Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday Hoop Action

Before I get into today's basketball, a couple of quick things:

1. The World Baseball Classic gets underway on Saturday with the US taking on Canada. A lot of people think this thing is pretty gay, but I am of the opinion that it's competitive baseball at a high level, and you can never get to much of that. Anyway, I was going to do up a nice fancy preview, but The Fourth Strike, a newish Gopher & Twins blog that I am really enjoying, beat me to it. You can see which Twins' players and prospects are involved here and check out previews of the top 8 teams in part 1 and part 2 of his preview here. I'll save you some suspense, he picks the USA as the best team. Homer alert. Dude probably loves Travis Busch, too.

2. A couple of very quick reviews.
- first up, the book Freakonomics. I never really knew what it was all about, but I had heard of it before and figured it was stupid. Then I found out it was by an economist who applied economic analysis principles to interesting things like, "Why do so many drug dealers live with their mothers?" and "How are real estate agents like the Ku Klux Klan?" It was actually pretty interesting and entertaining. I bit disjointed, it reads like a series of magazine articles rather than a coherent book, but I would recommend it nonetheless.
- Also recommended are a couple of movies that I figured I'd like. Zack and Miri Make a Porno I expected to be good, and it is, as was Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Both are basically romantic comedies dressed up as guy movies, or guy movies dressed up as romantic comedies. Kind of like Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Entertaining and hilarious, with just a touch of sweetness and romance to keep the chicks involved. Recommend both as highly as possible.
- Not quite to that level of recommendation, but worth a mention because we rented both for free thinking they were going to be garbage but actually enjoyed them are Sex Drive and The Rocker. Sex Drive is basically a sex comedy/road trip movie (think American Pie meets Road Trip) which is usually a recipe for disaster (see: Any National Lampoon movie since Van Wilder), but the boy/girl best friend pair who are obviously going to end up together at the end are touching enough, real enough, and funny enough to make that end believable, and Seth Green and that one kid from the TV Show Greek are absolutely hilarious. It kind of falls apart at the end, but for the majority of the show it's very good. The Rocker, on the other hand, was probably no better than a C+, but considering a movie where Dwight from the Office plays a washed up drummer who joins a teenage band, I figured we'd get no further than fifteen minutes into it. Instead, it was a solid OK. I guess that's not really a recommendation, but it's not a non-recommendation either.
- If you want a non-recommendation, I completely and totally don't recommend City of Ember. It's a kids type fantasy movie, but it jumps into the middle of nowhere with no backstory and you are instantly confused - and then it gets weirder and starts to make less sense. It was kind of like being given a book with the first two chapters missing, and then every other page torn out after that. We lasted about half an hour.

Alright, enough already, this is supposedly a sports blog. The Gophers got some help with teams falling off the bubble, as Cincinnati, Georgetown, and Kansas State all lost and probably killed their respective chances, and Maryland is now on life support and will need a deep ACC tournament run after failing to grab a marquee win over Wake Forest at home. As far as bad news, Ohio State squeaked out a win at Iowa that, with just a home game against Northwestern remaining, probably puts them in.

As good as it is that four bubble teams may have killed their chances, the fact that the one who helped itself is from the Big Ten - although that isn't supposed to matter according to the committee - is a bit of a buzzkill (although having split with them helps). Then again, if the Gophers just take care of business and win their two remaining home games, there shouldn't be much to worry about come Selection Sunday.

Anyway, on to your small conference tournament previews. I know a lot of readers are probably bored by this, but keep in mind not even ESPN is doing this, so that proves that I'm awesome and you all suck.

SUN BELT: It's not quite the little conference that could like it was last season, with both Western Kentucky and South Alabama being at large candidates as both were hit by big time players graduating, but there still are two RPI Top 100 teams here in WKU (#57) and Arkansas-Little Rock (#86), although neither has a prayer at an at-large.
FAVORITE: Western Kentucky. Even though WKU and ALRU have the same conference record, the Hilltoppers have to be the favorite given their win over Louisville and sweep of Little-Rock. Three starters are gone, including stars Courtney Lee and Tyrone Brazelton (and round 1 hero Ty Rogers), but WKU boasts a very balanced attack with four players scoring double figures led by AJ Slaughter at 15.7.
SLEEPER: Troy. Just a game back of those two, the Trojans already have a win over WKU this season and come into the tournament haven't won 12 of their last 13 games. They play fast, and they are a very deep team who can hot from three in a hurry.
W's PICK: Troy. Western Kentucky is better, and has more experience in these conditions, but Troy comes in on a roll and their hot streak includes wins over both WKU and Little Rock.

PATRIOT: Former darling Bucknell has fallen out of it's success run, but American and Holy Cross are still going strong in one of the worst conferences in the country.
FAVORITE: American. The Patriots come in with the best record and last year's Patriot Tourny MVP Garrison Carr. They only dropped one game in conference, and were rarely threatened. Also in their favor is that their are no neutral site games in the Patriot tournament, so as long as they're playing they'll be at home.
SLEEPER: Even though Holy Cross is the #2 seed and the only team to beat American in league play this year, I'm giving the nod to Navy as having the best chance to knock off the Pats. They play an uptempo style, which is very different than American (Navy 39th fastest team, American is 330th) and pushed the Patriots to the brink twice with both losses by a combined six points. They boast two of the top three scorers in the conference, and five of the top 32.
W's PICK: I really wanted to pick Navy here, because slow teams are lame, but the stats make it look like a good win for American. Navy is fast but not particularly efficient, and American is easily the best defensive team in the conference. As for Holy Cross, they're basically just a poor man's version of American.

ATLANTIC SUN: The league has been dominated by Belmont over the last few years as they've won the tournament three straight years, but things might be changing. Always a league ranked towards the bottom of the nation, they make things interesting with Belmont, Mercer, and Gardner-Webb (now in the Big South) with major upsets the last few years.
FAVORITE: Jacksonville. The Dolphins snagged the #1 seed by just a game over Belmont and East Tennessee State, and posted a 3-1 record against those two with a sweep of Belmont. Jacksonville doesn't really have much that stands out, but point guard Ben Smith leads the team in points, assists, and steals and they are a very good rebounding team.
SLEEPER: E. Tenn. State. Belmont is obviously a threat, but ETSU beat them by 30 earlier in the year and also boasts a win over Jacksonville. The Bucs don't necessarily do anything particularly well, but they also don't really have any major statistical weaknesses when compared with their peers either. They also have the league's top scorer in Kevin Tiggs who puts up 21 a game on 53% shooting, and the leagues third leading scorer in Courtney Pigram, who scored 38 points in the Bucs' last game.
W's PICK: E. Tenn. State. The Bucs' two pronged inside-outside attack, as well as their overall balance as a team can keep Jacksonville in runner-up status for the second year in a row.

Boston College @ NC State - BC needs at least one win, and probably two with two remaining.
North Carolina @ Virginia Tech - The Hokies don't look good right now, but his is a win that would give their chances a huge boost.
Miami (FL) @ Georgia Tech - A must win for the Canes to finish at .500 in the ACC, an absolute must given their out of conference profile
Georgia @ Kentucky - Must win for the Cats
BYU @ Wyoming - The Cougars are probably in right now, but can't afford to drop a game to a team like Wyoming
Texas A&M @ Colorado - The Aggies somehow got themselves onto the very crowded bubble, and need to keep winning to stay there.
Florida @ Miss State - Because the SEC doesn't have many good teams, the Gators have managed to stay in the conversation but desperately need this win
Air Force @ UNLV - The Rebels have a very impressive profile, but can't afford to drop any more games as they sit in fifth in the Mountain West, a clear example of a team that plays to their competition level makes this game all the more dangerous (4-1 vs. RPI Top 25, but just 8-6 in the MWC)

Wisconsin @ Minnesota - Obviously, we know this is a big one. Here's your preview:

And, just so I don't disappoint,

TOMORROW: Missouri Valley and Northeast Conference kick off their tournaments, with the Atlantic Sun and Big South moving into round 2.


Dawg said...

The biggest game in years for the gophers and you didn't provide a breakdown? Instead you tell us to watch Zack and Mira Make a Porno which is like telling us that 16 oz beer cans are better then 12 oz beer cans. No shit sherlock.

I think I might be too nervous to even watch this game. It has too many implications. A win will mean a season sweep over our hated rivals and 1 step closer to the big dance. A win would also damage Bucky's tourney chances who are without a marquee win this year but inexplicably are still considered "in" the tourney because they scheduled a bunch of tough teams and lost them all. They squeaked out wins over Monson's LBSU Idaho State and Iona. I hate Bucky and hope that Bo Ryan has an aneurysm while yelling at the refs tonight.

A loss at home to Bucky at this stage in the season would be like getting your ass kicked by 112 lb kid in a white vest. Humiliating beyond repair. Like jump off a bridge bad. If we don't make the tourney because Bucky beat us at home then I will likely head into a self loathing downward spiral that hasn't been seen since 1998 when I wrote the Vikes off for good.

I don't want a good nail biter game. This season has been suspensful enough. Please gophers, I'm begging you to come out with some passion and dominate Bucky all game long.

Gophers are invincible at home against teams not named Michigan St or Purdue. With that said I'm predicting Gophs 80 Bucky 61.

WWWWWW said...

Yes, this game is huge and I know I should probably give some kind of preview, and I still might, but right now I'm just tired of writing the same preview over and over again.

The Gophers need to come out with fire right out of the gate. We've seen them come off of a slide on the road and play great at home (Illinois, Northwestern) and that needs to happen again.

Nolen and Westbrook need to play better. It's that simple. The Badgers have improved since the Gophers beat them in Madison, and the sloppy play we've seen lately (save the NW game) won't get it done tonight.

I am also nervous for tonights game, which is why we are going to the bar first. If the Gophers lose tonight I might just quit for life. This would be a million times worse than the Twins losing 2 of 3 to the Royals at the end of last season, but just as predictable.

God I hate myself sometimes.

Wisconsin 66, Minnesota 55 - NIT here we come.

WTF said...

That bitch is Fugly!

WTF said...

That bitch is Fugly!

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀菲梵, 酒店經紀~free fun~, 酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 酒店上班, 酒店上班, 酒店小姐, 酒店小姐, 酒店工作, 酒店工作, 酒店打工, 酒店打工, 酒店兼差, 酒店兼差, 酒店兼職, 酒店兼職, 經紀人, 經紀人, 禮服店, 禮服店, 便服店, 便服店,

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店經紀, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店工作, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀,,