I'm sitting here right now watching Trevor Mbakwe cry, which I'm guessing means that this isn't a knee tweak, isn't a minor bump, and his season and by extension the Gophers' season is over. I actually have a lot of thoughts on the tournament that I wanted to get into, but after this I really don't feel like it and plus I have to go spend some time taking every single implement that could be used to damage home or person and lock them up before the constant rage and disappointment of being a Minnesota Sports Fan gets to me. I mean, really? A real live legit All-American candidate and this happens? A kid who seems to have put a questionable past behind him and has it all turned around with a possible NBA future and then this? This blows. I already had most of this crap written so I'll just leave it up here, but jesus this sucks.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Gopher football. Pardon my french, but what the fuck was that? I don't exactly follow the gopher football team super closely because they're terrible and I can only dedicate my time to a certain number of leagues/teams, but because they're the Gophers I try to check in as often as I can. And they've been brutal 99% of the time I've watched them. Then on Saturday due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances I ended up at the game and holy crap that did not look anything like the team I've seen most of the year. The defense was '85 Bears-ish and held Illinois to negative yards until their final drive of the 1st half, and MarQueis Gray suddenly figured out how to run/pass at the proper time and in the proper proportion. I'd talk about the second half but it was so goddamn cold we had to leave before I had to cut off my other hand, but man, talk about leaving 'em wanting more. Pretty sure we're talking Rose Bowl next year. Can't wait.
2. Missouri Tigers. The Tigers are just straight up smoking fools, and they aren't just blowing out cupcakes, they also won the CBE Classic by beating Notre Dame by 29 and Cal by 39. I mean Notre Dame and Cal aren't exactly anybody's sleepers, although Cal was ranked #18, but those are decent, NCAA Tournament possibility teams and Missouri is just running right by them. And I do mean run by, because this squad is top 23 in terms of tempo and top 7 in offensive efficiency, which means they're putting up a ton of points. They may run into a little issue with a lack of size because they lost one of their only two real big men to injury for the year and routinely run with four guards (Gophers take notes) but this team is a legit sleeper.
3. UNLV Runnin' Rebels. Well like whoa. I guess it isn't all that stunning that UNLV would win the Las Vegas Invitational given that it's held in Las Vegas, but to do it by beating North Carolina in the championship game and in convincing fashion is quite impressive. It was actually quite stunning how easily the Rebels were able to score, particularly in the second half. UNLV has some pretty good guards in Oscar Bellfield, Anthony Marshall, and Chace Stanback, but it was pretty amazing to see how the Tar Heel guards couldn't stop their dribble penetration, which led to kick-outs for open shots and a team total of 22 assists on the game - it was like watching the Gophers try to stop Dayton, but this is UNC here. Actually, UNLV has two guys who both averages over 5 assists per game which is pretty crazy. And with New Mexico looking less good than I thought, the Rebs might have become the MWC favorite.
1. Memphis Tigers. And here I thought Memphis was back. They roll into the Maui Classic ranked #8, the second-highest ranked team in the field, and lay a gigantic egg. First they get absolutely rolled by Michigan - who is looking good but not great or anything - in a game they only lost by eight but were never really in. They then follow that up with a 2 OT victory against an absolutely dreadful Tennessee team (seriously that team deserves it's own section here as well), and finally lost to a rebuilding Georgetown team in the consolation game. Seriously, the Tigers have all kinds of crazy talented guards and seemingly have no idea how to use them. I'm starting to think Jsoh Pastner is a great recruiter and a terrible game coach. Similar to, oh, I don't know, John Calipari? All Pastner needs to do is learn how to cheat better and he'll be a clone.
2. Iowa Hawkeyes. Jesus Christ, just when you think the B1G 10 is looking pretty stellar and maybe have a great year, here comes Iowa to stumble through the door like that drunken uncle who was at Thanksgiving who started out by farting and insulting the food, then hit on your mom before crashing through a plate glass window chasing an invisible flying burrito. We all have one, and now the B10 does to because Iowa lost to Campbell by 16. Campbell. By 16. Holy shit, amiright? I looked it up and Campbell hasn't beaten a major team, even if we include the MVC, MWC, A10, CUSA, WCC, and CAA, going back to 2001 which is as far back as ESPN has records and I don't really feel like going any further. Also technically they beat Auburn last year but that doesn't count, and they never beat anybody else. And they just beat Iowa by double-figures. God that's so awesome. Fuck Iowa.
3. The Pac-12. I'm getting sick of having to point this out every year, but once again the conference is just garbage. The conferences overall record is 38-30. The best team, Cal just got crushed by Missouri, while the other preseason contenders aren't doing much better - Washington lost by double-figures against St. Louis, Arizona lost to a D-II team and can't' beat anyone good, and UCLA is 1-4 with losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee. Oregon State and Stanford are looking like sleepers and Oregon and Colorado haven't done anything offensive, but haven't impressed at all either, and the bottom feeders aren't going to be helping the league's RPI - Utah is 1-5 with their BEST loss against Harvard, Wash State is 2-4 and just lost to UC-Riverside, Arizona State is 2-4 with a loss to Pepperdine, and USC put up just 36 points in an ugly loss to Cal Poly. I know they lost a bunch of players to the NBA over the last few years but I mean come on. And speaking of:
The NBA is back the NBA is back the NBA is back!
I seriously have no idea why I'm so happy about this. I literally watch around 6 regular season games a year. I guess there's just something about knowing there's professional basketballing going on in the background. Like I don't need to sit there and watch the games, but knowing they're going on in the periphery of my brain is just comforting in some way. It's kind of like the CIA and shit. I know they're doing all kinds of "illegal" things to help keep me safe, but I don't care. As long as I don't know about it and I don't get blowed up or whatever I'm happy.
Ok so that's really not the same thing at all. Too late though. Go NBA! Ricky Rubio and whatever!
Say your prayers or whatever that Mbakwe's MRI turns out favorably. But I fear that seems unlikely. Suck.