Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Potpourri for $200

Well, only one day until my personal favorite holiday of the year—basketball gluttony weekend. Since today and tomorrow morning will be my last chance to pontificate on random things before all hell breaks loose, today I’m going to offer up an array of tournament-related, and non-tournament related thoughts. So here you go:

1) So I watched the second half of the DePaul-Missouri game. Two things stuck out to me about this game. First, it’s incredible what can happen when a team has a healthy Diener, as Drake dropped about 30 points on Mizzou. Second, I believe my #1 college basketball theory is still intact: In the end, Missouri will find a way to lose. I was worried that the Tigers’ victory over Kansas a few weeks back would invalidate my theory, but in the last 3 years, that’s the only win like that I’ve seen out of them, so I consider it an aberration.

2) Does anyone think that an NIT pool would be a really interesting experience? I mean, you’ve got a ton of games, and I don’t think anyone could really pick out a favorite. Half of your office probably has North Carolina going to the Final Four this year, but how many people honestly thought Michigan would win the NIT last year? It’s a lot tougher to choose a mediocre team to win a championship.

3) Last night the NCAA play-in game between Alabama A&M and Oakland occurred. Mark me down as someone who thinks that it’s ridiculous that this play-in game has to occur. I understand the rationale that there are so many conference winners out there that we need to keep open space for at-large births, but that doesn’t really sell me. Look at the bubble teams that got in. Does anyone honestly think Iowa’s going to win a championship? Northern Iowa? No, but because of this, Oakland and Alabama A&M, despite winning their conference tournaments and being told they get to go to the NCAA tournament, have to play in a stupid pre-first round game to get to the real tournament. So, Alabama A&M lost last night, and they don’t get to enjoy being in the tournament (and let’s face it, even I wasn’t watching the play-in game, so it’s not like being in the tourney). And yes, I understand that the play-in game winner is just going to get stomped by North Carolina, but at least they get that opportunity. Alabama A&M’s guys won their conference, and for that alone, I think each of them deserves the chance to tell their grandkids about how they had one of their shots blocked into the 8th row by Sean May, or they “held” Rashad McCants to 22 points. Instead, Alabama A&M will be sitting at home while Iowa, who’s used to big-name opponents, tries to get its act together against Cincinnati. There’s something wrong with that.

4) I’m a tad concerned about my pick of Gonzaga for the Final Four, but since I’ve been running my mouth all season and telling people “No, Gonzaga’s for real this year,” I felt obligated to pick them. I still think it’s a decent pick, and I’m not harmed much, since there’s about 5 teams in that region to pick from to go to the Final Four, but I can’t seem to shake the old “mid-major” label from my mind. Funny thing is, prior to this year, I thought Gonzaga was over-hyped and I didn’t like them. It’s crazy what having Fox Sports Pacific will do to a man.

5) As my cable system grows ever more complex, it still boggles my mind that I’m going to need to go out and buy 2 more splitters in order to rig up my 4-television system for the big weekend. I sense that things will get worse next year, by which time I fully expect to have converted to HDTV on the main screen. Once I have the big screen, I can finally quit, because I will have achieved living room perfection.

6) I hate it when I think a team is over-rated, yet in my pool brackets, I can’t find a way to have them lose early. Arizona is a great example of this. I don’t like them at all, yet I don’t see them losing to Utah State, UAB or LSU in the first two rounds. Thus, I have to pick them through to the sweet sixteen, and I really don’t want them there. Conversely, I’d put Illinois and Oklahoma State both in the Final Four over everyone else but North Carolina, but they’re both in the same region, and I have to make one lose. It’s so much easier to pick a Final Four before matchups come into play.

7) In a bit of a treat, I’m taking off of work on Friday to head to Madison to watch high school and college basketball with some friends. I’m already having some anxiety about conflicts between some games that I really want to see, and occur at the same time. Right now I’m thinking that my head might explode if I have to choose between watching a high school Division 1 semi-final showdown between Milwaukee Vincent and Milwaukee Pius and the Badgers’ first round game. I’m still sort of hoping that there will be an upset in the high school quarterfinals, and I’ll be able to avoid this.

That’s it for today. I’m not sure what tonight (or tomorrow morning) will be about, but there will be something.


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