Sweet Emotions

Well, ladies and gents, things are about to get real. With the fun and excitement of the first weekend behind us, we are now left with serious games with serious implications and emotions in the Sweet 16. As Steven Tyler put it:

I pulled into town in a police car
Your daddy said I took you just a little too far
You’re telling me things but your girlfriend lied
You can’t catch me ’cause the rabbit done died
Yes it did

I’ll just let that sink in for a minute. While we wait, here are my thoughts on today’s Sweet 16 matchups:

4 Wisconsin vs. 1 Syracuse
I’m not going to lie. Any game featuring Wisconsin has the potential to make you want to stab your eyes out. That said, their combination of quality guard play and tough defense should make this game very competitive. The Syracuse zone forces teams to hit outside shots to win, something Wisconsin has shown it can do on occasion. There is potential for an upset, but here’s hoping Syracuse uses their superior size and athleticism to spare us another round of “Bo Ball”.

Living proof that stage presence can overcome a lot of ugly.

4 Louisville vs. 1 Michigan State
Based on the season thus far, this seems to be a match-up of similar teams on similar paths. Both teams play suffocating defense at times, both teams struggle to score, and both teams overcame mid-to-early season set-backs to win their conference tournament. While Michigan State is the higher seed, all but one of the personnel match-ups seem to favor a finally healthy Louisville roster. The problem is that one match-up happens to be Draymond Green, who can and has put his team on his back. If Louisville can somehow convert a high percentage of transition baskets, look for the Cardinals to advance.

6 Cincinnati vs. 2 Ohio State
While the Cardinals and Spartans might feel like they’re looking in the mirror at one another, the Bearcats and Buckeyes couldn’t be more different. Cincinnati seemed to switch gears from mediocre also-ran to true Final Four contender heading up to the tournament, while pre-season Final Four favorite Ohio State has gone the other direction. The Buckeyes will have the clear talent advantage and they should be able to force their tempo on a Bearcat attack that sometimes resembles a team from the Rec League Final Four. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the Buckeyes will be able to return to form this late in the season.

7 Florida vs. 3 Marquette
On paper, this pairing would seem to favor the Golden Eagles. According to KenPom, Marquette has a balanced, efficient attack with the nation’s #28 offense and #16 defense. The Gators trend toward the scoring side with the #3 offense and #73 defense. Marquette seems to be the tougher, more consistent team and with dynamite scoring from Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East POY Jae Crowder we could see them pull away. However, you can never under-estimate guard play in the NCAA tournament and Florida’s can be unmatched at times. If the Gators are hitting outside shots, this could go down to the wire.

As we all pretend to be interested in what they’re paying us to do, lets keep our fingers crossed that 4 potentially great match-ups all materialize tonight. See you tomorrow.

 

Luke Warm Linkage

While he may never be able to pay proper penance to humanity for this abomination, at least James Van Der Beek is trying.

Flowcharting the 2010 NCAA Tournament

Want to dominate your office pool but don’t know a thing about college basketball?

This would be a great time to create water-cooler talk with the boss, wouldn’t it?

Well here at EJSIC, we’re here to provide exactly what the people want: below, you’ll find the key to winning your office pool, with the EJSIC 2010 NCAA Tournament flowchart.

Continue reading

Al’s Predictions for Saturday’s Top 25 Games for Week 11 in College Football

Rutgers catches South Florida (and Al) napping.

Rutgers catches South Florida (and Al) napping.

I was hoping to get this post out Thursday before the Rutgers vs. South Florida game, but because I was going to pick South Florida to win, it’s just as well that I had to work late and didn’t have time.

Then I wanted to post it before the Cincinnati vs. West Virginia game, but I was a little giddy from learning that a guy who is apparently the second coming picked UNC for basketball over Duke, Oklahoma, UCLA, Kansas and Iowa state. As a completely classless person when it comes to Duke basketball and Coach K in particular, I truly enjoyed learning we landed a recruit that K really wanted. So, I missed predicting the Cincinnati-WVU game and I didn’t get to watch it, either. That was too bad because it looked like it was a great game and congratulations to the Bearcats for their win. Anyway, onto today’s Top 25 games. You know the rules.

No. 1 Florida at South Carolina. This actually could be a really good game

Current versus former should never be overlooked.

Current versus former should never be overlooked.

with Spurrier going up against his former team and Meyer. Over the years, I’ve noticed that often former coaches come away with wins against the teams they used to coach, so an upset is not out of the realm of probability. However, this would be a really bad loss for Florida because South Carolina really isn’t very good, so I’ll stick with Florida as the winner.

No. 2 Alabama at Mississippi State. I’m still not quite an Alabama believer, although I can’t explain why. They have some excellent wins on their plate. Maybe it’s because they seem to have eked out most of their wins instead of taking control early and for some reason, the pollsters think that’s bad when Florida or Texas does it but good when Alabama does. Anyway, Mississippi State will probably give them a game simply because they’re playing at home. Once again and true to form, though, I think Alabama will pull it out late. It’s looking a lot like a Florida-Alabama SEC championship game.

No. 3 Texas at Baylor. This is a no-brainer. Baylor had a nice win over Missouri, but it takes more than a nice win to beat the Longhorns.

No. 16 Utah at No. 4 TCU. This is shaping up to be the game of the day and one that’s difficult for me to call because I haven’t watched either team play. But because I’d really like TCU to win and stay undefeated and the football gods hate me, I’ll pick Utah for the upset. It’s win-win for me here: if the Utes pull it off, then I picked the upset. If TCU wins, I’m happy because they remain in the top 4, undefeated. Should Alabama or Florida lose in the SEC Championship game and Texas gets upset, then it’ll be fun seeing all the commentators bring out charts, graphs, spreadsheets and laptops to explain why the BCS overlooked them for the National Championship game and went with either Texas, USC or Ohio State as the No. 2 team.

Idaho at No. 6 Boise State. An in-state rivalry usually makes for a good game. Plus, Idaho isn’t exactly crappy. But this is still Boise State’s game to lose and I don’t think they will.

No. 7 Georgia Tech at Duke. I want Georgia Tech to win this one very badly, so I’m going to pick them. At the end of the season, I want Duke to have either the same amount of ACC losses as UNC or more. The constant “Butchie is 2-3 in the ACC” chanting (albeit facetious) from fans whose team has a losing record is starting to get to me. But since we’re talking about the ACC here and Georgia Tech had to beat Wake Forest in overtime, I don’t think anyone can really predict this game.

Please, Yellowjackets, please!

Please, Yellowjackets, please!

Louisiana Tech at No. 8 LSU. LSU is playing at home. I think that tips the scales in their favor.

Stanford at No. 9 USC. USC is still in the Top 10…why? Because they beat an Ohio State team that was only slightly more overrated than they are? Please. They’ll win this one against Stanford, who is probably too exhausted after upsetting Oregon to play well for the entire game, and the sycophants pollsters will move them up to No. 5.

No. 10 Iowa at No. 11 Ohio State. Sorry, Iowa. You’ve had your moment in the sun, but it’s over now. Ohio State desperately needs this win to be considered National Championship contenders. And if they win this, they will be. They’ll be on those charts and graphs that will be used to show why an undefeated TCU team can’t be in the National Championship game—using strength of schedule, RPI, blah, blah as the evidence. The only evidence is Ohio State in a National Championship game = big $$$$$ for all, including the network that broadcasts that game and the venue where it’s played.

Notre Dame at No. 12 Pittsburgh. Despite the fact that Notre Dame has played a tougher schedule than Pitt and it’ll be interesting to see how Pitt handles playing against a perennial media darling, I think that Notre Dame is now in their end-of-season freefall.

Arizona State at No. 13 Oregon. Here’s more disgusting sucking-up polling injustice. Oregon has one quality loss (Boise State) and one not-so-good loss (Stanford) in a close game. USC has an embarrassing loss (Washington) and a crushing defeat at the hands of a quality team (Oregon). Oregon beat USC. USC beat Ohio State. Yet, USC is 9 and Oregon is 13. Anyway, I digress. Oregon is better than their loss at Stanford makes them look. Arizona State is feisty, but I think Oregon will get the win.

No. 14 Miami at UNC. All I’m saying about this one is I hope I’m right for the reasons stated in my Georgia Tech vs. Duke prediction above. Maybe the football gods will grant me this and the Georgia Tech wish since today’s my brother’s birthday and they don’t hate him as much as they hate me.

No. 15 Houston at. UCF. Poor UCF—first Texas and now Houston. I bet they’re glad that they’re staying in Florida for this one.

Arizona's playing in one of Al's games of the week.

Arizona's playing in one of Al's games of the week.

No. 17 Arizona at California. This should be a great game. I think that both teams will battle it out to the end, but Arizona will come out on top.

Indiana at No. 18 Penn State. Indiana just can’t quite put an entire game together. It’s possible that this is an upset in the making, but I don’t see it.

Texas Tech at No. 19 Oklahoma State. This one is tough to call because it’s always difficult to determine how all the different Texas teams are going to play. Texas Tech has had some quality wins this season; Oklahoma State, not so much. But Texas Tech plays better at home, so I’m giving Oklahoma State the home field advantage.

Michigan at No. 20 Wisconsin. Following the precedent set by Notre Dame, it’s time for the Big 10 teams that are ranked for no other reason than they’re in the Big 10 to begin their “epic fails.” Wisconsin fits the mold.

No. 21 Virginia Tech at Maryland. Because Virginia Tech has now had their embarrassing ACC loss, they’ll probably pull this one out. It’s getting close to the time of the ACC title game and the inevitable “Oh, geez, the Hokies are getting crushed by Cincinnati” cry of the ACC faithful watching the Orange Bowl.

No. 22 Brigham Young at New Mexico. Brigham Young’s pretty good. New Mexico’s pretty horrible. Enough said.

Washington at No. 23 Oregon State. Washington’s a spoiler team. Oregon State is difficult to figure and I’m not exactly sure why they’re ranked. I’d like to see the Beavers spoil Washington’s spoiling, though, so that’s why I’ve picked them.

And that wraps up this week’s picks. Go Heels! Go Yellow Jackets!

Al’s predictions for this weekend’s Top 25 NCAA football games

The lame ACC team that beat Virginia Tech

The lame ACC team that beat Virginia Tech

Feeling emboldened by my prediction that Virginia Tech would lose to some lame ACC team (this time the lame team was my beloved Heels), I’ve decided that I’d like to take a stab at predicting this weekend’s NCAA Top 25 football games. Because I’ve decided that the AP sportswriters are all sitting around a bong somewhere (Kentucky ranked above UNC in the pre-season men’s basketball polls–seriously, Messrs. Sportswriters?), I’m going to use the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 for Week 9. I’m then going to apply a complex set of statistics and algorithms to each game to determine who each winner will be.

<dramatic pause>

Yeah, right. I’m going to do what the sportscasters do and use bias and gut feelings to make my predictions. However, unlike them, I don’t have to worry about my Nielson ratings or kowtowing to rabid fanbases with big bucks. I also decided not to predict scores because I’ve never been good at that.  So, with no further ado, I’m going to get right to it. I’ve bolded the name of the team I expect to win.

Friday’s game

No. 21 West Virginia at South Florida. This has the potential to be an exciting game. West Virginia has yet to play a ranked team, so it’s difficult to tell how good they are based on victories against such stellar opponents as Liberty and Marshall. South Florida has lost decisively to ranked opponents Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, although they did beat Florida State. Continue reading

Weekend happenings to LOL @

The sporting universe has provided us here at EJSIC with a few chuckles over the past weekend. For the purposes of this entry, the weekend officially began Friday night with the Midnight Madness events across the country (covered in great detail by my colleague Jose Kortez) and culminated with the Phillies winning against the Dodgers in Sunday night’s game three of the NLCS.

We start with Friday night which must have felt like Christmas Eve to Dick Vitale. Since his second favorite team, the North Carolina Tar Heels, won the National Championship back in April, Dickie V. has been devoid of his one true love. It’s all back now though. The “diaper dandies” and “PTPers” (Prime Time Players for you college basketball noobs) displayed their dunking abilities across the country.

One place stood out like no other: Lexington, Kentucky. After hiring John Calipari to return their program to championship contention, the Wildcats displayed a talented team featuring future phenoms. Calipari made a fifteen minute speech promising to do the things he was brought in to do. In it, he mentioned the great lineage of Kentucky coaches: Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, and Tubby Smith. Umm, wait a second. Rick Pitino anybody? Of course, it was a calculated oversight on Calipari’s behalf. Pitino, who is not exactly best friends with Calipari, now coaches the hated Louisville Cardinals. All things considered, one LOL at Kentucky/Calipari.

The next LOL stays in Lexington (if Cal brings in championships like he does LOLs, then the UK faithful will be happy). This time, we LOL at ESPN. In showing highlights of Big Blue Madness on ESPNNEWS, the sports conglomerate labeled the event “Memphis Midnight Madness.” Chalk it up to old habits, I guess.

Memphis placard used fro Kentucky Midnight Madness

For our next LOLs, we stay with Friday night, but this time we shift sports. The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim started their American league Championship Series Friday. The Yankees are the favorites, but some still gave the Halos a fighting chance because of their solid style of baseball. They do everything right: field the ball, steal bases, timely hitting, etc. Except, they did not do any of it Friday or Saturday in route to dropping the first two games of the series. Continue reading

I Bet Archie Griffin Loves Concussions

As the hours tick by and we wait to find out if Tim Tebow will be cleared to play tonight against LSU, I can’t help but wonder if Archie Griffin is secretly nervous.  Tebow, as you know unless you’re Nell, was hospitalized with a severe concussion after taking a hard hit from Kentucky’s Taylor Wyndham two weeks ago in Lexington.  Since the, the “will he or won’t he play?” discussions have dominated ESPN’s airwaves.

Griffin is the only two-time Heisman winner, having won the award in 1974 and 1975 when he was an amazing running back for Ohio State.  But Tebow was on track to win his second Heisman in three years until getting laid out.  (Getting laid out, not getting laid.  Calm down, Tebow Virginity Fans.)

Archie Griffin, 1974 & 1975 Heisman winner.

Archie Griffin, 1974 & 1975 Heisman winner.

Before the injury, this season’s Heisman voting process was more or less a formality.  In fact, in any other year, Tebow would just have accepted his first Nobel Peace Prize.  Unfortunately, Tebow picked the wrong year to go up against the Messiah.

So I like to think that somewhere in Columbus, Archie Griffin is pacing nervously. If Tebow doesn’t play tonight, maybe it opens the window for someone else, like maybe Jimmy Clausen. (Note:  when Lou Holtz reads that, he won’t need Cialis.  Or as he calls it, “Shtheallisth.”)

But what if Tebow plays?  Worse yet, what if he’s good?  What if he leads the Gators to a dramatic SEC road win with a touchdown as time expires?  Tebow’s legend would only grow.  And that might just seal the deal on this year’s Heisman trophy.

Tebow winning the Heisman would signal the end of the one thing Griffin and Buckeye fans have been able to hold onto for all these years.  His NFL career was nothing to speak of, especially as he ended up washing out of the USFL.  Being the Heisman trivia answer has been Griffin’s claim to fame for almost 35 years.  If Tebow walks on water tonight in Baton Rouge, Griffin’s biggest accomplishment suddenly loses its luster.

Tim Tebow, Heisman winner, Nobel Prize runner-up

Tim Tebow, Heisman winner, Nobel Prize runner-up

By all accounts Griffin is an extremely nice guy, and I presume he’s far too classy to wish continued injury on a young man, especially for selfish reasons.  But for my own satisfaction, and for the sake of this blog, I’m just going to disregard all that.