Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 471

Wednesday, March 31, 2010---636 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 58 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)
Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.
Virtually free of original ideas.
Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.
A Grumpy Old Man Production.
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Rave:
Myrna Loy.
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Reading: “Death Was In the Picture” by Linda L. Richards.
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On the Hi Fi: “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”—
Paul Desmond.
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Under rated:
Nigel Bruce.
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Truism: Here it is only March, and the Kansas City Royals are already out of the playoff race.
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Didjaknow: When presbo filled out his NCAA bracket, he thought Murray State was the state university from one
of the 57 states he visited while campaigning.
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Rant: Sandra Bullock’s husband gets my vote as one of the world’s greatest overachievers.
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Rave:
“In Plain Sight” returns tonight...USA Network at 10PM in the East. Must see TV.
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Rave:
Julie Banderas is one tough cookie.
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Rave: Loved the way
Laura Ingraham cleaned the puerile Matt Lauer’s clock on Monday’s Today Show.
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Rave: In the latest cable ratings, The Cartoon Channel has a larger audience (total and in “the demo”) than CNN, CNN Headline, PMSNBC and CNBC combined. Sidebar: Almost no one is watching that blowhard Chris Mathews.
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Quote: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” -- Philip K. Dick
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R.I.P.: Robert Culp was a real favorite of mine. Both “
Trackdown” and “I Spy” were pop culture touchstones during my misspent youth. He added a touch of class to all his projects. He had style, panache and sophistication…qualities in short supply in today’s Hollywood.
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R.I.P.:
Fess Parker was Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. Another touchstone of pop culture from my distant past…certainly a good role model for kids of the 50’s. I still think the fact that I could never promote a coonskin cap from the parents warped my mind.
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Truism: Many NBA and NHL arenas have lotsa empty seats.
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R.I.P.:
Chet Simmons, first president of ESPN when it launched in 1979. This prescient quote from him in 1979 is not a bad legacy, “There’s no question that cable television sports is at the same stage right now that network sports was 15 or 20 years ago.”
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Rant: Is it safe to say that the Fashion Police have been disbanded and no one told us?
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Hmmm: Did anyone ever really believe that Tiger Woods might not play in the Masters?
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Belated Happy Birthday: March 15, as it happened, was the 25th birthday of the revolutionary dot.com.
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Quote: “He (obama) is the most transparent president we have ever had, and by now even a blind man can see through him.” —
Burt Prelutsky.
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Rave: I want one of those tee-shirts that political pollster,
Pat Caddell sometimes wears that says, “I’m Grumpy because you’re Dopey.”
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Hmmm: Once people considered desirable were called cool. Now they’re called hot. We’ve come a long way.
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Didjaknow:
Edward G. Robinson didn’t really enjoy playing a gangster and hated the sound of gunfire. That posed problems for director Mervyn LeRoy during the filming of Little Caesar (1931).
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Truism: Michael Jordan has yet to prove he can succeed as an NBA executive, never mind an owner.
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Rant: Just when you thought, the culture had gone as rogue as it could, along comes the news that MTV is taking “Jersey shore” international.
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Quote: “It's better to be quotable than to be honest.” -- Tom Stoppard. Sounds like the current White House as they try to win the press conference on a daily basis.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.
If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 3.1

March Madness is the perfect formula of suspense and spectacle.

Being a sports fan requires a certain suspension of disbelief…just as you need in reading mysteries. We must pretend that teams can win the World Series with a low payroll and those NFL linesmen can’t possibly be on steroids and these athletes aren’t just hired guns. In the extreme, some actually believe wrestling isn’t fixed.

Kansas State’s coach, Frank Martin looks like Dick Tracy to me.

My-oh-Maya: The UConn women enter the Final Four with a 40-point victory over FSU. Maya Moore and Tina Charles are all-world talents. No team (men or women) in recent memory has played so flawlessly for so long---both starters and reserves.

I hope for a Stanford/UConn final on Tuesday. In their game in December, Stanford’s mega-talent, Jane Appel, was just coming back from knee surgery. She’s close to 100% now. Along with fellow, 6’4” forward, Kayla Pederson, Appel gives Stanford a duo that can compete with UConn for 40 minutes.

For the men, I’d like to see Duke and Butler tip off on Monday night. That matchup would display the fewest tattoos---and highlight players who can actually spell class because they have, in fact, attended lectures, seminars and the like.

Most recent graduation rates for Final Four teams: Duke 92%, Butler 90%, Michigan State 58% and WVU 44%.

Duke’s points-per-possession on Sunday was the highest Baylor allowed all season, and their performance Friday was the second highest allowed by Purdue.

Tom Izzo: 15 years at Michigan State, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances. In that time, no upper-classman who committed to Izzo has missed out in playing in a Final Four.

Michigan State retained seven of its top nine players from last year’s runner-up team. This season they made 52.2% of their two-point attempts and limited opponents to 41% shooting from the field. Six current members played double-digit minutes in last year’s championship final.

MSU has out-rebounded foes by 134-100 in their four tournament victories.

During Butler’s 24 game win streak, Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward are shooting at or above 50%.

Butler sixth man, junior Zach Hahn, is a career 41.6% shooter from beyond the arc.

Butler has recorded more turnovers than assists in eight of the last 13 games.

Duke’s Kyle Singler’s 0-10 shooting performance on Sunday was the first time in 109 career games he went without a field goal.

Statistical profiling: The NCAA champion in the past 21 years had to be a top-three seed, average at least 77 points, shoot 48% or better from the field, 37% or better from the three-point line and at least 68% from the foul line. This year, only Kansas and Baylor met all five criteria. Duke qualified in all except field-goal percentage (.440). WVU qualified in seeding and at the foul line.

Out of 5.4-million brackets submitted to ESPN.com, 200 picked this Final Four.

WVU’s Da’Sean Butler has made six buzzer-beaters this year.

This is the 11th Coach Krzyzewski-led Duke team to win 30 games.

Duke’s Jon Scheyer shoots 39.5% from the field. Pretty amazing as more than half his shots are three-point attempts.

In the 16 weeks of the season since November 30, Butler, Michigan State, Duke and WVU have combined for zero first place votes in the AP poll.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 3.0

As eight turn to four, we don't see too many beauty pageants on the courts. As Tom Izzo says, "it's survive and advance."

In a single elimination tournament, a team must be good enough, not great to keep going. And, a bit of luck never hurts.

Michigan State had just 11 turnovers in their victory over Tennessee.

Good timing: Duke’s Nolan Smith hit his career high in points in the Regional Final win over Baylor.

Senior Moment: Michigan State’s game winning free throw by Raymar Morgan (with 1.8 seconds left in the game) shows what senior team captains are supposed to do.

Michigan State is among the most rugged programs in basketball history…they seldom beat themselves.

Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh had a helluva game against Duke…18 points, 10 rebounds (7 offensive), six assists and five blocks…a remarkable game.

The Duke/Baylor game featured 12 ties and 11 lead changes. It took a magnificent Duke run late to knock out Baylor.

Butler has great belief in themselves and plays with a ton of poise. Both Kansas State and Syracuse took momentum-shifting leads in the second halves and Butler never thought about folding.

Michigan State has won their four tournament games by a total of 13 points. That is the smallest four game margin since the field was expanded in 1985.

Butler has no player taller than 6’8”---so the three is their equalizer. In fact, Butler has attempted more threes than deuces this season. Must work, as they have yet to lose a game in 2010.

Butler’s baby-faced assassin, Gordon Hayward, is a future first-round pick.

There do not appear to be any NBA lottery picks in this season’s Final Four.

Nor will there be any CBS cutaways to Ashley Judd.

Instead, we will see Magic Johnson, WVU’s Jerry West and maybe Gene Hackman.

Duke is the only Final Four team that played three top eight seeds in their first four games.

Baylor’s Kim Mulkey is the only women’s NCAA coach to win a championship as a player (1984 with Louisiana Tech) and coach (Baylor, 2005).

Michigan State is #2 in the nation in rebounding margin…close to nine per game.

The last time a team got to play in the Final Four in its home city was 1972 when UCLA won the title in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. UCLA 81-Florida State 76 for the title.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 2.3

Jay has a pretty safe lead at this point. With three Final Four teams left, he's looking good.

Hmmm: When we had 64 teams lined up and ready to go, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about Duke being a #1 seed. Now they are the last #1 seed suiting up. They could meet their match in Baylor late this afternoon.

If the finals on April 5th feature Tennessee and West Virginia, my interest will be zero. I’ll be watching “Giant” on TCM.

UT’s Bruce Pearl and WVU’s Bob (T)Huggins repulse me.

Twice this season, Duke has won while shooting less than 30% from the floor…something they had not done since 1950.

Duke’s victory over Purdue in the Sweet 16 was a tale of two games. Duke shot 24.1% in the first half along with 11 turnovers…in the 2nd half they shot 57.7% with three turnovers.

West Virginia is tough to beat; even tougher to watch.

Rant: The late start times for games in the first three rounds sucks…especially in the East (the most populous USA time zone). Xavier and Kansas State’s double overtime game was still going on at 12:30 on Friday morning. And, you thought only MLB was stupid at scheduling major events.

Baylor 46-St. Mary’s 17---at the half…maybe the best 20 minutes in the tournament so far.

Butler could have folded at 4:49 in the second half against KSU. However, as they did against Syracuse, they turned it up a notch…this time scoring nine unanswered points with the score tied at 54. Great team basketball. Butler is tough as nails, very disciplined and extremely well coached.

Teams coming off an OT win in the tournament have now lost 10 straight games.

Gordon Hayward had 22 points for Butler, his first 20-point game since February 11th.

“Hoosiers II”: Butler making the Final Four in their hometown is a Hollywood story. It’s the Frank Capra type…not a BS James Cameron perversion.

How smart am I? In the first round, I had UTEP beating Butler. Maybe that is why I am #372,510 in the CBS Sports Bracket Challenge and #2,064,083 in ESPN’s challenge.

With Kentucky's loss, the Wildcats now have nine defeats as a No. 1 seed, tying North Carolina for the most since seeding began in 1979. Duke and Kansas are next with eight losses.

Kentucky outrebounded WVU 45-34 (22-9 offensive), but when you make six more three-point shots, it usually leads to victory. Neither team excelled on the free throw line.

Baylor is the only private school in the Big 12.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 2.2

Doubt any team in this tournament at your own peril. You cannot earn a victory simply by showing up at this stage of the tournament, no matter what name is on the front of your jersey.

After tonight, there will be only eight teams left. It seems to have gone by too fast.

Double over-time for the Kansas State win over Xavier. Simply a brilliant game by both teams. Seldom is there a double OT in the NCAA Tournament. 83 possessions by each team.

How about these numbers: KSU’s Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined for 53 points---Xavier’s Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway totaled 58. Holloway’s three made foul shots with seconds left were a cold-blooded sequence.

Once upon a time Cornell led Kentucky 10-2 and the roar in the Carrier Dome was beyond deafening. Then UK went on a 30-6 run. Credit Cornell big time for coming back and cutting the lead to six in the second half. Cornell sure has my respect for all they accomplished this season.

Since 1926, Kentucky has won or tied for the SEC regular season title 49 times. Since the conference started holding a tournament in 1979, they have won the title 13 times.

It was one of the most complete defensive performances you’ll ever see…UK came well prepared and executed their game plan to perfection. Kentucky’s 16 for 26 from the free throw stripe won’t cut it against WVU.

Butler vs Kansas State will be a huge contrast in styles on Saturday.

Butler is the first Horizon League team to advance to a region final.

Syracuse led the country in field goal percentage this year.

Butler absolutely strangled Syracuse. Actually, Butler didn’t play all that well after the first ten minutes. When Syracuse pulled ahead by four (54-50) with about five and a half minutes to go, Butler rode out what could have been a definitive Syracuse run. Then for the last two minutes, Butler played like they did for the first ten. Butler made three monumental shots sandwiched around two Syracuse turnovers…and presto-chango, 58-54, Butler. You had to see it to believe it.

Holding Syracuse under 60 points is very impressive as are their seven turnovers. That sorta made up for their 6 of 24 3-point shooting. Gordon Hayward (a sophomore) is a baby-faced assassin. Coach Brad Stevens looks about 18 years old.

West Virginia won in spite of having 23 turnovers…of course, Washington had 22. WVU had a massive number of offensive rebounds (18)

Purdue got only three offensive rebounds in their over-time win vs Texas A&M. The silver lining here is that they won on defense and effort.

Purdue’s Chris Kramer has more steals (297) than any player in the school’s history. He’ll be guarding Duke’s Kyle Singler tonight. That will be an intense matchup.

Duke’s Jon Scheyer has committed only 61 turnovers in 36 games…amazing for a kid who brings the ball up the court on almost every possession.

Purdue has been ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll for all but one week this season.

Duke’s Plumlee brothers’, mother (Leslie) played basketball for Purdue.

Duke’s 61 wins in the past two seasons lead the nation.

73 of Coach Krzyzewski’s 864 wins are NCAA Tournament victories.

Just nine of Sports Illustrated’s predicted top twenty teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

However, at the bottom of the ladder, SI correctly predicted Arkansas Pine Bluff as the 65th team in the tournament in that November 23rd issue.

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 2.1

With the mix of the Sweet Sixteen teams getting ready to play Thursday and Friday, it is fair to say that the NCAA Basketball Tournament is this nation’s most egalitarian sporting event.

Women's Tourney: Brittney Griner -- who, should have been suspended for the rest of the season -- set a new record with 14 blocks in a Baylor win over Georgetown. (Astoundingly, 13 came in the second half.)

Every player for Purdue shoots below 35% from the arc.

Purdue is the only 4-Seed to make the Tournament’s second weekend.

Syracuse is shooting 51.9% from the floor.

Cornell vs. Kentucky---future MBAs vs. future NBAs.

Kentucky’s average home attendance: 24,110. Cornel’s: 3,658.

Despite being a Top 25 team, Baylor sold out exactly one home game this season…the home finale vs. Texas.

Duke had just five turnovers in the win over California. Baylor was dead last in the Big 12 in turnover margin.

Kenpom.com predicts 59 possessions in the Northern Iowa-Michigan State game. That’s a glacial paced. No need for a fancy high tech clock…an hourglass will suffice.

Baylor’s biggest weakness is taking care of the ball. They are #270 in the nation in turnover margin. Lucky for them, St. Mary’s ranks #310 in steals per game.

Quote: “There were more people at the game with Villanova, than we have students at Saint Mary’s.” ---Omar Samhan, Center for St. Mary’s.

Seven of the Sweet Sixteen teams feature centers who are true 7-footers, or at least in that neighborhood, including Cornell, Saint Mary’s and Northern Iowa.

In the Women’s NCAA Tournament, UConn won their second round game 90-36 (55-12 at the half). Coach Auriemma did all he could not to big-time Temple, sitting Maya Moore after just 16 minutes and Tine Charles got only 17 minutes. One thing Geno’s players (starters and bench) cannot do, is go thru the motions.

The Kansas State/Xavier, Michigan State/Northern Iowa and Syracuse/Butler games are matchups of former assistant coaches who were promoted to head coach when their bosses left or retired.

Clearly, Arinze Onuaku’s injury is not devastating Syracuse. If there is any cause for concern for Syracuse without Onuaku, it would be Gonzaga’s 41 points in the paint on Sunday.

40.0% of Butler’s floor shots are from beyond the 3-point line…highest of any team left in the Tournament.

Vegas Numbers: Favorites and point spreads---Michigan State by 1, Ohio State by 4 ½, Syracuse by 6, Kansas State by 4 ½, Kentucky by 8 ½, West Virginia by 4, Duke by 8 ½ and Baylor by 4. To cut down the nets: Kentucky is the favorite at 2-1, followed by Syracuse at 4-1 and Duke at 9-2.

Thus far, favorites are 31-17; underdogs are 25-22-1 against the spread (eight favorites did not cover). For the season, Syracuse has the best record against the spread at 21-9

Las Vegas odds-makers say the points over or under for Michigan State-Northern Iowa is 121; for Kentucky and Cornell, it’s 147; the 153 for the Kansas State/Xavier game is the largest total on the board.

Nine of the Sweet Sixteen participants won their conference tournaments…and the Ivy League has no tournament. Other than Tennessee and Washington, no team finished the regular season worse than second.

Since their last Final Four appearance, Duke has won four ACC tournament championships and has a 170-39 record.

Of the 16 teams still playing, Duke scores the most points per possession (1.21) and allows the fewest (0.85). Duke turns the ball over on just 16% of its possessions, fewest of any of the 16.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 2.0

Whew!!! I think I caught my breath after four days of the most entertainment sports can provide. The first two rounds were sensational---unbelievable. We can only hope the Sweet Sixteen and Elite eight are as exciting.

Odds and ends---bits and piece from the first two rounds.

Unlikely heroes, improbable teams, shredded brackets, hopes mangled, spectacular memories. The NCAA Tournament delivers year after year. Maybe you’ll get a bad day or a poor round---but never a bad tournament.

Thirteen games were decided by three or fewer points and four games went into overtime.

The Sweet Sixteen has five mid-major teams, plus Washington who looked like a mid-major all season. It’s wide open. Three double-digit seeds (St. Mary’s #10, Washington #11, Cornell #12), plus a #9 that happened to knock the #1 #1 Kansas. Eleven conferences are represented in the regionals.

For the first time since the Tournament expanded in 1985, three one-bid conferences (Horizon, Ivy and Missouri Valley) had teams advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Six teams in the Sweet Sixteen represent schools where the classroom is as important as the basketball court---Purdue, Duke, Cornell, St. Mary’s, Xavier and Butler.

The Big East was 6-6…the ACC, 5-5 in the first two rounds.

If the dominos fall precisely right, it would be an All-Mid-Major-Final-Four.

There is no reason to assume anything will go according to plan the rest of this Tournament for any team.

Baylor has a most highly athletic core.

Only two teams have made the Sweet Sixteen the past three seasons…Michigan State and Xavier.

Kentucky has yet to break a sweat. They have been the most dominant team in the field. What they did to Wake Forest was nearly criminal.

Syracuse has hardly had to mop their collective brow.

Quote: “Survive and advance.” ---Tom Izzo, Michigan State Head Coach.

Cornell is unusually experienced…nine seniors and three juniors…unheard of these days.

Butler is a Top Ten defensive team…they have held all their opponents since February 6th to less than one point per possession. Butler is bigger than Kansas State or Xavier.

Cornell will be playing about an hour away from its campus. In its upset of Wisconsin, Cornell scored an unreal 1.65 points per possession, while shooting 61.1%. That is the highest field goal percentage Wisconsin has allowed in coach Bo Ryan’s entire nine-year career at Wisconsin.

St. Mary’s just might have the best offensive center on their side of the bracket…Omar Samhan.

Purdue’s Chris Kramer will give Duke’s Jon Scheyer hell in their matchup in Friday night’s late, late show. Purdue is an extremely tough team and well coached. On the other side of the ball, Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore will see relentless coverage from Nolan Smith and Lance Thomas.

Washington is better than I thought. They have lost only twice in their past 16 games.

Wes Johnson of Syracuse can carry his team.

One thing that has worked universally in this tournament is size…exhibit A is Duke’s Brian Zoubek.

If Butler’s front court can avoid foul trouble, they could be in the Final Four in their hometown. That’s a Hollywood ending.

Duke leads the top seeds with a 92 percent graduation success rate. Kansas follows at 73, Syracuse at 55 and Kentucky at 31. Brigham Young, Marquette, Notre Dame, Utah State, Wake Forest and Wofford are the only teams with 100 percent graduation rates.
The five lowest graduation rates are: Maryland (8 percent), California (20), Washington (29), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (29) and Tennessee (30).

Duke has only trailed for 18 seconds so far in the tournament.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 1.7

Dale’s 7-1 Sunday put him back in the lead…he was 14-2 on Friday…beware of Dale in the second day of the rounds.

Butler’s win over Murray State is all the more extraordinary if you consider these factoids: 1) Gordon Hayward missed nine of 13 shots, 2) Matt Howard missed four of his five attempts, and 3) Murray State had a rebounding margin of 39-22.

Didjaknow: Cornell freshman forward, Eitan Chemerinski can do the Rubik’s Cube in under two and a half minutes.

More Cornell: Cornell’s 7-foot center, Jeff Foote, played 31 minutes in game one without committing a foul. In the first two rounds, he played 64 minutes, scored 28 points, with just two fouls.

One of the great pleasures of watching the NCAA Tournament is discovering unheralded talent from unexpected places. Irrefutable evidence: St. Mary’s Omar Samhan.

When a women’s basketball school hosts the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, they have give the NCAA a gate guarantee. Last year, 11 out of the 16 schools did not reach their economic goals. Some schools lost between $30,000 and $40,000. That’s why Old Dominion was ecstatic to have UConn placed at their site.

Michigan State’s buzzer beater was a helluva game…four lead changes in the final 39 seconds. I could not be happier to see that hot-dog, Greivis Vasquez pack it in. Maryland’s yellow uniforms are truly ugly beyond words.

The sad news is
Kalin Lucas was in a walking boot with what Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says is likely a torn Achilles tendon.

Chris Kramer stepped it up a few notches, become an offensive force with 17 points and seven rebounds as Purdue won in overtime. Kramer is easily my favorite Big 10 player.

Even though I had Texas A&M in my bracket, I prefer Duke facing Purdue in the Sweet 16 rather than A&M in what would pretty much be a home game for them in Houston.

No team has shown more grit than Purdue without Robbie Hummel.

Known for their outside shooting proficiency, Cornell scored 32 points in the paint, out-rebounded Wisconsin 29-21, had 14-second chance points in a romp, and never trailed.

Xavier showed me they are tough as nails. If you can out-tough Pitt at the end of game, you’re no Forrest Gump. The matchup between Xavier and Kansas State will be a keeper.

With 1:32 remaining, Missouri still had a chance, as West Virginia only had a five-point lead. Turns out it was just the fastest 38 minutes and 28 seconds of basketball.

Once again, Duke’s defense carried the day. Cal was 39.6% from the field including 25% from the 3-point line. Good thing, as Duke offense was close to terrible. Nolan Smith scored from every angle known to man, and Brain Zoubek’s double-double made the difference. Jon Scheyer’s 1-11 shooting is troubling.

Evan Turner erupted when needed and led Ohio State over a Georgia Tech team that is playing its best basketball of the season. Tech’s ACC Tourney run and the two games at the dance were all solid. However, a couple of one and dones will mean another rebuilding year in 2010-2011. Tech coach Paul Hewitt sure can recruit, but they never remain long enough to develop into a cohesive unit.

Just another day at 2-3 zone office for “Cuse Control.” It wasn’t that they beat Gonzaga, it was how badly they beat them in every aspect…it was punishing.

Embrace the Madness.

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 1.6

Kansas, Vandy and Villanova are the top three culprits in bracket busting thus far. No one did better than 4-4 yesterday…a brutal day. As said before, nothing is more humbling than watching your bracket dissolve.

If you think, you feel badly about your bracket, imagine how Bill Self and all those Kansas seniors feel.

How about Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen's nifty, no-look assist to Dominique Sutton flying down the wing on a break? You could make a movie around that play. BYU never quit, but Pullen was simply a monster all over the floor.

Kentucky, which looks like the biggest favorite still alive after a comprehensive destruction of ninth-seeded Wake Forest. Now, that’s the Wake Forest I thought would show up.

In this tournament, the 82-64 second-round victory of Washington over New Mexico qualifies as a rout. Washington’s defense sure knocked New Mexico off their game. Washington dished out 21 assists on its 32 field goals.

Glad to see St. Mary’s and Butler advance, even though I didn’t have them. The fewer tattoos in the Sweet Sixteen the better.

Give ODU a bunch of credit. Their zone gave Baylor problems, and they wouldn’t go quietly. Baylor was up by one with 4:41 left.

Only once has the No. 1 overall seed (highest rated of the four top seeds) won the national title (Florida in 2007). It's the 13th time a No. 1 seed of any kind has lost in the second round, and third time it has happened to the Jayhawks.

Northern Iowa’s
Ali Farokhmanesh has ice water in his veins. However, it was not just one shot…he did score 16 points and made a couple of clutch foul shots.

What a shame to see Scottie Reynolds, Luke Harangody and Sherron Collins to go out with a combined 22 points. Sort of like Duke’s J.J. Redick’s final game. I guess the bigger they are, the harder they fall applies.

Omar Samhan’s 32 points for St. Mary’s showed what a force he is. Quite a two-day (61 points) exhibition.

Butler and Murray State were tied with 25.4 seconds to go in as tight a game as you could see. High drama for 40 minutes. Butler big man, Matt Howard, was on the bench for over 15 minutes in the second half with foul trouble. Butler went small and showed some pretty creative versatility.

Ohio got as close as six down with about 11 minutes to go, before Tennessee pulled away for a comfortable win. Ohio came to play and had a quality tournament.

This from ESPN:
How surprised is America about Northern Iowa? Let's take a look at ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge, which includes just under 4.8 million brackets: Northern Iowa:
42,500 brackets (0.9%) had Northern Iowa making the Sweet 16
16,169 (0.3%) have them in the Elite Eight
5,720 (0.1%) have them in the Final Four
2,620 (0.005%) have them in the championship game
1,546 (0.003%) have them winning it all
And, that folks is why they the games on the court and not on paper.

On paper, there seem to be some quality matchups today. Looks like another day with the TV on one game and NCAA.com with another. I mean, how do you choose between Georgia Tech/Ohio State (tips at 2:20) and Michigan State/Maryland (2:30 tip), etc.

In the first day of the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the higher seed won all 16 games.

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9, Version 1.5

Quote: “If they think they can play with you, then they can play with you.” —Red Aurebach.

The individual match-up in the Kentucky/Wake Forest game today will be worth the price of admission. Ish Smith and John Wall are both road-runners---lotsa beep-beeps in this one. Wake’s Chas McFarland is the type to get under DeMarcus Cousins’ skin.

NCAA Tournament truism: It is not how high you jump, but knowing when to jump and to know when to jump as high as you can.

The entire 2009 Tournament featured just two overtime games.

Thursday’s 16 games had seven where the underdog seed won.

The double-double by Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh was his 15th of the season.

If Thursday’s games showed anything---it showed that dramatic expansion of the field is not only unnecessary, but also reckless. Consider this: the 13-4 matchup will become a 13 vs. 20---somehow, that does not roll off the tongue with any magic.

Luke Harangody missed seven of his final nine shots…that’s a shame.

Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen took a hard fall Thursday night. He did have a brief return…and is expected to play Saturday vs. BYU.

No current Duke Blue Devil has played on a team that made it past the Sweet 16.

Quote: From Jim Valvano on his 1983 Championship NCSU team, “We may not have been a great team, but we sure did some great things.”

Hmmm: Remember watching the Tournament on a little black and white TV that had nowhere near the resolution or clarity of an iPhone?

Down 10-0, after missing their first six shots, West Virginia got serious and poured it on vs. Morgan State. I have to hold my nose while hoping WVU keeps my bracket alive. Same with Tennessee…Bruce Pearl and Bobby (T)Huggins disgust me.

Hats off to Cornell. That was quite an exhibition. They took the lead at 17:17 in the first half. There were no lead-changes after that. So, Sunday we should being seeing red as Cornell and Wisconsin tip off.

Xavier (6 seed, West) will be in the second round for the fourth straight year…not that Minnesota made it easy as they had eleven blocks. Xavier did have 15 offensive rebounds in the first half.

The Ivan Brothers ads for Capital One are entertaining and thematically on target. However, I feel certain, that like most sponsors’ ads, I’ll have had my fill before Sunday’s final buzzer.

Wisconsin sure is long…they have massive wingspans. It still took everything they had to get by Wofford. They shot a miserable 37%...but had only four turnovers. Hughes and Leuer had 73% of their points.

Pitt has six guys in double figures and shot a nifty 53.6%. Between Pitt and Oakland there were 49 points on foul shots.

Missouri is serious about the “fastest forty minutes in basketball.” Come on---86 points and only 9 turnovers---WOW. They shot 51.7%, forced 20 turnovers and had 15 steals.

Texas A&M needed a freshman to lead the way…Khris Middleton responded by hitting five six threes. Utah State was 0-4 from the foul line---think about that.

Purdue trailed at the half…and then became relentless with a 13-0 run. Chris Kramer is a helluva defender (4 steals). Siena was game, and actually out-rebounded Purdue.

Once again, defense created offense for Duke. They never trailed and were hitting 3’s at a 46.2% clip. I was happy to see the starters get some rest. The bench got 62 minutes…only contributed 9 points, but had 16 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Cal never trailed Louisville in a coast-to-coast victory. The hit 8 of 15 threes and put things away with a 15-4 run at the end.

UC Santa Barbara was persistent after getting in a 17 point hole. But, even a sort of off night from Evan Turner failed to hinder Ohio State…Jon Diebler had seven threes and Dallas Lauderdale had 12 blocks---12 blocks, my-oh-my!

Georgia Tech, a team that hit 65% of their foul shots during the season goes 24 for 25 from the line…amazing. When you’re scoreless from the field in the final 8:19 and still win, the free-throws give you the W.

Syracuse was on “Cuse Control”---no problem without Arinze Onuaku. They have pretty much perfected that 2-3 zone. The game Sunday vs. Gonzaga should be a doozy.

Gonzaga tried to let FSU win after taking a 24-9 lead. Matt Bouldin does not want to go home early. Foul shots made a difference here as well.

Another freshman stepped up as Maryland’s Jordan Williams scored 21 points and took down 17 rebounds. Maryland was +20 in rebounds, +8 in offensive rebounds over Houston.

Without a career night from Kalin Lucas New Mexico State would be playing Maryland on Sunday. A struggling Michigan State earned no style points in a game decided by a lane violation
.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 9

Does Not Get Any Better Than This!

Syracuse will open its NCAA tournament run without Arinze Onuaku in today’s game vs Vermont.

This season Duke has shot the ball 2,045 times…seventh most in Division I. Quite remarkable considering, they play at the 158th-fastest pace. Shows the high value of offensive rebounds.

Duke is ranked at # 4 in fewest points allowed per possession…mainly due to how effectively they shut down opponent’s three-point attempts and makes.

Watching your bracket vaporize is one of the most humbling things in life. Brackets are so democratic…they grade you on a strict curve…no pass/fail in the brackets.

Truism: Bubble teams earned that distinction for a reason. They all had their chances.

Pittsburgh, Texas and Texas A&M are the only teams in Tournament that have won a game at the dance the last four years in a row.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Why does CBS not show the shot clock for the entire 35 seconds? ESPN does a far better job on graphics.

What a terrific Thursday. Half the games went down to the final possession. It could never be this good with 96 teams!

Seven lower-seeded teams won games Thursday, including five double-digits seeds, the most on the opening day of the tournament since 1991.

Vandy busted many brackets. Reminds me of my pick last year taking Wake Forest to the Final Four. And, this year Wake beats Texas…go figure. Dino wins his first post-season game. No one had Wake, by the way.

Sam Houston sure gave Baylor all they wanted, especially in the first half.

Lehigh did not cave in to Kansas. The Jayhawks won in a most business-like manner. The matchup with Northern Iowa will be a good scrap.

Raise your hand if you even considered Robert Morris staying with Villanova in regulation. Even more amazing as Robert Morris had two players foul out and two others with four fouls.

BYU’s Jimmer Fredette was even better than advertised. Michael Loyd Jr. was simply unconscious…a dazzling performance.

Only Thom Schuyler had the Ohio upset. Hell, I didn’t even know their nickname. Georgetown certainly lived up to their “inconsistent” reputation.

Washington’s
Quincy Pondexter made the game-winning shot (with 1.7 seconds on the clock. no less) after a four-point first half…that’s clutch and believing in yourself.

Butler’s second half against UTEP should be a DVD instructional video. Overwhelming! They’ll give the Syracuse/Gonzaga winner (if they both get by their first round opponents) more than they want if that Sweet Sixteen match takes place.

St. Mary’s shocked me. Knowing next to nothing about them, I was hugely impressed. Villanova had better bring their A++ game on Saturday. Five Australians on one team…now that’s recruiting outside the box.

Big East went 1-3. That’s what you’d expect from the ACC. However, the Big East is still the only conference to place three teams in the Final Four

The last second Northern Iowa and Washington wins were high drama.

Rave: All games available at
www.ncaa.com with maybe a ten-second delay. Lets you follow at least two games. The “boss button” is a hoot…takes you to Dilbert spreadsheet. Check it out.

After all the thrills, hard play and highlights, it was tough seeing Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody go so quietly in the night. He played his heart out four years and will graduate.

Dexter Pittman and Damion James from Texas---I sure expected more from them before they opt for the NBA. What dismal performances.

Almost lost in all the overtimes, buzzer beaters and improbable endings was Kentucky’s dominating performance. 45.5% from the three-point line…8 threes from Bledsoe, 22 points from Patterson, Wall’s 17 points and 11 assists. The bench got 74 minutes, so you can’t say Kentucky tried to rub it in.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Version 1.3

CBS has eight announcing crews for the first two rounds. That’s sixteen announcers…15 who are superior to Clark Kellogg. Who do think is calling the Duke games opening weekend? Answer: the awful Kellogg…gack.

Nine of the last ten tournaments have featured at least one double-digit seed in the Sweet Sixteen.

Cornell (12 seed, East) makes more three-pointers per game (9.8) than any team in the tournament…shooting threes at a 43.4% clip.

St. Mary’s (10 seed, South) is the third best free-throw shooting team (76.4%) in the tournament.

Minnesota’s (11 seed, West) Blake Hoffaber leads the nation in three-point shooting at 48.1%.

Missouri (10 seed, East) leads Division I teams in steals per game at 10.9.

San Diego State University (11 seed, Midwest) ranks 14th nationally in rebound margin while Tennessee (6 seed, Midwest) is # 169.

Old Dominion (11 seed, South) held 19 opponents under 60 points, including Georgetown and Dayton, and is fifth in the nation in scoring defense.

Oakland (14, West) starts two seniors and three juniors---the Cal Bears (8, South) start four seniors.

Virginia Tech’s nonconference strength-of-schedule---339. And, that whiner Seth Greenberg has the gall to complain about missing the cut of 65.

Siena (13, South) has four players averaging at least 13.6 points-per-game.

Texas A&M (5, South) has beaten four NCAA Tournament teams since January 30th.

UConn is the overwhelming favorite to win the Women’s NCAA Tournament. So overwhelming that in Las Vegas, you can bet the remaining 63 teams as a field at 6-1 odds.

Wisconsin (4, East) only turns the ball over
on 15.1 percent of its possessions, ranking third in the country in that category. They get to 74.2 percent of available defensive boards.

Kentucky (1, East) turns the ball over on 20.4 percent of its possessions, ranking 167th.

Minnesota's (11, West) RPI of 62 is the lowest for any at-large team in this year's field. That is tied for the seventh-worst at-large RPI over the last 15 tournaments.

There have been five 50-point performances in the history of the Big Dance.

This is the third straight appearance in which the St. Mary’s Gaels are a 10-seed.

Clyde Lovellette became the first and only player to lead the nation in scoring and win a championship when Kansas won the 1952 title.

No school has been to the Big Dance more than Kentucky’s 51 appearances. Next are UCLA and UNC with 41.

Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and Joe B. Hall are only folks with a national championship as a player and head coach.

Over the last 45 years, only four teams have won the title after being unranked in the preseason AP poll. Texas Western did it in 1966, then Villanova in '85, Syracuse in '03 and Florida in '06.

Illinois has 38 NCAA tournament wins, the most for any school without a championship.

There are 35 teams returning to the NCAA tournament from last year's bracket.

Since seeding began in 1979, 27 of the 31 titles have been won by top-three seeds.

BYU has been in 24 previous NCAA tournaments but has never appeared in the Final Four. That's the most appearances for any team not to make the Final Four…second-most appearances without a Final Four is Missouri, with 22 going into 2010.

With 22, Boston College has the most NCAA tournament wins for a team never to appear in the Final Four.

John Wooden won 21 games in the Final Four, more than any other two coaches combined did.

If Purdue defeats Siena on Friday, the Boilermakers will have won 12 straight games in the first round of the tournament. Their current 11-game first-round win streak is the longest active streak in the country.

Temple has won nine NCAA tournament games while seeded lower than its opponents have.

Dick Vitale had one NCAA tournament win in his coaching career.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 2, Version 1.2


Since 1985, there have been only four years in which a #13 or #14 seed did not win a game---including 13 years in which more than one of those seeds pulled the upset.

In the latest 100 matchups, the #9 has won 54 times over the #8.

Vandy is 8-3 in the Sagarin’s College Basketball Ratings’ Top 50…New Mexico 6-3…Ohio State 7-5…Georgetown 10-8…Purdue 8-4 (mostly w/ Robbie Hummel)…Villanova 9-6…Kansas State 8-6…West Virginia 12-5…Kentucky 10-1…DUKE & Syracuse 9-4…Kansas 11-2…Richmond 6-3.

On the flip side: Texas 5-7…BYU 4-5…Xavier 2-7…Tennessee & Pitt 6-6…Missouri 4-7…Michigan State 5-6…Marquette 5-9…Clemson & Florida State 5-7…California 1-6…Georgia Tech 4-8…UTEP 0-2…Louisville 3-8.

Sagarin’s Top 5: Kansas, DUKE, Syracuse, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Sagarin’s Top 5 Conference Ratings: Big 12, Big East, ACC, Big 10, SEC.

Houston’s Aubrey Coleman leads the nation with a stout 25.6 ppg. He fired up nearly 700 field goal attempts and over 300 free throws. Houston, a 13 seed, plays Maryland in the opening round. Houston averages a meager 9.1 turnovers a game. Their 12.6% of TO to Possessions is the best in Division I. That skimpy TO percentage is truly remarkable considering they play the 20th fastest tempo at over 72 possessions per game (ppg).

If Tennessee sleeps, or even takes a quick nap on SDSU, Bruce Pearl can take a quick exit. Hope so. The Vegas line is currently Tennessee by three. It’s an intriguing 6/11 matchup that the 11 could win.

There are only six teams in the Tournament that rank in the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency (according to kenpom.com)…the four #1 seeds plus Wisconsin and Kansas State.

Five of Marquette’s last six victories were by four points or less…three in OT, before Georgetown ran them off the court. That’s a lot of minutes for the starters. Factor in they’re traveling to San Jose for a Thursday game, and maybe Washington has a good shot in this 6/11 matchup. Vegas calls it: Marquette by 1 ½ points. I’m reevaluating my pick.

At times Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins is a man among boys.

Montana’s senior guard, Anthony Johnson’s wife plays for Montana’s Women’s basketball team.

Turnovers will be a significant factor in deciding the outcome of the tournament. Murray State (13 seed) forces turnovers on an incredible 24.6% of its opponent’s possessions---11th best in Division I. They have five double-figure scorers.

Vandy has six losses to teams that did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.

There are as many teams (2) at the dance from New Mexico as from North Carolina. There are 19 Division I teams in Carolina…two in New Mexico.

The seven teams from Texas ties the NCAA record set by California in 2002.

21 States have zero teams.

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith has taken four teams to the tournament at least twice. Minnesota has beaten Big Ten teams Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue.

The 12 seed has 34 wins in the tournament…11 seeds have 31.

This season’s two biggest underachievers---Wake Forest and Texas---meet in the first round.

St. Mary’s and San Diego State have to travel over 3,000 miles for their first round games in Providence.

65 teams…18 coached by men who have been to the Final Four…nine who have won a national title.

Prediction: DUKE will be eliminated either in round two or get to the Final Four. If it’s Louisville, will the team that swept Syracuse or the one that lost to Western Carolina show up?

Purdue has totaled 86 points in its two games against NCAA Tournament teams since Robbie Hummel went down.

Xavier (6 seed) is bigger than #3 seed Pitt.

Any team higher than a 5-seed that makes the Sweet 16 is a Cinderella in my book.

Early round geographic advantages: Syracuse playing in Buffalo…Kansas and Kansas State in OKC…Utah State in Spokane…Washington in San Jose.

Teams left out of the dance need to suck it up and schedule more games against good non-conference teams.

I agree with Coach Knight when he says that the selection committee need more basketball people on it.

Baylor has the fifth highest points per possession efficiency in the country.

Turns out Syracuse’s Arinze Onuaku will miss the first two rounds.

#16 seed Vermont has won 13 road games.

Oklahoma State’s James Anderson could be a household after the tournament is over.

Great read: http://www.dukebasketballreport.com/articles/?p=32384



Monday, March 15, 2010

Curmudgeon in the Wry 470

Monday, March 15, 2010---518 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 54 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)
Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.
Virtually free of original ideas.
Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.
A Grumpy Old Man Production.
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Rave:
Conway Twitty.
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Reading: “
Kisser” by Stuart Woods.
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On the Hi Fi: “Poetics of Sound” by
Miles Davis---a Starbucks compilation.
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Under rated:
Little Peggy March.
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Truism: Civil servants are neither.
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Factoid: Las Vegas takes bets on Women’s Basketball only during the NCAA Tournament.
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Rant: The definition of “irrelevancy?” Spring training standings.
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Going rogue:
Patrick Kennedy…embarrassingly so.
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Rave. The high holy days of the sporting scene are from Selection Sunday to the Championship game…March Madness. Excitement for the tournament peaks during the first week. It’s the only major event where interest wanes the closer the sport gets to crowning a champion.
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Hmmm: You know the sixties are over, when Harvard is considering bringing back ROTC.
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Rave:
Julie Banderas is one tough cookie.
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Hmmm: Why are Senators referred to as Senators and Representatives called Congressmen? They all are members of Congress.
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Déjà vu: Another baseball spring training and the feds want to speak to A-Rod about a controversial doctor.
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Quote: “Ordinary people know little of the time and effort it takes to learn to read. I have been eighty years at it, and have not reached my goal.” -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Truism: Wethern's Law: Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.
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Common Sense: “A study some years ago found that Mormons live a decade longer than other Americans. But nobody believes that Mormons’’ doctors are that much better than other doctors. When you don’t do a lot of things that shorten your life, you live longer. That is not rocket science.” —Dr. Thomas Sowell.
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Rave: It’s March---the high holy season for college basketball. Go Duke!
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Didjaknow: In a Harris Poll last year John Wayne still ranked third amongst America’s favorite movie stars…is the only deceased actor on the list…and the only one who has appeared in the top ten every year since Harris started the poll in 1994.
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Stats: This season Minor League Baseball has increased the per diem road allowance to $25 a day. Most college Division I baseball players receive $35 a day on road trips. Just another reason to hone your skills in college.
Sidebar---the Major League per diem is $89.50.
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Quote: Commenting on the possibility of expanding the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to 96 teams, Tracee Hamilton of the Washing Post said, “This is the worst idea in the history of ideas.”
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Name game: Is it true that this season, the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is being renamed the UConn Invitational?
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Quote: “The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.” —
Albert Camus.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.
If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Welcome to Bracketville, Population 2

The High Holy Days of the sporting calendar are once again upon us. Selection Sunday kicked off the celebratory season that casts a spell for many of us thru April 5th’s Championship Game.

So…I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours---bracket, that is. A blank bracket is attached in Excel if that makes sending it back easier. By the way, is there a more beautiful geometric construction than the bracket to arrange March Madness? Only a heretic would wish for a 96-team grid.

As is my habit, I’ll update the points and standings after each round. One point for each correct pick in the first round, 2 points in the second round, and so forth.

Deadline is noon on Thursday, March 18th…all brackets must be exchanged by then.

From Day One, ESPN’s Jay Bilas has said there are no great teams this year…but many good ones. I bought into that about a month into the season. That should make for a most interesting tournament…as well as a humbling one after each day’s final buzzer.

If the conference tournaments are a clue, the NCAA Tournament will be a treat. Evan Turner’s 37-footer, Da’Sean Butler’s game-winner, DeMarcus Cousins’ stick-back and Jon Scheyer’s dagger were just start of the conference tournaments’ highlights.

Great first-round matchups: Vandy/Murray State and Temple/Cornell.

Wonderful potential second-round matchup: Kansas State/BYU. Honorable mention to Villanova/Richmond.

Best potential Sweet 16 matchup: Ohio State/Georgetown. Please let this happen!

Terrific potential Elite 8 matchup: Kentucky/West Virginia. Runner-up to Kansas vs Ohio State/Georgetown winner.

Random observations. Should BYU win their first two games, they play their Sweet 16 game in Salt Lake City. All five of BYU’s losses are to tournament teams.

Could Kansas meet up Kansas State in the Final Four? Kansas State ranks 16th in offensive efficiency and 19th on defensive efficiency.

The Florida State/Gonzaga is one of the toughest 8/9 games I can recall. Florida State is the #1 overall team in defensive efficiency.

Duke is the #1 offensive efficiency and overall efficiency team according to kenpom.com.

Baylor #52 in defensive efficiency.

For two starters for Texas A&M this will be their fourth dance. Their Sweet 16 games are in Houston.

Butler has very little front-court depth if their all-world big man, Matt Howard gets in foul trouble.

15 & 16 seeds are a combined 4-192. The championship game has pitted two #1 seeds against each other only six times. Only four #5 seeds have made it to a Final Four.

No Elite Eight team in the past decade had a top 10 scorer.

Separated at birth: Villanova’s Jay Wright and George Clooney.

Truism: Seedings don’t matter as much as matchups.

Kentucky’s schedule is ranked the 64th toughest year according to Jeff Sagarin.

Word is Syracuse’s Arinze Onuake will be recovered enough from a strained quad to play…but at what level?

Second chance points will be the key this year…there will be many missed shots.

Best name in tourney goes to Baylor’s Tweety Carter.

It’s been 60 years since Baylor won a tourney game…Northern Iowa has one total victory. Look for both to add to those numbers this year. Baylor’s games this year are in New Orleans and Houston---as close home advantage as you can get.

No matter how their threes are falling, Duke guards their opponents from the time they get off the bus.

Richmond is 14-4 in games decided by seven points or less…many against teams in the field of 65.

Help increase the Bracketville population, Let the Madness begin!

KVD

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Curmuegeon in the Wry 369

Sunday, February 28, 2010---687 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 24 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)
Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.
Virtually free of original ideas.
Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.
A Grumpy Old Man Production.
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Rave: Maverick.
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Reading: “Heaven’s Keep” by William Kent Krueger.
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On the Hi Fi: “Shorty Rogers Swings”.
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Under rated: Skeeter Davis.
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Rave: Judging by the ratings, not many people are familiar with Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.
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Rant: The controversy about the sudsy celebration by the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team is much ado about nothing.
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Rave: Martha MacCallum is one tough cookie.
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Rant: Florida governor Charlie Crist is simply Arlen Spector with a George Hamilton tan.
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Rave: John Hart is the first writer of crime fiction to have his initial three books nominated for the Edgar Award (the Oscars of crime fiction---named after Edgar Allen Poe). His debut novel, “The King of Lies” was nominated---his second, “Down River” won. His latest, “The Last Child” is in this year’s Final Five.
“The Last Child” is as good a book as I have read in the past year (including the two by Michael Connelly). It moves at an amazing velocity…accelerating with every page. Readers are kept in the dark to the very end, and will be talking about it long after closing the book.
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Truism: There is no crying in curling.
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Didjaknow: Both North Carolina and UCLA stand a fair chance of finishing this college basketball season with losing records. The last time that happened? 1939.
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For my money: There is no better mob movie than “Goodfellas.”
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Stats: Only four teams have been in Top 10 all season---Duke, Kansas, Villanova and Kentucky.
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Hmmm: Baseball’s new flavor of the season this year is “run prevention.” Sounds as dubious as “jobs created or saved” to me.
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Rant: Just when you think reality TV can’t get any worse, along comes “Celebrity Rehab.”
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Hmmm: Lady Gaga? Where is Cher when we really need her?
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Stupid is as stupid does: Syracuse University basketball “student athlete” Wesley Johnson tweeted this brilliant thought, “Why does it SNOW so much?” Answer---perhaps because you’re in Syracuse.
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Rant: The world was a better place before everything was known as a “brand.”
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Pop Quiz: Only one MLB player has hit at least 20 singles, 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 home runs in the same season. Who is he? Hint: not Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron.
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Rant: Mark McGwire is already the definition old (and tedious) news.
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Quote: After the Hartford Courant revealed that 30% of respondents thought Geno Auriemma’s UConn Women’s Basketball team could beat the men’s team, Geno gave this priceless reply, “They’re out of their mind. If they’re serious, they shouldn’t be allowed to watch another basketball game, ever.”
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Didjaknow: The national average number of possessions in a Division One College Basketball game is 67.
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Bumper Sticker of the Week: “Fight Crime—Shoot Back.”
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Rave: Jay Bilas and Coach Bob Knight are my favorites calling college basketball games on TV. It’s hard not to enjoy Hubert Davis as well, even if he did play for North Carolina. With each passing week, Clark Kellogg is harder and harder to take…I miss Billy Packer,
+++++++
Quote: “The last time more people have encountered the likes of three women such as California’s Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi, was when the curtain went up on ‘Macbeth.’” —Burt Prelutsky
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Pop quiz Answer: Willie Mays---and he did it twice.
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More Stats: Over the past four seasons, Butler has spent 63 weeks in the ESPN/USA Today coach’s poll. Only three other colleges have more appearances---Duke, Kansas and North Carolina.
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Spy games: Was there ever better casting in spy genre than Alec Guinness as Smiley in the BBC spectacular adaptation of John LeCarre?
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.
If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.