TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIII, Episode 47
March 21, 2010
PROPER NAMES AND GOON-FILLED GAMES EDITION
Matt’s comments in blue.
duhomme's comments in red.
Guest Dukie Al White's comments in orange.
(10MW) GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (23-12, 7-9) v. (2MW) #5 OHIO STATE (28-7, 14-4 Big Ten)Maryland, College Park 69, Michigan State 65.
We open with the BugThugs, who satisfied my whims by looking like a certified, ISO 9000 compliant basketball squad against Oklahoma State - - a team with a fairly good coach and a terrific player in Anderson. The Jerkets did their usual clown-on-a-trike-blowing-a-horn routine with respect to all things ballhandling (please, let’s have no more Herb Pope jokes!), and yet, they came up with enough to win. Shumpster the Thumpster and Rice the Lesser were in Anderson’s jersey, forcing him to shoot 3-12 from the field and 0-6 from distance, and Gon-ey AWOL woke up just long enough to send in 14 points in 26 minutes before hitting his personal snooze button. Now, it’s Ohio State and some guy of whom you’ve probably heard tell, 6-7 junior Evan Turner (19.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 5.9 apg, 4.2 tpg, .528/.744/.354), who - - and sit down for this one, folks! - - is NOT some one-and-done creep whose services Thad Matta signed in consideration of a large carry-on full of unmarked bills. He’s played before this season! For Ohio State! Interestingly, the Buckeyes do not board well, are not good at getting to the line, and don’t shoot well from the line - - but they have a ridiculously good eFG of 56.2% (fourth in the country), and they have three dudes who can fill it from the wing in William Buford, Jon Diebler and David Lighty (am I successfully sounding like Digger or Jay, with all the free-association name-droppping?). Meanwhile, porn name-saddled Dallas Lauderdale, the Nuts’ only inside player worthy of mention, will attempt to guard Party Favors and AWOL. This won’t work out, but meanwhile, Turner will be burning the Drek “defense” for about 30, and if the outcome’s close, Paul Hewitt will do something silly to ensure that his team fails.
Ohio State 78, Georgia Tech 73.
As often happens, Spring arrives right around the start of the NCAA Tournament. Which leaves me conflicted, especially after a Winter that had so much snow the Coen brothers were scouting locations to film “Fargo II: The Woodchipper Strikes Back.” Do I go out and enjoy this fine weather, since it will be 95 degrees with 99 percent humidity in a few weeks? Or do I stay in and watch the first two rounds of what might be the greatest event in sports? Should you find yourself in this same dilemma, I now have a perfect solution. Get a nasty head and chest cold that forces you to hang around the T.V. And, if you are Paul Hewitt, try to figure out a way to force Derrick Favors to hand around Georgia Tech another year. Of course, more 12-point outings will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal. When a player with that kind of talent takes only seven shots in 35 minutes of play, pleats are not being stretched out among the observing NBA scouts. The Ohio State F*%&eyes are here courtesy of a win over the Steely Dan Gauchos of U.C. Santa Barbara, a game that was never really in question, whereas The Buggies had to overcome a first-half deficit in dispatching Okie State. Matt watches far more Big 11 basketball than I do, so I’ll count on him to explain who this O-St. team really is.
Ohio State 73, Georgia Institute of Technology 67.
A brief recap of the Tournament so far. The number one overall seed lost in the second round to a directional school from a neighboring state. The Big East has been exposed as having been wildly overrated. The Big 12 has been exposed as having been vastly overrated. Villanova, after losing its petition to have six guards on the floor at all times, learned that it is necessary to have some decent big guys. Taylor King is still a Mountain West player. Kentucky can be a very troublesome opponent, especially if you are unqualified to be a Division I head coach. It is really important to play smart and coach smart. Coaches of highly seeded teams who lose in the first two rounds like to hint in post-game pressers that their players played stupidly.
Those bonus sentences were brought to you by Dos Equis and the Most Interesting Man in the World, Paul Hewitt. Will the next Dos Equis commercial feature Paul consoling a defeated Evan Turner while sky diving from Mount Everest? Not likely (the need to console Evan part). The BugThugs have nobody who can stay with the Buckeye superstar. The Yellow Alerts will be able to score inside against the Scarlet and Gray, but will cough up too many points off TO's to win. Por Favors, we hardly knew ye!
Ohio State 79, Georgia Tech 72.
(5MW) #13 MICHIGAN STATE (25-8, 14-4 Big Ten) v. (4MW) #20 MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK (24-8, 13-3)
As part of his preparation for this second-round jersey color game in the suddenly wide-open Midwest Regional, Gary Williams is so mad that the perspiration removal requires a team of four henchmen surrounding him at all times with bedpans and soothing Dewey Beach photo albums. After all, even with this decoupled first and second-round venue system that Sweaty himself helped inaugurate with his ceaseless complaining after his team was shipped to Boise in 2001 (from which site they . . . went to the Final Four), he STILL ended up effectively having to build a road trip to Gonzaga into his plans. Then there’s the president praising Azzkiz and Izzo, but notably leaving out any plaudits for the Damp Dictator. (It was a safe political gamble - - first, Maryland is electorally rather safe, and second, it’s a given that no one going to the ballot box in the state much cares about the Petulant Perspirer anyway - - I wonder how many citizens of The Old Line State could successfully indicate that the Twerps won a national title in the rather recent past.) But anyway, getting mad isn’t all that Sweaty has been planning - - after all, that comes fairly naturally. No, his team will be stationing Traveler Handjob and a leg-ironed, orange-jumpsuited Ty Lawson behind its bench, and will abandon its NASCAR sponsorship deal with Pennzoil in favor of jerseys speckled with fey design whimsy and a whisper of baby blue coloring. Count on Izzo to forget immediately everything that his team did all season, the names of his players, the rulebook provisions concerning lane violations, and just junk his gameplan in favor of some up-and-down track meet that plays right into Sweaty’s moist palms. Or not.
Maryland, College Park 78, Michigan State 75.
Welcome, Gary, and thanks for sticking around for another edition. What? Oh, that sound? That’s just the sarcasm monitoring system maxing out. Well, the Twitterpins made it into round two after a rather uneventful (and often dull) win over the City of Houston. They were certainly helped in this effort by hypnotizing Jordan Williams and convincing him he was playing Duke at the Cablebox. It worked, as he ended with 21 points and 17 rebounds on his timesheet. Good thing, too, since Spaz-kezz was providing enough seismic activity to create several tsunamis in the Pacific with his 5-13 brickery, including NBA-lottery pick Oh-Fer production from behind the arc. And somehow Milboring managed to put up 19, which was not obvious while watching the game live. As usual, the defensive effort, in which the Terrapins do impressions of their mascot, allowed Houston’s Kelvin Lewis and Aubrey Coleman to combine for 50. Michigan State won on Friday despite shooting only 37.7 percent, but going to the line far more than New Mexico State. Now, if the Spartans were playing the Powder-Puff Girls of Chapel Hill, they would collectively run screaming from the arena. But instead, they are playing a team that has something of an inflated resume due to the ACC’s unbalanced scheduling and amazingly large number of bad/stupid/lazy coaches. Unfortunately, post-season developments probably means we’re stuck with the latter for at least another year.
Michigan State 69, Maryland, College Park 65.
Among the many hilarious schticks by Matt, duhomme and CDG the last few days was Matt's incredible channeling of the comedy team of Elmore and Patrick. One has to wonder if Matt ate corn on the cob through a tennis racket, as Lenny the Twerp is fond of doing, to prepare for the role. (BTW, if you can do that, your Elmore Index goes up by 18.43%.)
This Spartans squad is really hard to read and not just because they have so many similar zany names. (And they are hard to prepare for, too. "Azzkizz, you take Draymarnd, and, Ferret, you take Kalucious.") In case you missed it, Obama said on camera for ESPN that "Maryland has a great player, but Michigan State has a great coach." This was deemed not to be risking Maryland's electoral votes in 2012 because everyone in the state knows Sweaty has some flaws that botox (and Dewey Beach) can't cure. Unless the Twerps show up in baby blue uniforms, the Spartans can be expected to play solid defense and give the Turtles a tough game. The Caracas Clearasil Commercial (before guy) will get his shots off but will need to hit at least 40% of them for the Turtles to advance. Because I can't pick two Big Televen teams over two ACC teams, I'll say that he will.
(8S) CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY (24-10, 13-5 Pacific-10) v. (1S) #3 DUKE (30-5, 13-3)
Still working . . . so enjoy the rest of the edition whilst I finish, good cousins. It really doesn't need me anyway. Wait . . . heh. Kidding.
In the introductory words of the UPS Mulletman, “allllright.” This edition really doesn’t much need me talking about this game, but I’ll add a few thoughts before rushing off to Al White Stadium to observe. And look, at least I balanced my steaming pile of fail with those picks of Florida State (the real Gonzaga showed up today, although it could be that Syracuse is just pretty damn good) and Clemson the other night by announcing that Lance Thomas would go off for double figures (talk about out on a limb) and dismissing the thought of playing Louisville. And now, we will cease all desperate, compensatory trumpet-blowing.
First, I believe that Duke held its first-round opponent to fewer points than any other team in the field. Yes - - that’s confirmed, Maverick. You do not have permission to buzz the tower. In fact, UAPB’s 44 points still stands as the current tournament’s low, although a couple of teams currently on the wood are trying to meet that challenge. Interestingly, it wasn’t because Pine Bluff was particularly bad - - they looked like a very well-drilled, fundamentally sound, athletic SWAC squad. I knew that Ken*ucky was going to get on a roll when they drilled ETSU, thought that Syracuse looked pretty good against a slowdown attempt by Vermont, and Will Robinson-level danger signals were going off when I saw Kansas struggle defensively with Lehigh. (I didn’t think they’d lose in the second round, but they did not look like national championship material in the tilt with the Mountain Hawks.) Accordingly, perhaps it’s possible to extrapolate some sort of strong performance by Duke going forward, particularly since Nolan had an off night offensively (he was strong defensively and with the other aspects of his game such as playmaking, which is good, because most of that, particularly the defense, could prove to be critical in this game.)
Singler looked like the player that we all thought we were getting at the season’s beginning, Scheyer was very calm and poised at the point and on defense despite one or two lapses, and Lance Thomas exploded. Now, we all know that Lance has a tendency to follow those sorts of offensive efforts (he’s always consistently excellent on defense) with, well, different kinds, but . . . well, see below. Zoubek and the Plumlees - - by the way, I think using them as a tag-team at all times is one of K’s better midseason adjustments in recent seasons; it’s not like they’re unfamiliar with each other, exactly - - were very good, and hats off to Miles for tossing in some nice midrange shots while Mason provided the defense. Outstanding. And you know, Ryan Kelly didn’t score, but he also played a very good ten minutes, collecting a couple of boards and tallying an assist. His defense was the best I’ve seen from him yet.
One note on Andre Dawkins: I loved, loved, loved his aggressiveness in this game. For anyone who didn’t get to see the whole thing, two of his five fouls were on charges to the bucket, both of them questionable at best, and one of the defensive fouls was a mystery call. However, he just looks ready now - - there’s no evidence of the tentativeness that we saw from him against many of Duke’s opponents after his sister passed away, whether or not there was any connection for the young man. He seems hungry, and played well defensively. He’s particularly good at denying the passing lanes - - he has a deceivingly long wingspan.
On to Berkeley. Their defeat of what had to be one of the most frustrating Louisville teams in recent seasons for the Cardinals’ fan base was not surprising, but you have to be careful not to conclude that this was some blowout, either. Louisville was within five at about the seven-minute mark, and was threatening to go on another run before an intentional foul call that I replayed four or five times and still couldn’t detect went against them. Pitino might have shared my mystification, as he was hit with a technical, and the resulting parade of free throws was pretty much the end.
Of course we have the requisite “not intimidated by Duke” article out there for everyone’s consumption, which makes me wonder - - has anyone ever publicly declared to a hardy newspaper reporter, before a college basketball game, that he or she was intimidated by the opposition? I’m guessing that the answer is no, or at the very least, virtually never in history, so that probably means that the “not intimidated” stories are not news. Never stopped them before!
Now, Berkeley is trying to play up the angle - - supported amply by Washington’s performance, at least until you temper that by measuring the teams the Huskies beat - - that they haven’t gotten respect, West Coast, blah blah blah. And I am here to tell you that it is definitely possible to live in a bubble - - on either coast - - where you can’t measure Pacific-10 teams accurately; the 18-game round robin (while very welcome in this day and age, SWOFFORD) doesn’t help with this, since after January 1, you have very little to go on other than how Pac-10 teams perform against one another. And there is little doubt that the conference was almost historically bad this season - - just ask the president’s BIL, or Ernie Kent, or Johnny Dawkins, or Ben Howland (owooooooooooo!), who finally ran out of one-and-done creeps who were making a mockery of the academic environment at the University of California at Los Angeles and authored up a season that, in the word(s) of one of the school’s most famous alumni, was horrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible.
So what to make of this team? Well, the good news is that in the backcourt, at least, the Golden Bears mirror Duke, and usually, that’s good news for the Blue Devils, who as everyone knows, don’t struggle in the Coach K Era nearly as much with opposing perimeter players (yeah, there are Maynoresque exceptions) as they do with opposing post men. And there’s more good news - - Mike Montgomery has virtually no inside presence at his disposal, or at least, not the kind that you’d visualize matching up favorably with the Forestry Platoon and, frankly, Lance Thomas. I would not be stunned if Lance repeated - - yes - - his double-digit performance in this one.
Berkeley features three top-flight perimeter scorers in 5-10 senior point Jerome Randle (18.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 3.6 tpg, .458/.933/.405), whose shooting numbers were actually even better last season, 6-5 senior Patrick Christopher (16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.5 tpg, 1.6 spg, .448/.860/.341) and 6-6 senior Theo Robertson (14.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.0 tpg, .504/.456/.798). Randle is very, very fast and needs to be guarded by Nolan Smith, no question. I think that Lance is the ideal defensive stopped for Christopher, who can wilt under heavy pressure - - his shooting numbers suffered down the stretch last season and a bit this season too. Robertson is one of these crazy power forward-types who can also move to the wing for some reason. This is a possible Scheyer check, handing off to Singler on many switches. Okay, now that’s the really good news for Berkeley. These three guys can shoot - - and they do it from very deep, too - - and Randle particularly has jet-quick driving skills. Interestingly, the Golden Bears don’t get to the line as much as those percentages would suggest, at least in terms of, hey, maybe you guys should try to take advantage of this. They are #234 in Division I in terms of getting to the stripe.
Now, here’s the really good news for Duke. First of all, I caught Berkeley last night playing games with the listed height of supposedly 6-8 senior Jamal Boykin (11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, .595/.857/.000), whom you all remember as a member of the Paulus recruiting class, and arguably the one who has had the most success, although Greg is still underappreciated and that Syracuse QB-ing stint was pretty nifty. (By the way, as far as Boykin leaving, K and the staff are not to blame for that one - - Jamal was sincerely homesick and wanted to play closer to his family, in Los Angeles. Can’t blame the kid at all for that one.) 6-8 really didn’t sound right to me, and sure enough, at Duke he was listed at 6-7 as a freshman, and certainly looked much, much closer to 6-5 or 6-6. It’s possible that he grew, but I imagine he’s about 6-6. No disrespect to Jamal, whose post presence is going to make a lot of Duke fans wonder today, if they haven’t seen him in a while, why we couldn’t keep him around - - but he’s not going to be able to guard Zoubek or either of the Plumlees IF - - IF - - those latter three guys bring their game to the arena. Meanwhile, since Montgomery suspended the Bears’ 6-7 power forward, Omodi Amoke (4.6 rpg) for this game and the one before it, there’s no one left to guard Lance, or the other Plumlee when both are on the court, et cetera. Montgomery compensated against Louisville with scrappy, hairnet-sporting 6-3 sophomore Jorge Gutierrez (5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 tpg, 1.0 spg, .424/.593/.421), but that’s because Louisville allowed it to happen; I don’t think Mr. Gutierrez is going to be able to shut down Duke’s trees either. Then there’s 7-3 sophomore Chinostiff Max Zhang (3.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .630/.510/.000), who screams project at you in your pleasure of Mandarin or Cantonese, and who had a plus-minus of about (-9) when he was on the floor on Friday night. 6-8 junior Markhuri Sanders-Frison (3.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .506/.577/.000)? Maybe, but he picked up two fouls in almost literally two seconds against Louisville when inserted and was never spotted again - - he doesn’t give me a frisson of terror, exactly. So, basically, Zoubek, Plumlee, Plumlee, Lance, and Singler should just own these guys. Seriously.
You probably noticed that there isn’t a lot of stealing or blocking going on, and there isn’t - - the Bears’ ppg allowed this season was the clearest indicator out there, in my view, of their defensive deficiencies. The Osos do not force many turnovers at all, ranking #250 in that category among Div I teams, and they are in the bottom quartile nationally in block and steal percentage. Berkeley scores a lot - - 77.9 ppg to Duke’s 77.8, in fact. But they give up seven more points per game and, while they shoot very well from the arc and the line, Duke does it just better in each case. (The Bears do shoot better overall, which gives one the idea that containing penetration is a strong call here.)
This is a tough matchup, and there’s no doubt that it could cause a lot of problems. But I liked what a certain coach said in his classy postgame press conference yesterday, noting that in some losses, you can clearly see that the defeated, favored team was taken out of its game by the opposition. That can’t happen to Duke here, or there will be issues. The great news is that it will be a lot easier for Duke to take Berkeley of its comfort zone than the reverse. Come on, Devils.
Duke 77, California-Berkeley 75.
Without cheating, say aloud, right now, how many Big East teams are still in this event. Yeah, I had to go look it up too. One thing that we all sort of skipped over, at least in terms of discussion on this webpage, was the Selection Committee’s attempt, at the direction of their corporate overseers at CBS, to create cute story lines in the brackets. After all, without that, college basketball fans wouldn’t watch a national college basketball tournament. Not with the World Fishing Network on.
This year, boy howdy, did the committee out-do themselves. You had the potential rematch with Villanova, the team that sent a group of young men wearing Duke jerseys home in the Sweet Sixteen last year, while the real players were bound and gagged in the locker room. Then there is auto-seeding. If there is a team in the tourney led by a former Duke player or assistant coach, it’s a lock they will be in the Blue Devils’ region. This year, Mike Brey and Notre Dame served that role. Of course they could not possibly resist putting Rick Pitino’s Cardinals in there, creating the chance for CBS to run “The Shot” from the 1992 regional at every opportunity, but somehow never get one of the correspondents to ask Little Ricky why he didn’t have any of his players within 60 feet of the in-bounder, Grant Hill, or why he didn’t, at a minimum, have a player in front of Christian Laettner, the obvious recipient of the heave.
Awww, bad news, guys. Old Dominion, St. Mary’s and California, Berkeley ruined your little plan.
Before we get to this afternoon’s assignment, let’s review what Duke did on Friday night. Well, they did what a one seed should do with the 65th team to get an invitation; they dominated from the beginning and never looked back. Predictably, given Pine Bluff’s size issues, tall Blue Devils had good games. Plumlee 1.0 and 2.0 had eight and six rebounds, respectively, and while I would like to see Mason take more than one shot in 17 minutes, those three blocks look pretty cool. Scheyer sort of took the evening off, attempting only seven shots, but looked good when he did so with his un-athletic and worn-down body. Singler, looking obsessed, had a nifty double-double. The only real disappointment was Nolan Smith endangering the nearby Manatee preserve with his 3-10 delivery rate, but he partially made up for it with five hand-outs. Yeah, Dawkins fouled out, but at least he’s trying to play defense.
Along those lines, maybe we should try …
WIN OF THE GAME: Other than Singler, everyone else put in an average day at the office, doing just enough to win big but not trying harder than they needed to. So, I guess the WIN is never letting the game be more exciting than it, by all rights, should have been.
FAIL OF THE GAME: As expected, CBS cut away from the Duke game when it became clear Duke wasn’t going to lose. I pulled the game up on the Internet to catch the rest of the action. For those of you who didn’t feel like watching it in a window about the size of a credit card, let me fill you in on something. Remember early in the portion of the game actually on television when Jim Nantz called Brian Zoubek “Brian Zooback”? Well, that wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Each and every single time throughout the entire game. Nancy-boy said “Zooback.” Perhaps he has an advance copy of Billy Packer’s upcoming book, “How to Passive-Aggressively Mock a Team You Don’t Like by Purposely Mispronouncing The Players’ Names.” Remember years of Sean Battier? And Mike Dunlevy? Hey, Duntz, before you go too far in transforming into an even-less interesting version of your former broadcast partner, go check out some archives of the message boards and see how, when the P-Man announced his retirement, college basketball fans put down their differences, electronically joined hands and sang “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together try to love one another right now.” As if that wasn’t enough, there was the chest-puffery moment when Clark Kellogg asked if he had ever seen the new CBS show “Undercover Boss,” and Jimbo responded with something along the lines of “It’s one Sunday nights. That’s when I’m flying home from games.” Goodness me, we are in awe of your ability to travel first-class and watch sports for a living. How do you even manage? Hands-down FAIL.
If it is Sunday, then it’s time for Duke to play California, Berkeley, the second time in as many games the Blue Devils have faced a “Golden” mascot. On Friday, it was lions. Today, duh bears, who made Louisville look absolutely silly in a 77-62 win in the first round. CAL, as they like to be known and will only call them that this one time just so you can reflect on how absurd that is, could possibly fit into the above essay on arranging the brackets to create fun things for the announcers to talk about when they don’t want to say who got called for a foul, how many they have or who the new player subbed in for. After all, the Golden Bears feature former Duke forward Jamal Boykin, but I’d be shocked if the committee had that level of research at their disposal.
California, Berkeley is captained by Mike Montgomery. If you recall, he ran the shop at Stanford, attaining a certain level of success despite the distraction of a mobile tree running around and flapping its branches at home games, before departing for two ill-fated years coaching the Golden State Warriors. This is his second season with the Golden Bears and their second trip to the NCAAs in a row. Last year’s visit resulted in a first-round loss to none other than the Soggy Shells of College Park, Md.
Montgomery can’t be personally blamed for the woeful production of the PAC-10 this year. Frankly, had it not been for his ambitious OOC scheduling, he might have been watching this event at home. In November and December, the Bears took on none other than Syracuse, Ohio State and Kansas. They lost all three, and only one of those, against OSU, was in the single digits; the other two were blow-outs. In conference, Cal-Berkeley had the best regular-season record despite head-scratch-inducing losses to UCLA and USC.
But don’t overlook this team. On paper, they are pretty solid. They make nearly half their shots, including 6.6 successfully dialed toll calls per game. They pull down 35.5 missed shots each outing, and average an impressive 14.5 assists. They also shoot free-throws well, but don’t take a frightening amount. The defense is okay. Opponents shoot a hair better than 43 points per game and cough up the ball 12 times. The Bears only have 2.5 swats each time they are on the floor.
This is the norm for Mike Montgomery: a well-coached, fundamentally sound team that just doesn’t have the talent necessary to compete with the big boys, something he will certainly rectify when he has the time. Which is probably the key here. With all due respect to Jamal, Berkeley is starting a player who could barely get time on a Duke team that desperately needed his size. Montgomery may have some gimmicky defensive or offensive methods that will keep things interesting early, and maybe until half-time. But by the time we see commercials during the under-16 timeout, I think we’ll all be able to kick back and enjoy the rest. One final note to point out that this is the second game in a row where Duke has a serious size advantage. Please use it.
Duke 79, California, Berkeley 70.
Assuming the Devils win, this game should provide a strong indicator of how far they will go. A narrow win over Cal will likely portend a tough time in the Sweet 16, just as that difficult win over Texas in the second round last year foreshadowed our inability to compete with an elite team playing well. The pounding of the SWAC champs in the first round was Duke's most impressive opening win in some time, so that soft indicator came up positive.
Can the Devils continue to play well against a team with three really good players and a great coach? The Berkeley Bears underachieved for the first part of their Pac 10 schedule but then pulled away from the pack. Montgomery authored a win over Duke when he was at Stanford and is a solid operational coach (at the college level). His Bears are capable of beating the Devils, but only if our gang plays a bad game at both ends. That seems unlikely. The Blue Devils showed in the ACC Tournament that they can win tight games even when they suffer one or more late FG droughts. Cal is not a great defensive team by any stretch, so they will need poor play from Duke to go on much of a run. A competent performance by the Devils' supporting cast should be enough to seal a win even if Kyle, Jon and Nolan don't shoot particularly well. If two of the Three S's are filling it up, this could be a "send them a message" win. Let's do it, guys! (And go Boilermakers! We feel your pain so much, we want to comfort you in Houston.)
Duke 77, California, Berkeley 64.
(4BL) CONNECTICUT (18-15, 7-11 Big East) @ (1BL) VIRGINIA TECH (24-8, 10-6)
In this matchup, sponsored by Build-A-Bear, two adorable, cuddly coaches square off to see who can be the first one to have a full mental breakdown on national television - - or at least ESPNU or ESPN de Pornes or the Colin Cowherd Network or whatever channel this one’s on. Given the presence of Bristol’s house squad, you have to assume the presence of some PBP shill like bloodless technocrat Dan Shulman, who will be shouting to be heard over the din of an inconveniently scheduled basketball game occurring in the background. The human interest stories about Calgoon will flow like rivers of sewage. The analyst, whoever it might be, will laud the Bald Bastard of Blacksburg’s career achievements as if he casually turned water into wine on several occasions just last week, and Connvicticut’s two national tiles (both on loan from the hypothetical permanent collection of Duke University Athletics) will be ooooohed and ahhhhed. Meanwhile, ESPN will cut away to the collegiate wrestling championships - - and no one will be able to tell the difference. This is one of those wonderful games where someone - - or . . . inthiscaseSpock, some . . . THING [/Shatner] has to lose. Yay!
Virginia Tech 68, Connecticut 64.
Wow. I’m assuming both of these teams are bringing five extra trainers. Has the National Guard been called in? Was this arranged by Vince McMahon? Perhaps the NCAA should consider employing a penalty box? Hey, I’ll let you on a little secret: we don’t make predictions by ourselves anymore. We have this fancy software that we enter various data into and Presto! It gives us the best-case and worst-case scenarios. It was designed by NASA, which explains why they constantly lose Mars landers and why one of us thought Olive Oil was going to actually win an NCAA-T game. [And also why someone else thought William & Mary would beat Chapel Hill, although we take your point. --Editorial Board] Recently, we upgraded to the version that not only gives us a prediction of the result, but a CGI-generated representation of what the game will look like. Here is the result for this game, beginning with the pre-game introductions. While I wouldn’t mind to see the post-season cleansed of the CT Crook, a loss by the Turkeys would mean not having to pay attention to the Blacksburg Beserker any more this year. Of course, if Calgoon loses, there may be a move to get him to step aside, allowing a fumigation company to clear out college basketball before Calipari starts up next season. And, going fairly deep in this post-season event would look really good on the cover letter when Goonberg applies for the St. John’s job.
Virginia Tech 74, Connecticut 73.
Virginia Tech 62, Connecticut 61.
Guest (CDG) 6-1