Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Tweener: March Madness Edition

On February 26 I wrote an inaugural Tweener column.  It's that time of the week again, only this time with a March Madness theme! Here are this issue's quick hitters:

  • My family was in town over the weekend for the beginning of my sisters' spring break. We spent one night out at my aunt and uncle's house, where we played Dilbert: The Board Game. Modeled after the cartoon, the point of the game is basically to be a corporate employee: avoid work at all costs, ruin your boss's happiness, and maximize your time in the bathroom.  I am so ashamed to admit this next part: the laziness this game requires reminded me of Rick Barnes. Yes, the Longhorns finished another season without an offensive or defensive scheme, riding their confused coach to a 16-17 record. The worst part? Rick Barnes probably won't even get fired The Longhorns still have to play in the post-season College Basketball Invitational. How they got invited I'll never know. But here's to you, Rick Barnes, and the success you'll have eating ice cream and working in the corporate world should you receive your due punishment.
Om nom nom nom nom
  • One of my friends has just watched 9 or 10 episodes in a row of House of Cards. SPOILER ALERT I'M NOT JOKING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW ANY DETAILS ABOUT THE SHOW STOP READING NOW, DO NOT PASS GO, AND DO NOT COLLECT TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. YOU'RE MAKING A MISTAKE SERIOUSLY IF I WERE YOU I'D STAY IN THE DARK LIKE - DON'T MAKE ME DO THIS TO YOU! ...Ok anyway, he's watching the part where Russo really messes up his life with the hooker he's already messed his life up with once. And he's sending me texts in all caps with a dozen exclamation points imploring Russo to sober up before his interview: "PUKE IT UP!!!!".  I wish I was making this up.  You know which team this reminds me of? NC State. Remember when they started the season 14-2? They lost to Michigan (the other writers on this site disagree with me, but I think Michigan is poised to make a very deep run) and Oklahoma State (also a dangerous team with dangerous guard play).  In their last 18 games? 10-8! (Though, most of those were on the road and really only one of them was a terrible loss to Wake Forest.) The Wolfpack is 9th in the country in field goal percentage, 13th in points per game, and they have a player who could decide to light it up in CJ Leslie (who gets mad props for carrying a wheel-chair-bound student safely out of a court-storming).  LOCK IT UP NC STATE and you could pull a massive second round upset. Or you could wither, and I'll feel just the same as my friend does about Russo after he drops an F-bomb in his interview: "I just want to give him a hug."
  • At brunch on Sunday I got shamed talked into having a mimosa...by my mom. My uncle had an Underdog Atlantic Lager, declaring he's "always in favor of an upset...stomach."  In his (and his stomach's) honor, here are my two underdogs to watch in the first round: 
  1. OBLIGATORY DAVIDSON REFERENCE - WHAT UP we're back in the tourney. After getting taken advantage of in a back alley by the selection committee drawing a 14 seed, Davidson will play 3-seed Marquette in the first round. Marquette finished 14-4 in the Big East and in the top 15 nationally. Why Davidson has a shot: Marquette doesn't have a single player averaging over 5 rebounds a game, only has one player who barely averages one steal per game, and doesn't have a wealth of shooters that can make it rain. Davidson can shoot if they get a bit of space, and if Clint Mann returns the front court has enough depth to battle for boards inside. Why they won't pull it off: Marquette lost to Green Bay. Besides that, they have lost exclusively to tournament teams. They tied for first in the Big East, a conference that had six (yes 6) different teams ranked in the top 25 at the end of the season. The skill is there, and Davidson struggles against pressure on the ball and simply cannot defend players driving to the rim. If there's foul trouble early, it could be goodnight sweetheart for the Wildcats. 
  2. I know picking a 10-seed isn't revolutionary.  But Iowa State is bad news bears for the Fighting Irish, and Ohio State should be worried as well. Why they'll do well: The Cyclones played Kansas three times this year, losing the first two times in overtime, the second of which the Big 12 publicly apologized for. The beat the Big 12's other two best teams, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. And most notably, they score: 4th in the nation in points, 14th in assists, and it doesn't hurt to be 21st in rebounds.  Why they could be done early: Outside of those two afore-mentioned wins, they don't have any other quality wins, yet they do have some very bad losses. It will come down to a mental thing for the Cyclones: if they show up, challenging OSU all the way in the second round is a real possibility. If they don't, there's always the chance Notre Dame comes up with a dome-shot like this one:

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