Looks like we all wasted our valuable bracket time this year looking for Cinderella, because apparently she decided to stand up the prince this year. Maybe she's "riding the red wave", or at home "re-organizing her sock drawer", but whatever she's doin', she's not at the Big Dance. For the first time in forever, and in a year following #11 seeded George Mason's run to the Final Four, not a single double digit seed has advanced into the Sweet 16. Personally, even though I had both a #12 and a #14 in Sweet 16 (damn you Oral Rob!), I can't say I'm shocked, nor am I truly disappointed. Yea, I'll buy the argument that the first 4 days of the tourney were possibly the most boring in recent memory, but what does that even mean? First of all, day 3 was the shit. Four OT games, one in double OT and the Ohio St./Xavier game which almost single-handedly busted 60% of the brackets in the entire country. And second l, even the NCAA tourney at it's most boring is better than anything in sport short of maybe the NFL playoffs. So disappointing, yea I'll buy that. But boring? Please. Take your whinin' and go watch yourself some great NBA action. Let me know when you can count an insatnce in which all 5 guys on the floor are running or show me 3 plays in a row where they actually run a set offsensive play. But back to the actual action on the floor. I have to toot my own horn at this time and say that it truly looks like the Kansas Jawyhawks are the class of this field, followed closely by North Carolina. Both squads, coming off great regular seasons and post season titles, stomped out thier first round gimmies, and followed those with big wins over big programs in Kentucky and Michigan St. respectively. Even with the defending champion Gators in the field, and the Georgetown Hoyas looking methodically dominant, you gotta love the chances of the Jawyhawks and the Heels. They have the best guard play, they have the defensive agression, and they each have enough big guys down low to bash around with anyone. As far as upsets and good games to watch for in the Sweet 16, look for the Oregon/UNLV game to possibly be one of the tourneys best. Both teams can rebound, penetrate, and shoot the hell out of the 3. And just because Kevin Kruger transfered to play for his dad even after graduating from Arizona St. (sketchy NCAA loophole), doesn't mean the Rebs are all softies. And look out for the Tennessee Vols. Not only do they get an Ohio St. team that's living on borrowed time, but they have been red hot to start the tourney, blowing out Long Beach St. (damn!) and disposing of the Virginia Cavs. I didn't have the Vols makin this much noise, but now that they're hittin' their stride, I like their draw the rest of the way. Bruce Pearl is a maniac coach, and if they can continue to play with naked agression on D and shoot lights out, even a 43 year old freshmen won't be able to stop them...
Tourney News and Notes
*Looking back on the predictions I had after the first round of the tourney, I realized I don't totally suck at predicting things. I predicted that both #11 seeds (VCU and Winthrop) would win, and they both lost. OK, so that wasn't so hot. But, I also predicted that at least one of the #7 seeds would make it to the Sweet 16, and UNLV did so by beating Wisconsin. In fact, Indiana gave UCLA such a good run for their money that I was almost 2 for 2 there. But let's not get greedy. Finally, my third prediction was that not all the #1 seeds would make it out of the Sweet 16. Now, while the Sweet 16 hasn't happened yet, the way Ohio St. and Florida have been playing, I have to say I feel pretty good about how that one is shakin' down. I don't think the Gators will have all that much trouble with Butler, but combine the way Ohio St. has been playing with the way Tennessee has been playing, and the Buckeyes could be in some serious trouble. Like I said, the Vols are hot, and the Bucks are not. And I'm not buyin' the "Oh every team that wins it always looks back on that one they almost lost early in the tourney". Ohio St. just has trouble scoring, period. That's why they almost lost to Xavier, and that's why they aren't long for this dance. Get the ball to Oden. And Oden! Dunk the damn ball. I didn't turn the game on to watch the black Will Purdue for crying out loud! Throw it down big man! Oh man I can't believe I just stole a Bill Waltonism. Somebody cut me with a rusty spork. NOW!
*Coming into the tourney, all people wanted to talk about was how certain conferences were getting special treatment, while others were getting shafted by the selection committee. Well, here's a look at how each of the 6 major conference has fared so far in the Big Dance:
ACC: 6-6 (7 teams in tourney, 1 Sweet 16 team)
Big East: 6-4 (6 teams in tourney, 2 Sweet 16 teams)
Big 10: 6-5 (6 teams in tourney, 1 Sweet 16 team)
Big XII: 5-2 (4 teams in tourney, 2 in Sweet 16)
SEC: 7-2 (5 teams in tourney, 3 in Sweet 16)
Pac 10: 7-3 (6 teams in, 3 in Sweet 16)
So, just to review. The Big 10 and the ACC sent a combined 13 teams to the tourney, yet only had 2 left standing, and they are both #1 seeds. And while the Pac 10 and the SEC are the conferences doing the most work, it still doesn't mean that Stanford and Arkansas should have been in (they both got run in the first round). What I take from these results is that the power conferences are top heavy. All the more reason for the lesser teams in the power conferences to be left out of the dance in favor of better teams from smaller conferences. Except for Syracuse of course, seeing as they are now just a few wins away from that prestigious NIT title after dusting both South Alabama and San Diego St. Woo hoo!
*I've always said, I will never go out of my way to watch or listen to an event because of a certain broadcaster, but there are some out there that will either make me continue watching, or change the channel. Well, now that the NCAA tournament has started, I'm reminded of the guy that originally captured my interest in this great tourney, CBS's Gus Johnson. I've always loved the tourney, but it was a game in 2000 between #2 seed St. Johns and #15 seed Northern Arizona that exposed me to the raw emotion and excitement that is Gus Johnson. I can still remember as the 7-foot center on NAU, Dan McClintock, made a turn around attempt to win the game and Gus just went "McClintock. Turn around jumperrrrrrrrr...NO! And the Lumberjacks dream will fall short, and the Johnnies survive!" I was reminded of that this weekend as Johnson made the call for the Ohio St./Xavier game. When Ohio St.'s Ron Lewis made a 3 pointer to force overtime, all Johnson could muster was a sound halfway between a heart attack and a scream, or "ohhhhhowwwwwwohhhh!" Man I love this time of year, and you gotta love the guy that oozes emotion through the TV set, Gus Johnson.
News and Notes
*"Baby steps". In order to change the habits that are wrong with your life, you need to take small baby steps towards change. And that's exactly what it appears the Cincinnati Bengals are doing in trying to repair their reputation as a bunch of law breakers. Instead of actually committing the crime, this time Bengal Levi Jones was only involved. It was former Steeler and current Dolphin Joey Porter that was the instigator. According to multiple sources, Porter and Jones got into a little scuffle at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas while playing some blackjack. The feud then escalated and moved outside where Jones claims that Porter hit him and allegedly stole some of his jewelry. Now, I understand that these guys don't like to take shit from anyone, and I realize that these guys had some beef on the playing field too, but I'm still gonna go ahead and call both of them idiots. Imagine if this was your thought process: "Hmmm. There's that guy I hate. What should I do? I know! I'm gonna booze up a little and go talk to smack to him at the blackjack table. Then, when he tries to talk back, I'm gonna smack him in the mouth! Yea, I'm the fuckin' man!" Well, it looks like that was Porter's thought process and, surprise surprise, it got him into trouble. Hasn't the Pac Man Jones incident taught these guys anything? Stay out of strip clubs, stay out of casinos and stay out of Vegas!! Vegas is for guys like me to waste my hard earned loots, not for guys like Porter to smack around offensive lineman. And of course the best part of this story, is that it wasn't a Bengal actually getting arrested! Sure, maybe they still need to learn how to stay away from booze/stripper/gambling/nigh club spots, but hey, if I'm Marvin Lewis and the organization, I see this as a giant leap forward. Cheers to you Cincy for taking the high road, formerly known as Pac Man Jones Blvd.
*Michael Jordan, Don Nelson, Danny Ainge. What do these three men have in common? If you said they're all Mormon, you're wrong. If you said they all have gambling addictions, I'm pretty sure you're still wrong. And if you said they are three guys that can't quite get it through their heads that they should no longer be in basketball, then you're right! It just wasn't where I was goin' with the story. SI.com is reporting that the Celtics were fined $30,000, and the Bobcats and Warriors each $15,000 for illegal contact with both Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. In Ainge's case, he was sat next to Durant's mother during the Big XII title game, and struck up a conversation with her. Now, for once I don't think this is Danny Ainge's fault. He didn't chose the seat (contrary to a lot of idiots out there who are just assuming that), and his team doesn't even have the option of drafting Durant if the lottery balls don't bounce their way. Sure, Ainge probably should have gotten up and moved when he realized who he was sitting next to, but by no means do I think he did all of this intentionally. Besides, Durant's mother said she wasn't even aware of who was sitting next to her. I mean, she knew it was a Mormon cracka, but that's prolly all she knew. However, while I don't really think Ainge did anything wrong here, if it somehow is a just cause for the Celts to fire it, then I am all for it. Cracka! But the real surprise for me in this whole instance, is Jordan being fined. He is Michael Jordan! You know, his Airness? He and Nelly got dinged 15 K each for talkin' to Greg Oden's peeps. Of course his people talked to MJ. You think he needed to go up to them? How is it Jordan's fault that he's the man and pimps wanna chat him up? Listen NBA, just stick to fining the pasty white washed up ex Celts like Nelly and Ainge, and let Mikey bask in the glory that is Mikey. Oh and for the record, MJ says there's nothin' wrong with runnin' your yap to 300 LB guys in casinos. He just always makes sure it's Charles "Sir Cumference" Barkley, and not some nasty O lineman. And no Charles, you still can't play HORSE with MJ and Bird for a Big Mac, so go practice your golf swing. You make Stevie Hawking look like a touring pro. HA HA HA...HA HA HA
*I'd like to preface this next little tidbit by saying there is nothing funny about this diabetes and I am in no way making fun of people with it or making it seem like an insignificant disease. That being said, is anyone surprised at the announcement that former Red Sox and Yankee and current San Diego Padre David Wells has been diagnosed with diabetes? All this guy does is drink, smoke, eat and stay up all night. I guess I'm just surprised that all this didn't happen sooner. But fear not Wells fans. Boomer claims he has already cut booze, bread and sugar out of his diet, and he's committed to making sure his diabetes doesn't escalate to Type 2, the much more dangerous version of the disease. Wells voiced that his main conern about the disease worsening was that he might lose a limb or two down the road. God, please don't fall off the wagon Boomer. I shudder to think what you might look like with no arms and no legs. Note to the Syracuse Mascot....your job may be in jeopardy...send vegtables and fruit immediately C/O David Wells San Diego, CA. In all seriousness though, I wish Wells all the best. And heck, if he manages to get healthy and drop some LBs, then maybe he'll be tossing that soft junk for another 5-10 years. And there's nothin' wrong with that in my book.
*Pete Rose is at it again. First, he didn't bet on baseball. Next, like 20 years later, he did bet on baseball, but only on his team and only to win. Now, another 5 years or so later, Rose is saying that he bet every night on the team he was managing, the Cincinatti Reds, to win. OK, so hold on a minute. Not only does Pete Rose want me to believe that he cheated the game of baseball and dishonored the tradition of the sport, but he wants me to believe he is possibly the worst gambler of all time! Everyone that bets, knows that baseball is tough to win with in the first place, but betting on any team 162 times in a row is simply ludicrous. Also, consider that during his 3 seasons as full time manager of the Reds, they were only 5 games above .500. I know that doesn't mean he lost all those games that the Reds lost (they could have covered the spread and still lost), but I do know that means he wasn't exactly rakin' in the cakes. Rose claims since he thought the Reds were going to win every night, he wanted to bet on them. You know, cuz he had such faith in them. Well, I got a different take. In my opinion, Rose was told to say this by someone behind the scenes, like an agent, manager or friend. They figured, maybe it would help his image if people knew he was only betting on the Reds, and only betting on them to win. WRONG. First off, I don't believe that. Secondly. When baseball investigated Rose, they found he only bet on the Reds when certain guys were pitching, so that doesn't jive. And thirdly, the man has basically made his name in my lifetime as a liar. Sure, I know he's the All Time hits leader, but I'm quickly becoming one of the few in my generation that knows him as anything other than a gambler and a disgrace to the game. So, nice try Petey, but if you're thinkin' that this latest admission will be enough to get you into the Hall of Fame....I wouldn't bet on it! HA! Still, to this day, the only good thing that Pete has goin' for him, is that he was fortunate enough to have a Methed-out Tom Sizemore portray him on the big screen! Well it was made for TV, but I'd still be honored. And of course by honored I mean insulted to the point of considering suicide.
NCAA Pool BreakdownCurrent Leader - Sabby Petti: 1st rd - 26/32, 2nd rd: 14/16, Total: 54 points
*The news from the second round of the tourney wasn't as good for some as for others. For me, while I got 12 of a possible 14 games right (I had two Sweet 16 teams eliminated in the first round so I could only get a max of 14), I got my first 12 picks correct, and lost my last two. To make matters worse, one of my losses was an Elite 8 team in Texas, and the other was Nevada. While I only had the Wolfpack winning that one game, it was a pick that nobody else had that would have paid big dividends for me. However, I shouldn't be bitchin'. Unlike almost everyone (save maybe Sabby and Ilk), I did have the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in the Sweet 16, and actually have them advancing past Oregon into the Elite 8. Also, I was lucky enough to make it through the first 4 days of the tourney without losing my National champ. I can't say the same for the 4 entrants that had either Kentucky, Louisville or Texas. Sucks for them. I on the other hand still have Kansas, a team that is now being heralded as the "surprise #1" of the tourney. At the risk of tempting fates, I'd just like to throw a big "I told you so" out there to everyone saying that now. I told you Kansas was the ill-tastic-mother-funkers, but you didn't want to listen, did ya?! Funny how a team with 3 All-American caliber point guards (Collins, Robinson, Chalmers), two of the most athletic swingmen in the nation (Julian Wright, JaRon Rush), and some serious bangers down low (Sasha "Chaka" Kaun, Darnell Jackson) could be a title contender. If your still alive in the tourney, and many of you still are, you prolly wanna check out the people ahead of you in the standings with the same champ as you. I'm not telling you who those people are, because that requires way too much work on my part, but here's how many of you still have your champ alive.
Most Common Champion: Florida (6) , Georgetown (4), Ohio St. (3), UCLA (2), Kansas, UNC, Memphis
*And just another reminder. If you haven't sent your money in yet, do so immediately so it can get here by this weekend. The address info is still up on the tourney site if you need it.
And finally, while I like to try and keep this blog to strictly sporting news, I could not resist this next story. All of you know Chris Hansen, and love watching his show on Dateline NBC, To Catch a Predator. Now, instead of having Hanson catch petafiles on camera, NBC sent him undercover to help stop an illegal credit card scam that was goin' down. Sure, it doesn't sound nearly as entertaining as a guy driving 90 miles with a bag full of wine, fireworks, condoms and porn to meet a 13 year old they met on the Internet, but give it a shot. The special hasn't aired yet, but Hanson had this juicy piece of the story to relay to Opie and Anthony the other day. Let me set the stage. Hanson is meeting up with the guy that is going to make the illegal purchase, and the two of them are waiting for the third party to bring them the stolen goods. The man waiting with Hanson, does not know that he is being taped, or that he is being set up for that matter, when this conversation ensued...
Hansen - "So where did you meet this woman that we are waiting for?"
Crook - "Actually, I met her in a chat room on the Internet."
Hansen - "Oh, really?"
Crook - "Yeah. But you have to be careful in those things these days."
Hansen - "Why's that?"
Crook - "If you're not careful, that guy from To Catch a Predator will get you. Have you seen that show?"
Hansen - "Why yes I have."
Crook - "Oh man. Did you see the one where the catch the guy for a second time? That was hysterical!"
Hansen - "Yea that was funny, I love that show." (prolly thinkin' to himself...."Not as funny as this!")
Now, we will all have to wait for the actual show to air in order to figure out how that thing ends, but you know it's gonna be good. Kinda makes me wish I still actually knew what the schedule was for network TV. Eh, whatever. Anyone down for some under aged chat room action? I'll bring the beer if you bring the under cover TV crew. God Bless America, and the people that live here, make drugs in their basements, and attempt to solicit little kids online. If not for you, what would we watch on TV?