Posted on: March 31, 2010 1:16 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 1:19 pm
College basketball is in trouble if the NCAA Champion opened the season with this photo.
Watch these two videos from this year's "Countdown to Craziness" at Duke and try not to feel embarrassed for them. Do we really want to see these guys win it all?
Season Cancelled: Duke Basketball:
Duke players should leave their acting on the court.
Great Moments in Cinematic History:
A Wojo sighting and Nolan Smith poses nude for a teammate. Seriously.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 5:33 pm
For the four remaining teams in the NCAA tournament, the Final Four weekend is a battle of skill, coaching, execution, heart, intensity, and determination for the grand prize of being named college basketball's top team. 61 teams have already fallen on this grueling journey. It is an opportunity of a lifetime and only the strongest will survive.
But for millions of people outside of the four remaining teams, the Final Four is one of the biggest gambling weekends of the year and even more is at stake. Jobs will be lost, marriages will end, family heirlooms will be pawned, and households and legs could be broken all over just a few bad gambling decisions. For some, it is a life changing opportunity and only the strong - well, lucky - will drive off in that new car, pay this month's rent, or put their children through community college.
Will you be one of the successful or one of the poor?
I can help you through your gambling decision process. And by help you, I mean do not take anything I say seriously. I will not be held responsible for your severed right index finger - bookies and cigar cutters are a dangerous duo. I will, however, suggest that you see a doctor about that. You're losing a lot of blood. On to the gambling...
ODDS TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Michigan State (+450)
West Virginia (+225)
BUTLER vs. MICHIGAN STATE, Saturday 6:07 PM
Line: Butler (-1.5)
Ken Pom Predicts: Butler 64-62
--- Gordon Hayward Total Points: O/U 21
--- Durrell Summers Points + Rebs: O/U 23.5
--- Butler drove six miles to Indy references: O/U 193.5
--- Ivan Brothers commercials: O/U 97
--- Where the hell is Mateen Cleaves?: Turkey (-120), France (-300), Detroit, owner of All Varsity Entertainment Records (+700)
"OBM" PREDICTION: Michigan State +1.5 - Never bet against Tom Izzo. Ever.
DUKE VS. WEST VIRGINIA, Saturday 8:47 PM
Line: Duke (-3)
Ken Pom Predicts: Duke 67-62
--- Da'Sean Butler Total Points: O/U 17.5
--- Jon Scheyer Points + Assists: O/U 22
--- Bob Huggins outfit: Sweatsuit (-800), Mock Turtleneck (-600), Fully Nude (+1500)
--- Mickie Krzyzewski TV sightings: O/U 11.5
--- Natty Lights consumed by Kevin Pittsnogle: O/U 24
--- Couches burned in Morgantown: O/U .5
"OBM" PREDICTION: West Virginia +3 - It's the year of the Huggy Bear.
Posted on: March 30, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 2:47 pm
And then there were four. Four teams from a field of sixty-four (sixty-five counting Winthrop), each having braved the bullets meant for them and emerged a contender for the national championship. Over the past two weeks we've grown to know and follow teams we may have, in some cases, had precious little exposure to before (I'm looking at you, Saint Mary's) or grown more respect toward (nice going, Cornell). But the four that matter now are the Final Four. It's their party from here on out, so let's get to know 'em.
"The Resourceful One"
Michigan State is that friend who saves one-fourth of a meatball sub to eat two hours from now. He's the one who can figure out how to get beer. He's the guy who always has a plan -- and he can get himself out of a squeeze simply by being practical. When things get tough, count on Michigan State to come through just by being smart -- like that time he figured out how to get front row Widespread Panic tickets the day before the show by calling his cousin whose friend was a college radio DJ who knew the band's promoter. He's good people to know and always cool under pressure.
Why Michigan State will win: They'll size up the situation, tweak accordingly, and find a way to get things done.
Why Michigan State won't win: By overthinking things, sometimes the big picture gets lost. Plus, there's that ruptured achilles tendon.
"The Pretty Boy"
Duke's got it all. He's cool. He's charming. He's got great parents. He's been raised well. And he's all the ladies can talk about. Everything seems to go well for him, especially when things look bleak. He's just that kind of guy. His perfectly coiffed hair and dashing good looks make him a favorite of many, though when things aren't going well for him he's quick to complain about it. Good thing, then, that things perpetually seem to go his way.
Why Duke will win: They're arguably the strongest team left, and they haven't even really had a scare yet. They're a tournament team and have a huge shot at the title.
Why Duke won't win: When the cops bust the party, Duke calls dad and then tells on everybody.
"The Quiet Type"
No one ever expects Butler to show up. He always says he's going to, but at the last second goes home instead. Everyone likes Butler, but no one really knows him all that well. He doesn't normally run with this kind of crowd, but fits in well. He keeps a low profile, but get him going and he's the life of the party. He's fun while he's there, but you never know how long he's going to stay, and he's never been to a party this big before. He's either going to flame out with the cool kids or make a lot of new friends.
Why Butler will win: As Butler stays modest and says very little, few realize how much they're capable of accomplishing.
Why Butler won't win: More experienced partiers could drink them under the table.
West Virginia told you it would be here, but you didn't think that slacker could get its act together and get motivated. Now you're eating your words, because West Virginia -- who you really only know in passing because he hangs out in auto shop class all day -- is showing up and he's ready to par-tay. He's a wildchild: funny, unpredictable and probably going to get into a fight before the night's over. Having him at the party makes everyone a little nervous, but he seems alright. For now.
Why West Virginia will win: Things seem to be aligned for them and they're stone cold rollin'.
Why West Virginia won't win: They could go nuts, flame out and lose it. They also won't stop requesting John Denver songs.
Posted on: March 29, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 12:24 pm
When the NCAA tournament resumes Saturday and coverage continues every waking moment, you're going to see plenty of love shown to the four teams who have overcome poor seeding, easy brackets and point guard injuries from all your "real" media types. What you won't see, though, is any affection thrown toward your "Almost Final Four" who fell just short on Saturday and Sunday. What about at Tennessee where an Elite Eight has never happened or at Kentucky where the Elite Eight might start getting treated like the Final Four after coming heart-breakingly short yet again?
Is it fair that these teams are supposed to be forgotten? Not in a society where participation ribbons will probably replace testing scores one day (not a Derrick Rose joke). So, with that in mind, let's take one last look at the four teams who fell just short of appearing on those corny Final Four banner t-shirts.
What Went Wrong: Tennessee actually didn’t play a bad game. They shot the ball well and held their own on the boards with a very physical Michigan State team. Outside of Scotty Hopspon’s missed free throw-foul combo and the worst half-court shot in NCAA tourney history, Tennessee showed a lot of character in a run to the Elite 8 and a comeback from down 8 points in the second half.
What Really Happened: They tried to mess with The Izzo. And you don’t mess with the Izzo in March.
On the bright side: They made it out of St. Louis without anyone getting arrested, which, according to odds makers at least, is more of an upset than their run to the Elite 8.
Kansas State (West)
What Went Wrong: Kansas State couldn’t hit their free throws and they got out-rebounded by a team that hadn’t out-rebounded a team in the tournament yet. Just like their previous coach, they came in reeking of their last battle with Cincinnati and struggled to keep their legs under them. Kansas State won the battle on Thursday but Xavier won the war on Saturday.
What Really Happened: Furious with how they ousted The Prophet Jimmer Fredette in the second round and the way they’ve glorified a beard that strictly prohibits BYU’s grooming code, Salt Lake City’s BYU alumni group decided to fight back against Kansas State. They turned to former Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings, a BYU grad and SLC resident, who, not surprisingly, is also an alien. Jennings snuck into the Wildcats’ hotel Friday evening and, just like in Space Jam, sucked all the talent out of Frank Martin’s team while they met for their “One Blogging Moment” reading club. Look for another Jennings run of dominance in the near future, this time on Pros vs. Joes.
On the bright side: They get to leave Salt Lake City and return to civilization Manhattan.
What Went Wrong: Everything. In the back of their minds, Kentucky fans had feared all year that their team might not be mature enough to handle the pressure or that they might not be sound enough from the free throw line or the three-point line. In Syracuse on Saturday, the bottom fell out in the worst possible way as they struggled in every aspect. DeMarcus Cousins, a model citizen most of the year, appeared to lose his cool at points and DeAndre Liggins got T’d up for, well, we still don't know. They shot 4-32 from three and hit only 55% from the free throw stripe. It was just a fundamental beating. And, it was just as Kentucky fans dreaded it would be.
What Really Happened: Kentucky’s freshmen all struggled to maintain the proper focus late in Saturday’s game as concerns over the strength of Russian ruble continued to linger with experts. Is it the right time to enter the job market or is this a sign of greater economic issues to come?
On the bright side: Just over 2.6 million Kentuckians already vacated this game from their memories.
What Went Wrong: Another team that really didn’t play a terrible game. They got decent, if not great, contributions from their big three and locked up Kyle Singler, who shot 0-10. But, Nolan Smith abused the Bears for 29 and it seemed like every three ball was falling for the Devils. Even Andre Dawkins came in and knocked down two big ones in the first half. It was the type of game that you have to just move on from with your head held high, knowing that you’re proud of your effort and that you didn’t get punked out after a Jon Scheyer elbow. Oh, wait….
What Really Happened: This game was decided well before Demond became Tweety or Scott started drawing. Coach K has a pact with the devil, which was agreed upon while he played for him at Army, and ensures that hell must freeze over before Duke stops making Final Fours with rosters that just don’t seem Final Four caliber. It appears the forecast is as blazing as ever.
On the bright side: Unless you’re a Duke fan, there really isn’t one. Sorry.
Posted on: March 28, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2010 7:56 pm
Duke 78, Baylor 71
After watching fellow one seeds Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse go home early from the tournament, Duke avoided upset against Baylor to advance to the Final Four. It is the Blue Devils first trip to the Final Four since 2004.
Nolan Smith was unstoppable.
Smith scored a career-high 29 points to the lead the Blue Devils. John Scheyer added 20 points and Kyle Singler couldn't buy a bucket. Singler needed 5 free throws to get on the scorecard while shooting 0-10 from the field.
Baylor did an atrocious job of boxing out and grabbing defensive rebounds late in the game. Duke scored much of its big points down the stretch on second chance shots, including three big 3-pointers in a two minute span.
Grow a pair, ref.
Baylor had momentum and was looking to stretch its lead to five with 4:37 to go when Quincy Acy was called for an offensive foul. Had it gone the other way (the correct way), the foul would've been on Brian Zoubek, his fifth. The call was terrible and completely changed the game from that point forward. Zoubek remained in the game and momentum swung to Duke's favor. I guess the easiest road to the Final Four wasn't enough for Duke, they needed a few crucial calls, too.
Ekpe Udoh is the real deal.
Udoh is a long, athletic big man that can rebound, create his own shot, and dunk. And he dunks quite often. This kid should expect a big NBA check soon.
Scott Drew needs a statue on Baylor's campus.
In 2003, the Baylor basketball team hit the lowest of lows with the disappearance and murder of Patrick Dennehy. Insert new head coach Scott Drew and seven years later, the Bears are in the national spotlight and fell just short of a trip to the Final Four. It's truly a remarkable turnaround.
"LaceDarius" and "Tweety" are two awesome names. I'm considering changing my name to one of the two. Or, maybe even a combination like LaceTweety or TweetDarius.
Bring on the Huggy Bear
Duke moves on to face West Virginia in the tournament semifinals. This one might as well be the title game.
Posted on: March 28, 2010 5:08 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2010 5:09 pm
While you spent the last two hours changing lightbulbs and cleaning out your gutters in preparation for spring because you promised your wife last weekend that you'd do all that stuff this weekend, in St. Louis Bruce Pearl's Volunteers and Tom Izzo's Spartans beat the tar out of each other in a back-and-forth that would end with a 70-69 Michigan State victory and propel them to yet another Final Four. Tied at 69, Tennessee guard J.P. Prince would mar an otherwise stellar, hustling performance by fouling senior forward Raymar Morgan, offering Morgan the point he'd need to send the Spartans to Indianapolis next weekend. Prince had 12 points on the day and teammate Wayne Chism chimed in with another 13. You can't say the Vols weren't competitive. There wasn't even a hunch as to who was going to come out of this one -- it was a dead heat. And it could have gone either way.
The constants we all expected were there. Tennessee's speed and lethal attacks. Michigan State's determination. Tom Izzo's ability to adapt. Bruce Pearl's gallons and gallons of sweat.
The way it did go in the end, however, was the way Michigan State wanted it to go. Once again the team pulled together in Kalin Lucas' absence (these guys are starting to supersede the Kalin Lucas story with their own amazing resilience) to piece together a team effort that saw Durrell Summers with 21, Korie Lucious with 8 and both Morgan and Draymond Green marked down for 13 apiece. Tennessee fought them tooth and nail, but the Spartans earned this one and continued to defy those who said they couldn't perform without Lucas.
So the Volunteers head home to Knoxville after their fiercest battle toward the Final Four in history and the Spartans prepare to take a short road trip south to face Butler in their home town, two teams which -- from a tournament history standpoint -- couldn't be more diverse. But yet, they're both five seeds, and they're both fighting for their lives.
See you in the Final Four, fellas. Get some rest. You're going to need it.
Posted on: March 28, 2010 9:20 am
Edited on: March 28, 2010 9:22 am
If you're in St. Louis today, and it's not because you're attending the annual convention of the Association of Pipefitting Manufacturers -- Midwest Region (APMMWR), I'm just going to assume you're here for the mighty battle for the Final Four slated for this afternoon. Today's Show-Me throwdown pits the underperforming and hobbled Michigan State Spartans against the overperforming and confident Tennessee Volunteers in what could be one of the most even matches we've seen yet in a tournament full of wacky, unpredictable upsets and blowouts. Let's go to the talking points, so you can sound really smart today when you're watching it with that brother-in-law or co-worker you hate. Your welcome, America.
Who wants the ball more? Both Michigan State and Tennessee have turned in nice total rebounding numbers throughout the tourney -- in the last round alone, the Vols pulled down 36 (mostly Chism's and Williams') and the Spartans netted 31 (evenly spread out among the starters). Should be active in the paint today, and whoever's scrapping underneath the basket more is going to give themselves a nice edge.
Lucious is a major target. Sophomore guard Korie Lucious has had to grow up quickly in this tournament since Spartan all-star Kalin Lucas has gone out for the season, and Izzo has to be surprised in the way this kid has stepped up to run the show. Confident and determined, Lucious has thus far been an effective replacement for the injured Lucas, though he's still young and not infallible. If Tennessee can find a way to get to him today, either physically or mentally, they could expose a weakness in the Spartans' armor.
Izzo will have a plan. The veteran tournament coach is a master of a two-day turnaround to figure out a gameplan; that's why the Spartans are the defending tourney runners-up. This is Pearl's and Tennessee's first experience this far in the tournament, so this is uncharted territory for them. You can bet the Michigan State staff will come into this thing with a solid idea of how to beat the Vols. The question is, how quickly can Pearl figure out a plan of his own?
Threes could be a decider. Tennessee has some great guns and speed in Scotty Hopson and JP Prince, but it's worth noting that Michigan State guard Durrell Summers is looking at 59 points in the past three games and is shooting 50% from behind the three-point line in the tournament. If both teams are rebounding and going toe-to-toe evenly in the paint, whoever can sink the longball will be looking pretty.
Don't let Bruce Pearl hug you. He is very sweaty and you might slip and hurt yourself. Kalin Lucas is already out; let's hope Raymar Morgan doesn't fall for the patented Pearl "hug-trap" before the game today.
Should be a solid matchup today, folks. It's the last Big Ten team standing versus the last SEC team standing. Winner evolves its species.
Posted on: March 27, 2010 11:30 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2010 4:42 pm
Going into the East Regional Final, all the talk was about one thing: The Kentucky Wildcats. And why not? Kentucky has four, possibly five, first round picks in this year's NBA Draft, the coach that causes controversy everywhere he goes and a fanbase that is unrivaled in America. Add in the fact that the school hasnt been to the Final Four since 1998, and it is no wonder that every story on nearly every site (we dont read newspapers at One Blogging Moment ), was about the Cats.
That isnt how it will be today. West Virginia gave Bob Huggins his long-awaited second Final Four , beating the Cats 73-66 in a victory that showcased everything that makes Bob Huggins one of the top-tier coaches in college basketball. Huggins thoroughly outcoached his friend John Calipari by coming at him with a 1-3-1 defense that cut off penetration from UK's guards, made it nearly impossible for Demarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson to get looks on the block and set up three point bricks from Kentucky that could have built a second Carrier Dome. Kentucky missed its first TWENTY three-point attempts, and with a statistic like that, nothing else really matters.
For Huggins, the win was like nearly everything he does...bizarrely unconventional. The man who paces the sidelines in a track suit saw his team take a two-point lead into the half even though it had scored 28 points without making one two-point basket. Yes you read that correctly. In the first half, West Virginia made eight three-pointers and four free throws and that is it. Yet Huggins' team had the lead due to their control over the glass and stingy defense. The Mountaineers then broke down Calipari's attacking defense in the second half, saw De'sean Butler finally get good open looks, and always found a wide-open layup anytime the Cats threatened to make it close.
After the game, Huggins had his same dour expression on his face and was asked if he felt any excitement at getting to his first Final Four since 1991 2. His face did not change as he said, "yes, cant you tell?" While it might not show outwardly, the pride Huggins must have in taking his alma mater to the Final Four for the first time since Jerry West roamed the sidelines must be immense. It is sometimes easy to forget what Huggins has done in college and there are very few coaches who create more strong feelings, both positive and negative than Huggy Bear. But everywhere he has gone, two things remain consistent: (1) His players love him and (2) he wins. This year both have been true in abundance and the forgotten team of the East Regional is now heading to the Final Four as potentially the best team left in the field.