Hello loyal 10TILTW followers. I've got plenty of things to hit on (wonder if I can keep it to 10) including some non-college b-ball takes (although it'll still be heavily in that direction). Got some great ideas for points in today's paper, including a story about a 17 year old kid who's kicking ALL of our butts on the cbssports.com bracket challenge. So enjoy!
1) Great week in the tourney forces me to rehash my main point from last week - This week's NCAA tournament was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that you had highly compelling, interesting games, many glass slippers fitting for now. Numerous overtime games where it came down to five minutes of crunch time with tired legs to find out who wants it more. And several buzzer beaters including a few heartbreakers where a team had just scored the previous trip. A curse in that my bracket blew up in my face, Kentucky is now the favorite, and because so many 9+ and mid-majors did so well, it has brought about a stronger push to expand the field. I already hit on all the reasons why this would be a bad idea last week (at least to 96 teams. I am open to the idea of a small expansion), so I'll direct you here if you want to see what those are: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
entry/10264446/20507349. My bigger problem now is that people are saying this will get more of the small fries in. If by more, you mean about 6, you are absolutely correct. But you are kidding yourself if you think by going to 96 teams, it's not going to just open up the doors to the North Carolina's and Connecticut's of the world. I don't need to see .500 teams who have no business being there losing in the first round to the Northern Iowa's and St. Mary's of the world. Plus, it'd be unfair to them to make them (UNI and St. Mary's) play the extra game when they TRULY deserve to be there. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now as it involves too much common sense.
2) Too many people buy into the #1 overall seed - Did you know since they started seeding the #1 seeds in I think 2004, only one number one overall has won it all? That would be the 2007 Florida Gators who returned their top 7 players from winning it the previous year. Even in 2008, the rare (I believe only) year where all four number one seeds made it (typically it's one or two), it still wasn't the number 1 overall seed that won. I think it's a good thing they do it, I just think people (myself included) need to stop putting so much stock in it. The difference between the top 5 teams is usually not all that much.
3) The Big Least - Okay, I admit it. I bought into the hype, too. 8 overall teams. Most 3 seeds or better. And now after the first week of the tournament, you have TWO remaining. That's equal to the SEC who had only 4 show up to begin with, none higher than a 4 besides UcK. That's one more than the Pac-10 who only SENT two in the first place. This can be described in one word, PATHETIC. Do I think the Big East is overrated? Surpirsingly, no, I do not. I still think they are the best league in basketball (which is easy when you have 36 teams. Okay, I know, it's only 16). Do I think they are overhyped? 120%. And do I think a lot of the Big East players bought into the hype of everybody (especially the four letter network) telling them how good they are. Yup. Look, these are young men. They're barely not kids anymore. It's bad enough when a 22 year old NFL rookie has his ego stroked. It's worse for 18 and 19 year olds. And blame the coaches all you want (and a little of the blame does go there), but trust me, most of these kids just couldn't be reached.
4) A seventeen year old is beating us - Did you know that Alex Herman, a 17 year old from the Chicago area has picked all 48 games played so far correctly? The odds of doing that are 13,460,000 to 1. And he entered his bracket here, on cbssports.com. His remaining picks? Elite 8: Northern Iowa, Tennessee, Syracuse, Kansas St., Kentucky, West Virginia, Perdue, and Baylor. Final Four: Tennessee, Kansas St., Kentucky, and Perdue. And in the title game, he has Perdue beating Kansas St. Shoot, even if he doesn't score another point, he'll probably beat most of us. And it seems to be in pretty good shape to pick up some more. Good luck, Alex. This is an amazing feat.
5) Five (seed) Bucks - How about the amazing run Milwaukee has been on in the NBA. They are lighting it up, and currently hold the five seed in the East. I know I wouldn't want to be playing a team this scorching hot heading into the playoffs. Now, I won't be picking them to make the Finals, but Scotty Skiles and that team deserve tremendous kudos for what they have accomplished recently.
6) It's lowly at the top for the Nets - At a recent Nets game, CEO Brett Yormark left his seat to go yell at a fan who was wearing a bag over his head. Yormark said he wanted to let the fan know he didn’t agree with the way he was expressing his opinion. Dude!!! you realize your team is 7-63 and might set the all time mark for futility, right? What the heck do you expect? Besides, he gave your pathetic club some of his hard earned money to watch a pathetic product, so leave him alone already. Shoot, they still wear Mike Brown Bags in Cincy, and they've been decent the past few years. But, as they say, a fish rots from the head down, and with clueless people like this running the organization, it's easy to see why they only win one out of every 10 games.
7) Overtime no longer over on FG drive - In a much needed change for the NFL before lady luck leaves them and they have a Super Bowl decided this way, teams can no longer win the coin toss, drive for a FG, and end the game in the playoffs. Personally, I would like to see both teams get one crack at the ball, but this is a huge step in the right direction. It means teams will at least wait till fourth down on that first drive to send out the kicker. It means a more conserted effort will be made to move the ball once you get inside the 30. And to Clark Judge who has a problem because teams can turn over the ball the first play at the 20 and the other team can send out their kicker on the next play, are you serious??? Yeah, let's punish the defense for doing their job. 35% of overtime games in the NFL end with the team winning the coin toss getting that initial FG. And the team that wins the coin toss wins well over 50% of the time overall.
8) Another (especially four letter) media rant - I'm sickened by the disparity in coverage that the media in general, and especially a certain network who has become far too big and powerful for their own britches, of say the Ben Roethlisberger situation and the Warren Sapp situation (or Tiger Woods). I would hate to think in today's day and age, this is a black and white thing, and I'm still not there, yet, but I am thinking about it which is a scary, scary thought to me. How does ESPN get away with foo-fooing the Roethlisberger thing TWICE, once issuing a "Do Not Report" memorandum, and basically make him sound like an all around good guy, while other's are treated like scum? Shame on you, ESPN.
9) Why hockey players are the best in the world - Wanted to share this snipet from today's paper (St. Pete Times) about Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny LeCavalier.
Way to go, Vinny!
“I was recently at my son Tyler’s youth baseball game and was very surprised to see (Lightning captain) Vinny Lecavalier walk by. My 7-year-old son approached him for an autograph. This was on a Saturday afternoon after the Lightning played Thursday night in Toronto and Friday in Washington. I held my breath while hoping for the best and fearing the worst. I could not have blamed Vinny for politely declining the autograph request especially when my son could produce neither a pen nor paper.
This was not a hockey event, and Lecavalier must have been exhausted.
I was worried about how to explain the rejection to a 7-year-old boy with a poster of this man on his bedroom wall and the No. 4 on the back of his own hockey jersey. To my surprise, Vinny found a pen and piece of paper. He asked my son for his name so he could personalize the autograph. We started to walk away when Tyler’s enormous grin faded. I asked what was wrong and he stated that he probably would’ve preferred a photo.
He then ran back to interrupt Vinny again and now has a wonderful picture with two huge smiles.
Athletes are not required to be role models, but some are. We are lucky to have a team captain who goes far beyond what any fan has a right to expect. His work for charity, especially at the All Children’s Hospital, is a huge benefit to this community. The fact that he is just as gracious and kind when no one is watching speaks volumes of his true character. Vinny, as a dad and a fan … thank you!”
— David K. Beach, Tampa <!-- END FOR TRANSLATE -->
I got to experience some of this first hand when my own son was at All Children's Hospital almost 8 years ago when he was first diagnosed with Leukemia. On one of the days he was there, Mr. LeCavalier was making rounds to the rooms visiting all the sick kids. He absolutely made my day when he stopped by, and we talked for several minutes. I think he was happy to find such a big hockey fan, but everything he did compelled me to call the local sports radio station from the hospital that afternoon to tell of my experience. Later, in 2004, Brad Richards who was on the team at the time, would invite about 5 children with cancer and their families per night to sit in his suite at every regular season game, and I got lucky enough to go on the night that the Lightning clinched the number 1 seed in the East (they were playing the Panthers that night and won, which made it better, and afterwards, they had the Boston game on the Jumbotron who the Lightning needed to not win). It was kind of a long night because needless to say the team stayed in the lockerroom watching the Bruins game, but afterward he came up and talked to all of us and signed autographs and the whole works. Just like Mr. LeCavalier, he was very engaging and polite, and my son, who was already a huge hockey fan, also became a huge Brad Richards fan. Unfortunately, it was hard to explain to him when we traded Richy to Dallas a few years ago. Also as part of Mr. Richard's work with kids with cancer, I have a picture in my office of my son with Mr. Richards, Marty St. Louis, and the Stanley Cup, which my son got to see up close and personal. I just want everybody to know how common this is for hockey players to do these sort of things, as you hardly ever hear about them (I've heard NASCAR drivers are really good at this, too). Now, if only my Lightning hadn't decided to choke after the Olympic break.
10) NCAA predictions - Well, let's see if I can do better than I did last week and what I've done so far overall:
For Thursday and Friday, I'll take Michigan State over Northern Iowa, Ohio State over Tennessee (although if Tenn gets up 20 like they did in 2007, don't expect Bruce Pearl to let this one get choked away) which would guarantee a Big Ten team in the Final Four, Syracuse over Butler, Kansas State over Xavier, Kentucky over Cornell, West Virginia over Washington, Duke over Perdue, and for my lone upset and Elite 8 shocker, St. Mary's to continue their magical Aussie run (4 of their players are from down under) and beat Baylor.
For Saturday and Sunday, give me Ohio State over Michigan State, Kansas State over Syracuse (I know, I changed it, but am worried about Onuaku's health and K State has looked really good), Kentucky over West Virginia (bye bye Big East, zero Final Four teams for you), and Duke over St. Mary's.