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Sports schadenfreude

Schadenfreude: Taking pleasure from the suffering of another.

Lisa Simpson taught me this word many years ago. She used it to describe how Homer was feeling when Ned Flanders’ Leftorium was going out of business. It is not a noble feeling.  It mostly stems from jealousy, which is never pretty.  In sports, schadenfreude is pretty common.  In recognition of the Heat’s recent loss, which has to be one of the top sports schadenfreude moments in history, I have compiled a list of other great moments.

10 and 9. Anytime Duke or the Dallas Cowboys lose.  No real reason, I just can’t stand Duke or the Dallas Cowboys
8. Maybe Free Throws should move up on your list.  In an interview on Pardon the Interruption, Coach John Calipari was asked about the importance of free throws.  He responded, in his ever glib manner, “If I made a list of 100 things I use to evaluate a player, free throws wouldn’t be on it.”  A few days later his star player Derrick Rose was at the free throw line with national championship on the line.  A couple of missed free throws later, Kansas beat Coach Cal’s Memphis Tigers and cut down the nets.  A few years later, the Final Four banner in Memphis was taken down.  In light of recent scandals, I’ve actually gained respect for Coach Cal.  At least he isn’t out there writing books about moral values and spirituality.  With him, you know what you get – a few temporary banners to hang in your gym.

7. The Patron Saint of the Sweater Vest resigns.  Under normal circumstances, I don’t take pleasure in someone losing their job.  As unemployment in this country remains over 9%, it seems particularly insensitive to laugh when someone new is added to the list.  But when the guy in question has written a book called The Winners’ Manual for the Game of Life, and he resigns in the midst of a growing cheating scandal that suggests systemic corruption, I can’t help but enjoy his downfall.  I’m not sure if there is a chapter in Jim Tressel’s book about maintaining a culture of lies and intentionally turning a blind eye as his spoiled athletes cheat the system.  I haven’t read it, and don’t plan to.  I think what’s worse are reports from Buckeye fans that are defending this guy.  They are blaming Terelle Pryor for “bringing down” their god.  Pryor certainly isn’t blameless, and he might have been the catalyst for getting him caught, but being mad at him for exposing Tressel is like getting mad at Toto for revealing the Wizard.  That whole good-guy image was just smoke and mirrors.

6. Timeout!  The Fab Five was one of the most polarizing teams in college basketball history.  Love them or hate them, they helped define an era of basketball.  Count me in the group of people that couldn’t stand ‘em.  Looking back now, I can see that much of the vitriol aimed at Michigan was about class and race, but I don’t think that was why I didn’t like them.  I just don’t like Michigan.  So when the Wolverines and North Carolina were playing for a national championship in 1993, I was pulling for the Tar Heels. North Carolina was up 73-71 with 19 seconds left in the game when Chris Weber snagged a rebound.  He awkwardly took the ball up the court, and then got caught in a trap along the sideline.  Fearful of giving up the ball, and unable to find an open man, Weber called a timeout.

Usually that would be considered a good move.  The only problem was that Michigan didn’t have any more timeouts.  With 11 second remaining, a technical foul was called against the Flub Five.  Two free throws plus the ball meant that Carolina won 77-71.

The Fab Five produced two Final Fours, but neither banner hangs in the Crisler Arena anymore.   In 2002, a widespread cash for play scandal was revealed.  There were indictments, forfeited games, and for all those that couldn’t stand the Fab Five, a lot of schadendreude.

5. The Rich Rodriguez Era. When I was in High School I was visiting my brother at the University of Illinois. One of his fraternity brothers taught me a filthy version of “Hail to the Victors.” I didn’t even understand what all the words meant, but I knew one thing: Michigan sucks. Unfortunately, this was more wishful thinking than actually describing the quality of Michigan’s football teams. They (along with Ohio State) have dominated the Big Ten. They’ve won 42 conference titles, and been to 20 Rose Bowls. Seriously, Michigan is the worst. Even their colors are pretentious – It’s Yellow!

After hiring Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia, there were lawsuits, players quitting, an NCAA investigation and mediocrity on the field.  I watched it all with glee.  In three seasons with Rich Rod at the helm, the Wolverines went 15-22 and won only six Big Ten games.  He was fired last year after a 7-6 season and a loss in the Gator Bowl.

5a. The Charlie Weis Era.  For pretty much all the same reasons.  Some think that College Football is better when Notre Dame and Michigan are good.  I’m not one of them.  I hate it when they play each other, I honestly cannot decide which team I want to lose more. The Brian Kelly era hasn’t exactly been stellar either – I still cannot believe he wasn’t punished more severely for his irresponsible actions surrounding the death of Declan Sullivan.

4. The Exception to the Rule: Corey Wooten’s first career sack. When I started thinking about this list I thought to myself, “No injuries.” I have never taken joy out of someone getting injured while playing sports. Then I remembered the exception. I’m not sure if anyone in sports history has ever done so much to lose respect and appreciation without doing anything illegal as Bret Favre. As a Packer, I hated the guy because he beat my Bears so much, but I always respected him. I respected his play, his joy, and his toughness. He seemed like the kind of guy that would be fun to play with and against. Then the retirement carousel began. It was all so narcissistic. Every August for three – or was it four – years, the Favre Watch would start. Would he retire? Would he call a press conference? Who would he play for? It all got so tiresome as he held one franchise after another hostage.

He ended his career with the Packers by throwing an interception in the NFC Championship. He should have ended his career with the Viking the same way. Instead, he came back for another year in 2011. This is how it ended, maybe.

3. One word: “Bartman.” The Cubs may be the lovable losers for everyone else in the country, but to  White Sox fans, only one of those terms applies. In 2003, the Cubs were five outs from going to their first World Series since 1945. They were up 3-0 over the Marlins in the top of the eighth inning of game 6 and held a 3-2 series advantage. Mark Pryor was rolling, and Cubs fans everywhere believed that the temperature in hell had reached the mid-40s. I was watching the game in my living room, sitting on my chair. A Lifelong Phillies and Sox fan, I was actually half-heartedly pulling for the Cubs.Chicago baseball had been so bad for so long, I was ready for a World Series in Chicago.

Then Luis Castillo hit what seemed like a meaningless foul ball. Leftfielder Moises Alou was under it, but against the wall. A Cubs fan, wearing a Cubs hat, ear phones, and a green turtleneck  under a black sweatshirt did what any other fan would have done in the same situation. He tried to catch a foul ball. In the process, he knocked it away from Alou. Instead of being the second out of the inning, Castillo walked. Before the inning was over, eight Marlins crossed the plate. The Cubs lost 8-3. After the inning, I laughed and told my wife, “That is so Cub-like.” In game 7, the Cubs had their ace Kerry Wood on the mound with a 5-3 lead after four innings. Bartman had nothing to do with them losing that game 9-6.

In the aftermath, the ball has been destroyed, Steve Bartman was forced into a semi-exilic state. Bartman will forever be remembered in Chicago. Some will remember him with pain and anguish. Others, like me, will remember him with a light chuckle and a dash of schadenfreude.

2. The Yankees lose.  Ttttthhhhhheeeeeeee Yankees. Lose!

Yankee-hating is a long-standing tradition in America, and for good reason. Steinbrenner, Jackson, Martin, Cashman, Jeter, A-Rod, and a legion of annoyingly arrogant New Yorkers created the original Evil Empire. The majority of the 80s can be added to this list as the Yankees floundered, much to the joy of most long-time baseball fans. In the mid-90s though, the golden era of Yankee-hating ended. In 2004, the Yankees had won 5 of the last 6 league pennants. The Yankees had beaten the Red Sox in seven games the year before. The Yankees owned the Red Sox. The Yankees were THE dominant force in baseball. After getting trounced 19-8 in game 3 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, it looked like another horrible end for the Red Sox. Thus began the greatest collapse in the history of baseball. There was a rare Rivera blown-save, a bloody sock, a bunch of “idiots” with long hair, and David Ortiz hitting what seemed like a dozen home runs, including a two-run walk-off bomb in the bottom of the 12th in game 4

Looking back, Schilling has become more and more annoying, Ortiz and Ramirez have both been implicated in the steroid-era, and the ultimate “idiot” Johnny Damon joined the Dark Side. The Red Sox have their own brand of annoyingly arrogant fans – a sort of Mini-Me to the Yankees Dr. Evil. But at the time, for Yankees haters everywhere, the 2004 ALCS was prime schadenfreude material.

1. LeBron James and the Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks.

I used to like Lebron. When he was a rookie, I picked him a little early in a fantasy draft. Other managers ridiculed me, telling me he was “all hype.” I believed the hype, and his all-around excellence helped my team win the league championship. He has since developed into what appears to be an unstoppable force. When the Bulls were struggling through the Del Negro mediocrity, the Cavs were my second favorite team. Even after The Decision, I didn’t join in the venomous attacks on Lebron. I figured, he took less money to play with friends and go after a championship – that’s not all that bad. I was afraid a lot of the venom was more racially motivated than people admitted. But the guy just wore on me, and here’s a quick list of why: 1. The team just seemed to whine all season, and never understood why they weren’t liked. They painted a big target on themselves, and then wondered why people were taking shots. 2. “The Chosen One” is inked on his back (chosen for what?) 3. The pre-season self-predicted Seven-Peat (or was it eight?) 4. The early celebration in game two. It was just a pattern of self-promotion and premature celebration. So when they basically quit playing with about 60 seconds left in Game 6, I was in full schadenfreude-mode.

So there it is – my all time Top Ten Sports Schadenfreude moments.  I’m not proud of any of it.  Takeing joy from the suffering of others isn’t exactly “Love your neighbor” kind of stuff.  But this is sports, and part of what makes sports are fun is that it’s a fantasy world.  It’s a world where I cheer for the good guys and everyone else is bad.  It’s a world where I care deeply about the results of adults playing kid games.  It’s a world where I can forget about war and poverty and justice and just enjoy great athletes, great drama, and great joy and great suffering – especially if its the Yankees, Wolverines, Cowboys or Favre doing the suffering.

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What’s Guenther’s legacy?

So the news today in Illini Nation is that Ron Guenther has retired.  After 19 years of service as the  athletic director at the University of Illinois, he will step down on June 30.  As a huge Illini fan, I have mixed feelings.  I think Guenther has run a pretty good program.  They have had spots of success in many sports, and there has no been no major controversies surrounding their coaches. There was the Jamar Smith incident, but that seemed to be more of an isolated case than a part of a program-wide problem.

My first reaction to Guenther is that he ran a clean department that had excellence in non-revenue sports.  Under his watch the Illini became the only school outside of Florida, California and Texas to win an Men’s Tennis national championship.  I think that is pretty cool.  There also seemed to be a steady flow of national champions in track and field, wrestling and gymnastics.  The volleyball and soccer programs seem strong as well.  Most ignore these achievements, but I think it is a source of pride that Illini athletics seems to be pretty well-rounded.

Under his tenure Memorial Stadium underwent major renovations.  The entire football experience has been improved (although the ILL-INI chant is not as cool with the new alignment of the students).   Before the economy went belly-up, there were plans to renovate the Assembly Hall, and the practice facilities – which play a major part in recruitment – have also been improved.

On the field three seasons stand out: the 2001 Sugar Bowl football team, the 2005 Final Four basketball team and the 2008 Rose Bowl football team.  All three provided great memories and lasting records, but ended up falling short of championships.  And in the end, I feel like that is going to be the most enduring feeling over Guenther’s tenure – coming up short.

The football and men’s basketball programs have been frustrating to follow over the last 19 years.  They show signs of improvement and glimmers of excellence, only to slip back into maddening mediocrity.  Bruce Weber and Ron Zook seem like decent guys, and I appreciate their character, but I think the University of Illinois deserves better than decent.  It should be possible to have both character and championships.  While the athletic department seems to have character, the Illini don’t have enough championships.  Is it too much to want both? 

Maybe in the current climate of college athletics it is too much to ask for.  I’m glad the Illini didn’t run out and hire Tom Caliparri or Kelvin Sampson.  But it would be nice to hire a college basketball coach that knows how to beat a zone defense.  It would be nice to have football coaches that help players get better over four years instead of recruiting high school all-stars that never reach their potential.

There are some Illini fans that are celebrating today.  I’m not one of them.  I believe that Ron Guenther is a decent guy and ran a decent program.  I just think the Illini deserve better.

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The 2011 Mascot Bracket

The 2013 Mascot Bracket

It is now time for the third annual mascot bracket.  Tired of losing every year with my own basketball knowledge, I decided to divise a very scientific method of picking the NCAA tournament.  It all revolves around this question:

Which mascot would win in a fight?  For schools that have different nicknames than mascots, I defer to the meaning of the nickname.  For example, last year I determined that a Blue Devil is not a supernatural being.  The Blue Devils were a fighting squadron from World War I.  With nicknames that are ambiguous – especially about whether or not they are armed, I might defer to the logo or mascot.

Last year, I entered the Mascot Bracket into a yahoo public group.  There were about 30 entries, including the picks of Joe Lunardi, President Barack Obama, My three-year-old daughter, all the top seeds, and me.  The Mascot Bracket won, and finished in the 84th percentile.  Also, all mascots are treated as individuals unless they are specifically plural.

The rules:

There are a few rules to follow:

  1. Inanimate objects, e.g. colors and plants, always lose to animate objects.
  2. Predators beat non-predators and unarmed humans.
  3. Humans beat non-predators.
  4. Humans with weapons beat predators.
  5. Humans with weapons beat humans without weapons.
  6. Humans with superior weapons/fighter training win.
  7. Supernatural beings and killer weather systems are tough to beat.
  8. Ties go to the high seed.
  9. Prepositions lose to everything.

PLAY-IN GAMES

Alabama State Hornets def. UT San Antonio Road Runners.  The hornet can sting multiple times.  The road runner has no discernable offense.  It might take awhile, but the hornet wins.  Things are looking good for the Hornets, who have the luck of taking on a plant next.

Alabama-Birmingham Blazers def. Clemson Tigers.  I thought this would be tougher, expecting that, like the former Portland basketball team, the blazers was short for trailblazers.  I was wrong.  Apparantly, the Blazers are a bad-ass dragon with blazing fire out its mouth.  They are going to be tough to beat.Southern California Trojans def. Virginia Commonwealth Rams.  Armed human over animal (Rule 4).

Arkansas Little Rock Trojans def. North Carolina Ashville Bulldogs. A Trojan will beat a bulldog even easier than he would beat a Ram.

EAST

(16) Alabama State Hornets def. (1) Ohio State Buckeyes.  The Ohio State University kills me every year.  The 16-seed hornet takes out the buckeye, as per Rule #1.

(8) George Mason Patriots def. Villanova Wildcats.  Armed human shoots the wildcat.

(12) UAB Blazers def. (5) West Virginia Mountaineers.  Usually the armed man defeats the predatory animal.  But usually the predatory animal isn’t a GIANT FIRE BREATHING DRAGON!!! I’ve seen Harry Potter, and no hillbilly with a shotgun is going to take out an Hungarian Horntail.

(13) Princeton Tigers def. Kentucky Wildcats.  A big mean, predatory cat devours the much smaller, mean, predatory cat.

(3) Syracuse Orange def. Indiana State Sycamores.  Seriously, when I saw this draw I laughed out loud.  Every year Syracuse is an early exit from the Mascot Bracket.  They finally found a matchup they could win.  The color versus the tree would undoubtedly be the least entertaining of all of these matchups.  This has to defer to RULE #8 – ties go to the higher seed.

(6) Xavier Musketeers def. (11) Marquette Golden Eagles.  Muskets aren’t the most accurate gun ever invented, but all it would take is one shot, unless of course the Golden Eagle is made of actual gold.  But then it wouldn’t really be able to mount much of an offense

(7) Washington Huskies def. (10) Georgia Bulldogs.  In a (excuse the pun) dog-eat-dog matchup, I’d have to go with the Husky.  And this youtube video proves it.  It is of an actual bulldog and a husky pit against each other in fierce competition.  In the end, the Husky clearly comes out on top (just watch it).

(2) North Carolina Tar Heels def. (15) Long Island Blackbirds. The Tar Heel name is the stuff of legend, but according to the UNC website, it started during the Civil War and refers either to the North Carolina soldiers’ stubborn ability to stand and fight, as if they had tar on their heels; or was a slur used to make fun of the poor and dirty soldiers that made tar.  For the purposes of the Mascot Bracket, I’m going with civil war soldier.

ROUND THREE

(8) George Mason Patriots def. Alabama State Hornets.  No weapon needed, just a hand or rolled up copy of “Common Sense”

(12) UAB Blazers def. Princeton Tigers.  “Princeton yells for Tigers, and Wisonsin for Varsity,” but the Blazers would eat roast cat.(6) Xavier Musketeers def. Syracuse Orange.  RULE #1

(2) North Carolina Tar Heels def. Huskies. RULE #4

REGIONALS

Blazers def. Patriots

Tar Heels def. Musketeers RULE #6

Tar Heels def. Blazers.  Okay, so you might be asking, would a civil war soldier be able to beat a dragon?  Would a Tar Heel be able to do what a Mountaineer, Tiger, and Patriot failed to do?  Well, the Tar Heel just shot a Musketeer and a Huskie without a challenge.  The Dragon has been shot at by two different people and taken some nasty tiger bites.  I’m saying the dragon is more weakened by the previous three rounds than the tar heel.  If you think I’m wrong, make your own mascot bracket.  Besides, its RULE #4.

 SOUTHWEST

I say. I say, I say, what is a Jayhawk, boy?

(1) Kansas Jayhawks def. (16) Boston Terriers.  The Jayhawks present quite a problem.  The mascot itself resembles foghorn leghorn.  According to some research, it is actually supposed to be a cross between a Blue Jay (because its annoying) and a Sparrow Hawk (because it is a stealthy hunter).  If you go by this, then it is not particularly intimidating.  Granted, neither is a boston terrier, but I’d still pick the terrier over an annoying bird.  However, I have a tradition of going back to the meaning of the mascot.  According to the school website, the Jayhawk refered to pioneers in Kansas that bugged other pioneers, notably from Nebraska.  As Kansas moved toward statehood, there was quite a public debate over whether Kansas would be a free or a slave state.  Ruffians on both sides of this battle were dubbed “Jayhawkers” and were known to rob, vandalize, sack, set fire to, and steal horses from the other side.  In time, the Jayhawks referred mainly to the free-staters.  So, that is a very long-winded way to determine that the true meaning of Jayhawk is not a stupid little bird, but a 1850s thug that was against slavery.  In other words, RULE #4.

(8) Illinois Fighting Illini def. (9) UNLV Runnin’ Rebels .  This is another tough one.  Neither the Rebel nor the Illini is intrinsically armed. the Rebel seems to be a Civil War era rebel, but the school was really called the rebels because they rebelled against the University of Nevada. I’m going with the Illini because of the adjective.  In the Mascot Bracket, it helps to fight instead of run.

(5) Vanderbilt Commodores def. (12) Richmond Spiders.  Unless the Commodore has a severe case of arachnophobia.

(13) Morehead State Eagles def. (4) Louisville Cardinals.  RULE #2

(3) Purdue Boilermakers def. (14) St. Peter’s Peacocks.  Seriously, its a big dude with a hammer against a non-flight bird.  It’s a pretty gruesome image.

(11) USC Trojans def. (6) Georgetown Hoyas.  What’s a hoya?  Well, that is a question that Georgetown opponents have been chanting for decades.  Wikipedia gives us the answer – it appears to have come from a chant, “Roxa Hoya,” which is loosely translated from Latin to “such rocks.”  Hoya is basically Latin for “Such as.”  Long story short:  Prepositions lose.

(10) Florida State Seminoles def. (7) Texas A&M Aggies.  You would think an Aggie is someone involved in agriculture.  Look up Texas A & M Aggie.  Apparantly their mascot is a collie.  Lassie doesn’t stand a chance against the guy with the flaming spear riding a horse.

(2) Notre Dame Fighting Irish def. (15) Akron Zips.  For some reason the Zips use a kangaroo as their mascot.  This boxing kangaroo notwithstanding, I think a good drunken Irishman would whip a kangaroo.

THIRD ROUND

(1) Kansas Jayhawks def. (9) Illinois Fighting Illini

(5) Vanderbilt Commodores def. (13) Morehead St. Eagles

(11) USC Trojans def. (3) Purdue Boilermakers.  The Trojans have swords and armor and stuff.  The Boilermaker has a hammer.

REGIONALS

Commodores def. Jayhawks.  A Commodore is a naval officer, a jayhawk is some rabble rouser with a pitchfork.

Seminoles def. Trojans.  I really didn’t know who would win this one, so I did a little more searching.  The first google image of a seminole is a guy with a huge shotgun.  Screw the flaming spear, Seminoles win big.

Seminoles def. Commodores.  Again, this is a really tough one.  I think the Seminole would be able to beat the naval officer, because most officers are older and have seen their battles in years past.

SOUTHEAST

(16) Arkansas Little Rock Trojans def. (1) Pittsburgh Panthers.  Here’s another big upset.  I was expecting the Buckeyes to go down in the first round.  I’m not too crazy about losing the Panthers.

(9) Old Dominion Monarchs def. (8) Butler Bulldogs.  I’m assuming that a monarch would have some access to a weapon of some kind, but if you go by the mascot they use, a lion, that wins too.

The Utah State Aggie is apparanrly a bull. The Texas A & M Aggie is a collie.

(12) Utah State Aggies def. (5) Kansas State Wildcats.  Whether the Utah State Aggie is a farmer or the bull on the left, it would beat a wildcat.  Wildcats are really not that big.

(13) Belmont Bruins def. (4) Wisconsin Badgers.  A badger is a mean little bastard, but a bruin is a bear.  A bear.  This little part of the bracket is all upsets.

(3) BYU Cougars def. (14) Wofford Terriers.  If Wofford were the pit bull terriers, it might be interesting.  They’re not.  They are boston terriers.  A nice snack for a cougar.

(6) St. John’s Red Storm def. (11) Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Another dog goes down.  I suppose by drowning, or maybe lightning strike.  The fact that the Storm is red doesn’t add to its ferocity, but most dogs are total cowards in storms.  I know mine is.

(10) Michigan State Spartans def. (7) UCLA Bruins.  This is something right out of a Charlton Heston movie.  It would be a great fight, but according to RULE #4, Sparty wins.

(15) UC Santa Barbara Gauchos def. (2) Florida Gators.  Much like the last matchup, this might be fun to watch, that is, until the Gaucho pulls out his six-shooter.

THIRD ROUND

(16) Ark-LR Trojans def. ODU Monarchs.  The ODU Monarch is a lion.  The Trojan against the Lion would be an intersting fight, but I’m going with RULE #4. (I’m not expecting many points out of this part of the bracket).

(13) Belmont Bruins def. (12) Utah State Aggies.  That bull looks pretty tough, but not up against a bear.

(6) St. John’s Red Storm def. (3) BYU Cougars.  RULE #7.

REGIONALS

Trojans def. Bruins

Red Storm def. Bruins (tough day for Bruins)

Red Storm def. Trojans.

WEST

The Blue Devil on the left if the historic root of the mascot – a French fighting force in WWI. The Blue Devil on the right is lame.

(1) Duke Blue Devils def. (16) Hampton Pirates.  Duke was named for a French squadron in World War I, and if you are thinking, “How tough can they be if they were French?” then you are betraying your ignorance about world history.  The French were long known as one of the greatest armies of the world – and they were especially tough during World War I.

(9) Tennessee Volunteers def. (9) Michigan Wolverines.  RULE #4/

(12) Memphis Tigers def. (5) Arizona Wildcat. The second matchup between a Tiger and a Wildcat.  Again, the tigers win.

(13) Oakland Grizzlies def. (4) Texas Longhorns.  Again, Grizzlies are big, bad bears.  Not sure many land mammals could take out a Grizzlie, except Baxter from Anhorman.

(14) Bucknell Bison def. (3) UConn Huskies.  A bison would trample a huskie.

(11) Missouri Tiger def. (6) Cininnati Bearcat.  A bearcat vs a badger would be a tough call.  A bearcat vs a tiger is not.

(7) Temple Owls def. (10) Penn State Nittany Lions.  A Nittany Lion is really just a wildcat from Pennsylvannia.  It isn’t real big or vicious, and I think an owl would wear it down.

(2) San Diego State Aztecs def. (15) Northern Colorado Bears.  The armed human defeats the bear.

ROUND THREE

(1) Duke Blue Devils def. (9) Tennessee Volunteers.  Volunteers were named after fighters in the war of 1812.  This is RULE #6.

(13) Oakland Grizzlies def. (12) Memphis Tigers.  This might the best matchup of the entire tournament.  My first instinct is to go with the bear, but a tiger is a bad dude.  Not sure who to pick, I went to the “expert” at Wild Animal Fight Club.  The writer seemed to know more about animals than me, and he picked the Tiger.  I’ll go with Memphis.

(11) Missouri Tigers def. (14) Bucknell Bisons.  The Bison has no offense.  The tiger naturally takes down animals like yaks and elk.

(2) San Diego State Aztecs def. (7) Temple Owls.  RULE #4.

REGIONALS

Blue Devils shoot the Tigers

Tigers def. Aztecs.  This looks like a RULE #4, but the Aztec weapons were almost all hand held.  I don’t like the chances of any man versus a Tiger unless he has gun powder, or at least a projectile of some kind.

Blue Devils shoot Tigers.

FINAL FOUR

Duke Blue Devils def. UNC Tar Heels

St. John’s Red Storm def. Florida State Seminoles

St. John’s def. Duke

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The Best College Basketball Program Without a Championship

It really isn’t even much a debate.  I’ve decided what the best college basketball program is that never won a national championship. And the winner is…

Seriously, it’s not even really close.  In almost any way that you judge this, Illinois is the best overall basketball program to never win a national championship.  Not only do they have the best program, but might have had two of the best teams to not win chamionships.

I’m not really sure how I feel about this.  As a huge Illini fan, it’s not exactly something to be excited about.  The Illini are sort of the “Crash Davis” of college basketball.  Crash Davis, of course, is the fictional character in the movie “Bull Durham” that broke the record for most career home runs in the minor leagues.  On the one hand, it’s pretty cool to have hit more home runs than any one else.  On the other hand, he did it in the minors.  For Illinois, it is pretty cool to stack up the accolades, the Final Fours, the All-Americans, Big Ten Championships, and then realize that they were never the last team standing.  Ever.

Consider the following:

  • Illinois has 38 all-time NCAA tournament victories.  That is 18th all-time.  Every team in the top 20, other than the Illini, have a national championship.
  • Their 67 tournament games ranks 16th.  Again, all the teams in front of them have won a title.
  • 1,630 all-time victories is 13th all-time.  Penn, St. John’s, and Temple have more wins without a title.  Of those three, only St. John’s has a higher winning percentage.
  • 17 Big Ten Championships.  Purdue, Indiana and Ohio State have more.  Purdue has never won a national championship, and could be in this discussion, but their NCAA past isn’t strong enough.
  • 5 Final Four appearances.  That is tied for 14th all time.  Every team with more appearances has won a national championship.  The other teams with 5 Final Fours are Houston and Georgetown.  Georgetown won it in 1984.  Houston has never won a title.  But Houston had basically one great team in the early 80’s with Drexler and Olajuwon.  They went to three straight Final Fours from 1982-84, and all five were under the same coach.  Illinois’s Final Fours came in four different decades and were under three different coaches.  Plus, Houston hasn’t won an NCAA game since 1984.
  • 10 Sweet 16 appearances in four different decades – the 50s, 60s, 80s, and 2000s.
  • 6 consensu All-Americans
  • 1 title lost because of some of their best players, the original “Whiz Kids” enlisted to fight in World War II.
  • 47 Illini that played in the NBA, including guys with pretty good careers, like: Deron Williams, Kendal Gill, Nick Anderson, Nick Weatherspoon, Eddie Johnson, Johnny “Red” Kerr, and Hall of Famer Andy Phillip.
  • The website The Bleacher Report is the only other site I have seen that covered this topic.  They picked Memphis.  The author does not give a very good reason.  His reasoning: Memphis has three final fours and two national championship games, one dating back to 1973.  Nevermind the fact that one of those Final Fours has since been forfeited, but Illinois has more Final Fours, plus their three third place finishes date back to the post-war era.  We’re talking 60 years of being almost great.  Plus, he gives them extra credit for being in a non-power conference.  Not sure why that is a plus. I’ll take Illinois’s 17 Big Ten titles.
  • A year later the same website ranked the top 20 basketball programs of all time.  Guess who was the highest ranked program sans championship?  I’ll give you a clue, they wear orange and blue.  Illinois was ranked #17.  The only other team in the top twenty without a title was No. 20 Temple.
  • Sports Reference came out with a formula just a few weeks ago.  It is purely mathematical, using scores from all games.  Top Five: 1. Duke, 2. North Carolina, 3. Kansas, 4. Kentucky, 5. Illinois.  This is an objective figure.  No weight given to championships or NCAA tournaments or prestige.  It is purely about the scores of games, and Illinois came out 5th all-time.

I’m not sure what all of this proves.  That last figure actually depressed me a little.  What if those guys on the Whiz Kids stuck around and won a national championship and then enlisted?  What if Kentucky wasn’t allowed to play their regional finals at home in the 80s? What if Nick Anderson had boxed out and kept Michigan from putting back the game-winner in Seatle?  What if James Augustine hadn’t gotten into such ridiculous foul trouble?   How many championship banners could be hanging in the Assembly Hall?

There are some other good programs that have never won titles.  Memphis, Houston, Missouri, Purdue, Iowa, Temple, Kansas State could all make an argument.  None of them have the same resume – especially the prolonged “excellence.”  I guess I can take comfort in the fact that Phil Mickelson held the title, “Best Golfer without a Major” for years before finally breaking through with multiple championships.  Maybe the Illini can follow Lefty’s footsteps.  I fear, however, they’ll need a better plan against zone defenses and a stronger inside presence first.

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Mascot Bracket claims top spot

Every year on Selection Sunday, I fill out a bracket based on my broad knowledge of college basketball.  I carefully select a few underdogs I feel like have a good change at making a run.  I pick one or two favorites that I think are ripe for an early exit.  I read some of the experts, and fill out my bracket in pencil.  I shape it carefully, with all of my skill and knowledge.

Then I fill out “The Mascot Bracket,” based solely on which mascot (or more accurately, which nickname) would win in a fight.  I have a pretty strict set of rules, and sometimes have to make some tough decisions.  This year I got some heat for picking a panther over a grizzlie, and admit I probably had that one wrong (grizzlies are flippin’ huge!).  This year the mascot bracket had the Vanderbilt Commodores winning it all.  It also had the Oklahoma State Cowboys advancing to the final four.  Both the Commodores and Cowboys lost in the first round.  It didn’t look good.

But now the dust has settled, and it turns out that the Mascot Bracket nailed the other side of the final four: Duke over West Virginia, and with only the national championship to be played, the Mascot Bracket has emerged victorious.

In a group of 30 participants in my yahoo public group, the Mascot Bracket finished first!  Ahead of Joe Lunardi, ahead of picking only the favorites, ahead of my own picks, ahead of Barack Obama, ahead of my three-year-old daughter, and ahead of all the other amatuer experts that filled out brackets in my group.

Final score:
1. Mascots 72 (84th percentile before the championship game)
2. Chalk 62
3. Obama 59
4. My daughter 58
5. Me and Joe Lunardi 53

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Mascot Bracket: Final Four Update

The Mascot Bracket has come roaring back to life on the strength of Duke and West Virginia.  In my yahoo public group with 30 submissions, the Mascot Bracket is one of three that had two Final Four teams correct. Of the six brackets in this little contest, here are the standings:

1. Chalk, 62 points (62 possible)
2. Barack Obama, 59 (59 possible)
3. Mascot Bracket, 56 (72 possible)
4. My 3-year-old, 58 (74 possible)
5. Joe Lunardi, 53 (69 possible)
6. Fat Pastor, 53 (53 possible)

Possible scenarios:
Michigan St. beats Butler (Spartan would definately beat a bulldog), then my daughter will win with 74 points despite picking Montana to win the national championship

West Virginia beats Duke, Joe Lunardi will move up to either No. 1 or 2.

If Duke and Butler win, then the Mascot Bracket will be victorious, not only in this small pool, but in my whole yahoo group.

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Mascot Bracket Sweet 16 Update

To make a long story short, the Mascot Bracket has not done well – but it has had a few shining moments.

After Round One:

1. Barack Obama, 25 points
2. Chalk, 22
3. Joe Lunardi, 21
4. Fat Pastor, 19
5. My 3-year-old, 18
6. Mascots, 17

What made matters worse were the devastating losses of the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first round. The Mascots should have done better. I had the Cowboys winning the Midwest Region, but they lost to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. ATLSpartan told me on the comments section that I should have gone with the Yellow Jackets because they are plural, and a swarm of yellow jackets would likely do a Cowboy in. I probably should have gone with the Ramblin’ Wreck, which would have little trouble running over the Cowboy.

I should have known that the Racer would trample the old Naval officer. All he has is a sword, and Vandy doesn't even use this logo anymore. Now it's just a V inside a star.

But what really hurt was Vanderbilt. I had the Commodores going all the way to the championship, but they fell to the Murray State Racers. I should have known that someone ranking that high in the Navy probably would not have seen combat in quite a few years. Plus, the logo shows that they only have a sword. A thuroughbred, with jockey, trampled the old sailor.

In the second round the Mascot Bracket had some redemption.  Of course a Jayhawk would lose to a panther.  It was also obvious that a Gael would dismember a Wildcat, especially this peekaboo wildcat.  After round two:

1. Obama, 43 points (Like his presidency, Obama’s picks started off fast, but are now going to suffer a slow demise.  He had Kansas going all the way, but Northern Iowa was his big Glenn Beck Tea-Bagging party).
2. Chalk, 38 points (102 possible)
3. The Fat Pastor, 37 points (145 possible – The Ohio State pick in the Final Four is looking good, and I’m kicking myself for changing my mind at the last minute with ‘Nova. I had Duke in the Final Four because I thought everybody hates Duke, so no one picks them, but I chickened out at the last minute).
4. Joe Lunardi, 33 points (89 possible. The inventor of the term Bracketology is going down, and he is going down hard. He had Wisconsin over Kentucky and Kansas winning it all).
5. Mascots, 32 points (80 possible. Having two teams in the final four go out in the first round makes it hard to win).

These five brackets are all in a free yahoo group that has 30 picks.  The Mascot Bracket is tied for 28th.  The only bracket below the mascots was filled out by my three-year-old, who picked Montana to win it all.  I should add that the leader of the group is my nephew.  He is two.

P.S. How overrated is the Big East?

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The 2010 Mascot Bracket

It is bracket-time.  Here’s my second annual NCAA tournament picks based solely on which mascot would win in a fight.  I have made some changes after commenters pointed out two mistakes I made.  I entered  this bracket into a yahoo public group along with an expert, picking all the favorites, my three-year-old daughter’s picks, President Barack Obama’s picks, and my own actual picks.

There are a few rules to follow:

  1. Inanimate objects, e.g. colors and plants, always lose to animate objects.
  2. Predators beat non-predators and unarmed humans.
  3. Humans beat non-predators.
  4. Humans with weapons beat predators.
  5. Humans with weapons beat humans without weapons.
  6. Humans with superior weapons win.
  7. Supernatural beings and weather systems beat almost anyone.
  8. Ties go to the high seed.
  9. Prepositions lose to everything (see Hoyas vs. Bearcats)

MIDWEST

(1) Kansas Jayhawks def. (16) Lehigh Mountain Hawks.  I’m calling this one a tie.  They’re both hawks.  The higher seed wins.

(8) UNLV Runnin Rebels def. (9) Northern Iowa Panthers. Human with weapon beats a predator.  This looks like a clear Rule 4, but a Runnin Rebel has Civil War weaponry, and a Panther is a serious animal.  I think the Black Panther would love to take a shot at a confederate soldier, but I’m sticking with my rules.  If the Rebel could keep his distance (maybe by doing a lot of runnin), he could win.

(5) Michigan State Spartans def. (12) New Mexico State Aggies.  An Aggie might have a gun, but not necessarily.  Plus, have you seen 300?  Their sparkling abs would shock the poor farmers into submission.

(13) Houston Cougars def. (4) Maryland Terrapins.  The first upset of my bracket is not completely off-the-wall.

(6) Tennessee Volunteers def. (11) Sand Diego State Aztecs.  The Aztecs were bad asses, but volunteers in the war of 1812 would have had muskets.

(14) Ohio Bobcats def. (3) Georgetown Hoyas.  Another significant upset.  You might be asking yourself, “What’s a Hoya?”  Well, that is a question that Georgetown opponents have been chanting for decades.  Wikipedia gives us the answer – it appears to have come from a chant, “Roxa Hoya,” which is loosely translated from Latin to “such rocks.”  Hoya is basically Latin for “Such as.”  So, if you’re using that – I think we finally found the only mascot that would lose to the Orange or the Buckeyes – a preposition.  Yet, their mascot is a bulldog.  A bobcat is a pretty mean cat, and I think it would beat even a bulldog.

(10) Oklahoma State Cowboys def. (7) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.  The Cowboy wins unless he is allergic – but I cannot base this scientific endeavor on pure conjecture.  The Cowboy would squish the yellow jacket.

(15) UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos def. (2) Ohio State Buckeyes.  I thought that UC-Santa Barbara was known as the Banana Slugs, which would jeopardize their NCAA chances – unless they had the good fortune of going up against the Buckeyes.  A reader informed me that they were never the Slugs – that is UC Santa Cruz.  Even if they were the slugs, they would win over a plant. Since they are spanish-language Cowboys, it’s an easy upset pick.

Second Round: Rebels def. Jayhawks; Spartans def. Cougars; Volunteers def. Bobcats; Cowboys def. Gauchos, this is a tough one.  I’m not sure how I pick between an English-speaking Cowboy and a Spanish-speaking cowboy without looking like some border-patrolling, xenophobic a-hole.  I’ll take the higher seed.

Regional semifinals: Rebels def. Spartans, the glistening abs are no match a musket ball.  Cowboys def. Volunteers, Cowboys have superior weapons to soldiers in the War of 1812.

Regional Final: Okalahoma State Cowboys def. UNLV Runnin Rebels.

WEST

(16) Vermont Catamounts def. (1) Syracuse Orange.  Seriously, Syracuse kills me every year.  I don’t even know what a Catamount is, but if they move, they would beat the Orange. I’ll have to do some research before the second round.

(9) Florida State Seminoles def. (8) Gonzaga Bulldogs.  See Rule 4.

(12) UTEP Miners def. (5) Butler Bulldogs.  Bad day for bulldogs.  I’m counting the pick axe as a weapon.

(4) Vanderbilt Commodores def. (13) Murray State Racers.  The logo for the racers is a racehorse.   The Commodores gave us “Brick House,” which is a plus. They also gave us Nichole Richie, which is not such a plus.  Killing them softly with their song, Commodores win.  Commodores have swords.  Jockeys have whips.  This might be the excpetion to Rule 4, but I’m sticking with the human with a weapon over an animal.

(6) Xavier Musketeers def. (11) Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Musketeers have an um, musket.  Gophers have buck teeth. Muskets win.

(3) Pittsburgh Panthers def. (14) Oakland Grizzlies.  This is one of the best contests of the first round.  I seriously am not sure who would win this fight.  My first thought was the Grizzly, but have you seen how big a panther is? I’m really not sure, so I’m cheating, and going with the higher seed.

(10) Florida Gators def. (7) BYU Cougars def.  This is another great contest of the first round.  Again, I’m not sure who would win.  The Cougar’s agility would come in handy, but I’m not sure it could do enough damage to the Gator, and one good bite is all it would take.  Plus, if the Gator could draw the Cougar into the water, it would be over.

(2) Kansas State Wildcats def. (15) North Texas Mean Green.  Even though North Texas uses a bird in their logo, they are still just a color. No matter how mean they claim to be, this is rule #1.

Second Round: Seminoles def. Catamounts, a Catamount is a wild cat; Commodores def. Miners, sword over pick axe; Musketeers def. Panthers, This seems like a textbook Rule 4.  A musketeer whould beat a panther, but muskets are not the most powerful and dependable of weapons.  This depends on the size ring we have.  If the Musketeer could keep his distance, he might win.  If this is close quarters, the panther would tear him apart.  That all being said, the musketeer would also have a sword, so I’m going with Musketeer; Gators def. Wildcats, the Gator just beat a Cougar.

Regional Semifinals: Commodores def. Seminoles, according to wikipedia, a Commodore was the highest rank in the US Navy until the Civil War, and today is the highest rank below Admiral.  Plus, the Seminoles lose points for racial insensitivity.  The NCAA shouldn’t even allow them in the tournament if they followed their own rules; Musketeers defeat Gators.

Regional Finals: Vanderbilt Commodores defeat Xavier Musketeers.

EAST

(16) E. Tennessee St. Buccaneers def. (1) Kentucky Wildcats.  I’m not happy about this, but Rule #4 strikes again.

(8) Texas Longhorns def. (9) Wake Forrest Demon Deacons.  I do not think Deacons – even Demon ones – generally pack weapons.  Longhorns, on the other hand are really big and strong and mean.

(5) Temple Owls def. (12) Cornell Big Red.  Rule #1.

(4) Wisconsin Badgers def. (13) Wooford Terriers.  This sort of depends on what kind of terrier you are using.  A rat terrier would be a snack for badger.  A bull terrier, on the other hand, would prove more interesting.  Unfortunately for Wofford, their mascot looks more like a Boston terrier.  Game, set, match for Wisconsin.

(6) Marquette Golden Eagles def. (11) Washington Huskies. Unless of course, the Golden Eagles are eagles made of gold, which would make them an inanimate object.  But in a fight between a gold-colored eagle and a huskie, I’ll take the eagle.  I just don’t see the Huskie being able to mount much of an offensive.

(14) Montana Grizzlies def. (3) New Mexico Lobos.  Another tough call, but I don’t think that the fact that the wolf is Spanish would help.

(7) Clemson Tigers def. (10) Missouri Tigers.  I’m picking the Tigers.  Rule #8.

(2) West Virginia Mountaineers def. (15) Morgan State Bears.  The third bear-type mascot in the field, and they go 1-2.  This time because of Rule #4.

Second Round: Buccaneers def. Longhorns, I’m really starting to not like this rule, according to this system, 16 seeded East Tennessee State is going to make a historic run; Badgers def. Owls; Grizzlies def. Eagles; Mountaineers def. Tigers.

Regional semifinals: Bucs def. Badgers; Mountaineers def. Grizzlies.

Regional Final: West Virginia Mountaineers def. East Tennessee State Buccaneers.

SOUTH

The original Blue Devils – French fighters during World War I

(1) Duke Blue Devils def. (16) Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions.  The Blue Devil name came from a squadron fighting in France during World War I.  If the lion is made out of gold, it might be tough, but it might also be inanimate.  If it is just a gold-colored lion, it would be a dead-colored lion after that bulls-eye shooting Blue Devil on the left was done with it.

(8) California Bears def. (9) Louisville Cardinals.  This is one of the most one-sided contests of the first round.

(5) Texas AM Aggies def. (12) Utah St. Aggies.  This will be a popular 12 over 5 pick on many brackets – but not mine.  Rule #8 applies.

(4) Purdue Boilermakers def. (13) Siena Saints.  A Boilermaker has a great big hammer.  A saint has a Bible.  While the Bible can be a pretty destructive weapon in the wrong hands, I’m going with the Boilers.

(6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish def. (11) Old Dominion Monarchs.  Monarchs are not inherently armed, and they are generally not used to fighting for themselves.  Irish, on the other hand, are a people known for their large cans of whoop-ass.

This is a bearcat. Check out the size of those claws.

(3) Baylor Bears def. (14) Sam Houston State Bearkats.  A bearcat is also known as a binturong, which actually looks like a cross between a bear and a cat, and it looks like a badass. I would like to pick the binturong, but Bearkats lose on general principle for spelling Cat with a K.  Bears and Grizzlies finish 3-2 in the first round.

(10) St. Mary’s Gaels def. (7) Richmond Spiders.  A Gael is someone that is Gaelic, or Irish.  They step on the spider – even if it is a big bad one.

Robert Morris signed the Declaration of Independence, which is cool, but this would not help him in a deathmatch with a wildcat.

(2) Villanova Wildcats def. (15) Robert Morris Colonials. Colonials are not inherently armed. Their logo shows them armed only with a flag. Plus, Robert Morris was just a big fat banker that helped finance the Revolution.  He would be a nice meal for a wildcat.

Second Round: Blue Devils def. Bears; Boilermakers def. Aggies, this comes down to a hammer versus a shovel.  In actuality, both the Utah State Aggies and the Texas A&M Aggies use a dog for mascot, so Boilermaker advances either way.  Bears def. Irish, It would be great to see a drunken Irishman wrestle a bear.  Great in the same way it is great to see a traffic accident.  Gaels def. Wildcats, the Gaels win because they are depicted as some pretty fierce knight-like warriors with swords and armor.Regional semifinals: Devils def. Boilermakers, Gaels def. Bears.

Regional Final: Duke Blue Devils def. St Mary’s Gaels.

Final Four

Vandebilt Commodores def. Oklahoma State Cowboys and Duke Blue Devils defeat West Virginia Mountaineers.

Championship: Vanderbilt over Duke

A Commodore, as previously stated, is a high-ranking officer in the US Navy.  The Blue Devils were named for a French military unit in World War I.  I’m going with the Commodores because I love America.

NOTE: This year I’m going to enter this bracket into a few free online contests to see how I fare.

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A letter to Dick Vitale, clown prince of college basketball

Dick Vitale, in all his Dukie glory

Dear Dick,

Let me just say that at one time I was a big fan.  I loved your excitement.  I loved the exuberance you brought to broadcasting.  I loved the “Better get a TO, baby.”  I loved it when you shouted “Slam bam jam!”  But somewhere along the way, you went from being a broadcaster into a character.  I’m not sure when it happened, but you went from being a sincerely excited fan of college basketball that just happened to have a mic, and turned into a caricature of yourself.  You and John Madden actually have a lot in common in this regard.  Maybe it was the fame.  Maybe it was when ESPN and CBS turned March Madness into a billion dollar extravaganza.  I can’t pinpoint the moment you jumped the shark, but in my mind it coincides with the moment you became Duke’s press agent.

Everyone knows it.  You are a Duke shill.  Your devotion to all things ACC, and Duke in particular is nauseating.  I used to love Duke too.  I became a college basketball fan watching Johnny Dawkins against Pervis Ellison in the Final Four.  I remember watching Laettner’s shot in my basement.  I loved watching Bobby Hurley upset UNLV (though looking back now I believe a lot of the Duke love at the time was as much about race and culture as it was about basketball).  Duke is a great program.  There are a lot of Duke haters out there, and much of it is jealousy.  They have won a lot of games, been to a lot of Final Fours, and they seem to do it with class.  But your devotion to all things Coach K has reached its limit, and it became so clear in the last couple of weeks.

A few weeks ago Illinois upset Michigan State on their home floor.  The Spartans are the class of the Big Ten.  At the time they were ranked No. 5 in the nation.  Illinois was unranked, facing a difficult stretch of their schedule, and in desperate need of a signature win to help their NCAA tournament resume.  In addition to this, it was College Game Day’s game of the week. The Game Day crew had been there all day.  It was the first time that Game Day had been to Champaign.  So you and Digger and two other ACC guys had worked the students and fans into a lather since 9 a.m.  When the Illini won, the student section stormed the court to celebrate.

Was it necesarry?  Who cares?  It was fun.  It was exciting.  It was a big win for the Illini, and storming the court is something unique to college basketball.  It is a part of what makes college basketball special.  Yet you, the clown prince of college basketball, got on your high horse and admonished the Illini fans for celebrating too much.  Aren’t you the guy that has become a millionaire for over-the-top celebrations?  Your point was that the Illini were too good to celebrate beating Michigan State.  They should act like it was no big deal – even though your network was saying all day and all week that it was a huge deal.  The Illini fans should have shown more restraint.  OK, fine.  Illinois should expect to win at home.  I’ll give you that, Dickie V.

But then a couple of nights ago Maryland beat Duke.  Duke was ranked No. 4.  Maryland was ranked No. 23.  After the win, the student section stormed the court (they then went outside and rioted, literally).  Where was your admonishment?  Where was your righteous indignation?  Why shouldn’t Maryland show some restraint?  I didn’t watch the game, but I’m pretty sure you weren’t ripping the Terrapin fans – for doing the same thing as the Illini fans just a couple of weeks before.  What was the difference?  It was because in your eyes, beating Duke is something special. 

Apparantly, rushing the court is always justified when beating the great and mighty Blue Devils.  They have, after all, been to one Final Four and won one national championship since 2000.  But wait, that is the exact same resume Maryland has, and Maryland did it more recently then Duke.  And Michigan State has won one national championship and been to four Final Fours since 2000.  Yet somehow Maryland, a ranked team and probably a lock for the NCAA tournament, beating No. 4 Duke is cause for riotous celebration.  But when Illinois, an unranked bubble team,  rushes the court after beating No. 5 Michigan State, they should show restraint.

Come on, Dick.  We all know you are on Duke’s payroll.  We know that ESPN coddles the Big East and ACC, but this is ridiculous.  Next time you are about to start screaming about how great the Dukies are, maybe you should get a T.O., baby.

Sincerely,

The Fat Pastor

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Sweet 16 update

My mascots system has not been stellar.  I took big hit in the first round when my upset-special, West Virginia, went down in the first round.  In fact, the entire Midwest Region is a total loss.  In that region, there were only three wins – total, and none in the second round.

The mascot system has got me eight of the 16 teams into the third round.  Three of my elite eight teams are already gone.  Three of my final four teams are still alive, and I had West Virginia in the championship.  It is clear that this bracket is not going to shock the world. 

Here is the updated Sweet 16:

Midwest Region: 

Wildcats def. Cardinals, Spartans def. Jayhawks.  In this region, the Michigan State Spartans would emerge in the Final Four. 

West Region:

Boilermakers def. Huskies, Tiger vs. Tiger is a draw, the higher seed are the Memphis Tigers.  I’ll go with Memphis into the Final Four

East Region:

Muskateers def. Panthers, Blue Devils def. Wildcats. The Duke Blue Devils emerge in the Final Four.

South Region:

Tar Heels def. Bulldogs, Sooners def. Orange.  The Tar Heels win the region.

Final Four:

Blue Devils def. Tar Heels, Spartans def. Tigers.  Blue Devils are the national champions.

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