That's one fourth of the buyout that Michigan is going to have to pay John Beilein for his services as head men's basketball coach (it could be 8 times that and it still wouldn't be enough for the Scarlett Johansson of offenses and the Natalie Portman of defenses...god, I love the motion offense...can you tell I'm single and have been for a while??? whew...)
That's roughly 2.3% of the population of Mexico City, which according to the latest Mexican census, had 8,605,239 citizens residing in the world's 8th largest populated city.
That's about three times the amount of people attended games at the Ryan Center - truly the Crown Jewel of South County.
But it's also the amount of hits this site has gotten in a little less than two years.
Which, without any advertising other than word-of-mouth, is astounding to me. So, as always, a hearty thank you.
Ok, here's some stuff.
** Sean Stewart, son of rocker Rod, talks about how he used to watch his Dad's wife (conceivably, you could call her "Mom") Rachel Hunter when she used to sunbathe. Nekkid. Quoth the younger Turk: "I used to stare at [her] when she was down by the pool sunbathing naked. I was like 15 or 16 and I was sitting in my pool with a bottle of lotion."
"Hey Bill, remember when your Mom was a senior and we were freshmen?" "Shut up, Ted." "Hey Bill, remember when I asked your Mom to the prom?" "Shut up, Ted."
And not for nothing...but why are all the seven-footers in the world coming out of China? I've been to Chinese restaurants, walked through Chinatowns in about 12 cities, and I have never, ever seen a Chinese person over 5'4".
Not stereotyping, just saying... TLBR is always on the side of truth.
For it was just about a year ago that tragedy struck and Army head women's basketball coach Maggie Dixon was taken from us.
Magarity, who was an assistant coach at Army last season after a long and storied tenure at the helm of the Marist Red Foxes, decided to stay on and coach the Cadets this season. They had a fine regular season, but came up a little short in the Patriot League tourney.
The team is being presented with the V Foundation Comeback Award.
** In a happier milestone/memory, two years ago, I arrived in Prosperine - a town on the Gold Coast and right off the Great Barrier Reef.
I was staying in a "backpackers" - Australian for "hostel," but nicer. This particular place was very, very nice.
Cabins, pools, restaurants, etc. I was handed the key to my cabin, and went in to drop my bags and relax. Hadn't gotten much sleep the night before because, at the previous "backpackers" in Brisbane (Australian for "Hartford, Conn.") the outdoor bar closed around 5 a.m. My alarm was set for half-five for a 7 a.m. flight up North.
I walk into the six-bed cabin and there were two empty beds. The other four had bikinis and bras and the such hanging off them. I was confused. I went back to the front desk and politely suggested they had made a mistake. I do not have one of those ambidextrous names like Dana or Pat or Dee.
They said, nope, you're in a "mixed" cabin. I was the mix. Me and four attractive British lasses, who didn't mind leaving their skivvies lying around.
Proserpine and the GBR area was terrific. Even though that night, my "fireworks" included an eight-pack of Draught and Tim Allen's "The Santa Clause."
But I did find a terrific little local, with Shorty the barkeep, plenty of cold beer, and ESPN International to satisfy my Final Four and Red Sox/Yankees fix. Good times. Great company.
** Who the hell is in charge of the P.R. for the NBA Players Association, or the XNBA?
First, Tim Hardaway wins the GLAAD annual achievement award for his comments re: John Amaechi and the potential of having a gay teammate. Or just gay people in general. (I mean, jesus, look at that headline. Not a whole lot of gray - or pink - area there. p.s., he lost his job as a goodwill ambassador of the league...)
Now, we move onto Micheal Ray Richardson. Micheal Ray, well, let's just say he's not going to Seder at the home of David Stern anytime soon. And the B'nai Brith, well, they ain't giving him any ceremonial paperweights anytime soon.
MRR, in an interview with the fishwrap that is the Albany Times-Union, said: "I've got big-time lawyers. I've got big-time Jew lawyers."
Wow. Amazing, right? Oh no, it's not over.
"They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty."
Wow. You'd think he'd stop there... Nope.
"They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it." (whew, good thing that Jews have your tacit support...) "If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."
Crafty. You who else are crafty people? Shampooing crackheads. Like, say, oh, I dunno, you?!?
End of an Era; End of an Error
For those of you who know me, for when the news breaks out of the Queen City of the Sound, you'll understand me being a little down.
Personally, I'm sad. Professionally, I know it's the right move.
There's nothing right or wrong with having the diametrically opposing views. ----- For me, the coaching carousel is almost as fun and entertaining as the NCAA Tournament itself. This latest one has me feeling a bit torn.
Dr. Seuss, the Champagne, and Assorted Bonbons
2:05 p.m --
Happy High Holy Day to everyone out there.
If you're celebrating with corned beef and cabbage, you're ill-informed.
If you're celebrating with several beverages, louding the resilience of your people and their overall impervious nature to psychoanalysis, then you're getting warm.
(the Dr. Seuss come with my observation that I'm having more fun in Boston than Austin, SXSW be damned...)
If you're like me, eschewing a normal breakfast of raisin bran and a hearty session with the toilet for a healthy dose of Jameson, then you're on track. Good on ya for that.
It's the High Holy Day - St. Patrick's Day - and no better place to spend it than Boston. (as I pointed out to a friend earlier, Boston is better than Austin, so shampoo you, LBJ)
Last year, I'd have traded appendages to spend time in Boston. Often times, and it was often, Boston was where I landed. Literally. When I came home from the M to the KE.
And the last few days, even with me going MU Rah Rah versus the Spartans on my bracket, I've really come to realize how lucky I've been these last 10 months.
Of course, it's taken me this long to really take that self-inventory on account of basically working every day since I started (did the comp hour thing - it's over 430 hours...like two months...think it's time to re-evaluate the system?) but nonetheless, I'm in a place. Next step is to put myself in a place inside a place. ----- TLBR's been going nationwide and worldwide the last few, so everyone who has given me some shout-outs and comments on the official mail box, thanks much.
This started as a labour of love, a vessel of boredom, and a channel for output. That fact that almost 200,000 people have logged on in almost two years -without any advertising, only word of mouth and a heavy refresh button from my Mom - makes me smile.
As I said to my man DScott in Boston, my insanity needed an audience. The fact you all tune in on a semi-regular basis is a terrific thing. Thanks always. ----- Onto the rest of the hoops. Here's hoping your brackets are in order, you beer cold, your loved ones close, and your days filled with green lights, sunny days, and open tabs. (that's the modern day Irish toast).
Damn this clamcakes and chowder-caused sleepiness...
* Tennessee not sleepy in its first round matchup. 121 points has to be some sort of record.
* Nevada and Creighton locked up in a tight one - I have Wisconsin/Texas A&M CC on the telly, the Wolfpack and Blue Jays online. Might do a flipity-flop on that one.
* Kammron Taylor bombing away right now, with Alando Tucker on the bench. Billy Packer asking "what is Bo Ryan going to do?" Huh?
* Miami (Ohio) putting a 9-0 donut on Oregon early on. If I could audit any class, I would love to sit in on Charlie Coles' Basketball 101 class. I think only one team scored more than 70 points on the RedHawks this season.
* Jason Chappell of Wisconsin is Len Chappell's son. Len played with Billy Packer at Wake Forest. Now he's ruining a perfectly good game while talking about a subject no one cares about: himself.
Must we be subjected to this inane banter?
If it weren't for the Tradition Unlike Any Other, I'd hate Jim Nantz solely for encouraging/segueing that stupid ass. ----- Time for Sam Adams #1. Gotta get ready for my overindulgence of Smithwick's for tomorrow.
I just woke up from a quick 30 minute turkey-style nap. Except, it's not Thanksgiving...it's St. Patrick's Day eve.
And I didn't enjoy a healthy helping of bird. It was clamcakes and chowder from Chopmist Charlie's.
So we saw a talented and athletic UNLV team put it together against a talented and athletic Georgia Tech team. Lon Kruger's son Kevin had an outstanding game - it was the first time I had seen him play and was impressed.
Memphis also put it together down the stretch against a gritty and resilient Mean Green team from North Texas. You gotta love seeing the long-shot lower seeds play their respective asses off and give their double-digit favorite opponent a 35 minutes scare. A huge part of North Texas' success was their ability to rebound, especially on long-misses from three-point land.
Onto the second games of the day:
* Winthrop smacking a very overrated Notre Dame team. Question: who did ND beat in Big East play? Answer: nobody. Besides, Winthrop is a team with plenty of tourney experience.
* Wisconsin getting smacked by Texas A&M Corpus Christi. So far, a bad tourney for teams from the Dairy State; good for teams from the Texas Agricultural & Mining system.
* Tennessee making sure they don't have a first round nailbiter like they had last year vs. Winthrop; sending The Beach back to the LBC...
Apropos of nada: * I'm not an Entourage fan, so the DirectTV ad means nothing to me. But yesterday, uberagent Ari Gold spoke of floor seats to the Lakers/Wizards. Now, it skips over the part about the NBA franchises and lets the fat dude talk more. Methinks this is something from the good folks at the NCAA. Heaven forbid anything mentions anything professional in their tournament. From covering up signs and scoreboards in the arenas, to not allowing players to wear any sort of team gear, the association has the lock-down on the league.
* The folks make a good point about tomorrow's Georgetown/Boston College game. It's not Jesuit vs. Jesuit. It's Big East vs. ACC. And that's bigger than religious affiliation.
* Kaleigh the Irish Setter is putting on an early St. Patrick's Day parade, trotting about the living room with her favorite toy: a stuffed hot dog.
Notre Dame (French for "our bitch") making a run...more later...
Day Two from the Comfy TLBR Viewing Room
1:59 p.m. --
Thanks to a Nor'Easter in God's Country, the viewing of day two of the NCAA Tournament is in the Comfy Viewing room, as opposed to the Lofty Observation deck.
No complaints here.
More later, after I defrost a bit and get some refreshments.
In the meantime, tune into Dan Wetzel over at Yahoo! Sports, and his brilliant live bar blog from 24 Seconds in his hometown. Joining Dan today is patriarch Paul...a tremendous partner for some beer and some basketball...
First upset of the day - VCU beats Duke in an instant classic.
Rooting not so much against Duke - I'm not a Duke hater, but they're not my favorites - but I'll tell you, VCU stepped up and hit shots like an experienced, veteran, poised, well-coached ballclub.
Fun to watch.
Onto other stuff: * I blame Peyton Manning for this.
Right after his undeserving Super Bowl MVP/over-commercialized ass returned to the small screen, so did the one commercial that gives me the damn shakes...the "This Is Our Country" spot from Chevy returned.
Please. Stop. Please. Please?
* So far, Team Ignatius Loyola is 2-1, with BC and GTown winning and Marquette losing. Xavier and Gonzaga are playing now.
Holy Cross and Creighton play tomorrow.
* Xavier playing a wee bit more of a competitive game than the respective conference tournament champion.
Yes, I'm bitter about it and no, I'm not letting it go. I wish I had a kitten to kick.
If there's a multimedia award from the NCAA, I should win it (and the award should be free wireless connect for my new two tournament stops - a $60 dollar value).
I'm watching Duke-VCU live on CBS, Marquette-Michigan State (guh) on CBS' March Madness on Demand on my computer, listening to the WNIT contest between Iona and LIU, texting people in Texas and Brazil, checking the CSTV live blogs from around the country, emailing people in Buffalo and Australia, and instant messaging folks in Long Island and New Jersey.
And I flipped to ESPNU to watch, conceivably, Tommy Amaker's last game as head coach of Michigan, as they lost by 20 at Florida State in the second round of the NIT.
Impressive, huh? This is why I'm hot. ----- * Greg Paulus has an uncanny resemblance to former Notre Dame star Troy Murphy.
Murphy was one of my all-time favorite college players.
* Just saw the Gatorade AM commercial and realized that it's been at least two weeks since I've seen Peyton Manning pitching something. Not angry about it, just making an observation.
* UMass-West Virginia on ESPNU in a bit. Need to add that to the rotation. 4-out, 1-in is a beautiful thing.
Marquette scored, but overall has had terrible times adjusting to the Michigan State zone. A sign of how the half went: one of the best looks at the basket came when Dominic James heaved the ball 3/4 of the court as time expired in the half. The shot rattled in and out.
They hardly have any two-point field goals in the game - proof positive that the Izzo 2-3 extended zone is a tough one to crack.
* Weber State hung tough, but a late UCLA run made it 37-19 at the half. Tonight's teams have really shown some terrific defense.
Ohio State held Central Connecticut to under 20 points in its first 20 minutes of play...
* Xavier/BYU is playing tonight. I hope they show up better than their conference mates. 33... 33 points...
* To make it all worse, CBS still has Gonzo and Norm Roberts on to talk about the games. Gonzo: "we didn't beat them." Norm: "we didn't beat them, either."
Thanks fellas. That's some insight. The fact that both of you are sitting next to Tony Reali's illegit brother is kind of an indication that you didn't beat them, or anyone of record, this season.
* Checked in on the WNIT, Iona vs. LIU, and the broadcast team of men's assistant coaches Vin Parise and Nick Macarchuk. Coach Parise's got a future in the biz. Nick is handing the color duty quite well...
Marquette doing their best George Washington imitation tonight.
And I'm getting even more annoyed.
But Weber State seems to be making a decent run of it early, so I'm gonna switch over to that one.
MU is down a key component of its offense - and defense - in Jerel McNeal, but they didn't score until a David Cubillan trey at just about the 10 minute mark.
It'll come together.
* Len Elmore - one of the top analysts in all of basketball - doing a great job of explaining how Weber State's switching from zone to man is keeping UCLA off-balance.
* VCU chipping away. Duke might be focused, but they're just not that good. And Anthony Grant, the CAA Coach of the Year, has done a great job with a talented "mid-major" squad.
* David Scott, of cstv.com's "Hang Time" blog is doing a bang-up job of live blogging from the HSBC Arena in Buff-town. One of his latest posts talks about a guy who, after a few too many cocky-tails, is heckling the media. No truth to the rumor that it's Ron Borges.
From the Comfy TLBR Viewing Room, vol. 1
7:20 p.m. --
Duke looks like a team with focus through the first 4:00 versus VCU; Ohio State looks like a #1 seed playing a team who is just happy to be there (#16 Central Connecticut); and the best game of the night - Marquette/Michigan State - tips off in six minutes.
I'm bunkered in here at the TLBR homestead and thankfully, the good folks at Cox have provided their digital cable viewers with two channels (801, 802) with the other feeds of games around the country.
Onto some post-rotisserie chicken thoughts: * My dog likes chicken. In fact, she'd eat just about anything. But chicken is on her favorites list. Kaleigh prepared for the upcoming High Holy Day (she's an irish setter) with the scrap pieces of chicken breast and was quite happy.
* 33 points. This is going to chap my ass all night. Probably all weekend.
* There might be about 2,500 people in ARCO Arena in Sacto. That's criminal.
From the Lofty TLBR Observation Deck, vol. 6
4:33 p.m. --
Butler in the midst of a 17-0 run, beating Old Dominion. There goes that pick.
And in Lexington, Ky., Penn is making it a game. A traditional three-point play with 13:43 left tied the ballgame at 37-37. A second-chance basket at the 13:00 minute mark capped a 21-6 run to take a 39-37 lead.
Remember that "lighting my bracket on fire" joke I made before?
From the Lofty TLBR Observation Deck, vol. 5
4:21 p.m. --
Took my first loss of the day. I had the 14-seed Oral Roberts with the upset over #3 Washington State.
Not surprisingly, I didn't give the Cougars much love... But that's neither here, nor there.
Georgetown (a TLBR Final Four team) is up big. ODU (the TLBR/CAA team of the tournament) and Butler are close, but the Bulldogs are heating up from the perimeter. And the prospective national champion pick, Texas A&M, is also cruising.
* Best Cingular wireless commercial ever...you know, the one with the dropped calls...guy calls a girl whose number he got in a bar the other night and right when he asked an "us" question, it dropped out.
"Hi this is Nikki, leave a message..."
* Trying to keep tabs on the second best college basketball spectacle of this time of year: the coaching carousel. But nothing much out there today.
From the TLBR Observation Deck, vol. 4
3:51 p.m. --
(and I could probably be fired for saying this, but...)
I just saw the Hooters/Dick Vitale commercial. And then my phone rang.
It was dignity.
And they called to tell me Dickie V has just been voted off the island. ----- I mean, that commercial is staggering. Staggering.
Not that you go to Hooters for the food...but the baskets of slop in the commercials looked like someone's deep-friend entrails.
And the Hooters girls had so much cake on their face, they looked like they lost on the Gong Show.
And Dickie V. Well... I mean, wow. ----- I'd actually like to see Billy Packer in a Hooters ad. While Packer is not so much annoying as universally loathesome, the commercial would probably go like this: Billy would order a set of atomic wings and calamari. When the two-bit hussy in too-tight orange spandex brought him his fried pig shit, he'd then berate the waitress, tell her to get a real job like a secretary, and then proceed to go on and on about the Missouri Valley Conference. ----- Oral Roberts went down double-figures and is making a comeback. I hope. I want my bracket to be perfect before dinner. ----- Norm and Gonzo back on the "tube" with astute analysis.
I'd give you some of their gems, but honestly, I'm not listening. I typed "cat in a blender AND mp3" into Google, and now have that on replay on iTunes.
* Oral Roberts (MY pick) up at the half. ODU up on Butler early (also my pick); Texas A&M up on Penn (the Aggies are the TLBR national champion); and Georgetown in cruise control with Belmont.
* Everytime I hear the announcers refer to Oral Roberts and Washington St. by their nicknames, it harkens me back to my former employer (the Golden Eagles) and makes me think of hot-to-trot women in their late 50's, who have stayed just a bit too late at the bar and are looking for a "ride home." (the Cougars).
* On a complete aside, as I said there would be no talk of the J.V. Bracket on this blog, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Freshman Team Tournament (the WNIT). The Iona Gaels host LIU in the program's first-ever postseason appearance.
We here at TLBR have much love for Tony Bozzella, his staff, and the (Lady) Gaels and plan on tuning into the ballgame tonight live on the 'net. Not just to follow the Maroon & Gold, but because Iona's men's assistants - Vin Parise and Nick Macarchuk - will be providing color.
* That is all. An hour and a half before I hit the road for the nighttime TLBR Observation Deck.
From the lofty TLBR Observation Deck, vol. 2
2:49 p.m. - Belmont-Georgetown tips off in Winston-Salem, N.C. - aka the Jesuit Bracket.
Marquette represents the Men of Others tonight against Michigan State.
A few tidbits prior to the game: * 7-2 Roy Hibbert just got a rebound by lifting his arms up. Jay Bilas said, before the game, that they Hoyas would try to go inside. Good, astute analysis from the Bilastrator. (we kid b/c we love)
* Belmont's Rick Byrd, a 15-seed, is rocking a button-down shirt with a sweater vest. No tie. C'mon Rick! You're on CBS National! Go to Marshall's and pick one up off the clearance rack.
* Rich Gialella and Bob Adams doing this game as a zebra, with two quick nickle-dimers on the Hoyas. Wonderful. A 2-seed gets two Division II officials.
Other notes: * I'm 3-for-3 so far today. Not that they were three difficult games to pick or anything, but at this time last year, I had pretty much lit my bracket on fire and danced around it in effigy.
* My sexy upset pick - Oral Roberts - is holding their own. Yeah. MY sexy pick. They beat Kansas at Kansas. But I claim ownership.
* The Hummer ads with the magician are hilarious. Genius.
* The wonderful folks at the NCAA are apparently charging the media 30 bucks for wireless access in the arena bowls. 30 bucks. This from the people who brought you Stanford as a 12-seed.
This from the people who call Cingular a "corporate champion." I'm telling you, I'd bandit a G-router in there and say "shampoo you, Joboo, I do it myself."
From the Lofty TLBR Observation Deck, vol. 1
1:52 p.m. ET - Jay Bilas giving the current employer some love during the BC/Texas Tech game. Warms my heart.
Also checked the Louisville/Stanford-really shoulda been-Drexel score. Coach Pitino's squad is up 52-25 at the 16-minute media timeout of the second half. That's 27 points. They're down more than they've scored.
To give that additional perspective, I just got done with lunchtime hoops. We played to 21 and then to 15. We won both games. I may have outscored Stanford. And everything is one.
Shampooing shampoo pick for the 65, Mssr. Walters.
Maryland/Davidson engaged in a fine first-round matchup. It's what makes the tournament great. It's also on my laptop as I have the office TV on the BC/TTech contest. If Maryland loses, there goes one of my Sweet 16.
David Scott is in Buffalo...(actually, there are two David Scott's in Buffalo)...one a writer covering the first and second round for the Charlotte Observer. And the other David Scott - T-H-E David Scott's of all David Scott's - he of the Scott's Shots and cstv.com's terrific "Hang Time" blog, is also there.
Read the latter and badder DScott's missives, live and courtside at the HSBC Arena, right here.
Although, in the time period leading up to tonight, there will be plenty of viewing in the office.
Television set to CBS. Computer logged into March Madness on Demand.
The first day of the NCAA Tournament; the best day of the year. ----- Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports summed it up best, as is his wont.
Please click here to read his take on the first day of the Big Dance - as he calls it, "America's Tournament." ----- I have a to-do list for today. Funny how the gig goes from having your hair on fire, to sitting around and twittleing your thumbs.
But there's nothing on it. I do have to "exercise" at noon, but other than that? Nothing. It's hoops.
Nothing but hoops.
As Prof. Dave Jennings of Faber College once said, "don't laugh...this is my JOB!" ----- TLBR will be back with periodic, idiotic, and moronic updates from the games. Tune in!
TLBR's "2007 Progression to the Last Four Teams Out of 65 Who Are Competing in the NCAA Tournament And Stuff"
Yes, since "The Road to the Final Four" is copyrighted and I don't have the kwan to pay to use it (even though I have elevated to the level of "Ambassador of Kwan" on some levels...), I have decided to unveil my picks in the 2007 TLBR's Progression to the Last Four Teams Out of 65 Who Are Competing in the NCAA Tournament And Stuff.
So for those who are looking to win their respective bracket pool, this is the one place to go to break ties and make your final decisions on which team to pick. (so if you're stuck, look at what I did and do the opposite.)
Without further ado...we'll start with the Midwest Region.
#1 Florida vs. #16 Jackson State A 16-seed has never beaten a 1-seed in the men's tourney. It has happened in the women's tournament. And that, ladies and germs, will be the last mention of the J.V. bracket in this here breakdown. Florida wins.
#8 Arizona vs. #9 Purdue Matchup between an athletic but schizo team and a talented but boring Big 10 squad. Sure to be a cure for insomnia. I go Arizona, but really, it's anyone's game.
#5 Butler vs. #12 Old Dominion Wasn't last year's tournament great, with CAA-inderella George Mason making it all the way to the Final Four??? Wasn't it? What did we get out of it: Boeheim leading the charge to expand the tourney field to 96; the NCAA Selection Committee lowering the number of "mid-major" schools in the tourney; and then making them play each other, as to not upset a BCS-cartel conference school. Butler and ODU is a great game...for the bracketbuster... This just takes one potential giant-killer out of the mix. Go ODU with this one.
#4 Maryland vs. #13 Davidson I love this matchup. Both teams well-coached. Gary Williams has won a national title and Bob McKillop, well, in my world, Sports Illustrated should write a big long story on how he's never left for "greener pastures" and has stayed committed to an excellent academic and athletic institution. Write that article instead of the shampooing Ohio State informercial...especially in light of the fact that they don't graduate kids, they have a little problem with kinda-sorta paying them, and their star frosh is taking three classes this semester: basketball, rock music, and sociology. Enough about Ohio State. Maryland wins this, but it's a close one.
#6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Winthrop Winthrop got upset last year in the tourney. Yeah, I know, the definition of "upset" comes when the higher seed/better team loses. So, returning to my original point. Gregg Marshall's (the Gonzo of the South) squad got upset. Notre Dame's not that good. They don't defend. And when you live by the three and die by the three and don't defend, well, let's just say I'm an expert in that field. Winthrop.
#3 Oregon vs. #14 Miami (Ohio) Oregon wins. Miami (Ohio) is playing with Akron's bid. And I believe in karma.
#7 UNLV vs. #10 Georgia Tech This is one of those games that my Northeast bias just won't allow me to get into. UNLV is peaking. GTech is as athletic as any team in the tournament. Who wins? I don't know. Pick one. I did. And I went UNLV.
#2 Wisconsin vs. #15 Texas A&M C.C. I have high hopes for Texas A&M. The one in College Station. Bucky wins this one.
West Region #1 Kansas vs. #16 Niagara Bill Self's squad makes quick work of the oh-so-disrespected Purple Eagles. Hopefully so quick that the "Perps" won't have time to get into a gang-style fight and get their kids suspended for eight games again. Hopefully quick enough so that Joe Mihalich can get up to Olean to apply for the opening at St. Bona. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk here.
#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Villanova I will be tuning into this one. Who wins out here: Tubby fighting for his job, or Scottie Reynolds fighting for his? For Tubby, it's keeping the Kentucky job. For Scottie, it's sliding into one of the top 5 picks in the NBA lottery. I go 'Nova here. Curtis Sumpter has something to prove, too.
#5 Va. Tech vs. #12 Illinois Illinois still has kids on their roster that remember what it's like to win NCAA Tournament games. Va. Tech has kids who don't. But they're due. So go Va. Tech.
#4 Southern Illinois vs. #13 Holy Cross Again, my conspiracy theory comes into play with this matchup. The Salukis have a great RPI and whatnot, they deserve a high seed, but give them Stanford or some BCS school so SIU can kick the crap out of them. Don't waste Holy Cross' annual matchup zone headache on them. Dammit. S. Illinois wins. But not by much and not without a fight.
#5 Duke vs. #11 VCU Man, I wanted to pick Anthony Grant's team. I really, really wanted to. But something tells me that, when push comes to shove, and shove becomes sucker punch, Duke wins. Not sure if the Rams have enough for Josh McRoberts. Duke here.
#3 Pitt vs. #14 Wright State Pitt isn't playing well. They know it. And they've had a few days to mull it over. And I think at the end of the day, they'd like to stop sucking. The sacrificial lamb in that equation? Wright State. Pitt wins.
#7 Indiana vs. #10 Gonzaga If Indiana decides to defend, score, and rebound to the level they're capable of, they can beat ANY team in this tournament. But as my old coach once told me, you can only two things well and at the same time. I like Gonzaga here. I think they have something to prove and Kelvin Sampson just isn't a good NCAA Tournament coach.
#2 UCLA vs. #15 Weber St. Ben Howland went to Weber St. Ben Howland's team is going beat Weber St. I'm having trouble thinking of anything else compelling about this game.
South Region #1 Ohio State vs. #16 Central Connecticut Hey Nutmeg State! Did you know that there is another Division I program in the state? In fact, there are six (UConn, CCSU, Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac, Fairfield, and Hartford). But only one gets covered. And that team will have plenty of time to take in the tournament. Online. (insert witty laptop joke here). Ohio State wins.
#8 BYU vs. #9 Xavier Jesuit vs. Mormon. I go with the Jesuit. Plus, I think Xavier's loss in the A-10 Tourney to one of the top up and coming programs in the East has really set them straight. Plus, Drew Lavender is the best point guard in the country that you never heard of... Musketeers win.
#5 Tennessee vs. #12 Long Beach St. Prime for the upset here...it's a 5-12...there's always an upset in the 5-12 game...but not this time. I think Bruce Pearl's squad will remember having to use a circus shot to beat Winthrop last year and will handle everything LBSU gives them. Plus, Long Beach just hasn't been the same since Rasul Salahuddin graduated. Rocky Top win.
#4 Virginia vs. #13 Albany This is going to be a knock-down drag-out. Dave Leitao will never be confused with a John Wooden-Bob Knight-Dean Smith pantheon of great coaching. And Albany has been there and knows what it takes. Jamar Wilson is Dyree's cousin and while that's good enough for me, Sean Singletary might be the most talented all-around guard in the field of 65. Cavs win.
#6 Louisville vs. #11 Stanford This game, to me, should be Louisville/Drexel. That being said, I think Rick Pitino has a decent record in NCAA Tournaments. So I'm going with the 'Ville.
#3 Texas A&M vs. #14 Penn I have Texas A&M going far. I mean really far. I mean like last man standing kinda far. So they beat Penn.
#7 Nevada vs. #10 Creighton See my mid-major conspiracy theory earlier. This just takes away another giant-killer. Nevada's Nick Fazekas and Creighton's Nate Funk are two strong individual players. But Nick gets the nod. And Drexel beat Creighton, apropos of nothing...the Wolfpack here.
#2 Memphis vs. #15 North Texas When a team makes it to its first tournament in almost forever, they take pictures, the water bottles and the towels from the locker room, and make sure they get the namecards from the press conference. Why? Because they're happy to be there. A happy North Texas Mean Green. A victorious Memphis Tigers.
East Region #1 North Carolina vs. #16 Eastern Kentucky Remember how I said a 16-seed never beat a 1-seed? Well, I remember seeing a "close call" in a 16 vs. 1 game. It was in Winston-Salem. And it involved North Carolina. And the Tar Heels were down at the half. And the game was tied with 3:00 to go. Greg Francis went off. But the Stags came up short. Nice story, huh? Well, UNC wins here.
#8 Marquette vs. #9 Michigan State Tom Crean and Tom Izzo know each other. They're friends. In fact, it's a little-known fact that Crean worked for Izzo at Michigan State. I just wanted to get that out there, in case no one writes about it or does a soft-light CBS pre-game special on their relationship. A wise college basketball insider tells me that MU's guards are going to eat up Drew Neitzel. Especially if Jerel McSteal plays. I tend to agree. Ring out Ahoya. MU rah rah. Warriors forever.
#5 Southern Cal vs. #12 Arkansas Another game Drexel should be in. I have nothing funny to say about this game. USC wins.
#4 Texas vs. #13 New Mexico State You know how most people have to go on a job interview for gigs they want. They see the ad, then apply, and then interview? Or in the case of an actor, he/she sees a casting call, auditions, and then gets a call back. Kevin Durant is a pro. He wants to be the first pick. This is the first step in his process in getting that job. Longhorns and big over Coach Theus' Wolfpack.
#6 Vanderbilt vs. #11 George Washington I call this "the god-damn shampooing game I should be doing the book or sitting next to Lesley Visser for." That being said, I'm rooting for the Colonials. It's a job interview for Carl Elliott, too. And not only am I rooting for G-Dub, but I'm picking the upset.
#3 Washington St. vs. #14 Oral Roberts Two teams with the nickname Golden Eagles in the same bracket. Two predictions of victories for teams with the nickname Golden Eagles. ORU, coached by Sean Sutton, with the big upset of the first round.
#7 Boston College vs. #10 Texas Tech Not for nothing, but there's not one 7-10 game that I remotely give a shampoo about this year. So I'm picking B.C. because I find Al Skinner to be a better overall person than Robert Montgomery Knight. Go Eagles.
#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Belmont I have the Hoyas going far. Really far. But not THAT far. Cruise by Belmont.
And that's it for picks. I'll return with reviews on my picks and my round of 32 selections on Friday and Saturday.
As One Season Winds Down, Two Others Begin
It's March. That means March Madness - an almost endless four weeks of conference championships and NCAA Tournament games and, with apologies to Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing.
And be sure to stay tuned to TLBR for all of your first, second, and third-hand accounts from the Road to Atlanta. --- But And as the hoops season winds down - ostensibly without my present employer taking part - two other very important seasons begin: baseball and blogging.
The two are independent of each other, but not necessarily unrelated.
So that's a good thing.
Celebrating the convergence and subsequent divergence, here are some Tuesday afternoon quick hitters:
*** How popular do you think a guy named "Scooter" is going to be in prison? Dick Cheney's right-hand man is now going to be some Peruvian drug lord's "prag"
From the AP wire (you see, Borges, this is how you avoid losing your job...): Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted Tuesday of lying and obstructing a leak investigation that reached into the highest levels of the Bush administration.
Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s. The case brought new attention to the Bush administration's much-criticized handling of weapons of mass destruction intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. The verdict culminated a nearly four-year investigation into how CIA official Valerie Plame's name was leaked to reporters in 2003. The trial revealed how top members of the administration were eager to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Libby, who was once Cheney's most trusted adviser and an assistant to President Bush, was expressionless as the jury verdict was announced on the 10th day of deliberations. His wife, Harriet Grant, choked out a sob and sank her head. He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced June 5 but under federal sentencing guidelines is likely to face far less. Defense attorneys immediately promised to ask for a new trial or appeal the conviction.
"We have every confidence Mr. Libby ultimately will be vindicated," defense attorney Theodore Wells told a throng of reporters. "We believe Mr. Libby is totally innocent and that he didn't do anything wrong."
(And here's where the term "closing the barn door once the horses have already left" comes into play)
Libby did not speak to reporters.
Boy, Scooter could've avoided a whole bunch of mess if he'd adhered to that policy earlier.
*** A loyal TLBR reader chimed in with this Scooter gem, regarding Scooter's demise from Chief of Staff to "fresh fish:" "Well, he worked for Dick before. How different will it be now?"
P.S., mean-spirited, cruel wit runs in the family.
*** Gerald Henderson cold-cocked Tyler Hansborough. Plain and simple. If he's on the street, he gets fingerprinted and has a mug shot taken.
But since he's on the floor in the primo ACC matchup, he gets tossed for one game - a seemingly meaningless ACC Tournament opening round game. And a quick check of the Duke stats do not have his numbers flying off the page.
But here's a legit question to ask John Swofford or John Clougherty: if it was a Virginia Tech kid, or someone from Clemson, how many games would they get?
If it was a kid from say, oh I dunno, Temple from two years ago...how quickly would the basketball world come down from its ivory tower to condemn the kid and the coach?
Yeah, that's what I thought. Oh, by the way, remember this quote from a recent American Express ad: "I don't look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball."
So I suppose we'll be reading soon enough that she's moving the hospital's affiliation to the Navy...
*** While I have an idea of what a good A-10 Tournament story might be, it won't come close to topping this one.
*** Anna Nicole Smith died? Man, wish I had heard about that. Did she take drugs?
*** Well, we cross country runner-types have always complained that the sport never gets enough attention.
And this particular XC harrier has long debated that long-distance running is the only true sport (it is sport...all you need is ground and feet...anything else with more equipment and/or rules is a game).
World Cross is an amazing event. And no matter where it's held, you always get spectacular, if not, repetitive results (the Four Kenyans battling the four Ethiopians, while one Spanish guy, one Australian guy, and maybe a Kenyan who moved to Denmark).
Well, the prospect of distance runners getting blowed up isn't very appealing. But, the urban legend of getting jumped in the woods if you were in the back of the pack at Van Cortlandt Park in the South Bronx never panned out. It just meant you broke your ass through 1.5 miles.
So USA distance folk, I give you my best coaching advice: when a gun goes off, run...because it's probably the start of the race; when a bomb goes off, run faster.
Ok, that's all. Gotta go put my sweatsuit on and fix my hair real pretty. Because the team bus is leaving in a bit for Atlantic City (apologies Mssr. Tom Waits).