Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Short and Sweet Big 10 Preview

1. Purdue - E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel are two of the best players in the conference, and the Boilers overall sport a very balanced attack, with three players scoring in double figures and five players averaging over four rebounds, and are one of the best defensive teams in the nation. The Boilers only have two losses, a blowout against Duke and an OT loss to Oklahoma, both current top five teams. If Keaton Grant gets his shot back (shooting just 34% this year, 31% from three) they will be even more dangerous. If Baby Boilers hadn't quite arrive last season, they're certainly there now. I don't see anyway they don't win the conference, short of a plane crash or Jan Gangelhoff becoming employed there.

2. Michigan State - Really tough call for me between 2 and 3, and maybe it's just the pessimist in me but I'm giving the nod to the Spartans, regardless of what happens tomorrow at Williams Arena. Since I already wrote a preview of the game tomorrow, I feel like I've covered the Spartans plenty. They have a myriad of weapons at their disposal, and steady leadership in Izzo and Kalin Lucas.

3. Minnesota - Thought about giving the Gophers the #2 spot, but the athletes on Michigan State were the difference maker for me. It's incredible the difference a quality coach like Tubby can make, and I'd put him right at the top of the conference with Izzo - and then makes a difference both on a game by game difference and all season long. With the talent the Gophers now have, a coach like Tubby can take those games the close games that would have lost for all those years and turn them into wins.

4. Illinois - I didn't really know what to expect from the Illini this year, but I'm sold. Wins at Kent State, Missouri, and Vanderbilt are all very good wins, and the only loss, at home to Clemson by 2, is nothing to be ashamed of. A balanced attack with four double-digit scorers could get even better once Kentucky transfer Alex Legion gets more in tune with the rest of the team. I still don't know who Mike Davis is, but it seems the Illini found quite a gem, taking a guy who wasn't highly recruited or rated two years ago and having him now in the top 15 in scoring and top 2 in rebounding in the conference.

5. Michigan - Tough to know what to make out of this Wolverine team, but it's impossible to ignore those two big wins over Duke and UCLA, and the only two losses on their record are to Duke and Maryland; not a bad loss in the bunch. I'm a little nervous at putting them this high, but the results speak for themselves. Manny Harris is on track to win Big Ten Player of the Year (top 5 points, rebounds, assists) and has plenty of help from DeShawn Sims making an improbable leap in all statistical categories this season, from chronic underachiever to top 3 in scoring and rebounding. Let's just say if he was a baseball player, there'd be some questions about what supplements he's been taking.

6. Ohio State - Yes, they only have one loss, but that loss speaks volumes. Losing at home to West Virginia by 28 is enough to undermine any confidence I had in the Buckeyes after their wins over Miami and Notre Dame. I suppose, objectively, any team that relies on freshmen and guys playing really significant roles on team for the first time can expect a clunker here and there, but that kind of loss leaves such a bad taste there's no way I can put them any higher than sixth.

7. Northwestern - Guess which team comes out ranked third in the Big Ten in Ken Pomeroy's rankings? I suppose the fact that I'm writing it in the Northwestern section should be a dead giveaway, but yep, it's the Wildcats. Seems more than a little wonky, but they have been playing pretty well, ranking in the top 50 in offensive and defensive efficiency, only one of two Big Ten teams to do so (Illinois). None of the wins are great (DePaul, Florida State) but none of their losses are bad either (at Butler and at Stanford, both top 40 type teams). Coble is back again to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding, but the boost from two big freshman, 6-8 John Shurna and 7 foot Kyle Rowley, that make this one of the more dangerous Wildcat teams in recent memory, although I fully expect Abu Shamala to shred them again.

8. Wisconsin - Hot damn does it feel good to put the Badgers here for reasons that are real and not more like spite and hatred. None of their three losses are all that jarring on their own (at UCONN, at Marquette, vs. Texas), but it's some of the wins that really produce the red flags; 2-point wins over both Iona and Idaho State and just a seven point win over Long Beach, all at home. The wins at V-Tech and San Diego are good, but there's just nothing about this Badgers' teams that says top half of the league. Although Trevon Hughes has improved his shooting, his overall play is still wildly inconsistent, and Marcus Landry hasn't made any kind of leap from last season. It's basically the same team as last season, minus Butch and Flowers, and that's not a good thing. The Badgers have gotten almost nothing from any newcomer. Still, it's a Badger team, and they can always bore teams into losing to them with their lameness.

9. Iowa - I guess it's the Hawkeyes at ninth, I mean, I gotta put somebody here, right? Basically the near miss at Boston College and win over Kansas State get them the nod over Penn State. And for those of you nerds who are into that kind of thing, the Hawkeyes' leading scorer this season is a Minnesota boy, Anthony Tucker from Minnetonka, pacing the team with 13 ppg. Additionally, over 80% of his shot attempts come from three point land, so he's basically Hoffarber on a better team. Actually, that entire team shoots three pointers like Chris Kingsbury was their coach, with 48% of their attempts as a team from behind the arc, good for fourth in the country. I suppose they could get hot some game and beat somebody.

10. Penn State - At least they're used to being ranked down here, and this year should be no exception. Talor Battle is one of the most improved players in the Big Ten this year, nearly doubling his scoring and assist output to rank in the top four in the conference in both and Jamelle Cornley is still there doing what he does, but the team is paper thin and frankly not very good. At least they don't turn it over much.

11. Indiana - There's really nothing good to say here. If you thought their 5-7 record was a product of a tough schedule, and they did have a tough schedule, they certainly made sure to prove you wrong by dropping their last two non-conference games at home against crappy Northeastern and even worse Lipscomb. If you're looking for bright spots here, good luck. Seriously.

Ok, this wasn't as short as I thought it would be. And right now Illinois is winning at Purdue in the second half, and if this keeps up I reserve the right to chance all of this.

Gophers vs. Michigan State Preview

Aside from the fact that game is at 11am on a Wednesday, everything about this game excites me. The first ranked Gopher team in a very long time, undefeated, about to begin Big Ten play against Big Ten Giant and #10 team in the country Michigan State. This will go a long, long way towards telling fans what this year's Gopher squad is all about. Was the Louisville game a fluke? Did they catch an overrated Cardinals team at the wrong time? It's possible. The Gophers played a hell of a game, but it's tough to tell just what this Louisville team is all about. The players on the roster and the coach say they should be a giant, as does the blowout win against UAB Saturday, like the team that was ranked #9 when the Gophers played them. But that loss to Western Kentucky still lingers and shows the Cards can put up an unexplained stinker. I'm inclined to believe Louisville is a very good team, and the Gophers have come together quicker than anyone could have anticipated and belong on that level - Wednesday will tell us more.

The Spartans have a similar, yet more forgivable, blemish on their record with their loss at home to Maryland (although Maryland ranks 37th at KenPom, WKU 147th). I'm not paying much attention to their blowout loss to North Carolina, because how can you possibly evaluate anyone playing that juggernaut? That said, those two losses and no real big wins would have left me thinking Sparty was ripe for the picking, but a couple of weekends ago, the same day the Gophers beat Louisville, the Spartans grabbed a really nice victory, beating #5 Texas on the road 67-63.

The teams rank similarly, with the Spartans #42 and the Gophers #49, and are similar in a lot of ways. In terms of offensive efficiency, the Gophers rank 27th, the Spartans 28th. In defensive efficiency, the Gophers are 84th, the Spartans 69th. Neither team turns the ball over much, although the Gophers rank 2nd in blocked shot percentage on defense and 12th in steal percentage, and the Spartan offense is mediocre on both counts. The biggest statistical edge I could find either way is the Spartans' offensive rebounding prowess going against the Gophers weakness in allowing offensive rebounds. The Gophers are 268th in offensive rebounding allowed percentage, while the Spartans are 35th in grabbing offensive rebounds. Although the silver lining here is that an undersized Texas team held the Spartans to just 9 offensive boards in their game, the Gophers have more size than the Longhorns to bang with MSU.

This seems like as good a place as any to look at the Spartan personnel, and just like last year the main guy the Gophers need to worry about is Raymar Morgan, taking another big step forward this year and averaging a career high 15.3 points per game, including a 29 point outburst against Oklahoma State. Texas was able to completely neutralize him using quick players, and held him to just 8 points (on 3-3 shooting) and managed to turn him over 6 times. I'm confident DJ will be able to handle him.

The next four leaders in minutes played for the Spartans are all guards, which again plays into the Gophers strengths. Al Nolen will have his hands full with lightning quick Kalin Lucas, second on the team in scoring with 11 points per game and averaging an incredible 6.5 assists to 1.0 turnovers ratio; although I think Lucas will have his hands full with Nolen too. Travis Walton starts in the backcourt with Lucas, and he can handle the point duties as well. Don't expect a lot of turnovers from the Spartans, but the guards need to at least keep them out of a good rhythm.

The other two big scoring guards are two sophomores, 6-3 Chris Allen (10.2 ppg) and 6-4 Durrell Summers (9.4). These are the kind of guys who worry me, because I'm not sure who guards them. Westbrook can handle one or the other, probably Allen, but I'm worried if Summers gets a chance to dismantle Hoffarber he won't be shy about it. Could be an excellent opportunity for Paul Carter to shine here.

One wild card is 6-10 senior center Goran Suton, who has always been kind of ho-hum but since returning from an injury a few weeks ago has been on fire, scoring 18 and 16 in his last two games while shooting 7-8 and 7-9 in the two games. Based on the job the Gophers did against a far superior Samardo Samuels, I'm not too worried about him, but it's someone to keep an eye on.

Last thing to watch is with super freshmen Delvon Roe hurt and likely to miss the game, his minutes will flow over to perpetual disappointment Marquise Gray. Since coming to MSU after being the 21st ranked player on the Rivals 150 for 2004, Gray hasn't even come close to living up to his potential, never averaging more than 7 points per game. The thing is, that potential is still there, and he is shooting 70% this year in his 14 minutes per game. Although it's not overly likely, I can see Gray getting overlooked with all the other scorers to worry about and ending up with Travis Busch on him all game or something.

Overall, these two teams match up pretty well together. I think the biggest key to the game comes down to Al Nolen vs. Kalin Lucas. Both can distribute (#2 and #3 in assists in the Big Ten), neither turns it over (1.0 per game for Lucas, 1.5 for Nolen), both can play defense (Nolen first in steals, Lucas 14th), and both pretty much key their team on both ends. After watching Nolen the last couple of weeks, how could I possibly not believe? Gophers 66, Spartans 60.

I also plan to do some kind of Big Ten preview before the game tomorrow. It may end up being nothing more than a list, but you should be grateful I give you anything. There are kids in Africa without the internet who don't get to read DWG at all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekend Review

I'm giving Childress and Jackson a pass this week since they won and made the playoffs, even though it was against the Giants' backups in the second half, including David Carr, and they showed some of the worst clock management I've ever seen at the end of the game.


1. Ralph Sampson III and Devoe Joseph. Both guys played their best game as a Gopher, at least scoring-wise, last night in a 82-56 stomping of High Point, Sampson hitting his career high with 17 and Joseph also setting his career best with 11 off the bench. Devoe continues to be a steady back-up point guard, but last night showed the hot shooting touch that I've been waiting for, hitting 3-4 from three and hitting a nice pull-up with his foot on the line. He's not a true point, and I don't think anybody ever thought he was, and isn't much of a creator but does a nice job filling in for Nolen here and there. It will be interesting to see if Tubby finds ways to get him shots off the ball, but I suppose that's still Hoffarber's job for now - as it should be. Sampson was very impressive and continues to develop, although he can still be a little awkward at times. His hook shot isn't very polished, but it seems to work, and he's getting more aggressive on the block each and every game. He has a lot of confidence in his 12-15 foot jump shot, and he's starting to hit which gives an added dimension to his game. I was most impressed with his passing last night, as he hit a couple of nice cutters and seems to know what to do with the ball on the high post. This hi/lo Sampson/Iverson bit might end up being a pretty nice little duo. So now it's on to the Big Ten schedule and Michigan State and Ohio State this week. With both games at home, it's time to make a major statement. Ken Pomeroy gives the Gophers a 61% chance to beat Michigan State, with the Ohio State game being a 50/50 proposition. How awesome would 2-0 be?

2. Notre Dame Football. Look, I hate the Irish as much as you do. They’re basically the Duke basketball team with fewer rich boys and less success but the same amount of arrogance, so it pains me to praise them and their crazy-fat coach Charlie Weis, but it must be done here after they stomped Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl (sponsored by Sheraton Hotels and Resorts). Now, it was the Hawaii bowl, which isn’t exactly the standard bearer for awesome bowl games, but at least Hawaii had won the past three times it was eligible (vs. Ariz State, UAB, and Houston). Again, not a murder’s row of invitees here, and I’m not exactly praising Notre Dame, because I would never do that, but hey, it’s their first bowl win in 15 years and breaks their bowl-losing game streak at 9, so they deserve some kind words – even though Hawaii wasn’t very good at 7-6 and actually lost to Utah State who only had three wins. Much maligned, and rightly so, Irish QB Jimmy Clausen set a Notre Dame bowl game record by passing for 401 yards and 5 TDs against the terrible Warriors’ defense, with 177 yards and 3 TDs going to probably made up name guy and WR Golden Tate on their way to splitting the MVP – although it should probably go to the Hawaii OLine for giving up 8 sacks. In case you’re wondering, Minnesota High School wide receiving Jesus Michael Floyd had 2 catches for 17 yards. With most skill players back with the Irish for another season, you might think they could build on this and turn the program around; but you’d be wrong – Notre Dame is broken.

3. Minnesota T-Wolves. It’s not often I’ll get to write about these clowns here, so I might as well take advantage after they snapped their 13-game losing streak by beating the Knicks 120-107 Friday night. It took either a lot of luck or some hot shooting, depending on how positive or negative you want to be, but they won. They came into the game 28th in the league in three-point shooting percentage, but managed to make 13 of 24 in the big win over the Knicks, including 7-9 from Rashad McCants and 3-4 from Rodney Carney who I honestly had no idea was on the Wolves. Al Jefferson was big with 21 points and 15 rebounds, although the real hero was, of course, Brian Cardinal who played just 8 minutes and contributed 0 points and 2 rebounds, but put up a +/- of +15 which is apparently a basketball stat now to lead the team and will the Wolves to their fifth victory with his grit and hustle. Naturally, the lost the very next night at home to Orlando by twenty, continuing to put themselves in prime position to make a huge mistake by drafting Thabeet.

4. San Diego Chargers. 8-8 isn’t particularly impressive, but after starting the season 0-3 and then sitting at 4-8, making the playoffs is. The Chargers completed the Broncos’ collapse of a 3 game lead with three to play, destroying Denver and the overrated Jay Cutler 52-21 last night, led by LaDainian Tomlinson's three touchdowns. I'll say this, the Chargers have looked very hot the last few games, and Tomlinson is a big part of it. He looked bad at the beginning of the year, and a lot of people thought he was done, but maybe it really was the toe injury. He's looked incredible again the last few games, and came up with 96 yards rushing on just 14 carries last night, showing the speed, quickness, and strength that seemed to be missing most of the season. I'd say this could be a very dangerous team in the playoffs, but it turns out the get the Colts in round one, so they're pretty much done.

5. West Virginia Football. There's no doubt it was an overall disappointing season for the Mountaineers, who started the season ranked #8 with national champion aspirations and ended up unranked and playing in the Meineke Car Car Bowl, but it was a nice win over a pretty good North Carolina team to end the season. Additionally, it capped off a very good career for Major Harris 2, who won his fourth bowl game as a starter. White finished his career as the all-time leading rusher for a QB, but may have made a statement to NFL scouts by throwing for 332 yards and 3 TDs in the Bowl, an attempt to answer critics who don't believe he can play quarterback at the next level. I didn't watch the game, so I have no idea if he looked like a QB or if it was mainly dumpoffs, but I'm pretty sure he's got a future in the NFL as a receiver. But then again, Seneca Wallace has started to look pretty good for Seattle, so who knows.


1. Christmas sports. Woof. We have three days off plus the weekend, and all we get to watch is crap? I mean, I’m sitting around the house on Friday and there aren’t even any sports on all afternoon, and when they finally start it’s the crappy NBA. And that’s all it was for the first three days, stupid NBA crap and worthless bowl games. Thank god for gambling, at least I could make those bowl games semi-interesting. And when college hoops finally started back up, we got nothin’. Washington State vs. LSU, West Virginia vs. Ohio State, UAB vs. Louisville, Siena vs. St. Joes, and Texas Tech vs. Stanford, and those are the only games that are even remotely interesting. It’s so bad that Arkansas vs. Northwestern State was actually on TV on Saturday afternoon. Didn’t there used to be tournaments at this time of year? With actual good teams and good games? I thought so, but maybe I’m stupid, I don’t know. At least conference play is starting up soon, couldn’t be more fired up for that Gophers/Spartans tilt on New Year’s Eve day. It’s super awesome that it’s at 11am.

2. Gonzaga/Xavier Hoops. Remember how last week I called out both of these teams for wasting opportunities? Like they hadn’t necessarily done anything dreadfully bad, but had just missed out on chances for big time wins? Well, I’m guessing they both must have said, “How can we REALLY suck?” because both teams dropped games to unranked teams at home last week, Gonzaga to Portland State (awful) and Xavier to Butler (slightly more forgivable). The Musketeers are a little less sucky here, because Butler is actually a decent team and a decent program with only one loss on their record and already had a couple of good road wins, but that’s not to say this isn’t a killer. Xavier should expect to drop out of the top 25 after back-to-back poor showings, and with no ranked teams left on the schedule and a tough A-10, it will be a struggle to get back in. Gonzaga has no excuse for this loss against the Vikings, whose best win this season before this was over Montana, ranked 221st in the country. Portland State’s basketball program has only been around for 11 seasons, and had never beaten a Top 25 team. Add to that the Zags had only lost twice before at the MAC since it opened in 2004, and this is one of the biggest upsets I can remember. Don’t worry too much for either Gonzaga or Xavier, both will win enough conference games to get in the NCAA tournament without a worry, but both truly and epically sucked this week.

3. Ohio State Hoops. Well, the Buckeyes didn’t take long to basically erase most of the good feelings going their way after a great start to the year, getting absolutely blown out at home by West Virginia 76-48 in a laugher. The Suckeyes shot just 31%, including 2-18 from three, while allowing the Mountaineers to have their way with them, shooting 48% on the game and, despite being a much smaller team, held the rebounding edge on OSU. The Buckeyes also managed all of three assists for the entire game, which I assume is some sort of record but I’m not about to spend the time trying to look that up, and their two leading scorers, Evan Turner and Jon Diebler, combined to go 6-27, a typical Stephen Curry night, and with BJ Mullens in foul trouble all game and David Lighty injured, they were pretty much dead.

4. Boston Celtics. Are the Celtics crumbling like the broken down old men they mostly are? Probably not, if their 45 point win over Sacramento means anything on Sunday, but there may be a bit of a cause for concern here after they lost back-to-back games over the Holidays. They dropped the Christmas day rumble to the Lakers 92-83, and then dropped a game the next night to the 8-23 Warriors 99-89. They are still 28-4, but losing half of their total losses in back-to-back nights has to raise an eyebrow at least. Remember last year, when KG, Pierce, and Allen were playing heavy minutes all season and it was a concern that they wouldn't make it to the end of the season? After winning the championship and roaring to a 27-2 start nobody seemed to be paying attention anymore, but those guys are now a year older and still playing heavy minutes. If I'm a Celtic fan, and I'm not, I'd be just a wee bit concerned, despite the great start.

5. Dallas Cowboys. Teams lose all the time in win and you’re in, lose and go home situations; it happens every year. Rarely, however, is it as spectacular as the Cowboys losing to the Eagles 44-6, ending their season and sending Philly to the playoffs to take on the Vikings. Tony Romo, not exactly known as a PTPer already, helped cement his reputation as they guy you don’t want playing QB in a big game, putting up a stellar 55.8 QB rating for the game, completing just 53% of his passes for all of 183 yards and 0 TDs. He also managed to help the Eagles out quite a bit, throwing an INT and fumbling twice, both recovered by Philly, one of which was taken back for a score. Although he did manage to get Terrell Owens 106 of his 183 yards, so at least someone on the Cowboys is happy. ROMOLICIOUS!

Friday, December 26, 2008

You're a Dickey

Sitting here, the night after Christmas watching Step Brothers and thinking about the newest Twin, the Minnesota version of CC Sabathia if you will, R.A. Dickey, and as you might guess, I have some thoughts.

- First the movie review of Stepbrothers. It's not over just yet, but I like it. Not love it, but like it. Snake told me it really sucked, and he's an idiot, so I figured it would be pretty good. Some pretty legit laugh out loud moments, and a not overly horrid story - thin as it is. The movie is basically just an excuse for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly to both act like Will Ferrell for 90 minutes. Actually, now that I think about it, if I wasn't drunk off my ass I'd probably hate this.

- Drinking Red Stripe and Newcastle - both X-mas gifts from the wife along with a Gophers' shirt and Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. I got her an Ipod and a Coach Purse. I think I'm lower maintenance.

- So back to the awesomeness that is Robert Allen Dickey, the newest Minnesota Twin baseball thrower guy. He's a knuckleballer, which automatically means he's an awesome dude. But instead of just taking my first impressions, based on nothing more than his knuckleballness, I should probably break down what up with this guy.

Honestly, this isn't a very exciting signing. Dickey is pretty much the definition of mediocre - and boring. He's played for the Rangers and Mariners for the past six years, but only pitched as much as 30 innings in 2003, 2004, and 2008; all as a part-time starter, part-time reliever. None of these years were very good, the best being in 2003 with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, last year he posted similar numbers with a 5.21 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. More interestingly and less compellingly, he never really even put up good numbers in the minor leagues. His best minor league season was 2007, when he pitched 169 innings at triple A in 31 games (22 starts), posting an ERA of 3.72 with a 1.29 ERA - decent numbers, but nothing that will blow you away, especially considering his poor major league numbers.

What you're going to hear alot of, and I already have, is that he put up "great" numbers in relief last season, a 2-0 record and a 2.00 ERA. Yes, he was better in relief, putting up a 1.11 WHIP, .205 OAV, and a .594 oOPS compared to a 1.77 WHIP, .316 OAV, and .892 oOPS when starting. Which, hey, maybe he really is that good as a reliever but to me it sounds basically like a huge fluke and this is a completely retarded waste of a signing, except for the whole knuckleballer thing. His BABIP (opponent's batting average on balls in play) as a starter was .322 as a starter, and just .226 in his 36 innings of relief. His career number is .314, which means his performance as a starter was pretty much in line with what you would expect, but his reliever numbers were so many standard deviations from what you would expect that they can not be trusted as being indicative of future performance.

But wait, WWWWWW, he's a knuckleballer, that's a weird pitch. Maybe he does much better when batters don't get to see him much. I thought maybe that could be something positive, but alas, no such luck. Two of his worse three innings last season were innings 1 and 2, and actually in the first three innings of a game his opponent's line read .300/.373/.518. Oof. Worthless.

- How fluky was that .226 BABIP by the way? Not a single pitcher in the major leagues with 100ips or more beat that number. And actually, only 1 pitcher (Carlos Marmol) with more than 65 innings beat that number. I'm very skeptical of this pick up. And bored.

- The movie got worse, too. So I switched to Vodka/Cranberry. Bogart introduced me to the art of putting a lime in these, and it's rocked my world.

- We are watching Made on MTV now, and it's about some gay drama kid who wants to become a varsity baseball player and she's not buying it when I try and tell her baseball would be the hardest sport to get good at if you've never played before. I'm right, right? Of course, they're in Boston and keep saying Vah-sity instead of Varsity. I don't get how that happens. I mean, you know you're completely butchering a language and sound like a bunch of uneducated douche bags, right? And yet you take pride in this? It's like that overstated accent they use for Minnesotans in Fargo which drives every actual Minnesotan crazy, but if we were proud to sound like and intentionally wanted to.

- You know how people are all pissy because the Yankees signed Sabathia, Burnett, and Texeira? Well calm down. First of all, the Yanks lost $88 million off their payroll from last season with Mussina, Abrea, Giambi, and others coming off the books so technically they are actually paying less this coming season compared to last season right now. And there is no guarantee they are going to be any kind of good team. Texeira is the only really great signing in there. Sabathia is an injury risk or a "get fat" risk, and Burnett is pretty much guaranteed to get hurt next year, considering he's only had 3 season's out of 8 where he stayed healthy, and last season was one of the good ones - he's pretty much Carl Pavano version 2.0. Their catcher is like, 50 years old and fading and the backup is a Red Sox reject. Jeter is losing the minute amount of range he ever had over at short as well as his power and should probably be moved to second base at this point. Their outfield is probably going to be one of the slowest in the majors, the starting pitching is a massive question mark, and short of Mariano Rivera there isn't a single decent reliever in the group. So no worries. Twins will win more games than the Yanks, I mean, they have R.A. Dickey now.

- Billy Bean (not Billy Beane) just appeared on this Made episode to pump up the gay kid since he's gay too. Too bad Bean sucked ass as a hitter (career OPS+ = 55).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Wish Answered

If you could have one thing for Christmas, what would it be? For me, it would be a post from Siouxper Sioux Fan, and guess what was in my yahoo mailbox? That's right, it's a wish no more. So without further wasting of time, here she is, possibly drunk at work:

hey, okay I feel bad for the blog here is a off the cuff post (haha like they havent ALL been)

So I felt like this was well needed. Since the last two hockey posts were LITERALLY the worst shit I have ever read in my life, I decided to save the blog once again. HA
And my team is finally on a winning streak (6 games bitch) so I am not as ashamed to write about them now.
We play Michigan State on sat and Michigan Tech on Sunday. I am predicting 2 W's.

Do you know that when WWWW sent us a Christmas card he did not put me or Baby Dawger on the envelope.....????? What kind of shit is that? I was VERY offended but then I remembered the time that he said something about how all girls named Kaylyn were HOT.....So then I was no longer mad at him. And then I decided that he may be a genius.

So who else is in love with W's Shark Reviews lately? I might be your #1 fan W. And FYI the reason that Snake doesnt post anymore is because he quit watching hockey and just sits at home all day on Facebook. What a Loser.
Him and bogart just sit and "poke" each other back and forth.

So honestly I only wrote this post because I am so bored at work today. It is 4:26pm on tuesday which = the longest shit of my life. I just want to get out of here so I can sit in a half an hour of traffic, go to ridgedale to my least favorite store of all time to pick up my dad a Gopher Wrestling Sweatshirt. BS
You know I talked to a big Gopher Hockey "FAN??" today and even though she is a U of M Alum. she didnt know that they had one of the, if not THE best Wrestling programs in the country.......How do you not know that?
I dont get it....... Granted she is the same person that I try to make "small talk" with in the break room and it goes something like this

Hockey"fan?" (wearing a gopher hockey sweatshirt)-"Hey Kaylyn how is it going"?

Kaylyn"siouxper sioux fan"-"oh good, nice games this weekend, huh?

Hockey"fan?"-"HUH?" (with very stunned look on face)

Kaylyn- "The hockey games" (derrrrrrrrrr)

Said Hockey "fan"- "oh yeah I dont ACTUALLY watch the games unless I got to them, I dont like keep track of how they are doing".

Kaylyn-"Nice fan" (then walk away)

That is about how it goes. It really is sad. It seems to be the pattern with Gopher hockey "fans". Except Snake he is an exception to this pattern, if they suck he will gladly say "they fing suck" and that is what I like and appreciate about Snake. What I dont like about Snake is how he is ALWAYS sandbagging me on the blog.....dick.

Anyways that about covers it........shit it is only 4:36pm. Now I get to go home and put the finishing touches on Christmas while dawg spends his evening at the bar, then the Gopher Basketball game. I personally would rather fucking kill myself but, hey whatever.

Siouxfan out Bitches

Merry Christmas? And thanks Momma Dawger, as always I remain your #1 fan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The dude behind us just

The dude behind us just compared hoffbauer to larry bird in a favorable way

Gophers vs. SE Louisiana Lions - Rawr

It seems the masses are clamoring for a preview of tonights big #23 Gophers vs. unranked SE Louisiana tilt, so here you go. It will be short, I think, and I have no idea about any of these players because I'm pretty sure even if I wanted to watch a bunch of SE Louisiana games, and I don't, I couldn't.

The Lions (note: not the Ragin' Cajuns which is disappointing) come from the Southland Conference, which doesn't sound very scary. However their teams have looked fairly ok in the NCAA tournament the past couple of years, with Northwestern State knocking off Iowa in the greatest moment in Joe Sensor's history a few years ago, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi giving Wisconsin a scare in 2007. This is really pretty irrelevant, but just know that the Gophers can't completely overlook SELU, picked second in the conference in the coaches' poll to start the season. The only two major teams they've played, Texas Tech and Arkansas, have defeated them but not by much. Neither of those teams are in the Gophers class, and this shouldn't be close.

The Lions best player, Kevyn Green, is a weird case. In a situation I've never even heard of, he only has one semester left of eligibility. So he's playing the non-conference schedule and two conference games, and then he's just done. So weird. He leads the team at 20ppg, and shoots nearly 50% from three with almost four makes per game. He ranks as one of the top 40 players in the country in effective field goal percentage, so he can't be overlooked. Obviously, slowing him down has to be a priority, and at 6-5 it will be an interesting matchup.

The Lions also boast some size to them (or at least some rebounding) in 6-9 center Patrick Sullivan and 6-6 power forward Warrell Span (not Warren Spahn). Both average about 12 points and 8 rebounds per game, and have a bunch of double doubles this year between the two of them. Neither are a three-point threat at all, and make their livings in the paint.

At the point they go with 6-2 freshman Brandon Fortenberry, a true point guard. He's not much of a scoring threat, but does well at getting the ball to the right players, averaging 5.3 assists per game. He also gives it up 3.3 times per game, so he will have to handle the Gophers' pressure to give his team any hope of staying in it (overall the team doesn't turn it over much).

All that being said, there's no reason to think the Gophers will have any problem with these guys. The only team they've played that is remotely decent is Texas Tech, and all the aforementioned players struggled against the Red Raiders, other than Fortenberry. The interesting thing tonight will be to watch the individual matchups.

Who guards Green? Is Nolen big enough to handle the 6-5 guy, and then who deals with Fortenberry, the Mississippi High School Player of the Year last season? Does DJ draw that assignment, leaving Sampson/Iverson to deal with the two bigs?

Ok, I'm just trying to find something interesting. Westbrook will be the one to shut down Green; he's shown he has no problems defending taller guards. DJ will be on Span and Iverson on Sullivan and they will shut them down, and Nolen will be all over Fortenberry and the Lions will be lucky to run a coherent offense most of the game. Expect a healthy dose of Busch and Shamala and Payton tonight, Gophers roll 88-55.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Forget about J.J. Hardy

It's been written here before that we'd like to see the Twins acquire J.J. Hardy. Well you can pretty much forget that, or at least I hope so as the asking price is extremely steep according to my inside source (seriously, I have an inside source - or more accurately, I know someone who knows someone who is in the know). Whatever, the point is it's real information and I'm not making it up.

According to this source, the Twins inquired about getting Hardy from the Brewers, who asked for Denard Span, Francisco Liriano, and another prospect. I don't care what level "another prospect" is, that is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. Honestly, I'd have trouble giving up that for anyone below superstar status.

So that dream is dead. But hey, we still have Punto.

Weekend Review

The Gopher basketball team was far, far too awesome this weekend to even be included in this review. My thoughts on the game can be found here, but it was truly an awesome, awesome victory for the soon to be nationally ranked Gophers. I expect they'll end up at about 17th, moving up to 15th or so after a couple more cupcake wins going into the big new year's eve day tilt against the Spartans, at the genius time of 11:00am. Speaking of Spartans.....


1. Michigan State Hoops. The overall profile of the Big Ten got yet another boost Saturday, as the Spartans waltzed into Houston’s Toyota Center to take on the #5 Texas Longhorns and walked out with a 67-63 victory; it’s even more impressive that although technically a neutral court, it was essentially a home game for the Longhorns, who actually led most of the way. The Spartans pulled it out on a Durrell Summers three-pointer from the corner with just 13 seconds left, despite being outrebounded 37-29. They were able to overcome that with some hot shooting, as they hit 51% from the floor compared to just 39% for Texas. Interestingly, even though this game was loaded by incredible athletes on both sides, it was a tall, gawky, doofy, foreign, white, big man who led the Spartans to victory, as Goran Suton dominated with 18 points on 7-8 shooting – and chipped in with all of two rebounds. The Spartans definitely needed a boost here after blowing their only other chance to impress by getting blown out by UNC (not to mention the loss to Maryland at home); great win for them and for the conference’s profile.

2. Peyton Manning. Don’t look now, but suddenly the Colts are looking like a legit contender for the Super Bowl again after starting the season looking like utter horsecrap, and it’s mainly due to Manning’s incredible play once again. He threw for 364 yards and 3 TDs against Jacksonville on Thursday in bring the Colts back from down 14 to a 31-24 victory. That makes the third straight game he hasn’t thrown a pick, throwing for at least 275 yards in each. He’s been way overshadowed by the amazing seasons of Drew Brees and Kurt Warner this year, both with a shot to topple Marino’s total passing yards in a season record, but he’s currently third in the NFL in both yards and touchdowns. They have already locked up a playoff spot, and are looking to be one of the hottest teams going into the post season. If I had to make a pick to win the Super Bowl right now, I’d go with the Colts with the Steelers the only other team I’d even consider.

3. Brandon Roy. I don’t generally write much about the NBA because it sucks, but when a guy is doing what Brandon Roy is doing and he should be a T-Wolf, and isn’t, I can’t help it. Roy put up 52 points against the Suns this past Thursday, and is averaging 34.5 points per game in his last five to go with 5.6 rebounds and 5 assists and is having like this written about him, calling him the player who will lead the Blazers into the next great NBA Dynasty. Great. At least the Wolves have Randy Foye and that extra million in cash, apparently used to sign superstar point guard Kevin Ollie.

4. Jodie Meeks. Kentucky’s resident gunner and leading scorer, Meeks exploded all over Appalachian State’s face on Saturday, going for a career high 46 points as the Wildcats beat the Mountaineers 93-69. Meeks, who has also scored 39 against VMI and 37 against Kansas State this season, shot 14-21 from the floor, including 9-14 from three, and 9-10 on free throws. Hmm…..46 points on just 21 shots? Are you paying attention Steve Curry? Meeks not only leads the Wildcats in scoring, but also came into the game as the SEC’s leading scorer at 21.9 ppg (on less than 16 shots per game). He had kind of a disappointing career to this point after coming to UK as the 39th best player in the country according to Rivals. He had a decent freshman year, but stagnated as a sophomore. He seems now to have put it all together, and has Kentucky looking in pretty good shape at 8-3 after a pretty rough start to the season.

5. UCONN Hoops. I was all set to write up this spot about Gonzaga, who I love this year. They are ranked 7th and were playing the 2nd ranked UCONN Huskies and seemed to be in control of the game, leading by double-digits with about 10 minutes left in the game. The UCONN did the improbable, rallying back to tie the game on a ridiculous, ill-advised three pointer by AJ Price with less than 8 seconds left. The game went to OT after Gonzaga couldn’t get a shot, where the Huskies ridiculous guard tandem of Price and Jerome Dyson took over with Thabeet fouled out and got the win for UCONN, 88-83. To go into Seattle, Gonzaga’s second home, and come out with a win is as impressive a win as there is in college basketball. Everything about this team, and particularly their guards, screams final four and national title contender. Keep your eye on these guys.


1. Stephen Curry. Can we all chill out about Curry now? Davidson got absolutely killed this weekend by Purdue, in yet another Big Ten win over a ranked team, 76-58 in a game that saw the Boilers jump out to a 25-2 lead and coast to victory from there. Precious basketball Jehovah Stephen Curry managed to score 16 points, grab 8 boards, and dish out 6 assists, and that’s all you’ll hear about. Nobody will bother to mention his 5-26 shooting, which was 3-17 in the first half before he got “hot” and finished up 2-9. Can we please, please, relax with all the best player in the country talk. He’s good, no doubt, but, and I can’t stress this enough, HE SCORES SO MANY POINTS BECAUSE HE SHOOTS THE BALL SO GOD DAMNED MUCH. Christ, Lawrence Westbrook would score 40 a game if he shot the ball as much as Curry. Do you know Curry takes 36% of all Davidson shots? Even more shocking is that’s only 11th in the country in that stat. Who knew there were 10 worse ball hogs than him? (His brother is 39th, at 33% of Liberty’s shot attempts). He’s also first in the country in shot attempts per game, which includes that one weird game where he only took 3. Think about that. And yet the “experts” continue to praise him, like this guy from rivals who calls him, “The Most Surprising” player this year, and means it in a good way. Arg.

2. Oregon Hoops. As I said before the season started, this team is garbage. Even though they managed a win against an even more pathetic Portland team on Saturday, they needed overtime to do it against a team that had already lost to both Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington this year.. Before that win, they had dropped back-to-back home games against St. Mary’s and San Diego, and had a record of 4-6, an embarrassment for a BCS conference team. The main issue here is little man Tajuan Porter, who is like a more out of control Terrance Simmons – you read that correctly. He’s leading the team in shot attempts, despite shooting just 38% from the floor and from three. Even better, despite allegedly being a point guard he’s putting up just 1.6 assists against 2.2 turnovers. If you’re wondering about former Gopher target Josh Crittle, he’s averaging 1.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. If you’re a betting man, go against this team every game. IT’S A LOCK.

3. Xavier hoops. There is nothing particularly wrong with losing to Duke, especially when they are ranked sixth in the country. There is, however, an issue with getting blown out when you are the seventh ranked team, the game is at a neutral site, and this is pretty much your last real chance to make an impression against a top team. The Musketeers laid an egg, getting run by the Dukies 86-68 in a game that wasn’t really that close, and now play a couple of non-conference patsies before going on to run through the A-10 schedule. I’ve mentioned the A-10 is improved this year, but Xavier still shouldn’t have a problem. They still have the win against Memphis in their pocket, which is looking less and less impressive, and the win at Cincy will hold up well, but remember this Duke loss come tourney time. OUT in the second round. Book it.

4. Memphis Hoops. The Tigers have dropped out of the top 25 after losing at home to Syracuse on Saturday, and have essentially blown every opportunity to get a big win. The lost at Xavier 63-58, and at Georgetown 79-70 before today’s home loss. Not that you can count the Tigers out completely, as they will almost certainly roll through Conference USA once again, although this year I expect a loss or two rather than another undefeated conference season. This year’s edition of the Tigers looks a little punchless, as shown by this week’s 59-51 squeaker win against Arkansas – Little Rock of all teams. They still have a couple of opportunities to reassert themselves, with non-conference games against Gonzaga and Tennessee coming up in the new year, but I haven’t seen much from them this year to make me think they have any chance of being a factor.

5. Dock Ellis. Not so much him, but the fact that this crazy son of a bitch died really sucks. That's him pictured above, and if you aren't familiar with him, he pitched from 1968 to 1979, winning 138 games mainly for the Pirates, but is more well known for some seriously crazy stories. You can read more here and especially here but he is probably most well-known for pitching a no hitter on acid, where he could only tell if the batter was left or right handed, and couldn't really see who was up after getting blitzed the night before because he thought he had the next day off. My personal favorite Ellis story is that in 1974 the Pirates were in a big-time rivalry with the Reds. Thinking his teammates were soft, he decided to make a point by hitting every batter in the Reds' lineup. After beaning Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen to load the bases to start the game, Tony Perez managed to avoid four straight pitches aimed at him to walk in a run. After throwing his next two pitches at Johnny Bench's head, his manager finally took him out of the game. He can basically be summed up by this quote, "Barry Bonds? I'd hit him at least once a game. 'Cause he's got all that shit on. Yeah, let's see that shit stop the ball from hurting him if I hit him on the motherfucking elbow or something. I'd hit him just to see, does it work?" Awesome.

Honorable mention to fantasy football. I effing quit and I hope DeAngelo Williams dies. And Matt Schaub too. Way to throw it to the best receiver in football only three times. How did continually dumping it off to backs and white receivers work out for ya, captain dipshit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hey Nerds

I've had like eleventeen vodka & cranberries (with lime, thanks Bogart) and I'm feeling a bit saucy. Also the baby is asleep and Mrs. W is at some stupid party I didn't get to go to because we didn't have a baby sitter, so instead I've been getting ripped and watching sports. That's not too bad I guess.

- Watching the Ravens beat the Cowboys in a very big win for them. I think. I saw some standings earlier that implied this was a big game for both teams. I'm not going to look it up because I don't feel like it, but I'm pretty sure this is a big win. I'm also pretty sure T.O. is a closet homosexual. Come on, like you'd be surprised.

- Did you know The Todd was in Oakdale this afternoon, and I live across the street from Oakdale, and he didn't bother to call me to hang out? And he always says stuff like "we should hang out?" What a jerk-hole. No wonder he can't get with the ladies.

- So the Gophers, after that massively awesome win against L'Ville today, are one of only a few undefeated teams left in NCAA basketball, which is great. You know who else is undefeated? Pitt. Again. Like every god damned year. They do this crap every year, where they play nobody and get ranked highly by beating nobody. Oh goodie, you beat Texas Tech. So did freaking Lamar. Christ, they even have a recruiting questionnaire for prospective players like a community college. Most overrated program of all time. Have they even ever had a good pro other than Larry Fitzgerald? Even their "best" college players were overrated. Brandin Knight? Couldn't shoot. Made Jacque Vaughn look like Pete Maravich. Aaron Gray? Jeff Hagen with a good supporting cast. Charles Smith? Once missed three layups in a ten second span. Their only good player in history is Jerome Lane, who was apparently absolutely fantastic (2 time all-american first team, once second, once third team) but who I remember more for this:

- Jason Witten with a TD, which greatly helps my fantasy keeper team, in the championship and playing $nake who used to post his hockey thoughts here. I almost sent him a text with some kind of trash talkiness, but since I got knocked out of the playoffs with the world's greatest team by three-touchdown Monday night games by Joe Horn and Drew Bennett, and he has Greg Jennings, I think I'll just keep my mouth shut.

- So Dallas kicks it deep, down two with 1:36 remaining. I don't get it. Even with three time outs, it's so risky. One first down and the game is over. And instead LeRon McClain goes 82 yards for a TD, completely blowing my McClain under 68 yards bet which was actually looking ok up until this point. Gay.

- I just witnessed the Pac 10 all-time receptions record broken here at the Mienike Poulan Weedeater PapaJohns.com bowl by someone named Mike Thomas who I think played DT for the Vikings in the 90s. Be still my heart.

- You know what was a good movie? Boyz n the Hood. That was a pretty good movie.

- I love how Brett Favre is a pro-bowler by the way. Did you know he leads the league in interceptions? It's so predictable it almost seems unbelievable, doesn't it? So let's get this shit straight, Philly Rivers leads the AFC in QB Rating, TD passes, and yards per attempt, and is third in yards, but he's not on the pro-bowl roster? Good to know that the pro bowl is as retarded as the baseball all-star game.

- I'm now watching Who wants to be a Millionaire, and some lady needed help on identifying, "In the Pythagorean Theorem, A squared plus B squared equals what?" I think that's my cue to stop typing.

Wow, and Good Call Dawger!

Well, I obviously didn't expect this. By far the most impressive Gopher victory in I can't even remember how long, the Gophers knocked off #9 Louisville today 70-64 in Arizona, despite getting almost nothing from the homecoming Lawrence Westbrook, who wallowed in foul trouble all day and ended up playing minimal minutes and scoring just two points.

The star of the game was by far Al Nolen, who the Cardinals had absolutely no answer for. Despite their four-headed monster at point guard, none of them could contain Nolen going to the hoop. He only shot 2-7, but drew foul after foul and ended up going to the line seventeen times, making 13 of them. Even when he didn't make the play, he drew the help defense and dished off to an open teammate, resulting in five assists and several other times he dished to a dude who was fouled himself. Truly a dominant performance. I think the last ten Gopher possessions were nothing more than milking the clock, then giving it to Nolen and letting him drive past whatever poor dumb bastard Pitino had trying to guard him. Absolutely dominating game.

The other big star of the game was the team's defense against Louisville. I really thought they wouldn't be able to stop the Cardinals, but Tubby's coaching really shined here. Despite inferior athletes, Tubby's scheme frustrated Samuels, Clark, and Williams with double-teams whenever the caught the ball on the block, and helping and sliding into lanes whenever anybody drove from the perimeter. Couple that with the team's incredibly impressive showing on the boards (just 28-25 L'Ville), and Tubby deserves every bit of praise he gets for this win and for the overall turnaround in the program after just one-plus seasons. The Cardinals did the Gophers a favor by ending up settling for a lot of jump shots, but in large part that was due to overall Minnesota defense. Really, really impressive.

Two last points I want to touch on quickly are Blake Hoffarber and Travis Busch. Blake I think is rapidly approaching Jake Sullivan status, where he an pretty much chuck it up at any time from any where and I'll be ok with it. The overall team has proven themselves to be quick enough and intelligent enough on the defensive end to hide Hoff's defensive deficiencies, which aren't nearly as bad as they were last year. This team is really set up to be a giant next season once RW-squared gets here. I can't remember feeling this way about a Gopher team since 1997, which of course, never happened.

Finally, Travis Busch, who won over the announcers hearts and minds with his grit, hustle, and overall David Eckstein-ness today on the way to a career high 13 points. His offensive game is clearly developing to be better than I would have thought possible, and I think he probably reads this web-log since he seems to be passing the ball a lot more lately. I, however, would argue that he gave back nearly that many points today bwith his shoddy defense and poor decision making. At one point he was inexplicably put on Earl Clark, who scored the next six points for Louisville by taking it at Busch and whose eyes must have lit up like a kid on Christmas. He's convinced me he has some kind of role on this team. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think it's crunch time player, although Tubby had him in there for some bizarre reason at the end of today's game. They won, so I won't belabor the point. Good offensive game today, Hair Pie, and awesome win for the team. I'm even going to give them a chance to beat Michigan State now, which I hadn't planned to do before.

And what ever happened to Edgar Sosa? He was a terror two seasons ago as a freshman, even scoring 31 in the team's NCAA tournament loss to Texas A&M. Now he's averaging a career low in points and field goal percentage, and a career high in turnovers. Oof.

Gophers lose Insight Bowl 35-20

At least according to Whatifsports, one of the greatest websites in history. They simulated the bowl 1,000 times and Kansas won 83% of the time, with an average score of 32-20. A typical boxscore can be found here.

The good news is the Gophers were up 20-14 at the half, and collapsed, allowing three TDs to Kansas without scoring on their own to end up losing 35-20. Game MVP goes to Jayhawk QB Todd Reesing, who threw for 405 yards and 3 TDs without a pick. The Gophers outgained Kansas 527 total yards to 500 and had the time of possession edge 36 minutes to 24, but were undone by two Weber interceptions and a 1-5 conversion rate on fourth downs, as well as allowing Kansas to convert over half of their third down conversions.

Doesn't that sound exactly like what could happen? Especially if one of those failed fourth down attempts was on the goal line and another was near mid-field when a punt would have been the right call? And of course, both interceptions in Kansas territory?

Actually, that's probably too close; the Gophers will never have a lead and will probably get blown to pieces. Speaking of blowouts, it's time to watch Gophers/L-Ville hoop it up.

[EDIT: I just realized that box score has a play-by-play. The interceptions were thrown in Kansas territory, both in the second half, at the 16 and 21 yard lines. One of the missed fourth down conversions was in the third quarter on fourth and 1 from the Kansas 11, and another was a fourth-and-1 at the Gopher 39 which should have been a punt. This website is uncanny.]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sharks in Venice

So here's whatsup: The baby is asleep and the wife is off spending money. I am in a good mood after our work holiday dealie, which including lunch at Fogo de Chao (fantastic) and some gaming at Brunswick Zone, where I found out I am bad at Laser Tag (12th out of 14 players), mediocre at bowling (129 and 144), rock at the basketball pop-a-shot (36 and 44, two best scores there), and thoroughly dominating at air hockey (smoked some fool 7-0 and another one 7-1). I also learned Brazilians can't bowl for shit. What was my point? Oh yeah, I'm gonna drink beer and watch "Sharks in Venice." Sounds like heaven.

- Summary: A man (Stephen Baldwin) must brave shark-infested Venetian waters to find treasure and rescue his girlfriend. A little bit of everything.

- Will they go with the time honored shark movie tradition of have someone get killed in the first three minutes? I'm going to guess not, because they are going to have to come up with a reason why there are so many damn sharks in Venetian waters - traditionally sharkless. I will, however, guess that they will continue the tradition of most shark movies and use footage of the wrong species of shark at some point. Which would have been like tossing in a shot of Samuel Jackson into an Indiana Jones movie and saying it was Indy, except worse because Sam Jackson and Harrison Ford are at least the same species. Can you tell this gets me all riled up?

- Oops, two minutes in and we have faceless, treasure hunting divers - you know what that means.

- This was given a 2.9 out of 10 on IMDB. That can't be good. But Scarlet Johannson's sister is in this. If nothing else, it gives me a reason to post a picture of Scarlet if I get bored.

- Shark attack. Killed the divers, right as they found the treasure, too. Along with a plaque that "dated from the correct time period" which really means they didn't want to look anything up. And guess what? The god damned shark roared when it attacked. Again. I don't understand why movies keep doing this to me.

- Holy god is Stephen Baldwin awful. I have no idea how he ended up in the brilliance that was "The Usual Suspects." Here he's giving a lecture on the Andrea Doria (oh, yeah, he's a professor - good Seinfeld reference though) while channeling a poor Alec Baldwin impersonator caught between his poor Alec Baldwin impression and a bad Dirty Harry one. But yeah, one of those divers from before was his father, so he's off to Venice - HOORAY!

- Well, in a complete ripoff from Jaws, the Venetian authorities are trying to claim it was a boat propeller accident that killed the divers, not a shark. But Billy Baldwin knows the truth! He will not be denied! Vengeance!!!!!!!!!1

- Have you ever been to Fogo? Ohmigod. They give you these little coasters with a green side and a red side. Red means don't serve me, green means bring me food. And boy do they ever. They walk around with skewers of fifteen different kind of meat preparations, from worthless chicken and pork to lamb and about 10 kinds of beef. They're like, "would you like this kind of steak" and then "would you like this kind of slightly different steak prepared with slightly different seasoning" and then like "here is some prime rib" and what not. My god. I don't think I'll ever have to eat again. I'm not even close to hungry and I last ate over 8 hours ago. Although I could really go for some steak right now.

- Ooh, Baldwin just found his father's diary hidden away (his house was ransacked, naturally) and it refers to the crusades and the templar knights. This is like DaVinci Code and Jaws all wrapped into one juicy candy shell, much better than his last big hit, Bio-Dome.

- Wife's home. Constantly talking and talking and talking and showing me what she bought that we don't need. What she's really doing is causing me to miss key plot points and steve baldwin facial expressions. She just doesn't get it.

- Ok, so I did some research and the Venetian canals water comes from the Adriatic Sea. Minimal google searching reveals that both a Great White and a Tiger Shark have been found there at a minimum in the past ten years. Since they haven't bothered to explain it, I basically just did it for them - although they haven't said what kind of shark it is yet. Probably a super shark like the ones from Deep Blue Sea or something faggy like that.

- You know what else borders on the Adriatic? Albania. Their chief export is chrome (I had to look that up, I always thought it was coal.)

- First shark footage. Great White. Let's see how consistent that is. Also Danny Baldwin is in the water right now. With our roaring shark. Searching a location that was marked on the diary they found in his father's ransacked apartment, looking for treasure. This movie is a mess, and we're only a quarter way through it. Venice was done much better in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

- So the new thing in this movie is everytime they show the shark they show it in fast motion and then use a sound effect that sounds very much like when the Millennium Falcon went into Hyperspace. Odd. And it roared again.

- Is anybody else really not getting the offers for Texeira? 8 years, $20 million per year? That's insane. Sometimes I'm glad the Twins not only don't have the resources, but also don't have the balls to get involved in anything like this. Although, I'm not going to lie to you, it would be nice to see them do something this off-season. Signing Nick Punto doesn't count. And way to make him your starting shortstop. Giving up already? The guy is an excellent, excellent utility player and backup. I love him in that role, because he's a great fielder at several positions and no longer completely worthless with the bat, but he's not a starting caliber player. Never has been, never will be. And they just eliminated themselves from signing any free agents or making any kind of move for a shortstop.

- If I'm following this correctly, Barty Baldwin just got chomped by Mr. Shark, who then inexplicably let go and now he's running around some hidden cave looking for treasure with no ill effects from said Shark Attack. From the same shark that completely destroyed all four previous victims, one so thoroughly that it decapitated him and his water-logged head went floating by (another Jaws ripoff). I don't know, but I'm starting think this movie might have been written by monkeys. Not smart ones either, but the Mr. Burns ones, "It was the best of times, it was teh BLURST of times!!!!"

- He found the treasure, but then he fell in the water and got chomped again, and his leg just got ripped off and DAMMIT it was just a dream. DAMN stupid movie with all it's false awesome death of Baldwin.

- Now he's meeting with a mob boss who looks like one of those stupid Geico cavemen from those retarded commercials who wants him to go back and find the treasure again. The boss's name: Vito Clemenza. So this movie is now Indiana Jones mixed with Jaws mixed with The Godfather. It's like somebody took pizza, tacos, and steak and mixed them up in a blender and expected to not get baby crap. Also Scarlet's sister is a horrible overactor who belongs on a day-time soap, and kind of a buzzill as she tells Bucky if he dives for the treasure again she's leaving him. But here's a picture of Scarlet to make me feel better:

- Worst piece of CGI ever, featuring a shark flying through the air to grab an attempted date rapist. Thing of reverse beauty.

- Jesus Christ, now the shark is rampaging and attacking the gondoloas, including eathing three people at once. This movie is worse than Jumper.

- Now there's some kind of shoot-out between police and what appear to be ninjas trying to inject Baldwin with something in a syringe. There are like, five hundred plot elements to this movie, and none of them connect to each other in any way that makes sense. It's kind of like a baseball team without good chemistry; unlike the Twins who always have incredible chemistry and invite each other over for a cook out all the time and thus always win the championships always and then have slumber parties.

- Early line on UL/Gophers is UL -9. If I had to pick, I'd take the Cards.

- So the caveman mafia godfather guy finally admits to putting the sharks in the canals. So now it all ties together. Great movie.

- Worst fight scenes ever. I can't go on.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hold on to Your Butts

This might get ugly, speaking of the upcoming Louisville/Minnesota tilt on Saturday. Ken Pomeroy has this as a 10 point win for the Cardinals, and gives them an 87% chance of winning, but I think he might be giving the Gophers too much credit.

This team is absolutely loaded, and they play a stifling brand of defense. They rank first in the country in defensive efficiency, and are in the top 25 in the country in several defensive metrics: offensive rebound % (4th), 3-pt fg % (8th), effective field goal % (13th), block percent (13th), and steal percent (21st). What does all that mean? It means they play absolute lock-down defense, and don't give you many second chances. The Gophers have been a very efficient offensive team this year, ranking 37th in the country in offensive efficiency, but they are absolutely going to have their work cut out for them on the offensive end.

And defensive too, for that matter. The Cardinals are not only an excellent offensive team, but they are a matchup nightmare. Their three top players are all 6-6 or bigger, and two of the three are threats from both inside and outside. Earl Clark is the smallest of the three, but might be the team's best overall player and would have likely been a first round draft pick if he came out last season. He's putting up 11.6 pts/8/1 rebs/3.4 assists per game this year, and almost put up a triple double against Ohio earlier this year. He isn't a major three point threat, but can hit it if needed, and has a great perimeter shot and can get to the rim almost at will.

If he isn't enough for you, how about 6-9 Terrence Williams, point forward extraordinaire. He leads the team in both rebounding (8.9 per game) and assists (4.9) - which he also led the Cardinals in last season - and chips in with 10.6 points per game as well. He's strong enough to take smaller players right down to the block and dominate, and can't be checked on the perimeter by bigger, slower players. Unfortunately for the Gophers, they only have one Damian Johnson, and they'll have to pick one of Clark or Williams for him to guard and pray to Jehovah that they figure out how to slow down the other one.

And we haven't even gotten to their leading scorer yet, the 6-9 freshmen and former high school player of the year Samardo Samuels. He's a bruiser (240 lbs.) who is coming off his first career double-double against Austin Peay with 21 pts and 12 rebounds. I don't think Williams has the quickness to slow him down, and I don't think either Iverson or Sampson are strong enough. Iverson is probably their best bet, but don't count on it.

Just in case you aren't nauseous yet, don't forget the Cardinals have four very good, lightning quick guards in Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, and Andre McGee, all of whom have better than a 1.4-1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, led by Jerry Smith at 3.3-1 and Knowles at 3-1 - both of whom also shoot the three at better than a 40% clip. Collectively, the team doesn't turn the ball over much at all (9th in the country in turnover %) and shares the ball well (3rd nationally in assists/made field goal ratio.

Give up? Yeesh. There is a bright spot here, kind of, and it's that the Cardinals have not really been tested yet. Their toughest test thus far has been Austin Peay, ranked 135th according to Kenpom (not counting tonight's game, against Ole Miss who is ranked 94th). They do have a lost in there, losing on a neutral floor (sound familiar?) to 134th ranked Western Kentucky 68-54 in a shocker, which, unfortunately, may have woken them up a bit.

Those are your bright spots. How can the Gophers win?

1. Figure out a way to turn the Cardinals over.
2. Iverson/Sampson are able to keep Samuels in check
3. Someone, and I have no idea who, helps out Damian Johnson and they figure out a way to slow down both Clark and Williams.
4. Nolen and company are able to keep Smith and company out of the lane (this one is actually possible)
5. Shamala and Busch don't get anywhere near the court, and Hoff plays sparingly since none of the three can possibly guard anyone on Louisville's roster, including the walkons.
6. The Gophers are able to keep the game at their pace (Gophers play very slowly (259th), Louisville very quickly (30th))
7. The Gophers are able to take advantage of every possession, and play an extremely efficient game to go along with their slow pace - something like 55% from the floor, 50% from three, and less than 10 turnovers.
8. Louisville is just flat cold. In their loss against Western Kentucky, the shot just 26% (20% from three), even though WKU is a pretty bad defensive club. A little luck like that, maybe because of the neutral court, would go a long way.
9. Al Nolen plays the game of his life on the offensive end, figuring out ways to get the offense going despite the suffocating Louisville defense
10. Some kind of miracle.

So that's it. That's all that has to happen for the Gophers to win. Can they do it? Sure, I guess. Cleveland State just won at Syracuse, so pretty much anything is possible. Just not likely. Louisville 77, Gophers 55. But to make you feel better, here's a nice Louisville (pronounced Lou-uh-vull) fan:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shark Attack 3: Megla-awesome

I'm supposed to be getting ready to head to the airport so Bogart can interrupt his Viking game viewing to pick us up, but the first twenty minutes of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon on Sci Fi has really sucked me in. In the bad way, and not just because of some of the worst acting in the history of acting, but because of the complete disregard for any semblance of realism.

In the first 20 minutes:

1. Dude finds a shark tooth that is going to end up being a Megalodon tooth. However, it's the size of a medium-sized Great White tooth. Megalodon tooth should be at least 3x bigger.

2. He can't identify it, even though he's a marine biologist and a Megalodon tooth is identical to a Great White's, the most famously recognizable tooth, except bigger. And then he looks it up in the "Shark Tooth Database" and couldn't find an entry. For a Great White shark tooth. In the Shark Tooth Database.

3. We then get some action of a shark in the water, but the footage they used was shark footage pirated from some poor documentary, and they didn't bother to make sure all the footage was of the same species. That's right, the supposed shark seems to alternate between being a Great White and a Bull Shark. The it dies, and we don't have any idea why, and the marine biologist guy identifies it as a "Sand Tiger" so everybody loses.

4. Finally, Megalodon makes an appearance and eats a punk rocker couple who go swimming at night, but guess what it does right before it attacks? That's right, it roars. Like a lion. Because I guess that's what movie sharks do. At least this time it wasn't for revenge. I don't think.

Since I have to get going, I'll make a promise to you that I will certainly almost maybe rent this and live blog the rest of it. It's too awesome not to.

And yes, I realize I'm a giant dork.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Watch Out for the A-10

As I said earlier this week, I won't be writing a Weekend Review because I'm heading to Chicago for vacation tomorrow, but if I did surely the top spot for WHO WAS AWESOME would go to The Atlantic 10 conference, giant killers of the basketball world.

Earlier today Temple knocked off #8 Tennessee decisively, 88-72, and UMass went into Kansas and beat the Jayhawks 61-60, despite trying as hard as they could to choke the game away. Add in that earlier this week St Joe's came within a hair of winning at #15 Villanova and Xavier's continued dominance (currently ranked tenth) and it's possible this conference might be for real this year.

They have a nice handful of good wins earlier this season as well, with Xavier having beat Memphis, Dayton over Marquette, St Louis over B.C., and Charlotte over Mississippi State (and don't forget Rhode Island almost beating Duke at Cameron). Add in the wins from today, and the A-10 is looking pretty good, although it might be tough to get more than 2 bids, as per usual.

Other stuff:

- Took in the Georgetown/Memphis game this afternoon, and got to see two of the better freshmen I've seen this year in Memphis's Tyreke Evans and Greg Monroe from Georgetown.

Evans didn't play his best ever game, shooting just 8-24 and turning it over five times but you can see how good this kid is by watching him. He makea more mistakes and forces more shots than you'd like, and with him and fellow freshmen Wes Witherspoon in charge of the backcourt the Tigers are pretty much doomed to not make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, but he is immensely talented and full of potential. He's already one of the best I've ever seen at getting to the rim. When he drives, where most people would pull up and shoot the jumper he finds a way to get just a little bit closer - it's crazy. And he plays the game faster than anybody else out there, he will absolutely be gone after this year.

Monroe's numbers didn't stand out either in the 79-70 OT win for the Hoyas, but the guy looks crazy good. He's an excellent defender already, as is typical of a Georgetown big man, and is an excellent scorer in the paint and a very intelligent player with the ball. What sets him apart from most seven footers is his perimeter game. Not so much a jump shot, which I don't think he really has, but he's very comfortable with the ball out there, whether passing to set up the offense or putting it on the floor to get to the rim. His ball handling skills are among the best I've seen in a center, and when another seven footer has to guard him out there he can go right by him - a big reason Memphis held him in check is their big men are athletic, not the bigger, stronger, plodding types.

- Speaking of plodding big men, I didn't get to watch as much of the Kansas/UMass game because I was paying more attention to the Memphis/G-Town game, but from what I did see Cole Aldrich was getting worked over by the Minutemen's Tony Gaffney. It turns out they both ended up with 13 rebounds and Aldrich outscored him 12-6, but Gaffney had six blocks and my eyes don't lie my friend, Cole struggles with the quicker, more athletic guys. Texas is going to beat them by twenty.

- Speaking of my eyes, I know people like it when I interrupt my rambling words with pictures of attractive young ladies, so here's a picture of the video game channel's Olivia Munn dressed up as Princess Leia. Rawr:

- Ok, pay attention again. Speaking of video games, if haven't rented The King of Kong yet, I must insist you stop what you're doing right now and go rent it and then watch it immediately. And if you want more red-hot Billy Mitchell action, search MTV for an episode of True Life called, "I'm a gamer." The whole episode is awesome and mainly follows other people, but there is a nice little bonus of some Billy Mitchell d-baggery that puts a nice follow-up (even thought this episode was filmed first) to King of Kong.

- So you know what's weird and actually pretty irritating? Utah has, right where the player's name is supposed to be, the word "Utah." So it says Utah on both the front and back of the jersey. What I'm guessing is that this is a seriously annoying dork motivational bit to say, "We aren't a collection of individuals. We're a team. We're UTAH!" Gayest thing ever? It's up there. Top five probably.

- And, just to make sure I end this on the right note, can anyone explain why the hell ESPN is showing a game from 1958 on ESPN in prime time tonight? So they've decided to take a game that should be on ESPN Classic, prettied it up and colorized it and made it HD, and then put it on in prime time on Saturday night. What the Mother F? As if it wasn't bad enough when they tried to force their stupid movies and insipid weekly series down our throats in prime time, now they try to give us a fifty year old game? Who is going to watch this? Eighty year olds? I'm lame, I'm not doing anything except sitting around the house tonight and not doing anything remotely interesting, and this is still dead last on the list of things I want to watch at 8pm tonight. Seriously. You know what I'd rather watch that is going up against this? Super Troopers on Comedy Central, and that's a horrible, horrible movie, but it's better than watching a game from back when Leave it to Beaver was must see TV (did you know there's a patron saint of television by the way, as named by the Pope in 1958? That is truly bizarre). You know what else I'd rather watch? ANYTHING. It boggles the mind. There are plenty of basketball games not being televised tonight, and you're supposed to be an all-sports station. PICK ONE.

[Added] I'm popping back in here again because while we were watching Twilight online I had the Cincy/Xavier game on in the background and some big guy for Cincy made a very nice, athletic move at the free throw line leading to a nice dunk, and when he turned around his name was Toyloy, and sure enough, it's the same Steven Toyloy the Gophers offered a scholarship to this offseason. He ended up signing with the Bearcats, and is playing pretty well and looked good the little bit I saw him. He's averaging 16 minutes a game, putting up 4 points and 5 rebounds per game, good enough for second leading rebounder on the team. Guy seems pretty solid.

And also congrats to Sammy "Sixxkiller" Bradford on winning the Heisman trophy. I'm just glad that moron Tim Teblows didn't win.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Can anyone explain to me why in the hell Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are at this Iowa vs. Iowa State game?

He's really underrated by the way.

Site News + Overrated Discussion

There will not be a weekend review, or any posts by me, for most of next week. The Mrs and I are heading to Chicago for vacation and to hang with the Bogarts. I'm hopeful one of the other wonderful contributors to this blog will step up with a post or two - perhaps the entertainment value of DWG will increase considerably. Although if there was a weekend review, in the WHO SUCKED category you would certainly find Kyle Orton. I have no idea how the Bears won that game last night. Every time they got the ball in the second half, Orton just went ahead and chucked it right to a dude in a Saints jersey.

I know one guy who didn't help the Saints was the supremely overrated Reggie Bush, who had a stellar 46 total yards. I just don't get the love. The guy is a horrible running back. He's never even been the best RB on his team, even going back to USC where Fatdale was a much better back. Sure, he's a dangerous kick return, but so is Awesome Rossum, even at 50 years old, and you don't have people talking about him every thirty seconds, and Rossum doesn't even have his own Fathead, which is a travesty. Honestly, what does it say when the Saints' featured rusher, Duece McAllister, is hurt/suspended/on leave on they don't even turn over the rushing duties to their Golden Boy, and instead look to Pierre Thomas, a guy nobody has ever heard of who had fifty career rushes going into the season - AND he's a whole lot better? Did you know Bush has never even cracked so much as 600 rushing yards in a season? And he's had twenty or more carries in a game only twice? Ever. Career rushing TD total? 12. In three years. And three of those game in one fluky game. I'm not saying he's terrible, he's clearly a sideshow type of weapon, but let's cool it with the love. He's more in the Devin Hester category than the Adrian Peterson category. Plus, his fiance made a sex tape with some other dude that leaked to the internet, so he's once again playing second fiddle. I've compared him to Mewelde Moore on here, but I'm starting to think that's an insult to Mewelde Moore.

As long as I'm talking about overrated players, let's talk about Davidson's Stephen Curry for a minute. Yes, he's an awesome, awesome player and he had one hell of a run in last year's NCAA tournament. I'll even add that there's nobody in college ball more dangerous in the last two minutes of a game, and it's not even close. But I'm getting a little sick of the praise heaped upon him no matter what he does. He's reaching Brett Favrian levels of love here. Any mistake he makes is either glossed over, blamed on his teammates, or credited to his "willingness to sacrifice for the team and play point guard." Guess what, idiots, he's not sacrificing to play point guard, he's doing it to help his own selfish needs to get drafted. He actually hurts the team because HE'S NOT A POINT GUARD. I heard one talking head guy compare him to Larry Bird. Clearly that can't be the case because Bird is white and you can't compare players of different skin tones, but even if you could, that's ridiculous. Everybody seems to be blinded because he's leading the nation, scoring 30.5 points per game, but look at everything else here.

He also leads the country with 21 shot attempts per game, half of which are three pointers so it stands to reason logically he would lead the country in scoring (also keep in mind the weird game against Loyola where he scored 0 and took only three shots because their coach bizarrely double teamed him everywhere, even without the ball.) He's shooting 48% (38% from three) which is excellent, but really buoyed by games against teams such as James Madison (14 for 19) and Florida Atlantic (13 for 21). Let's look at just the games against good teams: Oklahoma, West Virginia, and we'll throw NC State in here too, although it makes him look better but seems fair to include them anyway.

In those three games, he was 36 for 89, just 40%. From three he was 14 for 45, 31%. Ok, so you say "well of course his numbers will be worse against those good teams, this argument is silly." Ok, I'm with you. I can see where you're coming from although you're wrong, and if you had watched the games you'd see just how wrong you actually are. "Plus," you'd probably say, "look how awesome he's been at the point. He's averaging almost 7 assists per game with only 3.5 turnovers." Ok, you're a bigger idiot than I thought. Once again, he beats up on the bad teams with 10, 9, and 13 assists against Guilford, James Madison, and Winthrop against just 1, 4, and 3 turnovers. In the three games against good teams, his assist to turnovers were 3-3, 3-4, and 10-8. Eight turnovers! In one game! Yet his team won and he hit two big threes in the last two minutes and now everybody wants to make out with him.

Look, I like Curry. He seems like a good dude, and he really is an excellent scorer and an excellent player. This isn't like a Reggie Bush level of overratedness, it's just a warning that people are approaching the Brett Favre area of being unable to criticize anything he does. He's a scorer and that's it. It's time he just embraces it and accepts it like JJ Redick or Curtis Staples. Give it up on the point guarding. Of course, he's going to roll right through the Southern Conference like me at the Y, and just dominate and everyone will praise him until they can't talk anymore. Just wait for the tournament, he could easily shoot them right out of a game, or take his Kerwin Fleming level point guarding and put them in a big hole. Or score fifty points on 90 shots, anything is possible (after the Oklahoma game they mistakenly put up a graphic that he was 19-49 shooting and I didn't even flinch). Again, good player, but let's just relax.

You know who is really overrated though? The Fresh Prince. You know what I'm sayin'?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SDSU to the Barn

And I really don't feel like writing any sort of preview. If that's your kind of thing, check out the one at from the Barn. Instead, look at this awesome beer pong table, the picture of which I completely stole from someone else's facebook page:

Monday, December 8, 2008


While learning just how awful Hawaii is at defense, taking care of the basketball, and shooting while they get worked over by the not as good as you think Illini, I discovered an unknown gem in the Rainbow's 6-7 Junior forward Roderick Flemings. In addition to have a sweet name, he posses a good jumpshot, an insane vertical, good ball handling skills, and a nice mid-range game including a turnaround jumper from about 12 feet. As an added bonus, he's lefthanded.

He reminds me a bit of Hakim Warrick, which sounds silly until you look at both his stats and his pedigree. This is his first year with Hawaii after transferring from JuCo, but he did play his freshman year for Oklahoma State, where he averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds per game in 11 minutes - signing there after being given four stars by Scout.com and ranked as the #10 small forward in the country. Things didn't work out and he ended up at a Texas JuCo where he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds per game and signed with Hawaii despite being offered by Georgetown, UCONN, Kentucky, Texas A&M, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

He's made an immediate impact, needed badly on a team that lost seven seniors, leading the team in scoring (17.0) and steals (1.4) and second in rebounding (7.2) and assists (2.2), while shooting 47%. He had a double-double in his previous game in against Prairie View with 22 and 13, and has already done it against the Illini with 11 points and 10 rebounds as I type this, with 11 minutes remaining in the game.

The rest of the Rainbows suck worse than the name the Rainbows, so this information probably won't help you in any way whatsoever, but if you do hear about him for some reason, just remember you heard it here first.

Some info that might help you, however, is that Chester Frazier of the Illini is 4-6 on threes tonight, and looks like he might finally have learned how to shoot. He's shooting 33% so far this year, which, sadly, is a career high. Not that I'm particularly worried about Illinois or Frazier, but one less weapon for a Big Ten team is always a good thing.

Weekend Review


1. Big 10 Basketball. What? Did you think you’d be talking about the Big 10 as one of the better conferences in the land this season? It’s looking that way right now. The teams went 5-6 in the ACC/Big 10 challenge, as well as they have ever done. Other than Indiana, almost every time has had some good success this season. Illinois almost beat Clemson and followed it up by beating Georgia by almost 30. Iowa has a win over K State and almost beat BC at BC. Northwestern has wins over Florida State and DePaul, and even lowly Penn State has a win at Georgia Tech. The top three teams heading into the season are the ones who are struggling to win marquee games, with a Badger win over Virginia Tech, a Purdue victory vs. BC, and a Spartan win over Oklahoma State their only good wins, with big whiffs in other major matchups. The two teams who are really helping to elevate the national profile for the conference are Ohio State and Michigan. The Wolverines beat #4 Duke 81-73 on Saturday, making the Blue Devils the second #4 ranked team they’ve knocked off this year after beating UCLA earlier in the season. They managed to hold Duke to 7-33 shooting from three, and this shows the UCLA win was no fluke. Michigan has put themselves in great shape to get to the tournament, with just four cupcakes remaining on the non-conference schedule before Big Ten play begins (they will also play UCONN in Feb), if they can manage to go 9-9, they’ll be in. That leaves…..

2. Ohio State Hoops. The Buckeyes had a HUGE week, beating two ranked teams on the road. They won at Miami in the Big 10/ACC Challenge 73-68, and followed it up by beating the #7 ranked Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend 67-62 on Saturday. Swingman Evan Turner is turning into the sort of all-around player they need, averaging 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 3 steals and a block per game while shooting 56% from the floor, 50% from three, and 90% from the line. Wow. These are numbers I always expected from Lighty, not Turner, but I’m sure the Buckeyes will take it either way. The scary thing is that they aren’t getting a major contribution from either of their stud freshmen, BJ Mullens or William Buford. If either fo those two really get it going this season, they’re going to be quite dangerous.

3. Baylor Hoops. Remember last week how I said Baylor was looking quite good this year, but I was interested to see how they played against Washington State and their size since the Bears are so guard oriented? Well, the answered the question – their guards are good enough so that it doesn’t matter. The Bears waltzed into Pullman, WA and walked out with a 58-52 victory, showing they can handle a slow pace as well as their quicker one. The Cougars bigger guys (Klay Thompson, Aron Baynes, Daven Harmeling) all played well and also held the two big guys for Baylor, Kevin Rogers and Quincy Acy to 2 total points, but the Baylor guards were good enough to pull out the win, and the team outrebounded Washington State. Good win, especially on the road. I’m mentioned it before, but I’m officially announcing Baylor as a sleeper final four candidate.

4. Gopher Hoops. They played awfully sloppy at times in both games this week, but wins against Virginia by ten and Cornell by seventeen makes for an excellent week, no matter how you slice it. My thoughts on the Virginia game are elsewhere, so I won’t spend a lot of time on that, but the Cornell game was certainly interesting. A very sloppy first half that led to a 40-28 Big Red lead mainly behind Ryan Wittman was erased in a hurry in the second half, where the Gophers end up outscoring Cornell 43-14. What really helped Minnesota was the Big Reds complete contentment with hoisting threes all second half, and completely ignoring both anyone posting up and dribble penetration in general. The ended up shooting just 6-28 for the game, and that, along with a massive rebounding advantage (35-24) helped lead the Gophers to a big win. Such a big win, Ralph Sampson actually showed some emotion after dunking on some big white doofus’s head. Next up is a mostly useless tune-up at Williams against waste of time South Dakota State (2 of their 4 wins are against non D-I teams) before heading to Arizona to end their unbeaten streak and get stomped by Louisville. I also want to mention that the student section did an outstanding job with their chants with Wittman on the line, particularly “Fire Wittman” and “Where’s your daddy” when Randy had already left. Excellent work.

5. Miami Dolphins. Miami's 16-3 win at Buffalo, the second straight game the Bills could only muster 3 points, brings them to 8-5 and in a three way tie for the division lead with the Jets and Patriots. A huge change from last season, when they finished 1-15, and somehow someway just managed to luck into an OT against the Ravens to avoid going 0-16. Now they may have the inside track to the division crown. With their three remaining games against crappy San Francisco and on the road at crappy Kansas City before closing out against the Jets, they have the easiest schedule of the three contenders. It's hard to believe that noodle-armed Chad Pennington is the one leading them to this success, but he's getting it done. He's not throwing for a ton of yards, but is fifth in both completion percentage and QB rating, and has a 2-1 TD/INT ratio. Give Parcells credit, the man builds winners wherever he goes.


1. Ball State football. After going undefeated throughout the regular season, the Cardinals dropped the ball in the MAC title game, falling to Buffalo 42-24 and dropping their record to 12-1. They weren’t headed to a BCS game, since their schedule was pretty ridiculously easy with no ranked teams in sight, but this kills quite a few interesting things. They no longer are on of only three undefeated teams in college football, so that cute little story is killed. There were two possibilities for their bowl destination, either the Motor City, and having an undefeated team involved would have made that an interesting bowl for the first time ever, or a slim possibility that they could make it to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Boise State – another undefeated team that won’t be in the BCS. Whether or not they could figure a way to swing that matchup or not is now irrelevant thanks to the Cardinals five turnovers, including two fumbles that Bulls’ defenders returned for TDs.

2. Missouri football. What the hell happened here exactly? When I saw Mizzou was +18.5 to Oklahoma I had to take it. Too bad I turned out to be better on the ghost of a memory of history, as the Tigers got trounced by the Sooners 62-21 in the Big 12 Championship, ending what had to be a very disappointing season for fans at 9-4. Sure, they’ll end up playing in the Alamo Bowl and probably dismantling Northwestern, but this is a team that had National Championship aspirations and fell way, way short. Remember this team was 11-1 last year with a shot at the BCS championship game before losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship, and had its stud, Chase Daniel, back for another year. The started this season ranked 6th and had a handful of first place votes, climbing all the way to #3 before starting their free fall. Now Daniel is graduating, and Missouri will likely plummet back into the depths of mediocrity from whence it came.

3. Kentucky Hoops. Wow, talk about a program completely falling apart, the Wildcats are really struggling and the same group of fans who essentially ran Tubby “The Black Jesus” Smith out-of-town would probably commit several violations to get him back at this point. Even Rivals.com writers are calling out Gillespie for the way the team is falling apart after losing once again at home, this time to the U of Miami 73-67 on Saturday. It wasn’t so much that they lost - Miami is at least ranked - it’s that they fell behind by 21 points right out of the shoot. This gives the Cats their second home loss this year, joining their loss to VMI in the season opener. Couple those with the home loss to Gardner-Webb last year, and things are shaky in Lexington. A few decent wins in a Vegas tourney over West Virginia and Kansas State made it look like they might have gotten things straightened out, but now more questions abound. Is Kentucky just “another program” and no longer should be considered one of the national powers? Has this already happened?

4. Green Bay Packers. Oh uh, faggy Packer fans, looks like your squad is pretty much dead and buried after losing, at home no less, to the Texans 24-21. This drops the team to 5-8, three games behind the suddenly better than mediocre Vikings - although it remains to be seen what happens with the QB and DT positions - and effectively kills any playoff dreams, other than those that come in an alcoholic stupor. The Pack would need to win out and have the Vikes lose out just to tie, not even going into what they would need from the Bears. Would they have been better off with Favre this year? No, no they wouldn't. Favre had a better completion percentage and that's about it, Rodgers outperformed him in every other measure. This, of course, is where morons come in and say, "No he didn't, Favre outperformed in the wins column and that's all that matters. Also Bert Blyleven should never make the Hall because he didn't win three hundred games and Bartolo Colon completely deserved the 2005 AL Cy Young award for winning 20 games even though Johan Santana's WHIP was under 1 and his ERA was almost a full run better." I love you guys, keep up the good work.

5. Fouling up by three. Disturbing trend alert. You know how some people believe that if you are up by 3 with less than 10 seconds left and the other team has the ball you should foul to put them on the line instead of giving them a chance to shoot a game tying three pointer? And even though it may actually be the right choice (it's certainly debatable) it's incredibly, soul crushingly boring as a viewer and removes the excitement of the last second shot? Well, I've now watched two games (Florida/FSU and one I can't remember) where this situation arose, and they both fouled, and they both ended up winning. In a copy cat world, this frightens and confuses me. Last season, if you'd care to recall, NFL coaches all started calling timeouts right before last second field goal attempts, effectively making the kicker do it twice. One coach did it (shananahan?) and then everyone started doing it. If this "fouling" thing actually catches on, I'm afraid we're in for a lot of boring endings to games that could be much more fun. Not to mention that it kind of seems like a cheap way to win. Legal and all, but kind of girly. I don't like it one bit.