Monday, April 8, 2019
Based on the gaming industry's published odds, Virginia enters tonight's game as a slight favorite. Both teams, however, play stifling defense and run controlled offenses that attempt to probe the opponents' defense until they can generate a "good" (high percentage) shot.
Usually, the team with the most future NBA players and the best leadership at Point Guard will win the Championship. Looking forward to tonight's game, neither team is loaded with future NBA players, though both Virginia and Texas Tech have one or two players who will likely play at the next level (Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver is a likely future NBA draft lottery pick). Both Texas Tech and Virginia are led by experienced Point Guards who run their respective offenses very well, who display strong leadership and who can either score all night long from behind the three point arc or by putting the ball on the floor and generating shots in the lane. Virginia PG Ty Jerome leverages his 6'6" frame to his advantage against smaller opponents; he can get shoot over smaller Point Guards, and when he gets into the lane, his size allows him to get shots off against other teams' big men that most PGs couldn't. Both teams also feature outstanding three point shooters on the wings, with Virginia's Kyle Guy being widely recognized as one of the best shooters in the game.
Texas Tech's backcourt of fifth year South Dakota graduate transfer Matt Mooney and Italian import Davide Moretti are essentially combo guards who are equally capable of being both the primary ball handler, and of lighting it up from behind the three point line. Mooney stands out for his grit and leadership, though, as well as for his ability to score off the dribble. Virginia's guards are great shooters, and Jerome is noticeably bigger than either Mooney or Moretti. But Tech's guards can shoot the lights out too, and nobody on either team is tougher than Mooney.
Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver and Virginia shooting guard De'Andre Hunter are both future NBA players. As mentioned earlier, Culver will be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Both players are big (6'7"), athletic wings who can create shots for themselves off the dribble with relative ease, and who shoot well enough from three point range. Culver had a quiet outing against Michigan State in Saturday's semifinal victory, but he stepped up in the last three minutes of the game by making two crucial shots at the most opportune of times, which effectively served as the daggers that sent Tom Izzo's Spartans home to East Lansing, MI.
The Culver vs. Hunter matchup will likely be almost as interesting as the Jerome/Guy vs. Mooney/Moretti matchups.
Virginia has more size on the front line than most teams, including Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders from Lubbock counter with tough, experienced big men of their own.
Overall, the game is likely to be a lower scoring, defensive minded affair. Both teams have outstanding backcourts with great three point shooters, as well as players who can create shots for themselves and create shots for others. The backcourt is probably where the game will be won or lost.
Drive and Dish expects tonight's game to be close (if low scoring), but we expect Virginia to come out with an edge. Texas Tech surprised the world by beating Michigan State, and Virginia had the good fortune to escape (thanks to a missed double dribble that wasn't called on Ty Jerome in the last seconds of game) against Auburn.
Virginia knows that they're lucky to be here and that they have something to prove. Texas Tech knows that they have something to prove as well, but we expect Virginia to play with a slightly bigger chip on their respective shoulders. We also expect Virginia to be the beneficiary of the referees' calls.
Most of America will be attracted to the storyline of Virginia going from the only Number one seed to lose to a sixteen seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament, as they did last year when they lost to 16 seeded Maryland-Baltimore County, to winning the National Championship a year later. It's our hope that the referees in tonight's game aren't also attracted to that storyline.
Here's to hoping that upstart Texas Tech keeps that from happening.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
The tradition began one night in the late '00s, when after playing pickup basketball into the wee hours, Drive and Dish's founders decided to fill out brackets and post them to this blog at a 24 hour Kinko's near the health club where our post-pickup hoops brainstorming had taken place.
It would probably be smart (for branding purposes) to say that the reason we decided to fill out handwritten brackets, as opposed to publishing more professional looking text brackets, was because we were committed to keeping this blog "authentic," with a DIY, lo-fi, boutique blogging hipster sensibility.
But the real reason we filled out handwritten brackets is because it was faster to just download a bracket, fill it out, scan it and post it to the blog.
Of course, origin story aside, the decision to continue publishing handwritten brackets year after year has been motivated by our recognition that "authenticity" is the current lingua franca in online media. Thus, doing handwritten brackets helps to brand this blog as unyieldingly "authentic," DIY, lo-fi and boutique.
And just to keep things even more "authentic," yours truly has continued the somewhat more recent Drive and Dish tradition of waiting until the morning of publication to actually fill out a handwritten bracket. That keeps the bracket from being well thought out, and helps Drive and Dish continue to promote the "fly by the seat of your pants" culture that we've worked so hard to foster.
In other words, it's still faster to just download a bracket, fill it out, scan it and post it to the blog.
But it would be great if we could turn that lack of preparation and thoughtfulness into a marketing/branding strategy.
Thus, Drive and Dish presents its 2019 brackets.
For the second consecutive year, brackets have been filled out by Drive and Dish founding member "S.K.", and Trainer to the Stars (and soon to be Florida Man [more here]) "C.H."
Drive and Dish has decided to publish an even more "authentically" DIY, intentionally grimy and lo-fi hand written bracket courtesy of guest bracketologist "G.O." (not unlike a $500 pair of ripped jeans, or a pair $900 intentionally dirty Gucci kicks, this bracket even comes replete with folds, creases and crinkles!).
The first week of the NCAA Tournament has come and gone. Survive and advance is the name of the game. Sixty four teams have been cut in half to thirty two, and then cut in half once again to sixteen. The losers have all gone home. The wheat has been separated from the chaff. The Sweet Sixteen is set, and Drive and Dish is keeping score of its prognosticators' respective bracket wins and loses.
The following is a run down of how the Drive and Dish experts' respective brackets have fared thus far:
C.H. (Record: 12-4):
S.K. (Record: 12-4):
The results are in. We have an official Drive and Dish Bracket Challenge winner, even though the Final Four is only beginning, a National Champion won't be crowned until Monday night (4-08-2019), and the "win" is by default, since only one bracket of the three filled out by Drive and Dish's prognosticators correctly predicted a Final Four participant.
The winner is the bracket filled out by "G.O.," or "Ozzie," who should probably heretofore be referred to as the Bracket "Wizard of Oz," since his bracket has Auburn in the Final Four, and none of the other Drive and Dish bracketologists' brackets even has a single team still playing.
So by virtue of having predicting Auburn's ascendency to the Final Four, "G.O.," or the "Bracket Wizard of Oz" wins by default, regardless of who ultimately goes on to win the National Championship on Monday (G.O.'s bracket has Auburn losing to Tennessee in the semifinal game).
All in all, it was a completely pathetic showing by Drive and Dish's "experts," given that only one of our "experts" even correctly predicted so much as a single Final Four participant. But then most of the "experts" in the national media picked super Freshman Zion Williamson and Duke to win the Championship, so most prognosticators ended up looking bad this year.
Maybe the public relations department at Drive and Dish should try to spin our "experts'" dismal brackets as having been among the few in the nation who were prescient enough to see that Duke wasn't as good as everyone else thought. Maybe Drive and Dish could issue a press release with a title like "Drive and Dish experts saw what ESPN's Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale, etc. didn't."
More to come...
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Official 2018 Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament Bracket and No-Holds-Barred Death Match Bracket Challenge
It's that time of year again. The 2018 NCAA Tournament officially tips off today. That means millions of college basketball fans (and degenerate gamblers) will be missing-in-action from school, work and other areas of their lives in which they have all manner of responsibilities to uphold.
American GDP may temporarily dip anywhere from 10% to 30% for the first two days of March Madness, as the gears of the American economy grind to a near-halt because the nation's workforce has bailed out on work and on its other responsibilities in order to watch the daylong cavalcade of televised NCAA Tournament games.
Hard core fans of college basketball (and degenerate gamblers) are well known for treating the first day of the NCAA Tournament like children treat Christmas morning: they spend weeks, if not months, in eager anticipation of the moment -- often going so far as to count down the days -- that the Big Dance finally arrives.
The smartest college basketball fans (and degenerate gamblers), however, treat the first day of the NCAA Tournament like children treat Christmas morning for another important reason as well . . . because the first day of the NCAA Tournament is also the day in which Drive and Dish publishes its annual handwritten NCAA Tournament bracket!
And there's another import reason that those same smart college basketball fans (and degenerate gamblers) count down the days to the release of the official handwritten Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket each year: It's now just about the only time all year that Drive and Dish actually publishes anything new.
Much as deer spend the waning days of summer feverishly preparing for rutting season in the Fall —bucks viciously lock antlers and fight, instinctively understanding that it will be their only chance all year to procure a female for mating -- the smartest college basketball fans (and degenerate gamblers) spend their winters in anticipation of reading the enlightened basketball acumen that graces each megabyte of bandwidth used to host the official hand written Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket . . . for they've come to instinctively understand that it could very well be their only chance all year to read the sage basketball wisdom of Drive and Dish!
Drive and Dish began publishing on March 8, 2007, as the major conference tournaments were wrapping up, and just before that year's NCAA Tournament field was revealed to the public by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. At first, Drive and Dish co founder Mark Buckets wrote earnest articles about college basketball, while yours truly talked trash and published smart-assed, "click-bait" style blog posts written in "hot take" fashion about almost anything that was even remotely connected (however loosely) to college basketball or the NBA.
On the eve of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, yours truly toned down the smart-assery just a hair (though not all the way) in order to publish a rambling mashup of random thoughts about college basketball, titled "Deep Thoughts (About College Basketball)." In that post, Drive and Dish made its first official NCAA championship prediction (though it was done in a pretty unofficial manner) when yours truly correctly picked Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford's Florida Gators to
It's usually easy to identify the best teams in college basketball. There always seem to be at least two or three teams that are significantly better than everyone else, and thus, seem like sure-fire bets to reach the Final Four. That's not the case this year.
A lot of teams are pretty good, but nobody is really good.
Ohio State and Wisconsin top the polls, but they just don't appear to be championship caliber teams. Ditto for for North Carolina and Kansas. The only team I can think of that has what it takes to win a championship is...Florida.
Hmm, Florida...where have I heard...hey wait, didn't they win the championship last year? And, wow, it looks like they have everybody back from last year's championship team.
So why haven't they played better this year? Oh yeah! Gainesville is a party town. Those players are rock stars on campus and...they know that they're better than every other team in college basketball. Florida will get serious once the Tournament starts.
Drive and Dish published near daily for the next year or so, and in 2008, we began what would go on to become our now time-honored tradition of publishing our hand written NCAA Tournament brackets early in the morning of the first day of the Tournament (obviously before the games start).
We also filled out handwritten NIT and CBI (and eventually, CIT) brackets just for the hell of it in those days. Oh, and Mark Buckets truly did yeoman's work back then by live-blogging every game of the Tournament (examples here and here).
Trouble started brewing, though, after Mark's Duke Blue Devils were upset in the first round by a then-unheralded Virginia Commonwealth team. As soon as Duke slinked off the court after having been stunned and humiliated by VCU, Mr. Buckets abruptly burned out on live-blogging NCAA Tournament games (gotta admit though, live-blogging's not for everybody!) and
By that point, yours truly had soured on trash talking and "hot take" styled "click bait" blogging, and had begun to publish longer, better thought out pieces (known today as "long form" writing). Mark Buckets left Drive and Dish for greener pastures and although yours truly kept pumping out semi-long form blog posts for some time, eventually it became clear that basketball blogging wasn't going to pay the bills (though in fairness, through this blog, we actually received some legitimate offers to write about basketball for well known websites). Drive and Dish began publishing more and more infrequently, until eventually, the only thing we managed to get up each year was the aforementioned annual handwritten Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket .
We explained it pretty well last year:
Drive and Dish was established in March of 2007. In our ten years of existence, we've only undergone a handful of changes. First, after receiving some constructive criticism on our original, basic, plain-as-vanilla Blogspot design, we adopted a slightly more stylized design template (with a Duke Blue Devils-inspired blue, white and black color scheme in order to appease the late Drive and Dish co-founder, "Dukie" Mark Buckets)...
...Our second major change came when we began posting our hand written NCAA Tournament brackets on the eve of the 2008 Tournament. Later that year, our third big change occurred when Mark Buckets retired from sports blogging in order to spend more time with
hookers and blowhis family. Thereafter, the Drive and Dish blog became a sole proprietorship.
One of the biggest, and most unfortunate changes to Drive and Dish came after "life changes" * forced yours truly to curtail the amount of time spent blogging about basketball. This blog kept going in earnest, but its output slowed down to but a few posts per month.
* "Life changes" can refer to any number of life events that can cause one to reorient one's life priorities, including but not limited to the following: running from unpaid child support payments, tax liens, gambling debts, lost savings in a notorious Ponzi scheme, faking one's own death to get out from under one's debts . . . plus hookers and blow......The final change came about in 2013, when the blog went into complete radio silence, with the sole exception of posting the official Drive and Dish handwritten NCAA Tournament Bracket on the morning of the NCAA Tournament's opening day.
Longtime readers know that we're all about tradition here at Drive and Dish, so we're certainly not going to disappoint our readership by neglecting to publish our 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket. However, this year we've added a twist -- Drive and Dish founder and longstanding Executive Publisher, Executive Producer and Assistant Associate Junior Copy Editor, "S.K." (formerly known around these parts as "T.S.", and sometimes still known as "yours truly") has accepted a challenge from "C.H." to publish dueling brackets in a no-holds-barred, all out battle to the death, handwritten NCAA Tournament bracket death match.
Neither "S.K" nor "C.H." has watched much college basketball this year, though yours truly has seen a few games throughout the season (mostly games from mid-major conferences though). So really, neither of us is well prepared for this battle. But we're looking forward to it nonetheless.
That much is tradition here at Drive and Dish.
Thus, in keeping with tradition, we submit our special 2018 Drive and Dish hand written NCAA Tournament death match brackets:
SK (aka, "T.S."):
Just for the hell of it, here's S.K.'s official 2018 Drive and Dish hand written NIT bracket (there's no challenge, or no-holds-barred death match for this one though, because nobody really cares about the NIT):
Monday, April 3, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Drive and Dish was established in March of 2007. In our ten years of existence, we've only undergone a handful of changes. First, after receiving some constructive criticism on our original, basic, plain-as-vanilla Blogspot design, we adopted a slightly more stylized design template (with a Duke Blue Devils-inspired blue, white and black color scheme in order to appease the late Drive and Dish co-founder, "Dukie" Mark Buckets).
We made those adjustments early in 2008, and haven't touched a single element of this blog's layout since that time. So stylistically, Drive and Dish is stuck in 2008. Incidentally, we're probably stuck in 2008 in other ways too. For instance, we still have Young Jeezy, The Black Eyed Peas, Akon, David Guetta and Thirty Seconds to Mars on our official Drive and Dish iPod. And we're starting to get into an up-and-coming young cat from Miami called Pitbull. Don't sleep on Pitbull. We think he could blow up big this summer!
Come to think of it, maybe it's time we ditch the iPod for one of those new iPhones. We understand that the iPhone lets you play music on your phone! Our official Drive and Dish Blackberry Bold could finally be on its last legs!
Our second major change came when we began posting our hand written NCAA Tournament brackets on the eve of the 2008 Tournament. Later that year, our third big change occurred when Mark Buckets retired from sports blogging in order to spend more time with
One of the biggest, and most unfortunate changes to Drive and Dish came after "life changes" * forced yours truly to curtail the amount of time spent blogging about basketball. This blog kept going in earnest, but its output slowed down to but a few posts per month.
The final change came about in 2013, when the blog went into complete radio silence, with the sole exception of posting the official Drive and Dish handwritten NCAA Tournament Bracket on the morning of the NCAA Tournament's opening day.
Longtime readers know that we're all about tradition here at Drive and Dish -- thus, we present the official handwritten Drive and Dish 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket (apologies for filling them out with a leaky pen):
* "Life changes" can refer to any number of life events that can cause one to reorient one's life priorities, including but not limited to the following: running from unpaid child support payments, tax liens, gambling debts, lost savings in a notorious Ponzi scheme, faking one's own death to get out from under one's debts . . . plus hookers and blow.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Tonight, North Carolina and Villanova will, in fact, play each other for the NCAA Championship.
That means that we got the final two teams of the Final Four correct! So give us a gold star for our prescience, or something!
But do we still think that our prediction of North Carolina winning yet another NCAA Championship will come true?
Yeah, probably so.
In our NCAA Tournament bracket posting, we admitted that we'd viewed too little college basketball this year to consider ourselves experts on the subject of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. But we also mentioned that we'd seen just enough of the top teams in the Tournament to know which teams were for real, and which were mere pretenders.
North Carolina and both Villanova stood out as being the real deal. In short, they passed the cliched "eye test" with such flying colors that we forwarded them through to our bracket's National Title game without so much as even glancing at either team's respective Tournament résumé or analytical profile.
Our Championship Game synopsis is as follows: North Carolina is probably too big, too talented and too deep for Villanova to overcome. And their best player, Marcus Paige, also happens to be a savvy, experienced senior, which has become a rarity in big time college basketball. So they'll probably win.
But Villanova is an outstanding team in their on right, and we wouldn't be at all surprised if they were to pull off what would be a major upset. That said, talent, size and depth win NCAA Championships. North Carolina has more future NBA players than Villanova does. So in the end, North Carolina will probably win.
But despite the presence of North Carolina alums in the family of one of Drive and Dish's editors, we'll be pulling for Villanova.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Our Bracket Was So Bad Last Year That We Took the Rest of the Year Off From Blogging ... So Here's Hoping We'll Do Better This Year!
The last time we posted on this blog was to continue the longstanding Drive and Dish tradition of publishing our handwritten NCAA Tournament bracket . . . for 2015!
Regrettably, we've let another year slip through our grasps without publishing so much as a random thought, inane joke, half-cocked prediction, or expletive laden, late night drunken rambling about the game that we (still) love. But as inattentive and incompetent as our blogging has become, we'd nevertheless be loathe to permit the NCAA Tournament to begin without at least keeping up the Drive and Dish tradition of sharing our handwritten bracket with our readers (however many, at this point, remain).
Come to think of it, managing to merely dribble out but a single, poorly thought out, and meagerly argued post per year has probably become a Drive and Dish tradition in and of itself.
But we're all about tradition, so here's our bracket:
We have North Carolina beating Villanova in the National Championship game, and we have three teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in the Final Four.
Hopefully, we'll be a little more accurate than we were last year, though that's probably unlikely, since we watched just about as little college basketball as we did last year ... which, incidentally, is why we've been so negligent in our basketball blogging.
Nevertheless, we've seen enough mid major basketball this year to know that there are some good teams from the obscure conferences that will score first and second round upsets. And we've seen just enough of the big boys' games to have a good feel for which teams are for real and which teams are pretenders.
So while we're not as up-to-speed about college basketball as we have been in years past, we're still fairly confident in our opinions of those teams that we have seen play this year, however few they may be.
Or maybe we're just cocky and full of hubris (again).
|The Official Drive and Dish 2016 NCAA Tournament Bracket|
Thursday, March 19, 2015
We didn't even continue our long-running tradition of posting a thorough scouting report on Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
We probably owe our readers (those who remain) an explanation for our protracted absence. But most likely, nobody cares about that.
So what do our readers care about?
Well, assuming anyone still cares about the Drive and Dish take on basketball, our readers want to see the official handwritten Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket.
Thus, we're obliged to deliver (even though we haven't delivered a damn thing else this year):
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Sorry about that.
But just as the city of Chicago's dearly departed rise from their resting places each election day in order to fill out their straight-party ballots, we've returned in order to publish our annual handwritten NCAA Tournament Bracket.
Disclaimer: It's been a long year, and your humble author has viewed a grand total of *four* college basketball games this season. So our picks are based on nothing more than our general impressions of each team's roster, coaching staff, strengths, weaknesses, health, potential position-by-position match ups against potential opponents and record since the second week of February.
So even though we have something resembling a general formula for making our picks -- it's a "formula" that's served us pretty well in the past, by the way -- we're completely "winging it" this year.
Thus, without further ado, we issue our 2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket:
Monday, April 8, 2013
Drive and Dish didn't fare so well in predicting the Final Four in our 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket. To our credit, we correctly anticipated Syracuse's surprising (at least to the "experts") upset of Indiana en route to the Final Four. But we expected Duke to get to Atlanta instead of Louisville, and expected Ohio State to get there instead of Wichita State.
We actually weren't terribly surprised by Wichita State's surprising Final Four run. We've been paying attention to the Missouri Valley conference for a long time, and we've long been aware that head coach Gregg Marshall and his Wichita program are top notch. Of course, we didn't pick them to get to the Final Four in our bracket, but we definitely considered them to be a team that could make a deep Tournament run.
We picked Kansas to win the Championship, and of course, they lost in overtime to Michigan in the Elite Eight. When filling out our bracket, we tried to anticipate how each team would match up against each other. We thought that Michigan was the real deal, but we expected Kansas to cause match up problems for the Wolverines.
And we weren't wrong. Kansas did give Michigan all kinds of problems. In fact, Michigan had to put together a herculean comeback effort just to tie Kansas at the end of regulation (which they with a dramatic buzzer-beating three pointer courtesy of Trey Burke).
Kansas did everything in the book to beat Michigan, but in the end, they got upended by a performance for the ages by Burke -- the eventual college basketball player of the year.
So what do we expect to see in tonight's Championship game?
We expect a very close game that goes down to the wire. Neither team is clearly superior to the other. They're both extremely well coached, they've both got size, and they're both loaded with talent and depth.
Louisville has four players who will be on NBA rosters in the near future: Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng. But Michigan has three players who are clearly certain to be future NBA first round draft picks: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Mitch McGary.
Louisville will apply full court pressure defense on Michigan for the entire 40 minutes of regulation, and when they have the ball, their lightning-quick guards will relentlessly attack the lane, drawing Michigan defenders in and creating easy layups and dunks for the Cardinals' big men, and open three pointers for perimeter players off of kick outs. All Rick Pitino coached teams do those things.
But Michigan has an electric offense as well. If Burke can break down Louisville's tough defenders, it will open up good looks from the three point line for Michigan's talented three point bombers.
The "X" factor for Michigan will be freshman big man McGary. If McGary can establish himself from inside and out on offense early, it will force the shot blocking Dieng to focus on trying to stop McGary, and draw him away from swatting other Michigan players' shots. Perhaps more importantly, if McGary and Michigan's big men can get Dieng into foul trouble, the lane will open up for Michigan.
And since we expect tonight's game to be so close, we think that it will probably turn on fouls. The team that gets in foul trouble first will probably be the team that comes up short.
We think these teams are so closely matched, that neither team will get much more than a 4-6 point lead. Thus, fouls will be critical. The team that loses players to foul trouble first will probably lose. Concurrently, the first team that gets to shoot foul shots in the bonus will probably win.
Drive and Dish is usually pretty certain about who we expect to win, but we think this one will be so close that it could go either way. Louisville probably should win, but we think Michigan has the guns to bring home the Big Ten's first Championship since 2000.
We'll go out on a limb and take Michigan ... with the caveat that Michigan will be massively screwed if either Burke or McGary finds himself in foul trouble early. If that happens, Louisville will be too much for Michigan, and Rick Pitino will have coached his second school to an NCAA Championship (Pitino won an NCAA Championship at Kentucky in 1996).
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Drive and Dish Senior Editor Trashtalk Superstar took sole responsibility for handwriting and publishing the annual Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket in 2009. Like a monk who spent years copying the Bible by hand during the Dark Ages, Mr. Trash Talk devoted himself to handwriting and publishing the Drive and Dish brackets for the remaining years.
The 2010 Drive and Dish NCAA bracket proved to be our most prescient. Drive and Dish eschewed the conventional wisdom (we were among the few who didn't pick Kansas that year) and correctly predicted that Duke would win it all. To be sure, we never envisioned that the Blue Devils would meet then-unheralded Butler in the Championship game, but our selection of Duke was a bold pick at the time. Believe it or not, virtually nobody picked Duke to win it all that year.
We had previously predicted an eventual NCAA champion that most "experts" missed when we picked Florida to win its second consecutive NCAA Championship in 2007, even though the defending champs' lackluster regular season performance had caused most of those "experts" to write them off (we didn't publish our brackets that year, so readers will have to work their way through the bullet points in the linked post to find the Florida Championship prediction).
Duke in 2010 and Florida in 2007 seemed fairly apparent to us because we make our picks based on how we expect teams to match up against each other. By the time teams get deep into the Tournament (i.e., past the Sweet Sixteen), match ups become the most important factor in determining the outcomes of games. Put simply, teams don't get to the Elite Eight unless they're talented and are playing well, so games played deep in the Tournament turn on match ups and momentum swings.
When filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket, it's not to hard to pick winners by envisioning how the various winning teams in your bracket figure to match up against each other at each position on the floor.
Of course, predicting winners based on match ups doesn't guarantee that you'll be right every time. Drive and Dish picked Duke to win it all again in 2011, even though the Blue Devils lost some key starters from the 2010 Championship team to graduation. That year, Duke fell short as Connecticut came out of nowhere to win head coach Jim Calhoun his third NCAA Championship.
And last year, we ended picking North Carolina to beat its mortal enemy Duke in what we expected to be hyped up to be an NCAA Championship game for the ages (because it would pit bitter conference rivals North Carolina and Duke against each other). Instead, Coach John Calipari's freshman-laden Kentucky team won the Championship and forever discredited one of Drive and Dish's long-held "ironclad rules": namely, not to expect championship caliber play from teams that rely on freshmen at several key positions.
But envisioning potential match ups is still the preferred way of filling out our brackets here at Drive and Dish.
So we employed that method when we filled out our 2013 bracket. It needs to be stated, though, that our 2013 bracket should come with the following disclaimer: the current proprietors of Drive and Dish eschew watching television. So the Drive and Dish 2013 bracket has been completed in spite of Drive and Dish writers' relatively limited exposure to televised college basketball in the 2012-2013 season. We've viewed select games online, but our focus has been on Notre Dame, the Missouri Valley conference and the Big Ten conference. We've probably seen enough of Notre Dame and the Big Ten, though, to know the Irish and each Big Ten team inside and out. That said, we're not as well acquainted with the entirety of NCAA Division I basketball as we have been in years past.
That was the case last year and in 2011 as well (which, come to think of it, could well explain why we didn't see Connecticut coming in 2011 or see Kentucky coming last year).
Still, it wouldn't feel like March without Barack Obama sitting down with the media to discuss the finer points of his bracket in an Obama Bracket Unveiling Special on national TV, and without Drive and Dish publishing its hastily assembled, hand-written bracket a few short hours before the first Thursday game of the Tournament tips off.
Thus, without further ado, we present our 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket:
Monday, December 24, 2012
Ever since Drive and Dish began its run in 2007, we've published an annual Christmas Eve scouting report on Santa. In 2009, personnel losses, as well as business, work and life demands forced the Drive and Dish proprietors to cut back on our hoops blogging. As a result, Drive and Dish went from being a blog that published on a daily basis (at least during basketball season), to a blog that published only a few times per week.
Over time, Drive and Dish devolved even more -- we eventually reached the point where even multiple posts in a single week became the exception, rather than the rule. But while output went down, the quality of our writing probably went up. After all, if our writers found some issue or occurrence to be so compelling that they (we) moved heaven and earth to blog about it, the resulting Drive and Dish post was likely to be well thought out and, accordingly, at least fairly well-written.
Without a doubt, though, the posts that we most enjoyed writing were our annual Christmas Eve scouting reports on Santa. Year after year, the scouting report was more or less the same. In the interest of saving time and space, here's the ultra-truncated, Cliff/Spark Notes-style version of the annual scouting report: Santa is old and fat, but since he can still pilot his flying sleigh to every corner of the globe (minus Saudi Arabia, Iran and most of Pakistan) in a single evening and sneak into and out of your house to leave presents by sliding down your chimney and jumping back up to the roof, it's fair to say that he hasn't lost a step, that he can still sky, and that he's still got his hang time.
This year, we've let the blog go more than ever before. Without doubt, it's been the most stressful and trying time for our remaining writers/editors since the blog was founded. Since the start of basketball season in October, Drive and Dish editors have been involved in the liquidation of two corporations and the sale of the corporations' commercial real estate. We've also been trying to lay the groundwork for the start-up of something new (but more on that later). It's been a chaotic time around here, and as such, we've neglected our blogging duties. So this year, we don't have a new scouting report on Santa to post. We're just referring our readers to last year's scouting report.
But if you must know the truth, we'll probably be able to slide by with last year's scouting report because we've heard that even though Santa is a year older and a few pounds fatter, he can still pilot his flying sleigh to every corner of the globe (minus Saudi Arabia, Iran and most of Pakistan) in a single evening and sneak into and out of your house to leave presents by sliding down your chimney and jumping back up to the roof, it's fair to say that he hasn't lost a step, that he can still sky, and that he's still got his hang time.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Last night, one of the Drive and Dish editors finished playing basketball at a gym in Burr Ridge, IL, and walked out into the gym's parking lot as the Burr Ridge firework show was starting. So he took a video of the show.
The camerawork gets a little shaky at times (as does most handheld video), but it's nothing major, and it doesn't detract much from the video. We hope you enjoy it:
Of course, Drive and Dish officially endorses leaving the July 4th pyrotechnics to the professionals. People who set off their own July 4th fireworks are asking for trouble ... especially if they're drunk. You don't want to end up like one of these guys:
Friday, June 22, 2012
Streeterville is a quiet, upscale part of Chicago that encompasses the Magnificent Mile and is just south of the Gold Coast. Northwestern University’s Law School is in Streeterville, as is its hospital. Oprah has an apartment in Streeterville. A close friend of mine once lived in Steeterville, and I spent many a late night walking off jet lag on its streets. After all, if you’re not safe in Streeterville, where are you safe?
As a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital learned the other night, you’re really not safe in Streeterville. Accosted by a “flash” mob of black teenagers, the physician was repeatedly hit and beaten. He wasn’t robbed. He says the motive wasn’t racial, as he’s Asian. But typically such mobs are black and their victims are whites, who are abused with racist insults while they’re being injured.
The physician observed that the teenagers had accosted others before they attacked him. The teenagers were simply looking to have fun by hurting someone, and the next someone was him. And, of course, this is not the first instance of such mob behavior flowing out of the deteriorating inner city into the city’s wealthier areas. It isn’t even the first foray into upscale Streeterville. The criminals now have done what any species does when it exhausts the resources of its immediate environment. They have moved on to another habitat.
Streeterville, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in particular, are relatively frequent haunts for some the proprietors of this blog. So we know both the area, and the institution well.
And as bad as it may sound, when the Drive and Dish proprietors initially heard that there had been an attack on a young, male Northwestern physician, we more or less assumed that he was probably, well, Asian.
That's not to say that the roving bands of teenaged and pre-teen thugs who have been venturing into posh Chicago neighborhoods from their ghetto stomping grounds aren't on the hunt for white guys to beat down.
They most certainly are.
But Northwestern is full of young Asian doctors. And on the whole, Asian-American males tend to be smaller, and tend to appear less threatening than their white American male counterparts.
Is that an unfair stereotype? Sure, but, like so many stereotypes, it's rooted in a level of truth.
Of course, most of the time the teenage thugs (or "youths," as the media prefers to call them), hit upscale, urban white guys -- most of whom appear as soft as tapioca pudding to thugs from the 'Hood. But just as in nature, where predators tend to prefer hunting the weakest (i.e., easiest to catch) prey, 13-15 year old up-and-coming ghetto thugs will hit the softest-looking target they can find.
Up-and-coming "shorties" from Da 'Hood tend not to care that stereotyping people by their race or ethnicity violates the principles of political correctness. And since even 13 year old ghetto thugs know that most young Asian-American doctors don't know to fight like Bruce Lee and didn't work their way through medical school by busting kneecaps for the Yakuza ... well ... do the math.
That the young Asian-American Northwestern physician would be so hopelessly naïve as to actually assume that a throng of black, teenaged ghetto thugs would leave him alone simply because he's not white ... well, again, do the math.
But if the clueless, Asian-American physician from Northwestern has his head planted firmly in the sand, so too does most of Chicago. Miller hits on a couple of largely unspoken factors that have been quietly enabling Chicago's dysfunctional inner city street gang culture for years -- indifference and the reliance on smug, bien-pensant politically correct tropes:
Sure, Chicago, like most major American cities, has its crime-polluted neighborhoods where going out on the street at night is about as safe as going out in Baghdad. We all know how to avoid those, unless our economic circumstances regrettably compel us to live in such neighborhoods. Last week, 53 people were shot in Chicago. Most of us will dismiss this as an irrelevant statistic. After all, we know without reading the papers where those people live: in the south and west sides. There, the population is largely black or Latino, gangs fight turf wars over the drug trade, and getting a gun is not only a rite of passage but also is more common than getting a high school diploma...
We assume that because people who look like the victims are also the perpetrators, it’s not our problem. Our continually reinforced ethnic tribalism really comes down to: we don’t give a damn about black-on-black violence or what happens in the deteriorating parts of our city. We can be smug about gun control because none of our neighbors are shooting each other. We can be self-righteous about microscopic adherence to due process because none of us will have to testify in open court against people who belong to vengeful criminal organizations.
Such delusions are part of what makes us not only smug but also hypocrites. We invoke the notion that poverty causes crime. If only we’d have greater redistribution of income and wealth, all this would go away. We take comfort in the idea that there is a solution to the problem. Why not? It’s ingrained in our psyches, pontificated as one of the few real “laws” of social science, and comes to us as strongly from the classrooms as it does from the bar stools. We can, thus, avoid the thought of 53 white people being gunned down on our streets over a few days.
Miller then raises a critically important question and challenges one of the aforementioned longstanding politically correct tropes: does poverty cause crime (as we're always told), or is it the other way around?
(The) late James Q. Wilson so artfully pointed out decades ago, it might be that poverty causing crime is just another logical fallacy. Wilson challenged us to think that maybe it’s the other way around: crime causes poverty.
My brother drove a chemical tanker in Chicago. He was a big, powerful man who had been an amateur boxer. One day, while he was setting up his hoses on the south side to pump chemicals into a factory’s tanks, a group of teenagers surrounded him and demanded his money. He carried a spiked billy club for such purposes and instead of producing his wallet produced a lesson in night stick justice. When he returned to his yard, he told his dispatcher that he’d never deliver to that business again. Next time, he said, the kids might have guns and a shot would explode the flammable chemical truck and take out a city block.
Eventually, no driver would deliver to the business. The business moved to the northern suburbs and with it went the neighborhood jobs. Repeat this by tens of thousands of times encompassing all types of crimes, and you get a snapshot of an environment where few are eager to invest capital or write insurance. Add to that a demographic of low education and criminal conviction, and you have a labor force no one is eager to hire.
As gangs of black teenagers roam the streets of places like Streeterville looking for nothing else but to hurt people, we need to realize that the social order has changed. More important, we need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that if we just pump more money into the inner city, the problems of teenage violence will be solved.
Last night, mere hours after Dr. Miller's PJ Media piece was published, there was a on Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile at Michigan Ave. and Ontario St. That’s the most high-end and high profile location yet to get a taste of Chicago’s burgeoning citywide explosion of violent crime.
For years, Chicago got a bad rap, as most people around the country — conservatives in particular (especially after the advent of Chicago’s own Barack Obama) — mistakenly thought of the Windy City as some sort of impoverished, post-apocalyptic Rust Belt war zone inhabited by gang-bangers, project-dwelling “welfare queens,” mustachioed blue collar fat guys in Bears jerseys from an old Saturday Night Live skit (Da Bears!) and … well, Eskimos. But Great Lakes locale aside, Chicago never actually suffered much from the kind of decline that sucked the life out of nearby crumbling Great Lakes cities like Detroit (and to a lesser degree, Cleveland) over the past 35-45 years.
That’s not to say that Chicago didn’t have its share of God-forsaken, hell hole neighborhoods that were overrun with poverty, gangs and violent crime. Chicago, in fact, had those in spades. But what people outside of Chicago often didn’t understand is that Chicago proper was, is, and has always been, home to both areas of great wealth and areas of great poverty, and that Chicago’s notorious crime-infested precincts have largely been confined to sections of the South and West Sides — two areas that were/are more or less isolated from the rest of the city.
The heart of Chicago, though, with its pedestrian-friendly lake shore and canyons of skyscrapers, has traditionally been as safe, as clean and as crime-free as the central part of any big city in the country.
Unbeknownst though it’s apparently been to much of the country, Chicago’s center core became so gentrified that, for years, it’s been safe enough to walk alone at night through great swaths of the city, including its bustling downtown business district, its fashionable Near North Side (Streeterville, River North, the Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, etc.), its North Side Yuppietopia (Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, Ravenswood, Roscoe Village, Andersonville, etc.), and even its trendy/hipster regions on the ever-gentrifying Near West and Near Northwest Sides (Greektown, Fulton Market, West Town, Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square, etc.).
Contrary to the widespread perception of Chicago as some kind of gritty, hardscrabble, post-industrial wasteland, the aforementioned areas have heretofore mostly served as urban versions of the kinds of upscale, safe, Caucasian-dominated hamlets that the professionally angry black journalist Richard Benjamin disparagingly terms “ .”
Chicago’s central location, no doubt, accounts for much of its up-to-now mostly unfounded bad reputation. Opinion makers from the East Coast don’t typically set foot on non-coastal real estate unless they have to. So Chicago usually doesn’t figure very prominently in their collective consciousness ... unless, of course, it’s being used to fulfill some kind of unflattering regional stereotype (i.e., violent racist crackers from the South; dumb, "Bible-thumpin'", "gun-totin’" hillbillies from Texas; fat, blue collar rustics from the Midwest, etc.).
Thus, it’s been easy for people to conflate Detroit and Chicago, and to lazily assume that Detroit’s problems are Chicago’s. After all, they’re both older, industrial cities in in the upper Midwest…
But perhaps more so than any American city (other than New York, of course), Chicago has, over the past 20 years, come to resemble a European city of sorts, replete with a wealthy, expansive and largely white central core, and with poor, high-crime areas that have been pushed ever farther to the city’s far-flung edges (not unlike the Paris and its crime-infested banlieues).
The bulk of Chicago’s crime, however, has historically been contained to neighborhoods which are best described as being in "the ‘Hood," and thus, it never much figured in the lives of people in the heart of the city. That general attitude of indifference to crime was even prevalent during the much-hyped crime wave of Summer 2010, when a rash of gangland shootings grabbed headlines and figured prominently on the Drudge Report (thus, “confirming” the preconceived notions so many conservatives had of Chicago as a Detroit-style ghetto hell hole).
The big secret that everybody in Chicago intrinsically understood — and which, of course, could never be acknowledged in polite company — was that as long as the crime and violence stayed in the ghettos on the South and West Sides (well, at least crime and violence of the non-white collar variety, non-Italian “wise guy” variety and non-City Hall “Corruptocrat” variety), the rest of the city didn’t really give a rat’s a** about who shot whom.
And even though the city has become so overextended (err, broke) that it’s slashed 3000 officers from the police force since 2007 (those curious as to why violent crime has been on such an dramatic upswing in Chicago might start by pondering that fact), the mostly good liberals of Chicago’s fashionable parts can be forgiven if they adopted a “see no evil” attitude.
If it’s not in your back yard, it’s not your problem.
Of course, that all changes the minute that it comes to your back yard. And with gang shootings and gang-related violence having suddenly moved downtown and into ever more upscale sections of the city since last summer, it’s everybody’s problem now (even if a lot of wealthy downtown liberals are uncomfortable acknowledging the ethnicities of the perpetrators).
None of that is likely to register in the national consciousness, though. For most, Chicago’s recent troubles will just confirm what they already knew (or thought they knew) … that Chicago is just like Detroit.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Just one year removed from having led his 76ers to the NBA Finals and being awarded the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, Iverson and the Sixers were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the then-unheralded Boston Celtics. When asked about then-coach Larry Brown's suggestion that he hadn't taken taken practice seriously enough throughout the 2001-'02 season, Iverson lashed out at his questioner with a ... uh ... philosophical tirade against the merits of exerting oneself in practice.
Iverson: "Iz easy to sum it up when you just talk about practice. We sittin' in here, I supposed to be the franchise player, and we talkin' about practice. I mean, it, listen, we talkin' about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talkin' about practice. Not a game. Not a ... not a... not da game dat I go out dere and die for and play every game last itz my last. Not da game, we talkin' about practice man..."
Over the past decade, that tirade has become the stuff of legend.
In the category of sports tirades that center on one word which begins with the letter "P," Iverson's "practice!?!" tirade ranks second only to former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora's "playoffs!?!" tirade. And with Mora's aforementioned "playoffs!?!" tirade and Dennis Green's "the Bears are who we thought they were!" tirade, Iverson's "practice!?!" tirade comprises one third of the Holy Trinity of 21st Century sports meltdowns.
Of course, Mora, Iverson and Dennis Green have nothing on former Chicago Cubs' manager Lee Elia, whose infamous 1983 post game meltdown still occupies its own wing of the Pantheon of post-game meltdowns.
And although it doesn't count as a post game meltdown, former Baltimore Orioles' manager Earl Weaver's legendary 1970s era rant on his Manager's Corner segment of the Orioles' pre-game show still ranks as, perhaps, the most colorful sports tirade of all time (¡Cuidado!: audio = "NSFW").
Compared with Elia's and Weaver's tirades, Ted Nugent's recent, much-hyped rant on the CBS news comes off as pretty weak sauce.
We've heard from some readers who objected to the absence of former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight's infamous 1993 warning to his Hoosier team about the perils of losing to Purdue (NSFW, of course). We didn't include Knight's tirade because it was a closed-door speech given to a team that Coach Knight believed to be under-performing (and because the speech was secretly recorded by somebody with a mini-recorder!), rather than an interview given to the media for consumption by the public. Knight didn't know that there was a tape recorder in the room; his team was the only intended audience for the speech.
The other tirades in this post all occurred during interviews given to media by the ranting athlete or coach. Knight's tirade wasn't supposed to be heard by anyone but his team. For that reason, it shouldn't be classified as a "meltdown." It was, instead, a motivational speech. And an effective one at that.
For that reason (and a few others) Knight's rant should probably be designated as the "Official" Drive and Dish basketball motivational speech (it's certainly our favorite).
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
(Picture: New York Daily News).
As was widely expected, Kentucky won college basketball's National Championship on Monday night, overpowering Kansas 67-59. Kentucky now owns eight overall NCAA Championships in men's basketball. Interestingly, controversial head coach John Calipari got his first NCAA Championship by leading the "blue blood" Wildcats past Bill Self's "blue blood" Kansas Jayhawks (Kansas and Kentucky--along with North Carolina, Duke, Indiana and UCLA--are frequently referred to as college basketball "blue bloods" because, like the old East Coast WASP blue blood elites who dominated the American institutions of yesteryear, they're the privileged, elite ruling class of college basketball). In 2008, Calipari's Memphis Tigers narrowly lost in the NCAA Championship game to Kansas and Self.
Drive and Dish editors were at a wedding when the Final Four games were played on Saturday. As such, we missed Kentucky's win over Louisville, and only managed to catch the last ten minutes of Kansas' win over Ohio State. Our editors got off a plane and only returned to the Drive and Dish viewing room in time to catch the second half of Monday night's Championship game. So we don't have much to say about the game itself.
We do, however, think that college basketball is very watered down these days, and although we would have preferred to have been able to watch the Final Four, we weren't particularly thrilled about the prospect of watching Kansas and Kentucky in the Championship game. John Calipari has put together an impressive assortment of NBA-ready talent on each of his three Kentucky teams (Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky in 2009). But the main players on his teams only stick around college for one year before they bounce to the NBA. Thus, watching Kentucky has more or less become akin to watching the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
Sorry, but it's just hard to get excited about that. We'd be hard-pressed to disagree with the following commentary from the Washington Post/Bloomberg News:
In a very real sense, the ending of this game and this season was a microcosm of what college basketball is in 2012. As soon as the final buzzer sounded, the Super Dome was filled with sound, not from celebrating fans, but from the Hollywood-like pyrotechnics the NCAA insists on bombarding people with in its attempts to glitz up an event that doesn't need to be glitzed up.
Nowadays, though, all the sound and noise fits because the national title game has the feel of an NBA all-star game, and most of the players who make it to the Final Four dream first of that game and the billboards and shoe deals that come with it rather than the game Kentucky won on Monday night.
Perhaps it is time for the NCAA to change it's cheesy post-championship theme song. Instead of "One Shining Moment," a new song: "One Moment and Done," words and music by Calipari, might be more fitting.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Final Four is set. Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State and Louisville won their Regionals and advance to next weekend's Final Four in New Orleans. Unlike 2010 and 2011, when mid-major "Cinderellas" Butler and Virginia Commonwealth shocked the world and advanced to the Final Four, the 2012 Final Four field is comprised entirely of the usual suspects.
Louisville competes in the Big East Conference, but geographically, the East Coast is entirely shut out. Three of the four teams come from schools within 100 miles of Cincinnati, Ohio. The fourth, Kansas, comes from the heart of the heartland. It's an entirely Midwestern and Mid South Final Four.
Syracuse was the top-seeded team in the Tournament, but Syracuse alumni who work in the national sports media (in other words, most of the national sports media) will have to content themselves by pulling for Louisville to defend the Big East's honor. Casual fans who've enjoyed rooting for Cinderella "Davids" (i.e., Butler) to knock off college basketball "blue blood" "Goliaths" (i.e., Duke and Connecticut) in the last two NCAA Championship games will be faced with the likelihood of watching "blue blood" Kentucky play "blue blood" Kansas for the right to hand yet another NCAA Championship banner in the rafters.
On a more personal level, Drive and Dish editors will be stuck at a wedding in south Georgia while Saturday's games are being played. But if we get the chance, we may try to hit Interstate 10 on Sunday morning and see if we can get to New Orleans by evening. If so, we'll be hanging around the Final Four for Monday's Championship game.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Drive and Dish was launched one week before the start of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. In 2008, we began publishing our handwritten NCAA Tournament brackets. The night before our first brackets appeared, Mark Buckets and yours truly spent the wee hours deliberating over our picks in a then-24 hour Kinko's in the western suburbs of Chicago. Mr. Buckets abruptly retired from sports blogging during Duke's upset loss to West Virginia in the second round of that year's Tournament. He came out of retirement to pen a post or two later in the week, but left blogging for good after the 2008 Final Four.
Drive and Dish Senior Editor Trashtalk Superstar took sole responsibility for handwriting and publishing the annual Drive and Dish NCAA Tournament bracket in 2009. Like a monk who spent years copying the Bible by hand during the Dark Ages, Mr. Trashtalk devoted himself to handwriting and publishing the Drive and Dish brackets for the remaining years.
The 2010 Drive and Dish NCAA bracket was particularly noteworthy. Drive and Dish eschewed the conventional wisdom (we were among the few who didn't pick Kansas that year) and correctly predicted that Duke would earn head coach Mike Krzyzewski his fourth NCAA Championship. To be sure, we never envisioned that the Blue Devils would meet unheralded Butler in the Championship game, but we deserved some credit for what was (at the time) a bold pick. Believe it or not, virtually nobody picked Duke to win it all that year.
Our 2010 Duke pick was reminiscent of when we picked Florida to win its second consecutive NCAA Championship in 2007, even though the defending champs' lackluster regular season performance had caused most of the "experts" to be Gator skeptics (we didn't publish our brackets that year, so readers will have to work their way through bullet points to find the Florida Championship prediction).
Drive and Dish picked Duke to win it all again in 2011, even though the Blue Devils lost a few key starters from the 2010 Championship team to graduation. We ended up being wrong: Duke fell short and Connecticut came out of nowhere to win head coach Jim Calhoun his third NCAA Championship.
This year, we ended up with North Carolina beating Duke in an NCAA Championship game for the ages. To be clear, we don't actually think the game will be that good. North Carolina should waltz to the Championship . But if our prediction comes to pass, the game will be deemed a "game for the ages" simply due to the novelty of having the two biggest conference rivals in college basketball face each other for the third time this season while playing for the championship.
Of course, our 2012 bracket should come with the following disclaimer: yours truly hasn't had a TV for two years. So like last year's brackets, the Drive and Dish 2012 brackets have been completed despite the fact that Drive and Dish writers' exposure to college basketball in the 2011-2012 season has been limited to internet viewing of select games and to catching a few minutes of games here and there while out and about (come to think of it, maybe that's why we didn't see Connecticut coming last year).
Our 2012 bracket:
Normally, we list several things to watch for below our brackets. But this year, since we haven't seen many games, there really isn't much that we can say with much authority. But we have seen St. Bonaventure play and we think they could surprise people. Of course, they play Florida State in the first round, and the Seminoles have beaten Duke and North Carolina. A few more things:
* Everybody seems to have Kentucky winning it all, but we're skeptical (as we always are of John Calipari's teams). Kentucky has the talent, but do they have the mental toughness and experience that teams with upperclassmen typically have? Toughness and experience are two essential ingredients that National Championship teams must have.
* We picked Virginia Commonwealth to beat Wichita State (primarily because we're so sick of witnessing Illinois fans salivate over VCU coach Shaka Smart that we figure his team will go on a tear that forces us to put up with two weeks more of Illini fans' slobbering), but Wichita State is good enough to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, and maybe beyond.
We've seen Wichita St. a couple times this year and have been pretty impressed. Gregg Marshall is an outstanding coach. He turned tiny Winthrop into a perennial NCAA Tournament participant before bolting for Wichita, and he's got the Shockers' on the national map. Marshall will be pursued by several BCS conference schools that have coaching openings.
* We picked New Mexico State to surprise Indiana. Indiana should win the game, but NMSU is the type of off-the-radar team that can give the big boys all kinds of trouble in the first round Tournament games.
* Nobody has impressed us in 2012 more than Notre Dame. Most of the games we managed to watch online were Fighting Irish games. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the young Irish, but when senior Tim Abromaitis was lost for the season after tearing his ACL, it looked like the season could turn out to be a disaster. But Mike Brey's team knocked off ranked Big East team after ranked Big East team and wound up back in the Big Dance ™.Brey won national coach of the year in 2011. He probably deserves it even more this year.
That said, we have Xavier beating Notre Dame in the first round. We think Xavier's toughness could give the Irish trouble.
* Ohio University is a dark horse team that a lot of people like to make some noise. Head coach John Groce is a rising star in the game. If the Bobcats make a run in the Tournament, he'll have plenty of opportunities to go to bigger name schools (although he probably won't find a nicer campus than the one where he works now -- Ohio University's campus is gorgeous).
We don't think Ohio will beat Michigan though. The Wolverines aren't very big, but they're tough and they can score. We do, however, expect Ohio to give Michigan a run for their lives. But in the end, coach John Beilein's Wolverines should pull it out and advance to play another day.