Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh how I love the Big East...let me count the ways...

Sixteen teams, beating the piss out of each other each and every night...below you will find the current standings in The Beast, with the ratings culled from Jeff Sagarin's ratings in USA Today (because frankly I'm sick of the RPI...the RPI ratings, not the lovely Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY that has been home to some wonderful hockey teams)

[One other note - Sagarin currently has the conferences rated, top to bottom, Big Ten, ACC, Big East...but there is almost no separation between the three - Dennis I do not want to hear any yapping about the ACC being disrespected]

Dancing in the Streets with Jagger and Bowie:
#14 West Virginia, 14-3 (5-0)

A bunch of white dudes, surprisingly athletic, running an offense to perfection and trouncing teams left and right...these guys are fun to watch...Senior Mike Gansey is the real deal, a legit Conference Player of the Year candidate, averaging 20 ppg and 6 rpg. We've all heard plenty about Kevin Pittsnogle, and I will be a happy camper the day his last name stops serving as both noun and verb to donkey local sportscasters (like the guys who accept dollars from blackout drunks). Despite currently being undefeated in Big East play, the Mountaineers are the 2nd best team in the Big East, behind, you guessed it, the Huskies of Connecticut, sponsored by iBook...

#3 Connecticut, 16-1 (4-1)
These guys are the best team in the country. Put down the firearm Dennis. Sure, Duke has the better individual player, hell, with Sheldon Williams both of Duke's top guys might be better than UConn's, but Rudy Gay, Rashad Anderson, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, and Denham Brown together are better than what Duke throws out there (I forgot some of the role players, sue me). UConn is 4th in the country in scoring and 1st in rebounds per game...and, just to reiterate, they're best player is named Rudy Gay. The defense rests.

#9 Pittsburgh, 16-1 (5-1)
You wanna watch boring, grind it out basketball? Than this is the team for you...Pittsburgh would love nothing more than beating their opponents 48-42 every night. Carl Krauser is apparently on the "Jess Settles Plan", as he enrolled at Pitt when Cheers was still on the air. Pitt was easily the most fraudulent of the undefeated D-1 squadrons, as their non-conference schedule included the Shaker High Blue Bison and Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle.

#4 Villanova, 14-2 (5-1)
Villa-no-fun (Freeland's second best nickname, to the immortal "Don't Cry For Me" Mike Missina) is shedding that moniker with an exciting 4 guard offense...which sounds cool and all until you realize the Big East is known for grueling, grind-it-out battles reminiscent of the late '80s NFC East, meaning Jay Wright better get some production out of Jason "I'm hurt more often than Marcus Camby" Fraser and any other warm bodies he has on the bench. Losing Curtis Sumpter for the year might really bite them in the ass come March.

The dreaded "B" word, a month too early:
#25 Georgetown, 13-4 (4-2)

What a huge win for the Hoyas over Duke last weekend, but honestly, it would have been for naught if they dropped last night's game to Notre Dame. The Hoyas have to beat the lower-tier conference teams, and ND is just such a team this year. A necessary road W to tack onto the huuuuuge home W and now JT3 and Georgetown are putting together a tournament-worthy resume. Great balance from the Hoyas, as 6 players average between 9 and 12 ppg, led by Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman.

#41 Marquette, 14-5 (4-2)
They're star player is a big white stiff who rains threes. What's not to like? His name is Steve Novak, and he dropped 41 on UConn a few weeks back, the signature win for the Golden Eagles this season. So far however they've taken advantage of the lesser teams in the league, and upcoming games against Pitt and Villanova could be enlightening. Keep on eye on Freshman PG Dominic James, he is as Dickie V might say a DIAPER DANDY BABY!! Of the former Conference USA teams, Marquette looks to be the best import this year, followed closely by these guys...

#15 Cincinnati, 14-5 (3-2)
Guess they don't miss that class act Bob Huggins too much huh? Can you imagine how good Florida would be this year if James White hadn't transferred? The Gators wouldn't lose a game in the piss poor SEC (settle down Tennessee fans, you'll get your credit in due time). Behind White, Eric Hicks and Devan Downey the Bearcats have surprised many critics who fully expected Cincy to drop to the bottom of the new 16 team uber Big East. Frankly, I'm enjoying this big "F U" to Coach Huggins.

#31 Syracuse, 15-5 (3-3)
What the hell is going on here? Jim Boeheim's crew is in a serious freefall, and couldn't stop Swint and the Deep Fat Fryer in the paint right now. Losing to Connecticut by 8, that's OK. Getting blown out by 15 and 13 to Villanova and Pitt, respectively, does not a title contender make (and trust me, the final scores were deceiving - the Cuse could've lost by 25 in both games). Put the ball in Eric Devendorf's hands, freeing Gerry McNamara up to find open spots from behind the arc, and start running more with Louie "I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue" McCroskey and Demetris Nichols on the wings. And please, show a little life on defense - stop playing your trademark 2-3 zone like you just devoured 37 pieces in a McNugget Off with one J.D. Flantastico.

Just pretend it was 1955 and the NIT meant something:
#50 Rutgers, 12-6 (2-3)

They still have the guy named Douby on the team, and that's enough for me...actually, he's one of the best players in the league, averaging 23 ppg, 4 rpg and 3 apg. Rutgers has yet to notch that signature win, but they are mighty tough at the RAC and might just surprise enough teams to sneak into the Dance.

#99 St. John's, 10-6 (3-2)
Doesn't Ron Artest just make you proud Johnnies? Before I get to St. John's, a word on Mr. Artest if I may. To anyone calling him the T.O of the NBA (and there are alot of you) - slooooow down. T.O. might be an arrogant, chemistry-destroying prick, but until he decides to go into the stands and throw fucking haymakers at middle-aged jabronies Ron Artest still has the upperhand in this battle of jackelopes. Moving on...give credit to coach Norm Roberts for quickly getting St. John's on it's feet after several less than stellar campaigns. Can I blame Mike Jarvis for all that went wrong? Well, I'm going to anyway, because his god damned Boston accent confuses and frightens me whenever he's on TV. At least when Digger talks and drives me nuts I can look at the cute way in which some PA matched his tie with his highlighter.

#104 Seton Hall, 10-6 (2-3)
Hmmm, yeah...are there any Hurleys still involved with this team?

#60 Louisville, 13-5 (1-4)
The most overrated team in the country, bar none...I watched these guys try to play without Taquan Dean the other day (who apparently inherited all of Fred Taylor's body parts) and it was just sad. They were 2-20 from 3-point land. A Rick Pitino team...2-20 on triples...they are in serious trouble. If Dean struggles to play more than 12 minutes a game, Louisville might not even make the Big East tourney in their rookie year in the league.

Too terrible to even make it to MSG and NYC:
#72 Notre Dame, 10-7 (1-5)

Poor Mike Brey. There isn't much he can do. He has sharpshooters Colin Falls and Chris Quinn, and Torin Francis on the inside, but the Irish lack size and depth and keep dropping close game after close game. It would not however surprise me if ND moves up and Louisville down before the season ends. The conference season is but 1/3rd complete, so I am jumping the gun with predictions like this (though that's never stopped the blathering Dickie V before).

#98 Providence, 8-8 (1-4)
Underrated city...Ryan Gomes was a nice player, but he graduated...Providence is home to one of the best hot dog joints in the world, Spike's Junkyard Dogs. I highly recommend it.

#85 DePaul, 8-9 (1-5)
Yes, I do still love Sammy Mejia, but I obviously didn't realize Wake Forest was poop when I touted DePaul as a Big East sleeper...that 44 point loss to CAA stalwart ODU might've been more indicative of DePaul's ability.

#197 South Florida, 6-13 (0-6)
Welcome to The Beast fellas. Try to win at least one game this year will ya...thanks...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Looking for Fred Smoot to captain my ship...

...the FFMD and I head off tomorrow morning on our belated honeymoon (which hopefully goes much better than this), but I just knew you were dying to see who I was picking this week. The Survey Says...

Saturday January 14, 2006

4:30pm, Washington 10-6 @ Seattle 13-3
You're probably asking why does he even care about these games? Does he have a gambling problem? The answer - 8 guys remained tied in our Last Man Standing Pool as the year ended, and the tiebreaker is to pick all 11 playoff games (no spread, just straight up winners). My guess was 11-0 or 10-1 would win, but 3-1 was the leader last week, and I was one of the six 3-1 guys. Two donkeys went 2-2. Mayhugh and Butt correctly predicted that 9-2 might win this thing, so this is the make or break week, as I think many of these guys will be betting the chalk, as Hank Goldberg might say. Bored yet? Yeah, sorry about that - on to the only game that matters, in this town at least: Skins/Seahawks in sunny Seattle. Oh wait, it's rained 25 straight days? I really wish one of these local stations would let us know that...that kind of information should be repeated 10 times daily. It's the oddest line of the week - Skins as 9 point dogs. That's a no doubt bet on the Skins, but the question remains, can they win this thing outright? Can the well rested Seahawks, undefeated at home this year, run Shaun Alexander behind that massive offensive line and push a powerful Redskins defense around? Will the Skins frustrate Alexander and Hasselback, hang in for 3 quarters offensively, and make the big play at the end because of Seahawk nerves? Will Seneca Wallace be sending in play calls via smoke signals? There is absolutely no pressure on Washington in this game, and even as a neutral observer, I am buying the Joe Gibbs playoff mystique. I believe the Seahawks prove how overrated they are and lose a squeaker to the Skins, causing the Washington metropolitan area to go crazy for the next week...I'm almost sad I'll miss it. Washington Redskins

8:00pm, New England 10-6 @ Denver 13-3
I've said this before and I'll say it again - there is absolutely no way in hell I can pick against the Patriots until they give me a reason to, and last week only made me look at them and ask myself, "Can these guys win another one???" They are ridiculous. I know the game is at Mile High and I know these supposedly aren't the same old Patriots, but Broncos fans must still be scared of Jake Plummer in this game, right? (Broka?) I am chugging the Bill Belichick Kool Aid (ngs), and I've decided Plummer will look confused, awkward and disoriented the entire night. Picture Ruthie from the Real World trying to run the Broncos offense. It is up to Mike Shanahan to figure out a way to neutralize Belicheck's "genius", and I don't see him winning that battle. New England Patriots

Sunday January 15, 2006

1:00pm, Pittsburgh 11-5 @ Indianapolis 14-2
I saw what Jerry Porter said, and I'm sure the Colts have too, but it doesn't really matter, because I firmly believe the Colts will just come out and smoke the Steelers Sunday. Whereas I think the layoff will hurt the Seahawks (inexperienced playoff team hearing for two straight weeks how good they are), the Colts are proven playoff veterans (we'll leave Patriot games out of this) ready to maul an unsuspecting opponent. This offense is ready to explode coming off the bye (hmmm, a tad rudy gay), and the Pittsburgh DBs are in serious trouble. I picture Big Ben getting pummeled by Dwight Freeney and Montae Reagor a few times, meaning Chaz Batch might even make an appearance, and that alone makes this the lock of the week. Looking ahead to next week though is a whole different story, a matchup that if it occurs SportsGuy might write 5,000 words on why Peyton Manning sucks. Indianapolis Colts

Can we take a moment here to ask Zoltan what the hell is going on in Buffalo? They're not seriously considering putting the 80 year old (Tribe Pride) on the sideline next year, are they?

4:30pm, Carolina 11-5 @ Chicago 11-5
I am all over the place with this game. Da Bears, rested, at home, with a superb defense. Carolina, looked spectacular in dismantling the Giants last week, supremely confident. I want to take the Bears, but why in the hell did they go and trash talk Steve Smith. The three worst ideas ever:
1. Getting involved in a land war in Asia
2. Going against a Sicilian when death is on the line
3. Trash talking Steve Smith (also applies to the former pro hoops version)

I know he didn't get in the endzone last game, but he had 14 catches for 169 yards and now you're gonna talk more shit to him? I would say the Bears defensive backs had a tad bit of trouble keeping up with him in the first game, and now this could just be ugly. For that reason, all the positives that would lead me to taking Da Bears are negated - Steve Smith (and Jake Del Homie) lead the Panthers to the road upset, setting up the NFC Title Game, sponsored by NASCAR. Oh man, if that happens...this Panthers

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I'm not really one to beat a dead horse (ahem)...

...but I've ripped kickers in this space before , and if you managed to stay up last night for the Orange Bowl War of Attrition, the god damn kickers did it again. This time, though, I'm not gonna pummel these guys, I just feel bad for them (even goat turned hero Kevin Kelly of Penn State, a freshman who would be filing transfer papers today if he missed that kick in Triple OT last night). Their exhausted teammates battled all night long in a classic slugfest only to be toyed with emotionally on several occassions by these Junior Ray Finkles (FSU kicker Gary Cismesia was the other culprit). FSU managed just 12 first downs and 284 yards of total offense in the 5 hour epic (ending well past this guy's bedtime at 1am), there were 21 penalties between the two teams, and Penn State's Polish LB Dynamo Paul Posluszny detroyed his knee McGahee-style (thanks alot fellas, I am exhausted today and need to be up late night tonight too, as there is apparently an important game on, and I'm not talking GW/Temple). But enough from a guy who witnessed this game from the comfort of his own about we let GTB's Man on the Scene give us a feel for the nerve-wracking ending:

"again!? R u f - ing kidding me. Denise's dad may have just put out a hit on that kid."
- Text message from Orange Bowl ticketholder Dennis, at 12:34am, after Kelly missed the first OT kick (Dennis apparently had a flight 4 hours later. Good luck with that my friend.)

Finally, in the third overtime, Kelly made a FG, sending Penn State to the 26-23 victory and leaving a jubilant Dennis to gather his thoughts, and his wife, and (hopefully) make it to the airport. If you're out there chief, let us know you survived. All in all, that was one hell of an appetizer for tonight's Rose Bowl. Which reminds me...

Texas is going to win tonight. Sure, after weeks of articles and TV segments chronicling USC's victories over the '27 Yankees, the Third Reich and genital herpes, the tide has seemingly turned in the last few days with writers quickly realizing they didn't use their "Hey, Texas Can Win This" article yet (this might even be what Jeremy calls the "relash"). Well, too late fellas, you've been fellating the Trojans for too long, and now you'll just look stupid jumping ship (though that has never stopped Skip Bayless before). By now, you've heard all about the unstoppable USC offense, the absurd collection of skill position players, and the 34 game winning streak. All valid points, but there is no way USC has faced a defense as good as Texas this year (they were 5th in total D). And it's not like Texas scores 20 points a game - THEY LED THE NATION IN SCORING AT 50.9 PPG (yes, I know USC was second, just bear with me). Vince Young is reeeeaaaalllly good. Both Jamaal Charles and Ramonce Taylor are explosive, and TE David Thomas is one of the best in the nation (Trojans S Darnell Bing is going to have some trouble with him). This is not David vs. Goliath - it's Goliath vs. Goliath, and it is going to be one fantastic fucking football game. Mark it down, GTB predicts a Texas victory, 41-38, with the added bonus of making ESPN look even more foolish than usual (Dream Job 3 anyone?)...

Speaking of National Title games, everyone remember this guy?

After hearing Maurice Clarett's ridiculous robbery story over the weekend (to me the craziest part of this is that Mo couldn't have picked a city OTHER than Columbus to attempt this?), all I can picture is the absoulte meltdown of humanity at the end of Boogie Nights, and I have this mental image of Clarett running down an alley away from the cops as Night Ranger blasts in the background. This guy is starting to make Lawrence Phillips look good...

Am I the only guy who hears Tom Petty's "American Girl" and immediately thinks of Silence of the Lambs?

Later this week we'll examine the trainwreck that has been this Washington Wizards season, and what their chances are of turning this thing around and making the playoffs (hopefully sparing me the purchase of yet another case of beer for the Mayor of Newport News).

And I leave you today with just one question: What the hell is going on down at Sesame Street?