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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sweet Sorrow


The more I think about it, the more the NCAA Tournament is just like an entire year's worth of college partying emotions crammed into a 3 week period...

First, it starts with an insane party, where all sorts of shit happens that you never would have expected. You meet all kinds of seemingly cool new friends, see a drunk girl go waaay too far with a tub of Land O Lakes butter and a stray dog, and leave thinking that you're a changed person thanks to the experience. You're probably wrong, but that's not really important to my point...

Then, there's the Sweet 16. Where we are now. A time where you party with a much closer knit group of friends (the chick you nicknamed "Land O Lips" has since failed out), and where your new found wisdom has you feeling good about what to expect. Well, except for the fact that you know that this is truly your last real good party of your college year. Sure, there will be a few other straggling parties to close things out. And maybe even one "official" rip to ceremonially end the campaign. But this is the real sendoff. You see most of your good friends for the last time, in the way you;re used to seeing them, and reflect upon what a fantastic time you'd had over the past 12 months...

So, yeah. It's bittersweet, the Sweet 16. And I'm not just saying that because it allows me to use that effortlessly effective play on words. Although that doesn't hurt. No, it's bittersweet because it's the last real rip of the year. And just when things really seemed to be amping up, too. But that's how it goes. It's why we love the tournament, and why every year we're aching for those first 2 weekends as if they were Meth and we were a pack of scabbed covered Floridians. And we'd be wearing jean shorts and Gator jerseys with no undershirt, obviously. Yep, ladies too. Because that just might be a lady there on the left. I think they call 'em "handsome hicks", down there. Ya know, right before they burn them at the stake...

It's OK, though. Because while it's sad knowing that this is the last party of the year and the South is intolernet, it's great knowing that there are a bunch of Floridians around to help Meth this rip out to epic proportions! That's only a metaphor, of course. Though I look at the Gulf Coast roster and I can't help but think that one of those cats could help me score a case full of cough syrup. Just sayin'...

And I'll say a little more, too. As I breakdown the penultimate weekend of the year, and let you know what I think my good friends are going to do going forward. Even see if I can't help you make a dollar or two, as I'll pick the weekend's first 8 games against the spread. Ya know, help you make back some of that bracket money you lost? I mean, you'd still have that money had you actually heeded my advice. But here we are. So let's make the best of this, and ensure that this is indeed a fitting send off for the 2013 college basketball season...

Enjoy, my friends...

Sweet 16

(2) Miami (-5) vs (3) Marquette

The report that Miami big man, Reggie Johnson, won't play on Thursday, is definitely a blow to the Hurricanes. And the betting public took notice, as that line immediately came down half a point on the news. But that's not phasing me. Sure, the loss of Johnson is a big deal for the Canes. But he's their 6th man. And it's not like Marquette is some huge team that can now expose Miami with it's size. No. Miami is still the better team. And while his latest run inches Buzz Williams closer to Tom Izzo in terms of being able to blindly move his team into the Sweet 16, his squad's spirited campaign likely ends here...

Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue may have the coolest names left in the tourney. But they're no match for Shane Larkin and Durand Scott. 'Canes probably won't "roll", but I'm betting their superior guard play should help them cover this ever shrinking numby...


(6) Arizona (+3.5) vs (2) Ohio St.

I'll be the first one to tell you that I underestimated the Wildcats. I'll also be the first one to tell that that it was because I watched them play 5-8 times this year, and was underwhelmed. Guess that's on me. But I'm not too stubborn to realize that they're playing well now, and have a chance to clip one of the tourney favorites. In a "teacher vs student", no less. As former Xavier cohorts Sean Miller and Thad Matta throw down for a chance to advance to the Elite 8. Somewhere, Xavier fans are scratching their heads and wondering where it all went wrong...

I still like Ohio St. to win this game and escape their region, as it's now rather undeniable that Thad Matta and Aaron Craft just "find ways to win". But they don't tend to do it by a very wide margin. And while this will be by far the best team Arizona has played to this point in the tournament, they should still be able to hang. They're just playing too well to get blown out. Especially by a team that doesn't blow people out...


(1) Indiana (-5) vs (4) Syracuse

I can't remember a Sweet 16 team that's received so little buzz. Not a Syracuse Sweet 16 team, any Sweet 16 team. Ever. But that'll happen when nobody believes you have a chance to win it all and you roll over two suspect squads en route to your appearance. So, yeah. There probably doesn't deserve to be any buzz surrounding this team. But still. It's odd...

Another oddity will occur if Syracuse is able to win this game. And if they are to pull off the upset, they'll likely need better than average games from both Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams. If Rak can stay out of foul trouble, and impose his presence and MCW can limit the turnovers. Then the Orange will have a chance with Triche and Fair leading the way. If those two underclassmen can't step up? Which is what I'm guessing will sadly be the case. The more talented Hoosiers will impose their will and roll to the next round...

Again, hoping that won't happen. But betting that it will. I'm a complicated man. But I wouldn't have it any other way. And neither would you. So there...


(9) Wichita St. (-4) vs (13) LaSalle

Speaking of teams that aren't getting any buzz. Both of these Cinderella squads are flying under the radar, based purely on the fact that neither is playing a team that anyone really cares about. Except of course for Tim Tebow, who bumped into Wichita St. at an airport over the weekend and gave them an impromptu pep talk.  He cares. And since this is college, and not the pros. And Tebow was the man in college. Then that's enough for me to take the Shockers...

Hearing about his speech, about how these were "the best times of your life", did kind of remind me of that scene at the end of Can't Hardly Wait, though. Remember? Trip McNeely? "Oh, and bring rubber flip flops for the shower. I got warts all over my feet."...

Poor Tim. He'll never have a chance to hook up with Amanda Beckett. What a cute face she had, too. If that is indeed her face hoovering above those two beautiful sweater cows that appear to be successfully attempting to spring free of their polyester prison. Run, my friends! Run to freedom! Before the virgin Tim tries to show you his Wildcat!...


(12) Oregon (+10) vs (1) Louisville

Much like with Arizona, I wasn't high on Oregon because I had actually watched them play and wasn't impressed. Now, however. They're playing some impressive basketball. I don't like their chances of hitting on 73% of their 3's against Louisville like they did against St. Louis. But 10 points is too many to be giving a team that itself has won by 9+ points in it's last 4 games...

As for Louisville, they're play has done nothing to suggest that they weren't worthy of the #1 overall seed. Ever since halftime of the Big East Final against Syracuse, this team has been on fire. Shooting well, rebounding well, and most of all, limiting it's turnovers. Can they can continue those 3 trends, with an emphasis on the last one, and there's no reason why this club shouldn't claim it's rightful spot in the Final Four in Atlanta...


(4) Michigan (+2) vs (1) Kansas

There wasn't a team more impressive than the Wolverines on opening weekend, and that was thanks in large part to the tandem above. Trey Burke has continued his All American play, and freshman big "March" McGary is leading a stellar supporting cast that could very well compliment the diminutive guard all the way to the National Championship. Still a ways to go, obviously. But it's great guard play that wins in March. A big reason why I like Michigan to win this game outright. They have the guards, Kansas doesn't. And they have the best guard, in Trey Burke. Ben McLemore may be the best player, but Burke is the best guard. And that distinction should go a long way towards not only pushing Michigan past Kansas, but potentially past any team that happens to get in it's way...

This is the Michigan team we saw earlier in the year. The team that was #1. Logic stands, that if they were #1 then, then they could be #1 now. I certainly wouldn't put it past them. And still at just 12 to 1 to win it all? With just 16 teams left? I've heard of value, before. But that's a little ridiculous. Win, lose or draw. You won't be able to to find anyone that watched this team play last weekend that can tell you that's a bad bet...


(3) Michigan St. (+2) vs (2) Duke

In this clash of the titans, I have to give the nod to Michigan St. and it's distinct advantage in size. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix should prove too big inside for the Dukies to handle, and while I just finished emphasizing the importance of guard play, I only point to it here because these teams are more a less a wash in the back court...

Now, if Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee can go all racist cliche, and be the cagey white guys who get the athletic black guys in foul trouble. Then maybe Duke will gain the upper hand. Barring that, Coach Splinter up there is going to need a phenomenal shooting performance, a la Kelly vs Miami, in order to have a realistic hope of taking this one down. Certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but I'm looking for probability. And my brain is telling me that more often than not, when these two squads match up, MSU's size will give them a distinct advantage...

Either way, I wouldn't doubt if this is an instant classic. So take the points, sit back, and enjoy...


(15) Florida Gulf Coast (+13) vs (3) Florida

This one also figures to be entertaining, but probably not because of the final score. Nope, mostly because of all the dunks. At least all of the "attempted" dunks. Florida Gulf Coast has been very entertaining, but they've yet to come across a group of athletes that an defend as well as the Florida Gators. And that will likely serve as their downfall. Matter of fact, it wouldn't shock me to see Billy Donovan's boys blow 'em out by 40 or so. It's just that I'm not willing to lay anyone that many points this late in the tournament. Especially a team I've been calling out all year as "shady". Just wouldn't be able to live with myself if I started riding their jocks now...

Fifteen minutes for a 15 seed. Seems appropriate enough. And as this video proves, their 15 minutes of dunktacular glory are more than likely over. Either that, or we'll all be sitting here next week watching "The Final Four Shuffle". A video that I have little doubt will feature an appearance by Lil Wayne. Coma or no coma. You know Weezy's gettin' in on that...

Twitter Picks: 138-93-11 (.593)

Well, my friends. I hope you enjoyed. Not only this post, but the whole season's worth of college basketball comments and observations that I've provided for you here at my little humble corner of the Interweb. It's been real, it's been fun. But to say that it's been "real fun" would probably be a stretch. So I'll leave it at that, and thank you once again for checking me out all season long, and allowing me to serve as the one you blame when your bracket goes to shit. Seriously, it's an honor to be able to fill that void in your life. Hopefully one day I can become your weatherman, too...

Have a good weekend, friends. And I'll catch you around this time next week. Where we'll continue to talk about college basketball, even though I just said we were done...

Adios friends. And I'll catch you on the flipman. Oh, and here are some more boobs. Ya know, because I got you all worked up earlier. Vintage boobs, at that. Sorry. I'm just really into Lindsay Lohan, these days. Something about freckled boobs covered in coke. Apparently that's one of my buttons. Who knew? (I did)...

OK, now I'm really gone. Later friends...

...and bye, Lindsay. My Colombian coated firecracker. Raaaaarrrr!


Teddy Williams...
100...

#$>

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