My March Madness Teams I Hate and Love

Even though I do a bracket every year, I still have certain rooting interests that override my wanting to be right. I always root for the upset unless the game involves Kentucky or any other teams I love. I have teams I will always cheer for and teams I will always cheer against. Here is a short breakdown of those teams:

Teams I Hate:

Duke – I really can’t remember if it all started with the Laettner shot or before, but I can’t stand Duke, Coach K or anything related to the team. I want them to lose every game they play. I picked them to win this year, but I would love for them to lose the first weekend.

UNC – The dislike here isn’t as strong as the Duke hate, but I’m really tired of dadgum Roy and the Tar Heels. I hate that they got away with players taking fake classes. I hate their dumb light blue uniforms. I hate the hype the Duke/UNC rivalry gets.

Louisville – The annoying little brother who won’t go away, but also embarrasses you by getting caught with prostitutes. I think I hate them more than Duke. They are less hateable with Pitino gone, but I still hate them. I don’t know how other Kentucky fans cheer for Louisville. They are our biggest rival. You can’t cheer for your rival.

Kansas – There’s just something about Bill Self that makes Kansas easy to hate. I don’t think I hated them when dadgum Roy was there, but I do now. I can’t really explain this one.

Syracuse – I’m not a Boeheim fan. I always pick them to lose early and they always win more than expected. Stop making me look dumb!

Cincinnati – I used to live outside the city and work in the city. I liked living and working there. I never liked the team. I liked Huggy Bear, but I really don’t like Cronin. He’s a terrible person an builds a team with his personality.

Tennessee – Stupid orange team full of floppers. They flop more than the floppiest of Duke teams. I hate floppers. Stupid floppers.

Teams I Love 

Kentucky – Obvious one here. I grew up in Kentucky. I went to UK. I attended every game while there. I knew some of the players. I attended father/son camp there with my son. I will always do what I can to plan my life around watching Kentucky basketball.

Murray State – a small Kentucky school with a chance to surprise people and win a couple of games. I always cheer for Kentucky teams unless they are Louisville.

Northern Kentucky – I lived down the street from NKU for a couple of years. I did my grad school classes via a UK extension program at NKU. I will always cheer for them.

Anyone playing the teams I hate – The above three are all I have in the tournament this year. WKU didn’t make it. Morehead didn’t make it. I really only love Kentucky teams that aren’t Louisville. I get more teams to love by loving any team playing against the teams I hate. It’s just as fun to have someone to cheer against as it is to have someone to cheer for.

So, my tournament cheering is focused on upsets, Kentucky teams that aren’t Louisville and any team playing Duke, UNC, Kansas, Syracuse, Cincy, and Tennessee. It’s always interesting to see which ones I hate more once they play each other and I figure out who I want to lose the game.

Now, let the games begin!

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Tater’s Picks of Madness

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! March Madness! I finally got smart and took Thursday afternoon off to watch the games. Friday is my normal day off, so I have two full days of basketball with no pesky job to get in the way. I do have to work on Saturday, so I run the risk of being at work during a UK game. I love March Madness. Now, on to my picks. This year I did not pretend to know anything about basketball. I went through the bracket, chose winners on instinct, changed a couple that I didn’t like and then left it alone. Here is the result.

Upsets:

1st round: Yale over LSU, Murray State over Marquette, UC Irvine over Kansas State, St Mary’s over Villanova, Seton Hall over Wofford

2nd Round: Miss. State over VA Tech, Buffalo over Texas Tech, UC Irvine over Wisconsin(Badgers? We don’t need no stinking Badgers), Cincy over Tennessee, Auburn over Kansas

Final Eight: Duke, Louisville, Florida State, Michigan, Virginia, Purdue, UNC, UK

Final Four: Duke, Florida St, Purdue, UK

Championship: Duke over UK. I just threw up in my mouth a little typing that..

I also did a homer bracket with UK winning.

Pick the exact opposite of this and you will win your pool

March Madness Has Arrived

At the end of this post I will give my upset and final four picks. Before that, though, I have some thoughts on some tweaks I would like to see made to the tournament, especially selection of teams.

  1. The play in games should not involve small conference champions. These teams have already had their play in game. It was called the conference tournament championship. They already earned their spot in the field of 64. The teams playing in the play in games should all be at-large teams. Make the last teams in play for their spot, not teams that already earned that spot.
  2. Stop rewarding mediocrity. No one should be in the field if they have a losing record in their conference. Why are teams like Oklahoma(losing conference record, lost 8 of their last 10 games) in the field while teams with better records are left out? Why are any mediocre power conference teams selected while better mid majors are left out? If you really want the tournament to be the best 68 teams then send the best teams.
  3. Understand your fans.  I know you think a matchup of big Kentucky vs little Kentucky school will add to the drama, but all that does is give us one less game to care about. We would watch and cheer for the little Kentucky team against anyone else and still watch and cheer for Kentucky. If you match them up, we will watch and complain about you messing up our chance to cheer for our underdog. Luckily, UK is not playing Murray State this year, but I’m sure if I looked I could find a matchup that has divided loyalties.
  4. Go back to the old selection show. The tweak this year didn’t work. It was terrible.

Now for the picks:

Upset specials –

Loyola-Chicago over Miami

Murray St over West Virginia

Butler over Arkansas

New Mexico St over Clemson and Auburn

Final four – Cincy, Xavier, Villanova, Michigan State

Championship – Cincy vs Villanova

Champion – Villanova.

 

 

The Time I Talked to Bruce Pearl

Kentucky basketball is playing Auburn tomorrow night. Auburn is really good this year. Auburn is coached by Bruce Pearl. A little Bruce Pearl background for the non-sports people. Bruce Pearl was the coach at the University of Tennessee. While he was the coach he invited a recruit and his family to a cookout at his house while the recruit was on an unofficial visit. Pearl told people at the cookout that the recruit was not supposed to be there and asked them not to tell anyone. When the NCAA investigated the incident, Pearl lied about it. He eventually acknowledged that it happened and that he lied about it. He was fired by Tennessee and due to sanctions was not a coach for a period of time. While not coaching, he was an analyst for ESPN, but also Vice President of Marketing for Knoxville wholesaler H.T. Hackney.

His position at Hackney is where I come in to the picture. My brother works for a company in Kentucky that did business with H.T. Hackney. This put him in position to meet and work with Bruce Pearl. We stay at my brother’s house when we are visiting family in Kentucky. One year around Christmas we were at his house and he took a work related phone call. After the call he told me that it was Bruce Pearl who called. I told him he should have let me talk to him since I was a huge college basketball fan and always liked Pearl. My brother called him back and said that his brother was visiting, was a UK fan but also a fan of Pearl’s and wanted to talk to him. Pearl was happy to do so and I was handed the phone.

I would like to say that I wasn’t awkward and weird on the call, but honestly, I can’t remember much of what I actually said.  Pearl asked me what I thought about UK’s team that year and for my thoughts on their upcoming game against Louisville. He actually listened to my basketball analysis even though he was the one who was paid to do that. He was very nice and friendly and I was the one who eventually said that I should let him get back to work. He did not seem to be in a hurry to stop talking to the random guy who happened to be related to a work associate. I came away from the call very impressed with him and his willingness to spend time talking to me about basketball. I will now always be a fan(unless his team is playing UK)

We Are Family: College Basketball Edition

At the end of the college basketball season Georgetown fired their coach. This was a big deal because their coach was the son of legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson. Before he was fired, several articles were written in the Post about the possibility that he would be fired. Many thought he would get more time because the school didn’t want to upset Big John. Once he was fired and the coaching search started there were articles about who should be the next coach and the concept of “keeping it in the family” came up. In the end, Georgetown did keep it in the family and hired Patrick Ewing. Word is that they tried to hire several non-family coaches and were turned down. Ewing has a lot of experience as an assistant NBA coach, but no college coaching experience. He might be good. He might not. I do wonder if they would have hired a non-family guy with the same experience. Did they hire Ewing because he was the best available after the others said no or did they hire him because of his name?

I’m not a big fan of the “keep it in the family” mindset. I watched(with glee) UNC go through down years because of this. When Dean Smith retired they hired his long time assistant Bill Gutheridge and then Matt Doherty. Everyone knows they wanted Roy Williams back then, but he was not ready to leave Kansas. The problem was that once he was out they were still set on hiring a UNC guy and ended up with mediocrity. A program like UNC should be able to hire almost any coach they want and should hire the best available, not the best UNC guy available. They were fortunate to get Roy Williams after Doherty didn’t work out. Now, both UNC and Duke are getting closer to a time when they will both need to replace a legend. Does UNC still try to keep it in the family? Will Duke go that direction as well? Are there viable family options for them? It will be interesting to see what they do when the time comes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dadgum Roy retires now that he won another championship.

I am a Kentucky alum and still a big fan of the program. There are many UK fans who are always pushing for a Kentucky guy to be the next coach. The problem is there are no viable options out there for this. None of the Kentucky guys n coaching are at a level to be ready to be the coach of Kentucky basketball. I wish someone like Travis Ford or John Pelphrey had been successful and ready to take over whenever Coach Cal leaves, but they will probably never get there. The closest we have to someone in the “family” as a successful coach is Richard Pitino.  I would be curious to see if he is an option in a few years when we are looking for a new coach. Having Little Ricky as the coach would be interesting. However, as much fun as it would be to have a Kentucky guy ready to take over, I would much rather just hire the best coach available even if he is a Dukie or Little Ricky. I never have understood why others feel otherwise.

NCAA Bracket Projections

Before I post my bracket projections I will admit that I am  Kentucky fan and in years when they have a team with a legitimate chance to win it all I never pick against them.

Upset specials:

1st round – Rhode Island over Creighton, MTSU over Minnesota, Wichita St over Dayton, UNCW over Virginia, Marquette over South Carolina, Princeton over Notre Dame

2nd round – UNCW over Florida, Iowa St over Purdue, Michigan over Louisville, MTSU over Butler, Cincinnati over UCLA

Final 8 – Iowa St, Michigan, UNC, UK, Villanova, Baylor, WVU, Arizona

Final 4 – Villanova, Arizona, Iowa State, UK

Championship – UK over Arizona

My biggest concern with this is not UK, but Iowa St. I think Kansas has a chance to lose before the Final Four. I almost had Louisville out there, but decided to go with the hot team of Michigan and their 3 point shooting instead. Once UL is gone, Oregon is the next best, but I still had a feeling that Michigan will stay hot. I made the decision to jhave Kansas go down to Iowa St and that means it is Iowa St vs Michigan, it ended with Iowa St in the Final Four. I’m sure that bracket will be my downfall.

My Bracket Projections of Madness

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.