On to College Basketball

Now with the college football now over, basketball takes the spotlight for the next few months. Although one thing the two have in common is  both polls are both are full of bias and favoritism, at least college basketball ends the season crowning a legitimate national champion – none of this mythical B(C)S.

Here in Cincinnati, the years when Bob Huggins coached the Bearcats were wonderful. Although I recognize that Huggs is no longer here and Coach Cronin’s teams are improving, this moment below is still one of my favorites.

Because the audio is so lousy on this clip, let me set the stage. ESPN was in town to broadcast the first practice of the season known as Midnight Madness. Robin Roberts was in the booth and Dick Vitale on the floor introducing Cory Clouse – a UC student shooting for a one year scholarship of tuition, room, and board … and the ever-animated Vitale offers to thrown in free books. Enjoy!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 42

On Fort Hood
First and foremost, thoughts and prayers to everyone associated with the Fort Hood tragedy.

On the Recent Election
What is the meaning of some Republican gains this past Tuesday? The answer is simple – nothing. One or two special Congressional races don’t change a thing. As we head into the first mid-term election, let us not forget that the opposing party made Congressional gains on the after the first two years of Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

On the Broadening GOP Tent
As GOP leader Michael Steele about broadening the party’s tent and acceptance of others, I want to know how he can accomplish that with statements like this.

Candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you.

In the words of infamous orator Buggs Bunny, “What a maroon!”

On Interesting Local Hoops Connections
Cincinnati is fortunate to have two solid college basketball programs within its city limits – UC and Xavier. Interesting both head coaches are not only graduates of the school they coach, both worked their way up through the ranks at these schools, and both graduated from local high schools.

On Upcoming Handbells
Our handbell choir performs again this weekend. Unfortunately the tune doesn’t exist on YouTube, so here’s a lively audio recording of Fantasia on Forest Green. Don’t let the calm beginning fool you.

On the Upcoming Weekend
With the weekend upon us, in the words of Garrision Keilor “Be well, do good work and keep in touch.”

On the BCS
For those who haven’t seen the latest edition of the BCS Committee meeting from the Global Sports Fraternity.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 16

On NCAA Nicknames
For those loving team nicknames, and in the spirit of the Road to the Final Four that gets in full swing today, here are great trivia questions from Richard Rosenblatt, AP Sports Writer.

On Women’s Basketball Tournament
The only time I really follow the NCAA women’s tournament is when my alma mater is in the mix. Fans may remember Bowling Green’s surprise run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. Interestingly, this year’s Falcons were 28-4, won 28 of their last 30, won 25 in a row, won the MAC (15-1), ranked 39 in the RPI, lost in the conference tournament finals by 4, but had a weak strength of schedule – All translating into an NIT bid.

On an Achievement
Congratulations Martin Broudeur on becoming NHL’s most-winning goaltender of all-time (list). Quite a feat, of course so was passing my alltime favorite: Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall.

On Alternative Energy
Columnist Thomas Freidman had an excellent column about stepping-up-to-the-plate to think beyond typical alternative energy sources.

On Speaker Pelosi
Speaker Pelosi amazed me by declaring she’s not a partisan leader. I agree because she’s no more partisan than John Boehner; yet we continually wonder why Washington is dominated by the clueless. The link for those who want to read more.

On Washington Dealing with Problems
When Congress met after 9-11, do you think the hallowed halls were filled with partisan BS or constructive dialogue? Sure it was the later because our legislators knew the seriousness of the situation.

Compare that to their actions now. Hmmm … Which of the following does their partisan dogma signal?
A) They don’t think there’s an economic problem
B) They don’t want to solve the problem
C) The economic problem doesn’t exist

Meanwhile, this David Ignatius column is well done.

On Congress & AIG
Sure the public is outraged about the AIG bonuses. Meanwhile, members of Congress continue to grandstand their outrage in front of the press and committee hearings.

Meanwhile, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is responsible for the legislation edit/loophole allowing the bonuses. Ever wonder about his main contributors? Here they are. (See these tabs: Industries, PACs, & Donors)

On Other Bonuses
While on vacation 2 weeks ago, I noticed a company paying big executive bonuses the day before reducing 401k contributions to all employees. I only wish I could recall the company’s name.

On Cheese
Staying with the theme of things that smell, if you want to learn more about cheese, check out this site.

On Madness: Hoops and Dance

The NCAA basketball week starts tomorrow and the first cut has been made on Dancing with the Stars. With all that in mind, hear are some random thoughts for the both brackets.

Teams Ready to Upset

  • Portland State – A good team playing a struggling one
  • Utah State – Because they have a lousy football team, thus why not.
  • VCU – A steady program with a great player
  • Western Kentucky – The Hilltoppers have been there before
  • North Dakota State – They love the 3s, plus Kansas has a tendency to either go out early or go a long way
  • Northern Iowa – Because they’ve done it before, and a former work colleague went is an alum
  • Maryland & Arizona – Two power conference teams that I said shouldn’t be in the field, therefore ready to win

Team Ripe for an Upset

  • Xavier – I hate to list a local team here, but the Musketeers have been struggling
  • Washington – Playing a hot SEC team
  • Marquette – Injury to a top player

Top-8 Seeds Most Likely to Miss the Final Four

  • Pitt – I hate their tournament history
  • Michigan State – They’re in a tough bracket
  • Connecticut  – The potential of facing Memphis

For those seeking last more information about the field, see the articles from the Yahoo! Sports Expert’s Corner

Dancing with the Stars

Now that Belinda Carlisle has joined the infamous list of DWTS First Eliminated, here’s how I see the field.

Finalist Leaders
Gilles, Shawn, Melissa

First-Rung Challengers
Lil’ Kim, David

A Chance to Step Forward IF …
Lawrence, Chuck, Ty, Denise

Doubtful
Holly, Steve O,

No Hope
Waz

On Basketball Brackets 2009

The conference tournaments are the opening act to March Madness. Now that they are over, many workders will have their bracket handy in their office cubicle to record that vision of the grand upset and ultimate winner. More enthusiastic fans will argue about seeds and who didn’t get invited.

I’m sure being on the committee is both rewarding and difficult. Given the 347 teams, the committee must narrow the field to 65 while working within their established rules – let alone create the actual bracket.

College sports are big … not only high interest, but also big dollar. Unlike their BCS counterparts, at least basketball produces a legitimate champion who is unquestionably recognized. However, like its gridiron counterparts, the power schools dominate the scene at the expense of the mid-majors. Basketball teams are also following football’s recipe of out-of-conference scheduling involving more home games against mid-majors in order to reach that 20-win mark.

Let’s see – How many teams outside of the non-BCS conferences received at-large invitations? Four: Xavier, Butler, Dayton, and BYU.

How many at-large teams had conference records of .500 or less? Five: Arizona, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and USC. Sorry, if you can’t finish with a winning record in the conference, no big dance for you! Besides, are their at least five more-deserving teams?

How many #8 seeds or lower get to play close to home? One: Ohio State – such a possible reward for top-seed Louisville. Hmmm … did the inclusion of Michigan and Minnesota affect OSU’s playing site?

I remain against the conference tournaments as they give less meaning to a season. A mid-major team can dominate their conference during the season, but that one off night could keep them out of the big dance. On the other hand, their conference takes the risk by accepting sponsorship and television money for the event. Keep in mind that since there’s only so much TV time, numerous mid-major conferences adjust their tournament schedule to get the money and additional media exposure.

Meanwhile, the start of the dance is just around the corner. Although mid-majors have minimal chance of landing in the Final Four, let alone becoming a national championship, mid-majors are the ones who capture the hearts of basketball fans. When all is said and done, use the BCS model to figure out the selection process – just follow the money.