Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick Tourney Thoughts

After this first week, there have been some GREAT games, buzzer beaters, ups and downs and surprises. Here's a few thoughts...


1.) The West Region: After two rounds (and the play-in), this is the ONLY region in my bracket that is 100% perfect, including picking Arizona over Texas, which I'm feeling rather smug about. ;)

2.) Picking George Mason over Villanova (sorry Wildcats, but dropping the majority of your last few games was NOT convincing for me)

3.) Picking Richmond over Vanderbilt (The Spiders were hot, Vandy typically doesn't fair very well in the tourney)

4.) Picking VCU over USC, even though it didn't count in my bracket.

5.) My Final Four teams are still alive! As I've learned from past years, this is crucial.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME LOOK LIKE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT: (unsurprisingly, there are WAY more of these...)

1.) The Big East: It looks like I picked the wrong side (aside from UConn, thank goodness) of which teams would win/lose: I had St. John's, West Virginia and Louisville in my Sweet 16, Syracuse and Notre Dame in my Elite Eight, Marquette losing in the first round and Pitt--Well, Pitt is SO special they get their own number.

2.) PITTSBURGH: Okay, here's my deal. I like Pitt. Always have. I respect Jamie Dixon, I think they have tough players, they crash the boards, they're physical and they always play hard--in short, my favorite kind of team. However, from watching them play the last several tournaments, they've never made it past the Sweet 16. Because of that, I didn't WANT to put them past my Sweet 16 this year. But I looked at the bracket and said, "this road is DESIGNED for them to get to the Elite 8. It just is....I REALLY don't want to do this, but I don't see any other way." Yup, should have knocked them out. CURSE YOU PITTSBURGH!

3.) I underestimated both the Jimmer and Butler. I had BYU losing to St. John's and Butler out against Old Dominion. While the BYU choice was pure ignorance, the Butler choice was sheer bitterness. And yes, I AM in fact referring to last year's Final Four. I knew Butler struggled through most of the season and hit their stride toward the end--yet I chose to ignore this key fact. I let my emotions cloud my better judgement--emotions that have less to do with the actual team and more to do with my experience at the Final Four last year.

(Allow me a tangent to explain: when I go to games as a fan of my school, decked out in my MSU gear, I am NOT a trash-talker. I don't ever want people to walk away from me thinking anything negative about MSU fans. That's not to say I don't get fired up and cheer or yell at the refs on occasion if I think there's a bad call, but I keep it to my own team and I DON'T make derogatory comments about other schools or players. On the whole, I've always had positive experiences with most fan bases. The ribbing is always good-natured and at the end of the game everyone goes on their merry way. There are always obnoxious fans at every school, even MSU, but 99% of the time, I don't come away with a negative feeling....except Butler fans. I have been to 3 Final Fours and almost every Big Ten stadium or arena for football or basketball. I have NEVER, EVER experienced the rudeness and classless behavior my friends and I received from Butler fans...and it wasn't one or two. It was most of them. As such, I no longer root for Butler as "the underdog.")


~Does it seem to anyone else there have been a LOT of these first games that have come right down to the wire? I don't remember the last time there were this many close games--say it's parity, say it's mediocrity, who cares!?! The first weekend was AWESOME.

~Does it also seem that the refs across the board are determined "to officiate until the end of games" after the Big East tourney debacle? The Pitt-Butler game, the MSU-UCLA game, Texas-Arizona, Kansas St.-Wisconsin to name a few all had HUGE calls at the end that essentially decided the outcome. I almost feel bad for them--they call something and everyone thinks they should have swallowed their whistles, they don't call something and everyone asks "How can they not call that?!?!" Yikes. REALLY glad I'm not a referee...I'm starting to think they may be under more pressure than the teams.

~I shouldn't admit this, but I was REALLY impressed with the fact that Michigan took Duke right down to the wire. When Duke was up 10 with about 6 or so minutes left, I thought they would FOR SURE put Michigan away with ease...not so! They fought back hard and came so close to a major upset. The Wolverines are a young group and an experience like that is HUGE for next year. Call me crazy, but I think they actually have a shot at winning the Big Ten next season. Yikes!

~I can't help it, but watching senior players hit the bench in tears gets me EVERY TIME. At the end of the day, I'm a huge softie and seeing guys like Curtis Kelly, Jacob Pullen, Kalin Lucas and Mike Davis unable to control their emotions over playing their final game absolutely breaks my heart. After hearing all the negative things about how players don't care, that they only see college as a step to the NBA, etc., it's just so endearing (and awesome) to see how much they REALLY DO care.

And now, your turn--I want to hear about YOUR favorite moments from the weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2010-2011 All WIGS team

It's that time again folks! Again, as always, my All-Wigs team is not necessarily the "best" players--just my favorites from this year and I only pick from teams that I've been able to watch several times over the course of the season. Feel free to let me know who YOUR faves are...Enjoy!

This kid is ridiculous. He's often the smallest guy on the floor--but his quickness and toughness render that irrelevant. He drives hard to the basket and no matter who is around him, when a shot goes up, he's fighting for the ball. He's the most experienced guy on his team and in late-game situations, he's clearly the player who's going to take the big shot...and he MAKES it. Step back fadeaway at the buzzer to beat Pitt, anyone?

My love of Pressey is well-documented. He's young, gutsy, can shoot from the parking lot and has a ton of potential to develop in to a huge star for the Tigers.

Show me a player that's tougher than this guy. He plays hard, he plays hurt and loves to defend. Roe has been my favorite MSU player since he was a freshman and I don't care what anyone says about how he "hasn't played to his potential." He hasn't had a healthy season in 3 years. Still, he bangs on the boards, goes up strong and is always willing to sacrifice his body to make a play. When Draymond Green was going for his triple-double against Penn State, Roe was undercut and STILL made the shot. When he got up, the first thing he did was ask Green if he got the triple-double. Love it! But then, I wouldn't expect any less from a kid who walked into the Breslin with a giant tattoo of Sparty's face on his arm.

As an opposing fan, I cringe every time he touches the ball. As a college basketball fan, I love every time he touches the ball. He's just a pure shooter and to me, that's fun to watch.

This guy is so important to his team, it's unreal. Without him, they never would have beaten Ohio State and when he struggles, the Badgers do too. He's strong and skilled and embodies what it means to be a Bo Ryan team...always underrated to start the year, plays tough, doesn't turn it over, locks down on defense and by the end of the season, EVERYONE knows his name.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue; Derrick Williams, Arizona

Friday, March 4, 2011

A True Spartan...

Check out this link of a 5 year old Spartan after Senior Night.

I think a lot of us feel that way little man! (And don't worry, Draymond Green will be back!)


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I think my loyalty might be the Kiss of Death...

It sounds silly, but I'm at the point where I'm afraid to pledge my allegiance to college basketball teams. It seems like every time I say to someone, "Yeah! I really like that team..." bad things happen. To explain further, let's examine my favorite teams and see what's happening...

Michigan State: No explanation needed.

Syracuse: My love of them has been well-documented for the last few years. And what happens? Last year they were my pick to go all the way (and just in case you are wondering, I NEVER pick MSU to go all the way because I am afraid of jinxing them--they can bust my bracket any day)--and they lost in the Sweet 16. This season they started strong and have been in a roller coaster of success and decline.

Villanova: One of my all-time favorites thanks to Jay Wright (major class act and best-dressed coach in the game) and the guards they've had over the last few years...They've lost 5 of their last 6 I think? Bad news.

Georgetown: On a roll, feeling hot...and Chris Wright breaks his hand.

Missouri: My new friend Phil Pressey steals my heart...then the Tigers go on a losing streak to K-State and Nebraska, with Kansas looming.

Of course, the easy solution (one might say) is to cheer for teams I DON'T like and hope for the best....but I'm pretty sure that would backfire, as it would be evident my heart isn't in it. Here's hoping things turn around in the tournament...otherwise, beware of my butt jumping on your bandwagon!