Monday, March 17, 2014


Okay – I will throw a brief congratulations out to Sparty at this point because if I didn’t, everyone would call me a Michigan Slappy for refusing to acknowledge that Sparty played a great game and won.  No excuses, but I will say that it was a very uncharacteristic Michigan team that took the floor and only shot sub 40% or so from the field and turned the ball over way too many times…That and Sparty’s interior post game were more or less the separators in this one. 

I only hope we get a repeat of this game on Monday night, April 7th!  That would be fitting and somewhat awesome!

I will say here that I will never, EVER get tired of this and may watch until I’m old and gray (Okay – older and grayer!):
"Pulling a Craft..."
With apologies to what is otherwise a really good kid and a nice guy but still a much hated Suckeye:  Can we come up for a name for this?  Like, you know, “He pulled a Craft on the last second shot?” that lives on forever in NCAA perpetuity???  That would make me very happy!  I’m glad to be done with that kid and I’m especially tickled that Michigan could add another sweep to the 2013-14 season of ohio.  Yes, I felt very good on Saturday…Sunday, not so much. 


The brackets are out and as usual I’m going to be a little pre-occupied for the next three and a half days as I contemplate, decided, re-decide, erase, second guess, and finally throw my hands up and probably go with the initial bracket that I completed (in less than 5 minutes this year – a new record!) and maybe one other “crazy” or “insanity” bracket that does something silly like putting 3 B1G teams in the Final 4…or has Michigan vs. Sparty on Monday night…For Real!  It can happen!

Michigan got the seed I was hoping for, but to say that Michigan pulled the toughest bracket is an understatement.  The committee went OUT OF IT’S WAY to insure that there would be no F4 repeats from last year as 3 of the F4 teams from last year are in the same region!  (Witchy State, Louisville, and Michigan).  While I get that part of it (apparently, last year’s F4 was as low a draw for TV as it’s ever been – not sure why that is, but when you lose Tobacco Road, well…You lose Tobacco Road.

Still, Witchy State was and still is the Feel Good team of the season, but their road to a repeat appearance is filled with land mines, to say the least.  Greg Marshall’s task last year was quite easy once he had defeated Gonzaga….So, what was a gift last year is a curse this year as the Shockers may suffer the same fate as they dealt to the Zags from the 9 seed in the 2nd round…

Bracket toughness (by RPI rankings) in order with comments on each:

Midwest – Witchy State, Michigan, dook, Louisville:  All I can say is, really?  We couldn’t have had UCLA or SDSU in this bracket?  I’d even take the ‘Cuse over dook here because…well, the Boeheim Curse and all….I like a suddenly hot Kentucky in a 8 over 1 Seed upset of the Shockers, but remember that EVERYONE will be picking that upset…so the upset “pick” might actually be the chalk.  But if the Wildcats can get it together, they could own this bracket.  I like Michigan to the Sweet 16 but a re-match with dook looks scary…not to mention that the 2013 Championship re-match with the Cards - hottest team in the NCAA right now - would be next…Yeah, an easy bracket, for sure.  St. Louis is not playing well right now and if you are looking for a 12-5, I like NCState (after handling Xavier) to beat the Bilikens in that one.  Point spread also suggests the same thing.  Iowa or Tennessee over UMass is also worth a look as a potential 11- 6 upset in the making….

West – ‘Zona, Wiscy, Creighton, SDSU:  I was going to call this the all upset bracket, but now I’m not so sure.  I see a lot of balance in the top 4 seeds and Creighton could be the sleeper that comes out of this one…But I like the chalk here for some reason all of a sudden and I like Wiscy as a potential F4 team – IF THEY CAN GET PAST HOT SHOOTING OREGON.  Yes, Smart and Okie State will be a test for Zona, but don’t believe the hype.  Arizona can play….I would have taken the Huskers against ANY OTHER 6 SEED except the one they got (well maybe not UNC) – Baylor.  Baylor can score and shoot the 3 pointer and the MMPG is awed by bright and shiny things…Defense, not so much.  I’m not sure what to do here…Another 12-5 is ND state (Awesome Off Eff) over Oklahoma who kind of slid sideways into the tournament.  Again, the bright and shiny thing stuff…

South – Florida, Kansas, Cuse, UCLA:  If this had been Virigina on the top line, it would have been the easiest bracket.   KU is fading fast and the Orange are the Orange…UCLA winning the Pac 12 will be true test for Florida and that could be a tough game to pick. In the only 11-6 upset I like the Flyers to beat ohio…Gotta go with Offense and Dayton’s got a lot of that plus an in-state chip on their shoulder.  In fact, I might give Dayton a serious look as an 11 seed all the way to the Elite 8 in this one! 

East – Virginia, Villanova, Iowa State, Sparty:  If anything, you could REVERSE this 1-4 seed line-up and I think you’d have a more representative indication of relative strength of this region.  Let’s face it:  Virginia won the ACC with a favorable schedule.  Villanova is fading fast and Iowa State is a lot like Michigan – Huge on offense and has sort of heard about this thing called “defense”, but has never really tried it on for size.  Sparty doesn’t even get a test until the Elite 8.  UConn maybe upsets Villanova in the 2nd round….And look for Amaker to repeat as a 12-5 upset over an unpredictable up and down Cincinnati team….Is Providence capable of pulling the upset?  I don’t think so….

So, yes, the committee once again did the Izzo-Troll a HUGE favor and placed the 4th seeded Sparty in the easiest bracket with a relatively simple road to the F4.  But, whoever survives the Midwest Region will have literally seen a schedule and line-up that is akin to going to Hell and surviving the fires of Hades and will be ready for whatever the F4 can offer. 

I will have my bracket put together and will post either tomorrow or Wednesday after I’ve had a full day or two of deliberation and mental digestion of what’s going on…

From the Book of Little Known Facts:  Did you know that the State of Indiana did not field a single team in this year’s NCAA Tourney?  They have 11 schools in D-1 and not one even got close…For Tom Crean and everyone else in Indiana, if you would have just kept your home-grown talent in state, you could have quite a line-up.  Hell, even if you kept the State of Michigan out of your state and kept that talent, you’d have a scary good team!

Mitch McGary, GRIII, Zak Irvin, Spike Albrecht, Sean Lonergran, Andrew Dakich from Michigan are all Indiana kids…

Gary Harris and Branden Dawson from Sparty.

Could you imagine that?  I’m glad Michigan and Sparty recruit well!

Little Known Fact II:  The Hoosiers couldn’t even make the NIT!  This is a big deal in a Basketball oriented University like IU…I can imagine that they are as frustrated as they have ever been in Hoosier land right now.  To add a little insult to injury, IU told theCBI that they wouldn’t be playing in that tournament, either, and declined theinvite stating that, “We’re Indiana.  Wedon’t play in the CBI.”  Well, yeah…um…you haven’t really played all year anywhere so I guess that’s appropriate thinking there.

State of the Game

Because basketball is one of the best sports out there and is AWESOME at every level, I would be re-miss if I didn’t give a call out of recogntion to my niece down in Cleveland, well, Olmsted Falls, OH, to be precise, and her 3rd - 4th Grade Team’s accomplishment this year.  Here’s the link to the Olmsted Falls newspaper and for those of you toolazy to click it, I’ve re-produced all the important stuff right here:

Perfect record – The Olmsted Falls fourth-grade girls basketball team had a 24-0 record this year.

It won the Lake Erie Basketball League’s regular season and end-of-the-season tournament. The girls’ achievements began early. They also took first place in the Tiger Rage pre-season tournament, the Bulldog Holiday Classic and the Independence Youth Tournament.

Team members are Kylee Urban, Sydney Moses, Mia Kalich and Paige Kohler, all third graders and Maddy Sagerman, Sara Glover, Sammie Gaba, Aubrey Thiel, Katie Voisinet and Lauren Noernberg, fourth graders. Dawn Moses and Kim Urban are the coaches.

Congratulations, girls, for this perfect season.

Way To Go Sara!  Uncle Russ couldn’t be prouder and I’m only sad that we didn’t get down there to see you play this season!  But I will definitely keep it on my radar for next year!

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