Tater’s Take on March Madness

This is the month we get the best event in sports: March Madness. I love the upsets, the buzzer beaters and the thought that any random team can go on a run and win it all. Normally, it is even more fun for me because My Kentucky Wildcats are there until the very end. This year, though, I’m adjusting to life without the Wildcats being around. It’s hard, but I’m still watching.

Buh Bye: I am happy to see that Duke, Wisconsin and Indiana have all been eliminated from the tournament. There are still plenty of teams that I don’t like, but I’m very happy that none there seams will win it all. I was even happier with the way they lost. Duke and IU are beaten easily and Wisconsin choked. I guess it’s petty to watch in hopes of others being disappointed, but I don’t care. I laugh at the defeat of these teams. Also, this picture is still valid

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Shut Up: Of course Duke and rat face Coach K@#@$$@ couldn’t go quietly. Coach K@##$@#$ decided to lecture an Oregon player for taking a shot at the end of the game. Not as the clock expired, but as a shot clock expired with time still on the game clock. I guess the polite thing to do is to hand the ball to Duke instead of continuing to play the game. This took place after trippy Grayson Allen refused to shake hands with the Oregon players as the clock expired. The same Grayson Allen who tripped at least two opponents during the season and was not punished. I’m sure coach K@###@$@$ would have been OK with the Oregon coach lecturing Allen on sportsmanship, right? To make things worse, when asked about it, Coach K@##$$ lied about the exchange and said it never happened. Stay classy, Duke.

Frauds: UNC and Syracuse are in the final 8. Both teams are teams that have committed academic fraud. UNC still has not been punished. Syracuse got in the field because the committee felt their losses while their cheating coach was suspended shouldn’t count against them. Yet somehow people still say Calipari is what’s wrong with college basketball and we hear more complaints about UK players going pro instead of the academic fraud issues. We need to get rid of the one and done rule and let the kids who have no interest in college go pro. That might help with the need to commit academic fraud to keep players on the court when they can’t do what it takes in the classroom.

Refs: College basketball officiating is horrendous. You know it’s bad when someone like Doug Sirmons is considered good enough to officiate a tournament game. The NCAA needs to find a way to fix this. They are ruining the game. Limit how many games they can call in a week. Actually review their work and install consequences for screwing up. Suspend the ones who call technical fouls when none are warranted. Fire the ones who are consistently bad. As long as they can be bad at the job, penalize people who complain about them and suffer no consequences, there is no reason for them to want to improve.

My Dream Final Four: I don’t have much love for any of the teams left in the field. I guess I will go with a dream final four of Oregon(though Oklahoma would be fine), Villanova, Virginia and Notre Dame. Most of those picks are because I dislike the other teams, not because I like the ones I picked. It would be interesting to watch the announcers blatantly ignore the academic fraud issues while calling a Syracuse/UNC gme, but not enough for me to want to see them win.

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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.

The Worst Thing About Sports

There are many things written about what is wrong with sports. I think the worst thing about sports(except maybe people who write about what’s wrong with sports) is  the fans. Most normal people like me(ha) enjoy watching the games and then go on with our lives. We may scream at the TV and the officials when the game is being played. We might post random stuff on Facebook during the game expressing pleasure or displeasure about the results. We might even have players, coaches and officials we don’t like for whatever reason(although I don’t still hate Christian Laettner). What we don’t do, however, is go to the insane level some people do. Below are a few examples:

Ashley Judd(I love her) posted on Twitter after the SEC championship game that she thought Arkansas played dirty. I’m not sure I agree with that, but she has a right to express her opinion. What followed was a stream of replies on Twitter calling her names and threatening her. She has vowed to press charges against these people and I hope she does.

Saturday UK played Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a player with anger management issues stemming from a childhood tragedy. He was ejected from the previous game and many people felt he should not have been allowed to play in the UK game. There were some instance during the UK game when it looked like he might be heading toward another ejection. Some people in the UK fan base couldn’t just let it go after the win. They tweeted insults to the player after the game. I’m embarrassed that they are associated with my school.

It’s not just casual fans either. During the Maryland/WVU game, the WVU coach’s daughters tweeted negative things about Dez Wells and the accusations against him at Xavier. He was accused of sexual assault, kicked out of school, later acquitted and settled out of court in a lawsuit against the school.

Fans have always been fanatical, hence the name, but social media has unfortunately made it easier for fans to directly target players, coaches and other fans. Here are some rules to live by:

1. Remember these players are people. In the above cases they are college kids. They are someone’s kid. Would you want people to say those things to your kid? No? Then don’t say it to others.

2. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it on Twitter. Too many people have internet courage. They feel free to do stuff like this because they are somewhat anonymous and don’t expect consequences.

3. Remember it is just a game. It’s supposed to be fun. If you care so much that you are doing the above, re-evaluate your  life priorities.

4. If you do stuff like this in real life and your internet life is just reflecting you seek help.

My Bracket Projections 2015

Here are my projections for March Madness this year:

Upsets: Buffalo  over WVU, BYU over Xavier, UC Irvine over Louisville, SF Austin over Utah, Eastern Washington over Georgetown.

Second round upsets: Wichita St over Kansas, Arkanas over UNC, BYU over Baylor, NC state over Villanova, Michigan State over Virginia.

Final eight: UK, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Arizona, Northern Iowa, Michigan State, Duke, Gonzaga

Final Four: UK, Arizona, Northern Iowa, Gonzaga

Championship: UK over Gonzaga

Calipari Envy

I opened the Washington Post this morning to find that John Feinstein has chosen to write another article bashing John Calipari. Apparently, Calipari is the”everything wrong with college basketball” because he uses a rule that other people enacted better than everyone else in the game. Apparently, it is wrong for Coach Calipari to recruit the best high school players and help them achieve their dream of playing in the NBA. I guess he would prefer Coach Cal to be like Syracuse coach Jim Boheim who recently made negative comments about one of his own players to try to taint his draft status because he wouldn’t come  back and help Boheim win more games. Perhaps he should pattern his program after a small school like Cal Poly. Surely, they care more about student athletes? Right? Wrong. Cal Poly had a graduation rate of 62% among it’s players. UK? 82% and rising. Maybe he should be like Feinstein’s very good friend Gary Williams. He’s a hall of fame coach. He must have been  doing it the right way. Right? Wrong. Maryland had a 0 percent graduation rate for players entering school from 1997 to 2000, a period in which the school was building two Final Four teams. Think we ever heard from Feinstein about that? Nope.

All of those players at UK who aren’t real students have a B average. They go to class and take it seriously until such time someone offers them millions of dollars to quit. Want kids to stay in school? Stop offering the millions so early. A coach at any level before the professional level should see their job as preparing the kids for their next step in life. In college that should be either the NBA or graduation or in some cases both. For the most part, Calipari does exactly that. Many other schools don’t send kids to the NBA and also don’t graduate them. What exactly are those coaches doing? Looking out for themselves and no one else. If I had a kid who had the choice, I would send him to Calipari in a heartbeat.

People tend to hate success and successful people. Calipari is one of the best coaches coaching at the best college basketball program. People want to tear that down to feel better about themselves.

This Crow is Mighty Tasty

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.

Paying Players and Graduating Coaches

I decided to would write out my thoughts on two stories in college basketball. The idea of paying players and the Masiello situation.

First, Masiello: I am not one of those UK people who have decided they hate Steve Masiello for whatever reason.  I never met Masiello, but I know people have the same dislike for Travis Ford for being a jerk at UK. I did have class with  Travis and found him to be a decent guy. I always assume these people are the ones who bothered the players while they were out and about on campus and decided they were jerks because they didn’t stop what they were doing to chat/sign autographs. I also have no problem with Masiello coaching at Louisville. It makes sense. He is a Pitino guy. Louisville was the right spot for him.  So, that said, on to the resume fiasco.

Was it wrong to say you graduated from UK when you really didn’t? Yes, it was. It was a stupid lie because it is easy to find out the truth. Masiello had been lucky that none of his other employers cared enough to check his graduation status. His luck finally ran out. Do I think the fact that he didn’t graduate makes him unqualified as a coach? No, I don’t. He is a very good coach and the team that gives him a second chance will be lucky to have him. I assume he will go back to finish the degree somewhere (most likely UL where he could be a graduate assistant) and then will get hire on somewhere and will win again. I’m a big believer in second chances and am tired of people hammering him for this. He did something wrong. He can fix it and learn from it. Move on.

Paying Players:

I’m so tired of hearing people talk about paying players. These players are getting a free college education. It will cost over $100,000 for my son to go to college.  I looked up the price to attend Duke. It is over $60,000 per year. That’s $240,000 over four years. If you are an athlete, you get this for free and I’m supposed to feel sorry for you? The problem is, many of them don’t see this as value because they don’t really won’t to be in college. They just want to play basketball for money. Free college education does not seem as good as cold hard cash. They want both. Free education and cash. I think the solution is simple. Get rid of the one and done rule and let players go pro immediately out of high school. If you want cash for play, skip college and go pro. Not good enough for the NBA but still want cash for play? Go to Europe or go play in the NBA D League. Good at basketball but still value a college education? Go to school and play basketball while taking advantage of the extremely valuable compensation of a free college education with the added bonus of a guaranteed job with a booster after your career is over. College sports is about student athletes. Let’s get back to that.