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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Will Do Cuse Stuff For Championship OR The Ballad of Sauce Beatman


If you don't pick Kentucky to win the National Championship, you're stupid. You might as well just start the NCAA pool with negative 32 points"

Those were the words spoken by an acquaintance of mine, who for today's purposes we will refer to as "Sauce Beatman" (pronounced as if Jewish, not as if a Superhero), on the evening of January 26th during the Kentucky/South Carolina game. A game in which the Wildcats...lost...

Fast forward to Wednesday before the tournament, where Sauce is again in my presence, and this time filling out his bracket. He claimed he hadn't yet had time to do so, but I, knowing that was a near impossibility (he's in @ least 3 pools with 3 different brackets), knew he was publicly filling out his bracket for one simple purpose. So everyone could see him do it. Little did I know, this self proclaimed Tourney Pool Savant was filling out his "legendarily accurate" bracket so he could get all his friends to talk him out of his idiotic selections and help him to solidify his entry...

The result? His first stab brought him a Final Four including the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, with the Kansas Jayhawks as the National Champion...

EXCUSE ME?!?! The kid who called us all "stupid" for not wanting to name Kentucky the Champ in late January wasn't picking them here in March? And he was picking Notre Dame to make it the Final Four?!?!

Well the reaction from the room was fast and swift. He flat out had to pick Kentucky, because of the way he'd reamed us all out, and that was a group consensus. As for ND in the Final Four? We all agreed it was bold, but none of us saw it happening, and half the room had them falling to Old Dominion in the first round...

So, with that information now in hand, what did Sauce decide to do? Swapped the Jayhawks for the Wildcats, and somehow justified moving the Irish from 4 wins to 1. Well, in that particular bracket, that is. He still took Kansas is his other 2 pool entries...

And on Friday, when I asked him how Notre Dame was doing, knowing full well that he knew they had lost more than 24 hours previous, I got exactly the response I would expect from a self proclaimed "savant". "Glad I have them losing to Baylor". Totally dead panned, with no hint of irony, and without the slightest bit of gratitude for the group of people that had so viciously altered his usually prophetic NCAA selection strategy. Matter of fact, I was so unnerved that I asked the question again, to give him a second chance, and expecting this time a backlash to the effect of "Dude, I'm not gonna thank you guys!". But no. This time, it was only silence...

Oh Sauce, you truly are a savant. But to get the full Rain Man effect goin', allow me to tack on the "idiot" tag, for good measure. Ha! Nah, but I'm sure you're really an excellent driver...

And that reminds me. There are two more bracket tips that I need to make sure and include in next year's tourney guide...

1) NOBODY CARES WHAT PLACE YOU ARE IN ON THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY OR SUNDAY!!! Maybe at the start of the Sweet 16 you can start telling people, but if you telling them means you need to provide a Champion qualifier (i.e. "If Kentucky wins...), then you probably shouldn't even bother. "I'm doin' really well" combined with naming an upset pick you had will be just fine. That is, if anybody asks. Which they won't. Which is why telling people in the first place is just asinine. They might care if it's the eve of the Title game, but on Friday afternoon during the 1st round, I guarantee they'd rather hear about the latest SEXTS from Mr. Elderick Woods, or for Christ's sake even a freakin' weather report...

2) Kinda goes with #1, and maybe next year I can find a way to combined them, but for now it stands as #2. And here it is. If you're in a pool with someone, and you are losing in said pool, don't tell them you're winning the 4 other pools you're in. Whether it's true or not, nobody is going to believe you. Especially when you tell them you had 4 different Champs in the 4 brackets you entered. Then they'll probably just look at you and say, "Whoa! Who are you, Sauce Beatman?!"...

We all know Yahoo has a bracket simulator, and that's great. But to save yourself from finding out you can't win your pool on Friday afternoon, and to save your friends from having to hear about how if it's a Northern Iowa/Cornell title game that you could win 2 of your 6 pools, I advise not using the tool 'til we're down to the Elite 8. It's just common courtesy, and if anything else, it might help you ignorantly enjoy a game that might actually be hurting you in the standings...

Listen, I love winning money more than the next guy, and I REALLY love winning NCAA pools. But to let that get in the way of me enjoying a game? Never happen. That's why I typically don't gamble on sports. My nightmare would be me failing to enjoy a truly great game because I had bet on the losing team. And yes, while I understand that may sound like defeated, loser-talk, you have to trust me when I tell you that it isn't. So my bracket's busted, so what? Like I said, I want to win and I try to do so at all costs, but when it doesn't work out, there's no need to let it ruin the potential enjoyment. All year long, I do my Top 25 with one goal in mind, a goal that I remind you of nearly each and every week. My goal, is to put both you and myself in the best position to win NCAA pools. I feel I did that, I happen to know a lot of you are currently benefiting from that, and the fact that I gave it my best shot and put my best foot forward, is more than enough for me...

Now, thanks to the fact that my bracket is indeed busted, it's time to do one thing and one thing only. Cheer for The Orange. It's time to do as the title of this post suggests, and get down to business doin' Cuse Stuff for a Championship. What's "Cuse Stuff", you ask? Well Wesley J can dunk on your head, OR Andy Rautins can make it rain from 3 like Mr. Pacman Jones. And everything in between...

Get in...

Here's a look at what's to come in what has already been an amazing tournament. I know my earlier bitterness may have suggested that I was disenfranchised with a first weekend full of upsets, but I honestly couldn't be more pleased with the way this thing's unfolded. Granted I would have liked to see Kansas make it a round or two further just to see if they could hang with the other "top teams", but sometimes in this one and done beast things don't always unfold the way you'd like them. It was great seeing Northern Iowa win, but part of me would have liked to see Cuse/Kansas or at least Kansas/OSU. Again, not bracket related, just from a hype and anticipation standpoint, I guess...

So here ya go, a look at what's to come, with half an eye firmly fixed on what's already happened. A Re-Preview, if you will. And it took a Re like me, to come up with this shit and get it done. So Enjoy...



WEST (Salt Lake City, UT)

(1) Syracuse vs (5) Butler (Thursday 7:07 pm)

In the grand scheme of things, it's not surprising that either of these teams made the Sweet 16, but after Butler went from a Final Four dark horse to a trendy first round upset victim, and The Orange lost 2 of their last 3 and their starting center, some may consider it a minor miracle that this match up is still taking place...

Butler was able to weave their way through their usual fair of Mid Major squads with wins over UTEP and Murray St., and while they didn't look amazing doing so, the fact they made the 3rd round should be more than enough to speak to their skills. The trio of Shelvin Mack, Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard did their thing, and now the Bulldogs will look to topple the Orange for their first ever trip to the Elite 8. Well, at least their first trip in my lifetime...

For The Orange, they avenged that '05 tourney loss to the Vermont Catamounts in round 1, and were able to dominate the Zags in round 2, even with Gus Johnson firmly entrenched in his seat, "Cinderella" one-liners ready to go and Blake Stepp footage on standby. More importantly, for Jim Boeheim's crew, is that they made it through the opening weekend without the services of big man, Arinze Onuaku, and that Big East Player of the Year, Wesley Johnson, returned to the mid season form that earned him that very honor...

So, what can we expect from this Sweet 16 tilt between the the Mighty Orange and this perennial Mid Major Monster? Well, oddly enough, it's going to be very similar to what we saw in the Syracuse/Gonzaga game, except with a slightly better squad being on the other side. Butler will look to get Rick Jackson and/or Arinze Onuaku into foul trouble, and hope that by clearing out the middle, it will damage the Orange's vaunted 2-3 zone, and remove their ability to move the ball inside-out. Unfortunately for Butler, Gonzaga was able to get 3 early fouls on Jackson, in the first 10 minutes, and they still lost by 22...

Butler is a good program, a good team that's well deserving of being in the Sweet 16. Syracuse just happens to be a better team, a better program, and the fact that they're more talented, and finally healthy should provide them the edge and help them advance to their first Elite 8 since their magical Championship run of 2003...

I've liked Syracuse to come out of the WEST ever since I first laid eyes on the bracket, and through the first weekend nothing has changed. I like 'em to beat Butler, and then move on to beat the winner of this next tilt. One of the few match ups I actually predicted correctly...

(2) Kansas St. vs (6) Xavier (Thursday 9:37 pm)

Neither K-St. or Xavier had a terrible time making it to the tourney's second weekend, with the Musketeers road being a little more rocky having to survive an '09 tourney rematch with Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh...

Now, as these teams meet in the Sweet 16, the question becomes which one of them shall be served up as Elite 8 chum for the Syracuse Orange. OK, maybe that's a little wishful thinking on my part, but to be honest I have trouble believing that either of these teams is going to beat a healthy Syracuse with their 7 (now 7.5, with Riley) man rotation up and running...

As for the actual game itself, I'll be predicting Xavier will win, and I'll be rooting for Xavier to win, essentially because they're the lone dark horse I have left. They're the last shot I have at making up any sort of ground in the tourney pool's I'm in, and even then I'll need the rest of the bracket to completely fall apart in order for me to do anything...

But look at me, violating my own new rules and we're not even into the MIDWEST, yet. So let's get to the MIDWEST, so we can really start to focus on how I violated again went out of my way not to listen to myself...


MIDWEST (St. Louis, MO)

(9) Northern Iowa vs (5) Michigan St. (Friday 9:37 pm)

I was saying all year long that Kansas didn't have the shot makers to win it all. So what do I do? Well for the 3rd time in the last 7 years, I pick them to win the whole sha-bang. And I missed out on picking them when they actually won it in 2008, so....yeah...

This year, it sort of just snow balled. One thing led to another, and I had them in the Final Four against a potentially dinged up Syracuse team, and then in the Title game against a WVU team with no true point guard. But no, another classic choke job, and they don't even make it out of the second round. I figured their biggest stumbling block would be the Georgetown Hoyas in the Elite 8, not the Missouri Valley Champs in the Round of 32...

Now, it's giant killer Northern Iowa that has the upper hand, playing a Michigan St. team without injured star point guard, Kalin Lucas. And what a game the Panthers played to knock of the #1 overall seeded Jayhawks, and single handedly ruin my bracket. They're the new look Cinderella for the modern age, complete with a balding power forward that looks 45, a teen wolf lookin' frosh, and a clutch point guard who may or may not be a terrorist, in Ali Farokmanesh. Although terrorist or not, the chants of "Ali boombaye!" resonating from the UNI faithful has got to be one of the tournament's signature moments...

I knew there was a reason I'd been so into watching Ali, lately. Dammit! Now if only I had known that was a sign from the sports Gods, my bracket would be all set...

So do the Panthers have a shot to continue their Cinderella run and march all the way to Indy? You're damn straight they do. Not only should they be able to hang with Michigan St., but unless the winner of this next game is the Tennessee Vols, the Panthers should be able to complete with #2 Ohio St., as well, seeing as they too like to slow the game down and control the pace...

(2) Ohio St. vs (6) Tennessee (Friday 7:07 pm)

When the Buckeyes advanced to the Sweet 16, those were the last points I could possibly win in the MIDWEST Region. Awesome...

Both the Bucks and the Vols have played very well to get here, and despite what I said about the UNI Panthers, I like whoever wins this game to represent the region in Indianapolis. I'm not sure how Tennessee is doing it, exactly, but they are. And Evan Turner is getting just enough offensive support that The Ohio State University hasn't had too much trouble coasting into the second weekend, either...

This game is your typical contrast in styles. The Vols like to run, and Ohio St. likes to grind it out in the half court. I won't be surprised which team wins, but I will be surprised if the team that ends up representing this region in the Final Four is actually able to win a game once it gets there...

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Region of Doom one weekend, Region with a 3-point launching, giant killing terror suspect the next. But that's the tournament, for ya. And that's what makes it great...


EAST (Syracuse, NY)

(1) Kentucky vs (12) Cornell (Thursday 9:57 pm)

It's wicked smart versus wicked athletic, and it just so happens this one's going to take place wicked close to the Big Red's campus. Granted Kentucky probably travels better than any fanbase in the country, but being 45 minutes from home has still got to be considered an advantage for the Ivy League Champs. Sleeping in their own beds, having all their fans able to attend the game. It's not enough to give them the W, but it certainly isn't going to hurt...

As for the Big Red, I hope you you took my advice and ran them at least through round 1, because I certainly didn't. When it came to Cornell, I was the first to hear about the party, the first to tell everyone about the party, but due to a last minute change in schedule, I missed the party and everyone had a great time without me. Oh well, I've been to plenty of great parties in my day, and in the true spirit of friendship, I hope you made it to that Ivy League ripper and even had time to a keg stand or two for the guy who gave you the heads up...

Now what you don't wanna do here, is take so many kegstands that you don't overlook the obvious, which is that the Cornell Big Red can win this game! Hell, ya know what? In honor of my new mission to take down Sauce Beatman, and have him reap what he's sown, I'm telling you right now that Cornell WILL beat Kentucky in the Carrier Dome on Thursday night. Not because they're gonna hit some miracle shot, or because John Wall's gonna get hurt, either. IF and when they do hang around and win this game, it will be because they controlled the tempo, and used their precision offense, sharp shooting, and tenacious defense to take the Wildcats out of their comfort zone, and get them shooting 3's far earlier than they would like. Much like the way Georgetown and Kansas were toppled before them, Kentucky will fall because they get away from their inside-out game, and try to rely on John Wall and their outside shooting. Something they do well, but it's not their strength. It's not what makes them go...

I might be taking the risk of showing up at a great party while it's just dying down, but I'd rather that than miss out alltogether. It's already been a nice run, but taking out a youg and inexperienced#1 Kentucky team, would truly make it epic...



(2) West Virginia vs (11) Washington (Thursday 7:27 pm)

In the other half of the bracket we have the second of 2 Sweet 16 match ups I predcited correctly. Again, I hope you took Washington and are now reaping the benefits, but I got the feeling when I was out on a limb with the PAC 10 Champs when everyone questioned me having them simply beating Marquette, let alone in the Sweet 16. Now had I taken the Sauce Beatman approach, I would have immediately moved Marquette into the Elite 8, but as you've no doubt figured out by now, that's just not how I roll. I'd rather go down in flames using my own instincts than second guess myself. Ya know, like with Cornell...

And ya know what? I think I owe you an explanation as to why I didn't end up picking Cornell after heralding them all season as an extremely underrated club. Simply put, they had a bad match up against Temple, and while they did end up beating the Owls pretty handily, I still feel that way. Both Temple and Cornell got hosed by the Selection Committee with their seeding, so I decided to go with the team that had just made an impressive run to their conference tournament championship as opposed to the team that hadn't played in nearly 2 weeks. Plus, I had hated on Temple all year, and I kinda figured in a coin toss game like that, it wouldn't be the end of the world to go against what I might normally do. Ya know, how you say, "cover my ass?" I know I know, that's exactly what I told you all NOT to do last week, but sometimes it can be the hardest to follow your own advice. Can't see the forrest through the trees? Yeah, something like that. I'll tell you right now, those trees definitely didn't have any owls in them, that's for sure...

But back to the Huskies and the Mountaineers. Never have I had so few things to say about a game that's bound to be very entertaining. I have the Mountaineers losing in the Championship to Kansas, but it's becoming abundantly clear that their lack of a true PG may end up cutting their run even shorter. In this tilt, which I've dubbed the "Nasty Nates VS The Fighting Pittsnogles", I expect another close, mish-mash of a game that ends up coming down to the final minute or so. Much like the 4 games these two teams have already played...

I like West Virginia to survive and move on to to an imporbable game with Cornell, but then again I have been the one saying all year that the PAC 10 Champ would make an imporbable tourney run. Then again, the Sweet 16 is pretty improbable for a team representing a conference who's new claim to fame is having Obama's brother in law coaching in it...

You're my boy, Craig Robinson, but your conference brtheren are goin' down. Everybody now! Country roads, take me home, to a place, I BELONG!...

I sang that song as part of a Show & Tell type situation in 7th grade, if memory serves. Actually, it was me and two of my buddies, and we sang all the John Denver songs that were included in the commercial selling his greatest hits that was running nonstop at the time. Yeah, we were pretty baller at Robert J. Coelho Middle School. Prit-tay, prit-tay, pri-tay, baller...

Pretty sure that was before Denver went LaunchPad McQuack into a family of seagulls. And no, that might not be the most tasteful thing in the world, but it was definitely not "too soon"...

SOUTH (Houston, TX)

(1) Duke vs (4) Purdue (Friday 9:57 pm)

If I wanted to, I could write "NEXT" right here, and be perfectly comfortable with it. And ya know what? That's exactly what I'm going to do. I have Duke advancing, so I guess I should have some interest, but the fact that Purdue has screwed my Mom's bracket, and the fact that I wanted to pick them all year long before they lost Robbie Hummel, is almost enough to make me obstain from watching this game all together...

Besides, I bet Sauce will be doing something totally unrelated to College Hoops during that time period because he has A&M in the Elite 8. So maybe I could just hang out with him. Unless what he's doing during that time is going around telling people how good his bracket is. In which case I'd rather slide down a razorblade bannister and plop right on into a kiddie pool full of salt...



(3) Baylor vs (10) St. Mary's (Friday 7:27 pm)

We round out the Sweet 16 and the second weekend with the Baylor Bears and the St. Mary's Gaels. Now I'm not sure what a Gael is, but I'm pretty damn sure of one thing. I do not like St. Mary's big man, Omar Samhan. I don't like the smirk he has on his face, I don't like the way he gets nearly every single call, and I don't like how his mom is being publicly rewarded for essentially being a bad, smart ass of a parent. All this and they didn't even screw my bracket! And Sauce didn't even have them winning, either! So you know this is true, unabashed disdain, and nothing more...

But back to Samhan. Who does this guy think he is? Is he a talented big man? Of course he is. But what's with the look of entitlement he always has on his face? And what's with his mom?! She refused to buy a ticket to see him play in Providence (she had never seen him play at all, if I heard correctly), and told him that she would meet him in Houston. OK, great story and everything, but what if they hadn't won?!? Doesn't that just make her cheap, and a bad mother? What? They win so she's Miss Cleo and Carol Brady all rolled into one? Yeah, I know I'm probably making too much of this, but as you've guessed by now, there are few things I detest more than less than deserving people stumblign ass backwards into good fortune. I'm all for karma and paying it forward, but I'm all for Darwinism, too...

And keeping with the survival of the fittest theme, I think the bigger, more physical Baylor Bears are exactly what it's gonna take to end St. Mary's run right here and now. Omar dominated against inferior front courts, and if you saw that comin' I give you props, but that won't be the case here, and in front of a strong home crowd, Baylor should rather comfortably move into the Elite 8. Where I like them to beat Duke, but then again you probably knew that already...

So there you have it, kids. My bracket's tattered and torn, but my spirits are as high as ever. It's been a great tournament, with the promise of more great memories to come. And should I some day look back on these memories with the Orange colored glow that still surrounds those of 2003? Well, now that wouldn't be too bad, either...

Cuse Stuff, man. And don't forget to hold the Sauce...

Have a great week, friends. Catch you on the flipman...


Teddy Williams...
WJ4P...
100...

#$>

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling I know who "Sauce" is..

-Anonymous Tipster

Brett Ferruccio said...

A. Tipster & Associates, I presume? I'm very familiar with your work. And yes, I think you're right...

Muuuahahaha

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