March 20 - Thumbs Up
Treeemendous Saturday. I know there is a God and that he loves us when he provides a weekend
like this past one. Is there a more underrated happening than when St. Patrick’s Day and the first
weekend of the NCAA Tournament link up? Barrooms filled with people rallying behind a team like
Xavier as they try to knock off Ohio State. Loud roars each time a big shot puts a game into overtime.
Maybe this year I did not get the full eight hour St. Patty’s experience, but the afternoon I spent
barhopping reminded me of why this day is New York’s version of Mardi Gras.
With the first weekend in the books and the second stanza about to begin, we have broken down last
weekend with a completely unoriginal thumbs-up/thumbs down column and have made our bold
predictions for the rest of the Big Dance.
Roy Hibbert: First off, let the record show I have been talking up Hibbert since the end of last season.
Secondly, here is a compelling question. How is Greg Oden the greatest center to come through
college in the last twenty years and Roy Hibbert is a guy who doesn’t warrant a mention on anybody’s
draft board? Hibbert is taller, weighs more, has great hands, tremendous footwork around the
basket and is a deft passer. To top it all off, Roy Hibbert has gotten better each season he has
played college basketball. Sure, Oden has more talent……..and sure….Oden will probably have the
better NBA career……..but as of right now…..I’m saying it is even. And I’m also saying Hibbert will at
least have a Dikembe Mutombo-like NBA career.
Kansas: Look who popped their cherry! Perhaps the “Rock, Choke, Jayhawks” chants will finally be
put to bed. The Jayhawks may have been the most impressive team over the first weekend. I think
getting the easy one against Niagara paid dividends as they got the monkey off their back against a
team that had no shot of beating them.
Corned Beef and Swiss Cheese on Rye Bread: It’s like heaven between two slices of bread. Even
better when you’ve hammered 15 ½ beers.
UNLV: Welcome back old friend. You have been sorely missed.
(On a sidenote, I made a comment to somebody who works for the NCAA that I think they should let
UNLV start cheating again. That it is good for the game of basketball. The awkwardness of the rest
of the conversation was reminiscent of the awkwardness that was Spencer offering up a birthday
toast to Lauren on last night’s episode of “The Hills”.)
Butler: Apparently the Bulldogs were just in cruise control at the end of the season. I was extremely
impressed with the way they beat Old Dominion and Maryland. This Florida-Butler game is lot like
choosing between a smoking hot supermodel and a cute girl who looks outstanding in jeans and a
hat. Speaking of smoking hot supermodels………….
Tom Brady jokes: This is off-topic but warrants mentioning. I think every single person who was at
the bar on St. Patty’s was trotting out their favorite Tom Brady is the white Shawn Kemp/Larry Johnson
or “who said Tom Brady can’t swim like Michael Phelps” jokes. There was definitely a lot of careful
planning and thought put into most of these wisecracks. You could tell the time off between the
Super Bowl and March Madness had everybody boning up on their zingers.
Mike Conley Jr.: Let me be the first to say that I think Ohio State can win without Greg Oden (which
they already proved at the beginning of the season). I do not think Ohio State can win without Mike
Conley Jr. His matchup with Texas A&M and………
“Mr. Clutch”: Conley Jr. versus Acie Law IV will be a heavyweight fight. Everybody drools over Brandan
Wright and Julian Wright, but if I had the third pick in June’s NBA Draft, I would take Acie Law IV with it.
You cannot quantify the confidence that he gives the Aggies in every game. Every time Law IV walks
onto the court you can tell that he has absolutely no doubt in his mind that he is the best player to
show up. Law IV has gotten Texas A&M over the second round hump and I think they could be
looking a trip to the Final Four right in the eye. These games in San Antonio are essentially home
Sean Miller: Xavier’s coach showed a lot of class. He could have pulled a Jimmy Boeheim and
bitched about the flagrant foul not being called at the end of the Ohio State game. Instead he took the
New York City Bars between 84th and 2nd and 76th and 2nd: I saw some of you were open at 8:00 A.
M. on St. Patty’s………not that I was actually in one at 8:00 A.M. on St. Patty’s…..
Greg Oden and Kevin Durant: First off, Greg Oden should say a couple prayers to the Big Fella. Chris
Webber came very close to having a companion in the bonehead department. Secondly, it was not
Durant’s fault that Texas lost……….but they still lost. If I have ever seen a loss that prompts a kid to
go back to school, the one Texas took yesterday may get Durant back for a second year.
D.J. Augustin: Outside of Britney Spears, I’m not sure if anybody has singlehandedly lowered their
stock quicker over a two-hour period than Mr. Augustin did against USC. Augustin may have played
the single worst game I have seen a point guard play in the last ten NCAA Tournaments.
Arizona: I have not seen a team play a more uninspired game in the NCAA Tournament in a long
time. They played like a team that just wanted their season to end. You almost have to wonder if it is
time to put Lute Olson out to pasture. No team did less with more talent than the University of Arizona
did this season.
Chase Budinger: Great athlete. Lacks testicular fortitude. The play that I’ll take away from the Purdue-
Arizona game was watching him get pushed by a Purdue player and then run away like a little
Duke: I think Coach K may need to take the recruiting reins back from Wojo and Chris Collins.
NCAA Selection Committee: The effort they made to keep the mid-majors down was weak. I did not
like the Butler-Old Dominion and Nevada-Creighton matchups. All four of those teams should have
been playing schools out of a BCS Conference.
Wisconsin: Yikes……..I guess Brian Butch was more important than we all thought.
CBS: This is a preemptive “thumbs down” for the upcoming decision to have Billy Packer and Jim
Nantz call the Final Four instead of Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist.
Midwest: I’m taking Florida and UNLV to make it into the Elite Eight with Florida garnering the Final
Four berth. In most of my pools I had Oregon in the Elite Eight, however UNLV looks a lot better than
their seed right now. I think they have the athletes to stay with Oregon and are a better defensive
team. That defense will carry the day.
West: Kansas will beat Southern Illinois, but the game will be closer than people think. The Salukis
will slow down the tempo and keep the outcome within eight points. Hammer the under on this one.
UCLA and Pittsburgh will stage a game that sets basketball back thirty-seven years. It will be ugly
and the 40s. Look for UCLA to get the “W”. I’m split on UCLA-Kansas, but I’m leaning Kansas, as
they seem to be playing better basketball right now than UCLA.
East: North Carolina and Georgetown are going to put a whupping on their respective opponents and
square off in what should be the most compelling Elite Eight matchup. I am taking Georgetown.
Generally in these types of games the slower, more methodical team tends to impose their well on
the faster-paced squad and pull away at the end. I think Georgetown does that here. Hibbert will
dominate on the glass and the Hoyas beat North Carolina 67-62 and get to the Final Four.
South: Ohio State and Tennessee is going to be interested. As was suspected, the Big Ten proved
to be the most overrated conference in basketball as everybody other than the Buckeyes was sent
home. Meanwhile, the SEC has shown up for the Big Dance. This game comes down to the wire. I’
m leaning Ohio State, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Tennessee won. On the other side, I think Texas
A&M will grind out a win over Memphis. This will also be tight, however the home crowd and Acie Law
IV will make the difference. In the Regional Finals, I am taking Texas A&M and I am feeling very
confident about it.
To all those sitting in their offices and wishing they could fast-forward their lives……I’m with you. The
three days between games is just utter torture. Until Thursday night……..
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.