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.

Urban Meyer is a Lazy Douche

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Urban Meyer is “stepping down” for the second year in a row. “It’s about my family… It’s about my health… It’s about my life away from the field,” he says. Well, I’m calling BF [Brett Favre].

One more year? Let's hope not.

What it’s about is taking the spring practice and summer recruiting seasons off, so he can be a lazy ass. Just watch and see… Whenever Summer is winding down and the kiddies are back in school, Pope Urban will make his triumphant return to “save the Gators”.

When you think about it, it really is a genius plan. Work a quarter of the year and get paid for the whole thing. We should all be so resourceful. It’s worked perfectly for Brett Favre, so why wouldn’t it work for Meyer?

My hope is that the Florida administration calls his bluff, fires his staff, and gets a clean start, drama free.

Don’t get me wrong… Urban Meyer is one of the most successful coaches of his generation. He’s worth a little drama here and there. The problem lies in the frequency and implications of said drama. It sends the wrong message to the Florida coaches and players. If he can get by with shirking his responsibilities, why can’t they?

In the end, Florida should be bigger than Urban Meyer. If they really want to be, they’ll make this “retirement” stick whether Meyer wants it or not.

SEC Tournament Wrap-up

Well, we’ve reached the conclusion to the 2010 edition of the SEC tournament, and Kentucky fans will have something to smile about as they sit in traffic on I-65 north this afternoon.

Though the win can partly be attributed to the willingness of Mississippi State to be careless with the ball late in regulation, it took a couple of amazing plays by the Cats to seal the deal. The biggest of which being John Wall’s ridiculously tough 3 pointer late in overtime to make it a 4 point lead, and essentially sealing Miss St’s fate.

But there was more, and here are a couple of other tidbits from my view in the stands:

Continue reading

Meyer Chooses Health, Family Over Football

Geez… You spend one day away shopping for bedroom furniture and all Hell breaks loose.

The most successful college football coach in the country, in recent years at least, has decided to call it quits.

Citing concerns for his health and family, University of Florida Head Football Coach Urban Meyer has resigned. The Gators’ Sugar Bowl match-up with Cincinnati will be Meyers last game at the helm. Wow.

After reading statements from both Meyer and those around him, it seems there’s not a hint of ulterior motives in his reasoning. Assuming he is prioritizing his health and family above personal success and career fulfillment, you can’t help but admire the coach’s decision to part ways with the Gators at the peak of his reign over college football.

At 45, Meyer’s .841 winning percentage leads all  active coaches with at least 5 years experience. A head coach leaving the game at his age and with his credentials has to be unprecedented in big time athletics.

TCU Coach Gary Patterson was equal parts stunned and proud in his interview with The Quad.

“You’ve got to give the guy a lot of credit, I think, for making this kind of decision because for us as football coaches, it’s always been about the game,” Patterson said. “For him to make a decision to decide at this point in time to hang it up and do it for his health and his family, I think shows the strength of him as a man.

“He’s 45 years old and wants to get a chance to see his family grow up and do things. Some of us haven’t made those decisions in our lives. He’s as strong as he is because he put family and health in front of something that he truly loves to do.”

Even as an admitted “Gator-Hater”, I can’t help but echo Patterson’s sentiments. For a man in Meyer’s position to make this decision at this point in his career, you have to believe that he truly has his life perspective in order.

In a coaching landscape where “succession plans” and “forced retirements” have become common place, it’s refreshing to see a coach decide he’s had enough long before everyone else decides he’s had enough.

As far as a possible replacement for Meyer goes, names like Stoops, Petrino, Peterson, Shanahan, Mullen and Strong have all been thrown around.

Regardless of who succeeds Meyer at Florida, it’s hard to imagine anyone leading the Gators to more success than he has over the past 5 seasons.

It’s even harder to imagine any of those coaches stepping away from it all afterwards.

SEC Championship Drinking Game

Fans have been waiting for this game all season: undefeated and defending national champion Florida versus undefeated Alabama in Hotlanta. As with any high profile SEC match-up, the airwaves will be full of euphemisms to describe the nation’s best conference and the its most beloved player with no professional future.

null null

The Gator and Tide fans are sure to be “lit up” throughout the game so why shouldn’t we casual viewers at home be in a similar state? Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson will bless curse us with coverage via CBS. The most intolerable duo on television drives audiences to drinking. Without further ado, find your favorite liquor and a shot glass for the 3:30 EST clash of epic college football.

• 1 shot for every mention of the SEC’s second-to-none “speed.” SEC fans and aficionados love to use this ambiguous term to further cement their intergalactic domination.

• 1 shot for recollections of Tebow’s charitable mission work in the Philippines.

• 1 shot for highlights of last years meeting between these same two teams in which the do-no-wrong Tebow brought the Gators back in the 4th quarter.

• 1 shot for all references to the special “relationship” between Tebow and his roommate Riley Cooper.

• 1 shot for every time Gary Danielson admires Alabama running back Mark Ingram for his tough yardage and bravery after being injured last week.

• 1 shot for every wrinkled frown of Nick Satan Saban caught on camera

Three hours of football and approximately one shot every thirty seconds should make for a great afternoon for us all. If the game is like last seasons, it will be a good one. Remember folks, alcohol poisoning is no joke. Don’t let your drinking buddy sleep it off and keep ‘em on their side. Happy drinking!

Luke Warm Linkage

Photo by Robert Seale/TSN /ZUMA Press. (©) Copyright 2006 by TSN

Photo by Robert Seale/TSN /ZUMA Press. (©) Copyright 2006 by TSN

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I’m telling you anyway.

Sports

  • From the “No, I’m not joking” department, Ochocinco plans to start his own news network.
  • Florida has looked like crap lately. They’ve been lucky to have some controversial calls go their way the past couple weeks. It’s almost like they need to lose to get their A game back on…
  • Speaking of getting lucky… #2 (or #1 depending on your perspective) Alabama had to block a late FG to beat the Mighty Balls.

POP

  • Judge tells a woman that her monkey can’t service her.
  • “Close Range” video game offers nothing but face shots. (The Onion)

Politics

  • Some Right-wingers are too dumb for political satire. This reminds me of the reaction of a certain group of fans to our Mike Patrick preview.