Sunday, March 18, 2007

Well, the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is over. And the bracket challenge disaster I predicted in the last post of last week not only happened, but happened twice over. I know I shouldn't do it, after the last 15 years of doing it, but I choose teams based on hatred or lack thereof and it kicks my brackets ass all the time. I picked Texas Tach to go to the Elite Eight because I hate BC and Georgetown. I picked Notre Dame to go to the Final Four because I hate Florida, Wisconsin and Oregon. And now my bracket needs teams from the NBA to lose, three of the original cast of MASH to die and four or five country wonders to occur for me to win.

For the record, I didn't really think that ND could win. I thought they were the first team that had a snowball's chance in the infernal region of beating Florida that I didn't hate. And even then I didn't like that pick. I love ND as a football school, but I've never been a big fan of their basketball team. I don't know why. But I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Mike Bray looks like a bad lounge singer with the slicked back hair and the mock turtleneck with the blazer. I just can't get behind the lounge lizard coaching the team. But I picked them, and they killed me.

And all of that was before Texas lost. That was a defensible pick, though. With the best single player in the tournament and a point guard that could play, they had a chance to get hot. Unfortunately, they didn't. But I'm not at the point in my life where I'm willing to forsake my hatred for the sake of a NCAA tournament bracket sheet. I am a sad, small, bitter, bitter man, but I'm fine with it, which makes me a good person.

One of the surprising stories of the tournament so far was the lack of an upset in the 5-12 matchup. Personally, I think there was an upset. When the officials swallowed the whistle as Virginia Tech played what resembled rugby more than basketball, that was an upset. Illinois got jobbed, and America's least coherent and honest columnist took entirely too much satisfaction in the defeat of his new mortal enemy Bruce Weber. By the way, can an Illini team that didn't deserve to be there in the first place actually choke? These are questions that trouble responsible writers, but not Jay the total fraud.

To be fair, Illinois could have been more aggressive offensively down the stretch. I understand that there is a natural impulse to go to your strong suit when you need to close out a game. Illinois played good defense, so they tried to take the air out of the ball, milk the clock and hope the 13 point lead was sufficient. And maybe it was a good thing for Brian Randle that the final foul was ignored. If he missed two more freethrows that would have tied the game, I shudder to think what the poor kid would have done to himself or the community at large.

At some point, it is probably as effective to sprint down the court and fire up a bad shot as it is to walk the ball up, run 25 screens, rotate the ball from side to side for 34 seconds and then take a bad shot. If you aren't scoring, you aren't scoring. Might as well be interesting while you're doing it. As far as the 9 turnovers VT forced, Brian Urlacher doesn't hack half as much to force a fumble in the NFL (a contact sport, for the record) than the VT press did. That loser the Grizzly Man experienced less contact in being mauled to death by a grizzly bear than the Illinois guards did in bringing the ball up court.

I was rooting for Illinois. I thought they deserved to win. I wish the refs called fouls on some of the VT contact, but that's life. But it got me thinking about something. And the Southern Illinois game vs. Holy Cross got me thinking too. Based on the score, the Holy Cross game was closer than the Virginia Tech game. Now does that mean Holy Cross was a better team and could have beaten Virginia Tech? The obvious answer is, hell no.

However, Southern Illinois likes to play tight defense and make the most of their opportunities on offense. That's how Holy Cross likes to play, which led to the tight game. Virginia Tech didn't play that way, Southern Illinois stifled VT and crushed them handily. But on the Southern Illinois-HC game, it was clear as day that SIU was much, much, much more athletic than Holy Cross. If they ran, the cross between Tarantino, Boo Radley and the Missing Link would have been gasping for air and out of the game.

So my question is, is it better to stick to your style or adapt and exploit the opponent's weaknesses? I think it's better to adapt, but SIU could have easily adopted a run and gun approach, lost discipline and fallen apart. Plus the first two paragraphs of this post are all about what an idiot I am and the shambles that once was a proud bracket challenge entry. Take that with my record for picking games (I have to count the SIU-HC game as a loss, since I predicted a bigger victory and the humiliation of double zero, neither of which happened).

By the way, I found out that Danny Ainge's birthday is March 17. I would wish him many happy returns, but I hate him. But what kind of Mormon is born on the biggest drinking day of the year? You know there's no way the stars were smiling on him. That's why he's mad such a shambles of the Celtics. He was born unlucky.

PS - I may seem insensitive in ridiculing the Grizzly Man, but he got what he deserved. It may be bad karma, and tempting fate, but that's how I feel. If grizzly bears are going to maul me, they're going to have to come to my apartment and maul me here. I'm sure as hell not going to go out and hang out with apex predators like they were my buddies.

PPS - I appreciate the Anti-Jay people for reading me and commenting on these posts. But I must ask the question, what has Boise done to you? I've never been to Boise, and God willing, I never will. But I'm pretty sure that the good people of Boise don't deserve him. He needs to go. Chicago is the best city in the world not named Boston, and he is a blight on its landscape. How about banishing him to Siberia? Or a research station in the Antarctic? While we're dreaming, let's dream big.


PT said...

"PS - I may seem insensitive in ridiculing the Grizzly Man, but he got what he deserved. It may be bad karma, and tempting fate, but that's how I feel. If grizzly bears are going to maul me, they're going to have to come to my apartment and maul me here. I'm sure as hell not going to go out and hang out with apex predators like they were my buddies."

He got what he deserved? Gee, I hope you feel the same way about all the hunters who get maimed by the wildlife they hunt?
Had the park service done their job he would not have got what you think he deserved. No one deserves that and especially not Tim.
Nice guy...

thecincinattikid said...

Damn right hunters who are maimed by the animals they hunt get what they deserve. The odds of me being mauled by a wild animal are very, very, very small because I stay away from wild animals. If you go near wild animals, you run a risk. If one of them gets you, that's your fault. My heart isn't going to bleed for the mauled hunter or the waterwalking nature activist. I do swim in the ocean when the weather allows, and if a shark gets me, then it's my fault for entering the shark's environment. And I don't want any sympathy should it happen. That's life.