2011 NCAA Tournament: Year of the small school run?


There is a particular resident LND writer, not naming names, but let’s call him Schmerron Schmingleton, who is proudly proclaiming victory over his preseason college hoops prediction that 2011 would be the year of the small conference schools running deep in the tournament. This claim of victory might have gone unnoticed, except another LND writer, not naming names, but let’s call him Sexy Square Nuts, called out Schmerron’s manhood before the start of the Tournament saying 2011 would be dominated by the big league schools.

Following the first weekend, Perron…oops, I mean, Schmerron…declared: “way back in the preseason i wasn’t calling for chaos in the tournament – but rather small conference schools making long runs. richmond, vcu, butler, byu, sdsu have proven me right already. it’s another year of the small school. at least one of those teams will win another game or two.”

Mr. Schmingleton’s apparent inability to use caps aside, this caused Square Nuts to raise an eyebrow. (By the way, can you imagine a pair of nuts with eyebrows? It’s like dirty Mr. Potato Head.)

So why is this debate happening? A) It’s timely. B) What else are we going to talk about? Regular season NBA or NHL? Pass. C) Perron thinks he’s right, and Jay just can’t stand when that happens. D) It turns out, it’s a pretty interesting analysis and it hinges on a couple of key assumptions.

The head to head returns to LND right now! Let’s get to it.

Jay says: This ain’t no year of no small conference school.

This debate calls for getting a few things unLiberace—that is to say, straight—first.

1) Perron and I agree – a “long run” = making it to the Sweet 16 for a small school.

Perron leans on Richmond of the Atlantic 10 and BYU and San Diego St. of the Mountain West to make his small school argument. Let’s just throw those teams out the window, because the assumption that the A-10 and MWC are small conferences is patently absurd.

Both the A-10 and MWC have received 9 bids over the last three tournaments (the PAC 10 has only garnered 10). Going back a decade, both have 25 bids over the last decade – a solid 2.5 teams per season. The only other league that has averaged more than 1.3 bids per season in the last decade outside of the “BCS Conferences” (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, PAC 10, SEC) is C-USA with 26 bids, but 17 of those came in the 2002-2005 timeframe before the Big East raided the cream of the conference, taking Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville (and a few other teams no one gives a shit about).

The A-10 and MWC both also sport multiple teams with a lot of hoops history—Xavier, Temple, Utah, UNLV anybody?

So I’ll admit the A-10 and MWC aren’t “big conference schools,” but they’re clearly in another league above Perron’s “small conference schools.” Let’s call them “middle conference schools,” and there’s a distinction there from “mid-majors.” Mid-majors are the better teams from the small conferences. Gonzaga was the quintessential mid-major in the late ‘90s. (Although the ‘Zags are like Boise St. in football at this point – they’re established as a major).

So, eliminating the Big 6 conference and the 3 middle conferences (A-10, MWC and C-USA-which was really a big conference from 2002-2005 and then a small conference plus Memphis from 2006 on, but we’ll split the difference for this debate) and you’re left with VCU and Butler as small schools left in 2011.

Does two small conference schools in the Sweet 16 qualify as “another year of the small school?”

As mentioned, I refuse to count Gonzaga as a small school, and that actually benefits Perron’s argument (because ‘Zaga didn’t make the Sweet 16 this year, but would have pushed the small school average up over the last decade). That said, 4 small schools not named Gonzaga made the Sweet 16 in 2010, 3 made it in 2006, 2 did it in 2008, 2007 and 2002, and  1 did it in 2005, 2004 and 2003.

So, in the last 10 years, more small schools have made the Sweet 16 in 2 years and the same amount have made it in 3 years. Two small schools is the median and barely above the mean (again, these numbers would be even better for me if I counted Gonzaga, but I’m not). Basically, count on two Cinderallas per year.

Curious about those middle conference schools?  They’re the real aberration this year. Three middle conference schools made the Sweet 16 this year compared to a 10-year average of only 1.5 (which is actually the average both pre- and post-C-USA shakeup). So, there you have it, P, it was the year of the conferences that are always really good at the top and just aren’t as deep as big conferences not named the PAC 10.

But back to this “small school” thing. I feel like I made a safe assumption that everyone can agree with when I said you just can’t consider Gonzaga as a small school anymore. That time ended in 2001 after the Zags made their third straight Sweet 16.

So if we can make that leap with Gonzaga, what about Butler? The Bulldogs made their fourth Sweet 16 in the last 10 years this year. They were about two inches away from winning a national title last year against Duke – officially, The Man (in the bad context, not the good) of college hoops. Want to know how many teams have made the Sweet 16 more than Butler in the last 10 years? Eight—Duke (8), UConn (6), Kansas (6), Michigan St. (5), North Carolina (5), Texas (5), Arizona (5) and Kentucky (5).

College basketball success is measured in March. Can you really count one of the 10 best postseason programs of the past decade as a “small school?”

If you do, fine – then 2011 was the same as any other year for small schools. If you think the 2010 national runners up have ascended beyond small school status, then 2011 offered you all of one true Cinderella run.

Good luck VCU!

Your ball, P-diddles.

Perron says: This am so another year of the small conference school.

Since Jay used up the entire allowable word count for his argument,  I will make this a short retort.

The main problem with Jay’s argument is that there is too much focus on the other teams in the conference of the schools in question and not enough analysis of the schools themselves.  Xavier, Temple, Utah, and UNLV do indeed have strong basketball programs, but you have to make a Grand Canyon-sized leap to apply that to the other teams in their conferences. That is like saying Duke is a big football school because they are in a conference with Virginia Tech and Florida State. So lets look at these small schools individually:

San Diego State – this team has never won a single game in the tournament before this season.  Enough said.

Richmond – they have only been to nine tournaments ever and only one other sweet sixteen way back in 1988.

BYU – they have not been to the sweet sixteen in 30 years with 1981 being the last time.

Butler is more interesting because they have become somewhat of a staple in the sweet sixteen.  But we are talking about a team that plays in the Horizon League – a conference that perennially only gets one bid. They play in the gym that was used in the movie Hoosiers.  Despite their recent run of success, they are the defining example of a  small school.  In fact my original argument was that a small school will make “another Butler-like run to the Final Four.”

Add VCU and you have 5 small schools in the sweet sixteen this year and a victory for me.

Advertisements

College basketball preview


We here at LND love basketball.  We grew up playing it, grew up watching it, and grew up idolizing those who were fortunate enough to play it on television – whether that person be one of the all-time greats like Michael Jordan or just have one of the all-time great names like God Shammgod, creator of the Shammgod.  Our shared love of basketball can only be matched by two things – our respect for any man willing to rock an ironic mustache and our hatred for Duke basketball.

______________________________________________________

Dunn’s picks

So it’s college basketball season again. Which marks the start of real ODU sports, real hatred towards anything Duke, and real allegations against another incoming Kentucky frosh. I swear, UK is like the collegiate social worker. Take in the worst cases possible with the idea of a heartfelt conclusion. Unfortunately for Calipari and UK, after so many great turnouts (D Rose, Cousins, Wall, Tyreke Evans) it was bound to backfire eventually. Like Todd Phillips with Due Date. After so many great turnouts (Hangover, Old School, the underrated Starsky & Hutch remake, and an eerily similar premise of comical genius known as Road Trip), he had to miss eventually. Kanter could still join my Wildcats. Just like Galifianakis could still make Due Date continually watchable. Maybe.

Oh, and as far as Duke, I say hate because it’s not like I can have my main wish granted and just have Duke basketball, as a program, completely eliminated. Or, could I!?  Maybe I could hire Dexter to take out each player one by one like Julia Stiles rapists/terrorizers. Oh how nice THAT would be! I can see it now, right before the knife tears through the plastic wrapping I’d make Dexter tell them it’s all because of him! Then my mastermind plan of ridding the sports stratosphere of any recollection of The Shot we will not mention, except here, will commence.  (BTW screw Coach K, that second cheerleader, Mashburn for celebrating, Grant Hill, the announcer, the UK Center who jumped like a kid with MD to block the shot, and THAT BITCH ASS GEORGE HILL!)

Now my picks

SEC– Kentucky (with or without Kanter) I do love Scottie “I got Hops” Hopson though

Big Ten– Michigan St. (With respect to Purdue without Hummel)

Big 12– Kansas St. (Pullen babay!) Although my two-named brother from another, LaceDarius, WILL be back

Pac 10– Washington (w/ the real Isaiah Thomas)

WCC– Zags (No Omar Samhan, no Saint Mary’s)

Big East– Pitt I guess

C-USA– Memphis (although I can’t wait to watch Culpepper and UTEP)

A-10– Richmond (but watch Dayton)

Mountain West– BYU (Fredette all day)

CAA– Let’s GO O.D.U.!

MVC– U Northern Iowa

lastly ACC, and since I am about to slice my hand completely off……..Duke.

Final Four– UK, UNC, Mich St., & Kansas St.

National Champ– UK (with Kanter) or Mich St. (w/out)

______________________________________________________

Perron’s Picks

Many of you may recall that I chose Virginia Tech to win the football National Championship this year.  That didn’t work out so well. Well guess what, I was ready to pick the Hokies to win the ACC, but then they lost J.T. Thompson and Allan Chaney for the season and all of VT’s frontcourt depth disappeared.  This is bad news. Very bad news.  What may be even worse news than this for all College Basketabll fans is that the Hokies are ranked (two weeks in a row now so shove it Jay).  The reason this is bad news for College Basketball? There is not one single player on Tech’s current roster that has played in an NCAA Tournament game, they lost two of their top three post players for the season before the season even started, and they are ranked in the preseason.  That tells me there aren’t a whole lot of quality teams out there. That also tells me that another Butler-type team will make a run to the Final Four and the admin assistant who picked her bracket based on which school she would most like to visit will win your annual office pool again.  And now the predictions:

SEC–  Georgia – I also predict that Tennessee will get put on probation before Kentucky because of the shady practices of Mr. Orange Blazer, but his conference will belong to the Bulldogs (watch out for them as a dark horse in the tourney this year).

Big TenMichigan State takes it. My favorite non-Greenberg coach in the nation has to be Bo Ryan because he does the Soulja Boy, but Izzo is probably the best coach.

Big 12Kansas St. ends Kansas’ run of six straight conference titles and Frank Martin makes some poor official crap his pants after he threatens to eat his forehead

Pac 10Washington I guess.  PAC-10 : CBB  ::  Big East : CFB  ::  poop : sandwich

WCCSt. Mary’s – The Zags get no love from me like a Scrub from TLC.  (90’s reference!!!!)

Big EastSyracuse – Wes Johnson wasn’t that great anyway. He can’t even high five.

C-USAUTEP –  Memphis lost their shady coach in Calipari. UTEP hired their shady coach on Tim Floyd. Advantage Miners.

A-10Richmond will make it three teams from the Commonwealth in this year’s tourney and none of them will be associated with Thomas Jefferson.

Mountain WestBYU – How can you not love a guy that willingly goes by Jimmer?

CAAODU lost a nailbiter to Georgetown, but nobody in the CAA can compete with their size.

MVCWichita St. – The Shockers and their creepy mascot are going to “Shock” some people this year. (Pun!!!!!!!)

ACCVirginia Tech – Screw it. You don’t need a big man to win in this league. I also predict Paul Hewitt will get fired for chronically underachieving with top notch talent and Mr. Red Blazer will keep his job despite chronically underachieving with top notch talent and I still won’t be able to spell Kryschefshki.

Final Four– Duke,  Wichita St., Mich St., & Kansas St.

National Champ– Kansas St.

______________________________________________________

Jay’s Picks

College basketball has the nearly undisputed greatest postseason in all of American sports. But let’s not overlook the regular season, which is important when you’re a UVA fan and that’s the only place your’e going to see your team play in 2010. Oh, no, here I go again. Why should you waste your 10 minutes of not-paying-attention-to-work time to read about my moderately irrelevant Virginia Cavaliers? Because a new giant is rising, people. It might not happen this season, but Tony Bennett is formulating a plan in Charlottesville so devious, so underhanded, so devilish that only, well, the Devils would do it. The Duke Blue Devils, that is. Tony Bennett, a well spoken white dude who comes off extremely well in the living rooms of rich, pretentious parents of “high IQ” (read: white) basketball recruits, is literally stealing the playbook right from under Coach K’s scrunched ferret nose. The Crooner of the Court isn’t trying to beat UNC, Georgia Tech or Wake Forest for your typical stud ballers with entire entourages and connections to World Wide Wes. UVA isn’t going to win those battles. No, Bennett is going right after Coach K’s sweetspot – really annoying, ugly white dudes who hustle, make the extra pass, try on defense and pray for the day their coach will give them a gold star sticker to put on their notebook for listening to coach better than anyone. Just take a look at four of the six kids from Bennett’s first recruiting class, UVA’s current freshmen.

Will Regan even came from Christian Laettner’s high school alma mater. Thanks for the blueprint, K. First the Hoos will take Duke’s title for most annoying team in the ACC, then we start taking the real titles.

Getting past my Hoos to the portion of the college basketball universe that the other 99% of the U.S. population actually finds relevant, UNC will own Duke this year, but no one else in the ACC will; the Big East will be another all-out brawl among a half dozen almost elites, leading the entire East Coast population of bracket pickers to again get their brackets busted by Big East overhype; the SEC gets a second relevant team for the first time in a few years, but the Pac 10 won’t find one; the Big 12 will have the best top four teams of any conference in the country.

Some interesting story lines to follow:

1. Kansas St. coach Frank Martin won’t beat one of his players this year, but a woman will have him charged with sexual assault after watching a Wildcats game on a 3D television and a stare from coach’s black, souless eyes actually leaves her vagina suffering from second degree burns.

2. After investing $250 million to convince America we should give a shit about mid-major basketball teams like Butler and Gonzaga with an all out, all season marketing campaign including a mid-major highlight in every Sportscenter top 10 all year and a special mid-major segment in every episode of PTI from November to March, not a single team outside of the BCS conferences will make the Elite Eight.

SEC– Florida (even I think it will be Kentucky, but since Kentucky will end up forfeiting all of its wins and titles from the entire Calipari era in about two years, I’m going to go ahead and speed up the process by handing the stripped title to the Gators)

Big Ten– Michigan St.

Big 12– Kansas

Pac 10– Wait, I thought we were only picking champs for leagues that had a chance of getting more than 1 bid?

WCC– Gonzaga

Big East– Syracuse

C-USA– Memphis (although I still feel dirty picking a program that still has Calipari hair grease all over it)

A-10– Temple. It’s not as fun without Chaney threatening to street brawl on Calipari Rocky V style, but the Owls are back.

Mountain West– BYU

CAA– ODU – and, yes, I will sacrifice a pick in my NCAA bracket to pick the Monarchs to win in the first round, just out of 757 pride

MVC– A team with a bunch of white guys that play fundamentally sound and won’t stop trying hard or shotting threes. Uhhh, Northern Iowa.

ACC- Virginia Tech – NOT. Enjoy that one week run in the top 25, Perron. Sadly, it will be the team with this guy:

Final Four– Duke, Pitt, Michigan St., Kansas

National Champ– Michigan St.

Which Fast Food joint is most on point?


Now it’s no mystery that the guys at LND drink hard. I’m talking Ray Lewis just walked into prison causing hardened criminal’s assholes to instantly tighten up hard. And we are quite creative with our hard-charging alcoholic festivities. Whether it be from downing an entire PBR 18 pack just because it’s Tuesday and you somehow finagled a Wednesday off, or, from pounding Jack Daniels shots repeatedly while dancing SO hard that you literally out dance yourself  just because a text message named band and Lil’ Jon told you to — there’s never an invalid reason for drinking excessively. When the time calls for it, of course. We are upstanding gentlemen, mind you.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because all those crushed cans and cut rugs justify a late night treat. And because we can’t order Red Lobster at beer thirty in the morning, most logical minds choose fast food. (Illogical fools get to look forward to light’s out with Ray Lewis.) Today’s debate tackles something that ALL have squabbled over from time to time. Get those stomach’s churning cause this is gonna be the best three man free-for-all since the three blind mice all had to take a shit at the same time. We ask you to vote:

Which Fast Food joint is most on point?

Dunn’s choice: WENDY’S

My choice was an easy one. Nothing says grubbin’ like that sweet child o’ mine Ms. Wendy. No, not that Wendy. She’s with Squints anyways. And most certainly not this one! (Even I had to make sure this wasn’t a guy) No, the one I speak of  has resembled a prepubescent aged schoolgirl her entire life, but that’s okay. Cause not only was her father an awesome spokesman, and in the same fraternity as me, but her chili is ridiculously good. From their REAL fish sammich to their thrice times stacked burger, nothing isn’t not good. Triple negative? Triple awesome.  And dare I even mention the Frosty. McD’s seemingly stole the Queen’s Blizzard concept to the tee and I’d still take a Frosty over a McFlurry. They give the option of a side baked potato for Christ’s sake! With chives? Sure. Butter? Certainly. Sour Cream? Not today, but thank you.

Their chicken sandwich rocks. Their salad has fruit. Their mascot looks like Pippi Longstocking. They have five golden nuggets for 99 cents. Point blank, nothing comes close.

Oh, and don’t forget to add shredded cheese to that chili. Glorious.

Perron’s choice: Chick-fil-A


Most people will argue that cows are stupid.   I would argue that they are the fourth most intelligent form of life on the planet right after humans, dolphins, and unicorns.  After all – that cow on the left is smart enough to correctly spell the word “eat”. Even more impressive is that they are capable of trying to save their own species and simultaneously recommend the most delicious of all fast food sandwiches if not all sandwiches known to man.  When you have that going for you is variety really necessary?  Chick-fil-A does a few things and does all of them excellently – from the chicken sandwich to the chicken nugget to the chicken strip to the best breakfast on the planet in the form of the chicken biscuit.  And if you haven’t had Polynesian Sauce before I would recommend you keep it that way, because after one taste you will end up like Pookie in New Jack hittin’ the Polynesian crack pipe over and over again.  Same goes for the milkshakes – they will essentially turn you into Tyrone Biggums.  Plus their french fries are cut into the mind-boggling shape of a waffle.  There are only two people on the planet that know how that is even possible.  Fact.  Probably.

Even though their food is the best in the business, the thing that really puts Chick-fil-A over the top is their service.  Most “fast” food restaurants don’t take the “fast” very seriously, routinely get your order wrong, and have employees that struggle with basic English communication.  Chick-fil-A gets you in and out, gets your order right and apparently gets a kick out of doing it because they always say “My Pleasure”.  If you still aren’t convinced, just remember that Chick-fil-A is the official fast food restaurant of both College Football and God.

Jay’s choice: Taco Bell


No. 1: Do not argue with Charles Barkley. If the Round Mound of Rebound says Taco Bell rocks (it rocks), then it rocks (it rocks). Chuck will put you through a bar window, then place your unconscious body inside a giant crunchy taco shell, then spread liquid cheese on that shell, then wrap you in a completely unecessary burrito shell, then deep fry you and then smother you in fire sauce before consuming your puny mass in one bite if you even try to bring any of that weak Chick-fil-A or Wendy’s game to Sir Charles’ Court. Besides, there’s no need to argue; the proof is in Charles’ pudding. How could something that helped a former world class NBA star put on about 200 pounds in three years be anything less than amazing?

Stepping around the fact I may or may not be trying to shamelessly pimp Pothead’s Delight because most of my burgeoning young retirement fund is locked up in Taco Bell’s parent company stock (Try KFC, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver’s today! YUM!), the offerings of this fine establishment speak for themselves (particularly sometime after midnight moments after emerging from a smoky 1986 Cutlass with purple velvet interior and red curtains on the back seat windows).

I mean, can you comprehend the genius it takes to craft 14 different tacos, 17 different burritos, 3 types of gordita, 4 chalupas and 10 other random meat-in-shell options out of basically the same four ingredients (beef, chicken, corn, cheese)? And, no, you shouldn’t be afraid that one small store the size of your living room can produce more menu selections than Johnson & Wales. From the one that started it all — the classic 79 cents soft or cruncy taco, simplistically perfect in its Spartan dress of mystery beef chum, fake cheese and limp lettuce — to the grave-making, bubble guts-exploding XXL chalupa — a massive fried Chalupa shell packed with ground beef, lettuce, fiesta salsa, a blend of three cheeses PLUS nacho cheese sauce, red strips and reduced fat (haha!) sour cream — Taco Bell is any 20-somethings wet dream. Except that’s no wet dream, and it’s not low fat sour cream either. Stoney, that bite of delectable cat meat and cheese sauce in your mouth is as real as the sticky Stoney Jr.’s swimming around in your hemp boxers.

Taco Bell is delicious, diverse enough to prevent the need to ever eat anywhere else (other than Pizza Hut, KFC or Long John Silver’s), and is so cheap that any couch-surfing homeless drop out can walk around a parking lot for about 15 minutes and pick up enough loose change to get a meal. Who cares that the entire menu is a disgrace to Mexico’s cultural and culinary history? Mexican immigrants’ entire case for being allowed in the U.S. illegally is the fact that no job, no matter how foul or back-breaking, is beneath them. Yo quiero Taco Bell? Yep. Thinking outside the bun? Am now. Does the box rock (it rocks)? It better, because Charles has his fire sauce ready, Little Gordita.

NBA Preview


OK, so I know what you are thinking.  After the debacle that we here at LND called the “MLB Playoff Preview” you are beginning to wonder if we even watch sports.  Though that is a valid question after none of us even correctly predicting one World Series team, keep in mind that nobody over at the mothership of all things sport did either. Besides, baseball is a distant third on our list of favorite sports.  If there are three things that the guys at LND know lots about it’s awesome hats, awesome signs, and the NBA.  There have been a ton of changes to the landscape of the greatest league of athletes in the world – Amar’e is a Knick, Shaq is a Celtic, and Lebron is a Heat (damn non-plural team name. We almost made it a whole paragraph without any grammatical errors).  Here is your official LND 2010-11 NBA primer with picks.

But before we get there, everyone join me in pouring out a little bit of your 40 for Allen Iverson’s career.  It looks like it is officially over after the Answer signed up to play for two years in Turkey with LND’s new favorite international team Besiktas.  As fellow 757 natives we here were endlessly entertained by AI’s (Iguodala should be forced to find his own nickname – I vote for Iguanadon. Who wouldn’t want to be named after the dino that gives the meanest two thumbs up in the history of lizards?) career and wish him well. Go Besiktas!!!

Perron’s Picks

East
1. Heat – The Lebron James hate has gone way too far. I still like Lebron and will enjoy watching this team. I think he can average a triple double. Plus Bosh will be way more effective now that he no longer has Predator’s haircut.

2. Magic – Dwight Howard worked out this summer with the greatest center of all time Hakeem Olajuwon.  He also claims that he has gotten more serious and wants to drop the Superman nickname.  If Dwight got serious and learned the Dream Shake then the rest of the NBA should be afraid.

3. Bulls – Derrick Rose is gonna blow up this year and I don’t mean blow up the way Shawn Kemp did. With Boozer setting the pick and doing the rolling look for him to put up Chris Paul-like numbers.

4. Celtics – The Rasheed Wallace infection will linger as they coast through the regular season and try to turn it on in the playoffs. It won’t work this year because Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and the O’Neal towers have three good knees combined between the four of them.

5. Hawks – This team is the Mr. Rogers of the NBA – every episode is exactly the same.  A decent regular season followed by getting bounced in the first round.  But hey, at least they locked Joe Johnson up long-term so we can look forward to 6 more years of them lingering in the 5 spot.

6. Knicks – Partly because I believe in D’Antoni, partly because Raymond Felton is a huge upgrade over Chris Duhon, partly because A’mare is a monster, but mostly because I think Carmelo will be a Knick at the trading deadline.

7. Bucks – Brandon Jennings is amazing to watch. They would be higher except Bogut still hasn’t fully recovered from having his arm bent backwards like a Ken doll.

8. Besiktas! – Because Allen Iverson and a bunch of foreign players couold win the 8 spot in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.  Really Charlotte, Iverson wouldn’t have been a good fit on your team that only has two players capable of scoring? I guess I’ll begrudgingly pick the Wiz here. Gilbert and Wall are better than other 1-2 punch of the teams left .

West

1. Lakers – Andrew Bynum sucks.  When can we all agree on this? Stop hyping him up. Just stop it. Now. You are still doing it.  They are still better than everyone else over here even though Bynum will only play 35 games.

2. Mavs – Dirk is underrated.  Chicago almost traded for him but backed out when they thought they could get Lebron and Wade. Chicago is in a good place now but if you replaced Boozer with Dirk I would pick them to win it all.

3. Thunder – KD is great and everyone knows it at this point.  Don’t sleep on his supporting cast, though – Westbrook, Harden, Green, Ibaka, Thabo, and Harden’s beard. This team is going places and those places are the NBA Finals.

4. Jazz – David Kahn is a terrible GM.  His team is comprised of 7 PGs and 6 PFs so he had to give away his best PF Al Jefferson to Utah for a bag of tube socks.  That means Utah won’t miss Boozer for one second.

5. Rockets – Yao is not 100% but they don’t need him to be because this team goes 12 deep and will be able to score with anybody behind Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin.

6. Spurs – Out of respect for Timmy and Pops. They will find a way. Plus, Tim Duncan swims with Beluga Whales so he’s got that going for him.

7. Clippers – It just doesn’t look right, I know. Blake Griffin wins Rookie of the Year, Eric Gordon wins NBA’s Most Improved, and I can’t help but root for my bearded brethren Baron Davis.

8. Hornets – This team is terrible, but they have Chris Paul and that is good enough.

Finals – Heat over Thunder – Lebron and Durant get to face off head to head for best player on the planet.  That title and the NBA title will belong to Lebron for now.  But don’t worry KD, there will be several rematches in the future.

Dunn’s Picks

Let me preface my breakdown of picks to mention three guarantees for the upcoming NBA season. First, EVERY other team is scared to death of the Heat. Even declining Mamba and his band of second tier players. EVERYONE. Second, Andrew Bynum will come back from knee injury number 47, beast some undersized garbage five like Noah or Kristic, get instantly overrated AGAIN, and then injure himself some dumbass way in order to miss out getting gang raped by either the O’Neal’s, the Joel Anthony/U Haslem matchup, or Dwight Howard in the Finals. I can already hear the excuses about why the Lake show missed out on its second three peat. Third, America’s original Penis Man du jour, Greg Odom AKA The Big Sloppy, will once again miss an entire season, amazingly becoming the worst big man pick up in Blazers history. There’s your reprieve Sam Bowie.

East

1. Heat (b/c by June all of the “kinks” will have worked themselves out)

2. Celtics (injuries hinder them mid-season, but like last year summertime means business)

3. Bulls

4. Magic

5. Bucks (Jennings babay!)

6. Hawks

7. Bobcats

8. Pacers (sorry Knicks)

West

1. Lakers (barely)

2. Thunder

3. Mavs (but will once again bow out before the start of the playoffs)

4. Nuggets (w/ Melo)

5. Jazz

6. Spurs (last run of the Sleepy Giants)

7. Blazers

8. Rockets

Finals: Heat (after narrowly escaping Boston) over Lakers

Jay’s Picks

East

1. Heat

2. Orlando

3. Celtics

4. Chicago

5. Atlanta

6. Milwaukee

7. Charlotte

8. Cleveland – Because LeBron hate is en vogue right now

West

1. LA Lakers

2. Utah

3. Dallas

4. Oklahoma City

5. San Antonio

6. Phoenix

7. Portland

8. Denver

Finals – Lakers over Celtics

The East finally catches up to the West after a decade of post-Jordan era regular season inferiority, but the end result of ultimate regular season parity still craps out the same thing we’ve had for two of the last three years. TV and NBA execs rejoice! You have Lakers vs. Celtics for the umpteenth time in history. Enjoy it now, because Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Shaq will probably turn into dust after the Lakers take this series in 7 (again).

MLB Playoff Preview


The air is getting crisp and the calendar has flipped to October. That means it must be time for the Major League Baseball playoffs. The crack of the … Wait, what do you mean “Major League what?” You don’t know what baseball is? You know, the game with the bat and the hard little ball? No – not lacrosse. What are you, Canadian? This is the one where the hard little ball is covered in dried animal skin. No, not cricket. Now you’re just being ridiculous.

OK, so baseball’s not exactly as popular as it used to be. October is now more known to sports fans as the month of football after the month that was the first month of football. And with the likes of the Tampa Bay Rays electrifying at least 12,000 fans to come see a team full of guys getting paid in seashells and lunchables play, the MLB playoffs probably aren’t going to look any more important this year.

But, alas, we here at LND still care. We care because the playoffs are still another excuse to raise the stakes on our unsustainable gambling habits, tax our relationships with two months of late nights at sports bars blowing the kids’ college fund on honey taco ghost pepper mint hot wings and prove that we are smarter than our friends with bombastic predictions that will probably not end up any more accurate than a coin flip.

Jay’s Picks

NLDS: Giants over Braves. The Braves provided legendary angry old man Bobby Cox a fitting send off squeaking into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. Now they will quietly go away. Atlanta pitching will dominate, never giving up more than 4 runs in a game, but that mighty Omar Infante-led offense will respond by never scoring more than 3 in any game.

Phillies over Reds. Thanks to the Phillies, fans will actually be able to recognize that they are not actually watching reruns of the Little League World Series when tuning in to the National League playoffs. Cincinnati’s main role in the playoffs will be to allow TV producers to run a few token vignettes about how the Reds have revitalized another dying Midwest city full of hobos living under bridges on the Ohio River.

NLCS: Phillies over Giants. Two really good pitching staffs, only one Major League Baseball quality line up. The Giants will be able to extend this one long enough to give Phillies fans ample opportunity to prove how obnoxious they are on national television, but in the end they were going to get to do that in the World Series for the third year in a row anyway.

ALDS: Rays over Rangers. God will actually come from above to suit up for the Rays, hit .397 with 8 home runs and 19 RBI to ensure that Texas’ born-again former crackhead Josh Hamilton will not be tempted back into his destructive sinful ways due to another Rangers clubhouse champagne celebration. God usually prefers to work unseen, which is why he will only appear in Rays home games.

Yankees over Twins. The Twins and Rays have a payroll equal to about the net worth of A-Rod’s man teets, but at least the Twins have fans. Unfortunately, A-Rod’s supple man boobs are going to be haunting their dreams after the Yankees break the Twin Cities collective hearts.

ALCS: Rays over Yankees. America already got to experience the “Most annoying fans in the universe bowl” with last year’s Yankees-Phils series, so that never needs to happen again. Ever. I’m hoping by making this pick, the power of the Interwebs can guarantee the Yankees don’t make the World Series again.

World Series: Rays over Phillies. Instead of a rematch of last year’s series, we get a rematch of two years ago. Since I have yet to provide one single nugget of baseball analysis or insight in this highly scientific masterpiece, I will leave you with this: Good as they’ve been, The Fightin’ Roys (Halladay and Oswalt) have never pitched in the playoffs. When both of those guys crack, the Rays will be throwing a ticker tape parade in downtown Tampa. At least the low budget Rays won’t have to worry about paying those extra crowd control costs.

Perron’s Picks

The long grind known as the MLB season is finally over and it could not have come soon enough. Fall is my favorite time of year for six reasons –  football is starting, basketball is starting, the weather is getting nicer, Don Draper just made his secretary hold all of his calls so he could nail some lady after a liquid lunch, the MLB playoffs are here, and the NHL season has – actually, lets trim that down to five reasons. The NHL sucks until the Stanley Cup Playoffs and even those are only slight more entertaining than a random rerun of Who’s the Boss. Keep your sport above the Mason-Dixon line!  LND admires what the Twins do with a small payroll, enjoys when A-Rod chokes, thinks Jeter is overrated, respects Bobby Cox, and thinks the terrible Rays fans don’t deserve to have a good team even though the players and management absolutely deserve everything they have acheieved. Ultimately, none of that matters because nobody can touch the 1-2-3 of Doc, Oswalt, and Hamels. 

ALDS: Twins over Yankees, Rays overs Rangers

ALCS: Rays over Twins

NLDS: Phillies over Reds, Braves over Giants

NLCS: Phillies over Braves

World Series: Phillies over Rays

Dunn’s Picks

So before my Twins make an early exodus from the playoffs by the hands of the Damn Yankees, here are my picks. Trust me, you don’t want to read my entry post-Twins defeat, so I actually picked them to win. On a side note, I’ll take another Yankee championship as long as my one wish is granted. Please little baby Jesus, have Cano go down in a fiery plane crash so that all of this  ridiculous “great player” debate can end. He sucks. I mean like Sasha Gray before she went all commercial with The Girlfriend Experience and Entourage. Put him on any other team and he’s average. Switch Cano and Aaaron Hill from the Jays and the Yankees aren’t missing a beat. I fucking hate Cano!!! (Breath. OK I’m good) 

ALDS: Twins over Yankees, Rangers overs Rays

ALCS: Twins over Rangers

NLDS: Phillies over Reds, Giants over Braves

NLCS: Phillies over Giants

World Series: Twins over Phillies

Super Bowl Picks


Jay’s Pick

Sorry, Cowboys fans. As much as you may want to believe Jesus is from Nacogdoches and that he will bless what you still think is America’s Team with a Super Bowl title in that only-in-Texas-sized Roman Coliseum of a stadium, a roster more like a cast of The Surreal Life is going to make sure the only title Big D wins this year is Best Reality Program at the Emmy’s. That monolithic mockery of recession-hit taxpayers known as Cowboys Stadium is kind of like a Jerry Jones facelift — things might look new on the outside, but it’s still nothing but garbage on the inside.

Instead, Green Bay, the real America’s Team, is going to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV. Aaron Rodgers is primed to become the No. 2 source of all wet dreams for fantasy football dorks, right behind fantasies of being a pair of underwear in Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s dresser. Combine that with a good-enough running game and a defense so disruptive even Imodium AD can’t stop it and the Packers are finally ready to exorcize the Brett Favre demons. Favre got his revenge against the Packers last year, but, if you think about it, why did the man even feel justified in wanting revenge? The man retired more times than Jay-Z and then got mad when the Packers wanted to put in the new Kanye CD? If anyone was wronged in the whole Favre-Packers divorce, it was Rodgers, and the universe’s sense of balance and justice clearly dictates that the student will surpass the teacher in 2010. That is why the Packers will be packing for a trip to Big D, and the fact ESPN clearly fixes the Super Bowl to get the most attractive storylines anyway, which is why New Orleans has no chance. No one likes an inspirational sequel. Why do you think there was no Forrest Gump 2? You can only stomach so much success for lovably underprivileged Southerners.

Over in the AFC, go ahead and eat commemorative coins for any of about six teams, and whichever you crap out first you may as well make your Super Bowl pick. The Jets, Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Colts and Chargers all have a legit shot. Peyton Manning and the Colts are the safe pick; the Jets, at least according to Rex Ryan, who apparently is under a curse to constantly use his mouth for feeding his fat face or saying stupid shit at all times, are the trendy pick; the Steelers are undefeated in Super Bowls following offseasons in which Ben Roethlisberger faced allegations of rape; and Patriots’ sex muffin Brady and the Ravens’ defense are destined to mount one last great swansong before they’re mothballed to ESPN analyst and Rachel Nichols gang bang duty. But I’m taking the Chargers now that the most underperforming team of the decade is ready to emerge from LT’s shadow. Don’t get me wrong, Ladanian Tomlinson seemed like a great guy, but kind of in the way your neighbor seemed like a great guy until the cops showed up at his house one night and arrested him for having a 14-year-old girl chained up in a secret room under his garage. Shawne Merriman will have found a new way to cheat the league’s PED testing and will lead a resurgent defense.

Plus, Phillip Rivers is the biggest dick in the NFL and the perfect villain to Rodgers’ hero role. The Packers edge the Chargers in a battle of the best two uniforms in the NFL, but Jerry Jones won’t see a single play as he recovers at a post-op spa in Las Vegas following surgery to remove the bags under his eyes that he developed after firing fat Wade Phillips in Week 7 of the regular season.

Super Bowl: Green Bay Packers 27, San Diego Chargers 21

NFC Playoff Teams: Eagles, Vikings, Saints, 49ers, Wildcards: Packers, Falcons

AFC Playoff Teams: Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Wildcards: Texans, Jets

________________________________________________________

Perron’s Pick

Everybody may have a different idea about who will play in the Super Bowl, and why not?  After all, the NFL prides itself on parity and teams coming out of nowhere each year like the 1998 Falcons, 1999 Rams, or even last years under-the-radar Super Bowl champion Saints.  But if there is one thing we can all agree on it has to be the fact that the media hype machine makes the two week break leading up to the big game completely unbearable. They run out of stuff to say, and begin to go completely over the top with it like Antoine Dodson the ghetto witness, then remix the same story over and over until we all want to hide our kids, hide our wives and cut ourselves off from all media.  So here is my list of Super Bowl contenders with possible media storylines we will grow tired of hearing and why they won’t make it.

Saints: After Drew Brees goes down with an injury, his mole steps up to finish third in the NFL in QB rating and lead the defending champs back to the big game. Too much offseason partying.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers is suspended for the game after beating the Vikings in the NFC Championship, then taking a dump in Favre’s helmet to prove once and for all he should have been starting years ago. Too much residual Favre bitterness.

49ers: Due to the success of Mike Singletary’s pants-dropping halftime speech, he will coach the superbowl in his boxers.  Too much Alex Smith.

Vikings: Favre debates whether to come back for another season, says he doesn’t know if he can live without Jared Allen, and their shared affinity for jean shorts. Too much indecision.

Cowboys: Jerry Jones battles through his botox injections to actually do something that resembles not smiling. Too much Romo choking in big moments.

Giants: The one NFC contender with no real storylines, therefore they are my NFC Super Bowl pick.

Patriots: Tom Brady’s part Justin Beiber/part mullet haircut sweeps the nation, even catching on with a certain Late Night Debates author.  Too old to survive 19 games.

Jets: Antonio Cromartie just remembered he had 3 other kids and actually remembers two of their names.  Too much hype, too much trash talking, too little good quarterbacking.

Steelers: Ghetto witness Antoine Dodson found the person he was looking for and it turns out is was Big Ben.  Too many offensive line injuries, too many inappropriate sexual advances.

Ravens: Not to be outdone by Sandra Bullock, Brad and Angelina adopt the other four members of the Ravens offensive line. Too old on defense.

Colts: The one AFC contender with no real storylines, therefore they are my AFC Super Bowl Pick.

So there you have it – Giants vs. Colts. We will be spared from nagging storylines for the firs – wait a minute. This is the worst case scenario – Manning vs. Manning for the crown. This is likely to lead to 85% of the commercials shown during a game featuring one of the two starting QBs, and 14% featuring their dad Archie. GoDaddy.com might even run an add featuring Cooper Manning throwing footballs to scantily clad women.  This is a complete media apocalypse waiting to happen. Take my warning now – hide yo kids, hide yo wives. The Mannings gon find you.  They gon find you.

Super Bowl: Colts 31, Giants 24

NFC Playoff Teams: Giants, Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Wildcards: Saints, Eagles

AFC Playoff Teams: Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Wildcards: Bengals, Dolphins

BCS Championship Picks


Perron’s Pick

The end of August is the most optimistic time of year for all college football fans.  A quick glance around the interwebs and you will find that there are about 20 fan bases out there that honestly think they have a really good shot at making it to the title game.  It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of Alabama (the 9/2 favorites in Vegas) and can make a legitimate case, or if you are one of the many delusional fans that root for West Virginia (a 75/1 longshot) and have talked yourself into this being your year after inhaling too many couch fumes, everyone thinks they have a chance right now.  Everyone except the Wahoos that is, who at least are realistic in their expectations for the upcoming season (although if Jay thinks they are winning more than 4 games in 2010 then go ahead and put an “un” in front of that “realistic”). That’s why it’s not possible to predict who will be in the title game based on the good things you hear about teams.  Trying to figure out which teams will play in the BCS Championship game is much more productive if you instead treat it the same way as you would dropping a deuce – as a process of elimination.

First of all, only TCU and Boise St. matter from the non-automatic qualifying conferences.  TCU is not talented enough to go to undefeated two years in a row.  Boise is, if only because of the inferior competition they face other than Oregon St and Virginia Tech.  Do I think they will run the table?  Let’s get to the other conferences first.

The Pac10(12)’s best team has a complete creep for a coach (which has nothing to do with anything other than me not wanting to pass up this opportunity to take a shot at Lane Kiffin) and is not allowed to go to a bowl this year, so we can drop those Cosby kids off at the pool.  The Big East is a mediocre at best football conference who’s bes- that was already too many words I wasted on the Big East. This conference sucks. It starts every year with a turtlehead, meaning it’s only a matter of time before we can deposit them all at the porcelain bank.  The SEC and Big 12(10) will all beat each other up, which works in years where no teams go undefeated, but this year it is wide open and I predict we will have some undefeated teams still standing. So sorry SEC and Big 12(10), but instead of the BCS title game, you will all have to settle for a trip to the Super Bowl with the rest of the Browns.

The Big 10(12) is top heavy, and with Penn State not even being able to name a starting QB yet, that top consists of Ohio State and Iowa.  Actually, I think that makes the Big 10(12) college’s Kim Kardashian – bottom heavy. Iowa gets a favorable schedule including the Buckeyes at home, which will propel Ricky Stanzi and crew on top the Kardashian conference like it was Ray-J.  With its only non-conference tilt of note coming at Arizona and no Big10(12) title game I see them going undefeated.

In the ACC, the preseason favorite is Virginia Tech, and their schedule just got a whole lot easier.  They are slated to play GT, @UNC, and @Miami in consecutive weeks in November for what looked like a brutal stretch.  Thanks to Butch Davis’ tutor, the middle game of that stretch should no longer be a problem and I see them running the table in the ACC.

That brings us back to Blue Man Group of Boise.  They face off against the Hokies on Labor Day in what will be a championship elimination game.  Tyrod Taylor has a ton of confidence right now completing 16 of 17 in the team’s final scrimmage and the coaches have basically said they are going all in on this season by choosing not to redshirt David Wilson.  Virginia Tech’s running game and their special black jerseys will be on a different level than 2009 TCU or that uninterested 2007 Oklahoma team.  They will ride this victory to an undefeated season.  Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you that every team’s fan base is optimistic at this time of year.

 

BCS Title Game – Virginia Tech 27, Iowa 17

BCS Conference Champs – Virginia Tech, Iowa, USC, Auburn, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma

__________________________________________________

Jay’s Pick

College football will have its greatest season in memory in 2010 with no fewer than seven teams — Ohio St., Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Florida — finishing out the season with one loss and battling for a spot in the national title game. Unfortunately, the BCS will reach an all time low as an undefeated Boise St. will commit the biggest case of grand larceny in sports history by stealing a spot in the title game from SEC champ Florida and Big 12 champ Texas.

How can this happen, you ask? How could two of the most prominent programs in all of college football be passed up by the Idaho Smurf Turfers after winning the championship games of perhaps the best two conferences in 2010? It’s all part of Boise St.’s master 3-year plan. The Broncs virtually forced the pollsters to vote them into the preseason top 5 this year after winning 25 straight regular season games and splitting high profile bowl games against their fellow BCS busting TCU Bleeding Eye Frogs the last two years. Without having to scratch and claw ahead of a dozen programs America actually cares about, the Broncs will simply hold serve by pummeling such juggernauts as Toledo and San Jose St. while Florida, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma eliminate each other. Bob Stoops will actually eat his own visor, Mack Brown’s head will explode and Satan will reveal himself by burning through the flesh we know as Urban Meyer when they realize they are unable to sink Boise in the coaches poll because of the political shitstorm it would cause thanks to public voting. Frank Beamer will either just eat Super Double Fudge Chunk ice cream at Michael Vick’s pad for a month or go postal and chop someone’s head off at a campus eatery after realizing his Hokies could have prevented this tragedy and gotten into the title game had they just taken care of business on Sept. 6. I’m going to give 2:1 odds Beamer snaps and is arrested for running an illegal cow fighting ring out of the back of Frank Beamer’s Restaurant in Blacksburg.

But the BCS, which has seen terrible depths before, will not stop there. Enough people will cheer the victory of the little guy over The Man that it will take one more piece of broken glass in the urethra to complete the system’s total failure. That second tragedy will be one-loss Ohio St. prevailing over several superior teams to take the second spot in the national championship game. The computers will unfathomably find a way to love Ohio St. again despite every 10-year-old in Mississippi being smart enough to know that the Buckeyes are no better than the fourth best team in the SEC and the pollsters, who can remember last week’s games about as well as Charlton Heston can remember where he put all his guns, will have long forgotten Ohio St.’s October slip up at Wisconsin when undefeated Nebraska loses a rematch to one-loss Texas in the Big 12 championship game.

Terrell Pryor, who finally lives up to at least one-quarter of the hype that followed him to Columbus in 2007, will lead the Buckeyes on a late touchdown drive to beat Boise 13-12 and win the BCS title, but neither Ohio St. nor Boise will finish in the top 3 of the AP media poll as underpaid, bitter journalists everywhere try to matter by stirring up another playoff controversy.

BCS Title Game – Ohio St. 13,  Boise St. 12

BCS Conference Champs – Virginia Tech, Ohio State, USC, Florida, Pittsburgh, Texas

%d bloggers like this: