This was a tough bracket to pick. I didn’t really want to pick the higher seeds as much as I did, but I didn’t really like the low seeds either. In years when Kentucky is not a one seed, I typically do one homer bracket and one bracket with them not going all the way. This year since I think anything can happen and Kentucky is pretty good I decided to just do the homer bracket. I don’t think I will be winning any pools this year. Here are the highlights:
Upset specials :
1st round: Vandy over Arizona, Northern Iowa over Texas, VCU over Oregon State, Stephen F Austin over West Virginia, Pitt over Wiscy, Gonzaga over Seton Hall.
2nd round: Texas Tech over Virginia, Gonzaga over Utah
Final 8: Kansas, Miami, Oregon, Texas a&m, UK, Notre Dame, Purdue, Michigan St
Final 4: Miami, Oregon, UK, Purdue
Championship: UK over Oregon
Of course, UK could easily lose to IU in the second round, but I couldn’t stomach predicting that or a loss to UNC in the Sweet 16. I also think Maryland could lose to South Dakota State instead of going to the Sweet 16. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all of the one seeds abut by the Final 8 with Oregon losing to the winner of the Duke/Baylor game. This year could be fun.
If you are not a UK fan or you are a UK fan who does not read all of the online stuff about the team(do those people exist?) you might not know what the Rex problem is. About two hours before the national championship game, former UK player and fan favorite Rex Chapman tweeted this – “Was messin’ ’round on Sat nite re: Cal. But word is – win or lose 2nite – it’s a #DoneDeal …Cal 2 La-La-Land 2 coach Mamba’s Lakers. #NoBS“. UK fans are very upset with Rex for tweeting that right before the game. I’m not upset for the following reasons:
1. I say this over and over again. My twitter and my facebook are mine to post what I want. If you don’t like what I tweet or post on Facebook it is your problem, not mine. If you don’t like it, don’t follow. As Ricky Gervais said “Following someone on Twitter and complaining about what they tweet about is like phoning someone to tell them you don’t want to talk to them”. Rex is not an employee of the university and is not a journalist. He has a right to post what someone told him if he wants. Don’t like it? Don’t follow.
2. The only people who would have a legitimate reason to be upset with Rex are Coach Calipari. his family, his team, his boss, the Lakers coach, his family, his team, his boss. The only reason anyone else would possibly be upset is because they didn’t like the information in the tweet and it made them enjoy a basketball game less. Again, it’s not Rex’s responsibility to woerry about how you feel about the information he tweeted.
3. It had no effect on the game at all. Some people have tried to use the “what if the players read the tweet and it made them play worse” argument. I’m not sure if any of the players follow Rex on twitter. It’s possible they do and would have seen it if they were checking twitter. However, two hours before the national championship game the players were most likely not reading their twitter feed. They had more important things on their mind than what Rex Chapman had to say about Calipari’s job status.
4. This whole debacle once again helps the national perception of “UK fans as lunatics”. We are really willing to “excommunicate” Rex from the UK family because of what we consider an ill timed tweet? I’ve always been a fan of Rex Chapman and the events of Monday night did not change that.
I have to admit that I was wrong about this Kentucky basketball team. I still hate the one and done rule and stand by everything I’ve said about it. It is bad for college basketball. I will admit, though that I was wrong about this group of one and doners.
I didn’t think they had the ability or desire to play as a team. I didn’t think they cared about winning at the college level. I thought they saw this as just an audition for the NBA and nothing else mattered to them. I never questioned that they were talented. I never questioned that they were good kids. I questioned their desire to play as a team and win at the college level. I was still wrong.
It took a while for it to all come together, but it has. They have become a team. They are showing desire to win. They are working very hard to move on in the tournament. I admit I was wrong about them and I’ve never been happier to so wrong.
I really hope the new NBA commissioner is successful in his attempt to change the one and done rule. I have to say that I am done with watching the one and dones. I get the philosophy that you should recruit the best players available. Purposely recruiting lesser talent seems to go against the idea of trying to be the best. I can see why coaches wouldn’t change. I understand why the players will go pro after one year. If I had been offered millions to quit school and work in my chosen profession, I would have done it in a heartbeat. As a fan, though, I hate it.
I hate that you don’t really know the players anymore. I hate that the players don’t get the time to really improve while in college. It’s much easier to deal with inconsistent freshmen when you know that in a couple of years they will be very good players on your team. It’s hard to deal with that when you know that they will leave and in a couple of years be good players for a random NBA team. It’s hard to cheer for them because they are at your school when there’s a very good chance they don’t really care about your school. College sports should be sports played by college students. If you want a minor league system, develop the D League. Don’t use college sports as a substitute semi-pro team.
I like the baseball rule. Let players go pro right after high school but if they choose to go to college they have to stay for three years or until they are 21. Use the D league to develop the players that don’t want to go to college, but aren’t quite NBA ready. Let college basketball be played by college students.
Here are my predictions for the tournament:
Upset specials – Ole Miss over Wisconsin, Belmont over Arizona, Bucknell over Butler, Colorado over Illinois, South Dakota St over Michigan, Minnesota over UCLA, Northwestern St over Florida.
Surprise Sweet 16 teams: only one close is UNLV instead of Syracuse
Final Four: Louisville, New Mexico, Miami, Kansas
Louisville beats Miami in the championship game.
Now, in a bonus second post of the day I move on to a team on a downward spiral, my beloved Kentucky Wildcats. This down season is much easier to take coming off of a championship, but it is still frustrating to watch. The team as it is now with a an injured Nerlins Noel still has at least three players with NBA talent and yet they look very bad. After the most recent game, Coach Calipari said some of the players are uncoachable. He has since backed off of that statement, but it is clear that he is frustrated with the teams well. The fan reaction has lead to one player calling out the “fake fans” and others saying that the play on the court does not make them bad kids.
I take exception to the idea that someone must be a fake fan if they have the nerve to complain about the product on the floor. Fake fans are the ones who not only complain about the product on the floor, but also, quit watching the games and possibly start rooting for a new team. These types of fans are common. The ones that only want to back a winner and will go away as soon as you start losing. I think the UK faithful have shown that we stick around even when the going gets tough. It doesn’t mean will will suffer quietly, but we will suffer through with them.
I also agree that underachieving does not make the players on the team bad kids. They are struggling at doing their job on the court and I want nothing more for them to get better and be successful. Unfortunately, for this to happen they need to be willing to listen to their coach and based on recent comments it sounds like that is not happening. If this doesn’t change, I hope they move on to the NBA or a team and coach willing to deal with people who won’t listen. Does this make them bad people? No. It does make them people I don’t want on my team. I think we’ve all had coworkers we loved as people, but who we wished would move on because we didn’t love them as coworkers. I think this is the same type of situation. Sometimes, the job and/ or team is just not the right fit and it is in the best interest for both parties to part ways.
I’m tired of reading all of the complaints about the UK players leaving early to go to the NBA. You go to college for one specific reason: to learn what you need to succeed in your chosen profession. Every one of these players came to college with the goal to play in the NBA. In their one(or two) years at UK these players have reached the point where they can succeed in their chosen profession, or at least get payed a lot of money to try. If they are interested in finishing their degree they will have plenty of money and opportunity to do so. If I had been offered millions to quit school and go to work after my freshman hear I would not have hesitated at all in saying yes. I would tell my kid to do the same thing. Their lives are not about entertaining you. It is about what is best for them and their families.
A brief word on the job of a coach: I believe at every level of sports until professional a coaches job is to teach and prepare players for the next level. A coach that wins a lot, but has players who aren’t prepared for the next step in life is a failure. If all of your players are ready to move up or have graduated, you are a success.