Monday, March 13, 2006

Tournament Preview

Before we get to the Tourney Preview, here’s my thoughts on last week.

-What can I say about G-Mac that hasn’t already been said? All I know is we were the epitome of obnoxious at Game On sports bar on Saturday night. Every time Gerry hit a shot or made a pass, we were yelling out, “He’s SO overrated!” Good thing we were at an SU alumni party or they may have called in the Ned Devine’s bouncers on us. Bottom line is, Gerry just didn’t want to lose.

-Best part was the press conference after the game. Gerry and Jim were talking about the Daily Orange article that started the “overrated” talk. Gerry named the reporter, and said, “Oh, I know who he is, don’t worry. Is he here?” When told he wasn’t, he basically said, “Yeah, he was only at our losses this year.” Classic stuff. Gotta love Gerry. You can view it here.

So overrated.

-You have to give credit where credit is due: Big props to Josh Wright, from… THE U… (Utica, NY) for hitting those four key free throws after coming in cold from the bench, and a guy I’ve been taking large smelly dumps on all season, Daryl Watkins, for rebounding like a man possessed in the closing minutes on Saturday. We’ll need those sorts of contributions this weekend—and next year.

-Sunday, I also got to watch Syracuse hero Carmello Anthony and the Denver Nuggets drop one to the Celtics on a few last second shots by The Truth, Paul Pierce. ‘Melo did us proud though, making his first 11 shots from the field and pouring in 36. 2003 National Champs, baby!

-I'd just like to personally thank Louis Hinnant of BC for hitting a late, acrobatic three against Duke on Sunday, and helping me cover the 5 point spread, which was very generous of whoever set that line, forcing me to take it even though I am going to Vegas next weekend.

But let’s get down to business. Here’s my NCAA Tournament Preview!

In the “Did the Committee Make These Selections in a Hot Boxed Room?” Category:
How does Air Force get in over Cincy? I’ve never seen such an egregious selection in my life. So you’re telling me, if Air Force plays Cincy’s schedule (5th best in the COUNTRY) they’re 19-10, and 8-8 in the Big East? Seriously? I think the Jamaican guy on the end of the Syracuse Bench get some new clients over the weekend.

In the “The I’ll Be Burning My Shirt Again This Year” Category:
You win an amazing four games in four days in the toughest conference tournament in the country, and you’re rewarded with a 5th seed. Ok. That’s generous, considering Syracuse wasn’t even in if they lose to Cincy (how big did that game turn out to be?). That’s a solid seed. But then you “reward” them with a game against 12 seed Texas A&M, who beat Texas two weeks ago and played them to four points in the Big 12 Tourney. Seriously, thanks a lot. I think Syracuse will win, but won’t be surprised at all if the Orange have some deja-vu with a one-and-done.

In the “I’d Rather Walk Through Dorchester in a Klan Suit” Category:
Rather do that then play in the Atlanta bracket. There are five teams in here that won a major conference tournament or regular season. Five. (Dook, LSU, Cuse, Iowa, Texas) There are only six major conferences. Let’s go for a walk!

In the “You Have to Pick at Least One” Category:
5-12 upsets. Every year since the inception of the 64 team format, a twelve has beaten a five. This year, you could easily go with the Aggies over the Cuse, but I’m picking Utah State over Washington. The other Huskies have a POY candidate in Brandon Roy, but the Pac-10 is about as strong as the skinny kid from Road Trip.

In the “This Will Be More Unbelievable than 3-6 Mafia Winning Best Song” Category:
My upset pick of the Tourney is UNC-Wilmington knocking off Duke in a second round match-up. I watched this team play in the CAA championship, and they were beyond impressive. Great shooting, an offensive chemistry that would make any coach proud, good size, depth, senior leadership at the point, and tournament experience. Plus, I think Duke is overrated, and not in a G-Mac kind of way. Wilmington has a tough first round matchup against another overrated team, GW, but if they get to the second round, they could pull it off. I’m not saying it will happen, I’m just saying it could. (In other words, I’m picking Duke in my brackets, but I’m taking UNC-W to beat the spread while I’m in Vegas.)

Speaking of Vegas, let’s talk about the “You’re Money And You Don’t Even Know It” Category:
Looking at the early lines, as my friend Rog has already said, “Someone is a big fan of Penn” as they’re only getting 19.5 against Texas. Um, I’ll take Texas to cover, thanks. But my biggest shocker while looking at the lines is Illinois only giving up 9 against Air Force. The Illini went to the National Championship game last year. They returned a few starters, including Dee Brown. They have six losses on the year playing a Big Ten schedule, while Air Force has five losses against teams that couldn’t have made the finals in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Straight cash, homie.

"Baby, we gonna be up 5-honey by midnight!"

In the “Fool Me Once Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Shame on Me” Category:
Gonzaga. One win? Two? That’s the most you should ever give this team. “You still have not brought me the gun of Rambo” Mr. Few, and I don’t think you ever will. The Zags should have lost the WCC championship to an under-.500 Loyola Marymount team, but Loyola airballed a wide-open last second layup. And you’re saying these guys are a 3-seed? I’m not buying.

In the “No Really, His Eyelid Went behind His Eyeball!!” Category:
Allen Ray. This is the biggest pre-tournament injury since Kenyon Martin’s fibula went snap in the C-USA tourney a few years back. I have a team of four tailing Andy Katz everywhere he goes, and I've gotten George Bush's permission to wiretap his cell phone.

In the “We Shouldn’t Be Playing College Ball in April But We Will Be” Category:
Here’s my Final Four: ‘Nova (assuming Ray plays), UConn (too much talent, too good of a coach, and they won’t make the same mistake they did in NYC), Texas (if Duke even makes it to the Atl regional final, Texas will be itching for a rematch of the worst televised loss of the entire season), and even though it physically hurts me to say this, I have Kansas out of Oakland. Kansas does not fit my ideal tourney team profile (see UNC-Wilmington above, but must be in a major conference) but they’re on fire at the right time, and they looked damn impressive beating Texas yesterday.

In the “Hand Me the Scissors Mr. Trainer!” Category:
‘Nova cuts down the nets, beating Texas in the Final. Assuming Ray plays. And only if Ray plays.

In the "Vegas, Baby, Vegas" Category:
That's where I'll be for the first weekend, watching the games, drinking too much, and pissing away my tax return making bad bets. Have fun refreshing ESPN.com while you sit at your desk with a hand on Alt-Tab in case your boss walks by, chumps.

Wait, I'm going to make Gretzky's head bleed.

Bill Beard is an independent writer who can't wait to throw down that first Dewars on the rocks and tell a waitress "if you tell that bartender to go extra easy on the water, this 50 cent piece has your name on it." He can be reached at wrbeard@hotmail.com. But don't text or call him this weekend, because he doesn't want to get kicked out of the Sportsbook, alright?