Monday, March 13, 2006

Random Weekend Thoughts

Today’s about quick notes, since there’s so much info to process. Later in the week I’ll try to get around to talking more about the two high school games that I saw, and really breaking down the brackets. But for now, we’re going rapid-fire style, and jumping all over the place, from high school, to college, and everything I can think of.

1) I generally like the draws of all the Wisconsin-based teams in the tournament (though admittedly, my in-state focus this year prevents me from knowing much about out-of-state teams). In my uninformed estimation, Marquette’s bracket sets up the best of all three teams, facing an Alabama team who lost their best player mid-season to start things off. I haven’t seen Alabama this year, but last year when they played against Wisconsin, they didn’t exactly blow me away. I’m not sure how much things have changed in that year’s time, but hopefully not much. A win there likely pits the Golden Eagles against UCLA. Maybe I’m underestimating the Bruins, since their star player, Jordan Farmar is a pretty goofy looking guy, but I think they’re the 2 seed that I would most want to play (regardless of the fact that ESPN analyst and former Bruin coach Steve Lavin has UCLA making a deep tournament run in is bracket). After that, it’s probably not even worth guessing what will happen, but some revenge on Kansas for the Final Four blowout a couple years back would be sweet.

2) The Wisconsin-Arizona game will be a fun one, if for no other reason that both teams’ best players are athletic guys who, prior to this year, spent most of their time playing power forward, despite having bodies more typical of a small forward (or even perhaps an off-guard). Nothing more needs to be said about 6'5" Alando Tucker. As for 6'4" Hassan Adams, the only other player I’ve seen that’s in his stratosphere in terms of athletic ability is Dominic James. And seeing that I’ve said before that James is one of the three most athletic human beings that I’ve ever seen, I’d say that Adams is in good company. Whoever wins this game, though, it’s going to be a short tourney, since Villanova is almost guaranteed to be the next foe, and I consider them to be the second toughest 1-seed to play. Particularly since guard Allan Ray is going to be ready to go for the Wildcats. (I didn’t see his gruesome eye injury, and as a guy who nearly passed out while watching a birthing video in sex-ed class in middle school, something tells me it’s good that I missed this one.)

3) I must sheepishly admit that I know only three things about UWM’s tourney foe, Oklahoma. First, Kelvin Sampson is their coach. Second, Kevin Bookout has an awesome name. Third, my al-time favorite UWM player, James Wright, originally committed to play at Oklahoma before backing out and deciding to stay home and play for the Panthers. So, I’ll probably be more ignorant of how this game should go than most people that I know.

4) Anyone else catch the brief altercation in the Duke-Boston College game? To me, three things are notable about the incident. First, the announcing team took about seven replays to realize what I (and most of the nation) realized on first glance–Duke’s Greg Paulus was just pumping his fist in excitement and any contact with BC’s Louis Hinnant was incidental (though not knowing this Hinnant’s response was pretty understandable, as well). Second, the coaches did a great job of keeping their players in line during the incident. Finally, as good as the coaches were in separating the players, Duke’s Josh McRoberts made perhaps his most impressive move of the year, boxing out roughly 75% of the Duke bench in order to keep them off the court.

5) I’ve seen four of the eight teams playing in the division one high school tournament next weekend (not counting Madison Memorial, some snippets of which I have seen on TV). My quick takes on each team that I’ve seen?

Milwaukee King: Remarkably talented, incredibly deep, astonishingly mentally tough, and nearly impossible to rattle. If I was a betting man, I’d wager lots of money on King bringing home a gold ball.

Oshkosh West: Talented, smart and methodical. A couple of stud players. Will be a tough out for anyone. I don’t know much about their quarterfinal opponent, Verona, but I see the most likely scenarios for Oshkosh West being elimination in the quarterfinals, or a trip to the final game.

Brookfield Central: Due partly to the large shadows cast by conference foe Wauwatosa East, and lots of nearby city teams, the Lancers have flown under the radar. Scott Bagguley is a solid, consistent guard, and teammate David Kersey is one of the better players that no one is talking about. Lots of people are penciling in quarter-final opponent Madison Memorial to go to the semi-finals, but if I’m picking a first round upset, Brookfield Central is my pick. They have the chance to really surprise some people.

Arrowhead: Their run to the state tournament is attributed by most to two things: Milwaukee Vincent’s sectional loss to Homestead, and the return of Charlie Chapman, Arrowhead’s top player, from an 18-game suspension. I won’t argue with either of these points, but I’ll also note that based on what I saw, Arrowhead wasn’t a half bad team before either of these events. A good quarterfinal draw against Menomonie (seemingly another team making a mildly surprising run to state) could mean a semi-final appearance for the guard-heavy Warhawks. They won’t have the fire-power to go all the way, but they’re not as painfully out-classed as many people seem to think.

6) On another high school note, I stopped in on the Oshkosh West vs. Fond du Lac sectional final on Saturday night. As I said, a full update is forthcoming, but for now I’ll just say this–Oshkosh West had perhaps the coolest student section that I’ve ever seen. This fact helped create a great game-atmosphere on Saturday night.

7) Final high school note of the day–one of my friends has requested that I give some love to his Manitowoc Roncalli Jets for making it to state in division three. I don’t know much about the Jets, but Greg’s a good guy (as are most of the Roncalli guys that I know), so here’s that shout out.

8) From time to time I get emails from people wanting to promote basketball-related things for them. Usually I tend to ignore them, or politely decline. Last week, however, I was sent something regarding a product called Bracket Brains that looked sort of interesting. Basically, it’s a program that statistically predicts games based on factors that you rank. If any of you know my friend Adam, who’s constantly creating some new hair-brained gambling tool, this is the type of thing that he would create if he had the time. Though I’m not much of a gambler, it’s sort of a neat thing to play with, anyway. So give it a look. (In the interest of full disclosure, I get a kick-back from the Bracket Brains people if you order the service through the link in this paragraph. I fully expect, however, that the aforementioned Adam is the only person I know who would pay for such a service, so I’m certainly not posting this for the money.)

9) Lawrence University’s undefeated season and run toward the division three Final Four ended on Friday night with a loss to Illinois Weslyan. Sad to see the state’s big division three power fall, but if you’re going to go down, you might as well do so playing Jack Sikma’s alma mater.

Back tomorrow, with thoughts after I’ve had time to take in the brackets.


At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, looking forward to your Oshkosh West-Fondy review. I went to West in the days of Tigert and haven't been able to make it to any games this year like I usually do. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how they played and why they had the coolest student section. They are passionate about basketball there and I remember having lots of fun. Thanks for all your hard work!


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