Calling All Junkies…

It’s that time of the year again.  The BSB Conference Tournament Challenge.  Every year since I can remember, Doogan, J, and I have been picking every conference tournament bracket from the ACC to the Patriot League.  Stri joined us about 6 or 7 years ago.  Stri was shortly followed by Ina.  Alexi joined us two years ago.  And, Waters and Lynch jumped in last year, as we had a record 8 competitors.  No one has ever dropped out of this pre-Madness madness (because it’s awesome), so I’m assuming we’ll have at least 8 again this year.  But, all are welcome.  All it takes is filling out a ton of brackets when you get them in your email and sending them back to me before the games start.  Then, follow along on BSB and see if your pick of Oral Roberts to win the Summit League takes you to eternal bragging rights (or at least for one year).

The results from the night before, the updated Challenge standings, and a “preview” of that day’s action will be posted each day on BSB beginning March 2 (with the Big South, the Horizon League, and the Ohio Valley) and running all the way through Selection Sunday.  All you have to do is email me (or post a comment to this post) and you’ll get the first batch of brackets to fill out.  There is no official entry fee, but feel free to make any side bets you’d like.  It’s a good way to get into the best month of basketball you can possibly dream of.

PS…If you haven’t been following the Sun Belt Conference, then you are missing out.  Before last night’s full slate of 6 crazy games, there were 7 Sun Belt teams within one game of the top spot.  Now, we have 6 more games on Saturday to decide the regular season title and the subsequent seedings heading into the tournament in Hot Springs, AR.  Don’t worry, I couldn’t name one player in the Sun Belt, but I did get way too much excitement when I saw this morning that Western Kentucky prevailed, in OT, at Florida-Atlantic and that North Texas held off LA-Lafayette at home to keep pace with the leaders in the conference.  It just gets me ready for The Challenge.

Charting a Course to March: 7 Games For the Final Stretch

 As of today, the first day of the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament is exactly three weeks away.  That means it’s time for cramming.  Below are listed the seven games over these last few weeks of the regular season that every college hoops fan should try to catch. 

hummel1. February 28th: #14 Michigan State at #3 Purdue

Reasons To Watch:  The loss of Robbie Hummel for the rest of the season with a torn ACL is really sad.  I had become a big believer in Purdue and thought they actually had a shot at winning the national title, but without Hummel, that will be impossible. You have to feel bad for those Purdue fans in Indiana.  I mean, what else do they have going for them?  At least Drew Brees won the Super Bowl.  They do still have guard E’Twaun Moore, who is one of my favorite players in the country.  He’s not the quickest guy or the best shooter, passer, or defender, but he does everything well and he repeatedly makes big shots for the Boilermakers.  JaJuan Johnson is one of the best centers around, and the return of point guard Lewis Jackson from an injury gave them a lift over the past few weeks.  But it all comes back to Hummel, their best all-around player.  They were headed for a #1 seed, and their remaining games will be very important because the selection committee will only have a handful of games to decide how far they drop from the #1 line, and it’s hard to imagine that they won’t drop at least a seed or two. 

Michigan St. came into the season with huge expectations, but also some question marks, and it seems like those questions have not been answered.  They come into this game having lost 4 of their last 6 games.  They don’t have a good road win all year, and they actually only have two wins over tournament locks (Gonzaga and Wisconsin).  They needed Delvon Roe to make a big leap, and it hasn’t happened at all.  Raymar Morgan continues to disappoint.  Kalin Lucas is an elite college guard, and Draymond Green has been one of the most improved big men in the country, but how far can that get them?  If they’re to be taken seriously in the tournament, they need to go to Purdue and beat the Hummel-less Boilermakers in this game.

How far can they go?:  It’s very hard to know what to make of Purdue right now, which is why they’ll be a team worth watching.  Coach Matt Painter will be earning his paycheck, and I think they could still get to the Sweet 16, but any further than that seems doubtful.  Michigan St. is looking like they’d be lucky to make the Sweet 16.

2. March 2nd: Illinois at #9 Ohio State

Reasons to Watch:  A couple of interesting teams here worth gathering some more information about.  Illinois could turnerlock up a tourney berth with a win here, but they probably don’t need it.  They have a load of good wins on their resume, but a couple of bad losses as well.  Point guard Demetri McCamey is one of the lesser-known star players in the country.  He averages 15 points and 7 assists, and racked up 16 assists in a loss to Purdue last week.  But he’s unique because he doesn’t look like your typical assist-machine point guard, with a wide body that allows him to outmuscle a lot of other guards.  The front-court combination of 7-footer Mike Tisdale and super-athletic Mike Davis help to make this team dangerous.

Ohio St. is definitely an interesting team right now.  First off, they have the Player of the Year front-runner in do-everything forward Evan Turner, who is averaging 20 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists.  Secondly, because they lost three games in a 6-game stretch that Turner missed with a back injury, their national stature is probably slightly below what it otherwise could be.  And finally, coach Thad Matta has taken an interesting tactic of shortening his rotation to the point where there IS NO rotation.  Matta has basically just been playing six guys, with Turner and a trio of big, talented guards (David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford) rarely coming off the court.  It seems to be working for them, as they’ve won 9 of 10, with the only loss to Purdue.

How far can they go?:  Illinois will be a prime candidate for a minor first-round upset, and has Sweet 16 potential.  Ohio State has arguably the best player in the country, which means they are capable of beating just about anyone on any given night.  But will they be fatigued from playing so many minutes?  With the injury to Hummel, the Buckeyes might now be the best team in the Big Ten, and don’t rule them out from a trip to the Final Four. 

3. March 3rd: #6 Kansas State at #1 Kansas

Reasons to Watch: I previewed the January 30th game between these teams, which Kansas won in an OT thriller.  That result is one reason to watch this game.  Another is to get a better read on this Kansas St. team.  Right now, they’re looking at a possible #2 seed in the tournament.  They’ve earned that seed, but I’m wondering if, even in a season of parity, there is 2-seed talent on this team.  Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente form an awesome backcourt, but if they’re not making their jump shots, how else does K-State beat you?  Now, they don’t have any bad losses, so it seems like they find a way, but I’ll be watching this game to see how K-State matches up with the #1 team in the country when they don’t have their home crowd behind them.

How far can they go?:  KU is the national title favorite at the moment.  K-State is getting Final Four buzz but I’m not completely buying it.  I see them going down in the Sweet 16, but maybe some favorable matchups could get them to the Elite Eight.  This game will tell us more.

vasquez4. March 3rd: #5 Duke at Maryland

Reasons to Watch:  You wouldn’t guess it if you watched the Duke/Maryland game on February 13th, when Duke demolished the Terrapins, but this game could determine the regular-season ACC champion.  Maryland sits at 10-3 in the conference, a game behind the Dukies.  That alone makes Maryland an interesting team, because when was the last time you saw a team at 10-3 in the ACC, and already at 20 wins on the season, but not ranked in the Top 25?  The bottom line is, they have the resume of a ho-hum solid team.  They’ve been fairly consistent and gotten the job done against the likes of Florida State (twice), Clemson, and Georgia Tech.  They haven’t lost a home game in conference play.  I’ve always been a pretty big fan of versatile senior guard Greivis Vasquez.  His supporting cast features two other solid seniors, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne, and no doubt all three of those guys will be motivated to take down Duke in the final home game of their careers.  Is Maryland a legit 2nd place ACC team that will be heard from next month, or are they an also-ran, unranked non-factor?  This game may be the answer.

How far can they go?:  Duke could end up with a 1-seed, but I’m not a believer.  Their ceiling is probably the Elite Eight.  I’m not completely sure what to make of Maryland yet, but I don’t expect to see them playing in the second week of March Madness. 

5. March 6th: #7 West Virginia at #8 Villanova

Reasons to Watch: You look at the rosters for these two teams and it really makes you wonder why programs like St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Rutgers are not a lot better.  8 of the 10 starters for these teams (including all 5 for West Virginia) hail from the greater New York City area, and that’s not including Nova’s talented reserve guard Dominic Cheek.  Despite all that talent, and the fact that these teams have been in the top 10 almost all season, they also both have some flaws. 

Nova lost back-to-back games for the first time this season last week.  They are really deep, but it seems like maybe that’s become part of the problem.  Defensively, they’re not measuring up to Nova teams of the past few years.  In their loss to Georgetown a couple weeks ago, the Hoyas just had their way with them at the offensive end.  The team has loads of talent, but maybe Jay Wright needs to focus on finding the mix that will get some stops.

West Virginia has three forwards that look like future pros in Da’Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks, and Kevin Jones, but butlerBob Huggins will have to pull off some coaching magic to get a team with guards this mediocre to advance far in the tournament.  Considering it’s been 14 years since a Huggins coached team made it past the Sweet 16, the odds may not be in their favor.  But when Butler is going well he is really special, and he’s the type of player that can put a team on his back and carry them to a win.

How far can they go?:  These two teams are similar in talent-levels, but I like Nova more, especially since they have the experience of a Final Four run last season.  I think they could get that far again, but they probably don’t have a title in them, and I don’t expect them to be playing on that final weekend in Indianapolis.  West Virginia probably doesn’t have the guards to get it done in the tourney, they’ll bow out out in the second or third round.

6. March 6th: #21 Texas at Baylor

Reasons to Watch: This is a matchup between a team that was apparently over-hyped most of the season (Texas) and a team that has probably been under-hyped (Baylor).  The pressure in this game will be on Texas to take some positive momentum into the Big 12 tournament.  All the talk about Texas early in the year was that they had a ridiculous amount of talented depth.  Here we are, on the verge of March, and they have exactly two players that they can count on consistently: F Damion James and G Avery Bradley.  With every other player on the team, either due to injury, foul trouble, or just general inconsistency, they’re left crossing their fingers and hoping for a good performance.

Baylor has one of the top backcourts in the country (talent-wise and name-wise) in PG Tweety Carter and SG LaceDarius Dunn.  At 6-4, and with the ability to score any way he wants, Dunn looks like a future NBA 2-guard.  Also with impressive names and impressive games are forwards Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy, who is one of the better sixth men in the country.

How far can they go?:  Texas just seems to be a mess, so they’re worth watching to see if they get it together in time.  They probably have Final Four talent, but it’s not impossible to see them going down in the first round if they get a bad matchup.  Anyone’s guess right now.  Baylor, on the other hand, looks to be a sleeper pick that could potentially make an Elite Eight run.

w johnson7. March 6th: #4 Syracuse at Louisville

Reasons to Watch: Louisville put themselves on the right side of the bubble with a win at Syracuse a couple weeks ago, and they would definitely nail down a bid with another win in this one.  They’ve had an up and down season, with a home loss to Western Carolina in December, and a blowout loss at St. John’s just before the big ‘Cuse win.  They’re led by three of the key contributors to last year’s team that earned a #1 seed: star big man Samardo Samuels, much-improved Edgar Sosa, and steady 2-guard Jerry Smith.  But despite all the experience and talent, they haven’t been able to put it together.

Syracuse, however, has pretty much had it all put together from Day One this season.  They only have one loss besides the Louisville one, and it would take a couple of stumbles for them to fall off the #1 line come tourney time.  Wesley Johnson is still in the Player of the Year conversation, but his production has dipped a bit in February.  Like Ohio State, ‘Cuse doesn’t go deep (basically a 7-man rotation), so you have to wonder if Johnson is running out of gas, especially considering he sat out last year after transferring.  Besides Johnson, Andy Rautins is one of the best shooters in the country, and two Philly natives who were teammates at St. John Neumann, F Rick Jackson and G Scoop Jardine, have both had breakout seasons. 

How far can they go?:  Syracuse is a national title contender.  Louisville is a tough team to predict, but unless they show something in these last few weeks, they’re probably a team that won’t be able to win more than one game in the tourney.

Not the Best of Days…

In 2015, I will not be celebrating my birthday.  I will never again buy three dozen eggs.  If anyone ever asks me what six-squared is, I will simply say, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

The number 36 has officially been retired from my life.

Yesterday, the Eagles announced that they were parting ways with the best running back I have ever seen don the green and white.  Brian Westbrook (and his #36 jersey) is officially a former Philadelphia Eagle.  And, this one kind of hurts.

It’s not unexpected.  It’s not tragic (even in the overused sports sense of that word).  It even kind of makes sense from a football perspective.  In fact, it’s a move that -gulp- I think I would have made if I were running the team.  But, that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with the fact that I will never again get to see Brian Westbrook play for the Eagles.

The guy did it all, and he did it with quiet confidence and off-the-charts classiness.  Here is a guy who was never once given a real “break” in the game of football–at least compared to his NFL peers.  He didn’t get a D-I scholarship, so he went to Villanova.  He dominated there on the field and in the classroom.  He set all sorts of all-purpose yardage records, but did the NFL coming knocking down his door, like it did with LaDainian Tomlinson, who parlayed a simliar career at a slightly more respected program into a top 5 overall draft choice?  No.  The Eagles picked him in the third round…THE THIRD ROUND.  And, who is to say if anyone would have picked him if he played in a small school in, say, Kansas, where there is no NFL team in the backyard to see him play on a weekly basis? 

So, he shows up to the Birds as a third-down back/punt returner, and he turns into probably the best Eagle during the best decade of the franchise’s existence.

There are plenty of memories of B-West that I will hold with me for as long as I understand the game of football.  But I think the one overarching memory I will have of Westbrook is the feeling of security that he gave me, as a fan, while watching him play for my team.  We all know that I am an admitted McNabb apologist.  I think he gets a bad shake with the Eagle fans and the Philly media.  HOWEVER…there is one thing that I will freely admit–never, in a big game, does McNabb make me feel confident that he will get it done.  He does get it done WAY more than people give him credit for, but even at his best, he does not instill any confidence in us Eagle fans–even me, an ardent McNabb supporter. 

But, Westbrook, on the other hand, was the exact opposite.  No matter what the situation, no matter what the opponent or the circumstances, I always felt that if we had Brian Westbrook on our team, we had a chance.  Be it a screen pass, a grueling third-down conversion, or, when the chips were really down, a punt return.  Hell, this undersized “scat back” even turned himself into, arguably, the best pass-blocking halfback in the NFL.

I know that Westbrook’s days are probably over, so I’m not bitter at the Eagles (a la the Brian Dawkins fiasco), but I am in a bit of mourning for the great career and the great memories created by one of the most intelligent, hardest-working, humble, and GREATEST players that we will ever see.

You left your mark, Mr. Westbrook, you left your mark.

Why The Winter Olympics Are Awesome

I hate cold and I hate the winter.  That partly explains why I don’t ski, snowboard, or ice skate.  If it’s 30 degrees, I’m not exactly looking around for reasons to hang outside for hours at a time.  I like watching snow fall out a window while I’m warm inside (as I’m doing right now), and I can enjoy the occasional snowball fight, but other than that winter does nothing for me.

Accordingly, I don’t particularly enjoy watching skiing, snowboarding, speed skating, or figure skating competitions.  But, speed skatefor two weeks every four years, I LOVE watching these sports.  Those two weeks have come around again and will start on Friday night and I can’t wait for the start of the ski jumping competition that night. 

I know I’m not alone here.  I know a bunch of people that would never consider watching a downhill skiing event who suddenly don’t want to miss the Super G semis when it’s Olympics time.  Why is this?  Do we all just buy into the hype of the Olympics?  Are these legitimately decent spectator sports that we don’t give enough respect to 99% of the time?

Actually, there’s a simple reason that the Winter Olympics are awesome: in so many of the events, absolute disaster can (and often does) happen at any time.  Now, obviously this is true of these sports all the time, but who cares if a random figure skater falls on his face in the Paris Open, or whatever events figure skaters do besides the Olympics.  For most Olympic athletes, the main goal of their entire lives has been to get to this stage.  They’ve spent the last four years pouring everything they had into this sport so they could represent their country at the Olympic Games.  They’ve spent many more years than that learning the craft, and dreaming about this very moment that we’re now watching.  And, in the blink of an eye, it can all go horribly wrong.

lugeI guess that sounds morbid, but it’s not like we’re rooting  for them to fail.  I mean, sometimes we are, but usually not.  It’s just the combination of the fact that disaster could  strike, and that the stakes are so high for the competitors, that these events become riveting.

A downhill skiier could lose his edge and go flying through the air.  A speed skater could slip coming around the last turn and nail the wall.  A ski jumper could do this (0:50 mark).  A figure skater could go for the quadruple lutz, and not make it.  A bobsled team could flip right over.  You never know when the moment could come, so you have to keep watching.  And, not to get sappy now, but when a competitor makes it through and avoids all the pitfalls and gives the performance they always dreamed they would, that can be pretty cool to watch too.

2009 NFL Preview: BSB-Style (Final)

FINAL:  Well, the 2009 NFL season has ended and it was another phenomenal season for the league.  And, the NFL offseason is like no other sport, but before we get into that, we still have the most exciting part of the end of the season–the recap of the BSB Season Preview.  At the midway point in the season, it was pretty up in the air.  We counted 13 solid picks for Bry and 12 solid for Doogan, with 7 very much in play.  But, even though Bry held the slimmest of leads in solid points, Doogan was looking good on 5 of the 7 points in play, so the halfway mark saw Doogan as the favorite to win for the second straight year.  We’ll see how it played out…

(NOTE:  Final points and recaps are below in underline.)

UPDATE:  Well, we are now 10 games into the NFL season, so we are getting a sense of where everyone is.  Honestly, this season has been really lacking in the normal excitement of an NFL season, so far, but this league never lets us down, so I expect the excitement and drama to pick up real quickly.  But, 10 games in is a good time to update the BSB Season Preview Challenge between Doogan and Bry, so we’ll do that.  Look below for the updates to each pick (ALL UPDATES IN ITALICS).  We’ll track the picks we think are solid, those that are shaky, and those that are pretty much lost already.  So, check the picks below for the updates.   

Well, friends, it is almost football season.  Every year, for some reason, I kind of put the NFL aside from like March through July.  I don’t miss it.  I don’t really think about it.  I immerse myself in college basketball and baseball, with the tennis and golf majors in there, as well.  Plus, the weather is beautiful and softball and tennis “playing” seasons are in full swing.  So, then when the NFL season sneaks up in August and we start talking about football, I start to get really, really excited about the season.  And, every year I think to myself, “am I always this excited about the start of the football season.”  This year, I even said it out loud, to my wife last night, to which she said “Yes, yes you are.”  So, I guess it’s time for some serious football talk, starting with the BSB-style preview.  Doogan, who won the whole thing last year, will get the first pick (I took the Patriots and the under on 16 wins last year with the first pick.)  So, without further ado…

DOOGAN 1. Detroit Lions OVER 0 wins:  I’ll make the obvious first pick this year and predict that the lowly Lions will, in fact, win a game this year.  I probably don’t need to make an argument for why, but with Jim Schwartz taking over as head coach, you have to think there will at least be some solid improvement on the defensive side of the ball and the Lions should be able to win a couple games.

Doogan has already clinched his easy #1 pick, as the Lions already have twice as many wins as they needed to get Doogan this point.  A bit off-topic, how crazy was that Lions-Browns game on Sunday?  What a performance by the rookie QB!

An easy win for Doogan here with pick #1, as the Lions finished 2-14–enough to win the OVER. 

POINT:  DOOGAN
Doogan 1 – Bry 0

BRY 2. St. Louis Rams – OVER 2 wins:  I’m not as high on the Rams as a lot of people are, but they have to be at least 3-13, right?  They subtracted Scott Linehan (a bad head coach) and added Steve Spagnuolo (a great defensive coordinator), so they will probably improve at head coach and almost definitely on defense.  I just don’t think they 2-14 bad again.

Amazingly, Bry had 31 teams from which to choose, and it looks like he might lose his #1 pick.  The Rams are currently 1-9, and looking at the remaining schedule (Sea, @Chi, @Ten, Hou, @Ari, SF), it’s pretty hard to find two more wins, even though they’ve been playing better lately.  If I had to make a prediction right now, I would say that they get to two wins, but not to three, which gives Doogan the point.

We haven’t done the research, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone has ever gotten their first pick wrong…until now.  Bry took the Rams with the #2 overall pick and actually got it wrong, so they were WORSE than their 2-14 record in 2008.

POINT:  DOOGAN
Doogan 2 – Bry 0

Continue reading “2009 NFL Preview: BSB-Style (Final)”

Charting A Course to March: Games for Saturday, 2/6

There will be must-see games early next week, but before then, let’s take a look at three more Saturday games worth catching this week. 

reynolds#2 Villanova at #8 Georgetown, 12:00 on ESPN

It was a somewhat odd win for Georgetown over Duke this past Saturday.  Their Big Three of Greg Monroe, Austin Freeman, and Chris Wright came up big, each scoring 20+ points in the 89-77 victory.  But the crazy stat from the game is that the Hoyas shot a ridiculous 72% from the field in the game.  They’ve definitely been an efficient offensive team, and Duke isn’t an amazing defensive team, but you just don’t shoot 72% very often, and when you do, you would actually hope to win by more than 12 points.  Still, it was an impressive win, but they had a letdown on Wednesday night with a loss to South Florida, who is under-rated, but a team G-Town should handle at home if they have Final Four aspirations.  We’ll learn more about them when they welcome Villanova to town.

Nova suddenly finds itself as the 2nd-ranked team in the nation, staring at a possible #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and considering the way #1-ranked teams have been dropping, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see them reach the top pretty soon.  But to do that they’ll have to win two brutal road games in a row, with a trip to Morgantown to play West Virginia following this game.

This Nova team is pretty typical of what we’ve come to expect from them during the Jay Wright era.  At first glance, the frontcourt doesn’t appear to have what it takes to be a national power, but Wright’s system seems to work best when he has a talented, versatile, and deep group of guards, and they certainly have that this year.

Of course, the big name with Nova is Scottie Reynolds, who has taken another big step with his game this year.  Reynolds burst onto the scene in the second-half of his freshman year, putting up a bunch of big scoring games.  At that point, though, he was basically just a gunner.  It was hard to imagine that three years later he’d be shooting just under 50% from the field, and still averaging 18.5 points/game.

Since steady senior swingman Reggie Redding made his season debut (following an injury), Nova is 11-0.  He’s a strong glue-guy and team leader that brings a lot to the defensive end.  Their gang of guards also includes returnees Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, as well as standout freshman Maalik Wayns.  Finally, there’s a lot of pressure on forward Antonio Pena to hold his own down low and give them some inside scoring.  He’s responded with a big season thus far.

#17 Temple at Richmond, 2:00 on ESPNU

Temple, the only team to beat Nova so far, followed their first loss in conference play last week with two straight easy wins and are hopefully fernandezprepared for two tough ones against Richmond and Rhode Island.  Juan Fernandez has mysteriously disappeared from the offense over the last few games, and they’ll need him to get it going again if they want to win these next two.  Are the Owls a team that can make some noise in March?  It’s road games like this that hold the answer.

As for Richmond, I haven’t seen them play.  I do know that they have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004, thanks to quality wins over Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State, and Old Dominion.  They feature a veteran starting line-up, with five upperclassmen, all of whom have played significant minutes throughout their careers.  One of those starters is Delaware County native (and Springfield High graduate) Dan Geriot.  Their leading scorer is guard Kevin Anderson, at 17 a game.  One last fun fact about Richmond: they are the only team in college hoops history to win NCAA tournament games as a 12, 13, 14, and 15 seed.  If they can win this game, they’ll be well on their way to a return to the Dance, and they could very well have a better seed than any of those listed above.

#13 Gonzaga at Memphis, 4:00 on ESPN2

This is gut-check time for Gonzaga, as their seeding in the Dance could very well be decided by how they play in the next week.  They’re coming off a rare conference loss (their second in the last three seasons) to San Francisco, and they’ll get a harrissolid Portland team on Thursday night, followed by Memphis on Saturday and the always-tough Saint Mary’s next Thursday.  The Zags have a bunch of nice wins on their resume (Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Illinois, Oklahoma, as well as Portland and Saint Mary’s in their previous meetings), but playing in a small conference, they never have much room for error.

Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray form one of the better guard tandems in the country.  And it looks like Coach Mark Few and company have found the next great Gonzaga player, as freshman forward Elias Harris has kind of come out of nowhere (actually Germany) and has been amazing.  Over their last 10 games, Harris is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.  He’s a springy 6-7, and he’s also hit 13 of his 28 3-point attempts on the year.  But, all in all, this team is not nearly as deep as last year’s team, which couldn’t get past the Sweet 16, though they did run into that juggernaut North Carolina team.

As for Memphis, they could really use a win here to bolster their chances of making the Field of 64, but they are solid and the Pyramid is a tough place to play.  They are led by Duke transfer Eliot Williams and his 20 points/game.

Jack-O vs. THE DIX: The Preview

I don’t really like fantasy football.  I have only played it once since college, and I don’t really enjoy it that much.  But, there is one part of fantasy football that has kept me entertained for about a decade now.  One of BSB’s most loyal participants, Waters, has, for about 10 years now, formed a fantasy football team in a public league called “THE DIX,” and they are completely constituted of players named Johnson.  And, surprisingly, they have actually won a fair number of games, even making a serious playoff push one year, when Brad was still in the league, and Larry, Rudi, and the former team member, Chad, were in their primes.  THE DIX continue to be successful, as they have replaced the traitor, Chad, and the retiree Rudi with stars, such as Andre, Calvin, and Chris.  In fact, the team has now become so stacked that it doesn’t look like Waters will even be able to field the team because there is no way that he will be able to get them all in a fair draft.  But, have no fear, THE DIX will continue on because they now have a Washington Generals to face their Harlem Globetrotter dominance–Jack-O.

This year, I have laid down the challenge to THE DIX with Jack-O, a team formed of all Jacksons.  In fact, it looks like there are going to be several challengers, as Doogan has decided to throw Jonesin’ into the mix, and J is going to enter his team, The Smiths.  The specifics of the league have not been ironed out, and we are eons away from fantasy football season, but this post is going to be a quick preview of the exciting inaugural 2010 season of Jack-O vs. THE DIX.

THE DIX

  • QB = Ever since Brad and Rob retired, quarterback has been an Achilles’ Heel for THE DIX, and the 2010 season probably won’t be much different.  As of now, THE DIX only have one quarterback, Josh, but he’s not a terrible guy to have because there is a chance that he gets some playing time.
  • RB = 2009 was a HUGE year for THE DIX, as they picked up a superstar at RB, to replace the aging Larry and the retired Rudi.  Chris may have become the best player in fantasy football, and he is a tried-and-true member of THE DIX.  Other than Chris, there is still Larry, who will probably go down into THE DIX Hall of Fame, but his days of dominance are probably behind him.  Still, he’s not a terrible #2.  They also Cincinnati fullback, Jeremi, who doesn’t really get any carries, but at least he plays.
  • WR = This is where THE DIX have always shined, starting with their founding member, Keyshawn, then into the years of Chad (before his traitorous name-change), and now into the hay-days of Andre and Calvin.  After the big two, there isn’t much there, but those two are pretty fantastic.
  • TE = If Kevin Boss ever goes down with an injury for the Giants, their backup tight end goes by the name of David Johnson.

Jack-O

  • QB = Everyone is talking about the implications to the Vikings and the league, as a whole, with the Brett Favre decision to play or not to play.  But, really, the biggest implications (and the impetus for this way-too-early preview) fall upon Jack-O.  If Favre does decide to hang them up, and the Vikings are unable to get another veteran QB, they are highly likely to turn over the reins to Tavaris Jackson, which would give Jack-O a bonafied quarterback in a league that will be as quarterback-deprived in 2010 as the NFC West will be.
  • RB = Jack-O is short on quantity at every position, but they have a lot of quality.  Running back is no exception.  Steven is one of the keys to the season, as he is a superstar, but they also have up-and-coming Fred in Buffalo, and talented Brandon in Green Bay.
  • WR = Again, quantity is the issue, as Jack-O currently has only two WRs on its roster, but those two have as much quality as any you will find anywhere–Vincent in San Diego and DeSean in Philly.
  • TE = Jack-O is furiously scouting the draft board for a possible tight end because right now, they have none.

The Smiths

  • QB = The Smiths will probably enter 2010 in the best position, quarterback-wise, as Alex seems to have emerged as the starter in San Fran.  And, there is also a fallback plan for The Smiths at QB because if Joe Flacco ever goes down in Baltimore, Troy Smith will become the Ravens starting QB.
  • RB = Running back is the biggest question mark for the 2010 Smiths.  Detroit’s Kevin is easily their most accomplished.  The only other contributor might possibly be Kolby (KC), but he may be on the practice squad again.  There is no truth to the rumor that they have contacted Emmett, Antwawn, or Robert in attempts to woo them out of retirement.
  • WR = With Steve on one side and Steve on the other, The Smiths should have a decent receiving corps.  It is nowhere near as talented as THE DIX or Jack-O, but the two Steves should be very productive.
  • TE = The Smiths at tight ends feature a current underachieving Eagles tight end and a former underachieving Eagles tight end, with Alex and L.J., respectively.

Jonesin’

  • QB = Jonesin’ is currently without a quarterback, so they are hoping one materializes in April’s draft.
  • RB = But, what they are lacking at QB, they might just make up for in the running back department.  Easily, the best RB corps in the league, Jonesin’ features Maurice (it is undecided whether he will be awarded full points to Jonesin’ or half of his points going to Team Drew), Thomas, Julius, and Felix.  They also have Kevin in Chicago and Greg in Jacksonville, who are not completely worthless.
  • WR = A receiving corps that is probably overlooked, but still somewhat solid, features Green Bay’s James, Houston’s Jacoby, and San Fran’s Brandon.  And, who knows, maybe Matt will get clean one day and come back to the NFL. 
  • TE = The only current tight end on the roster is a Baltimore Raven that I don’t think John Harbaugh has even heard of–Edgar Jones.