One Way Street – NCAA Bracket Predictions

As my esteemed colleagues have done since the NCAA unveiled its bracket for the annual tournament championship, I too will be offering predictions. I’m guessing that’s all the introduction you need so let’s roll out the predictions.

One Way Street: I lecture, you take notes

East

There’s not much else to be said here that hasn’t been previously stated: Ohio State was awarded for being the best team all season with a killer bracket. North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky are all formidable top 4 seeds, and tOSU’s potential second round match-up with all-time Cinderella George Mason ensures the Buckeyes will earn every game this March.

Potential Sleeper: Xavier. The Musketeers enjoyed a quiet season on the national scale, but do not mistake the silence. Xavier could pull an upset in the early rounds; in fact I’ve predicted them to defeat Syracuse in the Round of 32 in my bracket (for whatever that’s worth; i.e. not much).

Jared Sullinger

Player to watch: Jared Sullinger. tOSU’s all-world forward delivers Dyke-ism’s favorite tough twos. Quite simply, he’s a helluva player and the stronger he plays down low the more open (and more dangerous) the Buckeye offense becomes.

Winner: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have senior leadership, a good balance of talent, and one of the best players in the country in Jared Sullinger.

West

The West bracket is also balanced this season, though not quite at the level of the East. Duke, as the one seed, will be the favorite to escape, but San Diego State, UCONN, and Texas form a challenging top four seeds. But Arizona as a five, Cincinnati as a six, and Temple as a seven seed all poise serious threats who can make deep runs.

Potential Sleeper: Missouri. The Tigers are an eleven seed thanks to their woeful road record and struggles inside the conference. But what makes Missouri dangerous is Mike Anderson’s Forty Minutes of Hell style of play. The Tigers like to press and run teams to death. The system also produces turnovers and turnovers are a death nail in March.

Player to Watch: Kemba Walker. UCONN’s All-American showed up early in November with magical performances in Maui, and after a small stumble during the mid-season, Walker turned it on as the Huskies won five games in five days to capture the Big East tournament championship. UCONN goes as Kemba goes, and if a game is on the line in the waning seconds, he’s money.

Kemba Walker

Winner: Arizona. I’m taking an upset in this bracket. The Wildcats have the second best player to watch (and possible #1 NBA draft pick) in forward Derrick Williams. Williams poses a match-up problem for any team, and Arizona’s guards are just good enough to keep the Wildcats in ballgames. I think Williams is the deciding factor in a Sweet Sixteen match-up with Duke with propels Arizona onto the Final Four.

Southwest

Labeled as the third strongest bracket (of four), the Southwest boasts one of the strongest teams throughout the season in the Kansas Jayhawks. The other top seeds include Notre Dame, Purdue, and Louisville; all strong teams. The Morris twins lead Kansas as they attempt to wipe away memories of an early exit last season. The other top seeds all share an interesting similarity: small preseason expectations. Notre Dame was not projected to finish as high or as strong in the Big East after losing Luke Harangody. Louisville faced similar preseason expectations as it waited on a heralded 2011 recruiting class to arrive on campus. Purdue was a Final Four contender in August until Robbie Hummel tore his ACL again which accordingly dampened expectations.

Potential Sleeper: Georgetown. A six seed isn’t much of a sleeper, but the Hoyas struggled late in the season when guard Chris Wright broke his hand. Before his injury, Georgetown was rolling towards the top of the Big East standings. His return will provide help for teammate Austin Freeman. Then again, the Hoyas could be out in the first round like last season.

Player to Watch: Marcus Morris. The better of the Morris twins, brother Marcus has expanded his game from the smooth inside

Marcus Morris

hook shots to include the ability to knock down the three pointer in Bill Self’s high-low offense. Morris, often accused as dirty, provides the gritty toughness to succeed in March.

Winner: Notre Dame. I love the make-up of the Irish. They have experience across the board, and Ben Hansbrough has shown the ability to make tough baskets when the team needs a lift. The only thing that scares me is coach Mike Brey’s less-than-stellar record in the NCAA tournament, but the team plays good enough defense to survive.

Southeast

The weakest region of the tournament displays proverbial choke-artists, Pittsburgh. The Panthers last reached a Final Four when the tournament included eight teams. Some credit is due as the Panthers have maintained a good record and resume despite high preseason expectations, but in a season in which no team is truly dominate, Pittsburgh looks vulnerable. Meanwhile in this bracket, SEC regular season champs Florida were gifted a two seed while the Davies-less Cougars of BYU are the three seed and Wisconsin is the four. This bracket is perhaps the most wide-open of them all.

Potential Sleeper: BYU. I know what you’re thinking: How can a three seed be a sleeper? Technically, they cannot. But after BYU dismissed forward Brandon Davies for violation of the university’s honor code, the Cougars have looked beatable to the point where the national media has lost hope in them. However, they still have Jimmer Fredette, an electric scoring machine. Guard play in March can be a difference maker, and Fredette’s ability to light up the scoreboard is critical.

Player to Watch: Jimmer Fredette. The Cougar guard, as I just stated, is a scoring machine. Fredette has the ability to perform like Stephen Curry did in 2008 riding his success to a top NBA draft pick. Leave him open at your own peril.

The Jimmer

Winner: Florida. Even though the Gators were probably a seed too high, they’re still a good team. The lower half of the bracket is a little weaker than the top half, and I think SEC Player of the Year Chandler Parson spurs Florida into a Final Four for the first time since 2007.

Final Four

In one semi-final, we have Ohio State versus Arizona while the opposite side features Notre Dame versus Florida.

Ohio State defeats Arizona in a battle of future NBA forwards Sullinger and Williams. The Buckeyes’ balance is enough to put them over the top. In the other semi-final, Notre Dame continues their good form with a win over the Gators. Ben Hansbrough and the rest of the experienced roster put the Irish over the top late.

In the finals, Ohio State’s dream season comes to an end just like 2007. Notre Dame rides the wave of success to a somewhat improbable National Championship.

Dyke-isms: A Guide to Color Commentary

Hello college basketball fanatics, it’s me, Jimmy Dykes. The writers at EJSIC have cordially invited me to write a guess post about the world of color commentary. You hear guys like Dick Vitale and Bill Raftery and myself drop lots of knowledge during ESPN telecast that you, the viewer, had probably never before heard; like big men hedging on screens, or the fundamental way to block out a rebounder.

We make it sound easy and simple, but really, there’s a lot of work involve to become the best in our business. And while we all bring different flavors to a broadcast, there are a few commonalities one must know to succeed. If you follow this guide, you may end up a co-worker of mine.

1. Know the teams you’re covering

All great commentary stars with homework. As a beginner, you should start by reading the team’s beat writer’s articles in the local paper. You may even watch a game or two when you have an off-night. The key to successful commentary is picking up on the small things the viewer at home, i.e. the amateur, doesn’t see.

The last game I called was on Tuesday at Rupp Arena when Tennessee played arch-rival Kentucky. I’ve been following John (when you’re really good, you can call coaches by their first names) since his days at Memphis. I didn’t do too much research. I already know that he lets his posse players play street ball. For Tennessee on the other hand, I read a few newspaper articles and watched some of their games.

Putting in the extra mile, as we like to say in Bristol, makes all the difference in a successful commentary.

2. Developing Key Words and Catch-phrases

Another aspect to add to your game is key words. Nothing screams “expert” to the home viewer more than a few well-timed insider words. I’m talking about words / catch-phrases that convey a deeper knowledge and understanding of the game at hand.

A couple of my personal favorites are “nail” and “tough two.” Players who nail the tough twos in a game are more likely to spur their teams onto victory. It’s common to interject these words at pivotal moments of the game. For example, if a player misses a crucial free throw, I like to turn to my partner Brad Nessler and say, “Gotta nail those.”

You really have to hammer home your key words throughout a broadcast. That may mean repeating them as much as twenty to thirty times. I like to practice before a game by envisioning the players on the floor and seeing myself make the perfect call. I really believe it helps.

My colleague Dick Vitale has made his mark with catch-phrases, Bay-Be. Another close friend, Bill Raftery, stuns viewers with his brilliant “nickle-dimer.”

3. Develop a Useful Diagram

Diagrams are a great way to nail the viewer with information. It allows you, the commentator, to (1) convey a lot of information in a simple form, and (2) pull the attention away from the game and to your vast expertise. True, the commentator should never be above the game, but the few brief moments during a timeout is your time to shine.

One of my favorite diagrams is the NCAA seeding jet. I’ve used it each of the last few seasons to display number one seeds (i.e. first class), bubble teams (rear of the plane), and teams not quite good enough for the big dance (out of the plane). It accomplishes the tough two goals, and it’s really simple. In fact, I’ve made a quick airplane diagram for the commentators at ESPN and how we all fit into those categories.

Jet Diagram

As you cans see from the diagram, locks for number one seeds include three of our best guys: Dick Vitale, Bill Raftery, and Jay Bilas. These guys (like Duke, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Arkansas) bring it each and every night.

The back of the plane has three solid guys who occasionally have an off night: Fran Franschilla, Stephen Bardo, and myself. We may make an errant comment once in a while, but otherwise, we’re solid. Barring a catastrophe, we’re in the tournament.

Out of the plane is three powerhouses experiencing down years (think North Carolina, UCLA, and Gonzaga): Coach Knight, Len Elmore, and Doris Burke. These three folks are usually great commentators who are experiencing a lackluster year due to a partner change (or in Coach Knight’s case having to work with Brent Musberger), or off-the-side-of-the-court problems.

4. Have a Great Working Relationship with your Partner

As a commentator, you can’t do it all. You can carry your partner for 24 miles of the marathon, but a good partner nails the final tough two miles for you.

Brad and I have a great relationship. We help each other with make-up before the game, we share a good meal with the crew, and we often room together on the road. I really can’t think of better guy to sleep in a hotel bed with than Brad Nessler. He doesn’t even pull the cover to his side of the bed.

5. Have a Favorite Player for Quick Reference

The media is supposed to be unbiased. As a commentator, you should work towards that goal. But, you need a quick reference at hand to relate to the fans. My favorite is Arkansas shooting guard Rotnei Clarke. He taught BYU’s Jimmer Fredette everything he knows.

Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke

I use Rotnei to demonstrate fundamental basketball and to show how hard a good player works. The viewers at home relate because Rotnei is a household name.

Other guys have picked out personal favorites to reference as well. Vitale has gone with the entire Duke team for the past decade which is another option. I’ve heard Doris Burke reference Ashton Gibbs and Kemba Walker a ton this season, but I don’t really know either of those players (which explains her poor performance this season).

Well EJSIC readers, I’ve reached my word limit. I hope this guide was helpful. Catch me on Super Tuesday. Until then, yours truly, Jimmy.

EJSICleaks

One of the rules of good journalism (LOL @ journalism in the Internet age) is to have sources. Lots of sources. One of our most trusted sources, who anonymously goes by fluffy (not even our normal writers at EJSIC know his name), works in the mail room for Julian Assange’s Wikileaks.

As you can imagine, fluffy sees a lot of good stuff on an hourly basis. He’s been kind enough to leak some of the sports-related documents to us.

We’ll release them slowly over time, as not to overwhelm you (the reader) too much in one day. Some were discovered through the hard work of our readers (and they will be credited properly) while our regular contributors discovered others.

If you find any in the coming days, feel free to e-mail us at elitistjerksports@gmail.com.

The first leak, as found by loyal reader fluffy, is a series of e-mails between the University of Memphis and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

———————————————————————————————–

From: memphis@anythingbutCUSA.com

To: bigeast; bigten; big12; pac 10; ACC; SEC

Subject: Help

We need your help. We have to get out of C-USA. Can anyone add us to their conference?

Regards,

University of Memphis

———————————————————————————————–

From: ACC

To: memphis@anythingbutCUSA.com

Subject: RE Help

Thanks for your enquiry. We would love to help, but it has come to our attention that you are no good at football.

Regards,

ACC

———————————————————————————————–

From: memphis@anythingbutCUSA.com

To: ACC

Subject: RE Help

So we would fit in well in the ACC.

———————————————————————————————–

Our final leak for today was discovered by regular contributor Al Kenmore. The avid Tar Heel fan set to find out the source of Duke’s flopping nature. What she uncovered was astonishing.

From: DukeCoachingStaff@duke.edu

To: Massimimiliano.Allegri@ACMilan.it

Dear Allegri,

Thank you so much for the copy of your recent clinic: “Innovative and Exciting Ways to Make it Appear that an Opponent’s Player Has Committed a Foul.”

We found the sessions on “Facial Distortions to Emulate Pain” and “Slapping the Forehead to Check for Blood” especially helpful. Of course, anything that involves slapping is very popular in the Duke basketball organization.

Unfortunately, I am not able to furnish you with an autographed photo of Coach K. First of all, he doesn’t like to be photographed unless he can be assured that there is no silver in the film. Secondly, the Leader of Men prefers not to have his name associated with this project.

I hope you understand.

Kindest regards,
Wojo

Why I hate Duke

As part of the “Hate on Duke” week, Flop proposed to the contributors a single question: Why do you hate Duke? I did not immediately answer, rather I allowed the question to flutter in the gray matter. The question seems easy enough, but it gets deeper.

I could sit here and type about all of the perceptions of Duke basketball. They get every foul call at the crucial stages of the game, their coach looks like a rat, they teach players to flop on purpose, Scheyer has a weird face, they win all of the time, rich snobs, etc. I do not think my dislike of the Blue Devils comes from a combination of the above.

null

It’s not the luck of hurling the ball 90 feet to a waiting Christian Laettner who turns and hits the fade-away. And it’s not Greg Paulus sliding under someone’s feet at the last second and getting the charge call.

I can appreciate those plays. They are not my reason to hate Duke. My hate derives from ESPN. They shove the Blue Devils down our throats. Duke deserves it too. They’ve been winning big games for most of ESPN’s life. And what is a television station most concerned with? Ratings.

Duke brings in the ratings. They bring in the ratings just like the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the L.A. Lakers. Duke is all of that. And that’s why we hate them. We hate the big teams with the large fan bases who win all of the time. It is human nature. It’s a bit of envy mixed with emotion (and the damn refs don’t help either, see the video below).

But ESPN doesn’t stop there. No, they have to put Mike Patrick on Dick Vitale as the broadcast duo for Duke games. It is two straight hours of “Holy cow, are you kidding me?” followed by “Awesome with a capital A, baby!” Then they slobber all over the coach whose name I cannot spell without Google. And, again, all of it is deserved with their success.

But Duke suffers from the same thing the rest of the big name teams do: overexposure. The average fan sees the Duke highlights on SportsCenter and just wants them to lose. The university puts itself on a pedestal with their academic standards and, even though academics have nothing to do with sports despite what anyone ever says, they carry over to the hardwood. Duke comes across as this elitist organization seeking to keep its membership exclusive (apparently exclusive to whites and Asians, but that’s another post for another day).

And when the perception exists, people want them to lose. They want to Duke to lose badly. But Duke doesn’t get blown out often which fuels the fire of hate. So Saturday night when you’re sitting on the coach rooting for West Virginia, you will now know why.

Dickie V’s secret Valentine rendezvous

Famed ESPN college basketball announcer Dick Vitale boarded a private jet after last night’s prime time game between SEC rivals Kentucky and Tennessee bound for Durham, North Carolina. He arrived in the early morning hours and was met by a heavily tinted SUV. What happened from there on is any body’s guess, but Vitale and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski were spotted early Sunday morning smiling at each other over cups of steaming coffee.

nullVitale has long been accused for being partial to Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils to the point of being referred to as “Dookie V.” But if the Valentine’s Day coffee was any indication, those accusations may not be as far from the truth as Internet lore would have it.

EJSIC was able to contact Vitale’s wife and ask her if she had any knowledge of the meeting: “Dick’s had a long-lasting thing for K, as he likes to call him, and he told me he may be home a little later than usual. I don’t know anything about a private flight to Durham, but as long as Dick keeps putting the bread on the table, what’s a gal to do?”

I pressed her on the issue of adultery and homosexuality to which Mrs. Vitale responded: “Ancient Greek men were notorious for gay sex outside of marriage so if it’s good enough for Socrates, it’s good enough for my Dick. Besides, if K was that much better, he would have a left me a long time ago.”

Mrs. Vitale closed our conversation by saying she was positive Dick would make it up to her once he did return home. She started to go into detail on their favorite sexual positions, but I kindly thanked her for the interview and wished her luck in getting Dick back soon.

nullEJSIC also made a call to Vitale’s colleague Mike Patrick who talks fondly of Duke during his broadcasts. Patrick only had the following to say: “Holy cow! Are you kidding me? Just another lousy night in the ACC.” No, Mr. Patrick, I am not kidding and holy cow is right.