Thursday, March 25, 2004

Better Late Than Never At All

Just in time for tonight's basketball action, our guest blogger has unveiled his recap (a reminder of sorts) of all that happened last weekend. A little foreplay . . . a little playful erotica to prime the pump . . . before the real roundball action starts. Ahem. Anyway. Enjoy.

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Round 2, Day 1

It is a troubled time for the lower seeds as only four have advanced into this second round. Meanwhile the introduction of Barqs-Barqs Binks, the new NCAA / Coca-Cola mascot has been received with little fanfare [ed. You don't say . . .]. Is it just me, or does the fact that Cialis commercials are followed by Hummer commercials does seem to be a little ironic? The only hope for the underdogs is that a man with a bionic eye can play baseball.

And now for what people have waited days (Hi, Pat):

Raleigh, NC

The idea of the pod system, so we're told, was to keep teams closer to home. So why is it, then, that, the #3 NC State goes to Orlando, FL., while Duke (#1) and Wake Forest (#4) get to play here? Action starts with the Blue Devils going against Seton Hall. This is actually a rematch of the 1989 semi-final game. Seton Hall won that game, only then to lose in overtime to Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson and, the beginning of all of Michigan's infractions, interim coach Steve Fisher. The all-time assist leader in tournament history, Bobby Hurley, would join Duke in 1990's campaign and suffer from diarrhea against Arkansas in the semi-finals [ed. Yes, yes. After sufficient bitching, our guest blogger has persuaded me to point out that he had pointed out the factual error in one of his earlier posts, in which he dates Bobby Hurley's atomic shits to the aforementioned Seton Hall game, but I simply failed to change it. Mea culpa.]. In short, Duke easily disposes of Seton Hall, which means picking them to play against UK in the rematch of the '92 game for the umpteenth time may be right.

Next up, the Demon Deacons get to take on the Jaspers -- and you know that means a paddling. As it turns out, neither team can take much of lead -- that's a paddling [ed. I'm assuming this was supposed to be a pun. If so, I like it. If not, well, then I'm not entirely sure what it means, short of (given our guest blogger's penchant for lusty prose) this]. If only teams in this tournament could hit free throws, they would win it all -- so that's most definitely a paddling [ed. Now I remember. See second quote down on the link]. But in the end Wake advances, and Manhattan is left with their beard stuck in the pencil sharpener as Abe Simpson looks on [ed. I need to learn to read the full paragraphs before I begin commenting].

Seattle, WA

Gonzaga has gone from the Cinderella team of the last few years, to a #2 seed. This is the answer to, I guess, to all those accusations of anti-West Coast bias. When Duke was ranked #1 and Stanford was undefeated, it was because all East Coast sportswriters weren't awake to the West Coast teams. The upshot: Gonzaga got high in the ratings [ed. Spoiler Alert: Based on this game, they also got on the ratings -- flunky potheads up there in the Northwest, ya know] based on non-conference schedule and stayed there. Even though I believe any team (allegedly) coached by Mike Davis could even succeed in the West Coast Conference. Not today, though, as the Nevada Wolfpack devour the Zags. The question of bias may never be raised again.

And, appropriately, one game later Stanford's Mike Montgomery coaches the first #1 seed to fall. Should be noted that according to the RPI the toughest schedule in America this year belonged to the Crimson Tide [ed. And if you don't believe that, Wimp Sanderson'll come over there 'n punch ya in the face]. So maybe it is better to be in the middle of the pack in the SEC than to dominate a weak PAC-10.

Buffalo, NY

With Stanford already gone, St. Joseph looks like they might be next as Texas Tech jumps out to a quick lead. Could lightning possibly be striking twice? [ed. Quite.] Well, maybe not, since Phil Martelli, who looks a lot like Harvey Pekar, quickly coaches his team back to a sustainable lead; only for -- you guessed it -- the Red Raiders of Texas Tech to get the lead late in the second half. Honestly, you can almost write the exact same storyline for most of the games in this tournament. This one, however, unlike in Seattle played to form, as the #1 team survives. Martelli speaks with respect towards Coach Knight and his compliment toward the St. Joe's program [ed. Notice, however, that Martelli went out of his way not to compliment Knight. He knows where that would lead]. He also reminds the world that Billy Packer is a jackass.

Though it must be said, the team Packer thought deserved the number #1 seed, UConn, dominated DePaul in such a way that the only real news brought out of this game was the fact that Jim Calhoun spent the second half in the locker room sick. If Bobby Hurley be an omen [ed. And he certainly plays the role well], that may mean UConn will lose in the next round.

Denver, CO

Oh, and lo and behold, Jackass himself is here to call the games with Jim Nance. I have noticed one thing that normally I don't see, due to my Packer-hatred, Jim Nance gets excited over almost every little thing that happens in the game. Jim has been calling on the number one team for CBS since Brent Musberger was told the day of the '90 finals in this same town of Denver that he was calling his last game. But the reality is, Nance's skills as a broadcaster, now in his fourteenth tournament, has only gotten worse.

Jim Boeheim vs. Gary Williams. The '03 Champs vs. the '02 champs. [ed. Or, if you're like me and don't know names too well and didn't see the tournament the last couple of years, Syracuse vs. Maryland]. The two guys who have gotten the monkey off their back [ed. I've read that a few times now, and each time it makes me laugh. Reminds me of the final episode of The Office where Tim asks (homophobic) Gareth: 'So if you're in a foxhole, and one of your army mates lands on top of you when he dives into the foxhole, would you pull him off' 'Of course.' 'So, yes, you would pull your mate off?' 'Oh yeah, in a heartbeat.']. And, yet, two guys who also still lucked into it. I mean, really, they coached against Mike Davis and Roy Williams -- it's not exactly John Wooden you're dealing with [ed. Never let it be said that our guest blogger doesn't give credit where credit is due]. The winners pack their white jerseys since they no longer have to worry about the Cardinal. And in a game where neither team seems to want to win, the greater evil prevails. That's right, the 73-snake to Bob Knights 74-mongoose prevails [ed. Whaaaaa?], with the Orange Men moving on to face Alabama.

And speaking of my boy Roy, he ends his time in the competition on Day 3. In the greatest upset of the tournament, Lyle Mouton and Texas' defeat of the Tar Heels lasts until after 11 o'clock EST, which means that after three days of advertising, Century City does not air, and I am left to wonder what ever happened to the Bionic-eyed playing baseball player? Did he know Barry Bonds' trainer? Will he end up with the Yankees, just so they can screw with the Red Sox? Was he a Reds player, traded because he wouldn't work for Chiquita bananas? [ed. Did he pull off the monkey on his back?]

Round 2, Day 2

We begin today's action in Texas. I know there were no games played there, but thanks to my significant other that's where I spent the first two hours of the day. She'd decided to put a DVD in just to get back at me for sitting at home all night Thursday and all day Friday, so I got to watch Second Hand Lions, the story of how exactly Michael Caine and Robert Duvall could (a) be brothers, (b) have a nephew as annoying as "I see dead people" boy and (c) not explain where they'd hidden their money and how they got it. I understand why this film was snubbed by the Academy, but the performance by Robert Duvall is outstanding. The question of who is the greatest actor of the post-contract era normally involves names like Pacino and DeNiro. But clearly Tom Hagen may be the better actor of either Corleone. Nicholson? I'll take "Smells like victory" over "Can't handle the truth." Boo Radly, the Great Santini, Ned Peppers, the Apostle, Karl Childer's father, the man smart enough to stay away from Godfather III. The list goes on . . . [ed. Eh. Let's not forget John Q, The 6th Day, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and an utterly dire version of A Handmaid's Tale].

Orlando, FL

That said, I'm sad to say I missed a great moment in Queen City sports history: Xavier never loses composure and defeats the #2 seed Bulldogs of Miss. St. An annoying bracket-news aside: the guy leading our pool at work picked this correctly. His reason was that a Musketeer could beat a Rebel. That's right, he didn't have the right school when he filled out his bracket. This is the same guy who incorrectly picked Dayton over DePaul out of loyalty to former IU assistant Joby Wright -- even though Wright coached at Miami, OH and Wyoming, not Dayton. Proof once again that blind knowledge may be all that it takes to win the pool. Xavier goes on to a Sweet 16 rematch of their '90 tournament loss to Texas.

So with one SEC team down and the Wolfpack of Nevada already winning, clearly it should be NC State over Vandy. Or not. Even without Lionel Richie the Commodores 64 make Orlando the site where the lower seeds sweep. Vandy moves on to play UConn and to join 'Bama in Phoenix.

Kansas City, KS

In Kansas City, Oklahoma St and Kansas are that the Big Twelve will fare better than the SEC in Orlando. At this point, though, two #2s and two #4s are already gone. Be that as it may, Rock Chalk Jayhawk destroys another Cinderella, ending Pacific's winning streak. In the second game, the Cowboys of Oklahoma St. prove why Lions may live in Big Twelve territory, but Tigers don't. With that loss Don't Call Us Memphis State leave it to UC and UAB to defend C-USA's place in the tournament..

Milwaukee, WI

The story of Day four is that one conference has two teams playing at each site. In Wisconsin, the Big East has Boston College taking on Georgia Tech in a #6-#3 match-up, and Pitt takes on home-state favorite Wisconsin in the other #3-#6 match-up. In the first game, Tech survives a late run by BC to go to St. Louis as the highest seed and face Nevada.

On Friday night Wisconsin looked dead, came back and won going away. This time around, Pitt gets a decent lead, Wisconsin comes back, and at this point it looks like my Final Four was still safe. And then, of course, Pitt did what it also did a year ago -- it eliminated a Big Ten team on the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Side note: they ended up losing that game to Marquette, whose floor on which they just beat Wisconsin. Interesting role reversal here. If Pitt makes it to the Final Four, like Marquette did last year, we could potentially repeat the 2003 Final Four. If they make it, Pitt (instead of Marquette) would be facing Kansas; and it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Texas and Syracuse might meet again in this year's semi-finals. [ed. So, um, it's the 'same' four teams playing each other, minus the fact one of the teams is now another team? Am I following that right?] Just an odd little fact to keep in mind. [ed. Quite.]

Columbus, OH

Since the days of Michael Redd and Sconnie Penn leaving the Buckeyes, Columbus has known all about upset basketball. The Fighting Illini, though, prove that with UC playing, it may not really be an upset. The Bearcats are absolutely embarrassed in the opening game. Tony Bobbitt's career comes to an end, and so does Bob Huggins' complaining for yet another season.

With UC out, the Blazers of UAB are the lone representative of C-USA. Their task: the Wildcats of UK. They felt more than up to the challenge, blowing this game open and leading by double digits. The rest seemed to be following according to this tournament's script. The 'Cats came back to not only tie but take the lead. We know the story by now, right? The #1 comes back from adversity and closes out the game and talks about how they give the Blazers all the credit. Just one problem, UAB didn't read the script [ed. They get to 'reading' in the junior year of college down there at UAB]. For the final minutes the teams trade baskets. UAB looks to have blundered big time when they foul UK's three-point shooter, which has happened more often in this tournament then it should, but still have the two-point lead with seconds left. Now the reality of games like this is that the Blazers have lost guys to fouls, and getting the tie could probably deflate them and let UK take the win. An example of this is the second-round Michigan-UCLA game from '93, where the Wolverines came back from twenty down to take the honey from the Bruins pot [ed. And they didn't even leave their phone number afterward!!]. Anyway, so with their final possession UK's Hawkins drives and gets fouled like so many others in the tournament? Nope. Lays up it uncontested? Nope. Kicks out to Fitch, who shoots a three on a pick and roll, watches it miss, sees the rebound turn into a volleyball tip session 'till UAB watches the clock expire and all across the country people wad up there brackets in disgust? BINGO.