Enlightened Conflict

the enlightened low down on march madness

March 19th, 2014

make believe to sign



The heck with who will win the NCAA basketball tournament … lets go with the guys low on the totem pole.


The ones who slipped in by the hairs on their chinny chin chin.


The ones most likely to get the living shit kicked out of them.


Sorry about that folks … while we all wait breathlessly for “the” historic upset … I will showcase the biggest beat downs.




Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, seven No. 15 seeds have beaten No. 2 seeds and it’s even happened three times in the past two years.



A number 1 has never been beaten by a 16.




I have spent hours of research & analysis with regard to upsets and team make ups and history … gnawed my fingernails down to the quick worrying over the tape of each game I reviewed …. only to find that all the video and statistics aside … you can make your best predictions based on mascots.




No shit.


Mascots <although this high level analysis tends to only work in earlier rounds when discussing low seeds.



And it helps if you notice three sparrows sitting on a telephone wire <all facing toward the south> and you hear a dog bark 2 times quickly as you make your pick.


That said.

Let’s give the 15th and 16th seeds their day in the spotlight.



Before I do.

The biggest beat downs in first round will occur at the 4 versus 13 slot.



Because 2 teams got a 4 seed that may be the best college bball teams in the nation … with 2 of the best coaches <with HUGE chips on their shoulders> and they are gonna be pissed.

These games are gonna be a slaughter.

march madness mascot


(13) Manhattan Jaspers vs. (4) Louisville Cardinals


Speaking of mascots ..  the Jaspers comes from one of the College’s most memorable figures, Brother Jasper of Mar, who served at Manhattan College in the late 19th century.

He founded the school’s first band, orchestra, glee club, various literary clubs, and became the school’s first athletic director.

But. Here is what makes him famous … he actually created the 7th inning stretch baseball game tradition. I mention that because maybe if Manhattan can convince Louisville to take several breaks throughout the game they may have a chance.


Even then they won’t.

It’s not only possible the Cardinals are the best team in the region too but with one of the best all-around teams in the country they may be the best team in the tournament at the end.



Delaware vs. (4) Michigan State


Given coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans’ finally healthy team and the fact they won the Big Ten … well … okay … enough of the smart talk … Delaware are the Mud Hens … Michigan State are the Spartans <anyone see 300 ?????>.  isn’t that really all you need to know?


My quick note on these 2 teams in tournament is that one of them will end up in final 4 … not both. But if either gets there they will win it.



Moving on.

The other scrimmages …


 (15) Eastern Kentucky vs. (2) Kansas


Colonels versus Jayhawks.


But think Colonel Sanders <Kentucky fried chicken>. So it is really Fried Chicken versus a nasty looking bluebird of unhappiness … a JayHawk.


The only chance Eastern Kentucky has?

Well. This is Kansas we are talking about. There may not be a team with a longer history of forgetting to show up when the buzzer goes off than Kansas.

If Kansas shows up this game is over … well … before you can finish a big bucket of Colonel’s best fried chicken.



 (15) American vs. (2) Wisconsinloser tshirt


Eagles versus Badgers.


If this were a daredevil aerial competition you would have to go with eagles.

Unfortunately for the Eagles this particular tournament is played on terra firma.

Which will make for a firmly terrible experience for the American Eagles.

The badgers are a relentlessly <see: boring> methodical efficient team which will either grind out a win or put the other team to sleep with boredom.  This may not be a blowout solely because Wisconsin doesn’t do blowouts. They just win.



 (15) Milwaukee vs. (2) Villanova


Panthers versus Wildcats.


A catfight.

Men are lining up for tickets now.

Villanova may not be a spectacular team … but Milwaukee is spectacularly unspectacular.



 (15) Wofford vs. (2) Michigan


Terriers versus Wolverines.



I think Paris Hilton has a terrier. They are little noisy persistent dogs.

Wolverines? Think X-Men. Think Hugh Jackman. Think bad ass.


This match up won’t even be close.



 (16) Weber State vs. (1) Arizona


serious nonsense cheshire catBy the way. Weber State University is in Ogden, Utah. And they are Wildcats.

By the way. University of Arizona is in Tucson, Arizona. And they are Wildcats.

By the way. In my analysis this suggests a possibility of the 1st 16th seed beating a 1 seed.

And you know what? This is Arizona.

Masters of the first game flop.

Now. It ain’t gonna happen but … hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … wildcat versus wildcat. Could this be the year?




 (16) Texas Southern/Cal Poly vs. (1) Wichita State


Texas Southern is the worst team in the tournament at No. 237. Texas Southern is so bad defensively that it gave up 96 points to the NAIA’s Wiley College. They are the Tigers.


Cal Poly is a somewhat more respectable 173 ranked team in nation. Cal Poly went 6-10 in the Big West regular season. Their mascot is “Musty the Mustang.”


Wichita State is named after corn … oops … wheat. Darn. I get all my grains mixed up.


Grains can be scary. Have you ever eaten too much and … well … how about when one gets stuck between your teeth? Aggravating.


Wichita State Wheat is just wrong.

Wichita State Shockers? That is kick ass.


Either way, I would be shocked if the Shockers lost this game.




(16) Coastal Carolina vs. (1) Virginia


Coastal Carolina is the second-worst team in the tournament at No. 232. They can’t shoot threes, turns the ball over like they are giving out free samples outside a new restaurant and they are The Chanticleers  … a rooster.


Virginia is the Cavaliers. Think swashbuckling cavalrymen with noble honor and sharp swords.


I am not sure Virginia is truly a No. 1 seed, but that doesn’t mean a Cavalier stands any chance of losing to a Rooster.



 (16) Albany vs. (1) Florida


Albany is a Great Dane.

Florida is a Gator.



Albany didn’t play one ranked team this season. I am sure that has prepared them very well for Florida.


This may be the beat down of all beat downs.


lost brain


That’s it.

And I believe I have unequivocally shown that Mascot predicting is a masterful way to assess NCAA March Madness matchups.


You would have to be … well … mad … to not fill out your bracket using this philosophy.


By the way.

If you are interested in the top ten worst mascots in college sports … here you go: http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-bad-college-mascots.php

march mudness

March 27th, 2012

“A deer can run and jump too, but I wouldn’t put him on a basketball court.” – Charles Barkley

“I was 10-2 yesterday… 10-3 I think.”- Charles Barkley

“There were 16 games yesterday.” – Ernie Johnson


March madness. Let me begin with what I believe is the highlight of this year’s NCAA tournament so far <which is part of the issue I guess>.

I know I am probably in a minority but adding Charles Barkley to the madness was brilliant.

He doesn’t follow college basketball but he knows basketball.

And he knows the every man’s perspective on college basketball.

He doesn’t go into stats and some meaningless analytical drivel … he just … well … talks. And among the really smart insightful stuff he says incredibly wacky fun stuff.

They aren’t paying him enough.


Beyond that. Something seems to be missing this year. And that is my theme as I outline how I am doing versus my enlightened predictions a couple weeks ago.

First. Let me begin by saying I am consistent.

If I were to take the last 10 years of brackets I have filled out I would say I would have won every year … if you only judged me on one half of the bracket. I cannot figure out why but almost every year I go gangbusters on one half (this year picking Kansas and Ohio state) and the other half my mother could have chosen better than I.

So. The good news (glass is half full good news)?

I didn’t have Kentucky or Louisville but had Kansas and Ohio state.

My bracket busters were certainly bracketbusters (UConn and Duke losing early).

And if you had taken my advice on picking against the “states” you would have been fine in the end. Oh. Damn. Ohio State. But.  Ohio could have <should have> won their game.


Whats missing in this year’s Madness that kind of make it more like mudness.

Missing ones.

I predicted no number one seeds in the final four. I got awful close (only one 1 in). and you would imagine that not having your number one seeds making the final four would create some buzz & excitement. Well.  Nope. Maybe a 1, 2 2’s and a 4 seed is too expected … I don’t know …but even one 1 doesn’t really make it exciting beyond the 4 schools in it.

Hugh's Missing the Point

Missing twos.

This is kind of crazy when you think about it but I am not sure I have seen more missed layups at this level in my entire life. I am not going to suggest Baylor would have beaten Kentucky but there was a stretch where they could have put the squeeze on Kentucky and they missed like three layups in a row. Syracuse missed a bunch. Kansas could have put Carolina away early if they had made some of theirs. Ohio. Someone burn that game tape. No one on that team should watch the tape of the game they lost … make half of the missed layups they had and it wouldn’t have gone to overtime.

I don’t have any reason for this. No. I don’t think it’s because of the advent of the 3 point shot.

But it’s got to be something. Even high school kids make their layups.

Missing threes.

Maybe this is a corollary to the layups but the live & die by the three’s mentality has gotten a little crazy. Because I have a tip to every coach out there (just in case all the best of the best read my blog) … you cannot ride three’s all the way to the title.  There will be a game <or two> where they just won’t fall.  And then you gotta do something else. And even in a game when they do fall (see Wisconsin against Syracuse) you gotta do something else.

Look.  I get that a 3 gets you back in the game really really fast … but if you want to list the top 3 momentum killers I have to imagine a missed three, when you have a break away and no one is under the basket, is gonna be close to numero uno.

Note. The only exception is Jimmer Fredette & BYU.


Note followup. They lost also.

Missing four.

Michigan State, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina … all teams were missing a key player in the tournament.  I am not sure I can remember a March madness when several of the best teams were missing a key player from what actually got them there into the madness.

I am not sure anything would have been different in the end (because they all lost games that the other team did what they needed to do to win) but it does make you think ‘what if.’

Missing Charles

I am gonna miss Charles with college sports.

Everyone is so serious and then … well … there is Charles.

Right after a commercial to drive people to the new show Hardcore Pawn ?

“I know what I’m gonna watch tonight!  Oh, sorry, wrong spelling… I saw four letters and got excited!” – Charles Barkley


Missing heroes … or … “the making of March Mudness”.

No Cinderella team (and, no, Rick Pitino will never qualify as a Cinderella). Only one overtime game <in ENTIRE tournament>. No heroes (like a Jimmer Fredette or a Kemba Walker last year). No one player one game heroics. No last second shots. No feel good story. No madness (except that one Friday).

And maybe it is because of all the other sports stuff … bountygate, tebow to NYC, or Tiger finaly winning and march madness is taking an unexpected backseat. Regardless. Its Mudness this year (unless you are a KY, OSU, Louisville or KU fan).

The Missing Final Pick.

Louisville figures out some way to beat Kentucky.

Ohio State beats Kansas.

And while I wouldn’t mind Louisville winning it all I just cannot see them doing it.

(note: these picks also semi-salvage my brackets)

Another Madness almost done.


And I hope you did better in your pool then I did.

enlightened march madness

March 13th, 2012

College basketball march madness is maybe the best sports event in america … probably because it is not just one big game … it is three weeks of constant gnashing of teeth and discussion and good basketball games and, well, madness.

The sports gurus go nuts this time of the year breaking down every possible aspect <and even aspects the normal mind wouldn’t consider> of the teams in march madness.

But.  I would remind everyone it is called madness for a reason.

Sports gurus have won championships, most likely played the game at some respectable level, get paid to analyze and talk about it nonstop, maybe even have coached a game or two and most definitely even watch the games … but …  predicting the future?

Gee. I don’t think even they can do that (hence the inevitable … “on any given day any team can beat another” caveat).


I will enlighten everyone on this years madness (just doing my part to help out).

Oh. Here are my credentials. I scored over 30 points in one game <an intramural game>. I threw a no look pass once that broke the nose of someone standing on the grass off the court. I have been dunked on <by a 5’ 10” kid named Hightower of all names>. My undergraduate school is on basketball probation until Mars is colonized. My graduate school team has more PhD candidates than wins this year.

Read on at your own peril.

So. My way to predict the March Madness. Study all the teams ad nausea. Drink until I am nauseous. Spend hours watching ESPN consulting with all the experts on RPIs (although I thought for years that was Rensalear Polytechnic Institute and we were talking about their ice hockey team), chart who is hot at the end of the year and who was crumbling like a bluff in California during an earthquake … and then look for the Cinderella slipper (which sounds kinda creepy).

Then. After spending hours going over data and filling out multiple sheets …  well … I throw those away.  It’s a crap shoot.  Ask someone who has never watched college basketball and have them pick by school colors or mascots (which mascot could beat up the other one is always an awesome criteria) and you are more likely to pick a definite winner <please don’t sue me if you use this method>.

Anyway. Speaking of mascots.

Mascot newcomers test:

Let’s begin by …

–          welcoming in the South Dakota State jackrabbits (are there Jillrabbits too?), little do you know but this is really the North Dakota Fighting Sioux but the NCAA has banned them until they change their Indian-diminishing ‘fighting Sioux’ name so they are playing as south Dakotans (will anyone be able to tell the difference?)

The others of note …

–          Norfolk State Spartans (I am unclear between the association between Norfolk & Spartans but lets go for it)

–          Belmont Bruins (I would like to remind everyone <maybe you lost that particular National Geographic> that a bruin is a bear … a Eurasian Brown Bear as a matter of fact)

–          Lamar Cardinals (I just added them because I had no clue they were the cardinals)

–          Vermont Catamounts (boy … we got screwed by UVM getting in … if they hadn’t we could have had Great Danes <Albany> or SeaWolves <not to be confused with SeaHorses> or Terriers or Retrievers … now that, my friends, is a conference of mascots)

–          UNC Asheville Bulldogs (not to be confused with their conference mate the Runnin’ Bulldogs of Gardner Webb … hey … does this mean Asheville doesn’t run and … well … geez … my head hurts … ok, and maybe next year the Blue Hose <stop laughing> of Presbyterian gets in)

–          Long Island Blackbirds (in honor of the Hunger Games version of March Madness I believe they should wear their MockingJay jerseys)

–          Lehigh Mountain Hawks (not to be confused by the Valley Hawks or Rolling Hill Hawks or … well … whatever)

Bracketbuster (1): P(d)uke

Duke has an equal chance of being a final four team as they do getting knocked out in the first round. I cannot think of another team in this year’s tournament who could go from out house to big house (or vice versa) quicker. Your entire bracket could be bear or bust based on this choice.

Me? Pick ‘em to lose early this year.

Bracketbuster (2): Connecticut

Which UConn team will show up this week (and next)? Aw. Who cares. All they need to do is show up for the Kentucky game then it is clear sailing.

Here is what I do know … here is the 3/13 early morning Iditarod update – Ramey Smyth surges and now third into White Mountain    We are now in early AM reporting,  after noting that Aliy Zirkle is now in at 1:25 AM.   Her lead dogs Pocito and Dingle, impressively alert and crowd favorites, followed Aliy’s every move …

I think the lead Huskies, Pocito & Dingle, will be done with Iditarod and well rested and show up on Calhoun’s bench in time.

So. Me? Pick the Huskies to go deep this year. Calhoun is packin’ it up soon and his kids will know that so may actually pay attention for an entire game (plus Dingle will probably drool on the floor during the Kentucky game and someone will slip at a key moment).

Number ones go down

Watch me go down in flames so fast even Harry Potter’s phoenix couldn’t rise back up … but this is my crazy pick.

No number ones in the final 4.

Seems like a no brainer when you see my reasons why.

1. The Mayan Calendar.

2. Ohio State, Missouri and Kansas are all 2’s (hence I put them as number 2) and the final is on April 2nd.

3. Ponce De Leon founded Florida on April 2nd in 1513. (huh? … sorry … that is my enlightened factoid of the post)

4. The 1’s lose because:

– Kentucky … hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … despite being the most talented team … yes, I do believe a zone based more mature team can beat them, no, I don’t think this young a team will be able to weather a “one time crunch game” which inevitably March Madness comes down to and, yes, I think Calipari is a crappy big game coach.

– UNC loses because I think Kansas is a better team.

– Michigan State loses because I am not even sure they get to Missouri but if they do they will run the Spartans up & down the court so much even the 300 couldn’t keep up.

– Syracuse is Syracuse. (note: I wrote this before I knew Melo was ineligible)

5. Obi Wan Kenobi (alec Guinness) was born on April 2nd and I feel the force within me telling me it is so.

The choice between State or no State

I will state for the record right here and now when in doubt avoid the States.

Ok. What do I mean?

This year we have New Mexico & State. North Carolina & State. Michigan & State. Colorado & State. Florida & State. South Dakota State (I am just pleased to find out they are still a state).  Virginia & State (Norfolk State … ok … that one throws me).

Hey. As I type this I have now figured out why we don’t let Canada in the NCAA. They have provinces (this is a freebie idea for Canada: create Newfoundland State University and University of Newfoundland <my luck … there probably is> and I bet you can get into the NCAA).

Sorry. I digress.

Frankly I cannot usually tell you the difference between state and non state schools. In my pea like brain I figure if you have to put State in the actual name of your school to tell people it actually resides in a state, let alone that state, you must have lower IQs (c’mon … I just shouldn’t have to tell people it’s a state).


Take the non states. Seems smarter.

Sense of irony (or sense of humor)

Every year the NCAA does something that makes me think there is a lot of alcohol involved when designing the brackets and a couple of “wait ‘til everybody gets a load of this” type guffaws.

Vanderbilt – Harvard. Brilliant (pun intended). Already being called the SAT bowl.

Possibility of Huggins versus ex-Huggins (West Virginia/Cincinnati). Drinks will be free that game.

Possibility of a Kentucky-UConn/Indiana/Duke matchup … all in one bracket. Maybe Barbra Streisand will be invited to sing Memories before each game. oh. Is she still alive?

The women of march madness:

Let us not forget that this is college. And young women go to all these colleges. And there is a lot of drinking done on college campuses (except at BYU of course) so while there will be a bunch of screaming & yelling & cheering there will also be a bunch of guys oogling the women of schools we don’t typically have the honor of oogling.

With that here is the Yardbarker coed review (or babes of the bottom bracket as they call it).

This is my gratuitous creepy guy inappropriate male Neanderthal section.



talk to the hand if you don't like it

All that said. Here are my enlightened final four picks with a twist. I have who I think will win it and then I also list the team who I want to put in there but just don’t have the kahones to do it.

South: No. 9 Connecticut (sleeper: hmmmmmmmmmm … that is a sleeper)

West: No. 2 Missouri (sleeper: New Mexico … although I was tempted by Marquette)

East: No. 2 Ohio State (sleeper: West Virginia. Huggins may be an asshole but he is an asshole who knows how to coach … and they get a good start in Pittsburgh <which is west West Virginia)

Midwest: No. 2 Kansas (sleeper: none … this bracket looks horrible outside of Kansas and UNC)

And after going that far I just cannot pick a winner.


At least right now. Maybe I will after I get to see some games and see how badly I am doing.


I am sure all the incredible insight and factoids have enlightened you, but in the end it still comes down to the voices in your head (just the ones talking about basketball this time … ignore the others).

Think about this.

Taking four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four is the prudent and responsible thing to do … and it probably won’t have you win the pool.

And it isn’t fun. And, seriously, who really wants to be prudent and responsible? (freudian slip on my part)

I can almost guarantee you <history is actually on my side on this one> that not all 4 number ones will get there … albeit history is certainly not on the side of my enlightened picks.

Aw. WTF. Pick what you want.

Enlightened Conflict