A brief note: there will be a memorial service tomorrow at 7:30 for Faz Husain at Pioneer High in Ann Arbor. All are welcome to attend.
Orson penned an ode to YouTube earlier in the week that I second, mainly because the "embed this" code makes blog video a simple matter of C&P. Today's find is amateur footage of Tuesday's improbable Dion Harris gamewinner. Observe:
That's eerily reminscent of Brendan Loy's video from the end of the USC-Notre Dame game. The above is the equivalent of the first video in which the Irish students rush the field in a Papist flood reminiscent of some historical incident which my readers will no doubt correct me on within six nanoseconds*. Say the... uh... third crusade(?). Yet to be found is the analog to the second video, which featured stunned Irish fans moments after the Bush Push. Not that I looped that for a solid week last fall. Five days, tops.
Anyway: in this hypothetical conclusion, the guy who screams like he's being eaten by a bear realizes that this is still the NIT and Jerrett Smith is the starting point guard next year. Even the bear gets depressed.
This is like one of those video games in which at the end, you have to defeat all of the bosses you've already beaten throughout the game.
TV is ESPNU, unfortunately, so no one will actually see the game.
Update: Maize 'n' Brew also discusses the rainbow.
*(You mean you missed yesterday's panel discussion on the Eastern Front in 1941? You missed out.)
(HT on the video: Third and Five)
Appearing on Judge Judy in the near future: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer author Warren St. John? Yep. The owner of the RV featured on the cover of the book is suing for all sorts of pain and suffering caused by others thinking that St. John owns the vehicle. Or something. It's a ridiculous lawsuit, but ever since that Fulmer thing Alabamans (-ians? -ers?) are getting legally upitty.
However, it must be pointed out that St. John has exposed himself to another lawsuit, this one for Cruel And Unsual Punning:
This suit is toadly without merit.
Aaaigh! The pain! The suffering! I can feel the punitive damages gathering in my joints!
You have to hand it to Dennis Dodd. Generally non-vagrants have a set of positive attributes that lead to their gainful employment and subsequent non-vagrancy, but Dodd manages to accomplish this feat despite a total lack of the aforementioned positives. His latest (...well, "interview" would be technically correct but fails to capture the spirit of the thing; let's go with...) sycophantic tongue-bathing of NCAA president Myles Brand is an outstanding example of his general uselessness:
Q: I thought your State of the Association was provocative and in some ways, brilliant. I don't think there would be a lot of people that would utter those words: You can make money and still have an educational mission at the same time.
Which isn't even a question. It's more a USK*. So, Dodd says stuff like that and would be a strong contender in a nationwide Gollum look-alike contest... and he's not a panhandler? Well done, sir!
DawgSports and EDSBS have already savaged Dodd and Brand, respectively, so I'll leave you in their capable hands and second Kyle's call for a Brand-Orson tete-a-tete, in which the questions would be less like...
Your eyes bespeak a terrible lonliness. Has the absolute power you wield over mere mortals distanced yourself so much from the puny remainder of humanity that you can never love again?
A follow up: if the answer is no... well... you know. Of course you know.
...and more like...
You have ten seconds to explain why I shouldn't shoot you and f*** your skull.
I've advised patience re: APR enforcement before and still think that it is a step in the right direction, but it's hard to not abandon that position in favor of radical fire-breathing when confronted with the torrent of corporate-speak that comes from the NCAA at all hours of the night and day. Such nonstop doublespeak is reminscent of campus activist groups who were incoherent but very, very angry and very, very noisy. Sensing that any cross-examination of their position would result in the swift and permanent loss of credibility and an awful lot of stammering, the bullhorn types flooded the zone with so much noise that actual thought was impossible. (Yes, sort of like the White House -- now I have bashed both Republicans and campus lefties and may continue unmolested, si?)
So it is with the NCAA. Their rules are byzantine, archaic, and incoherent, simultaneously exacting and ridiculously lax. (Remember this?
In 2000, the N.C.A.A. began allowing high school administrators to determine the legitimacy of their own core courses. Three years later, the N.C.A.A. began allowing students to compensate for low College Board scores with higher grade-point averages.
Good times.) Instead of dealing with the multitudinous valid complaints directed at the NCAA, we get articles wherein Dodd is honored to pick the ticks from Brand's scalp.
Meanwhile, on "Mondays With Myles" the critical subject of discussion: the dangers of rushing the court. Because that's the most pressing issue we've got right now. Yep. Nothing else to address. Save the childrens!
*(Unicorn Soul Kiss.)
The power of Bilas compels me. Sure, he can be a bit sneery from time to time, but Jay Bilas is one of the best color guys in college basketball. He offers insight instead of cliche. I even forgive him for going to Duke.
Anyway, the power of Bilas compels me to claim fair use on a passage from his latest Insider column that had me mentally aping Meg Ryan ("YES! YES! OH YES!"):
Deserving of the NCAA or not? That's not the issue.Too many people are evaluating these NCAA Tournament results in a vacuum, and trying to justify inclusion or exclusion by virtue of this weekend only. Sadly, that is not the way college basketball works; it never has been and ever will be. Remember, there have been upsets in years past, and there have been bigger upsets in years prior to this one.
Has the Missouri Valley Conference justified its four bids? Were the Big East and the Big Ten overrated? Did Air Force, UAB and Utah State confirm they should not have been included in the field of 65?
The answers are no, no and no. ...
This tournament is about matchups and single-game scenarios. It is a completely new season, and everyone is 0-0. ... A lot of games have come down to a single play to determine the outcome. Nobody ever said these teams couldn't play. ... Heck, many teams in the NIT are capable of winning an NCAA Tournament game on a given night. That is not the point, and it never has been. When you get down to the end of the line in the selection process, the teams all look the same, and all of those teams have proven they can lose. The measure is how many good teams were on your schedule, and how did you do against those good teams.
Thank you, Mr. Bilas. Nothing is more annoying than hearing someone either trash or laud the committee based on the outcome of a single game. The problem with this year's tournament selection and seeding had everything to do with the committee ignoring common sense and years of precedent, and such things can't be wiped away by a weekend's worth of games where the weighted coin flips came out in such and such a pattern. But CBS employs a large number of broadcasters that don't understand sample size, or for that matter, the word "courage,"** so the grating of teeth is commonplace.
**(Weirdest call of the tournament thus far was in the Tennessee-Winthrop game, tied with something like three seconds left. A Tennesse player took the inbounds pass and threw up a fadeaway, falling-out-of-bounds prayer that was answered as time expired. The announcers then gushed about the UT player's immense courage to take that shot in that situation. Presumably the coward's way out was to stare at the ball, gibbering until the horn sounded. Or something. You could chalk this up to a momentary lapse of judgement, but only if you hadn't been listening to Cliches On Parade for the previous two hours.)
Warrior-poets practice, too. BGS has some relevant questions about the Irish as they head into spring practice.
Etc.: Steve Hutchinson is now the richest guard in the history of the NFL
; Avant broke a hand at pro day and still hasn't run his 40. Yes, everyone hates those damned Applebee's commercials. It's not just you. They're making more, and I cannot urge this strongly enough: DO NOT EAT AT APPLEBEE'S. INCH has a Jack Johnson interview.
This went in:
And thus Michigan advances in double OT and proves that the basketball team does indeed have the worst sense of timing since Hitler decided to invade Russia in winter. It also proves -- and you're going to have to permit a healthy dose of solipsism here -- that the team exists to spite me and my viewing habits, since I didn't watch the game. Bad me. Hey, I'm not alone.
I refer you, instead, to the Michigan Sports Center and Schembechler Hall, who did watch it. I'd like to think that the kids at Blue-Gray Sky are stewing in agony this morning, but... uh... probably not. Nothing yet on their hoops sister blog.
I didn't want to say anything like this earlier on the assumption that predictions in this space will immediately be proven wrong and thus sink my bracket, but I had no Big Ten teams in the Sweet Sixteen, mostly because I had seen all of them in action against Michigan. How good can you possibly be if you don't kill Michigan? (Iowa excepted. Rather: how good can you be with a bald white dude starting?) I also had the aid of the always perspicacious Wonk, who sounded a note of warning before the tournament got underway:
So while the Big Ten can be said to have had a better year this year than last (best conference RPI and six teams in the tournament), it's also true that no Big Ten team this year appears to be the equal of Michigan State last year-- much less Illinois last year. (I am still amazed at the grief last year's Spartans took right up until late March--a team, after all, that went 13-3 in the conference.)
Now, might last year's numbers for the best teams have been inflated a smidge by last year's weaker Big Ten opponents? Of course. Still, the fact remains that the conference's top teams this year look decidedly more mortal on paper than they did last year.
Aye. When your top seed is a team that back-assed its way into a Big Ten title by shooting stupid threes -- even though those threes weren't falling for the last six or so games -- you've got trouble. Even so, I was still excessively optimistic about the conference's performance. I had Iowa squeaking by Northwestern State, mostly because I've looked at maps and stuff: "Northwestern" is not a state. (Also not a state: Arkansas.)
However, somone tell Wonk that
- if he's going to cover a mid-19th century presidential election it should be the 1844 election featuring James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump, and
- there are still two Big Ten basketball teams in action: Minnesota and Michigan.
Sure, it's the NIT, but even if this particular smack is low-grade stuff cut with sugar it's the last precious hit Wonk will get until distant October. C'mon, Wonk! We need your best Ewan-McGregor-in-Trainspotting impression... though preferably with intelligible dialogue.
In hockey the CCHA may go the way of the Big Ten this year: many teams, few wins. Four CCHA teams made the tournament (PDF), but it looks doubtful any of the four will break the league's streak of Frozen Fours sans representation. Michigan State (hey, welcome back... but not really) has reverted back to its old days of Abomination Hockey where double-digit shots for either side are an accomplishment; Michigan has the draw of doom; UNO and Miami have drawn BU and BC in Worcester.
Michigan State has the best shot, as their bracket is WCHA-free and their regionals site is not within 50 miles of their opponent's home arena. The WCHA has been both the nation's strongest conference over the past few years and Spartan kryptonite, but all MSU has to face is a wonky UNH team and the winner of Maine-Harvard. Still, they haven't scored a goal in the tournament since calculus was invented, and God willing they won't this year either -- State tried to deny their destiny but have reverted back to the days where they tried to win -1 to -2. Such hockey must be punished.
OUTRAGE!!! Probably. You know this year isn't going well when we're getting screwed in sports that I don't even understand entirely. To wit: many people are pissed off that Michigan wrestler Ryan Churella was not awarded a pin and thus a national championship towards the end of the second round of his match against Oklahoma State's Johny Hendricks. Here's the video:
I have no idea what constitutes a pin, but hell, even Iowa fans are pissed off. And so are wrestling fans (<-- w/ pictures of the critical moment), though there's some disagreement as to the validity of the pin. However, everyone is in agreement that the series of takedowns awarded to Churella's opponent later were somewhere between questionable and criminal. I won't make any bold proclamations because I'm no more qualifed to comment on amateur wrestling than Bill Walton is on the NBA (zing!), but it kind of figures, doesn't it? Stupid year. Churella's distinguished career (three Big Ten championships and runs to the semi-final in three consecutive years) comes to a close on a sour note; as helpful emailer Matthew Stout put it, the refereeing in Churella's match
made the officials in the Alamo Bowl look like a bunch of geniuses.
Ouch. Condolences to Churella and congratulations on a great career.
Spring practice is here.
Sure, I get to be right about this.
Grand Forks, North Dakota
#1 Minnesota vs. #4 Holy Cross
#2 North Dakota vs. #3 Michigan
No, I'm not looking up flights to Milwaukee.