Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

March Madness is set to tip-off this morning, and the nation will grind to a halt for 3 weeks in the sincere hope that JJ Redick, Coach K, and the Duke Blue Devils have their asses handed to them (don't worry, they will).

The Wildcats reap the fruits of a disappointing and inconsistent season by drawing an 8-seed. Their accomplishments this season have mostly consisted of ending long streaks for the program.

For example:
  • 15 straight seasons finishing the season in the AP Top 25 -- done.
  • 15 straight seasons with some sort of SEC hardware (Conference title, Division title, SEC Tourney title) -- done.
  • 14 straight seasons of finishing 1st or 2nd in the SEC East -- done.
  • 25 straight seasons of earning conference tourney byes -- done.
It seems that all that is left to accomplish is to end the longest current streak of first round NCAA wins at 15.

UK hasn't lost a first round game since 1987, but could do so tomorrow night against the frenetic Blazers of UAB. Kentucky is 0-2 against UAB in all-time NCAA play, including a second-round loss two years ago as a #1 seed. Furthermore, the game is in Philly, where the Cats are also riding a two-game NCAA losing streak (USC in 2001, Dook in 1992 -- yes, that game).

I look for both of those to go to 0-3 tomorrow, and the first round streak to end as well.

Should they prove me wrong, the booby prize is a Sunday date with UConn's imposing front line and an all-but-assured trip home.

The Illini head to sunny San Diego for a first-rounder against the leaden Falcons of Air Force, followed (probably) by the Washington Huskies. Brandon Roy is a hell of a player for U-Dub, but I look for the Illini to make it to the regional in D.C.

There they will run into ... UConn's imposing front line and an all-but-asssured trip home.

I probably don't need to say it at this point, but I expect UConn to win it all.

Finally, if you are looking for the best in tournament previews, look no further than Deadspin's, where each team gets a thorough breakdown of 3 facts you probably won't get anywhere else.

For instance, here's the lowdown on the West Virginia Mountaineers:
1. They Have Horny Wives. Heather Pittsnogle, wife of handsome Kevin, has been spotted at games and on campus wearing a t-shirt that says, “I Got Pittsnogled” and features an arrow pointing downwards at her girl genitals. Beat that, Jackie Christie.

2. Joe Herber Is Too Smart To Play College Basketball. Herber, a German, is more knowledgeable about American politics than anyone else on the team. No one will sit next to him on the team bus, because he’ll talk their ear off about politics. He learned to play four positions, speaks four languages, tutors other students in German and political science, is a two-time Academic All-American, and was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year. “No one wants to argue with him about that stuff,” says teammate Patrick Beilein.

3. Dan Dakich Is A Moron. When Gale Catlett retired and left the program in absolute shambles in 2002, WVU hired Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich. After about an hour on the job, Dakich quit and ran back to Bowling Green. The group of guys he could have coached at WVU made it to the Elite Eight last year and spent nearly all of this year in the Top 25. Bowling Green went 9-21. Good call, Coach Dakich.


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