Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Won't You Come...to Build a Fire

Full disclosure: I'm constitutionally incapable of functioning in a professional environment without a looming deadline, and I don't have one right now. Because I have this magic blog machine, you get to benefit from my ADD.

Gheorghe: The Blog is a direct descendent of Gheorghe: The Magazine, a short-lived internet 'zine that "published" two or three issues back in 1999 or so. As noted over there to the right, the premise behind G:TB is that most of the world takes itself far too seriously, which results in a deafening mediascape of self-important blathering at best, and an imperial thirst for treasure and blood at worst. This self-seriousness is particularly pronounced in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where most of the G:TB editorial staff makes our home.

In the old days of G:TM, we had a running feature that detailed those individuals and/or institutions that were filled with the spirit of Gheorgheness. We called it the Gheorghe List. Later, here at G:TB, we kicked off our efforts with this:

To borrow - liberally - from a much more accomplished man, I can't define Gheorgheness, but I know it when I see it.

Jon Stewart's got a whole heaping mound of Gheorgheness. Dan Snyder (or, as he'll come to be known in this space, Little Danny Starfucker) is the antithesis of Gheorghe. John Riggins has a PhD in Gheorgheness. George Will is a George, but not a Gheorghe. Yao's a little bit Gheorghy, but Kobe's not. Kevin Millar teaches Gheorghe 101 in Boston, but Roger Clemens flunked out of the course. Emeril Lagasse seems to know which wine goes best with Gheorghe. Mark Cuban's thinking about making Gheorghe an honorary Maverick.

I can't think of a single politician with Gheorgheness, though Dennis Kucinich is really funny-looking. Stewart Scott aspires to Gheorgheness, but he's so fake that he can't pull it off. Rich Eisen can, though. Too bad he's dead. Well, taken a job at the NFL Network - 6 one, 1/2 dozen the other. Dennis Miller used to be chock full of hearty Gheorgheness, then he took a hard right turn and became a caricature. Michael Moore is so far from Gheorghe that he might as well be a short, fat, humorless troll. Oh. That simile ran smack into the wall of reality, didn't it?

Jack Black is the high priest of Gheorghe, attended by his happy alcolyte, Jeremy Piven. But not by John Favreau, David Spade, or Colin Quinn. The Kids in the Hall gaily genuflect to Gheorghe while they get Girl Drink Drunk. Sting's got more anti-Gheorghe in his pinky than Bruce Springsteen does in his whole family, though, to be sure, I still like both of their music. And speaking of music, the Wiggles are thinking about making Gheorghe a new recurring character - Greg will pull him out of the magic hat.

Aside from a few dated references (Millar's obviously now an Oriole, and Greg Wiggle has left the band) I think this first cut at the Gheorghe List holds up pretty well. And despite the lefty political leanings of at least half of the G:TB editorial staff (I'm pretty sure Teejay has no idea what goes on in Congress, and I have my suspicions about Dennis), I think we were pretty equal opportunity in our slagging of the non-Gheorghy.

That said, the original Gheorghe List is 3 1/2 years old at this point. We need to induct the next class into Gheorghe: The List. While we put our meager brains together to ponder (and remember, I can't work without a deadline) we welcome your input.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I feel the need...the need for 'Sheed

NBA malcontent and all-around asshat Rasheed Wallace hit an absurd three last night to send the Pistons and Nuggets to OT...we're talking "69 foot bank shot with no time left on the clock" absurd:

Friday, March 23, 2007

You Take the Bad and There You Have...

Just how bad will the 2007 Washington Nationals be?

An interesting question. In case you haven’t bothered to peruse the Nats’ roster yet, we at G:TB will offer you our own, always-insightful take on the club. And they’re bad. Some kind of bad. Better than the ’62 Mets, perhaps, but worse than the 1990 Yankees. They hope to follow the path of the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who posted a 43-119 rebuilding year, sent Alan Trammell to the sanitarium, and ended up in the World Series three short years later. We’ll see. Don’t start printing up those 2010 World Champions Hanes Beefy-T’s just yet.

As you are probably well aware, we Gheournalists don’t do straight-ahead, sensible analysis. It’s not our bag. Instead, we offer an analogy that promises to confuse your minds and insult your tastes. Here we have your 2007 Washington Nationals, as referenced by American television sitcoms. Enjoy.

Starting Lineup

2B – Felipe Lopez: “Growing Pains”
Never mistaken for a classic, but solid -- especially relatively speaking. Lopez was an All-Star once...as a reserve who played a couple of garbage-time innings. “Growing Pains” won a couple of Emmys...for lighting effects. Lopez will get on and steal a base for you, and if you're scanning through the roster, he jumps out as “competent” or “adequate” -- surrounded by players who don't evoke such thoughts. Kirk Cameron was amusing, Alan Thicke is notable for having composed the theme songs to other shows (see the title of the post for a hint at one), and if you're scanning the guide on your telly, you might stop and watch a little -- it's better than landing on Roseanne (in every possible way).

SS – Cristian Guzman: “Small Wonder”
So bad, it’s highly entertaining. How terrible are things when the team benefits from having you on the shelf all year? His .574 OPS in ’05 was laughably horrid. (By comparison, Dontrelle Willis slumped to hit .172 last year, and his OPS was still .587.) And Guzman may be in better shape with a year off, but he’s 195 pounds like I’m 7’1”. (Height gain update coming soon.) His tenure in DC has been a joke, and a bad one – much like every laugh-track-supported gag in “Small Wonder.” Implausible premise meets shabby acting meets corny gags meets terrible special effects. It has it all, and much like Guzman’s contract, it’s one of the worst ever. When winces and head-shakes become wry smiles, you really have something.

3B – Ryan Zimmerman: “The Office”
The single best thing going for the Nationals/sitcoms today, standing out amid a sea of bleakness. It’s still too early to tell his/its place on the all-time list, and there are still too many unfair comparisons made to the British version or David Wright. That said, there is much to like. Not enough to keep you going to RFK or watching current network situational comedy on the whole, but it’s a fine exception to the norm.

RF – Austin Kearns: “My Two Dads”
Two mediocre tastes that don't go great together. Greg Evigan had sitcom success before, Paul Reiser afterwards. Together, they made...a suckbag show. The Nats need some power from a clean-up-hitting rightfielder to replace Jose Guillen, Austin Kearns needs a smaller park and someone worth a damn hitting behind him -- lest he revert to his free-swinging Cincy ways. As it is, he's cutting down on his K's and cutting way down on his HR's. He may well not hit 20 taters -- as far-fetched in his current role as two bachelors raising a teenage girl in the city.

1B – Dmitri Young: “Joey”
A bad idea, clearly, but you just knew they were going to do it. A two-year stint with middling results is really the best-case scenario for both the “Friends” spin-off and the troubled, under-performing Young. Dmitri-LeBlanc -- Destined for the “Where Are They Now?” bin very soon.

LF – Ryan Church: “American Dad”
Supposed to be a lot better than what I've seen so far. Seems to have what it takes, but color us unimpressed in limited viewings to date.

CF – Nook Logan: “My Mother the Car”
Exavier Prente “Nook” Logan. Interesting name, much like the TV show. The show sucked; Logan has some work to do.

C – Brian Schneider: “Benson”
Seven seasons of a few highlights and a whole lot of waiting for the really good part. Though his surname beckons for "One Day at a Time," he's not even that good. The back of Brian Schneider's baseball card reminds me of the only funny joke on the short-lived sitcom “Anything But Love.” Read the last three paragraphs of this post if you're interested.

Bench

C – Jesus Flores: “Amen”
Never saw either one.

1B – Travis Lee: “Home Improvement”
Lee finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1998. “Home Improvement” came racing out of the gate with Tim Allen using much of his very funny (albeit toned down) stand-up, Pam Anderson looking sexy, and the mostly physical comedy inducing some chuckles. Hmmm. The kids got old and dorky, the plotlines were recycled or stretched to stupidity, and Travis Lee has bounced around without duplicating the power or consistency of that first year.

C/1B – Robert Fick: “Three's a Crowd”
A third catcher or a third first baseman, Fick was a solid prospect once upon a time, but fizzled out quickly into journeyman status. Meanwhile, after the mightily successful “Three's Company,” there was hope that John Ritter could carry the spin-off. It fizzled at the same rate until being killed off mercifully. Mr. Fick may well soon find his plug pulled as well. And not in the good way.

1B – Nick Johnson (DL): “Chico & the Man”
Ah, what could have been. A funny sitcom and a promising career, not to mention a life, ruined by Freddie Prinze's drug-fueled suicide. In a less tragic but still disappointing story, Nick Johnson's prodigious knack for connecting bat with ball at the major-league level is undone by an uncanny series of injuries. At this point, Nick the Stick doesn't know when or even if he will be able to resume his career. It's not exactly...“loo-king gooood!”

2B – Ronnie Belliard: “Arrested Development”
How is Belliard not starting at second with Lopez (a natural SS) starting at short? How did this show get cancelled? Neither represents the best ever, but come on, we're talking a serious upgrade to the tripe in its place (crap reality TV, Cristian Guzman). I guess it comes down to money. Seems pretty dunder-headed to me.

OF – Chris Snelling: “The Duck Factory”
Not as odd a name, but still different. I know the following facts: Chris Snelling's middle name is Doyel, and “The Duck Factory” starred a very young Jim Carrey. That might attract my co-writers a bit, but the masses will have to wait for something more substantial.

IF – Josh Wilson: “The Michael Richards Show”
Gone before it even got started, most likely.

OF – Alex Escobar: “Charles in Charge”
Such promise! Chachi gets his own show (minus Joanie this time), Willie Aames is his buddy, and there are cute girls for us to watch swoon over him. Similarly promising, Alex Escobar had the Mets salivating over the future star. Ugh. Terrible, terrible, terrible. And it/he won't go away. Six years since Escobar first played at Shea, six years of Chachi in Charge, and neither offered anything desirable, save a few fluke homers and some Nicole Eggert visuals. Take it out of syndication and cut him, once and for all.

Rotation

John Patterson: “Golden Girls”
Generally rated pretty highly, disguising the fact that it/he's just not that awesome. In truth, it's probably an unfair request -- asking Patterson to be the ace or asking a show about retired women to appeal to young men; just don't ask us to be excited about either.

Shawn Hill: “Major Dad”
I'm ignorant once again, but hey, it could be good -- I liked the guy in “Simon & Simon,” so you never know. It just doesn't seem like something that will be successful, though, you know? A guy with two career wins is your #2 guy? Stranger things have happened, I just can't bother to think of any right now.

Jason Simontacchi: “Mama's Family”
He's still in the league?? It reminds me of how most folks would ask, “This [insert expletive of choice here] show is still on the air??” during the inexplicable 130-episode run. Dear lord.

Matt Chico: “Grace Under Fire”
Yeah, you wanted “Chico & the Man,” didn't you? Well, Matt Chico hasn't earned that yet. He's never pitched in a major-league game. He's the #4 starter. Frightening, no? So was this Brett Butler “comedy.”

Tim Redding: “Blossom”
Out of the majors last year, and with a stats sheet that shows a stint with the Yankees that lasted exactly one inning (with six earned runs -- that's a 54.00 ERA for you non-math majors), and at age 29, the odds are against him. But Manny Acta is giving him the shot no one else would. Tune in for a very special “Blossom.”

Bullpen

Jon Rauch: “Perfect Strangers”
Jon Rauch, a 6'11" hurler from Louisville. Balki Bartokomous, a bizarre shepherd from Mypos. An odd pairing, as they're . . . perfect strangers. But really, it's just that TJ likes both of them a whole lot.

Ryan Wagner: “Joanie Loves Chachi”
The three players the Nats got from Cincinnati (in exchange for . . . nothing, except a W&M guy) were Lopez, Kearns, and Wagner. If Kearns were “Laverne & Shirley” and Lopez were “Mork & Mindy,” (they're not, duh, if you read this post), Wagner would be the “Joanie Loves Chachi.” If you understand what I'm going for here, please let me know, because I sure don't.

Ray King: “The Nanny”
Generally irritating to most folks. Lasted longer than predicted or deserved. Not what you want to see.

Micah Bowie: “Mr. Belvedere”
Bob Uecker is funny. This show was not. Micah Bowie has a cool name, but it could be a similar letdown at RFK when he's handing away leads, presumably while Don Sutton, the new Nats' equivalent of Harry Doyel, cracks jokes.

CL – Chad Cordero: “Bosom Buddies”
The show, like Cordero, was gangbusters out of the gate, but slowed a bit in the second season. The geniuses at the network cut it loose, not knowing it was letting comedic acting brilliance go. I speak, of course, of Peter Scolari, who would later become a household name with his work on “Newhart.” Here's hoping the new front office of the Nationals -- who simply have to be more savvy than the sharp minds of MLB's executive office -- don't make a similar mistake. Also, big ol' Chad Cordero fits well with “bosom.”

Well, there you go. Your one-stop-shopping for Washington Nationals information and insults has given you this handy-dandy, printable guide for use at the ballpark. Mostly to shield your eyes from the carnage.

Happy viewing!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Someone send Nena an invoice for $24,750


The good people of Concord, NH have apparently lost their mind, or at the very least, need to find more important things to worry about.
CONCORD – People will want to hold onto their balloons if the Senate agrees with a House vote yesterday to ban balloon releases. By a vote of 215 to 111, the House approved a bill that treats balloon releases as a form of littering. HB 62 originally barred the release of two dozen or more lighter-than-air balloons. The version that passed yesterday could bring a $250 fine for even a single balloon let loose. A second offense could bring a $500 fine. The bill specifically exempts hot air balloons, weather balloons and others released as part of scientific research. The bill does not penalize accidental releases.
That last line made me laugh quite a bit. Are you penalized for premature releases?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Regional Bracket Wager Standings, with Less Creative Addition

[Tuesday Morning Update: This addition stuff is apparently verrrry difficult. I crunched the numbers last night and hope the amended figures below are actually correct.]

Here at G:TB, it's hard to tell what we're worse at, picking this year's games or doing basic math. Here's what I have as the amended 1st round totals:

Rob (East): 5-3, 25 points
TJ (South): 5-3, 23 points
Dennis (West): 4-4, 20 points
Whitney (Midwest): 4-4, 14 points

All I have to say for myself is that my homeriffic pick of ODU going to the Sweet 16 wasn't nearly as bad an idea as ignoring the advice of everybody in the world except Wheelhouse Geoff and taking Notre Dame. Those 12 points sure would come in handy about now.

Here are the first weekend totals up to the moment:

TJ (South): 9-3, 50 points(!)
Dennis (West): 7-5, 38 points
Rob (East): 7-5, 36 points
Whitney (Midwest): 6-6, 26 points

Please, someone, check my math. Not my strong suit.

TJ's gotten himself pretty much in the clear with some stellar prognostication. He could whiff from here on out and I'd still need to be perfect to top him. If my numbers are true, here are each of our respective maximums:

TJ: 93
Dennis: 75
Rob: 65
Whitney: 65

Odds are with the jobless guy buying the employed guys lunch. Well picked.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fat, Drunk and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Life, Son

A stunning display of prognosticatory ineptitude by the G:TB Hoops staff - good thing all those folks from the DC Sports Bog and With Leather came over to have a look. As a group, we went 18-14 in round one - it's an achievement to be that bad on accident.

On the plus side, we've all got our regional champions alive and kicking for at least a few more hours. Overall standings after round one:

Rob (East) - 5-3, 25 points
TJ (South) - 5-3, 23 points
Dennis (West) - 4-4, 15 points
Whit (Midwest) - 4-4, 14 points

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cheeseboy Hearts Gheorghe

In order to reduce the confusion for those of you coming to our humble abode from Dan Steinberg's stellar DC Sports Bog (much love for the shout-out, Steinz), here's why he thought of us after VCU's win over Duke.

Long story short, G:TB's own TJ has been on the VCU bandwagon since the jump, partly because we're all CAA fans and partly because his idiot savantry is particularly heightened when it comes to mid-major hoops. I'd accept Steinberg's kudos, too, except that I picked Drexel to win the conference right around the same time my colleague latched on to VCU.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Madness of King Gheorghe: South Regional

This thing has been giving me fits for days...I have no clue who is making the Final Four....

First Round

1 Ohio St vs. 16 C Conn St
Ohio St. I hope Gus Johnson is doing this game just so he can retell the "made-for-TV" story of Javier Mohica. You couldn't make that one up. The other Blue Devils are gonna lose this game by 25, but at least you can watch Howie Dickenman work the sidelines. What a sweaty mess he is.

8 BYU vs. 9 Xavier
BYU. Come on, they have Ainge's kid on the team. And the head coach even runs his nephew out there. I think very little of the A-10, have all year, so there is no way I can pick Xavier. Plus, I don't really care if Xavier/OSU in Round 2 would give us a coach/mentor game. Thad Matta bores me to tears.

5 Tennessee vs. 12 L Beach St
Tennessee. I really wanted to pick Long Beach so I could roll the Snoop video, but I've gotta go with the SEC's Herb Tarlek, Bruce Pearl, and sharpshooter Chris Lofton in this one. I might like Tennessee a tad to much (you'll see below).

4 Virginia vs. 13 Albany
Albany. Of course I'm taking the Great Danes. I think UVA is overrated, and if I'm not picking Long Beach I'm definitely talking Sm-Albany. Jamar Wilson is a 2,000 point scorer who is averaging 18 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg on the season. Go Danes.

6 Louisville vs. 11 Stanford
Stanford. If you have twins who grow to be 7 footers, they must attend Stanford. Brook and Robin Lopez are the PAC-10's answer to Tomax and Xamot (Brook is the good one). Plus, I think a Louisville team that has shown no ability to play defense late or hold leads is ripe for a first round upset.

3 Texas A&M vs. 14 Penn
A&M. Who's got the biggest balls of them all? Acie Law IV of course. Best clutch player in the country right now. A year ago, I was flabbergasted these guys even made the Dance. Today, I am pumping them as THE team to beat in this regional. Roll that AC/DC "Big Balls" clip...damn YouTube. How can that song/video not be on there?

7 Nevada vs. 10 Creighton
Nevada. Aside from VCU, I was touting Nevada early, and despite some late season stumbles I still think Nick Fazekas and the Wolf Pack can cause some damage. Dana Altman's bunch is always a tough out, and this is the game I am least certain about. Fazekas gets help from junior PG Ramon Session and Marcelus Kemp, so Nevada is the pick. Plus, I get to roll this Neil Diamond clip in honor of injured Nevada guard Kyle Shiloh...

2 Memphis vs. 15 N Texas
Memphis. They haven't lost since December, but then again, they play in Conference USA, a league that is so bereft of talent that I don't think a single team other than Memphis made the postseason (quick, where is my NIT bracket). Calipari doesn't pay these guys for nothing.

Second Round
1 Ohio St vs. 8 BYU
OSU. Oden has a triple-double. BYU is sacrificed.

5 Tennessee vs. 13 Albany
Tennessee. A valiant effort by the Great Danes is shot down by another terrific Vols performance from behind the arc. Bruce Pearl wears orange kimono for game.

3 Texas A&M vs. 11 Stanford
Texas A&M. Team of destiny. Lopez boys are neutralized by underrated bigs of A&M, Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas.

2 Memphis vs. 7 Nevada
Memphis. The athleticism of Memphis is simply too much for Nevada.

Regional Semifinals
1 Ohio St vs. 5 Tennessee
Tennessee. They almost beat OSU two months ago in Columbus, and I say they get it done this time around. Chris Lofton and the gunning Smith boys (JaJuan and Ramar) knock Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden out of the madness.

2 Memphis vs. 3 Texas A&M
Texas A&M. Have I mentioned the set of brass cajones on Mr. Law? Memphis finally faces a real opponent, and they lose. Not their fault, but they simply do not get enough quality tune-ups before March.

Regional Final
5 Tennessee vs. 3 Texas A&M
Texas A&M. That's right folks, Acie and Company are going to the Final IV.

The West: No way, San Jose!

[Dennis managed this West preview in between 3am feedings and 24/7 diaper duty]

Round 1 - Moving from the top of the draw to the bottom…

Kansas walks over the Play-In winner; no discussion necessary (although, I believe Whit has awarded me a bonus point for the play-in game because I’ve been in a time machine for 2 weeks – Socrates loves San Dimas…).

In the Cats production, I like the Nova variety. My boy Scottie Reynolds from Herndon High has proven he can win on a big stage as evident in his 29-point performance in his first trip to the Big Apple and the Garden last week. He will shame the NCAA for letting Kentucky in the dance just so Tubby Dickface can keep his job (really selection committee??…really??). Veteran guard Mike Nardi will be back from injury to give the squad some poise and experience, while Curtis Sumpter will use his all around game to shred the KU defense.

In the “bizarro” seeded game of the region, #5 seed Va Tech takes on #12 seed Illinois?? Strange, but this isn’t 1996 anymore when your William & Mary Tribe could hang with Ace Custis and Co. No, this Hokie team has elite and experienced guard play in Dowdell and Gordon that can control tempo against anyone. Playing in hostile environments doesn’t phase this bunch either - they have wins AT Duke and AT UNC!! Meanwhile, Illinois lacks experience and any true quality wins this season (and need I mention they almost lost to Penn State in the first round of the Big 10 tourney – yikes). No 12-5 upset here - Gobblers roll.

Southern Illinois pretty much rolled through the now-highly regarded MVC this year…til the conference tourney, where Creighton slipped one past them. Still, the Salukis have a load of quality wins and a power ranking of 12. Too much for Holy Cross, who comes out of a wimpy Patriot League…

Duke-VCU. This game gives me gas. If ever there was a year when Duke is vulnerable and primed to get bounced in the first round, this is it. The VCU Rams controlled a frisky CAA from start to finish winning their first 10 conference games with authority; and then held off last year’s Cinderella in the conference championship game. They are a balanced team with good chemistry, who most folks would love to see make a George Mason-like run this year….Howeva, let’s not start shining their balls just yet. This Duke team has come a long way since Greg Paulus looked like a high school Freshman against Ga Tech early in the season. He has emerged as a true leader on a team on the verge of a breakthrough. I think you’ll see Josh McRoberts assert himself like most thought he would earlier in the season, and you’ll see players like Scheyer and Nelson keep teams honest enough to give McRoberts room to work. Oh, and let’s not forget that Coach K is still the master of tournament preparation. Devils in a tough one.

I believe Aaron Gray has something to prove after his performance in Pitt’s loss in the Big East tourney. The Panthers go against a Wright St. team that won the Horizon in an unbelievable performance by DeShaun Wood. The truth here is that the Raiders are too one-dimensional to survive against a good defensive team as athletic and experienced as Pittsburgh. Panthers by a dozen.

Hoosiers and Zags…..I have much man-love for these programs, making this game more interesting to me that most. Kelvin Sampson takes his first IU team to the dance, and Mark Few wins the WCC to keep the committee’s mitts off his season. Gonzaga’s off-court issues appeared to be a serious dagger to the team, when Heytfelt went shrooming about town. Who shrooms and drives, anyway? Isn’t it more fun just to stare at a pool table til you actually see the shot angles rise up off the table and disappear into the chandelier above it? Anyway, the team made a statement by winning the conference tournament, and Derek Raivio has rallied the troops to give the team new life. Jeremy Pargo will look to elevate his game to Spokane white-boy status, as Matt Bouldin emerges as the next floppy-haired hero in the great state of Washington. Oh, and were you watching when this team took down North Carolina early in the year?? Go Zags!

UCLA annihilates Weber State.

Round 2 – Same drill as before

Kansas-Villanova: The Jayhawks’ defensive acumen on the perimeter will be key in this matchup - not to mention their balanced scoring attack on the offensive side of the ball. They get up and down the court as quickly as anyone – yes, even Scottie Reynolds. KU eeks it out.

Virginia Tech will avenge it’s early season loss to the Salukis, and move into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967. Their up-tempo style will force a bundle of turnovers (they are 27th in the nation in total steals, so not sure if that argument really holds water, but that seems pretty good), which historically means points for the Hokies at the other end.

Duke’s string of 9 straight sweet 16’s ends this year at the hands of the Panthers. Pitt’s experience and defensive prowess will have Coach K’s worst offensive team in years struggling to reach 50 points. I will weep (and wipe my tears with Miles’ Blue Devil bib) as the Devils get drilled…

UCLA forgets all about its late season troubles and takes down Gonzaga here. Too much talent from the Bruins…

Round 3 – Sweeeeeet 16

Kansas breaks its recent curse and takes down a feisty Va Tech squad to move into the regional final. In doing so, Bill Self proves he’s worthy of running a big time program. Va Tech goes home feeling cheated/held down by the man, and each team member takes a tug on the hookah for every missed free throw down the stretch…off season misdemeanors ensue the moment the bus rolls into Blacksburg.

UCLA wins!

Round 4: Regional Championship

UCLA! I think the Bruin silky blue is much sexier than the Jayhawk royal...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Midwest: Masses of Ignorance

Okay, it’s time to throw in my two cents, or wooden nickel, or Susan B. Anthony dollar, or whatever I can find in last week’s pants pockets. Rob’s East breakdown was filled with pertinent, possibly sage information. That crap has got to stop, and it stops right here.

In actuality, I have compiled a good deal of information for you on the 16 schools in the Midwest bracket – just not any that will help you make well-informed decisions in your office pool. Instead, it will give you a few nuggets to tuck away for use while watching Jeopardy, or perhaps even to slip into casual conversation as a surprising “Did you know . . . ?” I stole most of my data from Wikipedia, Google, the IMDB, and Whataburger.com.

As the erstwhile Stanley Burrell once demanded, “Break it down!”

Your 2007 Midwest Region

First Round

The University of Florida
Established: 1853
Motto: “The welfare of the state depends upon the morals of its citizens”
Mascot: Albert E. Gator
Notable Alums: Faye Dunaway, Cris Collinsworth, Erin Andrews, Bob Vila, Andrew DeClercq, Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Spurrier, David Eckstein, Buddy Ebsen, Emmitt Smith, Stephen Stills, Chris DiMarco, Darrell Hammond, Jason Williams, Lawton Chiles, Wilber Marshall, Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Demme, Stephen Root, Jevon Kearse, Red Barber, Brad Wilkerson, Vernon Maxwell, Malcolm Gets, Rex Grossman, Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas (namesake of Wendy's Restaurants and daughter of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas)
Interesting Fact: Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida. Elvis Presley loved Gatorade long before it was popular. There’s a Wendy’s down the street from Graceland. And Wendy herself went to UF. Odd, huh?

versus

Jackson State University
Established:
1877
Motto: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”
Mascot: The Blue Bengal
Notable Alums: Oil Can Boyd, Lindsey Hunter, Lem Barney, Rod Paige, Jackie Slater, Jimmy Smith, Walter Payton
Interesting Fact: Walter Payton’s brother Eddie coaches the golf team.

Whitney’s Pick: Sweetness is a nice claim, but I’ll go with some “Dark Star,” Bonnie & Clyde, and a double with cheese, no onions, and biggie fries. Florida.

The University of Arizona
Established:
1885
Motto: “Bear Down!”
Mascot: Wilbur the Wildcat; Wilma the Wildcat (coming soon: Webster the Out-of-Wedlock Wildcat)
Notable Alums: Gilbert Arenas, Bob Dole, Terry Francona, Geraldo Rivera, Jennie Finch, Amanda Beard, Barry Goldwater, Sean Elliott, Harrison Ford, Garry Shandling, Denise Austin, Kenny Lofton, Jerry Bruckheimer, Annika Sörenstam, Greg Kinnear, Linda McCartney, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Russo, Ron Shelton, Arte Moreno, Jim Furyk, Steve Kerr
Interesting Fact: The film Revenge of the Nerds was filmed at the University of Arizona, many students appeared as extras, and many nerds scored.
Other Interesting Fact: A University of Arizona study indicated that psilocybin mushrooms help reduce the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder victims. (Presumably to offset the angst that that crazy, Type A motto instills.)

versus

Purdue University
Established:
1869
Motto: “Education, Research, Service”
Mascot: The Boilermaker Special (Catch him at your local pub.)
Notable Alums: George Peppard, Neil Armstrong, Glenn Robinson, John Wooden, Orville Redenbacher (or is John Wooden actually Orville Redenbacher?), Amelia Earhart, Len Dawson, Hank Stram, Drew Brees, Bob Griese, and Jim Everett (most beloved for bludgeoning Jim Rome)
Interesting Fact: From the 1970’s into the 1990’s, Purdue was the site of the Nude Olympics. It was apparently halted by a rash of sudden and permanent blindness in onlookers.

Whitney’s Pick: Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! We’ll go with the shrooms, Jennie Finch, and the dry heat, just edging out an otherwise appealing display of naked people beating up Jim Rome. Arizona.

Old Dominion University
Established: 1930
Motto: “Changing Lives” (formerly “Changing Tires”)
Mascot: Big Blue the Monarch
Notable Alums: Mark West, Chris Gatling, Justin Verlander, Mills E. Godwin Jr., Oliver Purnell, Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, Kenny Gattison, Cal Bowdler (ouch), Adm. William J. Fallon
Interesting Fact: ODU was established in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, becoming an independent institution in 1962.
Other Interesting Fact: The Monarchs play in the recently built Ted Constant Convocation Center, a gorgeous, state-of-the-art facility. Back in my high school days, however, that land featured – among other holes in the wall – Speedy Gonzalez’s Tacos, a place smaller than half-court that served 39-cent tacos on Wednesdays. I mean, come on, thirty-nine cents? And they served beer to absolutely anyone. Ah, yesteryear.

versus

Butler University
Established:
1855
Motto: “Education, Research, Service” (Uh oh - someone at Purdue has some ‘splaining to do...)
Mascot: Shimmy the Bulldog
Notable Alums: Jim Jones (yes, that Jim Jones), Thad Matta, Hyapatia Lee
Interesting Fact: The state championship scene of Hoosiers was filmed in Butler’s fieldhouse. The game that Hoosiers was based on was actually played there as well.

Whitney’s Pick: Scrumptious 39-cent tacos and cheap pitchers or cyanide Kool-Aid? Hmmm. ODU.

The University of Maryland
Established:
1856
Motto:Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine: Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” (I am aware that you think I am kidding. Think again.)
Mascot: Testudo the Terrapin
Notable Alums: Larry David, Len Bias, Jim Henson, Boomer Esiason, Connie Chung, Fred Funk, Dianne Wiest, Len Elmore, the Bernsteins (Bonnie & Carl), the Williams Boys (Gary, Buck, & Walt), Dominique Dawes, Bert Sugar, Gene Shue, Karen Allen, Albert King, Tom McMillen, Norman Chad, John Lucas, Frank Ryan, Tim Kurkjian, Renaldo Nehemiah, Joe Smith, Randy White, Shawne Merriman, Tim Brant, Scott Van Pelt
Interesting Fact: The Point of Failure is the intersection of lines marked in concrete leading to the center of all the UMD buildings that burned during the Great Fire of 1912. Tradition holds that a student who steps on this point will never graduate . . . and instead go to work for the Federal Government.

versus

Davidson College
Established:
1837
Motto: “Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen”
Mascot: Mr. Cat the Wildcat
Notable Alums: Patricia Cornwell, Dean Rusk, Tony Snow, Vincent Foster, Bob Faw, Woodrow Wilson (attended but transferred to Princeton)
Interesting Fact: Basketball coach Larry Brown's first head coaching job was at Davidson. Unfortunately, it would only last during the summer off-season, and he never coached a game.

Whitney’s Pick: That ridiculous MD motto makes this a much closer contest than it should have been. Honestly, I am still kind of on the fence. But the Terps squeak it out thanks to Testudo kicking the crap out of Mr. Cat. (Mr. Cat? Is that the best they could do?) Maryland.

The University of Notre Dame
Established:
1842
Motto: “(Mary, our) Life, Sweetness, and Hope”
Mascot: The Leprechaun
Notable Alums: Joe Montana, Phil Donahue, George "The Gipper" Gipp, Regis Philbin, Hannah Storm, Rocky Bleier, Paul Hornung, Carl Yastrzemski, Adrian Dantley, George Wendt, Alan Page, Condoleezza Rice, Cap Anson, Mike Golic, Bill Laimbeer, Tim Brown, Don Ohlmeyer, Ted Robinson, Larry Dolan, Jerome Bettis, Don Criqui, Aaron Heilman, Nick Buoniconti, Kelly Tripucka, Knute Rockne, Jed Bartlett, "Rudy" Ruettiger, Steve Bartman, Joe Theismann (listed in order of football talent)
Interesting Fact: The Leprechaun wasn't always the official mascot of Notre Dame - for years the team was represented by a series of Irish terrier dogs. The Leprechaun was named the official mascot in 1965.
Other Interesting Fact: Note Dame was ranked last by Trojan, the condom company, in terms of access to sexual information it provides its students.

versus

Winthrop University
Established: 1886
Motto: “Truth with Liberty”
Mascot: Big Stuff the Eagle
Notable Alums: Frances Patton Statham (romance novelist), Dr. Mary Gaulden Jagger (one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women). Andie MacDowell attended Winthrop in 1977 but dropped out as a sophomore in 1978 to sign with Elite Model Management.
Interesting Fact: Part of The Rage: Carrie 2 was filmed at Winthrop. Also, Winthrop was a women’s college until 1972.

Whitney’s Pick: Winthrop is the sexy pick, of course, what with that vixen Andie MacDowell. Especially when compared to Condoleezza Rice. But the revelation that Norm was an Irishman seals the deal for this tippler. ND.

The University of Oregon
Established:
1876
Motto: “Minds Move Mountains”
Mascot: Puddles the Duck
Notable Alums: Ken Kesey, Norv Turner, Phil Knight, Dan Fouts, Paul Simon (the Senator), Ahmad Rashad, John McKay, Reuben Droughns, Chuck Palahniuk, Peter Jacobsen, Stu Jackson, Stephen J. Cannell, Alberto Salazar, Mike Nolan, Norm Van Brocklin, Terrell Brandon, Colin Meloy, Joey Harrington, Blair Rasmussen, David Ogden Stiers (attended), Howard Hesseman (attended), Russ Francis
Interesting Fact: The film Animal House was filmed on the campus and the surrounding area, although the building used as the exterior of the Delta House was demolished in 1986. (A sacrilege, says I.)

versus

Miami University
Established: 1809
Motto: “To Accomplish Rather Than To Be Conspicuous” (also the motto of organized crime)
Mascot: Swoop the RedHawk
Notable Alums: President Benjamin Harrison, Nick Lachey, Ron Zook, Mojo Nixon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tina Louise, Scott Sauerbeck, Marvin Miller, Wally Szczerbiak, Walter Alston, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler
Interesting Fact: On the Miami campus, the Hefner Zoology Museum is adjacent to the Limper Geology Museum. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it?

Whitney’s Pick: The minds that created Randle P. McMurphy, B.A. Baracus, and Tyler Durden against the Cradle of Coaches. Although I generally believe the quote that “if you don’t have Mojo Nixon, then your [school] could use some fixin’,” I think the Ducks’ accomplishments will be rather conspicuous in this game. Oregon.

The Georgia Institute of Technology
Established:
1885
Motto: “Progress and Service”
Mascot: Buzz the Yellow Jacket
Notable Alums: Jimmy Carter, Jason Varitek, Jeff Foxworthy, (the) Bobby Jones, Mark Price, Kevin Brown, Sam Nunn, Ken Whisenhunt, Vern Yip, Stewart Cink, Nomar Garciaparra, Ed Dodd, John Salley, Keith Brooking, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Dennis Scott, Mark Teixeira, David Duval
Interesting Fact: Tech's fight song “I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech” is known worldwide. It was adapted from an old drinking song (“Son of a Gambolier”), and embellished with trumpet flourishes by Frank Roman. In 1959, then VP Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev sang it together when they had their famous cold war confrontation in Moscow, to reduce the tension. Nixon didn't know any Russian songs, but Khrushchev knew that one American one. It was sung on the Ed Sullivan show; it was played in space; Gregory Peck sang it while strumming a ukulele in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit; John Wayne whistled it in The High and the Mighty. It is played after every Georgia Tech score in a football game.

versus

University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Established: 1957
Motto: “What happens at UNLV stays at UNLV” (I don’t know; they don’t seem to have one.)
Mascot: Hey Reb the Rebel
Notable Alums: Ickey Woods, Jimmy Kimmel, Larry Johnson, Suge Knight, Randall Cunningham, Todd Stottlemyre, Ashlyn Gere, Adam Scott, J.R. Rider, Reggie Theus, Kenny Mayne, Shawn Marion, Keenan McCardell, Anthony E. Zuiker
Interesting Fact: In 2003, Gladys Knight recorded the majority of her recent Grammy-winning album on the UNLV campus.

Whitney’s Pick: 50 years of history, no motto, a nonsensical mascot name, Suge Knight, and J.R. Rider. Jerry Tarkanian was a friggin’ genius. Georgia Tech.

The University of Wisconsin
Established: 1848
Motto: “The divine within the universe, however manifested, is my light or God, our light.”
Mascot: Buckingham U. Badger, or “Bucky” for short
Notable Alums: Charles Lindbergh, Joyce Carol Oates, Frank Lloyd Wright, Brooks Bollinger, Bud Selig, Boz Scaggs, Michael Mann, Chris Chelios, Tom Wopat, both Zucker brothers, Ron Dayne, Jeff Greenfield, Michael Finley, Eudora Welty, Dany Heatley, Dale Chihuly, Harvey Kuenn, Daniel J. Travanti, Paul Quantrill, Fredric March, Steve Miller, Mike Richter, Jim Lovell, Leonard Shapiro, Troy Vincent, Russ Feingold, Joan Cusack, Chris Chambers, Dick Cheney, (attended as doctoral candidate; failed to graduate)
Trivia Question: Wisconsin is NOT known as: (a) America's Dairyland (b) the Badger State (c) the Cheese State (d) the Snowy Land of Plump, Pasty Swedish-Canadians in Flannel

versus

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University – Corpus Christi
Established:
1947
Motto: “Corpus Christi – not just for Spring Break any more” (Again, I can’t find one.)
Mascot: Izzy the Islander
Notable Alums: None, that I can tell. Corpus Christi, however, is or was home to Farrah Fawcett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Burt Hooton, Marshall Applewhite, the Labonte brothers, Selena, and Whataburger.
Interesting Fact: The school was formerly known by the following three names: Corpus Christi State University (CCSU), Texas A&I University at Corpus Christi, and University of Corpus Christi. Rejected names include The University of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi Architectural Division and Adult Learning Annex for the Specially-Abled and Arguably Mexican, Christ Almighty, and Whataburger U.

Whitney’s Pick: A no-brainer. The Zuckers have brought me hours upon hours of enjoyment, and Miami Vice is still one of the best shows in syndication. Plus, who can bother writing out some cockamamie abbreviation for the other school. Whatapainintheass. Wisconsin.

Second Round

Florida vs. Arizona
This game will come down to one simple match-up: Jonathan Demme against Jerry Bruckheimer. Director against Producer. Silence of the Lambs against Top Gun. Stop Making Sense against Coyote Ugly. Florida.

ODU vs. Maryland
Changing Lives or Womanly Words? Changing Lives. ODU.

Notre Dame vs. Oregon
“Win one for the Gipper” or “Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer... dead!” Chalk one up for the Senator. Oregon.

Georgia Tech vs. Wisconsin
Who’s had a greater fall from glory, David Duval or Dick Cheney? Gotta go with Cheney. Georgia Tech.

Regional Semifinals

UF vs. ODU
Sadly, Speedy Gonzalez and his cheap tortillas can’t match the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the one-time home of the SuperBar. “¡Arriba!” Gators.

Oregon vs. Ga. Tech
“Minds Move Mountains?” All right then. “Progress and Service?” Yawn. Way to nerd it up, Tech. Oregon.

Regional Final

Florida vs. Oregon
Steve Spurrier vs. Norv Turner. Rex Grossman vs. Joey Harrington. Cris Collinsworth vs. Ahmad Rashad. All pretty much equally inept, annoying, or both. Malcolm Gets, gay actor vs. Russ Francis, gay footballer. Jed Clampett vs. Johnny Fever. It’s a wash throughout, and the game itself should be a barn-burner. What’s it going to come down to? Here’s the way I see it playing out. David Ogden Stiers played a real pain in the ass on TV. David Eckstein actually is one. Case closed. Oregon.

Really? Really??? I just picked Oregon to win this region and go to the Final Four? Man, I’d better start saving for lunch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Welcome to G:TB’s First Annual Regional Bracket Wager. TJ, Whitney, Dennis, and I were each assigned a region to break down in our usual uninformed style. TJ’s handicapped by his complete lack of attention to detail - he'll spend much more time trying to find a suitable picture for his entry than on picking the games. Dennis’ wife just had a baby and he’s trying to figure out how he can work his kid’s name into every game capsule (hint: think Miles Simon), Whitney is going to spend way too much time trying to derive clever pop cultural associations for each school, and I’m not really all that bright.

The least successful contestant will purchase lunch for all other contestants at an eatery chosen by the most successful contestant. Points will be awarded based on choosing winners correctly with a risk/reward nod given to successful underdog selection. The point system follows:

Round # 1: 1 point + seed# = score (so, if the 8 seed is correctly selected as the winner of the 8/9 game, the contestant receives 9 points for that game. All games are tallied and the contestant with the highest total score wins. More importantly, the contestant with the lowest total score loses.)
Round # 2: 4 points + seed# = score
Round # 3: 8 points + seed# = score
Round # 4: 16 points + seed# = score

The G:TB Height Laser was reconfigured to generate random regional assignments, and I drew the East. Predictions follow, with all statistical information stolen from Ken Pomeroy’s awesome college basketball site. Efficiency and tempo numbers represent rankings among all 336 Division I teams.

First Round

Winston-Salem, NC
1) UNC
Offensive Efficiency: 2
Defensive Efficiency: 2
Tempo (Average Number of Possessions/Game): 9 (Very High)

16) Eastern Kentucky
Offensive Efficiency: 211
Defensive Efficiency: 179
Tempo: 312 (Very Low)

In the history of the NCAA Tournament as a 64-team event, no 1 seed has fallen to a 16. Not earthshaking analysis here, but it’s not gonna happen in this game. Carolina’s too athletic, too deep, and playing too well right now for this one even to be close. The Colonels will try to take the air out of the ball and get open looks from beyond the arc, but they’ll succumb to Carolina’s vastly superior weaponry. Brandan Wright will have at least 2 breathtaking throwdowns, and UNC will be up by 15+ at halftime, and by 30 when the final buzzer sounds.

Line: Carolina -26.5 - Usually hate to give that many, but the Heels will cover easily.

8) Marquette
Offensive Efficiency: 41
Defensive Efficiency: 28
Tempo: 90 (Above Average)

9) Michigan State
Offensive Efficiency: 42
Defensive Efficiency: 13
Tempo: 310 (Very Low)

I’m tempted to wave Marquette through because Dominic James is quicker and stronger than Drew Neitzel, but then I remember that I watched James lay a total egg against Gheorghetown and witnessed Neitzel as the second coming of Gerry McNamara against Wisconsin and Indiana. Jerel McNeal is back for Marquette to play defensive stopper on Neitzel after missing the Big East tourney – that matchup will be key. The teams will display contrasting styles, as the Spartans look to stretch the game out with a controlled offense in comparison to the Golden Eagles’ more aggressive tendencies. Though both events happened years ago, we still harbor residual anger at Marquette for getting rid of those killer patchwork uniforms and ditching the Warriors moniker in the name of political correctness. G:TB says that the master handles his apprentice as Tom Izzo’s Spartans move on at Tom Crean’s expense.

Line: Marquette -1.5 – MSU wins outright.

Spokane, WA
5) USC
Offensive Efficiency: 57
Defensive Efficiency: 35
Tempo: 121 (Slightly Above Average)

12) Arkansas
Offensive Efficiency: 64
Defensive Efficiency: 20
Tempo: 133 (Slightly Above Average)

Let’s state for the record that G:TB deplores the inclusion of Arkansas in this tournament, and submits this pick under protest. We’re backing USC purely on principle, and will do so even if the Trojans’ team plane drops into the Pacific Ocean while traveling to lovely Spokane. That said, this is a matchup of two evenly matched squads that are more than capable on the defensive end of the floor.

Line: USC -1.5. Trojans cover and the horse stomps on Stan Heath just to make a point.

4) Texas
Offensive Efficiency: 4
Defensive Efficiency: 59
Tempo: 99 (Above Average)

13) New Mexico State
Offensive Efficiency: 99
Defensive Efficiency: 115
Tempo: 42 (High)

I could dig deep into the analysis on this one, but it’s really pretty simple. The Aggies and Reggie Theus’ post-Hang Time resurrection are a nice story, but Texas has Kevin Durant. Point, and win, Texas.

Line: Texas -9. Lay the lumber, Danny.

Sacramento, CA
6) Vanderbilt
Offensive Efficiency: 22
Defensive Efficiency: 81
Tempo: 128 (Slightly Above Average)

11) Gheorghe Washington
Offensive Efficiency: 121
Defensive Efficiency: 58
Tempo: 123 (Slightly Above Average)

Like most of the G:TB gang (think Seinfeld’s Van Buren Boys, only less Jewish), I think very little of the Atlantic 10, and was prepared to hold my nose and go with Vandy here. But a little bit of nose-to-the-grindstone analysis (I clicked on a hyperlink) revealed that Vanderbilt’s last 2 games have been…losses to G:TB nemesis Arkansas. Applying the transitive property of G:TB Sporting Scorn, and considering the fact that the hometown Colonials have won 8 straight games and possess a significant edge in terms of athleticism, we’re going with GW.

Vandy -3.5 – hard to play with a line this small (cue rimshot), but the instinct gambler in G:TB says take the points and go with the Colonials in this close one. Point of relevant information: the instinct gambler in G:TB is several thousand dollars shy of break-even over his career.

3) Washington State
Offensive Efficiency: 61
Defensive Efficiency: 22
Tempo: 322 (Very Low)

14) Oral Roberts
Offensive Efficiency: 115
Defensive Efficiency: 91
Tempo: 139 (Slightly Above Average)

Wazzu’s one of those happy-to-be-here high seeds, unaccustomed to their lofty perch. ORU knocked off Kansas early this season and has some legit game. The Golden Eagles’ Caleb Green is better than any of WSU’s big men by a long-shot. Call it a hunch, but G:TB likes God’s Chosen Team here – and if you don’t root for them, a 700-foot statue of the school’s founder and namesake will haunt you until you repent.

Line: WSU -6.5 – G:TB’s feeling very Christ-like in this matchup, giving until it hurts. And ducking lightning bolts.

Winston-Salem, NC
7) Boston College
Offensive Efficiency: 11
Defensive Efficiency: 92
Tempo: 246 (Below Average)

10) Texas Tech
Offensive Efficiency: 58
Defensive Efficiency: 82
Tempo: 206 (Below Average)

This is a crap game, and will most likely be crap to watch, and the result won’t matter, as the winner will be drilled in the 2nd round. Boston College has been the very definition of mediocre since Sean Williams was lost for the season to suspension in January. Also, Al Skinner has one of college basketball’s most bizarre hairlines – Lou Henson makes fun of him. Texas Tech’s not been particularly consistent themselves, winning 4 straight to effectively clinch a tournament berth before laying an egg against Kansas State in the Big 12 tourney. BC’s Jared Dudley is a legitimate player with inside/outside skills, but G:TB is following the hoary dictum (be real careful with that phrase) assigned to these games and choosing quality guards over quality big men. Bob Knight and the Red Raiders move on in a deliberate affair.

Line: BC -3. Knowing the BC student body’s history of loose interpretations of Federal gambling statutes, G:TB is taking this game off the books.

2) Gheorghetown
Offensive Efficiency: 1
Defensive Efficiency: 17
Tempo: 327 (Very Low)

15) Belmont
Offensive Efficiency: 141
Defensive Efficiency: 119
Tempo: 132 (Above Average)

The nation’s hottest team and the most efficient offense in the land against…well, against the very definition of bracket fodder. I think Belmont’s located in Nashville, TN, but it doesn’t really matter. By the time I look it up, they’ll be roadkill.

Line: GU -16.5 – The Hoyas just beat Pitt by 23. I think the Panthers are slightly better than Belmont (though not if Aaron Gray continues his John Leone impression – there’s an inside joke for maybe 2 or 3 people).

Second Round
1) UNC vs. 9) Michigan State
These 2 teams thought they’d be matching up in the 2nd round last year, before Jim Larranaga’s boys made Billy Packer’s brain explode. This is a bit of a trap game for the Tar Heels, as they’ll almost certainly be looking ahead to a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Texas. Michigan State will try to control tempo, and have more success than Eastern Kentucky – they may even get out to a 10-12 point lead – but as in round 1, Carolina’s too deep and too fast for a team that’s used to the Big 10’s more limited athleticism. This is a dream game for Tyler Hansbrough – he gets to bang inside with guys who are willing to trade paint. I think he’ll get more ornery as the game goes on. Prepare to be either really annoyed with him or really fired up by the end of the contest, depending on your tolerance for Psycho-T.

5) USC vs. 4) Texas
In the lesser-touted rematch between two schools with recent college football national championship experience, Texas rubs Southern Cal’s nose in it one more time. My only real concern is where Matthew McConaghey plans to score chicks in Spokane – I don’t think John Stockton’s dad’s bar is the kind of place that Wooderson likes.

11) Gheorghe Washington vs. 14) Oral Roberts
In all honesty, this subregional is one of the lamest I can remember, with weak 3 and 6 seeds and a sketchy 11. Though I’m going the semi-cautious route and picking GW to stretch its winning streak to 10, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see ORU sneak out of here and be lauded as “This Year’s Gheorghe Mason”. (Note: If that happens, I’ll be petitioning for partial credit in our wager.)

10) Texas Tech vs. 2) Gheorghetown
The Red Raiders have a chance if they can unsettle the suspect Hoya guards, as Jarrius Jackson will be the best perimeter player on the court. In the end, though, Gheorghetown’s got too much of what counts: size, discipline, teamwork, patience, and Jeff Green.

Regional Semifinals
East Rutherford, NJ

1) UNC vs. 4) Texas
This may well be the tournament’s most exciting game, with two young, up-tempo, extremely athletic squads matching up. Texas’ inability to close out good teams concerns me considerably, as does the Longhorns’ lack of quality interior depth. Sometimes, though, at this stage in the tournament, players of destiny step up and make their bones. Kevin Durant may be the best college player I’ve ever seen (I say “may” as I hesitate to make sweeping generalizations of that nature because the alcohol has taken many of the brain cells devoted to memory). On a hunch, a whim, a flyer, I’m going with Texas.

11) Gheorghe Washington vs. 2) Gheorghetown
I swear to Oral Roberts that I didn’t plan this as a nod to local rooting interests. The fairytale ends for the Colonials, and it doesn’t end pretty. GW’s speed may negate Roy Hibbert slightly, but they have no answers for the Hoyas' offense and rebounding.

Regional Final

4) Texas vs. 2) Gheorghetown
I’ve watched a whole mess of college basketball this year, and especially over the past few weeks, and nobody’s measured up to the Hoyas in terms of teamwork, execution, and poise. That’s not changing in the Regional Final as JT3’s boys put together another workmanlike effort to hold off the Flying Durants.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hey, look what won't go away...

...it's the Local Hoops Top 10. This week we reward those that excelled during Championship Week. And laugh at those that didn't.

1. Georgetown (26-6)
Big East regular season and tournament champion. The shiznit. People are falling all over themselves to pick the Hoyas as national champs. JT3 has to be happy with the chumps in his part of the bracket.

2. Virginia Commonwealth (27-6)
CAA regular season and tournament champion. They get Duke in Round 1. I say VCU wins that game, behind the guard play of Eric Maynor, Jesse Pellot-Rosa and B.A. Walker (combined 41.4 ppg).

3. George Washington (23-8)
A-10 tournament champ. I hate the A-10. Xavier screwed some at-large bids by not taking care of business. Can they beat Vanderbilt? I have no f'ing clue.

4. Maryland (24-8)
ACC tournament first round loser. BUT, prior to that, a team that looked like they finally got it. Could be a very interesting tourney run for Gary and those seniors. Davidson is led by Freshman of the Year Stephen Curry (yep, he's the son of the Charlotte Hornet's all time leading scorer, Dell Curry).

5. Virginia (20-10)
ACC tournament quarterfinal loser loser. Drew Albany in the Dance. I think all the 4 seeds could be interesting this year (Virginia, Maryland, Texas and Southern Illinois). But first let's see Albany and Jamar Wilson put a scare into Dave Leitao's crew.

6. Virginia Tech (21-11)
ACC tournament quarterfinal loser. If Illinois is as bad as I think they are, Hokies will be moving on to Round 2 of the Dance. Senior guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon will be the difference.

7. Old Dominion (24-8)
12 seed Monarchs facing 5 seed Butler. Lost in CAA semis to George Mason. And that almost cost them. I like ODU's chances to be that 12 that beats a 5. I certainly don't see Illinois or Arkansas getting it done (Long Beach...maybe...)

8. George Mason (18-15)
Almost made a surprise appearance...but lost in CAA finals. I don't think they even made the NIT.

9. VMI (14-19)
Almost redux...lost to heavily favored Winthrop 84-81 in final of Big South tourney. Very enjoyable run by the Keydets though.

10. William and Mary (15-15)
I think their St. Valentine's Day victory over Drexel killed the Dragons. Seriously.

Jamar Wilson, Mayor of Sm-Albany

This is becoming a rite of Spring. Jamar Wilson dominates an America East Final (22, 7 and 6 last night)...the Albany Great Danes (22-9, 13-3) get a bid to the Big Show. Diddly posed the thought on everyone's mind (in the Capital District at least):

"I think we're seeing the dawn of a new dynasty with Albany. I just wish they'd change their frigging nickname."

Dynasty? Perhaps. Scrap the Great Danes? No can do. The nickname can stay. SUNY Albany is the only college or university with the Great Dane as its mascot. It looks like a wife-beating version of Scooby Doo.

The Am East in 58 words or less:
Vermont (25-6, 15-1) had won 13 straight games and reached the America East championship for the 5th consecutive season. The Catamounts won the tourney in '03, '04 and '05, but have now dropped the last two finals to Albany (last year in scenic Sm-Albany and this year in SyrupLand). Former coach Tom Brennan keeps smarmy Doug Gottlieb in check daily.

Albany beat Vermont 60-59 in the America East title game yesterday afternoon, behind Wilson, a huge strip by Carl Ross (#00 in your program, #1 in your heart), and god awful execution by Vermont on the game's final play. It also didn't hurt to have Vermont big man Chris Holm roll his ankle on the opening tip and limp to 8 points and 3 boards (well below the 11 and 12 he averages). Albany ended up out rebounding the nation's best rebounding team.

Joe Lunardi has Albany as a #14 in the St. Louis (MIDWEST) regional, facing #3 seed Pittsburgh. Stewart Mandel has the same 3/14 match-up, but in the San Jose (WEST) regional. Yes, I need to get out more. Aaron Gray might have 30, but I like the UAlbany's chances. Jamar Wilson is that good.

Plus, these guys were a 16 last year, and led UConn by 12 with 11 minutes to play, finally losing 72-59.

Albany hasn't been this hot since Ironweed hit the shelves.

Useless Nuggets:
SUNY Albany has hosted the New York Football Giants summer training camp since 1996. This guy ran the merchandise tent in the summer of '96. Extremely good times.

On April 17, 2005 students from the University at Albany set and currently hold the record for the world's largest pillow fight with 3,648 participants, observed by Guinness Records officials. It's official. You can google that.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I think Steve Perry speaks for us all...

...or at least the three of us rooting for a CAA bracket invasion:
After a wild day in the major conference tournaments, I think ODU and Drexel have real reason to believe they'll be Dancing come Sunday. Not to bombard you with the same stuff again, but a little housecleaning from these previous posts:

Joe Lunardi's last four in (and yes, it pains me greatly to have Joe Lunardi playing Peter at the gates of Bracket Heaven). Looks like G:TB got to Mr. Lunardi.
Purdue - Iowa could sack up and help us here by winning this one.
Illinois - Same with enigmatic Indiana squad.
Drexel - Howdy Bruiser!
Old Dominion - Let them play...let them play...
**G:TB is also declaring Syracuse and Michigan State as IN.

Welcome to the NIT chumps
Clemson - I gotta admit, tough way to lose a game. I didn't see much of a foul on that final play.
Alabama - Truly a bunch of bamas.
Depaul - I've already forgotten these guys.
UMass - Watching 2007 A-10 basketball is about an enjoyable as having a car door slammed on your hand...repeatedly.
Fresno State - Um, yeah, we haven't really discussed these guys. Don't have to now.
Providence - Herbert Hill, future MVP of NIT Final Four.

Just lose today so we can forget about you
Oklahoma State - I don't see A&M dropping this game.
Michigan - Tommy will find a way to fuck this up.
Kansas State - Bob Knight vs. Bob Huggins - wow, this is really hard, which guy do I want to root for less?
Arkansas - I have a bad feeling Arkansas might cause some tension over the weekend.
Georgia - Even the Drizzle has given up on these guys.
Miss State - If the SEC West is as atrocious as we think, Kentucky wins this game easily.
Ole Miss - Let's see if I was right about LSU having a run in them.

Please just win your suck-ass conference title
Xavier - God I hate the A-10.
Memphis - When do we reach the point where Conference USA loses their automatic bid?

Long weekend ahead
Air Force - What did I tell you about Air Force and Wyoming? Honestly, go look at Air Force's schedule - they are in real trouble.
Stanford - They had their chances...
Missouri State - These guys might be getting the Oz treatment two years in a row. Maybe they should try winning at least one game against the other MVC powers.
West Virginia - Very enjoyable team to watch, and if G:TB had their way, WVU is in as well (as long as it is not at the expense of our CAA darlings).
Florida State - Only if they lose today. If they beat Carolina today they're in.

Thank you very little
Syracuse - Drexel would've like one of these teams to make a deep run in the Big East tourney.
Villanova - Nice start yesterday fellas...

EDITOR'S ADDENDUM: Michael Litos at The CAA: Life as a Mid-Major checks in this morning with an eye-opening (if self-serving and admittedly biased - hey, someone's got to be biased in favor of the little guys) comparison of Duke and Drexel. Bottom line is that the 2 are very, very comparable, and that Drexel's willingness to go on the road - the real road, not neutral court exhibitions - and play (and beat) tough non-conference foes stands out in stark contrast to the Blue Devils' (and nearly all major conference schools, for that matter) phobia of doing the same. Drexel won 13 freaking true road games this season - if they don't get in, the committee is guilty of the worst kind of hypocrisy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

GTB Conference Tourney Rooting Guide

Rob thought we owed our readers (presumptuous on the plural I think) a primer on who to root for and against over the next several days from our obviously CAA-biased perspective. Here's what we've come up with...remember, the ultimate goal here is Old Dominion AND Drexel joining VCU in the Dance:

Root Against:
WVU - As much as this pains us, because we at G:TB (Rob insists on doing the acronym this way) are huge John Beilein fans.
Depaul - Hot of late and could sneak in with a big run at MSG. Sammy Mejia is a baller.
FSU/Clemson winner - The loser's probably out, but it'd be better for the CAA if Clemson wins this first round matchup.
Illinois, Michigan, and Purdue - All three teams are competing for the same bubble slots as our beloved Monarchs and Dragons (oh my). Iowa needs to bow out quietly after dumping Purdue in the first round of the Big 10 tourney.
Air Force - The Falcons are slumping, but most experts have them in the dance. An early exit in the MWC tourney could change that.
Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Georgia - The SEC is surprisingly thin, but these guys need to go down early. Like their cheerleaders.
Stanford - Just because they've got a guy named Robin on their squad.
Kansas State - Hey, Huggy-bear, you're a dick. And a drunk.
Anyone other than Xavier in the A-10 - The conference is a joke, but Xavier could steal an at-large if they win a few in the tourney and don't win the title.

Root For:
Syracuse - Damn right we're rooting for Cuse. (Note - that's TJ's opinion. It pains me grievously to root for the Orange, but I'm doing it for the cause)
Villanova - Because we like Scottie Reynolds, and because Cuse and Nova wins make Drexel's strong resume even stronger.
Georgetown - Each win for JT3's boys helps ODU.
Every top seed in every conference, especially Memphis, BYU, UNLV, and Xavier.

It's a mess, a glorious, my-company's-not-getting-any-production-from-me-for-the-next-3-weeks sort of mess. Roll 'em out and strap 'em on (I assure you Rob is not gay, though sometimes he makes us wonder).

EDITOR'S NOTE: A quick check of the scoreboard reminds me that we're also rooting against the University of Richmond, just on principle. G:TB has an intense dislike of Spidey, and chuckles often at the karmic boomerang that drilled U of R square in the forehead following its decision to abandon the CAA for the fool's gold of the Atlantic 10.