Sunday, March 11, 2007

Random Basketball Thoughts and a preview of the NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy Chricket Go Queek Queek.

ACC Tourney thoughts:

Honestly, NC State was two plays away from winning their first ACC title in two decades. The UNC-NCSU game was a fantastic one from most all standpoints. I didn’t feel cheated like in Sendek’s first year, I was proud to watch an underdog fight with a purpose and see the best team in the conference finally face a real challenge (Brendan Wright actually sweats! I saw it!). Moreover, the entire tournament was fantastic game after fantastic game (excluding UNC games before today). All of this taken into account, the first five minutes of the Big Ten and Big 12 tourneys exuded more crowd energy than I saw in the last four ACC games combined.

I don’t know if it was Tampa, DisnEySPN’s noise-cancellation, or the fact that a couple of the higher seeds were displaced early, but I was cheering louder in my den than all the non-allegiance fans could muster in the stadium. This was the ultimate underdog story—especially if you followed these two teams or the ACC at all this year. So much was at stake—a #1 seed, a tourney birth, two schools who hadn’t won this title in too long—and you could almost HEAR fans checking their watches and wondering if they could get back to their hotel to squeeze in a tee time before their flight out at 8. I don’t get it. I also don’t know how to fix it. I just found this strange. I mean, I know it’s not Harvard-Yale for the upper middle class (UNC-Duke), but this was a big (and CLOSE) game in front of a listless crowd. I hate that

One more thing: I hope I never have to use or hear the phrase “played well enough to get into the NIT" ever again. I have the feeling I will next year, though. Who knows? I'm pretty despondent about the whole thing, so this is basically a cop-out portion of the article. NC State has nothing to be ashamed of, and I know that. Such is life. I stand by my former idea: Tyler Hansbrough eats corn a lot and has no idea who his father is. He loves the taste of diaper-dandy Brendan Wright. LOVES that shit. Bitter.

NCAA Tourney thoughts:

This is my favorite sporting event.

My final four, you ask?:
Georgetown, Kansas, Florida, and Ohio State. Playing it safe this year after last years debacle where I was 3/4 off the mark. I got Georgetown winning it all. I love that modified Princeton Offense with this group. They run a perfect curl, know their cuts/timing and can pound you inside if they need to. As someone who watched Herb Sendek coach this offense, I can tell John Thompson III knows it's flaws and isn't stubborn enough to let his kids play from behind in it all day.

I'm pumped OUT about watching this thing, people. Let's fucking ROLL. Here are my surprises:

12 beats 5: Arkansas over USC and Illinois over VA Tech
It's between the ACC and the PAC-10 for the detritus league that fucks up in the first two rounds with early exists. I'm voting for the Pac-10. I've half-written a couple of articles on how I think this is actually a weak conference, but I realized it's just gut feelings. I've been wrong before, to be sure, but I just don't feel all that confident in their mid-tier teams.

However, the ACC didn't show me much with all the upsets and uninspired play by some of the "powerhouses." Losing close games to Miami and NC State (HA!) doesn't say much for the power of the conference.

11 beats 6: Winthrop over Notre Dame AND George Washington over Vanderbilt
The latter is definitely a hunch, but the former is legit. I think Winthrop will beat Notre Dame by double digits and coasts over Miami (OH). They are not my sleeper for the sweet sixteen however. I got more thicks up my sleeves, friends. Never you worry.

Sweet sixteen sleeper: Creighton over Nevada/Memphis.
I got nothing but love for 22 game winning streaks, but they end. They really do end. And this one might end earlier than a 2 seed would suggest.

HUGE upset bid that actually happens:
Miami (OH) over Oregon.
See above Pac-10 hunch, and I already gave this one away.

3 HUGE upset bids that come uncomfortably close to happening: Maryland escapes Davidson AND Wisconsin narrowly escapes Texas A&M C.C AND Pitt survives Wright State.
I watched the latter upset hound play and they were one of those determined teams like Vermont the last few years. I was addicted to them, and I honestly believe they will challenge Wisconsin. Davidson is a pesky team. I was hoping (aloud to some friends actually) that they would get Duke and throttle them. They may have to settle for a near miss against Maryland, though. I just don't think Pitt is all that fantastic. I do think they will beat Duke in the second round.

Not so shocking shockers: Texas over UNC in the sweet sixteen. No Duke in the sweet sixteen.
Fuck you, Richard Vitale. Fuck you very much. The door to your retirement is wide fucking open, old man. I'll even hold it open and hand you your AARP card on the way out. There are other teams in this league. Approximately 300 of them. [Also, I have Villanova(9), Michigan State (9) and Georgia Tech (10) pulling mild upsets then losing in the second round. I actually think Michigan State can make a run at UNC but they can't beat them.]
The same mistake I always make: Southern Illinois in the sweet sixteen.
I can;t pull against them. Love the players. Love the style. Love that they are called SO ILL. I even bought a shirt. Hell yeah. SO ILL, SON. THAT'S WHASSUP.

NIT Champion: NC State.
Wishful thinking. Florida State and Syracuse are surely ready to play, ahem.

Your NCAA Champion: Georgetown.
I know I covered this, but I think they have something-- that old school swagger that I feared as a kid is still lurking around. Hearing Ewing and Thompson in the same vicinity still strikes that same fear. I don't know why. It just does.

My Full Bracket:
HERE. I don't know if that will work, but if it doesn't, what do you care? That's what I got. Feel free to run your thoughts at me and call me an idiot in our always lacking comments department.

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