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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.


THE OFFICIATING HAS BEEN AWFUL!

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"...

AND



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...
100...

#$>

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...

#$>

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Rooch Nation 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview

Well, my friends, the time is finally here. It's "The Tournament", "The Big Dance", "The Gus Johnson Invitational"...

It's the NCAA Tournament, of course, and it marks my favorite time on the sporting calendar. I've preached to you before how much I love the month of March, and the anniversary of my birth aside, this is definitely the main reason. The first 4 days are pure fanatical ecstasy, while the tourney as a whole presents a challenge that's second to none when it comes to any sports' post season format. Does it get the champ "right" as often as playoffs with 5 or 7 game series would? Of course not. But what it lacks in definite resolution, it makes up for nearly everywhere else...

Listen to me, ha! Talkin to you about the NCAA tournament like you've never seen it before. You know it's great, or you probably wouldn't be here in the first place! You're here for analysis. You're here for picks. You're thinkin' to yourself, "OK, Rooch. You say you're the man at this thing, so it's time to put up or shut up, buddy"...

Well, my loyal followers, unlike a Johnny Depp and Tim Burton psychedelic remake, I shall not disappoint. Unless, of course, you thought I was just going to hand my picks over to you. That, I just can't do. With so many of you loyal gangsters competing in the same pools as yours truly, and the fact that there are thousands of dollars on the line, it just wouldn't make too much sense. I know all the "experts" don't seem to think twice about posting their picks, but they're already getting paid, and I'm not. Besides, I've always considered myself more of a guide than an instructor, anyway, so instead of spoon feeding a bunch of names, I'll lay all the cards out in front of you and let you pick for yourself...

Matter of fact, I'll even start with a few "bracket tips", to help you get started. Here, feast on these before you actually dine on the main course. They won't tell you who to pick, per say, but keeping a good eye on these tips can help guide you towards making good decisions. But hey, if you know you're shit and you just wanna see who I'm gonna pick, feel free to scroll down. You're gonna miss a reference from one of my favorite Leo movies, and from 2girls1cup, but if you think you're too smart for these tips then by all means skip ahead...

#1 If you've seen a team play this year, and have formed an opinion about them (i.e. "Duke sucks"), then stick with that opinion when filling out your bracket. I don't care if you saw a team play once in December, or if you've followed them all year. If you've formed an opinion, go with it. The only thing worse than losing, is losing while having to ask yourself "Why the Hell did I trust these fools?!?". Like in 2007 when I picked both Oral Roberts and Long Beach St. to make the Sweet 16. Yeah, neither one won even a single game...

#2 When debating an upset, better to be a round too late than a round too early. This is just a math issue, really, but again it's also playing the common sense card. Let's use Duke again as an example. If you think the Dukies are totally overrated, and you want to pick them to go out before the Final Four, take a second and think before you have them losing in round #2 to Louisville or Cal...

Could it happen? Of course it could, and if it did you would look like a genius. But truth is, virtually 90% of any pool you enter is going to have the majority of it's entrants with Duke advancing to at least the Sweet 16, and those who do have them losing will have them out in the next round or two, so the risk/reward of being right on that 2nd round upset is very slim. Granted it could also be the difference between finishing 1st and finishing 2nd, but it's just something you want to think about before you go upset crazy and start picking all the big boys to go down. Losing those games is more like losing 3-4 games in one shot, and can put you out of contention faster than you can say Gus Johnson's Johnson...

#3 This is NOT the NBA. When picking a final score, you're gonna want something from the 120-165 range. Anything north of that just isn't that realistic. And I know that range is big, but depending on the match up, I can see all the totals in that range as a distinct possibility. 120's probably a bit low, but then again 165's a tad on the high side. Ya know, just wanna cover my ass while at the same time giving you guys room to be creative. Obviously there's no set formula for this shit, but there are certain bonehead mistakes you wanna avoid that could potentially end up costing you big. This, is one of them...

A lot of these large office pools, and most pools for that matter, tend to have large clumps of people with the same champ, so as unlikely as it sounds, having the tiebreaker decide the champ isn't really that unlikely. I've both won and lost that way, myself, so take it from me when I tell you it's something you don't just wanna gloss over...


#4 PAY YOUR ENTRY FEE IN A TIMELY MANNER. As someone who has run many a pool, it really sucks the fun right out of it when you have to chase people down to collect their money. I know most of you are used to losing, but those of us that do actually win from time to time, actually like getting our reward before the 4th of July...

#5 And my final bracket tip,
before I get down to some analysis, is more of a warning and a plea than anything else. Please, DO NOT buy into any of that "The secretaries/the people with the least amount of knowledge have the best chance to win", shit. It's flat out bogus. So why, you ask, does the story live on and get passed around as fact? 2 reasons:

1) Whether or not they actually know a secretary that's won one of these pools, everyone feels as if they have because of how many times they've heard the story. It's like the "Kentucky Fried Mouse", for those of you that have seen The Beach, or any of those "college" tall tales, for those that went to college, that every school seemed to have a version of. A raucous, feces filled, drunken 3 way comes to mind from my time at Cuse...not because I participated, or knew anyone that did, THANK GOD, but mostly because a week after hearing the story, I heard it told again from someone who was up visiting from Villanova. It was like 2girls1cup, but there was only one girl...and no cup...and a bunk bed. Yeah, it's pretty damn gross...

AND 2) Because they pick almost strictly favorites, these "novices" in question are almost always at the top of the leader board after the first 2 rounds or so, while the overzealous, know-it-all d-bags that picked 3 #15 seeds to win (Long Beach was a #12, Oral Rob a #14) are stuck at the bottom trying to brag how those 3 teams ONLY lost by an average of 8 points...

Now granted, I usually only do pools with people that are into this stuff, but in my experience it's extremely rare that someone with virtually NO knowledge takes these things down. That only tends to happen when there is a complete breakdown in the bracket like in 2000 when 2 #8 seeds, a #5 and a #1 made the Final Four. I remember distinctly that the woman who won the top overall prize in ESPN's Bracket Challenge admitted the only reason she had those 4 teams in the Final Four is because she had personal connections to all of those schools...

That's a good way to put an end to the tips, too. Showing that it can pay to go with your gut, but that just because you may actually know a thing or two, you're not necessarily a dead man walking...


See? I told you the tips were worth reading. Now, with those out of the way, let's get down to the real reason you're here. The bracket breakdown...

Enjoy...

MIDWEST

Welcome, my friends, to this year's REGION OF DEATH. dun! duN! DUN!!!!!!

Favorite: (1) Kansas

The Jayhawks got the #1 overall seed, and while I wouldn't have agreed with that a week ago, their play combined with the failings of others, has me in complete agreement with the Selection Committee. They've been by far the most consistent, top tier team, virtually the entire season, and their dominating run through the Big XII tourney just proved that Bill Self's deep squad is ready for another deep March run. They'll have the toughest road of any other #1, somehow getting slotted in the REGION OF DEATH, but this tested team, with a National Champion at point guard, should be able to side step through the land mines and find a way to feel the Spirit in St. Louis...

Or if that questionable Charles Limburg reference wasn't to your liking, how about this. When asked about who he was picking to win the Midwest regional, rapper Nelly was overheard saying "You can find may, in St. Lou-ay, where the win-ners are Hawks of Jay". See? That rhyme scheme works far too well for that not to be inevitable. Well that, and they're a really good team and the #1 overall seed...

...kind of like Louisville was last year. And if memory serves they were my pick to win it all. Hmmmm...

Legit Contenders: Top 5 seeds

Lucky Kansas. They get the #1 overall seed, and they get stuck with perennial powers Georgetown, Michigan St. and Maryland. Oh, and I almost forgot they're also in the same region as Evan Turner, arguably the best player in the country. Despite my gushing a few graphs back, all these teams also have the chops to make their way to the Gateway to the West. Or I guess the Midwest, in this case...

Most Likely 1st Round Upsets: (11) San Diego St. OVER (6) Tennessee; (13) Houston OVER Maryland

Here's what I like about the Houston Cougars. They have the Nation's leading scorer, (Aubrey Coleman @ 25.6 ppg) they're on fire after their run through Conference USA to even get a bid, and they were a team that was hyped in the pre season that is only now starting to play up to their potential. Always a dangerous combination...

As for Bruce Pearl and his near return to his hometown of Sharon, MA when he takes his Vols to Providence? Yeahhhh, I don't think that's really gonna work out too well. And the town of Sharon should just be happy I didn't decide to rip it a new one. The biggest d-bag I've ever met is from Sharon, with the second biggest being a kid that worships him. Shockingly, that second tool is the same person that attempted to cheat at fantasy baseball by illegally entering two teams, still wasn't able to win any money, and then refused to pay. Ah what the heck, his name is Mike (not pictured, but hilarious), and he's from outside of Chicago, Illinois. His credentials, other than not paying for fantasy baseball and in turn telling me that somehow I wasn't a man? He's got a huge chest tat bearing the name of a girl that was still in her teens when he got it, and he cried while hugging me and my friends on our "Senior Night" up at Syracuse, despite not being that good of friends with any of us. I had never held a crying man before while looking over his shoulder and laughing, but there we were...

And after that justifiable pasting I just handed him, I'm sure he'll be on ESPN.com @ some point during the tournament for having filled out the only "perfect bracket". That's just how karma and I get down. Actually, more realistic would be Mike coming to my house and killing me in my sleep...Ha ha ha?...

WEST

So, here we go...

You all know who I'm gonna pick in this region, so why bother reading, right? Well, you might wanna go ahead and read on, anyway...

While I do have the Orange tagged as the West region's favorite, their seemingly friendly road to Indy is actually full of some rather predictable road blocks...

Favorite: (1) Syracuse

A week ago I would have looked at this draw and drooled over prospect of my Orange taking this particular road to the Final Four, but 2 less than stellar losses and one dinged up knee later, and it's all I can do to make them the front runner and not relegate them to "primed to fall" status...

With Jim Boeheim saying on Sunday and Monday that Arinze Onuaku was "doubtful" for opening weekend but "could play Sunday", it shortens the already succinct Syracuse rotation from 7 to 6. What should help them reach the Final Four, however, is the fact that of those top 6, all would be the #1 or #2 option on virtually any other team in the Nation save maybe 2 of the other #1 seeds...

Turnovers or foul trouble would be why they wouldn't make it to Indianapolis, but their track record, talent, and "softish" road is at least enough for me to install them as my favorite to win the region...

Legit Contenders: (2) Kansas St.; (3) Pittsburgh; (5) Butler; (6) Xavier; (7) BYU

Between Xavier, Butler and BYU, the West has 3 of the better Mid Major programs in recent memory, and 3 teams that are no stranger to the perils of March. Be careful with BYU, as they've lost in the 1st round the last 3 years, which could mean they're either due for a run, or due for another first round loss..

Pitt OWNS Syracuse, and has since the days of Ben Howland. They're not the same Pitt team from a year ago, but they're still skilled enough and have good enough guard play to make a run...

I still don't really trust Kansas St., personally. They seem to run a little too much on emotion. But they've proven they're skilled, so they aren't to be overlooked either. A little smallish, though, which could end up costing them the deeper they get...

Most Likely 1st Round Upsets: (12) UTEP OVER (5) Butler; (13) Murray St. OVER (4) Vanderbilt

A lot of people are choosing to ride the (11) Minnesota train, with noted tourney veteran coach, Tubby Smith, but I'd look at the #12 + #13 in this region if I were looking to pencil in an upset. UTEP's not nearly as bad as they looked in the final 5 minutes of the CUSA tourney, and Murray St. is a 30 win team playing an inconsistent but talented group in the Vanderbilt Commodores...


EAST

The MidWest may be the "Region of Death", but the #1 team that was done the fewest favors in terms of it's region's #2 has definitely got to be the Kentucky Wildcats.

If I were to build a team to take down John Wall and Co., it would be Bob Huggins' West Virginia club. They have multiple guards to hound Wall on the perimeter, and might be the only team in the Nation that can actually out rebound the Cats on the offensive and the defensive glass...

Favorites: (2) West Virginia

I'll be the first to admit that it's risky going with such a painfully inconsistent club, but basketball is all about momentum, something they have in spades right now. And I wouldn't worry about them having a letdown after an epic run to the Big East title, either. These moonshine makers are hungry for more, and with a favorable road to Syracuse, and the aforementioned advantage against Calipari's Cats, I'd have to install them as my favorite to be cutting down the nets in the Carrier Dome...

They are the best team, playing the best, from the best conference....kind of like Louisville was last year...


Legit Contenders: (1) Kentucky; (3) New Mexico; (4) Wisconsin

New Mexico has some less than desirable match ups, and the Badgers might be slightly dinged up, but they're still the cream of this crop. Obviously Kentucky has what it takes to win the entire tournament, I just think their inexperience, and their tendency to rely on their ability to win on pure athleticism may end up costing them in this one-and-done format earlier than some may expect...

Most Likely 1st Round Upsets: (12) Cornell OVER (5) Temple; (11) Washington OVER (6) Marquette

I've been saying all year that the PAC 10 Champ would make a run, and while I usually love Marquette, I could see the Huskies that actually made the dance (SUCK IT, UCONN!), making a shady run all the way to the Sweet 16. Cornell should be no surprise, as I've been touting them all year, but the trendiness of this pick has got to be disconcerting. I cautioned this too would happen when I was ripping the pollsters for snubbing the Big Red, but as long as the Ivy Leaguers don't come out ice cold after their long layoff, it could be sionara for the champs from the GAY-10. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

SOUTH

If there actually is a true "favorite" in the South, then they're hiding better than an albino in a 3 ton mound of Colombian bam-bam. Baylor is the chic pick right now, sporting a combination of good play of late and a favorable road, but even the Bears aren't without thei gaping holes...

Duke? Yeah, I think I'll pass. When it comes to picking the Dukies, I gotta play the "VHS" card. Hasn't worked since the late 90's, and it sure as Hell ain't gonna work now...

Nova? Few #2 teams in recent memory have looked as bad coming down the stretch. It became more obvious as the season progressed that the Cats missed big man Dante Cunningham, and have failed to come close to replacing his production. They've become vulnerable, plain and simple, and in my opinion have a very slim chance of making it to Indianapolis...

That's why, out of left field, and without the help of any of the so called experts, the team that I decided to peg as the favorite to win the South is...


Favorite: (3) Baylor

I've been screwed before, pinning my hopes on a Big XII team with a good draw, but I expect the South to be an all out brawl that could somehow work out in Baylor's favor. The South sports the weakest #1 + #2 seeds in the tourney, and at best can only boast the tourney's best #11 in the Monarchs from Old Dominion. Who, by chance, are a team that could very well end Baylor's run in New Orleans before they even have a chance to get to Houston. Let me put it this way. Head Coach Scott Drew's Bears are the best of a very suspect crop, but their style of play, and their favorable road, make them my favorite to make it through Houston. That is, if they make it out of the Big Easy...

Legit Contenders: (1) Duke; (5) Texas A&M; (6) Notre Dame; (7) Richmond; (11) Old Dominion

If you don't like Baylor, don't feel like trusting a team so trendy that's semingly come out of nowhere, and don't think the magic from Bryce Drew is going to carry over to his brother Scott, then fear not. The South still has plenty of potential to send a 5 or higher as it's rep to the Final Four, and though I've ripped Duke all year, it's even questionable enough for even they could survive and advance..

And I just wanna pass along something I heard ESPN's Andy Katz say this morning that I couldn't agree with more. I'd pick Richmond over Nova, but I'm having trouble picking them over St. Mary's. Hahaha ahhhh, that's why you gotta love this thing...

Most Likely 1st Round Upsets: (13) Siena OVER (4) Purdue; (11) Old Dominion OVER (6) Notre Dame; (12) Utah St. OVER (5) Texas A&M

Purdue without Robbie Hummell is no longer "Purdue", and ODU is one of the hottest team's in the country. Notre Dame has played well of late, too, but if you watched those games it was a lot of smoke and mirrors. Putting your trust in them for more than 1 win can be a risky proposition. Then again, their also listed as "contenders", so there's always that to think about. Hey, if they can really mesh with Gody back in the lineup, they could make a run. I just haven't really seen it yet...

As for the 5/12 "Battle of the Aggies", it's another ND/ODU situation where either of those teams could easily find their way to the Sweet 16, so tread cautiously. Should A&M survive, though, the boys from Durham might wanna look the Hell out for a deep Mark Turgeon led Aggie squad that can get it done on both ends of the floor...


So there you have it, fellow tourney lovers. Everything you craved, minus my actual picks. If you're still in dire need of someone to tell you exactly what to do, I recommend going here (http://therosenreport.com/ ), and checking out the work of my good friend, and fellow fraternity brother, Mr. Adam "Whitey" Rosen. Whites' knowledge of college hoops is right up there with mine, and you'll see from some of his selections that intelligent people can most certainly disagree...

Now, if you don't mind, it's actually time for me to fill out my bracket. Yeah, that's the other reason why I couldn't give you my picks. I haven't even made them yet! And believe it or not, after I publish this post, I'm gonna give this post a once over myself and begin making my final selections. Then, of course, I need to fill out my Mom's bracket, but that should be much easier. She's aleady given my strict instructions via email from Aruba. "GO CUSE!" and "No Purdue!" You got it, Mom. You got it...

Enjoy the first two rounds, everybody, and I'll be back early next week to break everything down, and let you know who I picked and how my braket is fairing...

No matter what the Christmas song says, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Let's just try not to forget that as our brackets come crumbling to the ground...

Good luck, kiddos. May all your Elite 8 teams make it through the first day, and may all the buzzer beaters be called by Gus Johnson...

Teddy Williams...
100...

#$>

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bobby Fischer Wobbles, But He Won't Fall Down...

Sa Da Tay, my damies, and welcome to the final Rooch Nation College Hoops Top 25 of the 2009-2010 college basketball season. With one caveat. There actually isn't any poll...

Yup, it's like a strip club in a town full of Weebles. Plenty of kinky, fun-lovin' action, just no pole. Ya know, because they don't have any limbs? Although for all I know they do have stripper poles at the strip clubs in Weebleville, and the egg shaped strippers just sort of dry hump against them while patrons throw spare change, Legos, and possibly Lincoln Logs at them. What was it that Frank said during last season of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia when asked if he had sex with "Gail the snail"?

"We just drank a lot of energy drinks and dry humped." Yeah, I'm sure in Weebleville it's a lot like that. OR maybe it was like when "the snail" was giving Frank a handjob under the table, which caused the fearless and brutally self secure leader of the Reynolds clan to almost sadly point out, that "now you're just mashing it"...

But breaking away from the Weeble flesh trade for a moment, I actually had quite the decision to make this week. I was debating coming out with one final look at the Top 25 teams in America before the NCAA Tournament gets started next week, but the more I thought about it, the less sense it began to make. Not only would be unnecessarily redundant with Selection Sunday a mere 5 days away, but to come out with a poll before Championship Week, where everyone 'n their brother is going to play 2 or more pivotal games, would truly be an exercise in futility. Not to mention I don't want to tip my hand any more than I already have when it comes to filling out my own, personal bracket...

Then again, in my experience people tend to read and absorb more than take direct suggestions when it comes to this thing, so it probably wouldn't be that bad after all. Unless, of course, you're the person who recently told me in one breathe that you religiously read Rooch Nation, only then to roll your eyes in doubt when you're "Who the Hell has even heard of New Mexico?" query was answered with a "They've been in my Top 25 since before the Super Bowl, and in my Top 10 since before the Olympics". Hey, whatever. I didn't ask questions when that same person, a notorious sports betting and gambling loser, stopped telling me nearly every single day how had found a new betting website that only fed him winners. What happened there, I wonder? Not totally sure, myself, but I'm willing to bet it had something to do with the fact that I knew one of the kid's working for said website had been sent home from college after wagering tuition money on a University of Michigan football game. Yeah, I'm shocked that didn't work out...

But fear not, my Pootielicious friends. While I won't be hand feeding you my bracket, pick for delicious pick, I will be giving you the heads up on key games to keep an eye on, exposing fraud teams and unearthing this year's Cinderella when I bust out next Wednesday with my 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview. For those of you not familiar, it's formatted like every other tourney breakdown you've ever read, but with the knowledge and insight that only yours truly can provide. Also for those not in the know, I'm not some Teddy-come-lately when it comes to bracket success, either. Truth be told, at this point I'd have to be considered more of a "has been" than anything else. I'm the Benny "the Jet" Rodriguez of this shit, man, with the only difference being I don't plan on having the peak of my career revolve around my creepy mustache and my pinch running abilities...

In the last 8 years, I've gone from Bobby Fischer to Amy Fisher when it comes to bracket success. Having broken into the game in 1994 and tasted my first pool win the following year in '95, I went on an unprecedented run that saw me win an average of 2.5 pools a year until tourney ending in 2001. Since then? 1 win, the smallest of my career at around $80, 3 2nd place finishes, and a whole lot over zealous picks that led to just as many middle of the pack finishes...

So what's changed? Have I lost it, or is it just the law of averages poking out it's ugly head? Obviously I'd like to think it's mostly the latter, but I often wonder if it's not a little bit of the "forest through the trees" syndrome goin' on. You know, like the more I know, the harder it is for me to make as many accurate predictions? I could totally buy into that, but to see the ways in which I've lost the past few years (that epic ending to that Illinois/Arizona game in '05 cost me a potential $2K), I think I've got a good case to prove it's been an inordinate amount of bad luck more than anything else. And I'm not tryin' to say I only lose because of bad luck, I'm not foolish. It's just that all too often in recent history my logic and reasoning hasn't been rewarded at nearly the rate it was early on in my career. Ya know, like when I had #4 Arizona in the Final Four in '97, #4 Ohio St. there in '99, and #8 Wisconsin there in 2000. Yeah, those were the good times. Not like the time I picked Oklahoma to win the National Championship in 2003, although that ended up turning out pretty good for me too...

So I guess that question is, when you check back here on Wednesday for your guide to this year's tournament, which Rooch are you going to find. Bobby Fischer OR Amy Fisher? The idiot savant OR just the plain ole idiot? Well whatever decision you come to after reading my breakdowns and predictions heading into the tournament, I'm choosing to look at it this way. When it comes to my tourney mastery, I'm no longer "Benny the Jet", and I'm now, an Ultimate Weeble. These last few years I may have been wobbling, but there's no way in Hell I'm ever gonna fall down...

And you can take that to the bank, boys and girls. To quote Frank Costanza, "I'm like a Phoenix! RISING, from Arizona!", and you best believe I'm not gonna stop til I'm back on top. That rhymes, you know it rhymes, and that's a great way to wrap things up...

Now I'm off to prepare for my weekend in NYC, where I'll be giving tourney updates LIVE via Twitter, possibly even from inside Madison Square Garden. If you're not already on board, get to Twitter and hit your man up at the username @RoochNation...

Have a great week, kids, and a great weekend. Enjoy the action, enjoy the anticipation, and I'll do my best to enjoy the Big Apple. We'll all meet back here next Wednesday, and do our best to wade through the minefield together, and see if we can't all come out on top. The prodigal son, is about to return, so make sure you're there to witness it...

WITNESS!...Be good...

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

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