
Remember SU hasn’t surpassed tournament expectations since 2003 when they won the title.
2004: #4 seed lost in Sweet 16 to #8 seed Alabama
2005: #4 seed lost in first round to #13 Vermont
2006: #5 seed lost in first round to #12 Texas A&M
2007: missed tournament
2008: missed tournament
2009: #3 seed lost in Sweet 16 to #2 Oklahoma
2010: #1 seed lost in Sweet 16 to #5 Butler
2011: #3 seed lost in second round to #11 Marquette

That’s 8 years, 6 of them would have to be considered major disappointments.

Here’s why this year could be another one of them:

Fab Melo. That selfish idiot went and got himself deemed ineligible; reportedly he didn’t do his own schoolwork. I’m pissed because this nearly ruins all chances SU has to win the national title. And really makes it difficult to even get to the Final Four. But I am sad for guys like Scoop and Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters. They have seemingly done everything the right way and now this moron costs them a chance to do something really special. Very selfish.

Fat selfish Fab Melo costs Syracuse a chance at the national title

Rebounding. The team’s biggest flaw is about to get even worse. Syracuse grabs only about 60% of opponents’ misses, among the worst in the country. Part of this is the zone defense which requires the man defending the middle of the zone to step up and guard a shooter at the free throw line. That forces the wing players to be the rebounders, and they’re often not in position because of their zone responsibilities.

Relying on players who have barely played. Even in this year when Boeheim has used more players than ever, he still doesn’t have experienced fall-back options for Melo. Baye Moussa Keita fouls at an absurdly high rate. Rakim Christmas usually starts and makes a mistake at which point Boeheim benches him and never puts him back in the game. James Southerland uses his long arms to great affect on defense, but he’s often too overzealous going for blocks and steals. And he’s a major liability on offense because all he does is shoot, and he only makes about 20% of his 3-point attempts.

Shooting. This is one area where they may actually be improving. After a horrible stretch in the middle of the season, Triche, Joseph and especially Dion Waiters have found their touch. But SU still lacks one consistent 3-pointer shooter who can spot up and nail treys.

Coaching. Quite frankly Jim Boeheim has the worst tournament record of any major college coach. He has 3 runs to the Final Four and one title which cover up an otherwise abysmal tournament record. This is the 29th NCAA tournament under Jim Boeheim. They have only been to the Elite 8 4 times. One out of 7. And of the 7 years (this is number 8) when Syracuse was a #1 or #2 seed they only made the Elite 8 twice, 1987 & 1989.

Syracuse has been getting upset in the tournament since Jim Boeheim was wearing plaid jackets

But there are still a lot of reasons to be hopeful:
Talent. There are still a lot of good players on this team. By the most conservative estimate there are four players better and more valuable to the team than Melo (Jardine, Joseph, Triche and Waiters) still playing and ready to go.

will Dion Waiters still be smiling after the NCAA Tournament?

Defense. I normally hate the 2-3 defense because of its deficiencies but this group plays it exceptionally well. When Waiters and Triche are on top they force a lot of turnovers leading to a lot of easy baskets. This should continue, even without Fab Melo.

Clutch. This team is not 31-2 by accident. They played a lot of close games down the stretch and won them all because they know how to make plays, especially on defense, to win games.

In order to get to the Final Four Syracuse will have to climb over the following obstacles:
UNC-Asheville: Despite the absence of Melo, there is just no way I can see Syracuse being the first 1 seed to lose a first round game to a 16.

Southern Mississippi or Kansas State: A lot of people are worried about Kansas State because of their rebounding but I think Southern Miss could be equally as tough. But again, even without Melo, this should definitely be a victory.

Vanderbilt or Wisconsin: Wisconsin is always tough and well coached and they play a slowdown style which often frustrates opponents. But I think SU just has too many good athletes to lose to Wisconsin.
Vanderbilt is a much more interesting match-up. People are hot on them because they won the SEC tournament. Sometimes that helps, like Connecticut last year, other teams peak too soon and have nothing left, Syracuse 2006 being one example. That much is impossible to predict. Remember though, Vanderbilt lost in the first round, the last three times it was in the tournament all as a 4 or 5 seed. Maybe Harvard will give them a game.
But if not, Vanderbilt can give Syracuse fits. They are a very strong offensive team with good outside shooting from John Jenkins (45%) and Jeffery Taylor (43%). And in 6-11 255 lb Festus Ezeli Vanberbilt has someone who can make Syracuse pay on the offensive glass. But Vanderbilt does not play tough defense and Syracuse could beat them in a track meet.

will Jim Boeheim be making faces like this if Syracuse plays Vanderbilt?

Florida State: Obviously a lot would have to happen for an SU-FSU match-up in the Sweet 16 but it's an interesting game to ponder. Florida State is the opposite team of Vanderbilt, instead of a team of gunners, they are a team of tough defenders. Other than Michael Snaer who hit 3 game winning shots this season, there aren't any big offensive threats. But Bernard James, Snaer and others play incredible defense and could force Syracuse into a slowdown game. FSU is also on a roll having won the ACC tournament, becoming the first team to beat Duke and North Carolina twice each in the same season.

Ohio State: The other likely Elite 8 possibility. I don't see Syracuse having an answer for Jared Sullinger inside. But the inexperienced Buckeyes have lost a lot of games they should have won this season by making the wrong play at the wrong time.

Song of the Week

"Make Me Proud" - Drake featuring Nicki Minaj
I love Drake
"I love it when your hair still wet
Cuz you just took a shower
Running on the treadmill
And only eating salad
Sound so smart like you graduated college
Like you went to Yale
But you probably went to Howard"

But I hate Nicki Minaj. I liked her when she first came out. But no one in history has gone from promising emcee to crossover star to pop music sellout to Black Lady Gaga in less time than Minaj.

Given the Very Big Boot

I haven't even had time to write my first Idol Chatter of the season and suddenly there is major breaking news to report.
Jermaine Jones is getting kicked off the show for failing to report his arrest record.

Jermaine is the huge guy (6' 8 1/2") with the incredibly deep voice. He did not make it into the Top 24, but when they added one more person in a totally contrived move to generate hype, he became the 13th male contestant. And then he made it through to the top 10 on fan voting. Viewers may have liked him because of the sob story he told about his mother. But it turns out the story of abandonment is not true, Jermaine's father is still in his life.

But far worse, from the producers' perspective, are his two arrests, one reportedly for a violent incident. And the fact that he didn't disclose them, something Idol has had a zero tolerance policy towards in the past. It's the cover-up that usually makes situations like these so much worse.

Also, he reportedly gave fake names to police when he was arrested. Plus he lied about his arrest record, and his father. That makes him an habitual liar and not worthy to participate on American Idol.

I hope they bring back the obnoxious singing cowboy, just to kick sand in Jermaine's face one more time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Need These Pants

A British clothing company has come up with a very useful trousers (it's a British company) label as far as washing instructions. After going through the normal mumbo-jumbo the label goes on to say "Give It To Your Woman. It's Her Job."

As someone who sends this picture of a guy holding a "Iron My Shirt Bitch" sign at a women's rights rally (believe it's photoshopped) to Mrs. Poop every time my shirts need to be ironed, I can see the humor in this. I'm sure Mrs. Poop can too, but apparently many other women are quite angry about it. Oh well, gives me another chance to use the "oversensitive babies" tag.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Initial Bracket Breakdown

I applaud the committee for giving Michigan State the 4th number 1 seed because they played a murderous schedule, including losing their first two games to North Carolina (on an aircraft carrier) and Duke.

I don't normally get into the debate over which bracket is toughest or easiest (at least not to the extent that the committee did something nefarious to help or hinder certain teams) but if Michigan State is the 4th Number 1, how did they get paired with Missouri? The committee chair admitted Missouri was 8th, punished for playing an embarrassingly weak non-conference schedule (3 teams above 300).

That said, I do understand that the committee has lots of masters to serve when filling out these brackets, meaning they wouldn't want (if it could be avoided) Duke and UNC or Michigan State and Ohio State in the same region.

As far as the bubble goes, Iona and BYU were clearly the last two teams in. With RPIs of 40 and 45 they are ahead of every other bubble team. Every team in the Top 40 got in, #44 Marshall was the highest RPI not to get in. For argument's sake let's say Seton Hall was the first team out, which means they were eliminated when St. Bonaventure beat Xavier in the A-10 tournament.

Iona's best wins were St. Joseph's and Nevada. But they were only 0-2 against the RPI top 50.
BYU beat Gonzaga and Oregon but went 1-6 against the top 50.
Seton Hall beat Georgetown, VCU, St. Joe's and UConn. 3-7 against the top 50. I think what really did Seton Hall in was a 5-10 finish, that's two solid months of .333 winning percentage play. And it included losses to Rutgers and DePaul down the stretch at the crucial time when one win could have put them in.

As always, there are ways to quibble with the selection committee. But if their biggest omission is a team with all those black marks on their resume than I guess they did a pretty good job.

But I don't understand why one pair of at-large teams plays into a 14th seed (the aforementioned BYU and Iona) while South Florida and California get to compete for a 12 seed, a much better first round match-up. I understand that all the 13-seeds were automatic qualifiers but couldn't one of them been slid down to the 14 line to make this play-in experiment a little more equitable.

Speaking of play-in games, Lamar gets to play against Vermont for the chance to be slaughtered by North Carolina.

Everyone always makes jokes about Lamar (and Robert Morris and Oral Roberts and William & Mary) because it's an entire team against one guy? Especially when the one guy is Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds.

But don't sleep on Lamar. They haven't lost a game since Pat Knight's epic rant about the worst group of seniors who are stealing scholarships.

I wish the committee had a better sense of humor. Why couldn't they bump Xavier down to an 11 for losing to St. Bonaventure and make them play Cincinnati in their first round game?

I hate to see Wichita State versus VCU. Both teams have big spoiler potential. But this was unavoidable because 3 of the 5s, and 3 of the 12s are mid-majors.

I think they did a better job though with this than in past years where it seems like they purposely matched mid-majors against one another to save the big conferences some potential embarrassments. Southern Miss vs. Kansas State, St. Mary's vs. Purdue, Creighton vs. Alabama, Xavier vs Notre Dame and Gonzaga vs West Virginia are all chances for the little guy to knock off the big guy.

I think Murray State and Harvard each should have been seeded one line higher. Murray State doesn't just have a great record, they have 3 top 30 wins and Harvard has a win over #11 Florida State.

A lot of people are picking against Michigan State but I love their bracket. Marquette and Missouri are both small teams, yes they can run and they can shoot, but if Michigan State can control tempo they can use their size, (Draymond Green anyone?) to beat either of those teams in the Elite 8. Louisville in the Sweet 16 might be a bigger hill to climb.

As for me, I will not pick against Tom Izzo. He has taken Michigan State to the tournament for 15 straight seasons. In those previous 14 years Michigan State was a 1 or 2 seed 4 times. They went to the Final 4 all four of those times. And twice more as a 5 seed. I will not bet against Tom Izzo.

I think Draymond Green will lead Tom Izzo to another Final 4

I am also picking Kentucky based on talent, and I would love to pick North Carolina if Henson is healthy, but could be persuaded to go with Kansas.

You know I won't take all 4 number 1s, so you know I am not picking Syracuse to the Final 4, to find out way stay tuned for my Syracuse post later this week.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why RPI Matters

For several years I have been trying to educate you all on the importance of three little letters, in baseball, OPS. I think succeeded so now I will move on to college basketball where the three crucial letters are RPI.
Later today the brackets will be announced and RPI will be used to justify why teams got in or got left out.
RPI is simply a formula based on your winning percentage, your opponents' winning percentage and your opponents' opponents' winning percentage. With 345 teams playing such disparate schedules, RPI helps compare teams with vastly different records and vastly different schedule strengths.

Note: there are major flaws in the SOS (strength of schedule) numbers making them somewhat unreliable. For instance, if one team were to play #1 and #345 in RPI and another team played say, #50 and #51, the team that played #1 would still have a weaker schedule. Though the odds of going 2-0 against that pair are much lower. Maybe I will expand on the flaws of SOS another time.

Let me give you an example of what RPI can tell us:
On Christmas Day Tulane was 9-2 and Long Beach State was 5-6. Tulane's SOS was 342 (even though they had played #1 Syracuse) and Long Beach State's SOS was 1.
Tulane's RPI was roughly 150 and Long Beach was 10 or 11 (wish I had recorded these numbers that day.)
Old school basketball watchers and the idiots who vote in the polls might say clearly a team with 9 wins ins better than a team with 5. No way can they be 140 spots better.
But Tulane wins were against teams like Navy, Maryland Eastern Shore, Alabama A&M and Alcorn State. All of which have RPIs (final numbers) higher than 300.
Compare that to Long Beach State which lost to San Diego St, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina and Kansas State. All of those are in the top 50, 4 in the top 25.
But RPI is not just useful for what it tells us about the past, it also predicts the future.
After the 5-6 start LBSU went 19-2, with one of the losses against another top 25 team, Creighton.

Casper Ware and the Beach played a tough early season schedule which foretold their amazing success during conference play

Meanwhile, Tulane went 4-14 after that hot start.
So maybe it was predictable that Tulane would end the season with an RPI of 249, while Long Beach State finished 39th, got a 12 seed in the tournament with a decent chance to upset New Mexico in the first round.