You cretins probably don't realize how difficult it is to run a blog, especially when you do a critically acclaimed and widely recognized Week in Review every Monday with an Awesome and Sucks section. Like, what am I supposed to do about this Gopher basketball game?
They won a road game on a last-second shot: Awesome. But it was against Penn State: Sucks. They played well enough to essentially dominate the game: Awesome. But a serious of mistakes in the final minutes almost let the game slip away: Sucks. Huge shot by Westbrook to win the game: Awesome. But it wouldn't have come to that if Westbrook hadn't made maybe the biggest of the mistakes down the stretch: Sucks.
Seriously, I didn't feel any excitement at all after he hit that shot, it was something closer to relief mixed with exasperation. About the only good thing about this game was Ralph turning into a monster. Snake once told me I expected too much out of Ralph too soon, and I think he was right. I was looking for this monster to emerge too early in his career, but I can see the career arch I had envisioned beginning to take shape. I'm starting to think two Big Ten Player of the Year awards was a bit too optimistic, but one is practically a given - assuming he stays two more years.
Anyway, I think the best strategy is just to ignore this game. It really means nothing other than now we have to watch a few more games before we can give up on this team. I'm still looking forward to a few NIT games.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Gonzaga. The Zags dropped a WCC game to San Francisco two weeks ago, ending their nine game win streak, but if you thought it was some kind of indication that they weren't awesome you are sadly mistaken my buddy friend. They started out this week with a complete drubbing of one of this season's pretenders to the WCC crown - Portland (Gopher fan: *cry*), waxing the Pilots 76-49, and then picked up a nice win on Saturday, beating Memphis at the FedEx Forum (that's in Memphis, genius). Beating the Tigers isn't quite the same feather in your cap it used to be the last few years, but beating a good team, and a good home team, in their place is always a good indication of a tough team. I don't love Matt Bouldin (GrandSlam's favorite player, FYI) but he can light it up when he needs to. Stephen Gray is the next Jeremy Pargo, Elias Harris is the next Austin Daye, and Robert Sacre is the most athletic center I can remember Gonzaga having. I don't think they're a final four threat, but they're closer to that than some of the versions we've seen of the Bulldogs before who were just ripe for a first round upset.
2. UNLV. Right now the Mountain West has probably two guaranteed bids - BYU and New Mexico - and there is probably room for one other team, either UNLV or San Diego State. The Rebels just took a huge stride towards grabbing that bid, blowing out BYU in Las Vegas in a game that was much less close than the 88-74 score would indicate. UNLV jumped out to a 15-2 lead to start the game and led 47-18 at one point before letting the foot off the gas. Former Memphis transfer Tre'Von Willis led the way with 33 points, 8 assists, and five rebounds, following up his 15-8-8 effort earlier in the week against Wyoming. The Rebels already have wins over Louisville, Arizona, and Nevada in the non-conference season and have already beaten New Mexico and San Diego State to go along with that win over BYU, so assuming there are no major hiccups they are in pretty good shape to grab a bid. Just don't lose to teams like Air Force or Colorado State or anything.
3. New Orleans Saints. I'm actually pretty bummed about this despite betting on the Saints. First, because I'm kind of a half-assed Colts fan and it sucks to keep watching the greatest QB of all-time (yeah, I said it) keep losing in the playoffs due to other people's mistakes. Secondly, the whole "Saints are destined to win to make up for Katrina" crap is mind-blowingly retarded. Seriously, how stupid are you people? A Super Bowl is going to make up for eighty-bajillion dollars in damages and a kajillion deaths? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure God still owes New Orleans a whole lot. And then he goes and has Chris Paul get hurt? Nice guy, your god. Anyway, congrats to the Saints. Sean Payton outcoached Jim Caldwell to infinity, Drew Brees executed perfectly, and that onside kick to start the 2nd half might have been the ballsiest call in history. This was probably the first Super Bowl in history where I didn't hate at least one of the teams, so I'm happy either way. But I would have been way happier if the Colts won. Also the Sidler is probably on suicide watch (he's from Indiana). Yes, again.
4. Steve Stricker. I haven't written a word about golf since the season started back in January, mainly because all the tournaments thus far have had less than thrilling player fields, but this week I have to give props to Stricker. After two good rounds, Stricker was in a tie with Dustin Johnson at ten under heading into the weekend, both three shots clear of the third place golfer. Rather than sit back, Stricker got after it again on Saturday, posting a five under 66, the second-best round of the day, which staked him to a huge lead going into the final round, a lead that let him simply coast to the championship with a 70. It was a very impressive and convincing win over a pretty good field that included Phil Mickelson, Paddy Harrington, Hunter Mahan, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, and notorious homo Stew Cink, among others. It seems strange to say Stricker is the #2 golfer in the world, but it's now official - he is.
5. Bracket Busters. The matchups for Bracket Busters were announced this week, and for once they managed not to screw it up. Of course, as usual there are a ton of matchups and a lot of them include teams like Presbyterian (RPI 318), UT-Martin (RPI 335), and Marist (RPI 337), but the eleven tv matchups are pretty intriguing with 19 of the 22 teams having an RPI under 100. The highlight is Siena at Butler, with Butler probably ok either way but Siena really needing this win to get an at-large, but there are six other games involving ten other teams that have NCAA At-Large bid ramifications (at-large hopefuls in bold): Old Dominion at Northern Iowa, William & Mary at Iona, Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, Akron at Virginia Commonwealth, Charleston at George Mason, and Wichita State at Utah State - although both W&M and GMU lost this week, probably ending their chances. In year's past there was usually one, maybe two games worth watching, but this year there are at least seven. The only thing really missing is a couple of Ivy League squads in Cornell and Harvard, but I guess the nerds have to nerd it up in their precious library and can't come out and play. Way to go, Poindexter! Enjoy your English Lit degree when you're serving my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip.
1. Michigan. If it's frustrating to be a Gopher fan this basketball season, and it most certainly is, try to imagine being a Michigan fan. Picked by most analysts to be a NCAA Tournament team and in the top five or so in the conference this season has been a huge struggle. A tough schedule and some poor play led to the Wolverines coming into conference play with a 6-5 record, but with a very good RPI and SOS they had a pretty good chance at a bid if they just played well against conference teams. However they dropped the opener to Indiana and have been faltering ever since. I win over UCONN two weeks ago could have been a rallying point for a late season push, but since then Michigan has gone 2-5, culminating this week in a blowout loss at Northwestern and then a blowout at home against Wisconsin, dropping them to 4-7 in the Big Ten and 11-12 overall, aka not even eligible for the NIT. This is what happens when a coach (Beilien) tries to force the players on his team to play in his stupid everybody bomb three-pointers at all times system when those players can't shoot. It's like a team of Paul Carters out there just bombing away.
2. LSU. Maybe it isn't exactly fair to call out LSU this week since they did play Tennessee and Kentucky, but they had them both at home, lost both, were completely embarrassed by Kentucky (lost 81-55), and it has become impossible to ignore the fact that the Tigers are now sitting at 0-9 in SEC play. Ouch. They were just in the Final four in 2006, and made the tournament last year and stretched eventual champ UNC into a damn good game. What happened? They still have Tasmin Mitchell, who is one of the best overall players in the NCAA, but everybody else is gone from last year, and the new guys all suck. Bo Spencer, a three-point specialist last year who shot 40% behind the line, has been unable to move into a more prominent role and is shooting just 28% from three this year. It's just depressing. I like my LSU teams to be hyper-athletic and capable of beating anybody at any time. Not on nine-game losing streaks with a win over Rice as their best of the year. And did I mention that Kentucky was winning 42-14 at half on Saturday? Yuck.
3. LaSalle. If you ever want proof that I'm an idiot, you can ring up my preseason LaSalle prediction as your latest in a long, long, line of evidence. I was blinded in the preseason by a returning super-stud scoring machine (Rodney Green) and a super fancy brand new freshman center (Aaric Murray) and picked them to finish second in the A-10. Well it turns out they suck, and this week eliminates any doubt. They had two home games - the first a nice chance to pick off a top team with Rhode Island coming in, the second a simple win over St. Louis - and obviously they lost them both or I wouldn't be here typing this right now. LaSalle is now 3-6 in the conference, tied for 8th with crap factory Duquesne, and is at 11-12 overall. Like Michigan, they are now not even eligible to make the NIT since they are under .500. Sounds like a killer CBI match-up. Between this and my pimping of Cincinnati it's pretty clear my eye for talent is worse than someone who thought Troy Williamson would be a super star (bogart). Ohio State better come through for me.
4. Cincinnati. Oh yeah, Cincinnati. The team I pimped as a final four sleeper this year. Whoops. They might still make the tournament and all, currently sitting at 5-6 in the Big East with a couple of really good non-conference wins already on the resume, but you can go ahead and forget about them making any kind of run barring Lance Stephenson turning into Carmelo Anthony in the next month. This week was a pretty good barometer of what type of team we have here. Good teams beat bad teams on the road and beat other good teams at home. This week the Bearcats played Notre Dame on the road and Syracuse at home - they went 0-2 and neither game was even close, which tells me this isn't any kind of special team whatsoever, just another lame-o team like so many out there. Deonta Vaughn has taken about twenty steps backwards, Stephenson has been just ok, Ibrahima Thomas hasn't made much of an impact, and everybody else here is just meh. I'm so disappointed.
5. Reggie Wayne. If you're looking for a goat for the game, don't bother with Peyton or Caldwell, look to Wayne. Targeted eleven times he came up with just five catches for 46 yards. He let a perfect pass go right through his hands at the end of the game which would have been a touchdown (also we could maybe look hard at Pierre Garcon here if we're talking dropping passes). Most importantly, he slipped on the big Peyton INT that Porter returned for a TD. If he doesn't slip, that's either a catch or, at worst, an incompletion. Instead, he slips and can't get back for the ball, and you know the rest. Yeah. It's not Manning this time, it's Wayne. And with Garcon and Collie on board and Gonzalez coming back from injury, it's probably time to trade him while his value is high. Maybe to like, the Vikings or something. I don't know, just brain storming here.
Seriously though, I am happy for the Saints. They're almost impossible to hate, other than the whole "team of destiny" crap and the fact that Reggie Bush is a big piece of crap yet Bogart loves him. Seriously, he totaled 25 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards in the game. You know what's even worse? He covered the OVER with both of those. Seriously. Dude sucks. He's the next Dave Meggett. But he does have Kim Kardashian, so who am I to argue?
And if you aren't excited now, you should start getting excited because it's RIVALRY WEEK on ESPN! Woo! What does that mean? Well, like every other year, it pretty much just means North Carolina and Duke play this week, and then they pretend that a bunch of non-rivalries are rivalries so they can call it a "week." Whoopy.