2011 Oscar Predictions – Vagabond Joe

It’s Oscar time.

Time for Hollywood to slap itself on the back and pretend that its self-importance isn’t laughable.  Time for the elite of the acting world to sit in black-tie judgment (and mock humility) of their peers.  It’s the most over-the-top night in entertainment.

And we couldn’t be more excited.

This year’s Oscars are relatively straight-forward.  The general absence of megalomaniacal directors and politically charged films leave room for an array of interesting subplots.

There are few certainties going into this year’s telecast.  (Christian Bale is as close to a lock as you can get in the Supporting Actor category and The King’s Speech will undoubtedly win a number of undeserving technical Oscars because of, well, the Academy just being too predictable sometimes.)  But, a couple of things are for certain.  Natalie Portman will cry.  And Helena Bonham Carter will look like hot death.

My only regret about this year’s Oscars is that we have to wait until next year to pick Big Mommas for anything.

But, I’ve rambled on enough.   To the picks:

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Play somebody! Another predictable night of Top 25 men’s college basketball action

Sorry, Golden Lions, but you're in a yawner tonight with Georgia Tech.

Sorry, Golden Lions, but you're in a yawner tonight with Georgia Tech.

Well, needless to say I’m shocked that all the ranked teams feasted on their cupcakes last night. According to my sources, Plumlee and Singler really got to satisfy their sweet teeth against Gardner Webb.

Tonight’s games are equally boring impressive. Since there’s only one Top 25 game tomorrow night, I’m going to predict it, too. Basically, this is who I’ve got.

Tonight’s games

Arkansas-Pine Bluff at No. 15 Georgia Tech. Wow, I just checked ARPB’s record and they haven’t won a game yet. I’m wondering if the fact that they have yet to play a game at home might be one of the reasons. It also appears that I erroneously picked Gardner-Webb as everyone’s favorite cupcake yesterday. ARPB’s played a number of Big 12 schools to earn its 0-7 record.

Presbyterian at No. 18 Ohio State. Despite the fact that Ohio State should defeat Presbyterian handily, I’m sure that their fans are all relieved that they can try to distract Ohio State free throw shooters without fear of being booted out of the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Fear not, Presbyterian, your fans are safe here.

Fear not, Presbyterian, your fans are safe here.

Northern Arizona at No. 19 New Mexico. It’s the Lumberjacks vs. the Lobos–what a great combination of school names. I haven’t seen New Mexico play yet, but they appear to be generating a lot of excitement in the sports media. It’s great that they’re undefeated, but judging by their opponents so far, shouldn’t they be? Be that as it may, I don’t see Northern Arizona beating them tonight.

No. 24 Clemson at East Carolina. Kudos to Clemson for traveling to an opponent’s home court this early in the season. Clemson is in slight disgrace with me for contributing to the Big 10′s win in the Big 10-ACC Challenge, but going to Greenville makes up for it. ECU’s lost to some good teams and Clemson hasn’t, but I believe the Tigers will pull it off.

UTEP at No. 25 Mississippi. Has anyone looked at UTEP’s schedule? They played New Mexico State early in December, took a break and played them again. How often does that happen in December? Interestingly, UTEP has only lost one game (they dropped the second game with NMSU), as has Mississippi. At one point, a loss to Villanova would have been considered a good loss, but not so much anymore. If there’s going to be an upset tonight, it might be this one, although I’m not calling it. I think Ole Miss will pull through.

Thursday’s game

Weber State at No. 23 UNLV. I have a long memory and, for that reason, I hope that UNLV crushes Weber State. They should be able to.

I’ll be back on Saturday to predict this weekend’s games.

Al’s Week 12 College Football Predictions and a Bonus Rant

The pre-season pollsters revealed!

The pre-season pollsters revealed!

I’d like to start out my predictions this week with a small rant. I just read a commentary on espn.com where the writer, Ivan Maisel, was whining because many of the college football teams in ranked high in the pre-season (such as USC, Ohio State and Notre Dame) polls didn’t perform as expected.

Well, gee, Ivan—when the pre-season rankings are based more on who can bring in the money in post-season play and who has the “biggest” name in college football rather than who is actually good at football, what do you expect? Each year, before the season starts, a bunch of pundits who believe that the best football is played in two conferences—the Pac 10 and the Big 10—rank the same teams in the top 10. Then, when these teams don’t go undefeated by plowing through their opponents and winning by 40 points or more every week, the whining begins. This is followed by excuse-making for the fact that these same “disappointing” teams end up getting the really good bowls while teams that really deserve to play in them are relegated to a bowl in some city in Utah or Iowa or a small metro market in Florida.

Now it’s basketball season and the same thing is happening in that sport. The pre-season rankings have Kentucky in the #4 spot based solely on their having the #1 recruiting class and a coach who has had success at another school. In other words, a team with three players that no one had seen play suited up in a college uniform was in the Top 5 pre-season. Should any of the three teams ranked above them lose before they do, a case will be made that they should be number 1. No offense to Kentucky fans, but that’s just ridiculous. My team, UNC, is also ranked in the Top 10 based on their championship last year, even though that team was gutted and returns only a handful of seasoned upperclassmen. Starting out unranked like the 2005-2006 team did would be more like it for the Tar Heels.

So, enough is enough. It’s time to stop the pre-season ranking nonsense. These rankings, which are completely arbitrary and rarely based on fact (or they’re based on the fact that one team in a conference that they pretend is a football or basketball “great” regularly outperforms all the others) and form the basis for an entire season of play. I mean, why else would a football team like Ohio State, which was beaten by an overrated USC team and embarrassed by Purdue be ranked higher than LSU, which was beaten by two teams ranked higher than it is, in the AP Poll? Why is USC still in the football polls at all? Why wasn’t Memphis, with a new coach and untried players much like Kentucky, ranked in the basketball pre-season polls? They made a strong case for making these polls a laughing stock by almost beating #1 Kansas (#1 based on the preseason polls).

These guys should be ashamed, not celebrating.

These guys should be ashamed, not celebrating.

I fully advocate returning to waiting until after the college football and basketball season begins to start putting out rankings.

With that said, it’s on to this week’s football predictions. Winners are in bold and the rankings are based on the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll because I lose more and more respect for the AP sportswriters as the season grinds on. Continue reading