There is something about the picture above that I find very funny. Maybe it is the sight of an overweight Kevin Love and a hairy, goofy looking Kyle Singler together in one picture….or maybe it is because Singler looks like he is attempting to fight Love by using his buck teeth as a sword….or maybe its because Kevin Love looks like a young DX member. But whatever the reason, it is a great picture and a perfect lead in to the West Preview. The West is by far the weakest bracket, so a breakdown of the 8 games and 16 teams in it figured to be the perfect assignment for me. Here goes:
UCLA vs Mississippi Valley State:
The Bruins are my pick to win the whole shebang this year as they have a team coming off back-to-back Final Fours and added a Freshman in Kevin Love whose uncle was in the Beach Boys. Connection to musical acts is a crucial component of success on the big time college basketball stage. Shan Foster was helped by the fact that his uncle is Radney Foster, Richard Hendrix loved his great-uncle Jimi and Washington State’s Derrick Low has had a lot of inspiration from his cousin “Skee”. As for Mississippi Valley State, they are only known for Jerry Rice and really have no reason to still exist except for their connection Jerry Rice. If they continue making the tournament however, they should simply change the name of the school to Jerry Rice Valley State, just to make the media’s job easier.
BYU vs Texas A&M
I hate watching BYU play basketball for a number of reasons, mostly however because the announcers all refer to their players as “gritty.” When faced with white players, all the media can do is give them adjectives that suggest that they somehow overcome their lack of athletic ability with another trait. Thus “gritty” and “heady” and “coach on the floor” are said over and over until I want to throw Mike Patrick into the “chuck.” BYU is one of those teams and every year that they are good, a little piece of me dies. Texas A&M is of course Billy Clyde’s former team and is now being coached by the former coach of Wichita State, who I met at the legendary Wichita St-Bradley game I attended last season. At that game, Mosley and I were given press passes and a coupon for free popcorn. It was a great day.
Drake vs Western Kentucky
I cant imagine that Drake is actually good. They havent been to the tournament in 37 years and I think that tells us something. Their coach’s name is “Keno,” which is never a good sign and they are located somewhere in Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas. I hear they have a Korver, which means chiseled good looks, a three point shot from deep and an inability to cut one’s hair. In short, I cant imagine they win many games. Western is coached by “Blackjack” Horn and is of course the school of Kige Ramsey. If Kige were picking this game he would likely say, “Western is playing Drake in the NCAA Tournament. In order to win this game, Western will have to walk out on the court and beat Drake in a game of basketball. I believe Western will win this game and beat Drake, thus moving to the next round of the NCAA Tournament. This is Kige Ramsey for You Tube Sports.”
Connecticut vs San Diego
No coach in America is more hated by his peers than Jim Calhoun. Virtually all believe that he is shady and his temper turns off even those who would like to admire him. His teams usually have some player that is a bit deformed (think Khalid el-Amin and Jake Voskuhl) and often they do strange things, like steal computers. I like Haseem Thabeet for a number of reasons, most of all however his ability to play well and look awkward….a tough task. The Huskies play San Diego, which produced the low point in modern Rupp Arena history when they beat the Cats in December and then went on to win the West Coast Conference Tournament. I am still amazed that they have one of Jim Jones’s kids on this team and so little is made of it. But as the Turkey Hunter said early in the season….if you are thinking about picking San Diego to win, “Dont Drink the Koolaid.”
Purdue vs Baylor
Both of these teams are coached by rising young guys in Gene Keady and Guy Morris. Purdue is playing well this season by running an offense that involves a lot of motion by the players and naps by the fans. They are still located in West Lafayette, Indiana and have a “BoilerMaker” as a mascot, which once seemed cool, but lost some of its appeal after Northwestern changed its name from the “Steel Mill Laborers” and Michigan dropped its “Laid-off Assembly Line Manager” mascot. Baylor is best known for being the place where players murder each other. Say what you want about Memphis, but that hasnt happened there…..yet.
Xavier vs Georgia
I was pained to see these two teams get matched up because I wanted to pick against both of them. Xavier is the classic “Mid-Major that everyone likes and then disappoints” for the season. Mike Decourcey says they are one of the top 10 most talented teams in America and Mike Wilbon picked them to the NCAA final game. But they are Xavier…and my college roommate is a professor there….that team cant win the national title. Plus Josh Duncan is there and he once turned down UK to go to Xavier….karma wont let that become a good decision. As for Georgia, they pulled a “Lee Majors marries Farrah Fawcett” climax in their season by winning the SEC Tournament in Atlanta and like Majors’ career its all downhill from here. Expect Dave Bliss to show up drunk at a Middlesboro High School Homecoming game sometime this week and try to make out with the Homecoming Queen in honor of our man Lee.
West Virginia vs Arizona
Bob Huggins is a creepy dude, but found a matchup with a creepier guy in Kevin O Neill. Interestingly, when Arizona was looking for its “Coach in waiting” for Lute Olsen, they looked at O’Neill and thought, “well he failed at Tennessee and Northwestern…..of course he is perfect for one of the top 10 programs in America!” Arizona is 19-14 and should be out of the Big Dance…but they are in, mainly so we can see Chase Budinger’s curly locks. West Virginia has never been the same without Pittsnogle or Hair Bear. Until they come back, I dont care.
Duke vs Belmont
Look all hate Duke…that is a given. I would argue that absent some UNC fans I know who literally begin throwing things when Duke wins, nobody hates them more than me. But arent they now kind of pitiful. Admit it, you arent scared of Duke in this tournament, or for that matter, any for the last few years. They have taken the “recruit the pale scrappy guy” to a whole new art form so that now when they play a team with any athleticism (Virginia Tech, LSU, VCU, Miami (Fl) to name a few clunkers), they end up being beaten fairly easily. Watching Duke now is like watching Notre Dame football in some ways….yes they are better than the Irish, but you just know that in some way the mystique is gone. As for Belmont, Vince Gill goes to all their games and likely sings a ballad that is adored by middle-aged women everywhere hoping their husbands will once again show them some romance. That goes a long way in life, but maybe not in the NCAA Tournament.
So there you go, your West Region preview. Wednesday brings us Mosley on the East and the Intern on the Midwest. Plus some more on UK-Marquette….