March Madness--Sunday Thoughts

USA TODAY Sports

Every year the NCAA basketball tournament kicks off and every year people are surprised by the first round results. Let me guess, your bracket is as jacked up as a typical British citizen's grill? Not tough to call that one. The pure concept of single elimination 6/7 layer tournament sets up this craziness. The NBA draft rules further accelerate the madness. This is why pools are dominated by the lady or dork in the office who thinks John Wooden is the crazy announcer who won't fly on an airplane.

I do, however, think that the overly-serious basketball fan (read Vegas-worthy shark) licks his chops at the current setup and dilution of product via the pro game. These guys follow all the games hoping to kill it on opening round games like this. Realize this...Florida Gulf Coast beat Miami early in the year. Everyone criticized Miami for the loss. No one acknowledged the gulf Coast win for the same reason I didn't...it was back in November. Miami may have lost a top seed because of it. Gulf Coast won their way in and proved themselves earlier. Money Line there, I believe, was +800. In their case, you'll argue that they had losses to Lipscomb and Mercer. However, they chose to play Duke, Iowa State, VCU, and St. Johns. The smart handicapper may have this team likely at a +400. Parley that with other "market inefficiencies" and you're in business...or so the plan goes. Make enough of those value bets and, well, you are a professional. I'll be honest, I like everyone thought Gulf Coast had no chance in hell, but when you start putting things in moneyline perspective and take the time to research all the teams (not just get cute and bet your favorite underdog), I can see how folks kill it. I would absolutely love to see how the moneyline payed overall in the first round of the past couple years' tourneys.

Basketball isn't really my thing, so I'll stop while I am ahead...after mentioning the stupid commercials during CBS's coverage. The NCAA is a freaking joke and doesn't fool anyone with its bullshit. Their constant "student first" attitude (as mentioned in those commercials) is nauseating and obviously everyone recognizes it for what it really is...they make a shit ton of money off of amateur athletes in some sports then actually do what they were designed to do in others that don't bring in dump-trucks full of cash. The genie is out of the bottle. This thing needs to be divided into for-profit and non-profit. The issues here are obviously taxes and benefit but the root problem I have is that the NCAA claims to be the athlete's best friend while not giving a shit about the athlete. I'll agree, a scholarship is a LOT of money saved and an opportunity. No argument there. But the way the NCAA makes its rules and then chooses to enforce them is hilarious. You tell me they will fuck with Notre Dame the same way they would fuck with Clemson? Hell no. They are out for one thing and that is to please the networks. Shame on you NCAA...I can't wait for some school to hammer fuck you in court because you treat your favorite sons in a fashion dissimilar to the rest of us...well that and all the other stupidity involved with your methods and decisions. Miami probably has the best chance of taking this out of control group of yahoos to court and winning.

On to ACC expansion. Fuck Syracuse. I was doing my annual recruiting update and realized that I forgot our new friends. In addition to their on-field intimidation, their ability to recruit is poor as well. They provide no overall value to the ACC as a football member. Poor decision by the ACC brass to bring the Orangemen into the conference. I care nothing for a school who plays ball in a dome. I care nothing for a school in New York. The thing is, I don't think I am the only one who thinks this move is pure stupidity either.

I've already been quick to admit my NCAA basketball knowledge is minimal...probably by choice. At 2:30 the clicker went to NBC to watch the Bay Hill Classic and not the roundball. Tiger was very impressive on Saturday. Unlike the late holes on Friday, he was fully in control of his game Saturday and will make the network proud on Sunday. This tournament at Palmer's place is one of my favorites and those guys have done a fantastic job keeping Bay Hill a pristine golf course. Can Rose rebound from a rough back 9 and challenge Woods at a place that has been one of Tiger's favorites? Tiger is hot and Rose showed a lot of cracks in the foundation Saturday. He is starting to look like the class of the field this week, has improved his putting dramatically, and looks to be getting everything in shape for the tournament in Augusta. Today's golf will be fun to watch--either someone challenges Woods or he keeps on draining long putts. You can bet any mistake by anyone not named "Tiger Woods" will get absolutely hammered by one Johnny Miller. It will likely be along the lines of, "I made a similar bunker shot in the greatest round ever played...the fact that he missed it just confirmed what I thought--not worthy of my perfect round...CHOKER!"

The Winston Cup boys are down in Fontana this week. I'll admit, I have never been a big fan of the track. It is a bit unique being a 2-mile circuit with relatively low banking. Jr is just outside of the series lead. We'll see how it works out this weekend. As I have noted (and bitched and complained about), the current series setup makes races before the Chase almost insignificant. I liked the old Cup rules that rewarded consistency, but I guess I am just behind the times. So long as you are in the Top 10 or have won a few races come fall, it makes no difference what you do today. I would really like to revert back to the old scoring system and shorten the season.

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