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Inspirational Reads

In Like a Lion...It's March!!!

March 1, 2008

Sometime last night, I suppose around midnight, February slipped quietly into the past and March became a reality. Many people look forward to March because for one night they can drink all they want without any remorse and also because the seasons begin to change and spring officially arrives (since February demanded to be coddled this year, the equinox is on March 20th, as opposed to its usual March 21st). For many people, there is also the end of the Lent and the coming of Easter to look forward to. Still others plant their gardens, seed their lawns, plant flowers and take care of other pressing matters on the exterior of their homes.

For me, it's tournament season. I took Joe Lunardi and his claims of "I can predict the tournament field" to task last year. What he really should say is "I can predict the tournament field...because I update my brackets until the very last second before the official ones come out, thereby taking all the surprise and challenge out of the selection process!!! Fawn over me! I'm prescient!"

So, I went through last year and picked the field just before Championship Week. You can find that here and the follow up about how I did here. It was such a lark, I'm going to do it again.

Without further ado, let's take a look at those top four seeds.

Memphis: I'll take the low-hanging fruit first. They're probably not going to lose anymore this season until the NCAA tournament (no Elite Eight for you!), and coming into the tournament with one loss is going to pretty much make the selection committee seed them as a number one, probably in Houston. Remember when a vastly-over ranked Stanford team was undefeated at the end of the season a few years ago, and even though everyone knew they were soft, they still got a number one seed? Yeah, same for Memphis.

UCLA: I think UCLA is in the driver's seat for the PAC-10 championship and therefore a number one seed out west. They're a pretty decent team with some decent talent and an eye for defensive intensity. Okay, okay, so they're a fantastic team with great players and solid defensive sets as well as some scoring pop.

Texas: They're playing real good basketball right now and Bill Self is doing his typical late-season swoon, Michael Beasley is a beast, but I don't see how anyone challenges Texas for the Big XII championship. I think Texas will get a number one seed, somewhere. Then it'll be fun to see how Rick Barnes manages to screw this one up.

Duke: This pains me, but I don't see how anyone wins the ACC tournament who don't wear blue, and then when I mentally worked the brackets out in my mind, I had Clemson and UNC playing each other in the 2/3 game (I figure that, without Lawson being 100%, Duke wins at Cameron, securing a number one seed), and I live by the mantra of "it's tough to beat a team three times in one season" and Clemson has already taken the Tarheels to OT twice, both at Little John and at the Dean Dome. If Duke wins the ACC, they get a number one seed. It's that simple.

Now on to the conferences:

American East: I'm taking Maryland Baltimore County as they've owned the conference this year, are head and shoulders above the rest, and because their mascot is the Golden Chesapeake Bay Retriever. That's a big, dumb hard-headed, lovable dog. This means that they'll be stuck in the play-in game since they have a hyphenated game, ensuring they'll be good and tired so that whichever 1 seed gets them won't be embarrassed by the upset.

Atlantic Coast: I already said Duke wins the tournament. North Carolina makes it in almost automatically. Clemson finally gets that NIT monkey off its back, and Maryland is going to ride the 2002 National Championship into the tournament as well as the upset of UNC in Chapel Hill. I'd love to see Wake make it in and Va Tech, too, but I think there's just way too much work to be done for these teams in a league that has been mired in mediocrity all year. If they get one or two wins in the tournament, look for Miami(FL) to be in, as well.

Atlantic Sun: I've ridden Belmont in the past, and I'll take them again. They host the tournament on their own court, and I think Belmont is slowly becoming the new Winthrop. No word as to whether they'll change their name to the "Vampire Slayers".

Atlantic 10: Remember back a few months ago when the Atlantic 10 was everyone's favorite small conference? Remember back when they had 4 teams in the top 25, which was more than the ACC? Remember that painful, yellow discharge you contracted after spring break your junior year? That's what the A-10 is dealing with right now, and only Xavier can act as their penicillin now. But, I'm picking an upset here. Massachusetts to win the tourney, Xavier as an at large.

Big East: Last year I picked Notre Dame. They were a Tory Jackson 3-pointer from the win over Georgetown. This year I'm picking...Georgetown over Notre Dame, but my beloved Irish get an at large. Louisville will have a good run in the tournament. UConn is slowing down a little bit, Marquette is hanging around, and Pitt just manages to make it in. I hate it, but West Virginia slips in, as well. Syracuse beats Wake for the NIT championship.

Big Sky: In an upset, Northern Arizona beats Portland State at the buzzer to win the league. Paul Bunyan rejoices, but sadly misses out on UNA's opening round game against Memphis after he gets drunk, shows his "giant axe" to the wrong "babe" and ends up in jail.

Big South: "It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise," said Andre the Giant as Fezzik. You know what I'm talking about, it's okay to admit it. Well, the inconceivable happens, and UNC-Asheville wrests the Big South crown away from Winthrop on the very tall, very broad shoulders of 7'7" Kenny George. No mention of using iocane powder on Winthrop leading scorer Michael Jenkins. Fast fact for you: Andre's cremated remains were spread over some of the land he owned in North Carolina. And you thought this blog wouldn't teach you anything.

Big Ten: Let's go homerism, and let's go Hoosiers. Like I said with UNC/Clemson, it's tough to beat a team three times in one season, so I pick Indiana to "upset" Wisconsin in the championship game. It will be ugly, but the Hoosiers will prevail (hello, kiss of death). The best game of the tournament will be the day before when Indiana beats in-state rival Purdue. Did I mention the games are played in Indianapolis? Yeah, the town will be rocking on the night of the semi-final game. Michigan State also makes it in. Sorry, Ohio State. UMass doomed you to the NIT after upsetting Xavier. Minnesota? Your turn next year.

Big XII: I've already stated that Texas will win the tournament, but Kansas makes the field as a high seed, as well as Michael Beasley. A&M might make a good run, and get in, but I don't think anyone else has the body of work that A&M has, and even theirs is a little suspect. Feel good story of the tournament? The Baylor Bears and Scott Drew. Indiana starts banging on his door the moment they lose.

Big West: No surprises here, Northridge wins the tournament easily. Ole!

Colonial: Oh what used to be. I think that Virginia Commonwealth still reigns supreme over the league, but I think they can be beat. The most likely candidate is Old Dominion, but I think Anthony Grant will have his players ready to play. Sadly, you could count on two to three teams making it from the Colonial. ODU and George Mason have been the cream of this crop for a while. This year, I think it's only a two-bid league, unless the unthinkable happens to VCU and GMU. But let's not think about that. Plus, VCU has the best looking cheerleaders in the conference.

Conference USA: Memphis. Move along folks, move along, nothing to see here--Whoa! A horrible plane wreck! Gather 'round, people. Don't be shy. Gather 'round.

Horizon: In what could be an audition for the Indiana job, Wright State meets Butler in the championship game. Wright State upsets Butler to get the auto bid, the Bulldogs get an at large bid.

Ivy: The Cornell Big Red (mmmm...cinnamony) are undefeated in league play, breaking the recent stranglehold from the P-schools, Penn and Princeton. My ancestor's school, Brown, is second, but the Ivy is a one-bid league. Wait till next year.

Metro-Atlantic: I watched Rider play last night, and I was not impressed with the lack of defensive intensity that they trotted out (the cheerleaders, much better). I'm picking Siena in the upset. My love for the Catholic schools continues to show.

Mid-American: I think it works out that Ohio can meet up with Kent State in the finals. I pick Ohio over Kent, but Kent gets an at-large. There is much gnashing of teeth in Columbus.

Mid-Eastern: From out of nowhere, Delaware St. stings the competition and wins the league. Given the right circumstances, they could be one of those popular sub-.500 teams in the field, which might cause Billy Packer's heart to seize (we hope). Enjoy playing the UMBC Golden Retrievers Tuesday night.

Missouri Valley: Again, another multi-team conference that has fallen on hard times. But, they'll get at least two in this year, as Southern Illinois pulls the upset over both Illinois St. and Drake. Keno's boys still make it in as an at large. I'm also going out on a limb here and saying Illinois St. manages to sneak in as one of the last teams.

Mountain West: Oh, let's throw poor Steve Alford a bone. His teams always seem to do so well in the conference championship games only to shit the bed come NCAA tournament time. New Mexico in an upset, but with BYU helping to make Billy Packer look like more of an ass...if that's possible..

Northeast: My heart lies with Robert Morris. Why, you ask? Because they beat Boston College at Chestnut Hills this year. Yes, they are my new favorite obscure little school from the northeast, replacing Sacred Heart.

Ohio Valley: One of these years, Austin Peay will win the conference and make it into the tourney. Is this the year of the Governors? Yeah.

Pacific-10: What a mess this league is. Why a mess? Because it's chock full of good teams, top to...well...almost bottom. Winner? UCLA Runner-up? Washington State. Stanford is a lock to make it in. USC also makes it in. And in an upset special (upset because it upsets the fans in Raleigh), the tournament selection committee takes Arizona St. and puts them in a first-round game in the RBC Center. Screw you, NC State fans! Arizona also makes it on name as much as body of work.

Patriot: This league has a lot more parity than in years past. Given my love for America, it's tough to pick. I want to take Navy. I want to take American. Who will it be? American. Remember the "tough to beat a team three times". Plus, Navy's already had enough to celebrate this past year. *mutters something about fourth-and-long*

Southeastern: Despite the fact that he looks like Burglekutt from Willow, Kevin Stallings will lead Vanderbilt to the SEC crown over Tennessee. I'm still not sold on Tennessee, but I will agree that they're good. Who else from the SEC will make it in? Mississippi State and, wait, who can that be? Is it? Is it? Kentucky? On name alone? Nah, I think their body of work in the SEC alone is enough, but doesn't hurt being Kentucky. And because the tournament selection committee doesn't want to see both teams from the championship game last year shut out, we have to deal with Florida once more.

Southern: This is a one-bid league, and there's only one team in the league. Convenient, no? Davidson brings home the championship.

Southland: Another single bid league, and let's go with Stephen F. Austin.

Southwestern Athletic: Let's go with Alabama St.. I haven't watched the the SWAC much this year, and my kids are bugging me for lunch.

Summit: Some day I'm going to pick IPFW, but today is not that day. I'll go with Oral Roberts once more. The giant praying hands win out. Still, no fat chicks allowed.

Sunbelt: Man. South Alabama or Western Kentucky? Western Kentucky or South Alabama? Dammit, I love America, so I'll take USA. They're both good schools. Too bad it's a one-bid league.

West Coast: Again, the Catholicism shows through as I pick St. Mary's to win, but gonzaga will also make it as an at large, pretty much no matter what. And then Indiana starts banging on Mark Few's door.

Western Athletic: Nick Fazekas is finally gone, but I still think Nevada has built a reputation and a decent program. However, after getting to the conference finals, Boise State works the blue turf magic and slides in. Billy Packer goes apoplectic about the injustice of not one more ACC team making it into the field.

There you go. We'll see how this works out. I'm going with a lot of smaller schools over bigger schools that have shitty resumes and no signature win. Of course, this might make my field change drastically, but oh well. I'm sticking with it. We'll check back in after Selection Sunday.


Chemgeek said...

I sit here in awe once again.

Chemgeek said...

So, Duke over NC State in a pretty exciting game. What's your take?

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I was about to say no one can piss away a big lead at home to a team from Tobacco Road like NC State, and then Boston College went and one-upped them...

This was the exact same game as the one they played in Cameron a month or so ago. I didn't watch the whole thing as I was watching Wright St. and Valpo, but I turned over for the last few seconds. NC State has the kind of team that can give Duke fits, with a good front line, but their guard play has been shaky. Gavin Grant's 6 points could have been a lot more. State is desperate for a point guard, as it seems the guards they have now are all shooting guards. When they develop (if they develop), they'll be a strong guard-oriented team. In the meantime, though, the Woofies are going to be crying the blues...and I'll be here to point and laugh, Nelson style.

Chemgeek said...

That is exactly the response I was fishing for.

Stever said...

UMBC's mascot is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a much more suspicious and hardheaded breed than the Golden. Good pick though.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

My guess is, though, that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is still pretty lovable. And probably still has horrible breath, like my brother's Golden.

Thanks for the correction, though. I've fixed it.