(Sorry about the lack of pictures. I had a sweet photo of Jerry Tarkanian here. I'm having computer problems. Try to imagine it.)
Hello. I realize that a lot of the time I tend to concentrate on history and individual players more than most. You might even say it's my formula. There's a reason for that; I could never compete with entities like ESPN when it comes to updates, scores, or stats. I figure there is a place for the content that accentuates those things (the realm of opinion, if you will) because a lot of those ESPN guys are milquetoast talking heads [and I think I'm not]. That's why this page exists.
The point is, regardless of my writing, I do actually follow current basketball. As a basketball watcher, despite the limitations I might have, I think I might have to discuss the world of college basketball, considering the time of year.
I don't have enough time, or knowledge of players, to get cracking until the Round of 32. That's okay, though, because that's when things just start to come into focus.
Purdue v. Florida: I hate to beat a dead horse here, but how is it that Purdue had an arguably worse season than Syracuse, and is an 8 seed? It's clear to me that everybody hates the Big East because it's better than everybody, but shouldn't the committee that makes these decisions show some deference? Though it might be a little early to make this reference, the Big East is clearly the college basketball equivalent of the Trojans in 300. Watch the movie because it's worth it, then watch a Big East game, and you can see why.
Uh, right, Purdue and Florida. I kind of like Carl Landry on Purdue, but I think turnaround teams from weak conferences (the Big Ten qualifies as weak this year, in my book) can't quite run with powerhouse teams from powerhouse conferences, especially Florida. I don't care for many Frenchman, let alone ones who look like women named Noah, but he has a good team around him, and should be able to beat a team named after a chicken company.
Butler v. Maryland: (Full disclosure: As I am writing this, Butler is up 37-36.) I like Maryland in this game because both times I've paid attention to them this year, they have delivered a solid kick in the ass to my teams (UVM and St. Johns). Mid Majors have been everybody's darling for the past few years, and I think the good old boys at Maryland ought to rep the ACC a little bit, especially after the mockery of basketball made by Duke a couple of nights ago.
Butler is the kind of team I should like, where their most effective and important players are the guards. What they don't have is the son of one of the greatest athletes of all time, D.J. Strawberry. They don't have MIKE JONES. They don't even have James Gist, Ekene Ibekwe, or Greivis Vasquez (a great, great frosh point guard). Maryland throws that at you, and then brings in Bambale Osby and Parrish Brown...basketball names if I've ever heard them. Every starter averages 10 a game, their guards can all shoot, Vasquez is a good distributor...I think this is an Elite 8 team. Yeah, I said it.
Winthrop v. Oregon: I don't know a thing about either of these teams, okay? I'm sorry...I'm just more of an NBA guy. What I do know is that Winthrop went toe to toe with a Big East foe, and that's as much as you need in my book. Oregon barely beat Wally Szerbiak's alma mater, Miami of Ohio, and that can't be a good sign for a three-seed. On the strength of their play, I will give this mid-major credit.
UNLV v. Wisconsin: I love UNLV solely because of their great history. Between the Plastic Man, Larry Johnson, and Tark the Shark, the University of Nevada is a college that should live forever in the memories of basketball guys.
The problem is that now they're coached by Lon Kruger, who was one of the worst pro coaches in recent memory. Still, bad pro coaches can succeed in college basketball (See: Rick Pitino, Pete Carroll). The Rebels have a great shot-blocking center, and two skilled guards, Wendell White and Wink Adams. They also play good defense.
In the middle of the year, one of my most-respected friends, who knows much more about college basketball than me, told me that Wisconsin had a decent shot at the title. I know they're always a good, well-coached team, and respect their players, especially Alando Tucker, but I just can't pick against Vegas.
Kansas v. Kentucky: The war between the teams that are always favored going into the tournament and then lose to some improbable team should be pretty exciting. I'm impressed that Kentucky beat Villanova, and not impressed that Kansas beat Niagra by 40. I'm not sure how, but I think it'd be poetic justice for Kentucky to win this one, even though I must say, I think Kansas's team is better by far.
Hokies v. Salukis: Hell of a name matchup here. VT didn't play well against Illinois, and Southern Illinois didn't play well against Holy Cross. I like VT to win it because they play great defense, have played a terribly hard schedule and come out on top, and have Zabian Dowdell, who I think is really great. The Hokies also have a little bit of that Big East heritage in them, which is probably the reason they rose to the top of such a sissy conference as the ACC. This is another Elite Eight team.
VCU v. Pittsburgh: Is it even worth talking about this? Could VCU even take on Pittsnogle? Don't mess with the Big East, my friends. Pittsburgh on a stoppage.
Indiana v. UCLA: Arron Afflalo is too good for Indiana, but the guy I really like is Darren Collison. I respect Kelvin Sampson, but Indiana is yet another team that is high-seeded and probably wasn't much better than Syracuse. I'm picking UCLA in a game that Coach Sampson makes closer than it should be.
I'm not sure if this is going to make it in here, but I'm having sudden computer problems. I just deleted about half of my article and I'm afraid if I re-write it I will lose the whole thing. To recap what I lost:
UNC-Michigan State: UNC - will be close.
USC-Texas: USC - Too much hype for Durant. I also think this will be close.
Vandy-WSU: WSU - Drew Bledsoe went there.
BC - Gtown: Georgetown will show BC what happens when you become the Benedict Arnold of the Big East.
Tennessee - Virginia: Another game I'm very unprepared to comment on. I'll go with Tennesee.
Louisville-TAM: Lousiville - Except for beef, the East will vanquish Texas.
Nevada-Memphis: Memphis is just too good.
Sorry for the truncation. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org