Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament - Bracket Ramblings I

For the first time ever I did not fill out my brackets right away.  I sat with them for a day and thought about the games and even tried to analyse them.  That's a big departure from my usual "get the brackets, devour the brackets" method that I've employed since I started filling them out.  I'm a believer in only doing one bracket and once it's filled out I'm not second guessing myself and changing anything.

That's the last time I do that.

This year I filled out my brackets after I watched countless shows with analysts telling me their Final Fours.  Because of this, my selection process changed from who I think is going to win to "I don't want to pick the same thing as everyone else."  So instead of having Michigan State win the national title like I had planned to do for weeks, I'm now the sucker who will be ripping up his brackets after Iowa State loses to North Carolina or Providence and my champion is out.  I've loved Iowa State all year.  I think they are a Final Four caliber team but, come on, Iowa State doesn't win national titles.  I just didn't want to have the same thing as everyone else.  But that's not the spirit of doing brackets.  It's fill them out as accurately as you can.  It's going to be some kind of variation of Michigan State, Florida, Louisville, Kansas, Michigan and Arizona playing for the national title.  I know that.  We don't live in a world where we are watching Iowa State/Wisconsin on the final Monday.

Next year I go back to normal.  Fill them out immediately.  No outside influence.  Go Cyclones.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My NCAA Bracket Thoughts

-One of the two most talked about topics is Louisville getting a 4 seed.  I personally had them as a 3 seed but I have little problem with a 4.  There really isn't that big of a difference.  The American Athletic Conference was not a very good conference.  Sure, it was top heavy but 40% of the conference fell below the 150 RPI line and a 5th team (Houston) was only a 143.  When half your conference is considered a bad loss you have to make it up in non conference.  Louisville's best non-conference win was Southern Miss who is currently sporting a 3 seed in the NIT.  Their overall non-conference strength of schedule is 159.  They do pass the eyeball test but that can't be reason enough for a two or three seed bump.

-The second most talked about topic is SMU's exclusion from the dance.  Again I have no problem with it.  See above regarding the problems with the AAC and realize that SMU lost to two of those bottom feeders and lost in their first conference tournament game to Houston.  SMU's non conference SOS was 303.  I wouldn't have complained if they did get in, but I'm not up in arms that they didn't.  I had them in over BYU.  BYU got rewarded for playing a tough schedule and a couple of top 50 RPI wins but they are not the same team without Kyle Collinsworth.  They should have been left out with out their second leading scorer, leading assist and rebound guy.

-Ultimately I think the committee did a solid job with who was left in and out of the field.  It was such a weak bubble that you really can't complain with any team that was left out.  I do have some seeding issues like UMass as a 6 seed and Gonzaga as an 8.  There was actually a moment during the bracket reveal where I thought that UMass might be in trouble even making the field.  I thought they should have been in but based on where I saw other A10 teams being seeded, the thought did cross my mind.

-This is a tough year to pick upsets.  Normally there are a few that really stick out to me.  But not this year.  Teams like Stephen F. Austin, NC Central and Manhattan were teams I was looking at pre-bracket reveal that I was targeting to move on with the right match up.  None of those teams got the right match up.  The only lower seed "upsets" I'm probably leaning towards are Providence and Iowa/Tennessee which aren't really upsets to me.

-A lot of people are saying how tough Wichita State's region (Midwest) is.  But that South region is insane.  Without Embiid I don't think Kansas makes it out of the first weekend if they have to play New Mexico but if Florida, Cuse and UCLA were all in different regions they might have all had a shot to get to my Final 4.  Then having VCU and Ohio State sitting there as the 5 and 6 seeds.  It's a brutal region.  Even more so if Kansas can stay alive long enough for Embiid to come back.

-It's interesting to me that Louisville might have to beat Wichita State and Michigan again on it's way to a national title.

-If a 16 seed upsets a 1 this year, is it unreasonable to think Warren Buffet had something to do with fixing a tournament game?  I don't really think there are any live 16 seeds this year though.  Coastal Carolina is technically closer to the arena than Virginia but that's not enough for me to come close to considering it.  If Texas Southern beats Cal Poly then Aaric Murray would be the biggest guy on the floor against Wichita State.  But if that guy could lead his team to a SWAC regular season championship then I'm not banking on him handing Wichita State their first loss of the year.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Open Letter To Steve Lavin

Dear Coach Lavin,

Tough loss today.  I'm writing this prior to your press conference which I'll skip as I'm sure you'll spin the loss like you always do.  The guys "played hard til the bitter end" or "kept fighting" or whatever other cliche you'll throw out there.  The fact of the matter is that this season has been a colossal disappointment.  I know you're goal is to make St. John's a consistent winner and a program that doesn't have to sweat out Selection Sundays.  But quite honestly, we're not any closer than we were four years ago.  I'm a Mets and Jets fans too, so I'm familiar with being asked to be patient and that the "plan" will eventually come to fruition.  But the last two years was the waiting part for St. John's.  This team is an NCAA Tournament caliber program.  The NIT is supposed to be a one year stepping stone to the NCAA tournament the following year.  Look no further than the team we beat in the NIT last year and the team we lost to in the second round.  St. Joseph's and Virginia are both improved and are going to the tournament like they were supposed to.

I'm by no means writing you off as St. John's coach.  I do want you here.  The caliber of player you've brought in have been a breath of fresh air after the Mike Jarvis and Norm Roberts years.  But something has to give.  Your guys are juniors and sophomores.  This was the time. 

I know you're probably at the podium making it seem like the NCAA Tournament is still a possibility, but I assure you, it's falling on deaf ears with the selection committee.  It was as soft a tournament bubble as I can remember and by the time a few bids get stolen in these conference tournaments St. John's won't even be mentioned as a bubble team.  This season can only be described as a failure.

Again, the once proud St. John's basketball program will be playing on weekdays during the NCAA Tournament is happening.  Please try to figure it out next year.  We've waited long enough.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Misclassification of True Detective

True Detective is going to go down as one of television's best shows of 2014.  It was amazingly acted and visually unmatched by anything else currently on television.  But looking back now that it's over, it's funny to think about all the articles and blogs that I've read over the course of the series with all these predictions and theories about who "The Yellow King" was.  The reason it's funny is that True Detective wasn't that kind of show.  The media and fans treated True Detective in the same way they treated Lost.  Combing through the episode more than once looking for clues and Easter eggs that, now that we know the ending, weren't even there.  This show was never about who The Yellow King was.  This show was about the relationship between Marty Hart and Rust Cohle and not much more.