Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bracket Breakdown: Final Four

"And just to think it all began on an uneventful morn'."

So we are now down to the nitty gritty...the Final Four. Well, my bracket as been completely destroyed, so I really have no rooting interest as far as that is concerned. However, there's definitely going to be two teams that I will be pulling for this weekend (hint: they aren't #1 seeds). Still though, I will at least attempt to give you an nonobjective look into the matchups this weekend.

Saturday, April 4, Detroit, MI:

6:07: (1) Connecticut vs. (2) Michigan State:

Well, there were very few things that I got right this year, but my proclamation that the Spartans would be able to get through the Midwest bracket (i.e. Big 10 country) and make it back home to Detroit was one of my better ones. The Spartans were absolutely dominant against the Cards in the Elite Eight in Indy, and they were able to shut down a team that scored over 100 the round before to 51 points. I'm telling you right now, this is one of those great moments in big-time basketball that my head and my heart are in line with each other. First of all, I do not like UConn whatsoever, and I'm fully aware of how impressive they have been so far in the tournament, and quite frankly, none of that has any effect on me. Also, this is not because of Jim Calhoun, or the recruiting charges, or anything like that. Rather, it has to do with the fact that I forsee the Huskies getting into major foul trouble early on. I have made it clear about my total distaste of Thabeet's game, and I really think that it is all going to fall like a house of cards in this game. State doesn't have as much size as UConn, but they are tenatious enough that even if they fall behind, they have the weapons to get themselves back into it. Okay, and now it is at this point that I have to make a semi-public service announcement...

People Of Michigan:

You have been granted a gift that very rarely comes along. A team from your home state is in the Final Four, which is being held in...your state as well. I understand that the state has been going through a tough time. The motor vehicle industry is falling apart, which happens to be the #1 employer in Michigan. Times are tight right now...I understand. With all that being said, I command you to do anything you possibly can to get to Ford Field this weekend. I cannot even stress how rare of an occasion this is (the last time a team got to the Final Four that was being played in the same state as their campus was 1994 when Duke played at the Charlotte Coliseum). So, I'm begging you, as a pro-Michigan guy and someone who is crazy about upsets, please get out and support your team. This is a team you can rally around. Thank you, and God Bless states that have more than one land mass in them (let's think about this...Michigan, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Florida...they all kick ass...it's not a coincidence I don't think)

Sidenote: When I was watching the Michigan State/Louisville game, they kept flashing to Magic Johnson, which really started getting confusing...because I would see Tom Izzo, and thought "this is what I love about this team," then I saw Magic, and I thought "this is what I hate about this team," and it kept going on and on for the entire game to the point where it started becoming like a slapping match between a good-guy wrestler and a bad-guy wrestler..."yeeeaaaahhhh!"..."booooooooo!"..."yeeeaaaahhhh!"...it was all very much a mind-f.

Original Pick: Memphis, Present Pick: Michigan State

8:47: (1) North Carolina vs. (3) Villanova:

If I have learned anything, and apparently I still haven't quite learned this entirely yet, it's that, at least for this year, you cannot go against Obama...you just can't do it. I mean really, on just about any topic he talks about, going up against him is kind of like spitting in the wind at this point. So, with that being said, he only got one of his Final Four teams correct...and it happens to be the team he has winning it all, which is UNC. Look, I'm pulling for 'Nova strictly because they are the lower-ranked team in the equation, they're a Big East school, and I'm a big Jay Wright guy. However, right now, North Carolina just has too much. They rolled Oklahoma, and they're no slouch. Meanwhile, 'Nova was able to miraculously run their last play uncontested up the court to win at the last second. Some teams are lucky, and they can continue to rely on their luck to get through these tough games, but I think 'Nova has hit their luck quota, and despite how impressive they looked against Pitt, UNC is just going to be an absolute handful this year. Also, consider who plays for the Tar Heels. Isn't there entire team headed to the draft next year? Remember when they won back in '05, and afterwards, everyone just peaced and hit the first round? I'm expecting kind of the same thing happening with this team this year.

Original Pick: Pittsburgh, Present Pick: North Carolina

I know that this has absolutely nothing to do with the tournament, but I do have to throw my two cents in on the Jay Cutler trade to Chicago that happened today. First, if you're Chicago or a Bears fan, you have to be loving this move. I know it's a steep price to pay for one guy (two first rounders and a third), but Cutler is the goods, and the Bears have been looking for a franchise QB basically since I've been alive. The fact that they finally pulled the trigger has to show the fans that this team believes that it can contend for a division title right now. I have to come back to that price tag though...wasn't the proposed deal with Tampa a first and a third? The Bears gave up two ones, a third, and Kyle Orton. Plus, considering Denver was openly shopping Cutler, and knowing how explosive the Cutler-Denver situation was, is there a chance the Bears may have overpaid here? Well...maybe, but the fact that the Bears have a top-10 QB now is just going to help them. The Bears are built to throw the ball down the field already with Rashied Davis and Devin Hester, and they are likely going to add another receiver in the draft. So, I think this is a good move for Chicago, especially if they get Cutler some help.

When I look at the trade from Denver's perspective, I think that they got very good value for Cutler considering the Pats only got the #34 for Cassel. Still though, what is Denver going to do now? Are they all of a sudden in the Mark Sanchez market assuming Stafford is off the board to Detroit at #1? If the Broncos go into the season with Kyle Orton as their #1, they are in big, big trouble. Orton is not a horrible QB, but you have to wonder how he's going to fit in Denver's system. Furthermore, how is Denver going to make the McDaniels short-pass, quick-decision type offense work with the parts they have? This is another team that is obviously built on throwing the ball deep, as was evident by Cutler's gaudy numbers. It's going to be interesting to see how Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal adjust to the new gameplan. In getting back to the positives, the Broncos now situate themselves beautifully with two picks in the top 20, and another first rounder (which at the minimum will be around the 23-25 range) next year. So, I think there were pros and cons for both teams here, which is how a good compromise should go ("have you heard of Henry Clay?"). I am much more interested in Denver now though. With 4,526 yards last year (17th all-time for a season), this is the most yards a QB has thrown for who has been traded the following year. Now they really have no QB, they have a new system, everyone in Denver is going nuts on McDaniels because they all like Cutler...this is all very fascinating. They have almost supplanted the Pats in terms of teams peaking my interest going into the draft.

Speaking of the draft (which is three weeks away...three weeks away!), kind of a troubling story came out today about B.J. Raji, who reportedly failed his combine drug test. The drug was not specified, but I mean...come on man. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was not of the performance-enhancing variety (which could only mean one thing...wait, what was I talking about?). This is disappointing as a BC supporter because Raji was skyrocketing up draft boards, and some had him as high as going to the Rams at #2. Now, this may drop him out of the top 10 much like Andre Smith's recent theatrics did him in. My hope is that this report is either not true, or it was just pot and not steroids or anything like that. I think this is great that sports is at the point where I'm like "man, I hope he was just smoking weed." That's just priceless.

Alright, back to the kitchen for work tomorrow. I actually had this job three years ago, but I don't believe this any kind of "walk of shame" because a.) they wanted me back, b.) it pays pretty well, and c.) I had an amazing time the first time around, so I'm hopeful that things stay the same (none of the waitresses are there from before...hopefully the new crop is decent because those girls were way...everything (nice/cute/happy/into shift drinks)). So, this may cut down on the amount of time I have to talk to you guys, and it may mean that I don't do a Draft Day Diary, which I've been wanting to do since the last one back in '07, but I keep having to work on Draft Day. By the way, is this a sign of maturity that I can work on Draft Day without totally flipping out? I mean I'm probably not going to be able to get any work done, but isn't it the thought that counts there? Anyway, hope you are well out there. Have a great weekend. Peace.

~Mell-o

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