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Simplifying the Madness: Last Minute NCAA Tournament Bracket Ideas for 2008

Posted by Mike on March 19, 2008

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THE NIGHTMARE SITUATION: It’s 11:00 am on Thursday. You’re in an NCAA Tournament pool, but you haven’t had the time to even look at the bracket, much less fill it out. And you have less than an hour to make sense of a sheet of paper and condense an entire season of college basketball you haven’t watched into 63 decisions. And did we mention you have less than an hour?

Fret not. We’re here to help. Just ask yourself this question:

What do you want to do in relation to your bracket pool?

Seems very easy to answer, doesn’t it? Not so fast. While your conscious reaction is “I wanna win!”, something deep inside you may tell you something else. Perhaps you want your bracket to be unique. Perhaps you want to call the upset that no one dared to predict. Just a little something to inflate your ego. Or, maybe you’re just in the pool to have a little fun, and watch the faces of your co-workers squirm, as they, who care deeply about college basketball, have their brackets trumped by someone who put something together in the eleventh hour.

Whatever the case may be, there’s a bracket for you.

1. “I just want to win”

You have pure capitalism or bragging rights in mind. You just need to win your office pool.

Solution: Go Chalk.

Most of the other members of your pool are likely to try some crazy method of predicting every last upset. When all of the crazy methods are taken, most of what usually remains is rational. Those top seeds are at the top for a reason. Since the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams, at least one #1 seed has reached the final four every year. Usually, it’s around two.

Strategy: Pick the two #1 seeds you think are the strongest and let them pass to the Final Four. From the two other regions, pick one top seed to exit in the Sweet 16 and one to exit in the Elite 8, and allow a seed between #2 and #5 to win the region. Then pick one or two upsets in the 5/12 and 6/11 matchups, flip a coin for the 7/10s and the 8/9s, and take the favorites in the remaining first round matchups, and fill the rest of the bracket at your whim. Chances are that you won’t be far off.

2. “I want to call the upset”

You need to show off some basketball “knowledge”. You need to predict the upset that no one saw coming.

Solution: Calculate your Upset.

Let us first make one thing clear 8/9 and 7/10 matchups are far too close to be considered upsets. At the same time, 2/15 and 1/16 upsets are too statistically implausible. However, you can typically count on the underdog to win 3-5 of the 3/14, 4/13, 5/12, and 6/11 matchups. For the latter rounds, one of the 6 seeds will always beat a 3, and at least one 2 seed usually gets taken down by a 7 or 10 seed every year.

Strategy: Take from this pool…

#11 Kansas State: Michael Beasley may be the best player in college basketball.

#11 St. Joseph’s: Their coach is experienced, and they had to beat #3 seeded Xavier twice in 2 weeks to earn an at-large bid.

#11 Baylor: Their opponent, Purdue, is inexperienced and from a weaker conference.

#12 Villanova: See Baylor. Their point guard, Scottie Reynolds, is crucial to success.

#12 Western Kentucky: talented team going up against high-seeded mid-major.

#12 Temple: Atlantic 10 Champions, and Michigan State has underachieved in recent tournaments.

#13 Winthrop: Both Winthrop and their opponents play slow; this game will be close no matter what.

#13 Oral Roberts: ORU is not new to this stage, and Pitt may let down after the Big East tournament.

#13 San Diego: Won the West Coast Conference, who brought 3 teams to the tourney.

#14 Georgia: Hey, they’ve come this far.

Choose 3-4 of these Cinderellas and season to taste in the first round. After that, pick a couple of #2 seeds to go down in the second round.

3. “I want to have fun”.

The tournament is a roller coaster. You just want to be along for the ride.

Solution: Get creative.

Or in the case of time limitations, let other people be creative for you. Take a cue from Storming the Floor, and decide by which mascot would win in a fight. You can pick completely at random for all that anyone cares. No one can ever truly predict these things; it has largely to do with luck. However, remember to keep luck on your side. In almost all brackets, all of the 1 seeds and half of the 2 and 3 seeds should make the Sweet 16. After that, go crazy. Who knows, you might even win.

Strategy: There is no strategy. Just wing it, have fun, sit back, and enjoy the four most chaotic days in sports.

Posted in Bracket, College Basketball, Get Pumped!, NCAA Tournament, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year | 1 Comment »

Games To Watch: College Football Week 6

Posted by Mike on October 6, 2007

#5 Wisconsin at Illinois (12:00 ET, ESPN): Despite being the #5 team in the land, the Badgers haven’t looked very impressive this year, and they’re the Vegas underdogs against Zook and the Illini. Can Wisconsin prove their skeptics wrong?

Kansas at #24 Kansas State (12:00 ET, FSN): It’s the Battle for the Governor’s Cup (aka the Sunflower Showdown), and for the first time in recent memory, both teams are good heading into this matchup. It’s “GET IN MY BELLY!”…

…versus the Power Towels. Who ya got?

Miami at North Carolina (12:00 ET, ESPN2): UNC comes home after a road trip against two ranked opponents, and the next two home game’s aren’t any easier. But the Hurricanes didn’t look too impressive against Duke, and UNC pulled the miracle upset against a top 5 Miami team the last time they came to Chapel Hill. A  s always, the live blog is at Tar Heel Mania.

#10 Oklahoma vs. #19 Texas (3:30 ET, ABC): One week ago this might have been the week’s premier game, between two top 10, undefeated conference opponents in one of the nation’s biggest rivalry. Unfortunately for them, Kansas State and Colorado spoiled that party. Well, at least there’s always the artery-clogging experience that is the Texas State Fair. Seriously, they found a way to fry soft drinks!

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#12 Georgia at Tennessee (3:30 ET, CBS): Without a successful season, Phil Fulmer could be in serious trouble in Knoxville. In the way of a win today is the Bulldogs, who are a staggering 23-3 on the road in SEC play under Mark Richt.

#15 Virginia Tech at #22 Clemson (6:00 ET, ESPN): Past history says that this is the kind of game that Clemson will lose. Can Tommy Bowden’s team change the status quo against the Hokies’ tough defense?

#4 Ohio State at #23 Purdue (8:00 ET, ABC): Both teams are undefeated, but neither have really been challenged this season. Now is the time for them to prove whether or not they are true contender.

#20 Cincinatti at #21 Rutgers (8:00 ET, ESPN2): Of all the BCS teams in the top 25, the Bearcats probably have to be the biggest surprise. At 5-0, they face a Rutgers team reeling from a loss to Maryland last week, and looking for revenge after Cincy dashed their conference title hopes last year.

#8 Florida at #1 LSU (8:00 ET, CBS): The big matchup of the week, possibly the entire year. Even though Florida lost to Auburn last week, they’re right back in the title hunt with a win in Death Valley. But can anyone beat the Tigers right now?

Needless to say, today will be a great day in college football.

Posted in ACC, AHHHHH!!! MY EYES!, Big 12, Big East, College Football, Florida Gators, Get Pumped!, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Mel Kiper Has No Idea What's Going On, NCAA, Ohio State, Patriotism at its finest, Rutgers, SEC, Tar Heels, Texas, UNC, Virginia Tech, what is this hyperbole of which you speak?, YAW YAW YAW CAWLEDGE FOOBAW! | 2 Comments »

Get Ready For Football, With The Decleater!

Posted by Mike on August 28, 2007

The college football season is finally upon us. The long sports winter has finally come to an end! The mere prospect of real, meaningful football has gotten me excited for the past week. This past Tuesday, the first day of school at UNC, I had not taken twenty steps onto campus before saying “hey” to Joe Dailey (what I should have said was “interception!”). I then headed straight for Kenan Stadium, one of the best college stadiums in America (to watch a football game? not so much lately…but that will change soon enough).

Looking onto the field began the synapses in my head, and my mind began racing with anticipation of this Saturday. Still, I think we all need a real adrenaline rush to get us pumped up before the college football season. So this post is dedicated to the single greatest play in all of football: the decleater. A hit so hard that it knocks your opponent clean off his feet.

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YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!

Why is it this game’s greatest play? Because it works on so many levels. The mere hit acts as a simple but effective means of physical intimidation on your opponent for the rest of the game. When a receiver gets knocked to the turf by a safety, he’s going to think twice about running a route in the middle of the field. When a defender is decleated on a huge block, he knows to keep his head on a swivel for the rest of the game. When a running back runs you over, it could ruin you psychologically for an entire season. And when the home team delivers a big decleater, everyone watching the game notices, jumps out of their seats, and cheers their lungs out. It can be the ultimate home field advantage.

Not a single play in football, not even a touchdown, is more motivating than a bone-crushing hit. Before we begin the season anew, we must pay homage. And what better way to do that than a huge supply of YouTube decleaters?

We’ll start with some big defensive hits:

What’s better that a decleating hit on defense? A bone-crushing block on offense!

This one is special because it’s a quarterback who make the huge block, and he drills two guys:

The best decleaters, however, have to be the ones delivered by running backs on unsuspecting defensive backs. And in college, few were better at it than Florida State’s Greg Jones.

This final hit I was (un?)fortunate enough to see live, in Kenan Stadium. It was the first game of the 2003 season, August 30th. The last time my Tar Heels met the Seminoles in Chapel Hill, we destroyed them 41-9 for Bunting’s first career win en route to a six-game winning streak and an 8-5 record in 2001, including a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn. After that the last of Mack’s recruits left, and the bottom fell out in 2002. Still, we had UNC’s best-ever QB in Darian Durant, who had been hurt for most of the previous year. So I was somewhat optimistic that Coach Bunting could turn things around in 2003. (By the way: to those of you cursing out UNC’s QB situation from last year, I have one name for you: C.J. Stephens. Just the thought of him under center will keep me awake tonight.)

Any hope I had for that season was destroyed on this play.

Ugh. Not very good memories. I need to cleanse my palate a bit:

That’s better. Okay, NOW I’m ready to greet this season the right way, and I hope that this helpd you to get ready as well.

Posted in AHHHHH!!! MY EYES!, Big blocks, College Football, Florida State, football, Get Pumped!, NCAA, North Carolina, Patriotism at its finest, Tar Heels, The Decleater, This is why the Internet was invented, Videos, what is this hyperbole of which you speak? | 10 Comments »