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(Did you click it? Because the whole point of this post is so we can all have fun and make college basketball picks. Together. Us.)
Jesus, it’s already March?
WAIT….it’s March 19th!?!? I haven’t even stopped dating important shit “2012” yet.
Truth be told, March is my absolute favorite month of the year because of the two greatest American holidays known to man.
1. Tax Returns : They may not necessarily fall within this month for you, but I have this guy doing my taxes, and the process always seems to happen at breakneck speeds.
2. March Madness : You needn’t be a sports fanatic to love bracketology. Through my experiences, this particular event seems to represent of the antithesis of logic. I heart college basketball in a big way, but that hasn’t ever translated to an even remotely accurate bracket.
However, should you feel compelled to seek some advice in terms of what you may have missed over the course of the season, I’ll go ahead and throw out some opinions for you to take into consideration. And while I won’t necessarily be wrong on any of these observations, you may just want to disregard them completely. Seriously, pick winners based on mascots, logos, colors etc. I implore you — use any method outside of reason, and you won’t be sorry.
Facts to Bank on in the 2013 Tournament
1. Don’t Forget Who’s on the Sidelines
Sometimes this slips my mind too, like when I put Frank Haith and Missouri in the final game last year. To land and maintain a Division 1 head coaching job, you need to be a combination of things. There’s the ones who can recruit, but can’t gameplan (Rick Barnes, Scott Drew, Steve Lavin). There’s the ones that can coach, but can’t recruit (Bruce Weber, Matt Painter). And there’s the extremely elite group that have managed to do both. The unofficial list is as follows:
Rick Pitino – Louisville
Bill Self – Kansas
Thad Matta – Ohio State (Earned it. Recruits and hangs banners)
Tom Izzo – Michigan State
Ben Howland – UCLA (Nearly lost his job, but still brings recruits + Final Fours)
Roy Williams – North Carolina (Questionable to some, but the man has a title)
John Calipari – Kentucky (Not in 2013 Tournament)
Billy Donovan – Florida
Mike Krzyzewski – Duke
Jim Calhoun – Connecticut (Retired as of 2012, but totally necessary for the point I’m about to make)
The above list has led over 60% of final four teams since 1999, with every single name making multiple appearances.
There’s a few other names to bet the bank on as well. Brad Stevens (Butler), who’s shown to be a coaching genius with Final Four pedigree. Jim Larranaga (Miami), who took mid-major George Mason nearly all the way in 2006. Even the aforementioned Bruce Weber (Kansas State) took Bill Self’s recruits to the championship game in 2005. This year, he inherited Frank Martin’s experienced roster, and history has been known to repeat itself.
2. Bet on Those Horrible Adidas Uniforms
The internet pretty much imploded when these uniforms were announced, and there’s not a whole lot left to say.
Except maybe one thing.
These uniforms actually MAKE you a better basketball player. Don’t agree? Probably don’t believe in math either, do you homie?
Let’s recap what’s happened since the squads rocking the new uniforms began the Zubaz renaissance.
Louisville bulldozed through the toughest conference tournament in college basketball, in style.
Notre Dame knocked off #12 Marquette. They eventually lost to Louisville later in the tournament, but everybody wins when BOTH teams are wearing these things.
UCLA wins a tough match-up against Arizona State, and then decides to shelve the uni’s until further notice. And where did it get them? Oh just an early exit in the Pac12 tourney and a broken foot for Jordan Adams. Don’t fight it, Bruins.
Kansas wears them one time against Texas Tech, and wins 91-63. They appear to have not worn them since. Whatever, Kansas, you weren’t getting past the Sweet 16 anyway.
Because Baylor and Cincinnati are paying their debts to the basketball gods for having Scott Drew as a coach and not graduating any players during the Huggins era, respectively, no amount of fashion expertise can help them in the short term.
Faith in Freshman
Since we live in a ridiculous period where professional athletes are being forced to sit in Anthropology 101 before they’re allowed to begin their life’s work, we’re treated to watching NBA talent in the NCAA tournament. You should further take advantage of their misfortune by riding their talents to bracket bliss (See: Anthony Davis, 2012). Here are this years best bets as freshman representatives in the Final Four.
1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
An incredible hybrid of a point gaurd, with IQ, vision and handles. What separates him from the rest is his strength and leadership– traits well beyond his years. I’ve seen him compared to everybody from Deron Williams to James Harden, and might be OK St’s best option at middle linebacker. I can’t find a single weakness in his game. Many have his team out as the inevitable 12-5 upset, while I have them out in the following round at the hands of Saint Louis. It wouldn’t surprise me if they met Louisville for the rights to the region. Smart v Siva. Please basketball gods, let this happen.
2. Ben McLemore, Kansas
The 1A to Smart’s 1, and most NBA mock drafts them flip flopped. When hyper-athleticism meets intangibles, you get Russell Westbrook, Ray Allen, or Monte Ellis. He’s in no way a PG, but has the explosiveness to get to the rim quickly — especially in the open floor. Freshman seldomly shine for Bill Self, and he’s had some talented ones — but none as talented as McLemore. Now just imagine if they make the correct uniform choice…
3. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
One Word. Scary. 6’7” 240, and looks bigger, honestly. He’s as wide as a Cadillac and dunks like he’s trying to pull the gutters off your house. So what? Stick your toughest guy on him match him with brute strength, most tourney teams have that guy waiting on the bench somewhere. Except Bennett has a jumper….(shit). And he can pass…(Shiiitt)…..and he runs like a deer….(What the fuck, are you serious?)
4. Gary Harris, Michigan State
Poor Purdue. They missed on Harris’s teammate Branden Dawson two years prior. They lose out on the star progeny of possibly the best player to ever wear black and gold (Glenn Robinson). Then they can’t lure a kid who’s MOM has her jersey hanging in the rafters. General rule in recruiting — if the Mom is on your side, it’s all downhill from there. So it must be especially painful to watch Harris slice through opposing defenses like a hot knife, displaying an offensive arsenal that rivals any swingman in the country. His size and motor aren’t game changers, but I’m excited about his potential when unfamiliar opponents want to shut down Keith Appling. It’s one of the reasons I have Sparty in the final four.
5. Mike LaTulip, Illinois
The pride of Arlington Heights, Illinois. The high school star chose to stay home and fill arenas in Champaign as opposed to a one and done scholarship at a blue-blood or immediately playing professionally overseas, and the Illini have reaped the benefits. The sharpshooter has changed the culture at Assembly Hall, burning through nets and leading a comeback tour that saw Illinois rise from Big Ten doormat at 2-7, to 7 seed in the NCAA’s. While Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson collect the honors, LaTulip delivers devastatingly firm post-game handshakes and spine tingling stares that have without question influenced the officials in Big 10 play, all while essentially destroying opposing coaches defensive game plans with corner range of ~35 feet (dependent on which side the bench is on).