Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I was Wrong!...Or Was I?

I know what you're thinkin'. You're thinkin', "How is Rooch going to take Kansas losing, and spin it into him somehow being right, despite the fact that he had them #1 most of the year and winning the National title?" Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm not gonna do that. I was wrong. Kansas obviously isn't going to be winning the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship in 2007. Everyone who said I had Kansas ranked too high all year wrong, you were right. I was naive and just flat out blind, while you were wise and smarter than I can ever hope to be. HAHAHAHA. Yea right. I'm sure you thought I was really thinking all those things. I still know more than you, silly. So I got the National champ wrong for the 3rd year in a row and 4th time in the last 5 years (yea I had Oklahoma when Cuse won it all in '03). Sue me. I still reserve the right to call myself a college hoops expert, and there;s very little you can do about it! And as an expert, I find it necessary to break down the games in this weekend's Final Four...

Georgetown Hoyas vs Ohio St. Buckeyes
*I personally can't remember the last time two legit 7-footers met in a college game period, let alone the Final Four, and that's what makes this match up so intriguing. Ohio St. has 7'1" man beast Greg Oden, the "freshmen" center that blocks virtually every shot within his reach, while G'town has 7'2" Roy Hibbert, who is a great passer, great rebounder and deft around the rim. I wouldn't be shocked if these two end up hiding in zone defenses rather than risking foul trouble by guarding each other, the fact that there's two dominant big men in the game is reason alone to make it a must see. While they may be the biggest on the court, those two Goliaths probably aren't the biggest reasons their respective teams have made it to the Final Four in Atlanta. For Georgetown, it's been great guard play, led by Big East player of the year, Jeff Green. Sure, Green may have traveled in that game winning shot over Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 (and I don't care what Jay Bilas and his Duke law degree have to say about it), but the fact of the matter is, this guy can flat out ball. He can drive, dish shoot in traffic, shoot the three and is probably the only guy in the tournament that needs to be more selfish with the ball. He's gotten great contributions from Jessie Sapp (no relation to Warren), Patrick Ewing Jr (yes, it's Pat's kid), Jonathan Wallace (not related to 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace) and Jeremiah Rivers (yes unfortunately that's the son of Glenn Rivers MD even though he looks whiter than I am), but in order for the Hoyas to go all the way, Green is going to need to take over. For The Ohio St. University, Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis are going to need to step up big. Oden is a load in the middle, but he's been much more a defensive presence than a scorer so far in his college career, especially in the tournament. Lewis and Conley have carried this team, and if they can't help penetrate the methodical Hoya defense, and get the ball to work inside out for open shots, then they may be in for a long day. Don't count them out though. Hell, I thought they were by far the weakest #1 seed in the field, but they're here and Kansas and UNC are not. I still like Georgetown as my original pick to come from that side of the bracket, and as long as OSU doesn't pull another miracle comeback out their ass, John Thompson III and his crew will be dancin' one more time in the final.

UCLA Bruins vs Florida Gators
*I don't even know why I should preview this game. I mean, wasn't it just a year ago that these two teams squared off in the finals? And didn't Florida mop the floor with UCLA by 16? Well, then they are just going to do it again right? To quote Lee Corso..."Not so fast my friend!" I've been saying all year that UCLA isn't' as good as they were last year, but something about his team has me feeling they are ready for victory this season. Maybe it's the lock down D they have that made Kansas' 500 McDonalds All-Americans look like D-III scrubs, or maybe it's the fact that Ben Howland is probably the best coach in the damn country. I know, if he's so great then why was his team blown off the floor in last year's final? I don't have those answers. Matter of fact, I don't usually have any real answers, but what I do have is eyes and ears. And they're telling me not only is UCLA ready to play, but Florida is far from it. Joakim Noah is flappin' is gums about how nobody respected the Gators and they proved everyone wrong. Excuse me? You were ranked at or near the top of the polls all season long, you were ranked as the #1 overall team in the tourney, you won the SEC regular season and tournament and you were given the easiest road to the Final Four. How is that no respect? Just because you're bitter about having a chicks haircut, and having your draft stock drop faster than Tom Brady's pants, doesn't mean the rest of us didn't respect your team. And just because I'm choosing UCLA now, doesn't mean I'm disrespecting the Gators. It's just tough to repeat, and the Bruins are a tough squad. Lok for this one to at least be a lot closer than the final last year, and for whoever wins this to cake walk to the 2007 NCAA National Championship.

*And one final college hoops topic I want to cover is the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky. Tubby Smith stepped down as coach this past week (many think right before he was to be fired) and took the head job at Minnesota. A step backward for him to be sure, but apparently he wanted out of the fish bowl that is Lexington. Hey, when you're the only game in town, sometimes the pressure is too much. I don't blame the guy, but the fact is he needs to be replaced. The hot name right out of the gate is former Pitino assistant at Kentucky and current Florida head coach, Billy Donovan. From what I've heard, he's more likely to head to the NBA if he goes anywhere, and why would he want to go there to begin with? Florida will pay him whatever he wants, and he's created a better program there than exists in Kentucky. Maybe his ego will tell him to go be the man in Kentucky, but I would have to lean towards no on that one. My pick for the job would have to be Tom Crean of Marquette. Michigan St.'s Tom Izzo, A&M's Billy Gillespie and Gonzaga's Mark Few are also big names out there, but I don't see any of them jumping. Izzo and Gillespie are already at big schools where they can build their own legend, while rumor has it Mark Few isn't going to leave for anything less than the Arizona job. Crean, on the other hand, looks prime to make the jump. He can recruit, he can coach and unless he's trying to go "Duke" at Marquette, this move makes sense for him. There's only so far you can go coaching at Marquette, Big East or no Big East. At Kentucky, Crean would have available to him the top talent in the country, and he'd really be able to see how good he actually is. Off course, after all that being said, watch Pitino come back and take the job. I know he just came out and said he doesn't want to leave Louisville, but ask the people in Providence, New York and hell even Kentucky how much water that holds (don't ask about him in Boston if you value your life). Even better, watch fat man Rick Majerus get the job. Yea I know, apparently nobody has been listening to his analysis on TV these past few years or they would realize that he can't even talk and breathe at the same time, let alone coach a division 1 power. Keep an eye on this situation though, because knowing Kentucky, and knowing Pitino, this thing's gonna get hotter than black market sales of Anna Nicole's ovaries.

Red Sox Update
*All the buzz in Red Sox Nation has been about the move of stud pitcher Jonathan Papelbon from the starting rotation to the bullpen. From what I've heard, most people are in favor of the move. After all, the Sox bully has been a disaster this Spring. Newcomers Joel Piniero and Brendan Donnelly haven't exactly impressed, and hold overs like Manny Del Carmen and Craig Hansen have yet to prove they have what it takes to handle the role. It looked as if the team was ready to hand the reigns over to Mike Timlin, but now that he's on the DL to start the year, Theo and friends felt as if moving Jon back to closer was the only way to solidify the pitching staff. While I can't really argue with that logic, it's what the team has said in the past that has me worried. What happened to the doctor's that told the Sox Papelbon's arm wasn't able to handle the rigors of being a closer? I thought pitching 3-4 times a week and the constant warming up and cooling down was going to kill this kid? Never mind the fact that I was looking forward to watching this kid contend for the Cy Young award and win close to 20 games, I wanna know if this move was made simply of of desperation. Could it be the team was misleading us before? Maybe Papelbon's arm is fine and they just wanted to try justifying moving one of the best closers in the league to the starting rotation. I can't say that makes me trust the front office very much, but at least that would mean he was healthy and capable right? And don't think this is a temporary solution. The way they baby pitchers in the majors these days, if Pap starts the season in the pen, they're gonna keep him in the pen. They don't want to have to send him to AAA Pawtucket and "stretch him out", because Lord knows what that could do to his "delicate" arm. Seeing as Dice K and Beckett have been so good this off season, I gotta say I'm a little less worried about this move, but I still wish he was in the rotation. Hopefully I'll be singing a different tune in a few months, but only time will tell. And as long as we're on it, I hope that tune is Brass Bonanza since I hear the Whalers might be returning to Hartford! You heard right! But that's a different story for a different day my friends.

*Take from this what you will. After tossing 5 no hit innings and striking out 6 on Monday, reporters say that Sox #1 import Daisuke Matsuzaka looked flat out sad in the locker room afterwards. Sure, I can understand being disappointed after walking 5 guys in 5 innings, but 5 base runners in 5 innings isn't exactly a bad thing. Don't get me wrong, it's not a great thing either, but nothing to pout over. My main reason for bringing this instance up though, is what his reaction could mean in the long run. On one hand, you gotta love the perfectionist side of this guy. It was said that in Japan he would throw pitches in the bullpen even after he pitched in a game, just to get some extra work in and try to fix any problems he had during the game. Hey, the guy loves to pitch, and when he doesn't meet his lofty standards, he takes it hard on himself. Maybe that's what we were seeing after this particular outing. But maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to see the side of this guy that won't be able to handle the pressure cooker that is Boston during those long summers. You know the media is going to be hard on him, so for him to be hard on himself like this is flat out unnecessary, and will probably lead to him being very frustrated. All I know is, this isn't the team to be on if you're prone to emotional peaks and valleys, just ask Carl Everett. On second thought, don't ask Carl, he probably just get up in your face and bump you in the chest, or hit a dinger when his team is down 11 and act like he won the World Series. Wait, I'm totally off track now. Stupid Carl Everett. Anyway, back to the point. While Dice-K has looked good this Spring, we have to be just as concerned with his mental strength as we do his physical strength, and this latest action has really thrown a Gyro Ball into the whole thing. Can he thrive under the pressure? I think he can. But not if he's letting too many walks in a Spring game get to him. Go slam a few Japanese brewskis my man. it'll all be better in the morning. If that doesn't work, just hit a ball off of Matt Clement's leg. I don't know if that will help, but God it would be doing the rest of us a huge favor. Konichiwa!

*Just a reminder. The Red Sox season will begin on Monday April 2nd when the Sox travel to Kansas City to take on the Royals. Looks like Schill will be on the mound to start the season, which is a good thing, and it's always a good thing when you play the Royals isn't it?

News and Notes

*Apparently, though a lot of us sometimes wonder, there is actually a God. Why do i suddenly know this you ask? No, I haven't been incarcerated. Nor has the almighty appeared to me in a dream. To be honest with ya, most of the time I just dream about being at parties and hot chicks, and yes sometimes those women are drenched in delicious oils. But back to the point here. I know there's a higher power out there for this one sole reason. ESPN removed Joe Theisman from the Monday Night Football booth. Thank the Lord. I understand a lot of people aren't huge fans of Tony Kornheiser in the booth either, but if Theisman stayed in the booth one more game, I was going to start cutting myself, and for real this time! He's just always been one of those guys that when he opens his mouth you say "Wait, you played the game and won a Super Bowl?" I've been listening to the guy for years, since his days on Sunday Night Football, and I don't think he's made a single viable point, or a single intriguing observation. And when they added Kornheiser to purposely butt heads with Theisman, shit just hit the fan. Joe didn't understand what the dynamic was supposed to be, and always came off as if his feelings were hurt. Well Joe, you'll have plenty of time to cry now that you're not on MNF. And feel free to change the pronounciation of your last name again to try and land a new gig. No, I don't think you'd sound cool as Joe TheisMonday Night Football.

*I'm not one that tries to create mass hysteria (although maybe that would be a much more effective way of increasing my number of readers), but sometimes I need to be the bearer of bad news. The bad news this time, is that Patriots second year running back, and my personal hero, Laurence Maroney, underwent shoulder surgery this week that could keep him on the sideline up until close to the start of the season. League sources say that the surgery revealed Maroney had "fairly significant damage" to his shoulder, and it's still unclear how long the rehab may be. Pats spokesman, Stacey James (yes that's a dude for those who don't know), didn't have a comment on how this would effect Maroney's involvement in the off season conditioning program, but seeing as the Pats never comment on that stuff, you can't take much from that. Maroney is coming off a great rookie season to be sure, but he's also coming off a season in which he tore rib cartilage and suffered a minor knee sprain. Doesn't sound all that good now does it? But hey, would the Pats have parted so easily with Corey Dillon if they thought Maroney would be dinged up for the entire 2007 season? I wouldn't think so. Unless of course they were clearing cap space to bring in another RB. Geez. Another double edged sword. You know the more I write the more I'm worrying myself with this thing. And when I look at how Maroney's production dropped off (4.3 yards per carry in regular season, 2.8 in the playoffs), it worries me even more. But I'm not gonna lose faith. Keep these 3 things in mind. 1) It's only March 2) Maroney is young and can recover quickly from injuries, and 3) It's the Pats, you knows how much info we are actually getting on how healthy he is right now. All I wanna say at this point is get well soon Laurence! Not just because I have his jersey, but because if he's hurt I may have to change my Pats prediction to have them going 15-1 or God forbid, 14-2. Ewww.

*"Cut That Meat" hosted SNL this weekend. And to be honest, from the clips I've seen, he looked pretty damn funny. Now I know nobody watches SNL anymore. Frankly, even if I were still home on Saturday nights, or if the show aired at a different time, I probably wouldn't watch it because I don't think I can name a single person on there anymore (can I get maybe some Daryl Hammond or Tim Meadows?). But that doesn't take away from the fact that the NFL's favorite hick (sorry Favre, it's over buddy. Make sure to wash down your next "dose of pills" with some JD), Peyton Manning, did a damn good job as host. I hate giving Manning props and all, but hey when you're funny, you're funny. And who knows funny better than me? If you answered "no one", then you're correct. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself though. It's almost as enjoyable as watching Peyton drilled into the turf by Richard Seymour, without the screaming and cheering of course.

*I guess I can't say that I talk about all the is sport without touching on the National Basketball Association once in a blue moon. And who better to talk about when it comes to the NBA than Colorado's favorite son, Kobe "Wait, I thought she said No, Don't Stop!" Bryant. I mean, when a guy becomes the first player since Wilt Chamberlain, and only the second all time to score 50 or more points in 4 straight games. Pretty sick, especially for an accused rapist. Bryant didn't really stop there either, netting 43 in his attempt to make it 5 straight 50+ games. I may despise the guy for his pompous attitude and hatred for my main man Shaq Daddy, but anyone that averages 53.6 points a game for any time period deserves some props. And believe me, I'd love to take this opportunity to tell you that even I could score that many points if given the amount of shots Kobe's taking, or that he isn't making his team better with all these shots, but it just ain't the case. Not only are the Lakers 5-0 in this stretch (after being winless in their previous 7 games), but Kobe is shooting 53% from the field and a sizzling 48% from 3 in that span. That man can sure ball, no doubt about it. But that doesn't change the fact that he cheats on his wife and has no real friends! Ha! Had to sneak that in there to keep my sanity. That's what you get for stealing my number you huge toolmanski!

*And just when he thought I forgot, I pulled him back in! (Godfather III anyone?) In that instance, Michael Corleone was talking about the new era mafia, namely Joey Zasa. In this instance, I'm talking about Isiah Thomas, coach of the New York Knicks. Good ole Zeek prolly thought that in the midst of the NCAA tourney, NFL free agency and various other news that I'd miss the fact that he was actually given a contract extension! Well you aren't nearly as lucky as it may appear my friend, because I miss nothing! But seriously, a contract extension for this guy? This only proves my original point, that owner James Dolan is just as big a moron as Thomas! I'll be the first to tell you that the Knicks have improved with Isiah as coach this year, but its' pretty hard not to improve on a 23-59 record isn't it? And it's not like they're blowing that record out of the water, going 30-40 so far this season. To make matters worse, when Zeke was given the extension the Knicks actually sat in 7th in the playoff race, while right now they currently sit 10th, 2 full games out of the final spot. Honestly, I think it's a miracle the guy hasn't been canned, let alone have his contract extended. Am I the only one that remembers how eager New Yorkers were to get this guy out of town last year? The only reason he's coaching, for cryin' out loud, is because Dolan basically said to him "you created this mess, so you better fix it, or you're gone". Well, I'm no Mr. Fix-It, but nothing seems fixed to me. Duct taped? Possibly. But I wouldn't say fixed. To put it simply, the team may be better than last year, but they still aren't good. And as long as Isiah is in the organization, I don't see the future getting any brighter. Lucky for me I hate the NBA, and the last Knick I liked was John Starks. Come on now, that man was a straight gangsta. Oh yea, maybe Anthony Mason too. He had some pretty ill haircuts back in the day.

NCAA Pool Breakdown
Current Leader: Johnny "Sun Chips" Ahern - Has all 4 Final Four teams (one of 4 entries with all 4)
Total: 107 points

*Some would argue that I should use this opportunity to break down exactly who wins in each of the 8 possible outcomes of the Final Four, but I'm not gonna. And you can't make me! Good luck to everyone still alive though!

*Curiosity got the best of me. After about a week of watching ads for the new Right Guard body spray, I absolutely needed to know who the chick in the ads were. Something about her just screamed "Doesn't it look like Denise Richards had a white hot sex baby with Jennifer Love Hewitt?", and I needed to know who it was. I'm not gonna stalk her or anything, but having her name will make it a lot easier for me to search for phony sex tapes....I mean wallpaper for my desk top. Thankfully for you, I found her name, and it's April Scott. She's hot, you know she's hot, and you're welcome. Google Images awaits you my friends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rock, Chalk, Predator Stalk?

Looks like we all wasted our valuable bracket time this year looking for Cinderella, because apparently she decided to stand up the prince this year. Maybe she's "riding the red wave", or at home "re-organizing her sock drawer", but whatever she's doin', she's not at the Big Dance. For the first time in forever, and in a year following #11 seeded George Mason's run to the Final Four, not a single double digit seed has advanced into the Sweet 16. Personally, even though I had both a #12 and a #14 in Sweet 16 (damn you Oral Rob!), I can't say I'm shocked, nor am I truly disappointed. Yea, I'll buy the argument that the first 4 days of the tourney were possibly the most boring in recent memory, but what does that even mean? First of all, day 3 was the shit. Four OT games, one in double OT and the Ohio St./Xavier game which almost single-handedly busted 60% of the brackets in the entire country. And second l, even the NCAA tourney at it's most boring is better than anything in sport short of maybe the NFL playoffs. So disappointing, yea I'll buy that. But boring? Please. Take your whinin' and go watch yourself some great NBA action. Let me know when you can count an insatnce in which all 5 guys on the floor are running or show me 3 plays in a row where they actually run a set offsensive play. But back to the actual action on the floor. I have to toot my own horn at this time and say that it truly looks like the Kansas Jawyhawks are the class of this field, followed closely by North Carolina. Both squads, coming off great regular seasons and post season titles, stomped out thier first round gimmies, and followed those with big wins over big programs in Kentucky and Michigan St. respectively. Even with the defending champion Gators in the field, and the Georgetown Hoyas looking methodically dominant, you gotta love the chances of the Jawyhawks and the Heels. They have the best guard play, they have the defensive agression, and they each have enough big guys down low to bash around with anyone. As far as upsets and good games to watch for in the Sweet 16, look for the Oregon/UNLV game to possibly be one of the tourneys best. Both teams can rebound, penetrate, and shoot the hell out of the 3. And just because Kevin Kruger transfered to play for his dad even after graduating from Arizona St. (sketchy NCAA loophole), doesn't mean the Rebs are all softies. And look out for the Tennessee Vols. Not only do they get an Ohio St. team that's living on borrowed time, but they have been red hot to start the tourney, blowing out Long Beach St. (damn!) and disposing of the Virginia Cavs. I didn't have the Vols makin this much noise, but now that they're hittin' their stride, I like their draw the rest of the way. Bruce Pearl is a maniac coach, and if they can continue to play with naked agression on D and shoot lights out, even a 43 year old freshmen won't be able to stop them...

Tourney News and Notes
*Looking back on the predictions I had after the first round of the tourney, I realized I don't totally suck at predicting things. I predicted that both #11 seeds (VCU and Winthrop) would win, and they both lost. OK, so that wasn't so hot. But, I also predicted that at least one of the #7 seeds would make it to the Sweet 16, and UNLV did so by beating Wisconsin. In fact, Indiana gave UCLA such a good run for their money that I was almost 2 for 2 there. But let's not get greedy. Finally, my third prediction was that not all the #1 seeds would make it out of the Sweet 16. Now, while the Sweet 16 hasn't happened yet, the way Ohio St. and Florida have been playing, I have to say I feel pretty good about how that one is shakin' down. I don't think the Gators will have all that much trouble with Butler, but combine the way Ohio St. has been playing with the way Tennessee has been playing, and the Buckeyes could be in some serious trouble. Like I said, the Vols are hot, and the Bucks are not. And I'm not buyin' the "Oh every team that wins it always looks back on that one they almost lost early in the tourney". Ohio St. just has trouble scoring, period. That's why they almost lost to Xavier, and that's why they aren't long for this dance. Get the ball to Oden. And Oden! Dunk the damn ball. I didn't turn the game on to watch the black Will Purdue for crying out loud! Throw it down big man! Oh man I can't believe I just stole a Bill Waltonism. Somebody cut me with a rusty spork. NOW!

*Coming into the tourney, all people wanted to talk about was how certain conferences were getting special treatment, while others were getting shafted by the selection committee. Well, here's a look at how each of the 6 major conference has fared so far in the Big Dance:

ACC: 6-6 (7 teams in tourney, 1 Sweet 16 team)

Big East: 6-4 (6 teams in tourney, 2 Sweet 16 teams)

Big 10: 6-5 (6 teams in tourney, 1 Sweet 16 team)

Big XII: 5-2 (4 teams in tourney, 2 in Sweet 16)

SEC: 7-2 (5 teams in tourney, 3 in Sweet 16)

Pac 10: 7-3 (6 teams in, 3 in Sweet 16)

So, just to review. The Big 10 and the ACC sent a combined 13 teams to the tourney, yet only had 2 left standing, and they are both #1 seeds. And while the Pac 10 and the SEC are the conferences doing the most work, it still doesn't mean that Stanford and Arkansas should have been in (they both got run in the first round). What I take from these results is that the power conferences are top heavy. All the more reason for the lesser teams in the power conferences to be left out of the dance in favor of better teams from smaller conferences. Except for Syracuse of course, seeing as they are now just a few wins away from that prestigious NIT title after dusting both South Alabama and San Diego St. Woo hoo!

*I've always said, I will never go out of my way to watch or listen to an event because of a certain broadcaster, but there are some out there that will either make me continue watching, or change the channel. Well, now that the NCAA tournament has started, I'm reminded of the guy that originally captured my interest in this great tourney, CBS's Gus Johnson. I've always loved the tourney, but it was a game in 2000 between #2 seed St. Johns and #15 seed Northern Arizona that exposed me to the raw emotion and excitement that is Gus Johnson. I can still remember as the 7-foot center on NAU, Dan McClintock, made a turn around attempt to win the game and Gus just went "McClintock. Turn around jumperrrrrrrrr...NO! And the Lumberjacks dream will fall short, and the Johnnies survive!" I was reminded of that this weekend as Johnson made the call for the Ohio St./Xavier game. When Ohio St.'s Ron Lewis made a 3 pointer to force overtime, all Johnson could muster was a sound halfway between a heart attack and a scream, or "ohhhhhowwwwwwohhhh!" Man I love this time of year, and you gotta love the guy that oozes emotion through the TV set, Gus Johnson.

News and Notes
*"Baby steps". In order to change the habits that are wrong with your life, you need to take small baby steps towards change. And that's exactly what it appears the Cincinnati Bengals are doing in trying to repair their reputation as a bunch of law breakers. Instead of actually committing the crime, this time Bengal Levi Jones was only involved. It was former Steeler and current Dolphin Joey Porter that was the instigator. According to multiple sources, Porter and Jones got into a little scuffle at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas while playing some blackjack. The feud then escalated and moved outside where Jones claims that Porter hit him and allegedly stole some of his jewelry. Now, I understand that these guys don't like to take shit from anyone, and I realize that these guys had some beef on the playing field too, but I'm still gonna go ahead and call both of them idiots. Imagine if this was your thought process: "Hmmm. There's that guy I hate. What should I do? I know! I'm gonna booze up a little and go talk to smack to him at the blackjack table. Then, when he tries to talk back, I'm gonna smack him in the mouth! Yea, I'm the fuckin' man!" Well, it looks like that was Porter's thought process and, surprise surprise, it got him into trouble. Hasn't the Pac Man Jones incident taught these guys anything? Stay out of strip clubs, stay out of casinos and stay out of Vegas!! Vegas is for guys like me to waste my hard earned loots, not for guys like Porter to smack around offensive lineman. And of course the best part of this story, is that it wasn't a Bengal actually getting arrested! Sure, maybe they still need to learn how to stay away from booze/stripper/gambling/nigh club spots, but hey, if I'm Marvin Lewis and the organization, I see this as a giant leap forward. Cheers to you Cincy for taking the high road, formerly known as Pac Man Jones Blvd.

*Michael Jordan, Don Nelson, Danny Ainge. What do these three men have in common? If you said they're all Mormon, you're wrong. If you said they all have gambling addictions, I'm pretty sure you're still wrong. And if you said they are three guys that can't quite get it through their heads that they should no longer be in basketball, then you're right! It just wasn't where I was goin' with the story. is reporting that the Celtics were fined $30,000, and the Bobcats and Warriors each $15,000 for illegal contact with both Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. In Ainge's case, he was sat next to Durant's mother during the Big XII title game, and struck up a conversation with her. Now, for once I don't think this is Danny Ainge's fault. He didn't chose the seat (contrary to a lot of idiots out there who are just assuming that), and his team doesn't even have the option of drafting Durant if the lottery balls don't bounce their way. Sure, Ainge probably should have gotten up and moved when he realized who he was sitting next to, but by no means do I think he did all of this intentionally. Besides, Durant's mother said she wasn't even aware of who was sitting next to her. I mean, she knew it was a Mormon cracka, but that's prolly all she knew. However, while I don't really think Ainge did anything wrong here, if it somehow is a just cause for the Celts to fire it, then I am all for it. Cracka! But the real surprise for me in this whole instance, is Jordan being fined. He is Michael Jordan! You know, his Airness? He and Nelly got dinged 15 K each for talkin' to Greg Oden's peeps. Of course his people talked to MJ. You think he needed to go up to them? How is it Jordan's fault that he's the man and pimps wanna chat him up? Listen NBA, just stick to fining the pasty white washed up ex Celts like Nelly and Ainge, and let Mikey bask in the glory that is Mikey. Oh and for the record, MJ says there's nothin' wrong with runnin' your yap to 300 LB guys in casinos. He just always makes sure it's Charles "Sir Cumference" Barkley, and not some nasty O lineman. And no Charles, you still can't play HORSE with MJ and Bird for a Big Mac, so go practice your golf swing. You make Stevie Hawking look like a touring pro. HA HA HA...HA HA HA

*I'd like to preface this next little tidbit by saying there is nothing funny about this diabetes and I am in no way making fun of people with it or making it seem like an insignificant disease. That being said, is anyone surprised at the announcement that former Red Sox and Yankee and current San Diego Padre David Wells has been diagnosed with diabetes? All this guy does is drink, smoke, eat and stay up all night. I guess I'm just surprised that all this didn't happen sooner. But fear not Wells fans. Boomer claims he has already cut booze, bread and sugar out of his diet, and he's committed to making sure his diabetes doesn't escalate to Type 2, the much more dangerous version of the disease. Wells voiced that his main conern about the disease worsening was that he might lose a limb or two down the road. God, please don't fall off the wagon Boomer. I shudder to think what you might look like with no arms and no legs. Note to the Syracuse Mascot....your job may be in jeopardy...send vegtables and fruit immediately C/O David Wells San Diego, CA. In all seriousness though, I wish Wells all the best. And heck, if he manages to get healthy and drop some LBs, then maybe he'll be tossing that soft junk for another 5-10 years. And there's nothin' wrong with that in my book.

*Pete Rose is at it again. First, he didn't bet on baseball. Next, like 20 years later, he did bet on baseball, but only on his team and only to win. Now, another 5 years or so later, Rose is saying that he bet every night on the team he was managing, the Cincinatti Reds, to win. OK, so hold on a minute. Not only does Pete Rose want me to believe that he cheated the game of baseball and dishonored the tradition of the sport, but he wants me to believe he is possibly the worst gambler of all time! Everyone that bets, knows that baseball is tough to win with in the first place, but betting on any team 162 times in a row is simply ludicrous. Also, consider that during his 3 seasons as full time manager of the Reds, they were only 5 games above .500. I know that doesn't mean he lost all those games that the Reds lost (they could have covered the spread and still lost), but I do know that means he wasn't exactly rakin' in the cakes. Rose claims since he thought the Reds were going to win every night, he wanted to bet on them. You know, cuz he had such faith in them. Well, I got a different take. In my opinion, Rose was told to say this by someone behind the scenes, like an agent, manager or friend. They figured, maybe it would help his image if people knew he was only betting on the Reds, and only betting on them to win. WRONG. First off, I don't believe that. Secondly. When baseball investigated Rose, they found he only bet on the Reds when certain guys were pitching, so that doesn't jive. And thirdly, the man has basically made his name in my lifetime as a liar. Sure, I know he's the All Time hits leader, but I'm quickly becoming one of the few in my generation that knows him as anything other than a gambler and a disgrace to the game. So, nice try Petey, but if you're thinkin' that this latest admission will be enough to get you into the Hall of Fame....I wouldn't bet on it! HA! Still, to this day, the only good thing that Pete has goin' for him, is that he was fortunate enough to have a Methed-out Tom Sizemore portray him on the big screen! Well it was made for TV, but I'd still be honored. And of course by honored I mean insulted to the point of considering suicide.

NCAA Pool Breakdown
Current Leader - Sabby Petti: 1st rd - 26/32, 2nd rd: 14/16, Total: 54 points

*The news from the second round of the tourney wasn't as good for some as for others. For me, while I got 12 of a possible 14 games right (I had two Sweet 16 teams eliminated in the first round so I could only get a max of 14), I got my first 12 picks correct, and lost my last two. To make matters worse, one of my losses was an Elite 8 team in Texas, and the other was Nevada. While I only had the Wolfpack winning that one game, it was a pick that nobody else had that would have paid big dividends for me. However, I shouldn't be bitchin'. Unlike almost everyone (save maybe Sabby and Ilk), I did have the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in the Sweet 16, and actually have them advancing past Oregon into the Elite 8. Also, I was lucky enough to make it through the first 4 days of the tourney without losing my National champ. I can't say the same for the 4 entrants that had either Kentucky, Louisville or Texas. Sucks for them. I on the other hand still have Kansas, a team that is now being heralded as the "surprise #1" of the tourney. At the risk of tempting fates, I'd just like to throw a big "I told you so" out there to everyone saying that now. I told you Kansas was the ill-tastic-mother-funkers, but you didn't want to listen, did ya?! Funny how a team with 3 All-American caliber point guards (Collins, Robinson, Chalmers), two of the most athletic swingmen in the nation (Julian Wright, JaRon Rush), and some serious bangers down low (Sasha "Chaka" Kaun, Darnell Jackson) could be a title contender. If your still alive in the tourney, and many of you still are, you prolly wanna check out the people ahead of you in the standings with the same champ as you. I'm not telling you who those people are, because that requires way too much work on my part, but here's how many of you still have your champ alive.

Most Common Champion: Florida (6) , Georgetown (4), Ohio St. (3), UCLA (2), Kansas, UNC, Memphis

*And just another reminder. If you haven't sent your money in yet, do so immediately so it can get here by this weekend. The address info is still up on the tourney site if you need it.

And finally, while I like to try and keep this blog to strictly sporting news, I could not resist this next story. All of you know Chris Hansen, and love watching his show on Dateline NBC, To Catch a Predator. Now, instead of having Hanson catch petafiles on camera, NBC sent him undercover to help stop an illegal credit card scam that was goin' down. Sure, it doesn't sound nearly as entertaining as a guy driving 90 miles with a bag full of wine, fireworks, condoms and porn to meet a 13 year old they met on the Internet, but give it a shot. The special hasn't aired yet, but Hanson had this juicy piece of the story to relay to Opie and Anthony the other day. Let me set the stage. Hanson is meeting up with the guy that is going to make the illegal purchase, and the two of them are waiting for the third party to bring them the stolen goods. The man waiting with Hanson, does not know that he is being taped, or that he is being set up for that matter, when this conversation ensued...

Hansen - "So where did you meet this woman that we are waiting for?"
Crook - "Actually, I met her in a chat room on the Internet."
Hansen - "Oh, really?"
Crook - "Yeah. But you have to be careful in those things these days."
Hansen - "Why's that?"
Crook - "If you're not careful, that guy from To Catch a Predator will get you. Have you seen that show?"
Hansen - "Why yes I have."
Crook - "Oh man. Did you see the one where the catch the guy for a second time? That was hysterical!"
Hansen - "Yea that was funny, I love that show." (prolly thinkin' to himself...."Not as funny as this!")

Now, we will all have to wait for the actual show to air in order to figure out how that thing ends, but you know it's gonna be good. Kinda makes me wish I still actually knew what the schedule was for network TV. Eh, whatever. Anyone down for some under aged chat room action? I'll bring the beer if you bring the under cover TV crew. God Bless America, and the people that live here, make drugs in their basements, and attempt to solicit little kids online. If not for you, what would we watch on TV?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Sweet and The Sour

Here's the deal. I could spend my time here telling you why I made the mistakes I made in the first round, but what good is that going to do anybody? I mean, just because I picked against teams I knew were better than their opponent (i.e Louisville, BC, Washington St.) doesn't mean I should try to excuse myself for doing so. Simply put, I out-guessed myself...that's right...again. But hey, it ain't all bad. Oral Rob may be headin back to wherever the hell they're from, but so are the unbearable Dukies. And even though I tanked and went 11/16 on day 1 (slightly better at 12/16 on day 2), I have a silver lining. Apparently, nobody listens to me, and I was the only member of my 22 entry NCAA pool to pick the Kansas Jayhawks as the National Champ. Consider my hopes permenantly harnessed to that Kansas wagon folks. ROCK. CHALK. JAYHAWK! Here's a little look at how I felt the rest of the first round shook down.

First Round Breakdown
Upset City
(3) Washington St. 70 Oral Roberts 54
*Fine, this wasn't an upset. In reality, it was a 9 point favorite winning by 16. In my mind, it was a crushing blow to my Final FOral Rob campaign. That's what you get for trying to predict a Cinderella! I really should know better. But honestly, if you had the will power to resist picking a team named Oral Rob, then I'm not sure I want to even be your friend.

(11) VCU 79 (6) Puke 77
*Duke losing...check. The first tourney upset...check. Finally a good tourney game after 8 snoozers....check. Greg Paulus on the ground all night crying and bitchin'...check mate. Good bye Coach K, good bye Josh McFlurry, and good bye Greg "too good for D-1 football" Paulus. Some say the tourney isn't nearly as good without Duke in it, but not me. This isn't the Masters, and they are not Tiger Woods. The tourney can thrive without the Dukies, and matter of fact, I'm looking forward to watching it do so.

(11) Winthrop 74 (6) Notre Dame 64
*Much like Creighton, up until I saw Winthrop's draw for the tourney, I had a solid feeling I would be penciling them into the Sweet 16. However, again like Creighton, they ran into a team in the first round that I figured was the absolute worst match up for them, the Fighting Irish. I knew the Eagles were seeded way too low, I just couldn't bring myself to pull them through to the next wrong. Hope you were smarter than I was, and by that I mean you listened to what I said before the tourney started regarding Winthrop. Now, much like VCU, you gotta love Winthrop's chances to sneak past a weak #3 in the Oregon Ducks and into the Sweet 16.

Thanks for Stoppin' By
(11) Stanford
*All the people that thought the Tree should have stayed at home were right. Of course I took them as one my token "there's gotta be one team I think has no shot that's gonna win a game" pick. Another instance of, if I listened to myself I would have been better off. Which begs to question, who the hell am I listening to?

(10) Texas Tech
*NOTE: Never again pick a Bobby Knight team in the NCAA tourney. Downside of that is, this may have been my last chance to follow that advice at the rate he's goin'. I would, however, now like to bet that someone is getting choked or slapped in Lubbock, Texas.

(11) George Washington
*Smacked around by Vanderbilt? Good day I say...

(8) Marquette
*I'd like to lie and say I didn't see this comin' because I really like Tom Crean, Dominic James and Marquette, but I can't. Without their best defender and one of their better scorers in Jerel McNeal, the Golden Eagles were helpless. Oh, and only making 5 two point field goals the entire game (zero in the first half), isn't gonna really help your cause either. And yea, I said 5 field goals, but I didn't say Stephen Gostkowski or Adam Vinatieri. Who'd have thunk it.

(12) Long Beach St.
*Apparently picking a team because they represent the place Snoop Dogg is from is not a great strategy. All kidding aside, I picked them because they could score, and by netting 86 they proved they could. It was the 121 they gave up to Tennessee (a first round record) that I wasn't counting on. Then again, who better to handle a run and gun mid major squad than former Wisconsin-Milwaukee head man and current Volunteer coach, Bruce Pearl.

(12) Arkansas
*The Razorbacks were public enemy #1 after making the field, and they did little to improve their popularity. They hung with USC for about a half, and then were promptly run out of the bu idling. So, to recap, of the three "bubble teams" (Stanford, Illinois and Arkansas), two were blown out in round one. Anyone who still wants to tell me that the right 65 teams made the field no longer has my respect or attention for that matter.

Shaky Chalk
(3) Texas A&M 68 (14) Penn 52
*After flip-flopping between Nevada, Ohio St. and A&M to win the South region, I finally decided on the Aggies as my pick. Needless to say, they promptly went out and fell behind in the first half to the Penn Quakers. Sure, they eventually pulled away and won the game by 16, but it was a less than inspirational performance. 55% from the free throw line and 8 bench points aren't exactly signs that this squad is ready for a deep tourney run.

(2) Memphis 73 (15) North Texas 58
*If you wanted proof that Memphis was a little shaky and untested heading into the tourney, you got it in the first round. Sure, they may have been up for most of the game, but anyone that watched didn't see a dominant team ready for a deep run that's for sure. 16 turnovers, 40% shooting and 25% from 3-pointers aren't exactly stats that a 2 should have when facing a 15. I know a win is a win, but I'd be worried if I had Memphis in my corner.

(2) Wisconsin 76 (15) A&M Corpus Cristi 63
*The 13 point win looks somewhat better when you consider the Badgers were down 8 at halftime, but not by much. Unlike Memphis, Wisconsin's issue was more on the boards than in the back court, which is an even scarier thought as far as advancing. Without 8 rebound a game Brian Butch down low, the Badgers only had a +1 rebounding edge against the lowly Islanders. I didn't like their chances before the tourney started, and after watching them in round 1, I'd have to say they are going to have their hands full with the UNLV Runnin' Rebs.

Sweet 16 Predictions
1) The #7 seeds finally had a year where they went undefeated against the dreaded #10 seeds, and I look for their luck to continue. Look for Nevada, UNLV, and Indiana to be prime to upset their #2 seed counterparts in the 2nd round. That being said, Boston College will probably run Georgetown out of the gym, but because I don't want that to happen I don't have to predict it! In all honesty though, the Hoyas are the lone #2 seed that I feel has a safe match up in round 2 against their former Big East mate, and should cruise into the Sweet 16.

2) At least one #1 seed won't make it out of the second round. I'm not saying I saw anything in particular in the first round to tell me this, but looking at 2nd round match ups I see a few that don't set up so well for the top dogs. Florida is facing a Purdue squad that's going to beat them up on both ends of the floor, and UNC is facing a Michigan St. team that, while maybe not nearly as talented, has arguably the best coach in the modern day of the NCAA tournament, Tom Izzo. You also gotta love the fact that all the #1 seeds are facing programs that have plenty of experience toppling Goliaths in March and making deep tourney runs of their own.

3)There will be two #11 seeds in the Sweet 16. Like I said earlier, both Virginia Commonwealth and Winthrop are just as primed for the upset in round 2 as they were in round 1. VCU is facing a Pitt team that has trouble scoring and a center in Aaron Gray that has a tendency to disappear from time to time, while Winthrop is flat out a better team than Oregon. Funny thing about these games though, is they should basically be polar opposites. Winthrop and Oregon will be flying up and down the floor, to the tune of 80 points each. VCU/Pitt, meanwhile, could easily end up having more bricks than a Colombian wedding .

NCAA Pool Breakdown

Current Leader - Sean P 27/32 picks correct (Final Four: UNC, Texas A&M, Kansas, Florida)

Most Common Champion - Florida (6), Georgetown (4), Ohio St. (3), UCLA + Texas (2), Kansas, Kentucky, UNC, Memphis, Louisville (1)

Hey, everyone made it through round 1 without losing their National Champ! Congrats to us all. A lot of people took lumps when Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Duke went down (and Frosco took lumps on all 3), but for the most part everyone is still looking pretty solid. Now it's time for round 2 though, which is where the carnage will truly begin. For all those in the pool, I'd find whoever has the same champion as you do, and cheer against all the teams you don;t have in common with them. That's how you win, and isn't that what this is all about?!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

NCAA Tourney Central

I know that the Patriots are busy signin' up every available wide receiver with a pulse. And the Knicks are giving Isiah Thomas an extension despite the fact the Knicks aren't even guaranteed a playoff spot in the Leastern Conference. And how Barroid is busy dodging fly balls in the outfield. Frankyl, I just don't have time for that stuff right now. It's tourney time baby, and at least here, it's all tourney, all the time. You know I have a take on all things tourney related, and I know you want to tap my vast knowledge before you fill out your brackets, so go ahead and saddle up to the trough gangstas. I might not fill out your bracket for ya, but I'll give you the knowledge you need to make highly informed, yet horribly incorrect picks...

Biggest Snubs
I'm a big boy. I can take it. Go ahead and tell me to quit bitchin' that Syracuse was left out of the tournament. Well, I refuse to do so my friend, so you're just gonna have to listen to my argument as I kick off my tourney coverage with the two squads that were left scorching their heads on Selection Sunday...

Syracuse Orange (22-10) - Yea, I know it's a compelling argument that Syracuse never leaves New York for the first two months of the season, but I don't wanna hear how the made a "soft" schedule on purpose. It's not their fault that ranked teams like Wichita St. and Oklahoma St. tanked after they beat the Orange, nor is their any shame in losing to Drexel in the Carrier Dome. Fact is, 10 wins in the "unbalanced" Big East is just as good as 9 in the unbalanced Big 10 or the SEC. And it's certainly every bit as good as 10 Pac 10 wins, where everyone gets 4 automatic wins over Oregon St. and Arizona St. (combined 5-31 in Pac 10 play). I'm not totally in favor of Jim Boeheim telling anyone that will listen that the field needs to be expanded to like 100 teams, but all his complaining has prompted me to think of this solution. Make all the #16 seeds be "play in" game winners. That will add 3 teams to the at-large field, helping alleviate some of the bubble, and giving more worthy teams a shot. Sure it will piss off the small conference winners that get shoved in those games, but I don't know what to tell them. Get better I guess.

Drexel Dragons (23-8) - Bruiser Flint took his boys on an aggressive non conference tour that included wins @ Syracuse, @ Vermont and @ Villanova. They struggled a bit in the Colonial going 13-5, but of their 5 losses, three were to tournament teams Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth. Prediction: After ODU and VCU make decent runs in the tourney this year, and after George Mason's (another Colonial team) epic run last year, the Colonial will replace the Missouri Valley as the new Mid Major de jour. And it looks as if they probably deserve it.

Seeding Issues
Whether it's too high or too low, here are some teams that I think the selection committee completely whiffed on.

(9) Purdue (21-11) - It's officially time for Joe Lunardi to clean his little monocle. Joey Brackets, as he's referred to around ESPN, had Purdue on the outside looking in when his final projections came out. Not only did the Boilermakers make the tourney, it seems they made it with plenty of room to spare. Why is the question. People that want to argue unbalanced schedules have a great case here in Purdue. Here's a look at their 9 Big 10 wins: Penn St. twice, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan St., Indiana, Northwestern twice and Minnesota. I'll give them credit for beating 3 tourney teams in there, but where are the Ohio St. and Wisconsin wins to push them up so high in the seeding?

(4) Virginia (20-10) - The Cavaliers had a strong season, don't get me wrong. They just don't deserve to be seeded this high. Not only did they play a mediocre out of conference schedule, they closed out the year with loses @ Miami, @ Wake Forest and vs NC State. Probably better suited as a 6 or 7 seed.

(5) Tennessee (22-10) -The Volunteers are a perfect example of what's wrong with the RPI. The RPI gives too much credit to a team losing to really good teams as opposed to a team beating perhaps a lesser team. Example: Tennessee has loses this year to Butler, UNC, @ Ohio St., @ Florida, and @ Kentucky. Sure, they also beat Florida, Kentucky and Memphis, but this isn't an argument for them to be out, it's just that they're seeded too high. Outside of the losses to really good teams, this resume looks similar to another 22 win, 10 conference win high major tam that was left out of the dance. Gee they have similar colors too.
Rodney Dangerfield's Big 3...No Respect!
(6) Notre Dame (24-7) - Finshed 4th in the Big East and has road wins over Syracuse and Maryland on their resume. Only loss since Valentine's Day was by 2 @ Georgetown. Additionally, if you've seen these guys play in the last month or so, there's no doubt in your mind that they're better than a #6 seed.

(7) Nevada (26-4) - Here's a perfect example of the hypocrisy that is the NCAA tournament. When teams in your conference lose in early non conference play, your conference RPI suffers. Then, when a team like Nevada beats up on the teams in their conference, their RPI suffers. Never is it taken into account that, gee I don't know, these teams may have improved during conference play? Nope, Nevada loses twice in the final two weeks, both times to Utah St., and they fall from a likely #4 seed all the way to a 7.

(10) Creighton (22-10) - Forget the fact the Missouri Valley only got 2 teams in. How about the fact that Creighton is basically as good as Southern Illinois, and the Salukis are a #4 seed.

What the Hell?
(12) Illinois (23-11) - Went (1-6) against ranked teams, finished tied with Iowa in the Big 10 and their only big road win was a 4 point victory @ Indiana. Hell, even the University thought they were gonna miss the tourney. Why else would they have gotten rid of their mascot! (for those not in the know, Illinois was told if they were going to host any post season events they would need to get rid of their Indian mascot. Seeing as the NIT is the only time you host post season events in major men's college sports, they must have figured they were NIT bound. Sucks for them, that Indian mascot was the man.

(12) Arkansas (21-13) - Apparently 2 wins over Vanderbilt in 1 week and a 21 point loss to Florida on Selection Sunday were enough to push the Razorbacks over the top. I'm more concerned with them ending their SEC season on a 4-4 stretch and again, losing by 21 to Florida in the SEC title game.

(11) Stanford (18-12) - Basically, the Cardinal got in because they played a balanced conference schedule. At least that's what I've been hearing as defense for them making the tourney. I must be really wrong about the Pac 10, because if a team that finishes 6th in conference, and ends the season on a stellar 4-7 run. Oh, and their only road wins in conference are over Cal and Oregon St., which bodes really well for neutral site games doesn't it?

OK. Now that I got all that out of my system, it's time to deal with the bracket as it's actually constructed. As much as I'd like it to be so, I don't build the sucker, I'm just forced to deal with all the quandaries it creates. Here's my take on how I feel the 4 regions break down...

Regional Breakdown Midwest
(1) Florida - It's rare that a defending National Champ returns all of their starters, and anytime that happens, that team has to be considered a major player. I'm not sure if the Gators have the hunger to repeat, but I wouldn't count them out in the early rounds that's for sure.

(12) Old Dominion - Finished 2nd in the Colonial and have a 13 point win @ Georgetown on their resume. Doesn't hurt that they are playing a Butler team that was probably placed a seed or two too high.

(11) Winthrop - Fact: Greg Marshall has taken Winthrop to the tourney 6 times. Fact: Winthrop is 0-6 in the big dance under Marshall. Maybe you can say their due? If that's not enough for ya, their only losses since the start of December '06 are to Wisconsin and Texas A&M.

(6) Notre Dame - Like I said earlier, the Irish are seeded way too low here. They can shoot, can get exceptionally hot from downtown with Colin Falls and Russell Carter, and have great ball handling with the rapidly improving frosh PG Tory Jackson. They might run into trouble against a hot Oregon squad, but if the Irish can get hot it's gonna be tough for anyone to slow them down. That game could easily score out in the 90's though for each squad, which would no doubt be a great show.

(10) Georgia Tech - Paul Hewitt's Jackets are peaking at the right time, and that's always a dangerous thing. After starting the year at 13-8, Tech has gone 7-3 to close out, with their only loses @ Duke, @ Virginia and an OT thriller to Wake Forest. Sure that Wake loss in the ACC tourney looks bad, but if these young guns can regroup, they are gonna be a tough out. They're really young, led by freshmen Javaris Crittendon ( 14.6 / 3.7 / 5.7) and Thaddeus Young (14.6 / 4.9 / 2.1), but sometimes that can go from being a weakness, to a strength if they play like they have no fear.

Best First Round Games
(7) UNLV vs (10) Georgia Tech - A lot of people are saying UNLV got snubbed by being a 7, but not me. That being said, if Tech doesn't come out to play, the Runnin Rebels do have what it takes to hang around. Also, you have to think the winner of this one has a good shot at knocking out the Wisconsin Badgers in round 2.

(6) Notre Dame vs (11) Winthrop - See above. Winner here has a very good shot at making the Sweet 16.

(1) Kansas - I've had Kansas at the top of my poll for quite some time now, so it should be no surprise that I think they are the team to beat. They have the guard play to make it deep in the tourney and the big guys to help create match up problems or D up the occasional big man the opponent might throw at them.

(2) UCLA - They aren't as good as a year ago, but they are again aided by the fact they won't have to leave California until the Final Four in Atlanta. And I don't wanna hear how playing in Sacramento and San Jose isn't like a home game for the Bruins. I understand that LA isn't all that close to those venues, but I also understand that all UCLA grads don't all stay and live in LA. Trust me, they will be well represented in their early round games, and that should help give them the boost they likely need.

(11) Virginia Commonwealth - The Rams don't have great size, but they have great guards. B.A Walker, Eric Maynor and Jesse Pellot-Rosa all average more than 13 points and combine for about 12 boards a game. Doesn't hurt for them either that they play an overrated Duke squad in round one, and a possible match up with Pitt in round 2, another slow methodical team they could definitely hang with.

Best First Round Game
(8) Kentucky vs (9) Villanova - Two big name programs, each with one really big time player. Kentucky big man Randolph Morris has essentially been a disappointment since deciding not to go pro, while Nova frosh PG Scottie Williams has been absolutely electric the last month of the season (I don't know if you caught the 40 he dropped a few weeks back...ill). And honestly, who doesn't want to watch Tubby squirm after the Cats get ousted in round one....again. Betting Tip: Take the Wildcats and don't look back!
(2) Georgetown - The Big East champs have got to be considered one of the hottest teams heading into the tourney. Before their February 26th loss @ Syracuse, the Hoyas hadn't lost since January 13th @ Pittsburgh. Add to that, they have one of 2 legit centers in the whole field in 7'2" Roy Hibbert, and the most versatile wing in the country, Big East player of the year, Jeff Green.

(1) North Carolina - Tons of depth, tons of talent, and tons of youth. Two of those things are very good, but the third might be a sign that this team is perhaps one year away from making a deep March run.

(4) Texas - Kevin Freaking Durant. That's really all I got for ya.

(14) Oral Roberts - Before you ask. The answer is NO. I'm not just picking this team because their name has the word "Oral" in it. Or the fact that whenever I am with someone named Rob and the bottom line scrolls an "Oral Rob" I can get a good laugh out of it. These boys can actually ball. They rocked through the Mid-Continent at 12-2, and are road tested, with a big win earlier in the season @ Kansas to go with other big test @ Georgetown, @ BYU and @ Arkansas. Caleb Green is a monster inside, averaging about 20 points and 10 boards a game, and they go about 9 deep. Doesn't hurt that they're playing a Washington St. squad that's totally new to the NCAA experience.

(9) Michigan St. - Ten straight NCAA tournaments, 4 Final Fours, and 1 National Title. Yeah, I'd say it's a bad idea to bet against Tom Izzo and the Spartans come March. Especially when he's facing his protege, Tom Crean in the first round, and a young and inexperienced UNC squad come round 2.

Best First Round Game
(3) Washington St. vs (14) Oral Roberts - Upset of the first round? ORAL ROB!
(1) Ohio St. - I think both the Big 10 and Ohio St. are overrated, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes can't make some noise. Oden still hasn't convinced me he has what it takes to carry a team for a long run, but maybe Mike Conley Jr. will step up and become the go-to guy that leads the Bucks to Atlanta.

(3) Texas A&M - A lot of people have been jockin' A&M big time since the bracket came out, and for good reason, but I see one major problem. Are they one of the most talented teams? You bet your ass. But having a possible 2nd round match up against Louisville in Lexington, Kentucky may be enough of a stumbling block to trip up Acie Law and friends.

(7) Nevada - I'll listen to people that want to tell me Nevada didn't play a single game against a top 25 team this year, but that's not gonna change my opinion of the Wolfpack. I'm not saying they can book their hotel rooms for Atlanta, but anytime you have a player of the year candidate in Nick Fazekas (20.5 ppg / 11.2 rpg) and two exceptional supporting players in Marcelus Kemp (18.3 ppg) and Ramon Sessions (12.5 ppg / 4.8 rpg / 4.7 apg) you are going to be far from easy to beat. As potent as those three are though, if senior guard Kyle Shiloh isn't able to go due to injury, it could keep these guys from reaching their true potential.

(10) Creighton - One of my favorite names in college hoops belongs to Creighton guard, Nate Funk. He leads the way at 17.6 ppg for the Blue Jays, but gets a lot of help from 3 other averaging 10+ points and 5+ boards a game. Talk about balance. Tough luck for them they get a way under seeded Nevada squad in the first round. Mark my words though. Whoever wins that game is the squad that will knock out Memphis.

(12) Long Beach St. - The more I think about it, the more I concede that I would pretty much pick anyone to beat the Tennessee Volunteers. That being said, the Long Beach St. 49ers are as good a squad as any to do the dead. They have no real non conference success to speak of, but with 7 seniors getting major minutes, you have to think they'll be reeking of desperation. Sometimes that;s a good thing, and sometimes it's not. But, against Tennessee, I'd like to think it'll be enough.

(13) Albany - A lot of pundits are saying that the Albany Dane are seeded way too high seeing as they only won the America East tourney and not the regular season, but that's not stopping me from labeling them as a prime Cinderella candidate. The Danes are returning 5 starters to a team that almost pulled off the first ever 16 vs 1 upset last year against UCONN, and you gotta think that motivation can keep them in a first round game, especially against over hyped Virginia.

Best First Round Game
(7) Nevada vs (10) Creighton - I really like both these teams, and they can really fill it up when they get hot. Watch how well Nevada G Kyle Shiloh plays. I'm not saying "as he goes they go", but if he can help D up Funk, it'll take a lot of pressure off the rest of the 'Pack.

Allrighty, so there's you have my analysis for the first round or so of the 2007 NCAA tournament. I know I said I wasn't gonna fill out your brackets for ya, or give you my championship pick, but I will leave you with this. Here's my ranking of the top 5 teams I feel have the best draw, and thus the best chance of taking home the title.

1. Kansas Jayhawks

2.Georgetown Hoyas

3. Florida Gators

4.UCLA Bruins

5.Texas Longhorns

And just one final reminder. Although the "Play In" Game is tonite, it still doesn't mean you've missed your chance to man up and compete in my NCAA tourney pool. If you haven't received an email already, just ask me for additional info and I'll pass it along to ya.

*Speaking of manning up. Trust me when I say I love getting comments on here. Especially when they come from sac-less kid touchers who don't even have enough guts to leave a name and obviously doesn't have the brain capacity to even comprehend most of my stories. I'm talking to whoever left the comment last week on Tom Brady's alleged baby making, and seemed to take offense to a joke I made about Chad Jackson. Well, Mr. Anonypuss, anytime you want to have a legit discussion or argument, you know where I am so feel free to bring it. I hope to one day argue sports for a living, so I'm welcome to any challenge you might try to bring my way. But if you're just gonna hide behind your firewall, then I'd appreciate you just go back to your Dungeons and Dragons tournament and leave the real sports to the true pimps. Oh, but thanks for reading.

*And, since I told my good friend Cindy that I would giver her a shout out since she said I was the shit, I'm going to keep my word. Look at her folks, she's one foxy broad. And see obviously knows talent when she sees it.