Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Take Me Home, Huggy Bear...

Duke, Butler, Michigan State & West Virginia. Not what I had, not what the autistic kid had, but I'm more than happy to take it. And yes, I'm uttering those words knowing full well that the Dukies are involved...

I mean, what's not to love? OK, maybe Dickie V & The Trust Fund Crazies are borderline unbearable, but with the other 3 teams being so damned likable, not to mention worthy, it's actually slightly refreshing to have the Pin Stripes of Tobacco Road (or Cig Street, as I like to call it) to play the necessary role of the Final Four villain...

Also, it's not the worst thing in the world that last week's blog-o-sphere sensation, "Sauce Beatman", met his demise when Kentucky met up with Huggy Bear & Moonshine Miracles, but to dwell on that would just be outright cruel. Besides, I'm having too much fun using &'s and coming up with nickname's for teams that sound more like lounge acts or possibly armed militia groups...

Oh and just to be crystal clear. While in this instance the moniker "Sauce Beatman" was in reference to a particular person, the nickname does not apply to just one man. Much like "Ted", a term coined in the halls of AHS and still widely used today, "Sauce Beatman", or any derivation there of, can be used to describe any body, at any time. One false move, and even you could find yourself labeled Sauce Beatman, or heaven forbid, TS Beatman Esquire & Associates. So, consider yourselves warned...

Personally, I've found the best part of the tournament to be that it's serving as a perfect litmus test for the true college basketball fan. Seeing as every one's bracket is already busted, the only reason you would still be watching a game like Tennessee/Michigan St. or Xavier/Kansas St. is if you're really into the sport, combatants be damned. I mean, look at me. Thursday night, I could have tucked tail and run to my bed to wallow in my own depression, but instead I spent the waning hours of the day propping myself up against my dresser as not to fall asleep and miss without a doubt the tournament's best game...

But enough of that. I know a lot of people already refer to me as the "fan police", telling people if the truly are fans of a sport they claim to like, so at the risk of alienating any of you and your fragile egos any further, I'll just move on...

Got another nice Re-Preview for you kids to feast on, so let's just get down to it. Oh, and make sure to be on the lookout in the next week or so for my full on MLB Preview. And don't worry, I won't call you out for not being a Red Sox fan if you're somehow unable to watch every inning of all 162 games. IF I catch you wearin' a pink hat or a JD Drew jersey, however, well then we're gonna have to step outside and throw hands. OR if we're already outside, we may have to go back inside and throw hands like they did in that mansion scene in the Matrix Reloaded. Naturally, I will be Neo, and you will be that tiny Asian whose exact gender I've still yet to figure out...

But that's all next week. For now, I ask you to hop in your horse 'n buggy, or whatever it is you use to transport drugs or booze that you made "out back", and head to a place that I like to call "The Country Road to the Final Four"...

Take me home, Rooch. Take me home...

Get some...

Michigan St. vs Butler (Saturday 6:07 pm)

Our first National Semifinal pits the Orange slayers of Butler against the always tourney ready Michigan St. Spartans...

In the Sweet 16 Butler took out my boys from Syracuse, and if not for the fact that the Orange were able to somehow get a 4 point lead with just minutes to go, it wouldn't have been such a hard loss to take. I mean after all, I didn't pick Syracuse to go all the way, so I did expect them to lose sometime, and that Butler team was talented enough to do it. But when the Orange fought back to take that 4 point lead, only to watch Butler travel their way to an 11-0 run and a Final Four berth? Well, my friends, that's what we in the business refer to as a "swift kick to the junk"...

And I don't wanna dwell on the fact that the Bulldogs definitely got away with a few Key walking calls down the stretch, but those missed calls only helped to highlight something I never thought I'd be saying about the NCAA Tournament.


Charges? Blocking fouls? I mean, what the Hell is goin' on here? I grew up playing basketball in the 90's, and was able to create a sort of hustle niche for myself by being good at taking charges. Even with my limited skill set, I was able to specialize in taking charges not only because I knew how to properly get into position, but because nobody else was trying to do it! IT stood out! Now, you can't get 3 trips own the floor without a charge being called, and 80% of the time, the defender's feet are still moving!

To me, as arrogant as it's going to sound, it's just a complete breakdown in knowing the rules, combined with the average ref's wanting to be "part of the show". Just like my buddy, Tim Higgins, over there. Over zealous ref offender #1 & President of Ted's Local 122...

Calling a charge in basketball is like punching someone out for strike 3 or out at home in baseball. It's the one call that allows the most expression from the officials, and for those that think the fans are there to see them, it's viewed as their time to shine. That's what I've always liked the NFL. There's one way to make a call, and that's how all the refs make it. Granted it takes some of the "personality" out of the game, but when it comes to officials, I think we'd all have it that way, anyway...

So to be clear, Syracuse didn't lose because of the officials, but the zebra's certainly didn't do Boeheim and his boys any favors as the final minutes ticked by...

Now, as for the match up at hand between Butler and Michigan St., I expect nothing less than a great game from arguably the two most complete team's remaining. I know it seems rather vanilla and safe for me to be predicting a close game, but these things turn into blowouts far more often than you think. But not this time...

Neither team is a huge fan of running up and down, so that should keep it close. And both squad's penchant for the staunch half court defense should also keep this thing at a BBQ's pace. For those that don't know, that means "slow and low", referring to the pace and the score. IT is NOT a backhanded shot at that autistic kid in reference to his state of mind and now his position in his tourney pool. What do you think I am? A monster? (But seriously, kid. Purdue?)

As for any advantages in this game, on one side or another, I don't really see any. People always point to big man Matt Howard getting into foul trouble as a potential weakness for Butler, but so far it's yet to happen. He's gotten into foul trouble, it's just that they've been as good if not better when the big guy's been on the bench. Other than that, I look for the "home crowd" to be slightly less partisan than people are predicting, just as I give only a slight nod to Tom Izzo's past tourney success. He's got the chops, as we all know, but this Butler team is tourney tested, ready to ball, and shouldn't be outclassed by a program looking to make it's second consecutive trip to the National Championship game. If anything, I look for Butler's superb Free throw shooting to play a big role down the stretch, and at the very least keep them from falling too far behind...

IF I were a betting man, I'd pick Butler just because I'm sure the price is better, but at this point I'm dubbing this game a coin flip. Heads it's Butler, and tails it's Michigan St. Here we go...

It was heads. Butler's gonna win. Take that, Vegas!

West Virginia vs Duke (Saturday 8:47 pm)

Three important things to keep in mind when thinking about this game...

1) Remember how I used the word "Ted" earlier? Well if you're having trouble finding a definition, look no further than Duke's Brian Zoubek. What a Ted, this guy. I said before that I made a niche for myself in high school hoops by hustling and doing all the little things, and that's what the 7-foot Zoubek does. Only difference between us, besides the D1 ride and the 7 foot frame (he does have a decent beard), is that Zoubek screams like a Russian female tennis player having an orgams every time he grabs a rebound or swings his elbows. Please, dude. Spare us. You're 7 feet tall, you even sport a decent beard, and it took you nearly 4 1/2 years to crack the Blue Devils' starting lineup. I'm sure you're blasts of passion go over well with the Crazies and Dickie V, but the rest of us think you flat out look like a buffoon. I mean, I bet even proud Dukie, and hustle master Jay Bilas gets sick while watching that tool do his thing...

2) At NO POINT should you ever check the Scenario Generator on Yahoo!'s Tournament Pick 'Em page. In all honesty, I hadn't planned on checking the thing at all after Kansas went down, but after learning the WVU victory over Kentucky had launched me back into contention, I couldn't help myself...

So, what did I find out? Well, I found out that if Baylor won, I would be guaranteed at least 3rd and have a chance to be the overall winner, and that even if Baylor lost, that a WVU win over Duke would still guarantee me a top 3 spot. About 12 hours later, Baylor had lost, and all my hopes and dreams were crushed. I needed one of 3 remaining games to go my way, and I lost. Kind of clarifies how dumb it is to be checking that thing on the first weekend, doesn't it?

Like I warned you before, checking that early is never going to help you out. You either find out you can't win, and lose interest, or you find out you can win, but spend your time more worried about outcomes than actually interested in watching the games. And the last person you wanna be is the kid sitting there staring at his computer as the final seconds tick down in another tourney thriller. We have a name around here to describe the people that do stuff like that, and believe me, you want no part of it. Here's a hint: IT rhymes with "Ross Feetman"...


3) Country Roads, by John Denver, is a great song, and is rapidly becoming my favorite post game celebratory tune. It's got West Virginia in the lyrics, which is always a plus, and the sing-songy quality and easy to memorize verses really make it a big hit in the wake of a big win. IT's better than Dirty Water, it's better than New York, New York, and it's even better than Why Can't We Be Friends?, which I'm pretty sure they're required to play after every Los Angeles Clippers game...

Matter of fact, Country Roads has got me so jazzed up that I've even been thinking about moving to West Virginia. I'm sure my money would go a lot further there, with their backwoods bartering and whatnot, and I've always wanted to drink liquor that was siphoned from an old oil drum to an empty milk jug by a man with as many teeth as he has college credits...

What? It sounds like a good time to me. Singing banjo tunes, smokin' corn cobbed pipes, and sippin' the shine. What's not to love? And lemme tell ya, the second that place gets the Internet, I am so there...

Make room at the bar, Huggy Bear. This round of clear, corn based booze is on Rooch. It's time to ride the lightning, baby! Should fix that eye right up for ya, or at the very least get you liquored enough to get the right one to match it...

Now, as is often the case, I've gotten severely sidetracked and will now actually talk a bit about the game...

Joe Mazzulla's emergence, or return to form if you will, is the only reason the Mountaineers were able to make it this far, and if they're to make it one step further, the Johnston, RI, native is going to have to turn in another stellar performance. Trust me, I know it's Butler, Ebanks and Jones that make that team go, but since starting PG Truck Bryant went down with an injury, the burden's been almost completely on Mazzulla to handle the bulk of the PG duties on both ends of the floor. Kind of asking a lot of a junior that's had to learn to shoot with his opposite hand after a severe injury almost cost him his season...

But Joe's responded in a big way. His 17 points in the Elite 8 were truly a God send, and while he shouldn't need 17 every night for WVU to win, the fact that he proved he's capable ot providing those points is encouraging enough for the Mountaineers to like their chances...

The keys for Duke will be the same they were for the game against Baylor. Control the glass, and you should be able to control the game. Easier said than done against a West Virginia team that's as physical as any team in the country, but it wasn't such an easy task against the Bears, either, and the Dukie seemed to do just fine in that one...

And let's not get it twisted. Despite all the shots I've taken at Teddy Zoubek and the Cameron Crazies, I have a lot of respect for this Duke team. I warned you in my tourney preview not to count them out and pick them as the first #1 to fall, and while I didn't expect them to be the last #1 standing, they're appearance in Indianapolis isn't exactly shocking. They have the best 3-some this side of Wild Things in Scheyer, Singler and Smith, and they've proven time and again this season that while they aren't particularly deep, what they do have is depth down low, something that should come in mighty handy against the rough and tumble Mountaineers...

Duke's strengths aside, I'm picking West Virginia to advance to and win the National Title. HALF because I think the Big East will represent after a sub par tourney performance. HALF because I just think they'll find a way to pull it out, with DeSean Butler hitting one of his trademark hanging layups to end up. And HALF because I want to sign Country Roads again, especially since hearing those sweet, sweet lyrics will be a signal that I've stopped the bleeding, and after 3 moneyless years will finally be able to cash in on some of that sweet, sweet tourney casheesh...

Sing it with me!

Country roads, take me home. To the place, I belonnnnnng! In the money, ahead of Beatman. Take me home, Huggy Bear...

Got a little liberal there and ruined the rhyme scheme, but it's way better than version in which I replace every word with "Hubert Pubis", so you should just consider yourself lucky I didn't pull that one out and thoroughly confuse you. After all RoochNation is the #1 search response when it comes to "Hubert Pubis + The Dudes" on Google, and I wouldn't be surprised at this point if it's #1 when it comes to "Sauce Beatman", as well...

So there you have it, Teds and Mountain Mommas. Another one in the books, with still many more chapters yet to write. Again, you're going to want to check back next week for my MLB Preview, and you're gonna wanna keep tabs on my 2 fantasy teams this summer, The Naked Nixons & Pete Rose Haircut. OK, I mostly just wanted you to know those were the names of my two teams so could laugh, and marvel at my creativity, but I'm sure as the season unfolds I'll be updating you on the twists and turns of my fantasy campaigns, so letting you know my team names is probably a good idea...

After all, when I say "Naked Nixons", I don't want you to get a horrible image in your head of former President Richard M., streaking his wrinkly ass down the hallways of the White House. That would be downright gross. Especially when you should be picturing a naked Otis Nixon, chasing his bodyguard all over his hotel suite with a steak knife because he's high on crack and upset with the selection of hookers...

What? Drugged out former base stealers need love to. And judging by the mugshot, apparently beggors can be choosers, after all. And what are the chances that his large cellmate is named "Milo"? Because that, would be awesome...

OK, kids! Set your YouTube or Pandora to John Denver, and have yourselves a solid week, and even better weekend. I know I will...

Peace in the Middle...

Teddy Williams...



Anonymous said...

Otis Nixon is an ULTIMATE SAV!...and possibly also a huge TED!

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