It’s GREAT to be a Michigan Wolverine!
I will admit here and now that I actually missed the University of Michigan getting their tournament announcement last night. I had flipped over to watch ESPN as the CBS guys are usually quite irritating to watch and I figured Michigan, if it was coming, would be announced down in the 7-10 or 6-11 half of any region we were announced in anyway. So, imagine my surprise when ESPN starts talking about the 8-9 match up of Michigan and Tennessee! From being on the bubble (meaning at least an 11-12 seed) all the way up to an 8 seed?
Which got me to thinking about who got screwed in this deal and it really didn’t take long to figure it out. Colorado and Va Tech have legitimate – LEGITIMATE – beefs and something needs to be done with respect to looking at how the committee deals with the 11 and 12 seeds and head to head match-ups, not to mention the play in games. VCU? UAB? Yeah…Those were schools in the middle of every bubble discussion out there...NOT. Why am I bitching? Look – kids go to big schools because of this very opportunity – a chance to go to the Dance. VCU and UAB are legitimate basketball venues, but they are “Big Schools”. And while we all love and fall all over the George Masons, Butlers, and other Cinderellas that make deep runs in the greatest college event ever (at least in March), it would certainly piss me off if I was sitting on the outside this year looking in at teams that I had beaten 3 times (Colorado vs. K-State) and Va Tech with a win over a #1 seed and 2 wins over another ACC team (Duke, FSU - TWICE). It makes me sick that the committee looks at UAB (didn’t beat anybody worthy of the mention) and VCU (same) and says they deserve it.
I say bullshit. Bilas and Dickie V had it right. It doesn’t even pass the laugh test…
But then of course, you see that it’s the Suckeye AD Gene Smith that chairs the committee and you figure we’ll here about the payola from UAB and VCU soon enough. Especially if Smith is driving a nice, shiny new car come April.
And if you didn’t watch the Fab 5 movie on ESPN at 9:00, I would HIGHLY recommend tuning in for a repeat of it. Having lived through that as a fan that followed that team and went to Minnesota for the Final Four when they were Freshmen, it was fascinating to see it and hear it in their words. The footage that Dutcher shared from the Euro-trip is good stuff. And I earned a whole new respect for Jalen Rose. I always knew he had an attitude, but I didn’t realize how down to earth the guy was, or at least how he was portrayed in the moive. And everyone’s comments on Duke should be etched into stone for posterity! Those were classic.
I guess I was a bit taken aback by some of the alumni of Michigan that had the audacity to send letters condemning the school and Fisher for letting these “types of players” take over the team. I was more embarrassed by that segment after watching the whole thing than I was by anything else. And the Ed Martin fiasco, while I think we all now know it happened, was explained pretty succinctly by Jalen and Albom: Kids in poverty or with nothing are going to take handouts, plain and simple, regardless of what NCAA rule is written somewhere... Ed Martin was in his own way trying to do something charitable. Yes, he ran an illegal gambling ring. And I’m pretty sure that Webber took a big loan from Ed with the promise to pay it back once he made it to the pros. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink....But did he take it during his active playing time? I agree with Mitch – you certainly couldn’t tell from the way he lived.
Catch all of it if you can and you can sort of identify with how these 5 guys viewed themselves and how the press made the Fab 5 into the Fab 5. What’s really shocking is how Uof M merchandise sales skyrocketed when they arrived. 10 fold. And you can sort of see their point of view: Why do superstar athletes get treated like revenue streams without the promise of reward (from the University)? Anyone of those 5 guys goes down with a knee injury and all that’s left is the memories. I mean, I’m not saying we should pay athletes as the Pandora’s box that opens is simply too difficult to think about and if the NCAA goes there, it can never go back. But still, would you deny your kid the ability to generate income if they were blessed with any other skill or in any other endeavor? (Music, medicine, etc.?)
By the way, Michigan Hocky SWEPT Bowling Green in the best 2 out of 3 and marches on in the CCHA tournament. Michigan already has a berth in the Frozen 4 so winning the CCHA would improve that, but I won’t pretend here and stated that I know how. Please read the Blog that Yost built for details….
And St. Tressel was still in the news, even though tOSU has been trying to down play EVERYTHING from the President Gee comments at the press conference (more non-compliance ammo if the coach isn’t even afraid of his ultimate boss) and whatever else comes from the affairs of Tressel. It’s finally good to see that University getting some of what it deserves, even if our higher ups need to stay on the high road when addressing it.
My picks for the tournament? I thought you’d never ask! And what’s a good strategy for wining the office pool? Here’s what I do:
Strategy: It used to be the 12-5 match-ups were the pesky picks – now the 5-12 pick’s seem easy. It’s the 13-4 and 14-3’s, not to mention the 6-11’s being the play in game upset picks that are the challenge. I think you need at least 4 or possibly 5 upsets in those 16 first round "middle" games to have a chance at winning a bracket. 7-10’s and 8-9’s are a coin flip and I always consult the Vegas line for clues or close match-ups. If you have the guts to pick a 15-2, go ahead. I’m just not that brave unless I get a whole bunch of bonus points for picking an upset early. And also pick against the Big East….After 7 of last year’s 8 teams getting knocked out before the Sweet 16, they simply aren’t a good bet in March.
EAST (Hey, What happened to the new names?)
Look for a UK vs. OSU Sweet 16 Match-up with OSU coming out on top. I AM NOT a B-East fan, even in basketball, but the Orange and the much hated Boheim are rolling. And that means I have to write that miserable name down (Syracuse) over Isaiah Thomas and Washington and also take them in a mild upset of Roy Williams and UNC. However, that Washington-Syracuse pick could change at any time. Meaning I’ll take Washington to the Elite 8 vs. OSU. Otherwise, I like the chalk with the exception of Clemson possibly sliding in and knocking off WVU…But No – WVU makes it to the 2nd round. Marquette is sliding and was the last BEAST team to make it into the field. Xavier should handle them. OSU in the Final 4….
WEST – Hail to the Victors????
SLEEPER ALERT: Why the ESPN or CBS guys are not giving San Diego State any love is beyond me…Were they simply keeping them (and that upset pick) to themselves? SDSU plays defense and only lost (twice) to a BYU team that was in some estimations an easy #1 seed and had a chance to win it all. I’m taking SDSU all the way to Houston, folks. Duke actually goes down early to the #8 Seed in that region after that seed knocks out a CHEATING Tennessee team…(Ahem – Yes, that’s my Homer pick – So I’ll get that out of the way right now). I’m tempted to take the fashionable upset (but won’t) and go with 13-seeded Oakland over Texas. Texas is trying to get to the Final 4 in their Home State city of Houston and won’t go down easy…. One more mild 10-7 upset: PSU over Temple. Otherwise, stick with the seeding when the time comes. (NOTE: Do not fall for the MIZZOU hype…Cincinnati ain’t that good either, but I think they see Mizzou coming) Yes, that means I have Michigan as the 8 Seed losing to Fisher…Wouldn’t that be poetic? And I would have truly mixed feelings about it if it happened….SDSU in the Final Four.
SOUTHWEST – UPSETS GALORE!
KU – Are they the most over rated #1 or is Duke? Or is this Bill Self’s year? After last year’s dismal showing, I have to believe that Kansas makes a much better run this year…But the bracket isn’t easy. Kansas will beat UNLV and have to beat Pitino’s Cardinal to get to the Elite 8. Vandy loses to Richmond…Yep…that’s another 13-4 I simply can’t ignore. Georgetown has injuries and will lose in the 1st round to whoever wins the play in game and that play in game winner might just beat a Purdue Boilermaker team that has been horrendous at the end of the season. No – scratch that, Purdue and the Domers meet in the Sweet 16… I’ll take the Domers (JEEZ I HATE THESE GUYS!) to the elite 8 and into the Final 4…Sorry, Kansas. Fool me once….Domer’s toughest game MIGHT be the first one against Akron – they scared somebody last year…And wouldn’t that be a cool, good ole fashioned 15-2 upset on Friday afternoon??? But I can’t force myself to pick it, as much as I think it could happen.
SOUTHEAST – Zig-Zag…
Let me state right here that Pitt has to have the easiest road to the Final 4 and that to me is a travesty. I think that the BEAST should not have received the #1 seed in this bracket. But it is what it is now. Hold your nose and take Pitt to the Final 4. K-State may make the early exit when they get on the floor over a much less and more hungry Utah State. Not sure if I can do that 12-5, but it’s right there…. Do not, I repeat: Do NOT fall for all the of the St. John’s Red Storm talk. Upsets: The Zags are the darlings of the Southeast and will play Pitt in the Elite 8. Wofford over BYU will be incredibly hard to ignore and I might have to take it just because. But that would give me too many 14-3 upsets (4) and that really bothers me…The Cheeseheads will go down to Belmont (Belmont has the highest margin of victory of anyone in the tournament and they can SCORE!) and Wisconsin is on the same downhill slide as Purdue – they looked putrid in the Big 10 tournament…KSU meets Pitt in the Sweet 16 and Sparty finds a way to beat Gatorland but loses to the Zags….Pitt to the Final 4….
Best Upset Picks (of the 14-3, 13-4 variety) (2 picks): Belmont over the Cheeseheads, Wofford over BYU….But don’t say I didn’t warn you about Oakland-Texas...
Best 6-11 upset Picks (2): The Zags and whoever plays Georgetown.
12-5 Upsets (2): Richmond over Vanderbilt and Utah State over K-State
Only 7-10 Upsets: PSU over Temple and Sparty over UCLA
Cinder Fella that no one saw coming: Gonzaga
Biggest Sleeper: I know they are a 2 seed, but they are the most unheralded 2 seed out there – San Diego State
Final Four: SDSU, OSU, PITT, DOMERS
Final Two: OSU vs. PITT
Winner: OSU….I don’t like this one little bit and anyone that could ruin it would make my day.