Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NBA Central Division Preview

Kyrie plus Dion
Equals offensive rebounds
galore for Andy.

Cleveland's post-Lebroncalypse rebuilding effort continues in 12-13.  They landed Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller in the draft.  Some thought Waiters was a bit of a reach as he didn't even start in college.  He looked a bit clunky and out of shape in the summer, struggled in the pre-season, but scored 17 points with 3 steals in one NBA game so far!  Zeller may not be a complete stiff, which is good because Varejao will draw some calls before the trade deadline. The Alonzo Gee/CJ Miles/Omri Casspi show at the 3 has to be the worst in the league.  Second year PF Tristan Thompson was the #4 overall pick in 2011 and will look to build on a promising run as a starter at the end of last season.

Starting Unit:
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Dion Waiters
SF Alonzo Gee
PF Tristan Thompson
C  Anderson Varejao

They had 21 wins last season and the over/under is 30.5.  The question is are CJ Miles, Zeller and Waiters worth more than Antawn Jamison, Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker and uh...Christian Eyenga?  For this year, I say no, but it's certainly better for the future.  Under 30.5.

What the mother eff?
How did Noah score that?
Bet she has a 'stache

Last year Chicago went 50-16 and were aiming to do some damage in the playoffs when Derrick Rose's knee burst into flames.  Now he may not return until February or March and it's up to Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson to keep his spot warm and keep the team winning.  Deng and Boozer will be relied on heavily to provide offensive punch that doesn't involve the aforementioned 42% shooters.  If Rip Hamilton can stay healthy for a year that would help too.  This is still a strong defensive team under Thibodeau with Deng, Taj Gibson and Noah.  Former Marquette small forward Jimmy Butler also gets his shot this year after missing last season with injury.  He's also a lock down type defender.

Starting Unit:
PG: Kirk Hinrich (goggles version)
SG: Rip Hamilton (faceguard version)
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C : Joakim Noah

The o/u is 47.5 and despite no Rose for the bulk of the year I'm going over.  One, this squad will stay in games with defense and perhaps the new additions of Hinrich/SuperNate/Butler/Bellinelli and a full year of Rip can score enough points to make them a winner.  I also suspect that Rose is busting his ass to be back early.

Good thing nobody
Watches NBA basket-
ball in Wisconsin

Actually, it's not quite as bad as my haiku makes it seem.  The Bucks have decent starters at every position save small forward, but are forced to rely on Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to both co-exist and be the stars on the team.  Former first round pick Tobias Harris will be given a shot to be the starting small forward at least until Luc Richard meh Mehbute returns.  Ersan Ilyasova had a break through year and if either of the guards share he could build on an impressive '11-12 season.  He had 13 points and 9 rebounds per game despite only starting in 41 contests and playing just 27.6 minutes per game.  Every one of those numbers will increase for this season.  Samuel Dalembert is a solid defensive center that will block some shots and get some rebounds for them.  The Bucks added lanky defensive freak John Henson from North Carolina in the first and may have also scored with second round pick Doron Lamb of Kentucky.  They'll hopefully provide some needed depth.

Starting Unit:
PG Brandon Jennings
SG Monta Ellis
SF Tobias Harris
PF Ersan Ilyasova
C  Samuel Dalembert

This team doesn't blow me away, and I think the o/u is pretty accurate at 36.5, but since I'm a predicting machine, I'll go over.

What's better than eight
points scored over nine seconds?
Strippers and booze, duh.

The Pacers are a well built team that appear to have ever growing expectations.  They have one my favorite players in the NBA in Paul George and he'll be relied upon heavily early with Danny Granger's knee acting all wonky.  Granger is going for the dreaded second opinion, which could lead to surgery of some sort.  Darren Collison is in Dallas this year which means IUPUI's own George Hill will be the point guard this season.  He's not as flashy as Collison, but can shoot it and protects the ball.  David West is still a productive 4 and Hibbert continues to play borderline all-star basketball at the pivot.  Sam Young of Pitt and Gerald Green of slam dunks will see more time because of Granger's absence as well.  Green has recently shown a lot of scoring ability, it sure would have been neat if he did that as a member of the Wolves.  The bench also features Tyler Hansbrough, Ian Mahinmi, Miles Plumlee and Lance Stephenson, so they have some depth there.

Starting Unit:
PG George Hill
SG Paul George
SF Sam Young
PF David West
C  Roy Hibbert

The Pacers have a 51.5 o/u and I'd hit the under solely because of Granger.  If there is good news on the second opinion, I'd go over.

Bad boys they aren't
but there are some good signs here.
Miss America

The Pistons rebuilding effort really begins with talented play of Greg Monroe.  In just his second full season he was a double double machine, averaging 12/10.  He also can handle the ball well and gets his share of blocks and steals on the defensive end.  Brandon Knight will be entering his second season after a solid rookie campaign where he had 13/3/4 and shot 38% from downtown.  He'll look to expand on those numbers, especially the assists.  Stuckey is a player more suited to be a combo guard off of the bench, but seeing as Kim English and Will Bynum are the depth in the backcourt, he'll be leaned on to be a scorer.  Prince, Maggette, Singler, Jerebko, Maxiell, Daye and Villanueva are part of a cluster of forwards that make shake any number of ways.  The Pistons likely regret not trading Tayshaun when they had a chance; now he's just a bloated contract in a complimentary player.  Ideally for the Pistons, first round selection Andre Drummond from UConn develops at a high speed and takes over the 5 spot shifting Monroe to the 4.

Starting Unit:
PG Brandon Knight
SG Rodney Stuckey
SF Tayshaun Prince
PF Jason Maxiell
C  Greg Monroe

The Pistons are at a 31.5 o/u and I'm going under  I like Knight and Monroe to continue to develop, and there's enough depth there to steal a few wins but I feel a late season tank coming on here.

DWG NCAA Preview: Team #19 Minnesota Gophers

Because above all else - including the Twins, gambling, shitty predictions, and shark movies - this is a Gopher basketball blog I'm giving them their own post rather than just lumping them in with a bunch of other teams like I've been doing.  And since I know things will go better this way, I'm going to do this in random points style.

-  Is #19 a little bit too high?  Yeah, maybe.  Based on votes the Coaches poll has them 34th, while the AP poll puts them at #30.  CBS Sports has them at #22 and most of the other polls/previews I've found put them anywhere between twenty and fifty, so yes, nineteenth is a bit optimistic, but only a bit.  I'm also making some assumptions about the Gophers this year, which brings me to a few more points.

-  I'm assuming Trevor Mbakwe is healthy.  Let's put aside any legal questions regarding Mbakwe because it's reportedly all behind both him and the team at this point and also who really gives a crap?  I don't care what the players do off the court (as long as they stay eligible) and couldn't care less if they graduate (as long as the program doesn't get hit like UCONN and others just did) I just want my teams to win.  Given that as my starting point, I only care about if Mbakwe can play the way he could when healthy, and I'm thinking it's a yes.

See, because this isn't the dark ages of medicine anywhere.  When my dad blew out his knee when he was playing minor league baseball ages ago they practically had to slice the knee off to work on it.  In more recent times, it was said you needed anywhere from a year and a half to two years to fully recover, but luckily modern medicine continues to get better and that's not necessarily the case anymore.  Adrian Peterson blew out his knee Christmas Eve of 2011 and is now one of the leading rushers in the NFL in a season that started just 9 months later.  A more relevant example is Michigan State's forward Branden Dawson, who blew out his knee in early March of 2012 and has already resumed full basketball activities just 7 months later.  Mbakwe has a full 3 months on that dude recovery wise, so I expect him to be the same guy who was attacking the glass and practically winning games for the Gophers single handedly early last season.

-  I'm assuming Rodney Williams has learned how to play and won't shrink back into Mbakwe's shadow.  Probably the biggest key to last year's little bit of success was Williams blossoming after Mbakwe's injury into a legitimate forward.  He learned to play a little bit of PF, taking smaller defenders down into the paint even if Tubby called an agonizing small amount of plays that called for this, and he learned how to play SF, figuring out that a mid-range jumper wasn't his game and that when he had slower defenders on him to take that shit to the rack.  He was a smashing success, nearly doubling his scoring and increasing basically all stats across the board.  My hope is that he can continue to play this way, and maybe work in an little high post/low post (come on, you know Tubby loves it) with Mbakwe depending on match-ups and see what happens.

The fear, of course, is that with Mbakwe back as the main big man - and make no mistake that's his paint - Rodney will decide he's a perimeter-oriented small forward once again.  He'll start the year settling for threes and taking long-range 2s rather than posting up or getting to the rim, and when he starts missing (and unless something has drastically changed he will be missing) he will lose confidence, get pulled from games, and revert back to his sophomore year level of play.  I am choosing to believe that this will not happen.  Williams looked happy last season for once of the first times I can recall, and I think he really enjoyed being "the guy in the paint", the guy who exploited mis-matches, and the guy who could crash the boards.  He can still be all this, and if he does, he's going to be one of the best small forwards in the conference.  It is on Tubby to make sure he finds a way to make Mbakwe and Williams' co-exist.  Their skill sets do overlap in some ways, but they complement each other in may ways as well.  Make it happen, Tubby.  This is easily the most important piece to this year's puzzle.

-  I'm assuming Andre Hollins is as good as he was at the end of last season.  If you're a Gopher fan you know how Hollins closed out the season (at least until the Stanford game):  8 straight games scoring double figures with half of those over 20, incredible free throw shooting (40-42 in those 8 games; 90% for the year), 16-40 from 3, and 26 assists - incredible numbers if he could keep it up for the season.  He showed flashes of that kind of scoring ability earlier in the year, and an 8-game stretch is too long to be a total fluke. He brings an incredible ability to get into the paint to the table (shades of Russell Westbrook) and obviously can finish at the line.  He may not be the best pure distributor a point guard could be, but he got better as the year went on and finished out looking awfully good for a freshman.  His shooting is only so-so from the outside, but a 38% 3-point percentage in his first year is a good indicator of success.  All signs point to an absolute breakout year.

My one fear is that Tubby may end up neutering him.  Yeah he's a little reckless at times and can be out of control, but that's what I want in my point guard.  I want a point guard who, every single time he gets an outlet pass, streaks up the floor immediately to see if anything looks good, and then pulls it back.  I don't mind forcing the ball where it maybe shouldn't go sometimes because if the point guard is good enough (and I think he is) that's going to work as often as it doesn't.  You show me a point guard at this level and at that age who is always under control and I'll show you a point guard who can't make anything happen.  With Mbakwe and Williams already there to take care of the paint someone has to be the guy on the perimeter, and there is no reason for it not to be Dre Hollins.

-  Put those three assumptions together, and you can see why I'm so optimistic this season.  Think about it.  If all those assumptions break correctly, how many better big men are there in the league than Mbakwe?  I'll tell you:  1 - Tyler Zeller.  Whichever you prefer, those two are clearly #1A and #1B in the Big 10.  Then, what is a better combo of forwards than Mbakwe and Williams?  Again, Indiana with Zeller and Watford.  Unless the two freshmen at Michigan (McGary and Robinson) are through the roof (very possible), Basabe stops sucking and Aaron White improves immensely at Iowa and/or Adam Woodbury is ready to be a stud now (unlikely), or some combination of the Spartan freshmen and Branden Dawson's knee are studs (possible), the Gophers will have a top-2 forward combo, and at worst will be top-5 if all those things I just wrote happen.  Then, how many PGs are going to be better than Andre Hollins?  Trey Burke, obviously.  Tim Frazier, probably but kind of irrelevant.  Aaron Craft?  Maybe, but what about on offense?  Keith Appling?  No.  Jordan Hulls?  No.  There are two freshmen who could be huge in Yogi Ferrell (Indiana) and Gary Harris (Michigan State), but in any case you're looking at one of the top players at three different positions for the Gophers this year.  Fill in the rest with capable role players (and I'm not quite ready to relegate Austin Hollins or Joe Coleman to "role player" being their upside this year) and you're looking at a very, very good team.


I can absolutely see this going to shit as well, even if Mbakwe is 100%, and that's due to Mr. Tubby Smith.  The way this team is built, with Mbakwe and Williams, they should be grabbing damn near every defensive rebound and then they should be outletting to Hollins and go.  This team should be fast enough and athletic enough to have an excellent transition game.  Unfortunately the Gophers have never ranked higher than #192 in tempo under Tubby.  The highest Kentucky ever ranked under Tubby was #147, so I'm guessing we aren't going to see a more uptempo squad.  This worries me that he's going to beat on Hollins' that he needs to slow it down, walk it up, make 3-passes before a shot and all that other Norman Dale bullshit.  I also worry about the Mbakwe/Williams dynamic, because Tubby has never gotten a 2-big man system to really work.  Now, Williams isn't a true big man but he also doesn't shoot well, so that's going to be on Tubby to figure that out, but if he can make it work Austin Hollins and Julian Welch (and Oto Osenieks) should have many, many chances to knock down open jumpers. 

I've never been one to irrationally call for Tubby's head, and I'm not doing it now, but this is absolutely a make-or-break year for him.  For one, as outlined above, he has the most talented team he's had here yet and has a chance to develop into something special.  Perhaps even more important is the wealth of basketball talent in Minnesota in 2014, and while a successful year might convince some of that talent to stay home, another missed NCAA Tournament will almost certainly drive them away.

ESPN ranks Tyus Jones (Apple Valley) #1 for the class, Rashad Vaughn (Cooper) #10, and Reid Travis (De La Salle) #29.  Jones is almost certainly not going to stay home, but Vaughn and Travis are the kind of kids who can make a school like Minnesota.  Tubby's overall record with highly ranked Minnesota kids is very good, but these guys are ranked way ahead of where Royce White, Rodney Williams, and Joe Coleman were.  This season needs to go well to have a chance to get these guys.  I don't know if Tubby's job depends on it, but it should.

Oh, right.  Picture:

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47 
Teams #46-39 
Teams #38-34 
Teams #33-26 
Teams #25-20

NBA Preview Atlantic Division

I'm an NBA fan, so sue me.  Here's a quick preview of each team in the Eastern Conference - Atlantic division, complete with haikus.
Russian Billionare
Watch him spend fat stacks of cash.
They're still pretty meh.

The Nets made some moves both in their roster and to their new home in Brooklyn.  The add mega-overpaid sharpshooter Joe Johnson, malcontent Andray Blatche, Bosnian sharpshooter Mirza Teletovic and Josh Childress's afro.  I worry that neither Humphries nor Lopez can play much D and there are a lot of chuckers but Deron Williams is still really the only creator.

Starting Unit:
PG Deron Williams
SG Joe Johnson
SF Gerald "Crash" Wallace
PF Kris "My dad owns a Five Guys in Duluth" Humphries
C  Brook Lopez has them at a 46 win o/u which puts them in the bottom half of the playoff hunt.  This sounds about right to me, but since I predict stuff sometimes, I'll say under 46.

No Jeremy Lin
Hear Amare's knees creakin'
Luxury tax free!

The New York Knicks of all teams suddenly became frugal when the Rockets fed them the poison pill that was Jeremy Lin's contract, they spit it out and overpaid for Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton instead.  Melo is back and feels well, but Amar'e is hurt and Chandler isn't 100% either and it's October.  I'd like to see Novak shoot a billion 3s this year for fantasy purposes. 

Starting Unit:
PG Raymond Felton
SG Ronnie Brewer
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Amar'e Stoudamire +
C  Tyson Chandler

I'll take the under 45.5 here.

Even the cheerleaders are old!

Rondo, Pierce, Garnett
The new big three minus Ray
Garnett has tourette's

Ray Allen left for the Miami sunshine after what appears to be a falling out with Rondo and perhaps others.  Ray always seemed like the only normal guy in the bunch, so good for him.  The Celtic's got what appears to be a steal with Jared Sullinger in the draft.  They also signed Jason Terry to replace Allen.  Terry isn't quite the sharpshooter but he's much more active and will help to push the pace. 

Starting Unit:
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Courtney Lee
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C  Kevin Garnett

O/U is 50.5 wins for the Celtics, I think their depth is enough to give them over.

Iggy sent packing
So this is where Bynum went?
Is he injured yet?

The Sixers were a part of the Dwight Howard move to the Lakers and they landed Andrew Bynum in the process.  Bynum is an elite-ish center when healthy, but is almost constantly hurt.  In fact, he won't start the season as he's still recovering from a knee injury.  Iguodala's move to Denver frees up minutes for Evan Turner to finally either sink or swim.  The 2010 #2 overall pick has floundered somewhat under Doug Collins, earning only 26 minutes a game last season.  Turner isn't a big time scorer, but he's a great ball handler, distributor and rebounder. The Sixers also added chucker Nick Young, aging vet Jason Richardson and former fantasy basketball stud Dorell Wright.  Wright is the best player of the bunch and none of these guys should prevent Thaddeus Young from getting minutes; we'll see if Doug Collins realizes that.

Starting Unit:
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Jason Richardson
SF Evan Turner
PF Spencer Hawes
C  Andrew Bynum +

They'll miss the defensive presence and pace of Iguodala and after Hawes and Bynum (when alive) it's Kwame Brown and Lavoy Allen (no clue) in the front-court.  Therefore, I'll take under 45.5 wins.

Nice haircut, girl on right

Raptors are still bad
Overpaying for Landry Fields...
Probably won't help

The Raptors also cherry-picked from the Knicks to grab swing-man Landry "Strawberry" Fields.  You'd think the Knicks were good or something last year.  They paid too much and with first round pick Terrence Ross, there's now a glut at the SG/SF spot.  Terrence will towel waive for now.   Andrea Bargnani is healthy and he's alongside another foreigner up front in 20 year old Jonas Valanciunas.  JV has big upside and will get tossed in there at center because the alternative is Aaron Gray.   The Raptors also added Kyle Lowry at the point.  The Villanova product finally got to show what he could do the last couple of seasons in Houston and showed he can be a 14/4/7 guy with a solid defensive presence. 

Starting Unit:
PG Kyle Lowry
SG Landry Fields
SF DeMar DeRozan
PF Andrea Bargnani
C  Jonas Valanciunas

The Raptors come in with a 34.5 o/u.  They were 23-43 in a shortened season last year, while I think they'll be better, they are a team with a lot of parts and no real direction yet.  They'll spend most of the year figuring out who can and should play.  I'll go under.  This also makes me realize I picked under for everyone but the Celtics in this division.  Oh well.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DWG College Hoops Preview: Teams #25-20

Delmon effing Young.  Is it possible that the dude is a legit playoff assassin?  And when he blows up in the playoffs and the Tiger fans are like, "Hooray Delmon he's awesome" and all us Twins fans are kind of like "ha ha small sample size it's pure luck this dude sucks" that we're actually wrong?  Like, that Delmon is a Mr. Clutch type of guy rather than a Mr. Plow type of guy?  He has 8 home runs in his postseason career (115ish ABs) which would put him at like 40 for a season at that rate when his career high is 21.  In seven career playoff series he's hit over .300 in four of them, which is pretty remarkable when he's never done it in a full season.  He's OPSed over 1.100 twice in the playoffs, which is pretty remarkable.  You know how many dudes have ever done that?  Well probably a lot but I still think it's crazy that we're talking about Delmon Young.  When do we pass the small sample size thing?  He's over 100 ABs at this point.  I'm just saying.  Maybe the guy knows how to raise his game?  Or actually tries in the playoffs?  I don't know.  Pretty crazy. 

25.  Virginia Commonwealth Rams.  I'm getting kind of sick of VCU doing well all the time, but there's no reason to think this streak is going to end as long as Shaka Smart is still there and not coaching the Gophers.  VCU even picked up two recruits off ESPN's Top 100 list, the first of the Smart era.  They only lose one starter off of last year's squad, and even though he was their leading scorer last year it doesn't really matter because the way these teams are always constructed to be deep, balanced, and give plenty of minutes to plenty of players so with almost the full rotation back plus the two freshmen I think these guys will be just fine, and moving to a bigger conference (they're in the A-10 now) means they won't have to scrape and claw for an at-large bid so expect to see them in March once again.  Oh, and just to rub it in, VCU is planning construction on a new basketball practice facility sometime in 2013.  *killsself*

24.  San Diego State Aztecs.  Remember that SDSU team from two years ago that was so awesome?  I loved that team, and good news for people like me, this year's Aztec team is similarly built and might be even better.  Pretty much everybody of consequence on this year's squad is versatile and between 6-3 and 6-8, they have last year's two top scorers in the Mountain West back in Chase Tapley and Jamaal Franklin, a very good point guard in Xavier Thames, one of the best recruits in history coming in with Winston Shepard, and great depth on the bench thanks to a whole slew of transfers.  Last year was a disappointment but the Aztecs still made the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season under the awesome Steve Fisher, a streak that should continue unlike my streak of winning on pulltabs which ended last night thanks to a stupid box called "Halloscream."  Always stay away from seasonal gimmicks.  I should have known better.

23.  Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Speaking of remember things, remember Luke Harangody?  Well apparently he had a twin little brother because Jack Cooley is back for his senior season and he's pretty much the exact same guy.  The numbers aren't quite as gaudy but the game is nearly identical as is the physical appearance to a creepy level.  Even creepier than having a Harangody clone hanging around is Scott Martin is back for another year.  Yes, the same Scott Martin who was part of the JaJuan Johnson/Robbie Hummel/E'Twaun Moore/Scott Martin recruiting class at Purdue.  The transfer to Notre Dame and losing a year to injury have had him in college nearly as long as Trevor Mbakwe.  What it really means is that the starting front court for Notre Dame 2013 will look exactly the same as Notre Dame 2010.  It would be sweet if you knew someone who went into a coma in 2010 and then just woke up and you could have them watch a Notre Dame game and convince them they were only unconscious for a couple of days.

22.  Michigan State Spartans.  It is a testament to the program Izzo has built that he can lose the unquestioned leader, heart and soul of the team, do everything coach on the floor guy from last year's team and not take a step back, which I suppose isn't really much of a surprise since, like LL Cool J, he's been here for years.  What is a little surprising is there's no heir apparent as the go-to guy/leader that Izzo almost always has.  The team's leading returning scorer is Keith Appling who is too erratic, the lone senior is Derrick Nix, who isn't good enough and got busted for pot this summer, and the team's two best players will probably end up being a freshman (Gary Harris) and a guy returning from a knee injury (Branden Dawson).   Although knowing how things happen at Michigan State it wouldn't surprise me if one of these guys (or someone else) will morph into that guy.  One thing's for sure, the Spartans will play defense, rebound, and will be able to change their game to match their opponent and hang with anybody.  I have them as my fifth best Big 10 team, but it wouldn't surprise me if they're the last one from the conference standing in March.  They're like the St. Louis Cardinals - nothing they do in the postseason is ever a surprise.

21.  UNLV Runnin' Rebels.  I think it's safe to say the old Rebels are back in the form of the new Rebels.  Under Lon Kruger the Rebels became a walk-it-up kind of team, but with Dave Rice taking over last season they upped their tempo to top 29 in the country and it wouldn't surprise me if they were even faster this year.  And they're continuing down the transfer route with Khem Birch, former McDonald's All-American, coming in from Pittsburgh and Bryce Jones, a former starter at USC, coming in this year and both expected to start with Roscoe Smith from UCONN coming in next season.  Add in having their leading scorer and rebounder back from last season (Mike Moser who averaged a double double) and add in Anthony Bennett, the 7th best recruit in the country, and the Rebels are loaded with talent.  The only real question is will they mesh like Tarkanian's UNLV teams, or Tarkanian's Fresno State teams?  Obviously, I'm betting on the former (and you can too at 25-1 to win the whole thing).

20.  Cincinnati Bearcats.  It might be a bit odd to have the Bearcats this high considering they lost Yancy Gates and have nobody who can clearly replace, or even step in, for him, but they have two things that won me over.  First, they seemed to be on TV a ton last year and every time I watched them they impressed me with their toughness.  Remember after the big fight Xavier went into a tailspin while Cincy went on a run, culminating in a amazing streak closing out the season (wins over #7 Marquette, #14 Georgetown, and #2 Syracuse in the final month) and a run to the Sweet 16.  Not to sound like some stupid cliche-ridden sportswriter guy, but these guys were warriors last year.  Second, they are loaded at guard with three guys who can shoot, create, get to the rim, and play defense and I'm always a sucker for great guards.  All of this is for naught if nobody can play in the paint, however, and their most talented front court guy is a redshirt freshman who is 6-7 and weighs 170 - that's not a typo.  Guy's like if you took Manute Bol, shrunk him by a foot and then made him 33% skinnier.  And also you'd have to take away the 3-point shot because Manute was NAILS.

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47 
Teams #46-39 
Teams #38-34 
Teams #33-26

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gophers Preview vs. Purdue Boilermakers

4-3 (Best I could do for wheels falling off the wagon)

We're in a lot of trouble here, you guys.  The last three games/first three B1G games the Gophers have averaged 13 points and allowed an average of 30 points.  It doesn't matter who they've faced they've been beaten like John Matua vs. Tank Abbott.  "You saw his legs quivering as he hit the mat."

Kill pulled our new Lord and Savior Philip Nelson's redshirt to give him the start last week.  Nelson put in yeoman's work in his first start, as he was practically involved in every freaking play they ran.  I'm not one of these guys that's crying in his beer over losing the redshirt.  I'd rather do my damnedest to get to a bowl game and let the program 4 years from now sort itself out.  We need guys that can win now and if Philly Dawg is it, let's go for it.  Injuries kind of forced the hand and I don't fault Kill for playing it.

Speaking of injuries, while watching the game I didn't see any reason for MarQueis Gray to be on the field.  His speed and cutting ability was noticeably hampered and it just felt that you just needed token coverage on him the whole game.  Also, I don't know the extent of Shortell's injury, but did you know he still qualifies for 4th best passer rating in the B1G?  T-Magic, Braxton Miller and McGloin Injury are the only ones ahead of him.  Obviously this number is boosted by his rockstar performance off the bench and not his pedestrian pair of starts.  Still, now the redshirt is off of Nelson, how bad does he have to play to see Shorty back in the game?

So, they don't score much right now and are banged up, but even scarier to me is the defense.  They can't stop... well, anything.  Run defense is gone, our sweet secondary is injured and exposed.  I'M SO MAD AT YOU GUYS!  Playing fast guys on D is all well and good, but they better be able to get off blocks and make a g-d tackle.  Our ends and outside backers are just getting swallowed into the abyss and God help us if Ced Thompson has to come up and make a tackle from the safety position.

The Opponent

The good news about this week is everyone's B1G sleeper Purdue is building a similar-sized dumpster fire.  They've also dropped all 3 conference matchups in addition to losing a tight one to Notre Dame in non-conference play.  However, their four losses are to ND, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State.  They have remaining games against our Golden Varmints, PSU, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.  They need three of those to be bowl eligible, which puts this game in the dreaded Must Win territory.
Caleb Terbush
6'5" Senior Gingertron Caleb Terbush leads the Purdue offensive attack.  He's coming off of a good game against Ohio State, but put up clunkers against Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame.  He's also thrown at least one interception in every game.  For maximum confusion, Purdue employs a pair of Akeems at RB.  Which prompts me to say, "I'm looking for my son Akeem!"   My man D. Wells should keep an eyeball on his opposite number, Antavian Edison, who is a big playmaker at WR for the Boils.

The Boilerpotato defense hasn't given up more than 22 points in any game except the 41 Marshall scored against them.  You might say, "Hey, Randy Moss still at Marshall?"  No dawg, he isn't, but the Herd have the #2 passing offense in universe.  Walk-on safety Landon Feichter (pronounced FEEK-tuh*) lead the B1G in INTs with four.  Some other dude named Josh Johnson has 3, so they are active in the secondary.  Beware, Phil. 


It's hard to predict anything but disaster here with a true freshy in his second start against solid defense.  Add in a defense that looks as thin as the crotch of my boxer briefs and it's a recipe for another crushing defeat.  The fact is the defense needs to give Nelson some help out there.  It would be nice if Kirkwood is feeling up to toting the rock more this week as well.  I expect the Gopher playcalling to once again be mainly of the 3-4 yards and a cloud of dust variety, but that can't be a recipe for success when the defense isn't getting stops.  Purdue 31, Gophers 20 (it hurts me too)

Purdue Pete's head is plastic.

Other Notes

- This week's Tao of Shede:  "the ones that smile at you be the same ones pray on your down fall."
- Is Jon Gruden broke? Have you seen the Hooters commercials he's doing?  He let them put him in a lame black visor?  Ouch.  Time to be the next head coach of the Browns I guess.
- Anyone still watch The Ultimate Fighter?  I do, but I tend to just hope everyone in the house bursts into flames.
- There's another paranormal activity movie out I guess.  My buddy FrothyGopher tricked me into watching very first one by telling me we get so see the main chick topless at the end.  So, screw him.  How can they make 4 movies out of having a sleeping person float in the air above their bed?

*In Boston

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DWG College Hoops Preview: Teams #33-26

Pablo Sandoval hits three home runs.  Barry Zito not only is unhittable, but also knocks in a run against probably the best pitcher of this generation.  Angel Pagan gets a double by hitting a routine bouncer that hits the third base bag.  Tim Lincecum strikes everyone out in a season where he's basically been a pitching machine.  Gregor Blanco can suddenly get to everything.  Call me crazy, but are you getting a vibe that the Giants stole that Cardinal October magic?  Good thing I got in on the Giants to win at +160 already.  I know I said I was going to be rooting for the Tigers and thought they were the better team, but so much money poured in on Detroit that the +160 for the Giants was too juicy to pass up.  Obviously.  Any way, I wrote some more previews while watching the game. 

33. Kansas State Wildcats.  You know, K-State has a pretty good thing going lately and have morphed into one of the most consistently athletic teams in the country year-after-year, and that's not going to change this season.  The Wildcats have most of last year's team back, including eight of their top nine scorers from last season, which means they'll most likely still be a god awful jump-shooting team (unless someone or someones went Eric Harris on it this offseason) but that's ok because they should make up for it, again, by being phenomenal at attacking the basket and grabbing a high percentage of all those bricks they throw up there.   Of course, they just hired Bruce Weber and since we all know a coaching match-up between Weber and paper bag would be a toss-up we can probably expect this nice little run by K-State to fall by the wayside as they descend into mediocrity once again and Weber moves on to destroy yet another program.

32.  St. Mary's Gaels.  I know what you're worrying about, and yes don't worry floppy haired uber Beiber dork Matthew Dellavedova is back for one more year.  And someone tell me if I'm totally crazy, but I'm getting a distinct Steve Nash vibe from this kid.  Think about it.  Floppy hair.  From a foreign country that speaks a weird brand of English.  Under the radar recruit who lands at a WCC school.  Immediate impact as a freshman, then end up getting progressively better, developing into one of the best PGs in the land, and single-handedly leading their team to upsets against bigger (and better) teams.  I really think we're in for a monster year from both Dellavedova and St. Mary's, if only to validate my Nash theory.  But if St. Mary's ends up making the Sweet 16 this year I'd start finding ways to bet YES on things like "Someday Matthew Dellavedova will win two NBA MVP awards."

31.  St. Louis Billikens.  St. Louis has been on a slow build since they hired Rick Majerus, so it'll be interesting to see if is absence (taking a year off for some kind of medical leave) hurts them, because this team has a chance to be very good this year.  It's actually kind of a an interesting case because they only lose one dude from last year's team, but it's the dude that was kind of their leader who did everything (1st in points, 2nd in rebs, 5th in assists, 4th in steals, 1st in FG%, 1st in FT%).  Talent-wise they're pretty loaded, but losing the head coach, the team leader, and now their best returning player, Kwamain Mitchell, is out for six weeks with a broken foot.  I don't know, that seems like a lot to deal with for a team who is supposed to be in good shape for this season.  Kind of makes me think of the Cincinnati Bengals for some reason.

30.  BYU Cougars.  It's always interesting how the Mormon faith impacts college hoops.  There's the scheduling, because BYU can't/won't play on Sundays which impacts the NCAA Tournament.  Brandon Davies got suspended for the season two years ago because he had sex and then admitted it to his coach.  And there's always the random Mormon mission that takes a player off the team mid-way through his career.  This time, however, BYU is actually getting a big boost, because Tyler Haws back.  Two seasons ago Haws averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds per game as a freshman and still has a 48-straight made free throw streak.  Getting a guy back who has already proven he can play is golden, and add Haws to a mix that includes the 6-11 Davies (15 & 8 last year) and point guard Matt Carlino (12 & 5) and BYU won't even miss the loss of a couple of seniors and should have no problem grabbing an NCAA bid.  Assuming everybody keeps their pants on, or at least has the common sense to not go running to their bishop about it.
29.  Drexel Dragons.  You know what's a really sweet team name?  Dragons.  Awesome.  Anyway, the Dragons, who are routinely one of the best defensive squads in the country, are set up for success this year.  The only lose one major contributor off last season's team that set a school record for victories, and with VCU now in the A-10 and Old Dominion ineligible for the conference title since they're bolting to C-USA after this season it's wide open for Drexel to take the league crown.  As I mentioned Drexel is always nails defensively, but last year's edition could actually score some points as well and a Dragon team that can score is pretty scary for somebody in round 1 of the tournament.  Like, scary like that Tiamat five-headed dragon from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.  Yes I watched it as a kid and it was awesome.  I also own a DVD with 10 episodes on it, what of it?  No you're the nerd.

28.  Wisconsin Badgers.  Ok, I've learned my lesson.  I don't know if it's my hatred of the Badgers because they're evil (I mean they even wear red, pay attention) or just because they're so boring, but every year I think the Badgers will be horrible and every year I'm wrong.  Look at this season - Jordan Taylor is gone and there isn't a player on the roster who looks like they can replace his production, even by committee.  Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans are the two best players coming back, and Evans should be a six man and Berggren is terrible.  Their top guards are going to be Ben Brust and Josh Gasser and neither of them scares anybody.  But of course, none of that matters.  They're going to play so slow it puts everyone to sleep, bore everyone to death, never turn the ball over, grab all the available rebounds, and win way more games than I'd ever expect.  Just like every year.  It's like an evil version of college basketball Groundhog Day.

27.  Marquette Golden Eagles.  At first when I was ranking teams off the top of my head I think I had Marquette in the 40s or 50s simply because losing both Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom to the NBA is a crusher, but when I did more reading I realized there is plenty still here to work with (plus counting out Buzz Williams is like counting on Bruce Weber).  Their back court is loaded with Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue, who is one of my favorite players because he has a sweet name, a sweet game, and he pissed on Wisconsin, and their returning leading scorer is a big man so they'll have a nice balance.  The back court should be their strength, but that doesn't mean their shooting - the three returning guards shot combined 48-162 from 3 last year and that will probably hold them back from being a truly dangerous team.  Still better than Wisconsin though.

26.  Ohio Bobcats.  You only need to know one thing - yes, D.J. Cooper is back.  You remember Cooper, right?  He's the guy who pretty much beat Georgetown two years ago and Michigan last year in the NCAA Tournament.  And he was pretty good against South Florida too, helping Ohio to the Sweet 16.  Yes, he's back and now a senior.  As is last year's second leading scorer Walter Offutt.  And #3 Reggie Keely.  #4 Nick Kellog is back too, but he's only a junior.  #5 Ivo Baltic is a senior though.  You see where I'm going with this?  The Bobcats have their top nine players back and all but one is a senior or junior.  The have top end talent in Cooper and Offutt.  And they must have a pretty good chemistry together because even though their coach left to take the Illinois job nobody transferred out.  This could be a very special year, which feels weird to say about a MAC team. Plus DJ Cooper makes me think of D.B. Cooper and that's awesome.   Of course since they are a MAC team, it's pretty likely if they don't win their conference tournament they don't go dancing at all.  Which would suck like Nick Blackburn.  Or Justin Verlander, I suppose.

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47 
Teams #46-39 
Teams #38-34

Monday, October 22, 2012

DWG NCAA Basketball Preview: Teams #38-34

Way to go, Kyle Lohse.  You might as well just come to my house and steal my money.  And it's not just Lohse, it's everybody - not only the Cardinals but the entire National League.  The Giants suck.  I'm sorry, it's just a fact, but everyone seems to just lay down and die.  The Cards, a normally excellent fielding team, have given more free runs away this series than they've scored and suddenly the Cards can't hit Barry Zito?  I can't believe I'm going to have to be a Tiger fan for the Series.  Gross.  But I sure as shit can't root for the Giants.  I feel sick.  Whatever.  Let's look at some chicks and talk some roundball.

38.  Texas Longhorns.  Similar to last year's team, this Texas squad will be deep and talented in the back court with major question marks in the front court.  Dissimilar to last year's team, they won't have last year's leading scorer in the Big 12 (at 20.1ppg) J'Covan Brown, who left the team to enter the NBA draft and then didn't get drafted like a genius.  Stupid name guy Myck Kabongo will be the key as the team's point guard and best player, but his status is currently in limbo due to some agent related nonsense.  Although the agent is the same guy who represents Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph and Kabongo is also part of that bizarre Canada/Texas pipeline, so I'm pretty sure he's definitely guilty of whatever.  I believe suspension is the only answer.  

37.  Miami Hurricanes.  It's very possible I'm overrating the Canes since my ranking for them (particularly ahead of FSU) doesn't seem to jibe with most others I've seen, but I like a lot about this team.  Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji are both double-double threats at all times and averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds per game between them.  Johnson is 6-10, 292 lbs.  Kadji is 6-11, 242 lbs.  They're both seniors so they aren't about to fuck around this season.  They do lose two of last year's three starting guards, but they get by far the best one back in Durand Scott, and Shane Larkin (yes, Barry's kid) is going to be in his second year and can give the Canes a real live point guard for the first time in a while.  He was one of the best point guard prospects a year ago and had a decent freshman year, but it's time for him to step up to the plate and go yard from the duguot with a rosin bag before the Hurricanes boot one and strike out in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded.

36.  Valparaiso Crusaders.  Valpo won the Horizon regular season title last year before getting crushed by Detroit in the Horizon Tournament Final, but with their top two players and lots of seniors back they are the favorite to take the conference again, and hopefully (for them) not flame out again.  And if they make the tournament you'll hear way too much about them because, admittedly, they're kind of an interesting team.  The coach is Bryce Drew who hit the second greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history (behind that dude from Northwestern State who hit the shot to knock out Iowa because fuck Iowa).  Their best player (and last season's conference player of the year) was a finalist to make the Australian Olympic team.  Their second best player has played internationally for both the Canary Islands and the Netherlands.   They have a dude from Jamaica.  They have guys who transferred from Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Indiana, Hawaii, Cal, South Florida, and Rice.  Seriously it's ridiculous.  I haven't seen this many transfers since Tark's days at Fresno.  Plus they have a guy with the last name Buggs, and since we all know Charles Buggs is going to be a superstar I can only assume the same for a guy who I assume is related.

35.  Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys season will basically come down to what kind of changes LeBryan Nash made this offseason.  Nash was the team's best player last season, should be again this year, and is probably the best player to suit up for OSU since JamesOn Curry.  The bad news, however, is that he shot an appalling 39% including just 24% from three despite jacking up the second most shots on the squad (behind the departed bomber Keiton Page).  He balanced out his poor shooting and shot selection by averaging just 1.5 assists per game and getting almost no steals.  He's insanely talented and if he can play smarter and maybe hit a jumper here and there these guys should be in line for an NCAA bid.  And hey, if everything works out he can become the next JamesOn Curry and enter the NBA draft after his junior year and then fail to get drafted in the first round.  It's good to have dreams.
 34.  Stanford Cardinal.  Yes, the dreaded Cardinal.  Enders of the Gophers season and world champions of the NIT.  And, as we all know, winning the NIT is a strong predictor of future success the following season.  I'm just kidding of course, it means exactly jack shit.  More than anything it's just says you were a crappy team that couldn't be bothered to get into the NCAA Tournament, and barring a stellar recruiting class coming in you're probably still terrible.  And they are.  They have a good back court in Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright and some decently experienced guys, but nothing really special.  Which is why they're ranked 34th and are incredibly boring.  Or maybe they're ranked 34th because they're boring?  I don't know.  I'm tired and hate Kyle Lohse.

Now that I think about it, Detroit gets to set their rotation with Verlander first and I assume Scherzer second and will have the option to go with JV three times.  The Giants will have to go with Lincecum and Zito to start it off and will only get to throw Cain once.  I'm thinking we make some money on the Tigers.  We goin' Sizzla.

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47 
Teams #46-39

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DWG College Basketball Preview: Teams #46-39

Man weather is such a dick.  The Cards/Giants are still sitting there, like 3 hours after their delay started, waiting to resume play in the 8th and the Yanks/Tigers has been postponed now until tomorrow.  Sucks.  So here's something else that's a thing you could do:

46.  Detroit Titans.  Ray McCallum is still there.  Three years ago two big-time recruits signed with smaller schools to play for their dads.  One (Trey Ziegler at CMU) saw his father fired after two dismal seasons and bolted to Pitt, the other is McCallum and after advancing to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon tournament last year the Titans are looking to do even more.  There are some notable losses, particularly size-wise in Eli Holman, but there are a couple of senior forwards capable of putting up good numbers who should help balance things with McCallum.  Plus they got Juwon Howard, Jr. this year.  Juwon Howard Junior!  Hell yeah!

45.  Tennessee Volunteers.  Bruce Pearl left Tennessee looking like a mess, but behind some solid leadership from Cuonzo Martin (CUONZO!) they actually had a pretty solid year last season (NIT berth) and now return almost the entire team for another go at it.  And guys, their PF Jeronne Maymon is just a monster, and out of nowhere, too.  He was nothing, and then he just exploded into a guy who had double figure points or rebounds (or both) in the Vols last 15 games last year and put up double doubles against three of the teams toughest opponents last season (Kentucky, Memphis, and Duke) including a 32 point, 20 rebound performance against Memphis.  He's very Mbakwellian on the glass, just attacking every rebound as if his very life, nay, the fate of the planet, rested on him getting that ball.  Tennessee was always able to recruit under Pearl but he was such as shitty coach they were chronically underachieved.  Martin is a far better coach, and if he continues to get the same caliber of players to come to Tennessee this team is going to be a major player going forward. 

44.  UCONN Huskies.  UCONN can't play in the postseason this year because of I don't know grades or some dumb arbitrary NCAA rule that punishes players who had nothing to do with the infraction, and as a result of that had to watch Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith bolt to Missouri and UNLV respectively (along with Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to the NBA) and will be going with a new coach in Kevin Ollie, but there's still plenty of talent here to screw over at least a Big East team or two's at-large hopes with some big wins.  That is, of course, if DeAndre Daniels can become what he was supposed to become.  Daniels was a top-10 recruit last season who chose UCONN over Kentucky, Florida, Duke, and Kansas but ended up buried on the bench much of last season.  If he can blossom with a bigger role and mesh with outstanding guard tandem Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier the Huskies could be awfully good.  Of course without cheater Calhoun who knows how this all shakes out.  They could win four games and I wouldn't be surprised.

43.  Davidson Wildcats.  Davidson is a little bit annoying to me in their consistency, but here they are, back again, heavy favorites to win the SoCon and just good enough to scare or beat a team or two once they inevitably get to the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed.  Pretty much the entire team returns from last season when they put a scare in Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but what's interesting about this iteration of the Wildcats is rather than being overly dependent on guards and 3-pointers, their two best players are a pair of forwards (including the SoCon Player of the Year and the other guy might actually be better) who can hit it, but don't need to.  They leave that to the 200 guards Davidson has running around.  Again.

42.  Harvard Crimson.  Well Tommy Amaker's got a nice little thing going here.  In 2010 they made the CIT.  In 2011, the NIT after tying for the Ivy League crown and losing in a one game playoff.  Then last year they won the Ivy to make the NCAA Tournament, losing to fifth-seeded Vanderbilt by nine (yes, I picked Harvard).  They do lose last year's Ivy League Player of the Year, but have everybody else back and Nevermind somehow I missed that Harvard has a bunch of guys embroiled in an academic scandal including their best player and both co-captains who are no longer on the team so drop these guys off the list, bump everyone up one, and throw Northwestern at the end or something.  Gotta have some nerds, somehow.

41.  Florida State Seminoles.  Maybe I'm way off on FSU because they are 24th in the first Coaches' Poll that just came out, but I'm not seeing it.  Losing four starters including your entire inside presence in Bernard James and Xavier Gibson is, like sticking a paperclip into a power outlet, no picnic.  Yeah, they still have Michael Snaer and you know they'll be tenacious on defense and won't back down, but you know who else is tenacious and never backs down?  My two-year old, and by the end of most days he's either run into a wall face first or fallen off some random piece of furniture and landed on his head.  Every once in a while, however, he'll get a big win by throwing a matchbox car and hitting Mrs. W right in the face. 

40.  Murray State Racers.  Things could be a bit tougher for the Racers this year, what with losing three starters and having to deal with Belmont's move to the OVC, but Murray State has developed a "Gonzaga-lite" reputation for a reason.  They have a whole bunch of experienced seniors and generally play a deep bench so even if these guys don't have impressive stats you can bet they can play, and Murray State keeps bringing in solid recruiting classes to keep that pipeline going as well.  Not to mention they still have Isaiah Canaan who led them to the tournament last year, winning the OVC Player of the Year Award, and then promptly sucked (8-30 in two NCAA Tourney games).  Now a senior, Canaan should be able to do more assuming they get to that point again, because everyone knows that noted chokers always get better over time, right A-Rod?

39.  St. Joe's Hawks.  I actually feel like I might be underrating these guys a bit, because this team kind of has that feeling of building something that might be cresting this season.  Last season the Hawks won 20 games (9 in A-10 play) and snagged an NIT berth, not bad considering the two previous years they won 22 games combined.  Carl Jones, C.J. Aiken, and Langston Galloway (who you remember from such games as against the Gophers two straight years) are now in their third year playing together with Aiken growing into a force in the paint, Galloway developing into a dead-eye shooter from the wing, and Jones, well, he's pretty much the same chucker he's always been since he arrived in Philly and maybe these guys will be even better when he's gone next season (the other two are juniors) but whatever.  St. Joe's' has been crappy since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West left and now they have hope.  Can't you just let them have hope with their cheesesteaks?

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DWG's NCAA Basketball Preview: Teams #52-47

I know plenty of people are busy tonight with the debate and the Tigers/Yankees game, but I can only watch the debates 30 seconds at a time without falling asleep or dying of self-inflicted gangrene and it seems silly to write about the Tigers/Yankees game because I don't really feel like writing "Verlander gets another stupid Yankee out easily" twenty-seven times.  Thus insteadly here are some NCAA Basketball previews.  I hope you enjoy them.

I'm just kidding.  I really don't give a crap.  I know you're reading this at work and have nothing better to do with your time anyway.

52.  Illinois State Redbirds.  Creighton, Wichita State, and Northern Iowa seem to get most of the Missouri Valley headlines and hype, but this could end up being Illinois State's big year.  Last year's team took Creighton down to the wire in the MVC Championship before losing in overtime, then beat Ole Miss in the NIT before falling to eventual champ Stanford (also in OT).  That same team returns pretty much intact (including stud Jackie Carmichael who, according to anything you read on ISU on the internet "wowed" people at the LeBron Skills Academy).  They do lose their starting point guard from last season who transferred to SMU to tag along with the Redbirds' coach last year, and nobody's sure if they have a player who can fill that role capably, but who cares?  Their nickname is the Redbirds for christ's sake, and if the baseball playoffs have taught us anything (other than the Yankees suck) it's that Redbirds never die.

51.  Marshall Thundering Herd.  Marshall hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1987 and has never won a game, but they've been awfully close lately which seems interesting or something I guess.  Last year they were in the hunt until a killer loss to a terrible ECU team knocked them out of the at-large running and then they were crushed in the C-USA Tournament Championship game by Memphis.  Two years prior they came out of the blocks at 15-2 before sucking the rest of the year.  Will this be the year they finally break through?  No.

50.  Belmont Bruins.  Belmont takes a big step up in the world this year, shifting from the Atlantic Sun to the Ohio Valley which means capturing an at-large bid goes from impossible to simply unlikely.  And once again, this will be the same kind of hyper-efficient team that takes care of the basketball and shoots well, but likely lacks the athleticism to truly compete with the big-time programs and really good teams.  And once again they'll probably end up in the NCAA Tournament matched up against somebody better, and everyone (myself included) will talk themselves into how Belmont could be a sweet 16 sleeper and end up picking them to beat a #4 seed in round one only to watch in horror as they get blown out by 20 and a have to put a big red X on my bracket before the first games of day 1 are out.  Looking forward to it already.

49.  Arkansas Razorbacks.  What's the best way to rebound from John Pelphrey trying to run the program straight into the ground?  Hire the sweet Mike Anderson, Nolan Richardson's protege, and let the Hogs run wild.  It didn't quite kick in for year 1, but based on his track record at UAB and Missouri I'd imagine we'll see Arkansas back in the tournament in a year or two.  Guard play is the key to running Anderson's system and Arkansas is plenty loaded here.  B.J. Young, who flirted a bit with the Gophers (while, they more threw themselves at him and he didn't say no right away - like your sister at a kegger) had a monster freshman year and probably could have gone pro but stayed on for another year, and he's got plenty of other perimeter help.  You know fun Missouri was to watch the last several years?  Yeah, that's coming to Fayetteville.  I wish I could bet on things like, Arkansas will be ranked in the top 10 at some point in the next 3 years.  I'd totally win a bunch of money.  Just like how Snacks will owe me fifty bucks when the Royals win the AL Central sometime by 2014 (a bet we made 2 years ago).  Yeah.  It's coming.  I've already spent that money investing in pumpkins.  They've been going up the month of October.  I figure if I hold those babies until January and then cash out.  BAM!  BOATLOADS!

48.  Colorado State Rams.  I don't think anyone would dispute that losing Tim Miles (to Nebraska) is a blow considering how he builds programs, but if you're going to lose a guy like that (and it was inevitable) you could do a whole lot worse than hiring Larry Eustachy.  I know it's easy to think about the scandal where he was busted partying with young college chicks but let's be honest who wouldn't want to do that, but don't forget the guy is a damn good coach.  This is the same guy who just took a garbage program in Southern Miss to the NCAA Tournament last year and had lots of success at Iowa State, and he's also the guy who started Utah State's run of brilliance back in 1998 (hadn't been to the tournament in 10 years).  And now he inherits a team that made the tournament last season and he gets most of the team back, plus Colton Iverson.  Eustachy and Iverson!  Count me in.  That's like a modern day Balki and Cousin Larry.

47.  Cal Bears.  These guys could end up with one of the best backcourts in the Pac-12 and, sad and horrifying as it is, part of the reason is Justin Cobbs.  Freed from the restraints of Tubby's molasses style offense Cobbs ended up averaging 12.6 points (16th in the conference) and 5.0 assists (2nd) per game last season, and he's probably not even the teams best guard - that would be Allen Crabbe.  They have to figure out how to replace two big losses including their lead point guard and their best post player, but having two good guards and playing in the shitbox Pac-12 pretty much assures Cal will at least be in the running for an NCAA bid.  Mother-effing Cobbs.

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53

Monday, October 15, 2012

These MLB Playoffs are Pretty Neat, Guys (+ new Gopher BBall Commit)

Taking a break from the NCAA Hoops Previews to weight on on the baseball playoffs, an awesome collection of series so far.  I'm enjoying the hell out of this, and it helps that I have a ton of money down on futures (Tigers to win AL, Cards to win both NL and World Series not to mention loads of props on every game).  Seriously, it would be great if there was some kind of player rewards card for people who make way too many bets.

Speaking of, check out this information for more on players reward card.  Before I talk hardball, however, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that the Gopher hoops team picked up another recruit for 2013 in power forward Alex Foster, joining Alvin Ellis as a future Gopher.  Foster is a 6-8 skinny kid from Chicago who was thought of as one of the best players in Chicago way back when he was in 8th grade, but who has since tailed off a bit and is ranked by ESPN as a middle-of-the-road 3-star recruit (his other offers were from Tennessee and Nebraska, again according to ESPN).  The good news here is that he is super athletic, and with that pedigree (yes back to 8th grade but still) offers considerable upside.  Like Ellis he has been a target of the Gophers for quite some time, which means that even if Tubby isn't signing the greatest players he is at least able to get the guys he really wants to sign here.  Good, not great, signing, but at least things are moving in the right direction again, not to mention setting up a regular pipeline to Chicago (Ellis is also a Chicago kid) can only be a positive.

Also, quick, the reports on my new favorite Gopher Charles Buggs are in from the "Midnight" Madness scrimmage last Friday and by all accounts HE.  IS.  AWESOME.  Led all scorers with 10 pts on 4-4 shooting including 2-2 from 3 and grabbed 2 rebounds, plus was apparently one of the more impressive dunkers in the dunk contest?  Are you kidding me?  He's everything I always knew I always wanted.  I seriously can't wait.  We goin' Sizzla.  

Ok, now on to baseball and I'll start with the Wild Card.  From day one I was in favor of the change to two wild card teams per league with a 1-game playoff and I'm pretty sure I'm right.  I understand the criticisms many people had such as complaining that they were just trying to manufacture drama, that anything random can happen in a 1-game series so it was meaningless, and so on.  But the fact is, winning the Wild Card the last few years was basically the same as winning your division.  Other than not having home field advantage (and one division winner wouldn't have it anyway) and playing the best team (if that team happened to not be from your division) what was the difference?  Basically nil.  Now?  Winning the Wild Card puts you at a drastic disadvantage compared to a division winner because if you get hit with a bad call (Atlanta) or run into a hot pitcher (Texas) you're done.  I think it's awesome and if you don't I hope you get a stomach parasite.

The sucky thing about the Division Series is we lost all the interesting teams.  Only Oakland, Baltimore, Cincy, and Washington haven't been regular playoff fixtures in recent times, and all four lost.  I was glad, actually, to see Washington get bounced just because their decision to shut down Strasburg irked me so irksomely, but I would have loved to see Baltimore, Cincinnati, and/or Oakland advance just because it's more interesting than watching New York and Detroit again.  That being said, how great was it that every single series went the full five games?  And it wasn't just that they went down to sudden death, but how it all happened.  If even one of these scenarios happened this would have been an awesome round of the playoffs:
  • St. Louis falls behind 6-0 in the third inning of Game 5 and are down to their final strike twice before rallying for four in the ninth to win their sixth straight elimination game.
  • The underdog Orioles refuse to die and push the hated Yankees to the final game with two games going extra innings (back-to-back 12 and 13 inning affairs) and three total one-run games.
  • Oakland scares the crap out of Detroit by winning games 3 & 4 after having been down 2-0, leading to Justin Verlander throwing one of the best games in playoff history (in Oakland no less) to advance the Tigers.
  • The Giants lose the first two games at home, then win the next three in Cincinnati to knock out the Reds.
So yeah, it sucks that none of interesting teams are still left, but there's still plenty of interesting things going on here in the LCS's, including the incredibly enjoyable collapse of the Yankees.   Granderson and A-Rod are striking out at a World Record pace, but even they aren't hurting the team as much as Robinson Cano (who not only hasn't hit but also made a game killing error (I know it wasn't technically an error because you can't assume a double play but that was an error)) and Nick Swisher (who has been so awful both at the plate and in the field that he's definitely played his way out of New York and may have cut his contract in half both in terms of money and duration).  This has been great in so many ways, and I'm so glad the Yankees hit like crap in the Orioles series as well as this one, because otherwise this would be so set-up to add to the legend of Jeter.  This would all be blamed on them not having "The Captain" and everyone would be in boner mode.

Now I can see this series going one of two ways.  The best way would be that Justin Verlander completely shuts them in game 3 in near no-hitter fashion, they continue to desperately scramble at the plate and resort to crazy tactics (such as hit-and-running with Raul Ibanez and his Matthew LeCroy like speed) to try to score any runs at all and they end up getting swept while the world rejoices.  Or, because the Yankees are some evil demon and everyone knows that demons are notoriously hard to kill, they will somehow manage to destroy Verlander and end up winning this series in 7 games.  I know that would suck, but in another way it would be good to get to root against the Yankees for another series.  I'm still rooting for them to get swept here though, because they are dicks.

As for the NL, how freaking sweet must it be to be a Cards fan?  All they ever do is win.  In 2006 they won just 83 games but played in a crappy division so they won a playoff berth where they managed to beat two superior teams, setting up a World Series against the massively favored Detroit Tigers.  Naturally the Cards won by somehow getting the Tigers to make 8 errors in 5 games and holding them to a .199 batting average despite pitching dudes like Anthony Reyes, making them the worst team (record-wise) to ever win a World Series.  In 2011 they again made the series against the Rangers after qualifying for the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season and fell behind 3-2 and were twice down to their final strike before rallying to win and then won game 7 to take another World Series.  Now they were basically about to be eliminated by the Nationals but somehow turned it around to win that one as well.

I mean, enough is enough, right?  Stop rubbing it in, guys.  They're like the anti-Twins with their postseason play, not to mention that they lost the best hitter of the last 10 years to free agency, lost their starting first baseman (Lance Berkman) and starting shortstop (Rafael Furcal) to injury, and got just 20 starts from Jaime Garcia and 3 from Chris Carpenter, yet here they are.  I like the Giants and all, even without the usual Lincecum, but how can anybody fight that Redbird mojo?  It's a true law of nature like water or dinosaurs.  Sorry Giants, but you can't fight against dinosaurs.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gophers vs. Northwestern Wildcats Preview

Season Record 4-1

How great are pull tabs?  Did you know the rest of the nation basically has no idea what they are?  The beauty of the pull tab is in the long run, like most gambling endeavors, you lose.  However, since you're likely getting pissed at the bar, you don't notice another $20 here or there.  But the wins...oh the sweet, sweet wins.  You remember the wins.  You take cell phone pics of the winning pull tabs (or at least I do). You send them to your friends exalting yourself as the greatest gambler the world has ever known.  You do shots in celebration and end up taking a cab home that probably costs more than your net winnings.  It's wonderful.

MarQueis Gray is not on the injury report!  Tommy Olson is not on the injury report!  In fact, the team pretty much took full advantage of the off week to get healthy.  Genius move, really, and boy do we need these guys all back because Iowa was a disaster.  I've blacked most of it out by now, but I have a fuzzy memory of a lot of giant Tecmo Bowl type scoring plays for the bad guys.  The defense especially needs to be on point for this one as they were exposed last week and NW can put up some points.

Hate you, nerds.

It's homecoming against the hated B1G geniuses, Northwestern.  Also, a battle of the only two one-loss teams in the Legends division.  The Wildcats have in a bunch of shootouts this year, dropping their first game of the year last week to Penn State.  This is a big test for the rush defense as NW is 16th in the nation at 231.8 yards per game.  They've gone to sophomore Trevor Siemian at QB and moved Kain Colter to WR, wildcat guy.  Between Junior Venric Mark and Colter they have over 1000 rushing yards and 13 TDs.  Woah. 

As far as I can tell, the only worthwhile products from Northwestern are Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Charlton Heston and Stephen Colbert.  Everything else they do is terrible and diseased. Rod Blagojevich, Mike Greenberg and Warren Beatty lead the list of evil. 

NW Grad

Blog Mockery

It's possible that NW has football blogs out there for me to take silly comments and mock them, but I didn't bother to look.  Instead, I give you this:

How long did you make it?  If you lasted more than 2 minutes, go ahead and punch yourself in the face and never return here again.  We can't lose to these guys, can we? 


It's homecoming and the last home game featured an atmosphere that finally approached big-time-college-football-home-field-advantage-type-shit. So, I expect our students to be there and be loud once again.  The Gophers will need all the help they can get because Northwestern is the real deal.  Honestly, Northwestern probably wins this game.  However, just like the beloved pull tab, the Gophers can lose and I'll forget and look forward to the next big win.  On the other hand, this could be that win.  If they do win, I'll send you a picture of the scoreboard and I'll probably need a cab to take me home.  Northwestern 34, Gophers 24

Other Notes:

-The Tao of Shede for this week: "Spandex pants are not for everyone, thank you."

-Bonus Tao since we missed last week: "You wanna quit, that's fine. More food for me. Feast without you and then brag about my success."

-Favorite names on Northwestern's roster: Pierre Youngblood-Ary - WR, Chi Chi Ariguzo - LB (he's actually pretty good)

-Rapper Twista needs a ghost writer.  He puts out so much bad stuff, but he raps so fast!  I think I could do this.  Hit me up, Twista.

-Protect the dusky gopher frog: