Saturday, March 22, 2008

And, Now We Only Have To See Him In Commercials

What a way to start the day! West Viriginia comes tearing back in the second half and eases itself into the dominant role in the game, holding a flailing Duke off down the stretch. Oh, I love the fact that I don't have to come home and know that the Duke game will be on no matter much better the other matchups are. What a great way to start the day!

After a slow start, Joe Alexander was indeed the best player in this game and his team did grab boards and hit big threes in the second half. Alexander led the game in points (22) and rebound (11). And, while this wasn't as exciting a win as VCU triumph last year it is still pretty damn awesome, provided you have an irrational dislike for Coach K's teams and a completely justified dislike of Greg Paulus.
Eric Maynor's buzzer beater sinks Duke in 2007

And, all aspiring Cinderllas should take note. If you take the floor against the Blue Devils and you're wearing blue and gold. You will win. So, to all you Athletic Directors (who are obviously reading this) out there, you better get to work on some rationale for changing your school's color scheme.
Joe Alexander Powering WVU Past Duke in 2008

And, On the Third Day...

There Was Blaspheming and More Basketball:
The NCAA whirlwind continues today, though the floor in Tampa will get the day off. Daytime drinking and take-out are acceptable and encouraged. I'm sitting here getting ready for Duke and West Virginia with a can of Pabst and a cup of a coffee. Not in the same cup, though. That would be gross. It definitely looks awfully sunny out, but I'll just have to take the window's word for it today.

Here's what's on tap (other than the PBRs) and here are the experts' (and my) quick decisions about them:
#2 Duke vs. #7 West Virginia
Saturday at 2:10 PM EST in Washington, DC
Vegas: Duke (-4)
Storming the Floor: Duke (over Arizona)
Joe Lunardi: Arizona (who he had beating WVU)
WWOD?: This game seems like the pressure point for most brackets out in the world since there are two sorts of people who fill out brackets. Those who build there bracket around finding the team who can beat Duke and those who are smarter than us. After the Belmont game it is clear that Duke can be had and that without a dependable inside force they are not the teams of March-past. The fact that they are a two-seed is a testament to how good Coach K really is. Even if I hate his commercials. If Joe Alexander can be the best player in this game and his teammates can get on the defensive glass and hit a couple of big threes then the Mountaineers can win this game. Will that happen? Probably not. But it very well could and that's why I picked WVU.

#3 Wisconsin vs. #11 Kansas State
Saturday at 4:20 PM EST in Omaha, NE
Vegas: Wisconsin (-5)
Storming the Floor: Wisconsin
Joe Lunardi: Wisconsin (over USC)
WWOD?: Well, I mostly picked Mayo over Beasley in Round One. I was wrong about that. If K-State wins this game then this becomes the Beasley Tournament. I would love to see it. I was down on Wisconsin in last year's tournament, but for no reason whatsoever I'm less skeptical this year. They beat Texas in Texas, which impresses me and they won the Big Ten tournament, which impresses me less. I'll probably bet Wisconsin (a 30-win team only getting 5...) and root for K-State in this one. It's a win, win.

#3 Xavier vs. #6 Purdue
Saturday at 4:40 PM EST in Washington, DC
Vegas: Xavier (-3)
Storming the Floor: Xavier (over Purdue)
Joe Lunardi: Xavier
WWOD?: Xavier (over Baylor) was how this one went on my brackets. How do I think it will go in real life? I still got Xavier (and like that they're only getting 3 points). This might be where I roll over some of the pennies I picked up on Louisville last night. Purdue has my Big Ten bias going against them. And, they're young too. Which is why I picked against them in the game with Baylor. Clearly they got me on that one. My mouth was open. But, I've got to stick to my guns. In addition to the two strikes I have against Purdue (Big Ten and Youth), I've also got to factor in that Xavier is led by senior point guard Drew Lavender. Senior Point Guard? Check, check and check. Not from the Big Ten? Check. Xavier is the pick.

#4 Washington State vs. #5 Notre Dame
Saturday at 6:40 PM EST in Denver, CO*
Vegas: Washington State (-2.5)
Storming the Floor: Notre Dame
Joe Lunardi: Washington State
WWOD?: Any day of the week I would want to pick against both of these teams, but here I like them both. I guess it is all going to depend on the tempo of the game. I don't think that Notre Dame has the defensive chops to stick in there on a slow half-court game and I don't think that WSU has the scorers for a three-point shooting contest. So, I'm going to go with the team with the better story line (emergent and goofy Harangody who people like to upset UNC) from the Big East here. Though, I just hope this one looks like a 4/5 and gives Gus Johnson a chance to go wild after a boring opening day in Denver.

#3 Stanford vs. #6 Marquette
Saturday at 6:45 PM EST in Anaheim, CA
Vegas: Stanford (-3)
Storming the Floor: Stanford
Joe Lunardi: Stanford
WWOD?: Big East underdog? You know I want to take them. But, I don't think I can. Especially because of those uniforms. The fact that the game is in California and the Cardinal has the twin towers inside doesn't hurt their chances either.

#1 Kansas vs. #8 UNLV
Saturday at 6:50 PM EST in Omaha, NE
Vegas: Kansas (-13.5)
Storming the Floor: Kansas
Joe Lunardi: Kansas (over Kent State)
WWOD?: What's the Matter with Kansas? In March? With a team having such a checkered history in games like this I could understand why you might roll the dice with the Rebs. But, I'm hoping to watch Kansas matchup against Georgetown down the line so I'm pulling for the Jayhawks. Because sometimes I pick games based on what I want to see happen rather than what is likely to happen.

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Michigan State
Saturday at 9:10 PM EST in Denver, CO*
Vegas: Pittsburgh (-2.5)
Storming the Floor: Pittsburgh (over Temple)
Joe Lunardi: Pittsburgh
WWOD?: It seems like Pitt is the dark horse d'jour for a lot of people, which means that there are a lot of people expecting them to win this one. I'm in that number. I still think the Pantheres fit all of those "peaking at the right time" cliches. And, like I said about Tom Izzo the other day (and incorrectly about Jim Calhoun), he is good enough to get you one win every year regardless of what sort of team he brings with him. He already got that win. I picked them to pull the second-game upset last year (over UNC). I'm not going to do the same this year.

#1 UCLA vs. #9 Texas A&M
Saturday at 9:15 PM EST in Anaheim, CA
Vegas: UCLA (-10.5)
Storming the Floor: UCLA (over BYU)
Joe Lunardi: UCLA
WWOD?: UCLA in Anaheim. I can't go against it. Of all the games today this is the only one that would really surprise me if it went to the underdog. The 4/5 games are pick 'ems. Kansas is notoriously dicey this time of year. Xavier is a high-seed from a mid-major playing a lower-seed from a major conference. Michael Beasley gives K-State a chance to beat anyone. Even the Knicks. And, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Marquette took down Stanford as the Pac-10 hasn't fared so hot (3-3) so far this year. No other result would surprise me, except if Texas A&M beat UCLA. So, you know what that means...

*Gus Johnson is in Denver and he has the best two paper-games. If they can play-out as good as they write-out then we're all in for a good night with Gus. He deserves this after sitting through so many bad Knicks games.

"Nothing Is Really Real Unless It Happens On Television."-Daniel J. Boorstin

So, the Knicks did not lose to the Grizzlies last night, 106-120

As you can see from the picture. The Knicks game was not on television last night. There was hockey. And, hockey. On the MSG channels. And, the Nets were on YES. And none of the local stations were going to "join the game in progress" NCAA tournament style. Nope. They were going to go straight into their regular post-game coverage. So, according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian like Daniel Bootrstin this game didn't "really" happen for those of us who weren't there.

What did really, really happen though for Knicks fans and viewers was the pseudo-real version of the game presented as Knicks in 60. This aired at 1:30 AM this morning. By the time that I was watching this version of the Knicks game I already knew the score. I had seen that the Knicks were down 19 at the half and that they had lost by 14. I knew that Randolph Morris had started and that Zach Randolph got a DNP for no particular reason. So, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the game. I thought it was another lackluster performance in which the team came out flat and then cruised to defeat from there. Done and done.

What I didn't know, though, was that the Knicks actually won 49 to 48. I had no idea that had happened until I saw it on television. Until I watched it on Knicks in 60. The game that I was shown saw the Knicks score 49 points while the Grizzlies only scored 48. The editors at Knicks in 60 broke the game down into many pieces. There were Knicks runs. There were Grizzlies runs. There were periods of even play. There were timeouts. And, there were plenty of clips of Mike Miller hitting three pointers. If every single one of these pieces were put together then you got a game with a final score of 120-106 in the favor of Memphis.

But, if you selected and televised only the segments featuring Knicks runs, timeouts (yeah, they showed at least two timeouts) and periods of even, back-and-forth action THEN you could end up with a game that the Knicks won 49-48. And, that game was what the apparatchiks at MSG chose to broadcast. They sliced and diced this game until it looks like the Knicks actually won.

I can't imagine that they didn't do this on purpose. I can't imagine that they put this Frankenstein broadcast together and it just so happened that the Knicks won by 1 point in their version.

For all the ineptitude of this organization they sure are good at being evil.

Four Other Things to Know

1. The most popular guy in the gym last night was Juan Carlos Navarro. He is a 27-year old rookie from Spain and his countrymen and countrywomen where out in force at the Garden last night, which was surprisingly sold-out. The young Spaniard got a great ovation when he came out at the end of the game and teammate Mike Miller even raised his hand up for a bit of a curtain call.

2. Zach Randolph was described by Mike Breen as "a healthy scratch" last night. He is also going to miss at least the next game too. The reason given is that his absence opens up some PT for Randolph Morris. Now, I'm not quite sure why the two of them can't be active on the same day, but whatever. The Knicks are clearly going hard after a top-draft pick as this move coincides with the trip to MSG by the Grizzlies and a trip to Minny. We want to be at our very worst when we play those two. This move also absolves Isiah of additional losses. If he makes it clear to even the most casual observer that he isn't trying to win then he can't be faulted when he loses. Still, the most interesting thing about Zach last night wasn't his spot on the bench. It was his watch. This thing looked heavier than Eddy Curry. It had enough diamonds on it to clean out your local Zales. I guess when you've got a watch like that already it doesn't much matter whether you get in the game or not.

3. David Lee is growing some sort of mustache and goatee combo that is pretty funny. It's worth keeping tabs on.

4. Mike Breen is not afraid of his bosses. He speaks the truth about this team even while sitting in the same seat that Marv Albert sat in until he was fired for speaking the truth about this team. It is good to hear.
"This is the Memphis Grizzlies team that's lost 18 in a row on the road, they're the worst road team in the league and they're embarrassing the Knicks. Whether or not you play your young players and giving them a chance this just shouldn't happen."-Mike Breen