Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Calipari Leaving Memphis for Kentucky

If anyone can keep those asshole fans happy, it will be Calipari.  He had better, because he is getting paid an obscene 8 year, almost 32 million dollar deal.

You can also apparently thank Kentucky for getting Tyreke Evans into the NBA draft--he has said that without Calipari, he's gone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Exxon Mobile Tries to Fool NCAA Fans

I definitely have issue with some of the ads I've seen during the NCAA tournament, but the Exxon Mobile "Hey were so very green and concerned with the environment" ads have my dander up. I will post the add as soon as I find it, but the ad states that automobiles now release significantly less pollution than they did in the 70s! Now how is that thanks to Exxon Mobile? From Wikipedia:

"The catalytic converter was developed by John J. Mooney and Carl D. Keith at the Engelhard Corporation, creating the first production catalytic converter in 1973."

That (which resulted from EPA regulations), and the removal of lead from gasoline, is the ONLY reasons car emissions have improved - oh and guess what, there is still lead in gasoline in many third world countries. I'm sure Exxon is doing their damnedest to phase that out. Bull shit.

Also, for those of you who remember the Valdez accident the international community is trying to ensure that all oil freighters are double hulled. Exxon STILL uses more single hulled oil tankers than the rest of the other top 10 oil companies combined. Crack work there! Bull shit!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Blog!

I don't know how the folks behind the blog came up with their name, but if you are looking for Hockey news, the place to go, clearly, is I Hate Your Favorite Team!

They are new on the scene, being established in November of 2008.  But any group of people who can come up with such a distinctive name deserve your eyeballs.

I mean, lots of people like their favorite team, and maybe dislike your favorite team, but Hate is a big modifier, clearly.   That's some fine work from those guys.

Also, I'm a big fan of the search engine Goggle.  And the video site MeTube.

Friday, March 27, 2009

No One is Looking at Tyler Hansborough's Dad

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Isn't Special About Greg Paulus

I'm really, really tired of hearing what an amazing thing Greg Paulus did by accepting a position off the bench as a senior.  It has been mentioned, yet again, tonight by the tandem of Verne Lundquist and Bill Rafferty, who I really enjoy.

At every level in every sport, less talented
 seniors give up their starting positions to more talented underclassmen.  It happens all the fucking time.  There is nothing special about Greg Paulus deciding he'd rather be the first or second man off the bench of a Sweet 16 team than not be in basketball at all.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with it, either.  I'm not criticizing Paulus (for once).  I'm just saying that what he did wasn't an amazing sacrifice.  He got fucking demoted, and didn't quit like a whiny ass titty baby.  That's expected, not amazing.

OK, Spike Jonze. I Trust You Now.

If you are anything like me (first, sorry about that) than you would have some trepidation about some live action version of "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.  It is a classic and not to be messed about with.

And then it turns out that Spike Jonze is directing, and maybe you start to feel a little bit better.  And then you see the trailer, and again, if you are anything like me, you can't help but smile at these two minutes.  It looks fantastic, and somehow, someway faithful to the original spirit of the book.  Enjoy (if you can't then you are dead inside and they only way for you to live is to make everything dead around you.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sweet Sixteen Day One Preview Part 2

If you followed the seeds exactly, you would be rewarded with a sheet that had 14 of the Sweet Sixteen teams correct.  You would have only missed on what passes for a Cinderella this year, #12 Arizona (a team that finds itself there only because it had seriously underperformed, given their talent, all year long) and #5 Purdue (who advanced over what I consider to be a curiously overrated Washington).

But now, half-assed experts like myself feel that upsets are coming.  Sure, there will be no George Mason in this Final Four, but I feel pretty safe in assuming that it won't be last year's all #1 Seeds there, either.  So let's look at tomorrow's games.  Upsets?  Maybe.  I'm going to write a little bit about each game, match-ups, etc, and then I'll give a prediction.

I'm going in order of time of tip-off, just to be fair and shit.

(#1) Pittsburgh vs (#4) Xavier.  East Region; Tip Off 6:27 CST

Another game that Vegas had decided has a solid favorite, with Xavier an 8 point dog.  

Xavier presents an interesting conundrum.  If you are a very casual fan of college basketball, you might ask yourself, "What is an Xavier?" or if you a very casual fan of college basketball, but a big X-Men nerd, you might ask, "Is Xavier located on Greymalkin Lane?"  Shut up, nerd. Yet, Xavier has been the standard-bearer of the Atlantic 10 Conference since Jameer Nelson graduated from St. Joseph's, oh so many years ago.  This is a team that beat fellow Sweet 16-er Memphis, but got beat bad by Duke and Butler.  

Pittsburgh does not present any conundrum.  Their formula is simple--Pittsburgh is 29-1 if DeJuan Blair doesn't foul out.  Getting him in foul trouble doesn't appear to be enough.  In games in which he is limited in time, he simply makes the most of that time.  Not that Pittsburgh is a one-trick pony--Jermaine Dixon and Levance Fields make up one of the least talked about, but most effective backcourt pairings amongst the #1 seeds.  They are not necessarily the best shooters in a backcourt--not by any stretch.  But with Blair and small forward Sam Young, they are a very well-rounded team.  

Let's be clear, I do not discount Xavier's chances in this game, but I know they will have to generate fouls--they are a great free throw shooting team (aside from forward CJ Anderson).  But they are giving up a ton of size at almost every position.  Not height, necessarily.  Just bulk.  DeJuan Blair is 6' 7", 265 pounds.  Xavier's Center/Foward Jason Love who is 6' 9" (and Xavier's tallest regular player) weighs 255.  Kenny Frease, a 7' with a ton of upside, maybe, is only 265.  

If Xavier can be aggressive and attack the Pittsburgh defense, and they can make Blair a nonfactor as much as possible, then they can get the advantage in the front court, and that could make the difference.  I'm predicting an upset here--Xavier, in a very close game.

Sweet Sixteen Day One Preview Part 1

If you followed the seeds exactly, you would be rewarded with a sheet that had 14 of the Sweet Sixteen teams correct.  You would have only missed on what passes for a Cinderella this year, #12 Arizona (a team that finds itself there only because it had seriously underperformed, given their talent, all year long) and #5 Purdue (who advanced over what I consider to be a curiously overrated Washington).

But now, half-assed experts like myself feel that upsets are coming.  Sure, there will be no George Mason in this Final Four, but I feel pretty safe in assuming that it won't be last year's all #1 Seeds there, either.  So let's look at tomorrow's games.  Upsets?  Maybe.  I'm going to write a little bit about each game, match-ups, etc, and then I'll give a prediction.

I'm going in order of time of tip-off, just to be fair and shit.

(1) UConn vs. (#5) Purdue. West Region; Tip Off 6:07 CST.

I think it is safe at this point to call the Huskies clear, but not overwhelming favorites--Vegas has Purdue as 7 point dogs.  I'm entirely sure why it isn't a bigger spread--UConn has destroyed not just their first two opponents in the dance, but a good number of their Big East rivals.  Yes, they lost to Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the closing weeks of the Big East season--but they have four losses on the year, 3 to Pittsburgh, and the other was a ridiculous 6 OT game for the ages against another Sweet 16 team.  I think you have to squint awfully hard to make Purdue look like Pittsburgh.  That said, Purdue isn't totally without weapons--the backcourt of is particularly dangerous.  Robbie Hummel gets a lot of the ink, because he such a dangerous shooter--he hovers right around 40% from beyond the arc, punishes fouls, and boards well.  But E'Twaun Moore can also shoot the lights out.  Forward  JaJuan Johnson, a sophomore like Hummel, looks like a star in the making--6'10, rangy, quick, with a good deal of smarts.  If this weren't a Matt Painter team, he would probably be averaging closer to 35 minutes a game, instead of the 20-some that he does.  For a lot of teams, he would be an impossible match up.

But UConn is not most teams.  They have an athletic wingman of their own in 6' 9"Stanley Robinson, whose playing time has increased as the year has gone on.  And for good reason.  He seems to have learned when to take his shot; he plays smart defense, and take pressure off the rest of the frontcourt, which features two players that defenses pay special attention to.  I speak, of course, of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien.  Those two players, if they play the way I think they should, will wreak havok on the Purdue defense (shocking prediction, I know).  Here's my shocking prediction--Thabeet, who has had 0 assists in his last five games, will have 5 assists in this game.  I think Purdue will swarm on Thabeet, and I do believe that Jeff Adrien will flash to the foul line receive Thabeet passes, and hit 15' jumpers like it is his job (as it will soon will be).

No shocker here.  UConn takes care of business as their front court is simply too much for the undersized and younger Purdue squad.  One Caveat:  Foul Trouble and Team Depth.  UConn is not deep.  Their star players are cognizant of that, and rarely get in foul trouble, but a referee with a itchy whistle-blowin' muscle could seriously impact this game.  

A Perfect Example of Lazy Sportswriting, Or "10 Things I Hate About You"

It's amazing how many incomplete thoughts and typical journalistic cliches Jim Souhan manages to fit into one column.  He was aided in what I assume was a Guinness World Record chasing effort by the format he went with--a meandering column of jottings, ala Sid Hartman or Larry King's old efforts in the USA Today.  I have to say, some of the tactics seem almost new and yet horribly cliched at the same time (see how #10 echoes #1).   All in all though, The Star Tribune would be better served to use that space in the paper to run old "Best of Barreiro" columns, or something equally implausible.

Let's count the hits:
1.  Hyperbole over the very fine play of a local kid done good (Ben Woodside of NDSU).  Does Souhan really think that Woodside as a rookie would have been better at point guard than any of the current Timberwolves?  It seems like he does.  It should be mentioned that the Timberwolves problems far exceed issues at the point guard position.  And we all know how well rookie point guards play when there is no one to pass to.  

2.  Complaints about the World Baseball Classic.  No one has covered that ground, right?

3.  March Madness is good, and College Football should have a selection committee for a playoff, too.

4.  Why (in 2 paragraphs) the NFL shouldn't expand to 18 games.  

5.  Bad news about Al Jefferson, maybe, if unnamed anonymous sources are to be trusted.

6.  Lane Kiffin isn't like his dad.

7.  I'm quoting in its entirety:  "One question about the NIT: Why?"  Funny--I had the same question about this column.

8.  Wolves are unlucky in the draft, and Hasheem Thabeet will be that unlucky pick, because he is likely to be a bust or injury-prone.  I honestly don't know where that came from, and since Souhan is too busy hitting all these other points, he doesn't explain his theory at all.  In what way would Thabeet be a bust?  Does he have injury history?  Has he looked to tentative in the rough and tumble Big East?  Maybe Souhan has a point, but it is impossible to know if he refuses to share that point.

9.  Tubby Smith promising to stay is a troubling sign that he will leave.  Or maybe it isn't.  Coaches always break your heart, unless they don't.   

10.  Hyperbole over a local kid done good.  Souhan rips the current batch of Gophers by suggesting that new recruit (still in high school) will have to adjust to being on a much less talented team.  Last time I checked, the Gophers were a young team, with two years of great recruiting classes (one behind them, one ahead) and a coach that Souhan had called (in the point previous) a big time coach.   It is possible that this is the most talented Gopher team in the past 5-10 years.  But don't let facts get in the way of a hilariously mean-spirited joke. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So Sorry, I've Given Another Team a Bad Case of The Lions

As some of you know, the NFL team closest to the place of my birth is indeed the Detroit Lions. I think I may be a carrier of the disease that plagues the team. I moved to the bay area in 1999 and four years later the once mighty Raiders contracted a bad case of The Lions. From 2003-2008 they are 24-72, the worst run in franchise history (even the Lions better the Raiders with a 26-70 record since 2003). I moved to Colorado in 2004 and it appears the disease has fully incubated with the Broncos. Denver ownership has lost their mind and fired dual ringed Mike Shanahan in favor of arrogant punk Josh McDaniels who immediately decided to do his best to ruin the fanchises relationship with Jay Cutler. I couldn't find the video, but in McDaniels latest statement to the press he says "He's our quaterback AHHHEM!" What? The fake sneeze while saying "bull shit" too obvious Josh? Then he goes on to say he's leaving all his options open. So Josh, you think Cutler is overrated. In two full seasons - his first two full seasons - he has 8023 yards passing and 45 TDs. For Elway's entire carrer his top two seasons net 8000 yards. In Cutler's third year with the team he made the probowl, and 8-8 is a pretty good record for quarterback playing with a defense ranked 30th in points allowed (N.E. D ranked 8th). I'm sorry Bronco's fans, but it's only going to get worse.....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Big 10, The Go-Tards of the Dance

Prior to the selection of teams in the dance, Will Leitch of Blog, TV, and Newspaper fame predicted that,  4 or 5 Big 10 teams would end up in the Sweet Sixteen.  I took that bet.

I was right to do so.  After three days of tournament, the following Big 10 teams have been eliminated:  Minnesota, Ohio State, Illinois, and Michigan.  That only leaves three teams in the dance:  Purdue is already into the Sweet Sixteen.  Michigan State needs to beat USC tomorrow (which they should, handily), and then there's Wisconsin, who needed a miracle to sneak by Florida State.  I imagine they will get their asses handed to them by Xavier.  

Regardless, 3 teams in the absolute maximum of Big 10 Teams that will reach the Sweet Sixteen.  I forgot to tell Will that when I took his bet, I was betting $10,000,000. Will, I patiently await my check in the mail.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009 NCAA Hoops, Day 3

Exciting times here at IDYFT Headquarters--we had a quorum of IDYFT'ers gathered to watch today's games.  Barnyard, Garwood B. Jones, Miwacar and myself all plopped ourselves down to watch a bunch of basketball, and I have a rather bothersome thing to admit--the early games have been less compelling than the night games, and the trend, if anything, is getting more pronounced.  For those of you who haven't had the full day of games experience until today, I apologize.  You saw almost nothing but blowouts until prime time.

Villanova, Memphis and UConn won by a combined 65 points, with not a one winning by less than 18 points.  They were all blowouts, and I wish I could say it took late runs to dispatch (respectively) UCLA, Maryland, or Texas A&M, but it just wasn't so.  Dominations are supposed to diminish in frequency after the first round--and look, these weren't Mid-Major teams who got lucky--those are PAC-10, ACC, and Big 12 teams getting destroyed.   (Quick UConn question:  Can we all agree that Jim Calhoun's "dehydration" is code for "Getting drunk in the Jacuzzi"?  I assume we can.)

There were a couple of day games that took some time to sort out, Oklahoma took until the second half to sort out Michigan.  At halftime, Garwood B. Jones mentioned to me that he had noticed that I had taken quite a shine to power forward Blake Griffin, and kind of hinted that he hadn't seen what made him so special just yet.  By the end of game, Blake had gone 14-20 from the field (that's 70%) scored 33 points, pulled down 17 boards, and had 3 assists, just for the hell of it.  A lot of people were dismissing Oklahoma prior to the tournament (IDYFT blogger-in-theory Barnyard being one of those people), but I think they have effectively served notice that they are a legit 2 seed.

UNC also took some time before dismantling LSU.  I didn't see much of that game, but apparently (shocker) the combo of Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington was too much to defend.  The most interesting news (aside from an AP article that took 15 paragraphs to mention Tyler Hansborough) was that Super Ultra Vanilla Lite Coach Roy Williams is super in touch with The Kids These Days.  His nickname for Ty Lawson?  Dennis the Menace.  Yeah, sure, you are wondering a couple of things about that.  Let me articulate them for you:

1.  Dennis?  His name is Ty.  Maybe that's short for something, like Tyrone.  Probably not Dennis though.  (Good point, reader.)
2.  Dennis the Menace?  Is that comic strip still even in print?  (Good question, reader.  But clearly, if you read The Comics Curmudgeon, you'd know that Dennis The Menace does still exist, but Dennis is getting less and less menancing as time goes on.)

Purdue made a game interesting, as they almost folded under the pressure of Washington.  Watch out for 6' 10" JaJuan Johnson.  He's badass.  Probably not badass enough yet to upset UConn, but he's going to be a star in the Big 10 next year.

So once again (for the third night in a row) it was up to the night games to give us real drama.  And they delivered.  Duke found themselves in a battle with Texas for the entire 40 minutes.  The AP article talks a lot about AJ Abrams, but to me, the guy who was most active for Texas was Dexter Pittman.  Fouls limited him to just above 20 minutes of play, but when he was in, he was wrecking Duke's defense.  If the seeds play out according to form, Duke is going to meet Pitt in the Elite 8, and they are going to get destroyed by DeJuan Blair.  

The absolute closest game of the night (and somewhat controversial) was Gonzaga and the Hilltoppers of West Kentucky.  The teams were super close down the stretch, and were trading baskets.  When the Hilltoppers went up 1 with 9 seconds left, the arena went crazy--apparently so crazy that the Hilltopper's coach's request for a timeout went unseen.  Bad luck for him, as Demetri Goodson's runner with .9 on the clock sealed it for Gonzaga.  If you don't think this Gonzaga team has a chance against UNC, you better think again.  Heyvelt can play with Hanborough down low, and while Ty Lawson is faster than anyone in the Gonzaga backcourt, I don't know if anyone on UNC's roster can truly defend Jeremy Pargo.  It will be a great match-up.  Of course, that's a week away, and we still have one more day of all day hoops.  See you tomorrow!

Sunday's match-ups are almost totally awesome.  In the Midwest alone, I see two possible upsets:  Dayton vs. Kansas; Cleveland State vs. Arizona.  Both should be fantastic games.   Also watch out for Xavier vs. Wisconsin, and OK State vs. Pittsburgh.

Recent Odd, But Oddly Appropriate Keyword Searches

Every blogger who has any sort of statistics counter on their blog occasionally looks at what people Googled to end up at their blog.  And usually, there are some really weird entries that make you wonder just what the fuck you wrote that made that search term and your blog match up.

It is fun for us bloggers, looking into the back end (that's what she said.)

Strangely, we had a recent run of seemingly ridiculous search terms that led to this here blog, which is, in theory, a sports blog.  And yet, I think most of those people got something that they were looking for.

For example, "offensive Twix commerical" landed here.   "lexus commercial" got sent to my complaining about Lexus commercials.  Hell, even the person who googled "Gophers vs. Chipmunks" got some relevant material.

However, I'm pretty sure we, as a blog, were no help to the man (or woman) who was searching for "kansas city handjobs".  Apologies to that person.  We suggest they try www.cattlecountryhandjobs.com.

Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 NCAA Hoops: Day 2

First of all, can I just say that yesterday, I picked 3 pretty games to be excited about for today.

Today was a pretty crazy day, with one huge upset, lots of little ones, and some pretty close calls.  Let's get to some specifics.

Biggest Upset:  Cleveland State over Wake Forest.  Though there were lots of upsets, like Dayton over West Virginia, or Arizona over Utah, or the ridiculous Badgers' win over Florida State.  Cleveland State jumped out all over Wake Forest, getting a lead early, and holding on to it.  18 Turnovers from Wake is perhaps the important statistic of a game they were never really in.  Lest you think that this was completely crazy, it should be noted that Wake was the third nationally ranked team Cleveland State has beaten this year--Syracuse and Butler being the other two.

Biggest Almost Upset:  One could argue for the scrappy ETSU squad, who hung with Pittsburgh until the very end of the game, losing by 10 (the shot that put Pitt up 10 was the first time all game that Pitt had a double digit lead).   A very similar dynamic played out in the North Dakota State and Kansas game.  So I think I have to go with Marquette barely holding off the fightin' Mormons of Utah State.

Best Players You Didn't See:  A bunch of choices--Ben Woodside of NDSU, who pumped in 37 points on a variety of shots, including some pretty ballsy drives in the lane (which led to 8-10 FT shooting), and over 40% from 3-point land.  The Dayton Flyers' Chris Wright was a manimal against West Virginia, with a double-double on 10-16 shooting (almost all of it inside).   Or OK State's Byron Eaton who paced the Cowboy attack against Tennessee, shooting 70% from the field, and dishing 7 assists.

Games I'm Most Excited About For Saturday:  Maryland vs. Memphis; Michigan vs. Oklahoma;  Western Kentucky vs. Gonzaga.

We'd Vote For Your Blog, If Your Blog Had a Good Name

Some blogger has decided that a great way to drive traffic is to have a blog-centric contest.  

Works for me.  Vote for us in the First Round of Best Sports Blog Name:  Here.

We are up against 3:10 to Joba.  Clearly, our name is better; we are more timeless, less player or shitty pop culture reference specific.  

So vote.  We ask so little of you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 NCAA Hoops: Day 1

I hope everyone stayed up tonight, because that sort of patience was definitely rewarded.  Let's recap the day, shall we?  I shall be holding to the format that I used last year, because it was met with such great feedback from me.

Biggest Upset:  Those Hilltoppers of West Kentucky managed to do it again.  Last year, they knocked off Drake; this year, it was the Fightin' Illini.  Though to be honest, I was much more shocked by the result last year than this year.  I've got about 6 pools going, and I didn't pick Illinois once.  But still, it is your annual 12 vs. 5 upset.  And given the lack of upsets in today's action, this is the best we are going to do.  It was almost a game fit for our next category, as the Hilltoppers completely spazzed in the face of Illinois' desperation full court press strategy, and let a game that they were cruising to a win in become a nailbiter.  If I'm Gonzaga, the Hilltoppers next opponent, I'd seriously consider occasional full court press from the tip.

Biggest Almost Upset:  Another easy choice--the mighty Rams of Virginia Commonwealth almost knocked off #6 UCLA--they had a look for a last second winner (and almost 12 seconds to get that look) but senior bad-ass/NBA commodity Eric Maynor's shot fell short, thanks to some pretty damn good defense from Darren Collison.  I only got to watch the last few minutes of this game, which were damn hell ass compelling.  VCU closed a double digit gap in a matter of minutes; and their freaky big man Larry Sanders with his overly long wingspan was a terror in the defensive paint.  It should be noted that a lot of the early games were compelling in their early stages, but the favorites took over in the second half--American played Villanova tight for about 30 minutes; Memphis got more than they wanted from CSU Northridge; Gonzaga kicked Akron's ass, but it took them a long time to get the separation reflected in the final score.

Best Players You Didn't See:  Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh played like a Duke guard (in a nonevil sort of way)--hitting big shots, charging into tough defenses, and generally keeping his team in the game.  Maryland's Greivis Vasquez was a fucking badass, as he always is in Maryland victories.  You'll get a second chance to see him play against Memphis on Saturday.   I should also mention A.J. Abrams of Texas, who hit 4 3-pointers in the space of about 2 minutes to provide the separation that Texas needed against Minnesota.  I'd be a total jackass if I didn't mention Memphis guard Roburt Sallie, who stepped in when starting freshman badass Tyreke Evans found himself in foul trouble.  Roburt (yeah, Roburt) tripled up on his previous career-high and simply shot the fucking lights out--12-17 from the field, including 10-15 from 3 point land, for 35 points.  Memphis maybe doesn't get by Northridge without his shooting.

Biggest Disappointment:  Washington vs. Mississippi State.  I was expecting a Miss St upset.  I certainly, therefore, expected a close game.  Washington destroyed the Bulldogs with barely a look back.  Purdue vs. Washington is going to be a battle in the 2nd round.  Based on what I saw from both teams, I may give Washington the edge.

Storylines:  Until the nighttime, it was a pretty quiet day.  West Kentucky stars were cramping up with a few minutes left to play--I don't think they will be able to handle Gonzaga at all on Saturday.  #1 seeds rolled--UNC and UConn made short work of their competition; they face LSU and Texas A&M next, and I have a hard time seeing how they don't continue to roll.  #2 Memphis did not roll, but did finish well; it was either a warning sign, or it will be the kind of game that refocuses the Tigers.  #2 Duke and Oklahoma both rolled (keep an eye on Sooner badass Blake Griffen--he got flipped onto his back via dirty pool.  They need him, desperately.

Games I'm most excited for Friday:  Wake Forest vs Cleveland St; Kansas vs. North Dakota St; OK State vs. Tenn.


Pre-Loading Joe Lunardi is a Bad Idea

Make no mistake, I've got no problem with what Joe Lunardi does. Unlike Guys Who Really Played the Game, I can admire the skills it takes to compress the metric tons of stats and psychology that make up the NCAA Selection Committee and come up with reasonable projections.

So I'm with Will of Deadspin, when he says, "In the world of baseball, Nate Silver is lionized for using statistical analysis and past results to predict the future. In the world of college basketball, Joe Lunardi is called a pencil dick for being a desk jockey with the temerity not to include Maryland and Providence...Joe Lunardi has a much better idea of who's going to make the tournament than anyone else you'll see on ESPN's set this week."

Here's my problem--Will wrote that on March 10th, when "Bracketology" is hitting Prime Time, and does get the notice (and ire) of fans and ESPN talking heads.  Bracketology, starring Joe Lunardi, has been premiering earlier and earlier.  I reached my particular breaking point when a co-worker sent me a January 12 projection.  January 12th.  Again, I've got no problem with what Lunardi does, I just think that projections that early are worthless.  And I'd like to prove it.

I don't want to belabor the point, so I'll only deal with the Top 5 seeds, without regard to region.  In fairness to Lunardi, I'll show his most recent projection before the seeds were announced, just to show how good he is, when he bases his projections on actual conference play.  But, and this is telling, I will bold teams that didn't make the NCAA Tournament at all.

Actual #1's:  Pitt, UConn, UNC, Louisville
JL 3/15:  Pitt, Memphis, UNC, Louisville  (3-4)
JL  1/12:  Pitt, UConn, Duke, Wake Forest (2-4)

Actual #2's:  Duke, Memphis, Oklahoma, Michigan St
JL 3/15:  Duke, UConn, Oklahoma, Michigan St  (3-4)
JL 1/12:  Clemson, UNC, Syracuse, Oklahoma  (1-4)

Actual #3's:  Kansas, Missouri, Villanova, Syracuse
JL 3/15:  Wake Forest, Kansas, Villanova, Missouri (2-4)
JL 1/12:  Texas, Louisville, Michigan State, Georgetown (0-4)

Actual #4's:  Wake Forest, Washington, Xavier, Gonzaga
JL 3/15:  Syracuse, Purdue, Washington, Gonzaga (2-4)
JL 1/12:  Xavier, UCLA, Notre Dame, Marquette (1-4)

Actual #5's:  Utah, Purdue, Florida State, Illinois
JL 3/15:  Clemson, Florida State, Xavier, UCLA (1-4)
JL 1/12:  California, Gonzaga, Memphis, Arizona State (0-4)

So you see my point here, yeah?  Predictions that happen before the big tournaments are finished are difficult enough.  Asking for predictions in January, even from someone who really, really knows his shit is a total waste of fucking time. Notre Dame is a real killer here--less than 4 weeks later, I was predicting they'd be playing in the NIT.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Green is Better Than Your Green

You may have noticed that yesterday was St. Patrick's Day.  It was once a solemn and serious religious holiday, in which penitents hiked up holy mountain, often in bare feet that has been perverted into drunken revelry (thanks mainly to beer-swilling Americans (of which I count myself as one)).

Speaking of great Irish things being destroyed by American subliterates--why is the great Aidan Gillen getting rewarded for his fine work on The Wire as Jimmy Carcetti by having to play a 3rd rate Hans Gruber to a 10th rate Bruce Willis in John Cena's Twelve Rounds?  (Also directed by long-out-of-favor hack Renny Harlin, by the by).  It isn't right.

So, anyway.  St. Patrick's Day.  Sure you can show up wearing a vaguely green tie, or shirt, or maybe you are the type of person who wears green underwear in the desperate hope that someone, anyone will ask to see your green, and that will somehow lead to sex.  Bullshit!

Wear your green with some fucking pride, you baby.  Might I suggest my most recent sample
from the excellent lads over at SoccerPro.com?  As you may remember, one of the shocking perks of writing this blog is that the occasional merchant is willing to allow me to test drive their gear in return for me writing about it.  They have (and I have) been very clear--if the product sucks, that is what I will say.

So with that in mind, let me say that when I ordered what looked to be a pretty cool looking Irish Flag t-shirt, I did so with some trepidation--what is there to say, good or bad, about a T-shirt?

First, the obvious good--which is that the shirt looks as advertised, with a distressed look that I really like when it is done correctly.

So I was able to rock a pretty damn sweet look for the St. Patrick's celebrations, and prove in my own way that I was no half-assed "everyone is Irish" bullshit artist, but an honest to god right Fenian bastard.

What I was happily surprised by was the quality of the shirt.  I am known to craptacular t-shirt makers everywhere that if a cool/geeky enough symbol is put on the front, I'll buy it.  Transparent white t-shirts that show off my nipples?  Sure, if there is a reference to M.A.S.K. on it:

So again, I was pleased and surprised by the quality of the fabric used--a very soft jersey cotton, thick enough that you don't feel the rub of the graphic through the shirt.  Double-knit seams through the shoulders and neck make it sturdy as well.  And American-made, which probably explains the relatively high price, at a bit over $20.  My new shirt rocks.  

I should mention that miwacar got one to celebrate his dirty Scandahoovian heritage, the Swedish 3 crowns tee, which I believe has all the features of the Irish one, with a couple of differences.  As you can see, there is no distressed look on the graphic.

Also, miwacar's shirt seems to have mystical qualities that make him much better at FIFA 2009 than he used to be.  Your experience will vary on that.


Monday, March 16, 2009

IDYFT Tournament Now Open For Business

Hit the link.

If you don't have a Yahoo ID, you'll have to create one.  Once you are logged in, you'll need the following information to join our Contest.

Group ID#: 108450
Password: vitalepitstains

Enjoy, and Good Luck.  There will be prizes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Someone is Getting Disinvited from the Dance, But Who?

Today was, to quote Kelly Kapoor, Bananas---B-A-N-A-N-A-S, Bananas!

USC, a young team with promise that staggered into the Pac-10 tourney with a 6-6 record over their last 12 games, including losses to California and Stanford, won three games in a row in tournament play to win the PAC-10 crown.  If you include their last two regular season games, they now have a 5 game winning streak, which matches their longest of the season, when they beat a pretty average series of teams--Pepperdine, North Dakota State, Georgia Tech, Oral Roberts, and Oregon.

They most definitely took a spot from a potential at-large team, and I doubt it is going to be a team within their own conference, as the PAC-10 was too weak to have any bubble teams aside from Arizona, and the Wildcats had already shit the bed a few days earlier.  

As I said yesterday, the A-10 already took a spot away from someone, when the final for the conference tournament ended up being Temple vs. Duquesne.  And you may wish to look out for who A-10 Tournament Champion Temple matches up with in the first round.  They have a pure scorer in Dionte Christmas, who is bad ass, and they have a pretty OK if gawky big man in Sergio Olmos.

And Mississippi State, who may still be a bubble team, is in the SEC Final.  Big 10 teams, you best root for Tennessee to destroy Mississippi State, because the Bulldogs have won 5 games in a row (following a 3 game losing streak to Bama, Tennessee and Auburn), and could be taking a spot with just a strong performance against the Volunteers.  And clearly, if Mississippi State wins the SEC title outright (which is hardly beyond the realm of possibility) then some other team is definitely being sent to the NIT.  And again, I have a feeling it maybe a Big 10 team--Minnesota, Penn State, possibly even Wisconsin.  

Like I said.  Today was Bananas.

Robin Hood was a Dick!

Or so some monk said in the 14th century, according to some scholar.

Once again, Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits is proven to be totally accurate.

The U is for Smoooooth Pubus

Those two whats? I'm sorry your honor, two youths.

The final moments of the Mountain West Conference Championship were made all the more exciting by these Utah fans and their smooth hairless lower torsos.

College basketball on Versus. I just can't quit you!

Saturday Morning Monty Python

there are worse ways to start the day than watching The World Cup of Philosophy.  Man, I love this sketch.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bubble Trouble for Minnesota

I should state from the outset that I don't consider Minnesota to be a bubble team--over their last 12 games, they have gone 5-7, with wins at home against Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Illinois.  The one road victory was in the tournament, which isn't a true road game, but a neutral court, and they beat sad-sack Northwestern to get that 5th win in twelve games.  But the TV people tell me that Minnesota is in.  Or at least, they were, before the tournaments started.  Minnesota acquitted themselves well against potential #1 seed Michigan State, but still lost.  Here's their problem--in the other conference tournaments, things are not going according to plan.

Consider the Atlantic-10, a conference that I love, simply because you never know when a team out of there is going to do major damage.  Remember how Calipari made his bones?  It was with UMass, and Marcus Camby.  Remember Chaney's Temple Owls and Eddie Jones and Pepe Sanchez?  St. Joe's with Jameer Nelson?

Of late, it has felt like that conference has been Xavier and a bunch of also rans (much like Conference USA and Memphis).  But the Dayton Flyers have been good enough to punch a ticket to the dance, too.  So we knew we were getting two teams from the A-10, the aforementioned Dayton and Xavier.  Guess what--neither team is playing in the tournament final for the automatic bid--that's going to either Temple or Duquesne.  There's one spot gone.  

Consider Baylor, who were 1-4 in their last 5 games in Big 12 regular season play, but have knocked off both Kansas and Texas, two teams that are definitely going to the Dance, and face a Missouri team that is also going to the dance but is beatable.  Baylor was 6 games under .500 in conference play, but are very very close to winning the Big 12 Conference Tournament Title.  Minnesota fans better root for Missouri in that one.

Consider Maryland:  remember when Gary Williams' job was in trouble?  They are some enigmatic Turtles, having beaten Michigan State, but losing to Georgetown and Gonzaga (and uh, Morgan State).  Even at the end of the regular season, there was no figuring the Terps--they beat UNC, lost to UVA.  But they have two wins in the ACC tournament, one of them against Wake Forest.  I don't know how they don't go in ahead of Minnesota.  And if they should beat Duke (something Gary Williams is really good at) then that's a definite ticket. 

Friday morning, the bloggers at The Dagger had 3 Big 10 teams on the good side of the bubble.  Those fine lads had Maryland on the bad side of the bubble.  I'm guessing that will not be true Saturday morning.  Same for Temple.  If you follow that link you'll notice there is no mention of Baylor or Duquesne.   But there will be.

Bad news for the Gophers, and really, the other borderline, kind of crappy Big 10 Teams (Penn State, I'm looking at you).

Pipe Dreams

Most contributors and readers of this site have a subscription, but for the rest of you: lope down to your local news stand to pick up a copy of High Times (April), on sale right now.

In addition to articles about Peter Tosh and a lavish spread of the 21st Cannabis Cup (buzzer-beater: Super Lemon Haze), you will find a review of my novel, To The Last Drop. My book, which is about a water war between present-day Texas and New Mexico, received four pot leaves!

I'm working on plans for readings in the NYC area in April and a reading in DC on Memorial Day Weekend.

And now, back to college basketball ...

Tiger's BACK

I am already tired of the ads for golf that seem to be pervading the actual sports I enjoy watching.  My attitude towards golf can be summarized (as all things can be) by Dave Foley in under 25 seconds.

The Newest in European Style

We all know that Europe is usually setting trends in world fashion. In fact, I find myself looking at trendy Europeans and shaking my head and doubting how anyone could wear that shit. Usually, a few years later I am wearing something similar to that which I previously scorned.

European soccer has long been a hotbed for fashion forwardness and all around good fashion sense. On Wednesday, I witnessed the continuance of this trend. No, I am not talking about Jose Mourinho's Armani get up, but rather the hairstyle of the world's greatest player.

Cristiano Ronaldo is well known for his fashion sense. From designer jeans, shirts and shoes to hand-crafted suits. Ronaldo is also very well recognized for the various hairstyles and hair colors that he has donned over the years. On Wednesday, the world was introduced to his newest hairstyle, a little something I would like to officially name "The Valdez". No, this is not a reference to some Spanish or Portuguese hero, but rather a nod at the horrible ecological disaster in Alaska.

I tried many times to come up with what exactly Ronaldo's hair reminded me of ( ask BBM). At first, I thought his new faux-mo, with rat tail, dripping with oil and sweat reminded me of a wet, moldy chamois rag. I soon continued my search for description because the chamois rag just didn't capture it. Then it hit me. The longer hair (faux-mo) reminded me of the sea otters that you see rescued from oil spills. It was the slick, ruffled, mottled fur of a sea otter who has found himself in range of a massive oil spill. Ronaldo's hair has always been a little "rico suave" but now it is the sauviest ever.

Apparently, it is an asset to his play. He used the the otter to smash a wicked header into the back of the net, and his fast pace seemed even faster on Wednesday night.

I will never adopt that european fashion. I swear.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Henry Scores Goals in Champions League Play; Martin Rogers Proved Dumb

Martin Rogers predicted that by now, Henry would be plying his trade in the MLS.   I called him stupid for saying that.

I was right.  Suck it, Rogers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mel Kiper Does Not Care for Jay Cutler

Rumors and Rants has the salient details.  Kiper is not kind.

Sample:  “This guy was overhyped at the combine, he was overhyped at Senior Bowl week, He’s been overhyped before he was drafted. The media, they love Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler can do no wrong. I’ve been saying he’s overrated since day one."

6 Goddamn Overtimes, And This Is What I'm Talking About?

Unbelievable game.  There is nothing more I can say about it.  Jonny Flynn is a bad-ass.  If you didn't know about him, you haven't been reading this blog, considering I said back in October this about that young man:

Most underrated:  There are a couple of choices here.  I'm going to lead off with a team that I fucking hate:  Syracuse.  Donte Green left early, like a fucking dumbass, but Johnny Flynn stuck around, and Flynn is going to prove himself to be the second coming of Sherman Douglas, but quicker. 

I'm also just going to briefly note that Eric Devendorf has douchebag facial hair.  And hey, if you are going to go with the douchebag stripe beard?  You should not have a patchy one.

Leaving aside that Devendorf punches women.  Look at that crapulous, ridiculous beard.  His dickishness cancels out all of Flynn's coolness.

Jim Boeheim is Gangsta

From what will go down as one of the best games in Big East Tournament history (and is still being played as I type this), Jim Boeheim flashes some signs to his homies.  You might think the blue fuzzy at the top left is just a backboard out of focus, but it was in fact the DEA censor, keeping Boeheim from sending instructions to his "crew" out in Da' Cuse.

World's Biggest Diamond Heist - The Inside Story

I've just read the first few bits of this Wired story by Joshua Davis about Leonardo Notarbartolo, who is being released from prison this week, after maybe masterminding the (possibly) greatest theft of all time.

I love stories about real life master thieves, and so far, this profile is no let down.   Go and enjoy.  (found via boingboing.net)

In elementary school, he filched money from his teachers. As a teenager, he stole cars and learned to pick locks. In his twenties, he devoted himself to the study of people, tracking jewelry salesmen around Italy for weeks just to understand their habits. In his thirties, he began to assemble teams of thieves, each with their own specialty. He knew lock-picking experts, alarm aces, safecrackers, guys who could tunnel under anything, and a man who could scale the sleek exteriors of office buildings. Each job brought a different mix of thieves into play. Most, including Notarbartolo, lived in or near Turin, and the group came to be known as the School of Turin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'll Take That Bet, Mr. Leitch

Will, Editor Emiritus over at Deadspin, wrote the following:  "Every few years, the Big Ten stuns everybody by putting four or five teams in the Sweet 16. I bet this is that year."

I know that this does in fact happen every few years, but I have a hard time believing this is going to be that year.  I think this is Will's super-secret way of saying that Illinois is going to be better than people expect.  The Big 10 has been a bunch of stumblies-wumblies since the beginning of the year, with the obvious and important exception of Michigan State, who have been quietly getting better and better as the season winds down.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Georgetown Exits Quietly

guh.  To St. John's.  Again.

The Lions Finally Cover the Spread

Via a reader named Josh (who also sent it to Randball, which makes Josh a bit of a blog-whore) we get this lovely item available for purchase.

Alternative headline:  Haven't the Kitties Been Pounded Enough?

Josh was quoted by Randball as saying "Who on earth would buy that? I suppose a woman could use it as a chastity belt, because any dude would know he’d be going 0-fer after seeing that surprise. It may also appeal to those giving up sex for Lent."

I could not disagree more.  This is a signal that the woman in question is interested in some casual Sunday scoring.  And lots of it.  I'd recommend it for any Detroit lady fan who considers herself a "bottom".   (Extra kink bonus:  have your significant other dress up as Matt Millen).

Some of these images should be jarring.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Anti-Terrell Owens Forces Have Gone Too Far

Look, I get it--T.O. is a pain in the ass; he's disruptive, etc.

But when people (and by people I am including sports columnists--we can argue about that definition) start to feel the need to defend the Buffalo Bills decision to sign him for a 1 year, $6.5 deal, we've entered into ridiculous territory.  Are you kidding me?  A guy who managed 1000 yards in a season in which the Cowboys didn't have a real #2 receiver for half the season, and let Brad Johnson start at QB for 3 games?

T.O. acted up in 2008; an impartial observer, who believes that opinionating isn't limited to Coaches and ESPN guys might (just might) say that T.O. wasn't wrong to do so--just look at how his numbers were affected.

In 2007, T.O. had 81 catches, for over 1300 yards and 15 TD's--he averaged 90 yards a game.  In 2008, he dropped to 69 catches, barely over 1050 yards and 10 TD's, and he averaged less than 66 yards a game.  That decline is all about Brad Johnson and a less than fit Tony Romo (and an absence of a true running game)

If the Bills get the Terrell of 2007, who cried when his Quarterback was attacked in the media, and ran up huge numbers, they will be getting a great deal.  Even if they get 2008 TO, who still had better receiving stats than 95% of the wide receivers out there, they will still be getting a great deal.

The idea that anyone has to defend the Buffalo Bills for getting a top-notch second receiver for Trent Edwards is fucking crazy.  Having Owens will help Trent Edwards; it will help Lee Evans; it will help Marshawn Lynch.

Look, I don't love T.O.--far from it.  But the prevalence of the infected media idea--that T.O.'s jackassery was the reason that Dallas sucked--That's ridiculous.  Brad Johnson sucked, and played 3 games, at an immobile, no arm age of 40.  Tony Romo, who has always been a rich Texan's version of a poor man's Brett Favre, sucked when he came back from his pinkie injury too soon.  Losing Felix Jones hurt the running game of Dallas.  And yet, T.O. put up Pro Bowl Numbers.

The Bills got a steal.  Write it down--T.O. will have 1200 yards and at least 10 TD's in 2009.  Albert Haynesworth was over $40 million dollars guaranteed; Owens was guaranteed $2 million.  That's a fucking steal, and don't let anyone tell you different.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Morehead State in the Dance

And apparently, some pasty dude who looks like my dad had enough to do with it to pop his shirt.  Congraulations, Morehead State!

Shocking Discovery: Sexually Repressed Regions Use the Internet

Per capita, Utah leads the nation in pay-for-porn subscriptions over the Internet.

From the study (via PC World):

Subscriptions are slightly more prevalent in states that have enacted conservative legislation on sexuality. .... subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality. In states where more people agree that "Even today miracles are performed by the power of God" and "I never doubt the existence of God," there are more subscriptions to this service. Subscriptions are also more prevalent in states where more people agree that "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage" and "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior."

No Shockers in March

In the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, the Wichita State Shockers were overcome by the Creighton Blue Jays, after being up a ton of points.

So any fantasies you had of the Wichita State cheerleaders once again throwing out the shocker hand gesture on national TV--you can put those on the shelf for 2009.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Penn State vs. Siena--An Angry Bubble Rant

The genesis of this post starts with an article from Rivals.com/Yahoo Sports, opining that even though Siena is returning a ton of dudes from the team that destroyed Vanderbilt in the first round of the Tournament last year, and even though they are 23-7, they absolutely have to win their conference tournament to get back to the dance.  Because their conference (Metro Atlantic) doesn't get 2 bids; or it does, but very very rarely--it has 14 years since the last time it did.  Either win the automatic conference championship bid, or go home, apparently.

That fact made  me angry, not because it isn't true, but because it probably is true.  

Meanwhile, the Penn State Nittany Lions, beating a ranked-for-some-reason Illinois team on a Hope and Prayer shot (for their second win over Illinois this year) has people talking about how they have punched their Dance Card.

And hey, sure, on some level, I get that--they are 3 games over .500 in their conference, and they've gotten to over 20 wins like a major program team should, and are sitting at 4th place in the Big 10.

But.  But.  But.  

Let's look at what Siena and Penn State chose to do outside of their respective conferences.  Siena was 7-5 outside of their conference.  That's a pedestrian record, to be sure, and makes it clear that their 23-7 overall record has been made by winning in their conference (which isn't supposed to be a bad, thing, really.)  

But look who they played in those 12 games:  Tennessee, Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, and Kansas.  Those are all good to very good to fucking great teams.  Of course, they lost to those teams--but they went out and did what the selection committee asked them to do, which is to play tough teams out of conference.

Penn State was 11-2 out of conference.  Guess how many teams they played that have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point this year?  ZERO.  They lost to Rhode Island and Temple.  But to me, more damning than their losses are their wins--William & Mary, N.J.I.T, Hartford, New Hampshire, Towson, Lafayette, and Sacred Heart.

Penn State has the 4th Best record within the Big 10 conference, which by definition, means they will go to the Big Dance.  Fine--I happen to like a couple of their players--Talor Battle and Future Potato Lobbyist Stanley Pringle are fun to watch, and match the rest of the Big 10 in compellingly streaky shooting.  But let's not pretend it would be a huge injustice if they were left out.  Not only have they not beaten anyone interesting outside of their own conference, they haven't even played anyone of import outside of their conference (apologies to Georgia Tech, which was once upon a time a proud program--kids, ask your parents about the Glory Days of Bobby Cremins)

But let's be reasonable here, people.  If invited, Siena will be lucky to go to the 2nd Round, where they will almost certainly lose.  Just like Penn State probably would.  With the caveat attached that Siena is older, more experienced, and has played tougher games out of conference that Penn State has.  And that the Big 10, much like the Old Gray Mare of song, ain't what she used to be.  This is not a year where you will see 3 Big 10 teams in the Elite 8, or even Sweet 16.

Let's hope the selection committee asks itself this question--if Siena and Penn State played each other, who would win?  If they aren't sure, then Siena should get a bid, regardless of whether they win their tournament or not. 

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