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Tournament Selection Picks

Posted by jrswift on March 14, 2010

OK, as usual, I am down to the wire but I’m going to get these in before 5 and post just to prove how much (or little) I know.   So here we go.  I’m not doing any fancy who won what conference nonsense, I’m just giving you the teams.

Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, West Virginia, Kansas St., New Mexico, Baylor, Villanova, Pitt, Purdue, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Butler, Temple, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Maryland, Cal, Northern Iowa, Xavier, Vandy, BYU, Michigan St., Richmond, Texas, Clemson, Oklahoma St., Ohio St, Old Dominion, Utah St., Louisville, Wake Forest, Siena, Florida St., San Diego St., Gonzaga, UTEP, St. Mary’s, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Cornell, UNLV, Washington, Oakland, Notre Dame, Marquette, Murray St., New Mexico St., Mississippi St., Wofford, Minnesota, Sam Houston St., North Texas, UC-Santa Barbara, Morgan St., Montana, East Tennessee St., Lehigh, Winthrop, Robert Morris, Houston, Vermont, Ohio, Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

OK, I counted so that’s 65.

Top 4 seeds are Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke

Next 4 seeds are West Virginia, Ohio St, Kansas St and Purdue

Last couple of teams I had out:  Florida, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Seton Hall

Last couple of teams I put in:  Mississippi St, Minnesota, UTEP and Utah St.

OK, I’m posting this.  I have no confidence in these picks.  I think we might get some curve balls.

JR

Posted in basketball, Kansas Jayhawks, March Madness, NCAA, sports | Leave a Comment »

Should I be disilluisoned at 46?

Posted by jrswift on December 13, 2009

Has been a bit of a rough year for some of my personal heroes.    In just the last 6 months or so, three people I held in very high esteem have experienced quite a fall from grace.   I guess I should speak to the Tiger Woods thing first.  I’m not really sure how to feel about it.  From the moment he first played on the PGA tour, he has been my favorite golfer.  He has made me pay attention to a sport that I never cared that much about before.  While he had his flaws, he seemed like the genuine article.  He was, it appeared, exactly what he represented himself to be.    I have my share of favorite athletes and entertainers who are full of flaws and actually seem to be play them up for effect.  I don’t mind.  I can be a bit of a ruffian myself from time to time and kind of like the fact that these people are very human.  I don’t necessarily admire them but I like them.  I admired Tiger Woods and I still do.  But I can’t help but feel differently about him today than I did a few weeks back.  He is arguably the finest golfer of this and perhaps any other generation and his dedication, work ethic and courage remain.  But now he is just another flawed person, like the rest of us I fear, and I don’t think I’ll see him much as a hero anymore.  I could honestly care less about people’s personal flaws and foibles and only Tiger’s wife and family have any right to be angry with him over his behavior but the rest of us have the right to be disappointed.  He seemed different.  He was a “role model” and he relished that “role” and now he isn’t.

Two other slightly less high-profile people have also suffered a fall and they were also people I admired.  It was just a few months back that I was very excited at the prospect that Gov. Mark Sanford might seek the Republican nomination for President.   There was at least some buzz in the libertarian community to that effect.  He appeared to be a man of genuine political courage and, while perhaps not as consistent as I might like, one of principle.  Then his sexual failings came out and it was clear that this flaw would prevent from ever seeking higher office and would likely end a promising political career.   I was disappointed not so much in his behavior as a man but because he was a successful politician who believed many of the same things I do.  Successful libertarians are about as rare as unicorns and perhaps those of us who share their political sentiments invest too much hope in the ones we find.  Liberals and conservatives have plenty of  “heroes” to chose from.  We don’t.  And now we have one less.

Finally, the end of the Mark Mangino era at Kansas has left me feeling a bit down too.  It was clear he had to go and not just because of the allegations against him.  He had stopped moving the team in the right direction and, whatever his earlier accomplishments, that meant a change had to be made.  But I also went from feeling that he was a tough football coach who pushed his players to be their best to just seeing him as a big bully.  Coming from a state where football was king, the mediocrity of Kansas football has always been frustrating to me.  For a few years, it looked like maybe that was over and that we could be contenders.  After this past season, it would appear we are back to our mediocre ways again.   For a time, Mangino represented hope and the possibility that KU would be taken seriously, not just in the spring but in the fall too.  Now that hope is gone.

On a side note, it appears that Kansas has hired a very impressive young man to be its new head coach.  He is bright, dedicated and a true leader of men.  He appears to be of remarkable character and, if he is reasonably successful, I may come to admire him.  He seems worthy of that admiration.  But then again, so did these other men.

Posted in Kansas, Kansas Jayhawks, Life, NCAA, Politics, sports | Leave a Comment »

Gloating and the obligatory bracket

Posted by jrswift on March 18, 2009

Well, I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.  As you can clearly see by viewing the post directly beneath this one, I successfully predicted/guessed the entire field of 65.  I’ve been trying to pull this off for 15 years and always miss like 2 teams.  But not this time.  Most people seemed to miss on the 65th team and I correctly tagged Arizona.  I don’t particularly like Arizona.  Back in 1997, they spoiled the nearly perfect season of the Kansas Jayhawks and went on to win the National Title that should have been KU’s.   A couple years later I lost money betting on them to beat Duke in the National Championship game.  And then there is whole matter of Arizona having the only current NCAA tourney streak longer than my Jayhawks.   And they beat us this year…rather badly I must say and, if they hadn’t won that game, they would never have made the field.  So it is a bittersweet victory but I’ll take it.

Now it is time to completely ruin my reputation as a first rate college basketball analyst and dive into my (oh so not carefully) selected tournament bracket.   I just looked at my brackets from the last two years and, while I didn’t do that well, I did pick the  National Champion correctly last year.  Of course it was Kansas and you could pretty much say I’m just a  “homer” and pick them every year since I also picked them the year before.  I will preface this by saying that I am most definitely NOT picking Kansas to go all the way this year.  I would be happy to be wrong.

OK…there are no actual brackets here.

I’m just going to list the 1st round winners:

Pitt, Duke, Villanova, Xavier, Wisconsin, UCLA, Texas, Tennessee, Louisville, MIchigan St, Kansas, Wake Forest, Arizona, West Virginia, USC, Ohio St, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Illinois, Arizona St, Michigan, Butler, UConn, Memphis, Missouri, Washington, Purdue, Utah St, California, BYU

2nd Round winners:

Pitt, Texas, Villanova, Xavier, Louisville, Michigan St, West Virginia, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona St, Gonzaga, UConn, Memphis, Utah St, Purdue

3rd Round winners:

Pitt, Villanova, Lousiville, West Virginia, Gonzaga, Arizona St, UConn, Memphis

Final Four

Pitt, Louisville, Gonzaga, Memphis

And in the Final Four:

Memphis beats Louisville

Pitt beats Gonzaga

In the Championship Game:

Pitt beats Memphis  (75-68…I like that score)

Pitt Panthers 2009 National Champs

OK…plenty of chalk but not as bad as most analysts who seem afraid to go out on a limb at all.

Posted in basketball, Kansas Jayhawks, March Madness, NCAA, sports | Leave a Comment »

2009 NCAA Tournament Predictions

Posted by jrswift on March 15, 2009

OK, so I never blog anymore but I did want to post (for posterity’s sake) my projections for the field of 65 for this year’s NCAA Tournament.  I really didn’t spend as much time staring at the numbers this year and I think this is an easier job of picking than any recent year.  So here it goes.

The following teams have qualified by virtue of winning their conference postseason tournament (with the exception of the Ivy League which does not have a tournament and sends their regular season champion):

Binghampton, Temple, Duke, East Tennessee St, Missouri, Louisville, Portland St, Radford, Cal-St-Northridge, Virginia Commonwealth, Memphis, Cleveland St, Cornell, Siena, Akron, Morgan St, Northern Iowa, Utah, Robert Morris, Morehead St, USC, American, Mississippi St, Chattanooga, SF Austin, Alabama St, North Dakota St, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah St, Purdue/Ohio St winner

That leaves 34 at-large bids and I think about 27 of them are pretty easy.  Here’s that list by conference:

Atlantic 10 – Xavier

ACC – North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida St, Clemson

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma St, Texas A&M

Big East – Pitt, UConn, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette

Big 10 – Michigan St, Illinois, Purdue/Ohio St loser

Horizon – Butler

Mountain West – BYU

Pac 10 – Washington, UCLA, Arizona St, California

SEC – LSU, Tennessee

So that leads to the “Bubble” which could have about two dozen teams if you want to stretch it but it really comes down to about a dozen or so.   I think Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota are all close calls but I think they all get in.  Same for Boston College and Maryland.   This leaves only two spots remaining in the field.  While I wouldn’t be surprised if they are a surprising omission, I give one of those spots to Dayton.  That leaves only one remaining bid and I came down to these three teams for that one spot:  Arizona, Creighton and St Mary’s.   I’m giving it to Arizona but I would be thrilled to be wrong.  If it was up to me, I’d probably throw out BC and Maryland and Arizona and give bigs to Creighton, St Mary’s and Auburn.  BUT I’m predicting what the committee will do, not my own picks.  To sum up, the final 7 teams are Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Boston College, Maryland, Dayton and Arizona.

Last Four In:  BC, Minnesota, Dayton, Arizona

Last Four Out: Creighton, St Mary’s, Auburn, San Diego St.

Next Four Out: Florida, South Carolina, New Mexico, Kansas St.

I will not attempt to seed the entire field but I think this is a reasonable guess at the top 16 seeds

1 – North Carolina, Pitt, Louisville, Duke

2- Memphis, UConn, MIchigan St, Oklahoma

3- Wake Forest, Missouri, Villanova, Kansas

4- Florida St, Syracuse, Washington, Gonzaga

So that’s it…if I did really well, I’ll come back here to post again and gloat.  Otherwise, you may never hear from me again.

Posted in basketball, March Madness, NCAA, sports | Leave a Comment »

Amazing Kansas Tournament Coincidences

Posted by jrswift on April 12, 2008

Amazing KU 1988/2008 Parallels

Seasons:

Both teams were a preseason favorite to win it all. Both teams had a midseason “gut check” and both teams finished strong. Both had strong senior leadership but also key contributions from underclassmen. Both teams were beaten in the regular season by another league team that played far into the tournament. Both teams drew inspiration during the tournament from a fallen teammate. In 1988 Archie Marshall, a transfer, hurt his knee. In 2008, Rodrick Stewart, a transfer, hurt his knee.

Coaches:

1988 was Larry Brown’s 5th season and 2008 was Bil Self’s 5th season. Both coaches were widely expected to leave KU for another job. Self worked as a Graduate Assistant under Brown at Kansas. He took the place of John Caliperi who also worked as a Graduate Assistant under Ted Owens and Brown. Both Owens and Brown sat in the KU section during the 2008 finals. Danny Manning, the MOP of the 1988 tournament was one of Self’s assistants in 2008. In 1988, Manning’s father was an assistant coach and he won the MOP. In 2008, Mario Chalmers’ father was an assistant and he won the MOP.

Location:

In both 1988 and 2008, KU played the first two rounds of the tournament in the state of Nebraska and the the Regional finals in Detroit. In 1988, the Final Four was in a Big 8 city but not one with a team in the league, Kansas City. In 2008, it was held in a Big 12 city but not one with a team in the league, San Antonio.

Officiating:

Ed Hightower officiated in both the 1988 and 2008 game.

Path to the Championship:

In 1988 and 2008, Kansas did not face a team seeded higher than 4th in route to the Final Four. They faced an upset winner in the both the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8. Their closest game (in margin of victory) in the tournament was against a team seeded 10th or higher. In 1988, they defeated Murray St. by only 3 points and needed a miss in the final seconds to survive. In 2008, they defeated Davidson by 2 points and needed a miss in the final seconds to survive. In both years, Kansas St. and Vanderbilt were in the same regional. Kansas had to defeat a team coached by Lon Kruger, a native of Kansas, in both years (Kansas St. in 88, UNLV in 08.) In both years, they defeated a team starting with the letter “V” in the Sweet 16. In both years, they faced an ACC school in the National Semifinals and, after getting out to a large lead in the first half, had to survive a strong comeback in the second half. Both Duke in 1988 and Carolina in 2008 had shots seemingly go in and then pop out that would have gotten them within one possession. Both the 88 and 08 teams had to defeat the #1 ranked team in route to the championship. In both 1988 and 2008, key bench players made major contributions during the title run: Keith Harris, Scooter Barry and Clint Normore in 1988; Sasha Kaun, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich in 2008.

Title game:

The 1988 game was tied at the end of the first half. The 2008 game was tied at the end of the second half. KU scored 33 points in the second half of the 1988 game and 33 points in the first half of the 2008 game. Their finals opponents were very similar teams. Memphis and Oklahoma were widely viewed as athletic teams who could run and gun with anyone but played great defense. They were both led by brash coaches who had never won a title. Both teams faced and defeated a Pac 10 school in the national semifinals. Both teams seemed to wear down late in the game, probably because neither coach substituted much in the game, electing to go with their starting 5 as much as possible. On the other hand, Kansas substituted freely and seemed fresh at the end. In 1988, Danny Manning made two key free throws late that made it a two possession game. In 2008, Mario Chalmers made two key free throws late that made it a two possession game.  As the lower seeded team, Kansas wore their blue uniforms in both games.

Miscellaneous:

The 2008 title was once again won by one of the elite programs in college basketball. This has been the case in all tournaments held in years ending in an eight. Kentucky won the title in 48, 58, 78 and 98. Kansas in 88 and 08. UCLA won in 68, the only team not starting with the letter “K” to win it in a year ending in an eight. These three programs, along with Indiana and North Carolina, are also the only ones in college basketball to win titles separated by 20 years or more. UCLA and Kentucky won their last two titles exactly 20 years apart and now Kansas has too. Kansas is the only school to perform that feat twice as their 1988 title was 36 years after their 1952 title. These three schools also also the only ones to have 5 or more Most Outstanding Players in the tournament. Kansas has won five, despite only winning three titles. In 1988, KU’s victory took place on the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. In 2008, KU defeated Memphis, the city in which Dr. King was assassinated. 2008 was also the first time since 1988 that Cornell and Baylor made the tournament.

OK…well that was all I could think of. Further contributions are welcome.

Note: I will edit this list from time to time if I receive further contributions. If you see your coincidence included, consider this a “thank you.”

JR

Posted in basketball, Kansas Jayhawks, March Madness, NCAA, sports | 2 Comments »