Friday, March 21, 2008

If It Can Get Late Early…

…Then It Must be OK To Be An Early Late Game

#1 UNC vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s
Friday at 7:10 PM EST in Raleigh, NC
Vegas: UNC (-25.5)
Storming the Floor: UNC
Joe Lunardi: UNC
WWOD?: This is a de-facto home game for UNC. And, they are the No. 1 seed of the whole deal. Mount St. Mary’s, on the other hand, is not those things. But, right now they have more 2008 tourney wins than UNC does.

#6 Oklahoma vs. #11 Saint Joseph’s
Friday at 7:10 PM EST in Birmingham, AL
Vegas: Oklahoma (-1)
Storming the Floor: Saint Joseph’s
Joe Lunardi: Saint Joseph’s
WWOD?: Can you go against a Catholic school on Good Friday? That’s even worse than eating meat. Right? I think so. Better go with St. Joe’s just to be safe. I’ve committed enough hell-worthy trespasses (like that South Alabama pick) this week without tacking on another.

*Gambling Alert: All our panelists are going with Coach Martelli's Philly squad but they’re still getting a point in Vegas. Definitely worth five bucks. I just wish I had that kind of money.

#4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Siena
Friday at 7:20 PM EST in Tampa, FL
Vegas: Vanderbilt (-7)
Storming the Floor: Siena
Joe Lunardi: Siena
WWOD?: The is the other over-hyped 4/13 upset of the first two days. And, I’m not talking about the one that actually came through: San Diego over UConn, which wasn’t a “smart” pick. The other trendy 4/13 tango was the Winthrop/Washington State came that went chalk. I went against the grain on this one too, for the most part. I watched Vanderbilt beat Tennessee just a few days after I watched Tennessee beat undefeated Memphis. Ipso Facto: I went with Vandy even though they’re not playing on their weird home-court with the end-court benches.

#8 Mississippi State vs. #9 Orgeon
Friday at 7:25 PM EST in Little Rock, AR
Vegas: Mississippi State (-2.5)
Storming the Floor: Mississippi State
Joe Lunardi: Mississippi State
WWOD?: I don’t trust West Coast teams coming East to play tournament games. And I like them even less heading deep into the South. It must be a different planet for someone living in Nike-land with glittery space-age uniforms. And, I’ve actually seen Mississippi State and remembered that Varnado character for weeks and weeks just for this very occasion.

That Western Kentucky Game-Winner

And, a sad Corver.

(courtesy of Awful Announcing by way of Deadspin)

It's On!

Belmont almost started this thing off last night, but they whiffed on that inbounds play. Thankfully, the students and coaches of Western Kentucky University are far more poised. Thank you.

I was just in a crowded office where you heard a series of spontaneous "Ohs" and "Ahs." And somewhere, down the hall someone else yelled out something much worse. I think he picked Drake to win it all.

Thankfully, I picked WKU in most of the innumerable brackets that I picked out. Now, let's go South Alabama!

That charge was bogus. I'm just sayin'...

“If There is a Brunch, Why Isn’t There a Linner?”

Here is the Rundown on Today’s Lupper-Time Games

#7 Butler vs. #10 South Alabama
Friday at 2:45 PM EST in Birmingham, AL
Vegas: Butler (-4.5)
Storming the Floor: Butler
Joe Lunardi: South Alabama
WWOD?: Location. Location. Location. This game is in Birmingham, Alabama. And, I’m hoping that USA fans will be out in force because I’m picking them to upset Butler, who everyone thinks deserved a higher seed. So, in other words I’m picking this game based on where it is being played rather than based on who is actually playing. Smart. Also, I bet on Butler in their home loss to Drake earlier in the year. They shrank from that moment, which was the biggest game that they had played yet. So, I’d like to think (not for their sakes though) that they could possibly shrink from this moment too? It’s all sort of plausible. Or, at least if it’s not plausible then it has a certain overwrought logic to it.

*Reality Check: If I wasn’t part real estate agent (not actually true) I would probably take Butler to cover this spread. They did go 29-3 this year while USA lost to Middle Tennessee State not too long ago.

#2 Georgetown vs. #15 Maryland, Balitmore County
Friday at 2:55 PM EST in Raleigh, NC
Vegas: Georgetown (-17.5)
Storming the Floor: Georgetown
Joe Lunardi: Georgetown
WWOD?: The Hoyas were the first college team I ever liked. Thank you Patrick Ewing. And, they're from the Big East, which gets my pen moving (on my bracket). While I love the local angle of this game (little known fact: DC and Baltimore are close to each other) I just don’t see how UMBC, who I know zero about, could possibly hang with 7 feet and 2 inches of Roy Hibbert. And, even if they manage to get the big guy in foul trouble I think Patrick Ewing, Jr. would probably just take the game over. Well, probably not that last part, but I think the Hoyas just have too much for most teams to handle over forty minutes.

#2 Texas vs. #15 Austin Peay
Friday at 3:00 PM EST in Little Rock, AR
Vegas: Texas (-15)
Storming the Floor: Texas
Joe Lunardi: Texas
WWOD?: Sometimes you just gotta go Peay. But I didn’t do it. I couldn’t go Peay. Too many people were looking at my bracket. I got stage fright.*

#4 UConn vs. #13 San Diego
Friday at 3:00 PM EST in Tampa, FL
Vegas: UConn (-12)
Storming the Floor: UConn
Joe Lunardi: UConn
WWOD?: I may disklike Jim Calhoun strongly. I may dislike UConn and become slightly irritated whenever I’m driving North on 84 and pass by Storrs, CT. Those things may all be true, but I can’t go against a solid coach like this on Day One. Calhoun is like Tom Izzo for me. They both will get a Day One win on my bracket whether the have the players for it or not.

*I had to get one pee joke in there. I feel pretty good about it.

It's Not Quiet Breakfast and It's Not Quite Lunch

But it Comes with Today's Early Tournament Games

Since I’m actually super busy at my real job and just because Washington DC is a subregion in the West Regional, I’m going to be doling out today’s capsules slightly differently than yesterday. I’m going to hand out the wisdom of others and my own ramblings according to time slot rather than bracket-quadrant. Because even if the NCAA can warp geography I still think that the fabric of time has yet to fall under their purview.

#2 Tennessee vs. #15 American
Friday at 12:15 PM EST in Birmingham, AL
Vegas: Tennessee (-20)
Storming the Floor: Tennessee
Joe Lunardi: Tennessee
WWOD?: Yes, Belmont gave American all the ammunition they need to think that they can pull this off today, but I just don’t see how it’s possible. Tennessee can score too many points to be had here. And, though I still don’t totally trust The Vols it’s too early to pick against the school that gave us Allan Houston, Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield.

#7 Miami vs. #10 St. Mary’s
Friday at 12:30 PM EST in Little Rock, AR
Vegas: Even
Storming the Floor: St. Mary’s
Joe Lunardi: St. Mary’s
WWOD?: Last time I checked the U was a football school. I just don’t like this Miami basketball team. I have no good reasons other than that I think the ACC was down this year and their win total is deceiving. And, I’d like to think that St. Mary’s has replaced Gonzaga as the WCC team to watch in the tournament.

#7 Gonzaga vs. #10 Davidson
Friday at 12:25 PM EST in Raleigh, NC
Vegas: Davidson (-1.5)
Storming the Floor: Davidson
Joe Lunardi: Gonzaga
WWOD?: Gonzaga is the reason that I can’t pick Gonzaga. I’ve decided that I will consistently pick against Gonzaga as a higher seed because of everything that Mark Few’s teams have taught me about picking against talented and rolling teams (Davidson has won 22 straight games!) from smaller conferences. And, aside from not wanting to take the Zags I actually do like the Wildcats. Stephen Curry can shoot the lights out and this location and time slot suit them much better than a team coming in from the West. Davidson has also already taken (losing) trips to UCLA, Duke and UNC. So, they won’t be awed by the setting. And, that would be the only thing that I would maybe have held against a team with their profile.

#5 Drake vs. #12 Western Kentucky
Friday at 12:30 PM EST PM in Tampa, FL
Vegas: Drake (-4)
Storming the Floor: Drake
Joe Lunardi: Western Kentucky
WWOD?: Here it is. This is the 5/12 special that I liked the most. I’ve picked WKU to win this game in most of my brackets and have even picked them to survive the weekend in a few of them. I've only seen them play one time (in the Final of the conference tourney) and all I could think was that the gym where the game was being played and the quality of the video feed made it all seem like a high school game. So, you can see that I've totally thought this one through. Still, WKU starts seniors and this guy Courtney Lee is supposed to be one of the best in the country. I always want to pick small school teams with solid senior contributors. It's one of my favorite things. Like brown-paper packages tied up with strings. This pick is literally my senior moment. That being said, I like whomever survives this game to keep dancing. I was impressed when Drake knocked Butler earlier in the year, even though I had bet on Butler. So, yeah, other than my seniors-rule this game also brings my don’t-place-make-up-bets rule into the equation. Part of me feels like I would be taking Drake just to win a bet I already lost. Or, maybe, it wouldn’t be that. Maybe it would be learning from my mistakes…