Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh’

March Madness is upon us and, for some strange reason, I’m more excited about it than I was last year. Maybe the fact that North Carolina is in it this year has gotten my juices flowing or maybe it has something to do with Jimmermania. Who knows?

What I do know is that it’s absolutely ridiculous to have play-in games for the 11 seed in the Southwest region and the 12 seed in the East region. Who thought this was a good idea? So let me get this straight, UAB was good enough to play for the right to be the 12th seed against Clemson but since they lost, they are completely out of the tournament? They were good enough to play for a 12th seed but not good enough to be a 13, 14, 15 or even a 16th seed? So, the Conference USA regular season champion (UAB) isn’t good enough to be in the tournament but the fourth place team (Memphis) is good enough to be a 12th seed? How does that work? I can see the play-in game for the 16th seed being that way but if you’re playing for a seed higher than 16, you should be good enough for the lower seed if you lose. I guess logic went out the window when the NCAA was thinking about how to add more games to the Tournament and how to make more money from it. Plus, how does the losing team not go to the NIT? I forgot, it’s the NIT and nobody really cares.

I’m not gonna break down the regions because that’s boring and no one really knows what’s gonna happen until it happens. Brackets will be busted by the weekend, count on it. If you’re like me, you usually have a good Thursday but Friday kills you. Thursday goes something like 14-2 but Friday you go 10-6, 9-7 or the dreaded 8-8.

Just looking at the bracket, I’m trying to figure out why Notre Dame is a 2nd seed. Yes, they had a great year but are they better than Texas who somehow fell to a 4 seed? Am I supposed to buy that the Big East is tougher than the Big 12?

Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team that’s a legit threat in this tournament. Big Ten basketball doesn’t translate to the tournament unless you have a highly talented Michigan State team with the coaching ability of Tom Izzo. MSU has Izzo but the horses aren’t there. Ohio State will be the first #1 seed to fall. They don’t get past West Virginia. Wisconsin has a great D but they can’t afford to get behind. The Badgers aren’t made to play up-tempo and defense at the same time.

I’m not buying Kansas State to do anything. Good luck against Wisconsin in round 2. I’m also not buying St. John’s to scare anyone in the tournament. They might get past a weak Gonzaga team in round one but not BYU in round 2.

This brings me to Jimmermania. I hope everyone is ready to have Jimmer Fredette of BYU shoved down their throats. You know it’s coming. The kid can play but is he the second coming of (insert the best white player ever in college basketball)? Too bad Billy Packer isn’t doing games anymore because you just know he would be all over this kid. Remember the 2000 Tournament? Packer was head over heels in love with Mateen Cleaves. It was embarrassing. I don’t think we’ll ever see man-love like that anytime soon.

Do you know this guy? Don't worry, CBS will get you up to speed

Maybe Jimmermania won’t make it past the Sweet Sixteen. BYU would most likely meet Florida there. Plus, The Bearded One doesn’t think BYU is all that. He told me earlier in the week, “They don’t scare me. They got their shit kicked in by San Diego State in the Mountain West Final.” Word!

The 5-12 matchup in the West regional between Arizona (5) and Memphis (12) should be a good one. Good luck to Memphis. It would be nice to see them in their first Final Four since 1973. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I’m a Tiger fan, this is the same Memphis team that got hammered by UTEP 74-47 in late February and they’re young. Maybe next year.

So, who wins the whole thing? Unless someone can tell me why they shouldn’t win, Kansas has to be the favorite to cut down the nets in Houston on April 4th. The Jayhawks are 1st in the nation in field goal percentage and 5th in points per game. Their two losses came in conference play to Texas and Kansas State. Notre Dame can’t beat them if the seeds held until the Southwest final. Pittsburgh would play them tough if they met in the Final Four. Nobody from the East region scares me. Duke and San Diego State don’t have enough to beat the Jayhawks if they met in the Final.

Who's better?

The announcer pairings are out and I’m looking forward to Gus Johnson/Len Elmore, Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg. I don’t think the addition of the TNT NBA group adds anything to the announcing mix.

We all win

The one thing I hope happens, besides Michigan losing to Tennessee in round one, is that they’ll bring back the Luther Vandross version of One Shining Moment. The Jennifer Hudson version they did last year was terrible.

See you after the first weekend.

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I think the title says it all but I really hate the Pittsburgh Steelers. This post will be totally biased in favor of the Green Bay Packers and I don’t even really like the Green Bay Packers. Being a Browns fan hasn’t given me very many great memories, especially lately. The Brian Sipe/Bernie Kosar era is long gong and that one good Tim Couch season seems so long ago. The one thing that has brought me joy during those miserable seasons is hating on the Steelers.

Who's with me?

The Packers are a 3 point favorite going into the game, which makes it easier for me to spew pro-Green Bay rhetoric without looking like (much of) a fool. To be honest, this game looks like it will be a good one. Both teams are hot but Green Bay looks to have the most momentum coming in. Before I break down the game I’ll give you the particulars.

Super Bowl XLV will be played in Cowboys Stadium and kickoff should be somewhere around 6:25 pm EST. There will be like 10,000 hours of coverage devoted to the game, not including the all day pre-game show and yukfest on FOX and ESPN. The game will be on FOX and your broadcasters will be the loathsome Joe Buck and the knowledgable Troy Aikman. Pam Oliver and Chris Myers will be bringing you speculation and rumors from the sidelines. In the studio, the FOX team will be Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan. They most likely won’t give you anything concrete but be somewhere near the truth so that they can boast right after the final whistle has blown. Odds are that Howie Long will be the most serious person on the show but then you remember that he made Firestorm and he’s pretty hard to take seriously.

Yes, this happened

This will be Pittsburgh’s eighth Super Bowl and their third in the last six years. They’ve won six of the seven they’ve already played. The Steelers won the AFC North and had a bye in the opening round of the playoffs. In the Divisional round they faced the Baltimore Ravens and dominated them defensively but still needed a late touchdown to win 23-24. The Steelers D held the Ravens to 126 total yards on offense and were down 21-7 at the half. The offense lost two fumbles and one of them was returned for a touchdown. In the AFC Championship game they beat the surprising Jets 24-19. The game wasn’t really that close. The Steelers led 24-0 with 1:09 left in the 2nd quarter. Roethlisberger didn’t look sharp, throwing 2 interceptions. It helps when the “brilliant” Rex Ryan punts with 1:43 to go in the game from the Pittsburgh 44 yard line. Did the Jets really think they were getting the ball back with that little time?

This will be the fifth Super Bowl for Green Bay. They’ve won three of the four they’ve played in. The Packers beat Chicago 10-3 in the final game of the season to earn a Wild Card birth. They pretty much handled Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs with Aaron Rodgers tossing 3 TD’s at Lincoln Financial Field. In the second round, Green Bay travelled to Atlanta and pretty much OWNED them after the first ten minutes of the game. Against the Falcons, Rodgers threw three more TD’s and ran for another. The Packers didn’t punt in that game. In the NFC Championship, Green bay beat Chicago in Soldier Field 21-14. This time Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw any touchdowns and was picked off twice. Not a very Aaron Rodgers postseason performance.

Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the postseason. The stats don’t lie. Who has thrown for more yards than Rodgers this postseason? Nobody. I know Rodgers has played in one more game but his 263.3 yards per game average is 84 yards more than Roethlisberger’s. Rodgers’ QB rating is 109.2, the highest in the postseason, compared to 75.5 for Big Ben. Rodgers has six touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and only two interceptions. Roethlisberger has two touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown and two interceptions. Aaron Rodgers has also completed fifteen passes of 20+ yards compared to four for Roethlisberger. I know Ben Roethlisberger is mobile but so is Rodgers. Look at the game against the Falcons. They had his sacked at least ten times in that game and he was able to get away and make a positive play. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger is 2-0 in Super Bowls but Rodgers is the hotter quarterback coming in.

Rodgers is on fire

The Steelers look to have the better running game but Pittsburgh only holds a half a yard advantage per game. Both have four touchdowns but Pittsburgh has fumbled three times compared to two for Green Bay. The Steelers have the best defense in the league but are giving up 21.5 points per game this postseason compared to 17 for the Packers. Don’t forget, Green Bay played all three of their playoff games on the road. The Steelers have the best rushing defense but the Packers are second. These teams are so close in many stats so look for this to be a pretty good game

This game will come down to who takes advantage of their opportunities and makes fewer mistakes. The Green Bay Packers have shown that they can convert on third-downs and make the most of their red zone opportunities. Green Bay is just too hot right now. This team seems to be doing whatever they want on offense and Tramon Williams is quickly moving up the ladder of being a great cornerback in the league.

Rodgers needs this

I don’t think we understand how much Aaron Rodgers wants to win this game. I mean every football player wants to win the Super Bowl but it would be huge for Aaron Rodgers to have a Super Bowl ring. He can start coming out of the shadow of Brett Favre. He’s only 27, the same age as Brett Favre when he won Super Bowl XXXII. Plus, Green Bay would be vindicated for choosing Rodgers over an aging Brett Favre three seasons ago. Rodgers can own this town with a win and, who knows, even surpass Favre if he’s able to get multiple Super Bowl rings. Don’t tell me Green Bay GM Ted Thompson doesn’t want this badly either. You just know he wants to stick it to Favre because Favre’s been trying to stick it to the organization and especially Ted Thompson since he left. After seeing Favre’s act over the past three seasons, I’m looking forward to Green Bay getting over on him too.

Another reason I want the Steelers to lose is because I hate Ben Roethlisberger. I hated him even before everyone found out how much of a douche he was. I hated Roethlisberger before hating Roethlisberger was cool. I can’t bear to see Roethlisberger winning another ring. I know one thing, Ben Roethlisberger clone, Chase Daniel will be watching this game with a chubby. Chase Daniel is not really relevant to this Super Bowl discussion but I just like mentioning him whenever Roethlisberger is involved. Remember how hard Daniel’s tried to look and act like Roethlisberger while at Missouri? It was actually quite embarrassing watching him with  Ben’s facial hair, Ben’s wristbands, Ben’s eye black, Ben’s wristbands, Ben’s mannerisms at the line and so on. Another reason to mention Chase Daniel is to mention how much I hate Missouri. Not just the college but the state as a whole. C’mon people, if Missouri failed to exist in the morning would we really miss it?

Douche

Lea Michele of Glee fame will sing America the Beautiful during pre-game festivities and Christina Aguilera will sing the national anthem. I didn’t realize Christina Aguilera was relevant enough to merit the singing of the national anthem. Being a native of Pennsylvania probably didn’t hurt her cause. The Black Eyed Peas will perform at halftime…errrr…..at the Bridgestone Halftime Show. Does anyone really like the Black Eyed Peas? I don’t think a single one of my friends has ever mentioned liking or disliking the Black Eyed Peas. Is it just me or does it seem that the halftime entertainment is always someone past their prime or someone you wouldn’t expect to be performing at the halftime show? The Black Eyed Peas are never ones to shy away from being on TV. I think I’ve seen them on various worldwide shows, kicking off something like the World Cup or Oprah’s visit to Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Almost every time I’ve seen them at some live event, they seem to perform My Humps. I think they have more songs than that but they continue to trot out that ridiculous song every time they need people to remember who they are. Something tells me that My Humps won’t be played at something as family friendly as the Super Bowl. Remember when Prince got in trouble for playing his guitar behind the curtain?

Rachel from Glee

My prediction: Green Bay 30 – Pittsburgh 20

I’m not telling you to bet the house or anything like that. This is coming from my gut. If you’re into placing a little friendly wager, go to covers.com to get all of you information. Enjoy the Super Bowl, even if you have to listen to Joe Buck.

The selection and post-selection shows are finished and the brackets are all over the net waiting to be printed.  By the way, if you’re in the States and you need help with your picks, make sure to pick up a copy of the Monday USA Today.  They always, in my opinion, have the best coverage and analysis before the tournament.  It gives me a headache to watch all the shows talk about the tournament.  Most talking heads are vague enough that they can always be right later in the tournament.

If I were back in Chicago I would have already filled out ten brackets just as a precursor to all the information I will devour in the days before the tournament.  Don’t disregard that first bracket you fill out “just for fun” because sometimes your gut is better at picking games than stats.  Sometimes too much information is bad information.  When all is said and done and the information has been absorbed, I fill out my final bracket and that’s the one I use.  I’m not Multiple Bracket Guy.  I hate that guy.  Don’t be that guy or any of these guys.

I'll miss you most of all Jim Nantz

The tournament has been very lucrative for me over the years.  I’ve won a pool on five occasions.  In 1994, while at Eastern Michigan, I nailed the tournament for four large.  While everyone was drooling over the Duke roster of Grant Hill, Cherokee Parks, Antonio Lang, Chris Collins and Jeff Capel, I put all my chips on Arkansas with Scotty Thurman and Corliss Williamson.  The other times I’ve filled out a bracket the story was always the same.  I’d kill round one (28-4, 29-3) and then my brackets get busted in round two.  So, by the end of the first weekend I’d already be out of the running.

Thanks Scotty, I owe you big time.

This site doesn’t promote gambling but it’s not discouraging it either.  If you’re in college, find your campus bookie (every school has them) and become friends with him.  He’ll automatically be the most interesting person you know.  If you know what you’re doing, you can make some good money in college.  If you’re just looking for a quick, big score then stay away.

Guys of his ilk will be the most interesting people you ever know

I’m not going to bore you with my (lack of) insight on the greatest three weeks of sports because I haven’t been able to really follow the season as a whole here in South Korea.  I know the rankings, I’ve seen box scores and I’ve even been able to watch streams of some games but that’s not enough that you should care what I think.  I will give you my Final Four and winner but feel free to disregard it.  I’ll just do it for posterity.  You’ll probably get some insight later in the week from The Bearded Guy and The Blasian.  To be honest, forget everything The Blasian tells you about the tournament.  He still thinks the Memphis Tigers were in the 2008 National Championship game against Kansas but we all know that Memphis went winless in the 2007/2008 season.  Yes, Kansas did win the tournament that year but I can’t remember who they played.  The NCAA can be confusing sometimes when it comes to records and history.

I know Mario Chalmers hit a big shot in 2008 but I can't remember against whom

With the time difference, the lack of coverage in the ROK and the fact that North Carolina and Eastern Michigan are not in the tournament, I don’t have much to say about March Madness.  This will be the second time in my life that I won’t be in the States for the tournament.  In 2003 I was in Hong Kong and it sucked not being able to see any games.  I don’t know if there was something like justin.tv back then.  You can’t get psyched about it by reading recaps and message boards (remember them?).  Somehow Malcolm Gladwell became a huge fan of the NBA as a child by only reading old issues of Sports Illustrated and never seeing an actual game in his native Canada but Gladwell must have some gene I’m missing because I need to watch the games to get excited about them.  Maybe it’s not a gene, maybe it’s a Canadian thing.

Malcom Gladwell - Genius and Canadian. That doesn't sound right.

My favorite memory of the March Madness was back in 1996 when I travelled with a bunch of other Eastern Michigan students to Indianapolis for rounds one and two of the tournament.  Eastern beat Duke in round one and it was the greatest sporting experiences I’ve ever had.  The Eastern fans were hot and it was nice giving it back to the Dukies.  Plus, Greg Newton told me to fuck off as Duke was leaving the court at the end of the half.  Good times.  Unfortunately, we lost to Ray Allen and UCONN in round two but we had so much fun over those four days.

What I think might happen:

Final Four – Kansas v Pittsburgh, West Virgina v Duke
Final – Kansas v West Virginia
Champs – Kansas

I’m sure you’re gonna be hearing a lot about John Wall.

Try to watch any games Gus Johnson is doing because you’ll be in for a wild ride.

Gus Johnson is excited about everything

Back in the day, Craig Bolerjack and Ian Eagle would always be in The Pit in New Mexico, Boise or some other out-of-the-way venue and I couldn’t wait to see where CBS shipped them off to.  It was like they were being punished or paying their dues.  We use to actually have bets on where they would show up.  Now that Bolerjack and Eagle have moved up the pecking order, who are the announcers CBS sends to the Siberia of March Madness?

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk!!!!