‘Twas the Night Before Krzyzmas

‘Twas the night before Krzyzmas, (though we didn’t know that)
And not a creature was stirring, not even a rat.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

But with its little old driver so angry and gay,
I knew in a moment it must be Coach K.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he shouted and cursed them, and called them by name!

“Now Wojo! Now, Singler! now, Redick and Curry!
On, Paulus! On, Shavlik! Melchionni, please hurry!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now flop away! Flop away! Flop away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of douchebags, and their Leader too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the ceiling
Their prancing and pawing and loud girlish squealing
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Coach K came in with a bound.

He was dressed like a pallbearer, from his head to his feet,
And his haircut was tidy, his dark suit was neat
A sack full of cheese he had flung on his back,
Likely Gouda, Romano, and Monterey Jack

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples had merit!
His cheeks were like roses, His nose like a ferret!
His smug little mouth was drawn up and droll,
And the hair on his head was dyed blacker than coal.

He was sickly and gaunt, a right creepy old elf,
And I gasped when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A snarl of his lip and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to worry I had something to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And took all our presents, the rotten old jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
Blew out a big wad of snot on my clothes!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, as they sang “Hark the Herald”,
“Remember the real victim in all this is Gerald!”

2011-2012 College Basketball Preview Series – Duke Blue Devils

(EJSIC is previewing several college basketball teams.  Check out Michael Street’s Memphis preview here.)

One of the most fascinating teams in college basketball to watch this season will be the Duke Blue Devils.  Replacing four year stars Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, as well as one-third-and-done Kyrie Irving would seem a nearly overwhelming challenge for many coaches.  However, when you’re an all-time great coach, like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, it’s hard to get rattled.

Last season’s results:
32-5
ACC Runner-Up
ACC Tournament Champion
Lost 93-77 to Arizona in Sweet 16

Key departures:
Kyle Singler  (34.8 mpg, 16.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Nolan Smith (34.0 mpg, 20.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.2TO, 35% 3PT)
Kyrie Irving (27.5 mpg, 11 gps, 17.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.5 TO, 47% 3PT)

59% of scoring, 39% of rebounding, 63% of assists

Key returnees:
Mason Plumlee (25.6 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg)
Seth Curry (25.0 ppg, 9.0 ppg, 2 apg, .9TO)
Ryan Kelly (20.1 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Notable non-conference matchups:
Michigan State (likely to be the game in which Mike Krzyzewski breaks Bob Knight’s all-time wins record)
at Ohio State (a true road game!)
Maui Invitational (possible matchups with Memphis and Kansas or UCLA)

Before we go much further, I should mention that as a lifelong Tar Heel fan, a hint of subtle bias may occasionally creep into this analysis.  But I’ll try to keep my personal feelings out of this entry as much as possible.  I’ll let you watch Duke play, and you can form your own opinions about the way Coach K and his staff approach the game. Continue reading

The Year of the “Half-and-Done”

Move over, ‘Melo.

Derrick Rose?  Kevin Durant?  John Wall?  Next.

The days of the infamous “One-and-Done” college basketball player are behind us.  Welcome to the dawn of the “Half-and-Done-ers.”

Josh Selby donned #32 for Kansas literally dozens of times in his career

To the surprise of nobody, Kansas Freshman guard, Josh Selby, announced today – via Twitter – that he will forgo his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and enter this June’s NBA draft.  This on the heels of last week’s announcement out of Durham, NC which saw Duke guard, Kyrie Irving take the same step.

Due to the NBA’s age restriction, we have witnessed a host of talented players pass, briefly, through the ranks of amateurs for a full season while they placed their dreams of professional basketball on hold for one, often spectacular year.   It’s not a new phenomenon.

But most of these players PLAYED an entire season in college before heading off to richer pastures.  So, the announcements from Selby and Irving offer a rare glimpse at two young players who both missed significant portions of their one and only collegiate season.  Selby missed the first 9 games of the season awaiting the NCAA’s decision on his eligibility…and then 3 additional games later in the season due to a foot injury.  Irving missed the last 3 months of the regular season for the Blue Devils before returning in the NCAA Tournament.

On the bright side, he never had to learn how to spell "Krzyzewski"

 

In their short time on the court, each player made contributions to their team.  Irving was second on the team in points per game (17.5) and assists per game (4.3) while playing and was a significant factor for Mike Krzyzewski’s squad.  Selby, while never finding the stride he showed when he was so heavily recruited out of high school, showed flashes of the player he could be with impressive offensive numbers in several games for the Jayhawks.

 

But, both Selby and Irving – rivals.com’s No. 1 and 2 point guards, respectively, in the 2010 class – played partial seasons at best.  And, now that their time in college is done, they can move on to bigger (richer) and better (MUCH richer) things without leaving too much of an impact at all on the college game.

Here’s hoping they both get more of a chance to show the nation what they’re capable of at the next level.

 

Small Arms McGee’s Tournament Predictions

East:
As I said in my Selection Sunday Reaction post, Ohio State didn’t get much of a reward for being the best team all season. Kentucky is certainly better than a 4-seed, and Syracuse is battle-tested. I have Syracuse beating Carolina, who won’t be able to shoot well enough to exploit that zone. I think John Calipari has plenty of ammunition to work his “they don’t respect us” angle that worked so well at Memphis, and will knock off Ohio State early. Syracuse beats Kentucky to advance to Houston.

West:
I had been mentally preparing myself for Duke to be set up with another weak bracket, disguised by playing out west. I was right that they’d get San Diego State, but wrong that their bracket would be weak. If Texas can get out of its own way in the first two games, they could be a challenge for Duke. And if UConn gets there, Nolan vs. Kemba would be fit for pay-per-view. I have K finally getting some revenge against Calhoun for 1999 and 2004, and getting the Lubed Evils back to the Final Four. If Duke gets there, people like me won’t be able to say they got a cakewalk this time.

Southwest:
The committee doesn’t set up made-for-TV moments huh? Right.  We all look forward to Bill Self vs. Illinois in the second round (assuming Kansas finally exorcises its “first-round opponent that start with B” demons).  I have Kansas beating Louisville to get to the Elite Eight and Purdue slipping by Notre Dame. (As an aside, I have a rule these days that requires me to never trust Vanderbilt or Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. If my predicting ability in the past is any guide, you’ll see Vandy and Notre Dame square off in the Elite Eight.) Anyway, Kansas skates by Purdue relatively easily to get to the Final Four.

Southeast:
The committee thought they had put together a bracket even Pitt couldn’t screw up.  Clearly, they underestimate Pitt’s abilities to avoid the Final Four. This region is the home to my biggest upsets – which are relatively few and far between in my bracket this season. I have Belmont beating defense-averse Wisconsin, then beating Utah State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen where Pitt finishes them off. On the other side I have Florida taking out BYU. (Upset alert: Gonzaga upsets a dinged-up St. John’s team before falling to the Stormin’ Mormons.) Florida edges Pitt to reach its first Final Four since 2007, and more importantly, denying Pitt its first Final Four since the FDR administration.

Final Four
Duke hits its threes and beats Syracuse.  Kansas races past Florida.  Kansas’ frontcourt proves too much for the Plumlees in an intriguing matchup between Coach Hair Dye and  Coach Toupee.  Kansas is your 2011 national champion, and Carolina fans won’t give a shit about Roy Williams wearing a Jayhawk sticker this time.

Enjoy the tournament.  And remember:  never, under any circumstances, pick an ACC team not named Duke or UNC to advance past the second round.

 

Al’s Completely Biased NCAA Tournament Bracket Thoughts

Never one to quibble about originality, I am hot on the heels of Small Arms McGee with my thoughts in the aftermath of a SethNonSelection Sunday I am now calling “Weakest Year Ever Day Brought to You By Weakest Committee Ever.” In my mind, this has been one of the ugliest years in basketball, with everyone swimming in a sea of mediocrity that was most notable for the number of dolphins identified as sharks (aka the Big East teams). In keeping with the season, one of the ugliest selection committees in basketball created a truly lopsided bracket that puts the hammer down on OSU, the supposed No. 1 overall seeds. (I was going to link to the Meet the Committee page to laugh at how ugly they are, but apparently they’ve taken that page down due to fear of backlash or personal threats to their families made by Seth Greenberg. So now I’m laughing at them.)

Seth Greenburg's Tears for Fears

So, here are my thoughts on the brackets.

East
I was worried that Gene Smith’s ties to Ohio State would mean that their road to the Final Four would be strewn with rose petals ala Duke last year, so I was shocked to see how difficult that bracket is. However, it’s difficult for everyone, I think. I used to wonder why UNC always gets put in these difficult brackets until I saw that one of the committee members is from Wake Forest, and their feelings about UNC border on some sort of psychotic pathos. I’d almost rather have someone from Duke be in charge of our seeding. UNC might end up playing Ohio State, but I’m not optimistic. Unless Roy told the team to hold back and not wear themselves out in the ACC Tournament (knowing that Duke had the Number 1 seed once they made it to the ACC Tournament final, just as I had expected–not even a loss would have stripped them of that seed), UNC looked wretched in all three of its ACC Tournament games. A fall before the Sweet 16 is looking likely for the Tar Heels.

West
I don’t expect Duke to be challenged in the West. They put some teams that on paper look like they could challenge Duke, but Duke should come through all that unscathed and make it to the Final Four. If Texas makes it past the second round, I’ll be shocked. If Arizona and Tennessee make it past the Sweet 16, I’ll be even more shocked. Pearl is too out of control and Arizona has the same problem that UNC does – youth and inconsistency. Duke has gotten their second wind now and should be able to beat any of them. And, of course, one of the weaker 2nd seeds, SDSU, will be right there to fall apart in the face of Singler’s nipple twisting intimidation and Seth Floppy.

Southwest
This could be the most exciting bracket of them all. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Kansas this year, which probably means they’ll win it all. Why? Because I stopped being able to make decent predictions about the NCAA Tournament in the mid-1990s. I hate Pitino, but Louisville always makes whatever bracket they’re in exciting. I don’t think Florida State will make it out of the first round because they have no offense to counter their defense. Sure, they beat Duke, but that’s because Duke went in there overconfident. After they beat Duke, they got scouted more and people began to see that defense doesn’t always “win championships.” If Singleton plays and is healthy, they might make it to the Sweet 16, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Southeast
Could the announcers on CBS yesterday have been more scathing about Pitt’s number 1 seed? I couldn’t help laughing. I think they were upset that it wasn’t Notre Dame. No one thinks that Pitt can make it to the Final Four, and I agree. The Big East really needs to put its money where its mouth is in this tournament, but I don’t see Pitt as being the one to do that. I think Wisconsin will have no trouble with Belmont – unlike lots of UNC fans, I don’t think that “almost beats” count as wins. I’m hoping St. John’s takes out Gonzaga so we don’t have to put up with them after the first round. They always mess up my bracket. ODU could make some noise this year; they’re the sleeper of the CAA but they haven’t had many tough opponents.

Overall
I still can’t decide who’s going to win it all, though. I don’t feel as strongly about Kansas as everyone does and I fear that if Singler is out of his slump, Duke could beat any one of the one seeds. OSU would be most likely to challenge them, but by virtue of their being in the toughest bracket, they could lose before they face Duke or be so exhausted that they just lay down and die in the face of a Duke that will have cruised into the Final Four (even with out Kyrie “The Toe” Irving). Of course, if Duke loses early, we’ll hear nothing but wails that there should be an asterisk on the game because they didn’t have the point guard on the All-Galaxy team–otherwise they would have beat all their opponents by 40+.

So, there you have it. My completely biased and basically irrelevant thoughts on March Madness. See y’all in Houston (I wish).

Selection Sunday: Small-Armed Reaction

The NCAA Tournament field was unveiled last night.  Thank God Charles Barkley was there, because his lack of professionalism and preparation made the committee look a little closer to competent by comparison.  Look,  I know TNT and TBS are carrying some games this week – and I’m happy about the additional coverage – but why do we need Chuck talking about “that Jimmer kid out west” and making it painfully obvious that he did zero prepwork for his One Shining Moment?  I don’t have a problem with Ted Turner wedging himself into the March Madness mix.  Just swap Chuck out for Ernie Johnson and things might be okay.  He was turr’ble last night.

Anyway, on to the field itself.  Obviously, there are some much-discussed head-scratchers like UAB and VCU.  Maybe you can make a case to say Colorado deserved a spot.  But I don’t get too hung up on “who’s in, who’s out” because the bubble was simply awful, so trying to field a group of 68 teams this year must have been a real challenge.  This was clearly not the year for expansion.  If anything, last night made the case for contraction.

The bigger problem I have with the committee is similar to what we saw last year.   Teams continue to be poorly seeded (this year more than last) and regions are wildly unbalanced (not quite as bad as last year).  Last year, you’ll recall the outrage about the supposed third 1-seed Duke being given a very advantageous bracket, while overall 1-seed Kansas received the most challenging region.  When Duke cut down the nets in Indianapolis after squeaking by a feisty Butler team, many pointed to their relatively easy path as being a major reason for their title run.  Similarly, Pittsburgh (again, the third 1-seed) seems to have received the rock-star treatment this season.  Pitt’s draw may not be quite as ridiculous as what 2010 Duke received, but it’s still pretty remarkable when you look at it beside the other three regions.

Seeding was the real story this year.  Kentucky trounced their opponents in the SEC tournament and finished their season on a very strong note.  Their struggles on the road during the heart of the season were well-documented, but it seemed the Wildcats were putting it together at the right time, closing the season at a very high level.  The committee saw it differently, as Kentucky received a 4-seed in the toughest region of all, the East.   (Oh, and as a bonus, they face the Ivy League again, so get your “hicks vs. pricks” jokes ready, my fellow Elitist Jerks!)

To make it to the Final Four, Kentucky would have to go through #1 overall seed Ohio State and possibly Syracuse or North Carolina.  Compare that to Florida, the team Kentucky boatraced Sunday afternoon to take the SEC tournament title.  The Gators received a 2-seed in the aforementioned and relatively soft Southeast region.  Kentucky ended the season #7 in the Pomeroy ratings, while Florida was #19.  Both are quality teams, but the seeding gap (especially factoring in regional strength, location, etc.) is hard to overlook.

Texas is another team who ended up a 4-seed despite having a very strong season.  Granted, they may be the anti-Kentucky, peaking in the middle of the season and closing meekly.  But still, they had a quality resume and finished #4 in the Pomeroy ratings.  Their path?  A match-up with Duke in the Sweet 16, followed by (if chalk holds up) San Diego State or UConn.

Or how about Washington?  They end the season #15 in the Pomeroy ratings and draw a 7 seed, potentially playing recently-red-hot-but-now-entirely-uncertain North Carolina in Charlotte in the second round.  It almost makes you believe that “east coast bias” crap those crunchy hippie nutjobs talk about.  Almost.

Oh, and while we’re in the East, how about the reward Ohio State received for being the best and most complete team in college basketball all season.  32-2, #1 in Pomeroy, and they get North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky.  And let’s not overlook a potential matchup with a legit George Mason team in the second round.  If the Buckeyes make the Final Four, they will look back and know they fought for it.

Speaking of Big Ten teams, how in the world did some of these squads receive such inflated seeding?   Penn State and Michigan State as 10 seeds?  Illinois as a 9?  I’m starting to wish Jim Tressel would fire Gordon Gee and Gene Smith.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to laugh at Seth Greenberg.  He routinely schedules  a quilted Northern® soft non-conference slate, hangs around .500 in the ACC, and then cries on the second Sunday night of March.  Back in the day, 8-8 or 9-7 in the ACC would be certainly good enough.  But that was when the ACC had more than three really good coaches.  Look, I know the Hokies had some really terrible injuries and without them Virginia Tech would probably be safely in the Big Dance.  But stuff happens, and you have to adapt.  His team fell short yet again, and we all expected Seth to complain.  The difference this year was that Greenberg didn’t stop at hoarse-voiced whining.  He essentially floated the theory of some sort of anti-Virginia Tech conspiracy.  Greenberg said:

“Just disappointed. You almost wonder if someone in that room has their own agenda and that agenda doesn’t include Virginia Tech. Just plain and simple. I totally wonder it, if someone in that room has an agenda. The explanation was so inconsistent with the result that it was almost mind-boggling. I guess they even brought up our non-conference schedule. Kansas State, Purdue, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Penn State, St. Bonaventure that was supposed to be big and Mississippi State that was projected to win the SEC. I’d say that’s a pretty significant slate and challenge. So they must not have looked at it very closely. But I guess they did. I feel for these kids. Doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this year … but it’s extremely disheartening. You would hate to think that politics would be involved, but it makes you wonder.”

First of all, Seth, if you think the committee is capable of organizing and carrying out a conspiracy, you’re giving them too much credit.  Second, play somebody.  Third, get your guys motivated for games against teams NOT from the Triangle.  Fourth, there’s a phrase you need to become familiar with: “Man’s game, bitch.”

When play starts this week, most of what you have just read will no longer matter.  As I’ve said before, the NCAA tournament is the greatest event in sports, and no matter how hard they try, the committee just can’t ruin it.  So, call in sick Thursday and Friday, crack open a beer at 11 a.m., and root for your favorite team and your Cinderella pick.  And by all means, check in at EJSIC for more tourney coverage (from the other guys) and nonsensical, self-absorbed drivel (from me).

 

Al’s preseason predictions for NCAA men’s college basketball

Al for most of 2010

This has been one of the worst years to be a UNC fan. First, there was the horrible performance of the men’s basketball team that began in January of this year. Then there was the nightmare of the Duke national championship, which was all but gift-wrapped and handed to them by the NCAA selection committee and the other #1 seeds who laid down and died for no discernible reason. And then, UNC fans learned that a group of football players and an assistant coach (now former) figured that they could violate NCAA rules without getting caught while others looked the other way. And all for—get this—a team that until recently, had not beaten UVA or N.C. State in four years and lost every bowl game it was in.

I have seen no signs that this new basketball season will erase the pain of the last 10 months, so with that in mind, I submit these predictions, aka “Al’s nightmare” for the ESPN/USA Today preseason top 10:

1. Duke: Despite finishing second in the ACC regular season behind Maryland, Duke will remain ranked no. 1 throughout the entire season and will easily win the ACC championship, landing a #1 seed in whichever is the most advantageous region for them in the NCAA tournament. In a final four that consists of Duke, Seton Hall, Michigan State, Bowling Green State University (I’d like to thank Small Arms McGee for furnishing the name of this team), Duke will beat Seton Hall and Bowling Green State to win it all. The name of the Naismith Award will be changed to the Krzyzewski Award. People will conveniently forget that Wooden had more championships and call K the best and most successful men’s basketball coach in the history of the game. By 2012, Krzyzewski will be credited with inventing the game.
2. Michigan State: Despite a slow start to the season, which will include a loss to #1 Duke and to Texas and two inexplicable back-to-back losses to Northwestern and Penn State, knocking them down to about 11 in the rankings, they will finish strong to defeat Ohio State in the Big 10 Conference Championships. This will land them a no. 2 seed in the region least advantageous to them, where they will have to play the toughest opponents. This will wear them out so that they are too tired to beat Bowling Green State in the Final Four, setting Duke up for yet another win. Izzo will continue to be admired by most rational basketball fans but mocked by Duke fans for always coming up short in the NCAA tournament.
3. Kansas State: Kansas State will start out strong in the early season with a nice win over Florida in December and move into the No. 2. spot after Michigan State loses to Northwestern and Penn State in December. They will hang onto that spot until losing at Kansas in January. Despite an embarrassing loss at Nebraska, they will end up in the Big 12 Championship game and lose to Kansas. However, the NCAA selection committee will still give them the second No. 1 seed, but it will be in a region as far away from Manhattan as possible given the tournament venues. Sadly, they will exit the tournament in the Sweet 16, falling to Temple.
4. Pittsburgh: Pitt will beat all of their opponents in December and January (including Tennessee) only to lose to Georgetown, Syracuse, West Virginia and Louisville so that they end up in 4th or 5th in the conference and bow out early in the Big East tournament. They’ll be given a courtesy No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and lose in the Sweet 16 to Bowling Green State.
5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes will not seriously be challenged by any out of conference team, squeaking by opponents with scores like 57 to 54, and will probably be ranked #4 after Pitt loses to Georgetown. They will win the Big 10 regular season and will beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 tournament in a game that is about as exciting as watching your laundry spin in a front-loading washer or waiting for water to boil, only to lose to Michigan State in the final. They will still be the third #1 seed in the NCAA and will make it to the Elite Eight only to lose to Seton Hall 71 to 68, which will be their highest score of the season.
6. Villanova: Jay Wright’s team will stay in the top 10 for most of the season, losing only to Syracuse and Pitt and ending up in the Big East Championship final game after beating Pitt in a rematch, only to lose to Seton Hall, who will end up being the Big East Champ. However, based on their finish as #1 in the Big East, Villanova will earn the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but will lose in the Elite Eight, again to Seton Hall.
7. Kansas: The Jayhawks will have a tough year, because they will be without Josh Selby until the NCAA clears him on January 1, 2011 (this hasn’t been a very good year for Kansas fans either). They will most likely lose to Arizona, Memphis, Cal and Michigan (the score in that game 60 to 58 will be the lowest number of points Kansas will score all season) until Selby gets in the groove and leads them to the Big 12 Conference championship, which they’ll win. They’ll get a no. 3 seed and lose in the Elite 8 to Bowling Green State.
8. Purdue: The loss of Hummel will be felt by the Boilermakers, but because they play in the Big 10, they’ll still have a solid season. They’ll beat Virginia Tech handily in the Big 10 – ACC Challenge, but this will set them up for a loss at Alabama, just as Purdue fans are beginning to think they might be contenders without Hummel. They’ll recover and go on to win several more games before losing to West Virginia 64-54. After that, their season will be a series of ups and downs and they’ll exit the Big 10 tournament in the second round. They’ll land a no. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and lose to Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
9. UNC: The Tar Heels will go 7 – 4 in November and December and fall out of the rankings, after Barnes trips over the goal post in the Hofstra game and hits his head on Zeller’s knee, breaking Zeller’s kneecap and falling into a coma. One bright spot will be a win over Kentucky. After squeaking by St. Francis of Pennsylvania on January 2, the Tar Heels will learn that Barnes has come out of the coma. In his excitement, Roy Williams will leap up and accidentally smack a female reporter in the face, which Duke fans and other ABCers will describe as “Roy punches female reporter in the face” while the UNC Sports Information Office declines to comment. Trying to make amends, Roy will apologize to the reporter, explaining that it was an accident, but will make matters worse by adding, “I was just so happy. That li’l rascal coming out of the coma is even better than the rescue of those miners in Chile.” UNC ends up 3rd in the ACC (only because the rest of the conference is so horrible), after Barnes rejoins the team the last week in January. They end up with a No. 6 seed in the tournament, but lose in the second round to Syracuse. UNC fans pretend they’re happy that UNC made the tournament at all and won a game, but actually they are seething with rage and disappointment.
10. Kentucky: Out of conference, Kentucky will lose only to the ranked teams, including UNC and in conference, they’ll lose to Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi State (in double overtime). They will play Florida for the SEC championship and lose, but will still end up with a No. 2 seed. They’ll lose in the Elite Eight to Gonzaga only because I will have picked them to win in that bracket and Gonzaga has spoiled every bracket I’ve ever made since they started going to the tournament. There will be lots of predictions that their season will be vacated as Calipari haters and bloggers come up with extremely convoluted stories of corruption and agents, but in the end, Kentucky’s season will stay intact as the NCAA decides to take another look at Baylor’s recruiting instead.

Coach K Defends America Against Stupidity

Kudos to USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski for standing up to the Russian men’s basketball coach, David Blatt.

(If you’re thinking that David Blatt is an odd name for a Russian, it’s because he’s actually a dual American/Israeli citizen.  Don’t ask us why the Russians can’t find someone to coach their team.)

Blatt basically opined that the 1972 Russian team was the rightful winner of the Gold medal, which is a ridiculous assertion deserving of at least thirty seconds of judgmental laughter.  So please, take 30 seconds (at a minimum) and laugh at it.  We’ll wait for you.

There.  Better.

Anyway, Krzyzewski was having none of Blatt’s ridiculous comment.  He fired back:

“You know, he coaches the Russian team, so he probably has that viewpoint, and his eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them,” Krzyzewski said. “So, it’s great. Whatever he thinks, he thinks. It really has absolutely no bearing on what we’re trying to do tomorrow. Absolutely none. Our bearing is how we guard [Anton] Ponkrashov at point when he comes in, how we defend [Timofey] Mozgov and [Sasha] Kaun inside, that we don’t let [Sergei] Monia get shots. That’s our goal, so that’s what our focus will be.

And we’ve addressed that that game was played 38 years ago, and five of these guys are 21. So I don’t think they remember it as well. It is what it is. It’ll be a negative from the way the U.S. looks at it forever, and should be. And it’ll be in some ways a positive for those who believe in fairy tales.”

Boom!  Roasted!  In addition to Krzyzewski’s verbal blast, Team USA also defeated the dirty Russian bastards in an actual game of basketball, if anyone really cares right now.

So now we wait for Blatt’s next move.   Here’s how I imagine it playing out now that the game is over:

Blatt:  Hey Mike, good win tonight.   By the way, how many Pollocks does it take to coach a basketball team?

Krzyzewski (filling in a small rectangular mustache with a black Sharpie):  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear Jew.  I mean hear…you.  Mind repeating?

At that point, fisticuffs ensue.  Inexplicably, Geraldo Rivera’s nose is broken by a flying chair.

David Blatt just learned what most people already knew:  Never corner a rat.