Well folks, Selection Sunday has come and gone, one of the two play-in game days has been completed, and we sit just one day away from the tip-off of one of the greatest sports weekends of the year.
So, as the deadline approaches to fill out your brackets, I’m happy to provide you with all the resources you’ll need to do so. First, how about this article chock-full of fast facts from Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, which teaches you things like what teams have the best probability of reaching the Final Four (UNC, Gonzaga, Villanova), how many wins Northeast Conference teams have had in the first round (spoiler alert - it’s zero), and who’s the best individual scorer in the bracket (South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, ladies and gentlemen).
If you want even more hardcore statistics, FiveThirtyEight’s got you covered there. If you’re looking to find that one superstar player who’s going to carry his team, Kemba Walker-style, then SB Nation’s rankings of the top 50 players in the tourney should help with that. And if you need help figuring out which Davids have the best chance of striking their respective Goliaths squarely in the temple with a stone from their sling, SI’s Luke Winn has your back. And hell, if you want region-specific breakdowns, CBS Sports can provide you with information like this article that explains the obstacles in Gonzaga’s way in the West.
But listen, I know not all of you out there like to pick your brackets this way. My sister has her own system:
@Psully226 but... you didn't talk team colors and everyone knows that's the most important factor. pic.twitter.com/XpPWxxWhvp— Bridget Cleveland (@bridget_sully) March 14, 2017
So, let’s explore some...alternative methods to making your March Madness picks. Like how would the bracket play out if this were football, not basketball? Or what about if we’re comparing the mascots of each school, rather than their teams’ merits?
Hell, not all of us want to base picks on computer simulations, so maybe we need to get really creative. Which teams have the most spectacular player names this year? To unabashedly plug my own tweet, I’ve got some information for you on that as well.
There is an absolute treasure trove of names in this year's NCAA Tournament. My favorites... pic.twitter.com/lH7QMPQfPt— Pat Rick (@Psully226) March 14, 2017
I’m considering hitching my wagon to the AJ Cheeseman train, but don’t sleep on 2016’s all-nomenclature MVP Giddy Potts, or on future NBA-er Sindarius Thornwell. One of those guys is about to lead his team to victory, without a doubt.
No matter your strategy, hopefully the above links will serve as extremely useful resources for you in your bracket picking, or at least they might serve as inspiration as you devise your own foolproof plan to select all the right teams and defeat Eric from accounting in this year’s pool (suck it, Eric).
The NCAA is Using the NIT as a Test Lab for Rule Changes
While we all get caught up in the hysteria of the NCAA Tournament, the NIT is hitting the ground running as well. I know, I know, unless your team is in the NIT, you have literally no desire to hear about it - and even if your team is in it, you probably don’t care all that much (unless you’re a UNC Greensboro fan looking to give Jim Boeheim a beautifully humbling loss in round 1).
But the NIT this year could have some ramifications for every team, as the tournament is being utilized by the NCAA to test rule changes that include team fouls resetting 10 minutes into each half, and the shot clock resetting to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front court.
Both of these changes are meant to elevate excitement and scoring in games, and the foul reset specifically is meant to stop games from becoming boring, stretched-out free throw shooting contests.
It will be interesting to see how these rule changes work and if the NCAA decides to adopt them permanently, especially because the foul reset means the end of 1-and-1 free throws, which would be a fairly drastic change for all teams to get used to in the 2017-2018 season.
This Week’s Episode of “What did LaVar Ball Say?”
This past week gave us a couple LaVar Ball moments, as he first came out with the news that he is seeking a $1 billion shoe deal for his three sons as a package. Granted, his oldest son Lonzo is about to be a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft and will certainly have all the shoe deal offers he could want, LaVar trying to include his two high school sons who are both nowhere near as strong of NBA prospects as Lonzo is downright ludicrous. But, I love what he’s doing in terms of being a dad and trying to get all his sons a massive pay day. Good luck with that, LaVar.
LaVar might actually have the leverage to pull off such a deal, though, considering how legendary of a basketball player he is. Don’t mind his 2 ppg scoring average at Washington State, as LaVar also claimed this week that he could defeat Michael Jordan handily in a one-on-one game of basketball.
I have no comment on that. None whatsoever. LaVar, you’re a bold, bold man.
What Would a 64-Team NCAA Football Tournament Look Like?
In the fruitless offseason college football think-piece to end all fruitless offseason college football think-pieces, ESPN put together a potential 2017-2018 NCAA Football Tournament of 64 teams and is beginning to break it down, getting to the Sweet Sixteen.
I don’t know what reading this article really accomplishes, but I guess it’s fun to think about the March tournament we love so much and to imagine the same thing in November/December/January and how fun that could probably be.
The Mountain West, Among Other Mid-Major Conferences, Is Considering Cutting the Cord
Considering non-ideal kickoff and tip-off times of many of their games, along with the power that TV networks have over them, many smaller conferences like the Mountain West are openly considering taking all of their games completely digital, allowing for any game times they want.
This kind of move would absolutely mean less money coming to the conferences due to the loss of network deals, but potential revenue coming from increased ticket sales and from the digital streaming sites they’d use could help offset some of that lost revenue and help these schools get better game times, bigger audiences, and ultimately help push college sports toward a streaming model not reliant on the major TV networks.
This will be interesting to watch, as sports is one of the big assets major cable companies still have somewhat-exclusive control over, and this could be a huge impetus into changing how we as sports fans consume all our favorites teams’ games.
Things Continue to Go Wrong at Baylor
Despite what Kim Mulkey said, things do not appear to be improving much at Baylor. The school fired Associate Director for Football Operations DeMarkco Butler on Monday. Butler was hired by new head coach Matt Rhule in just last month, and was terminated for inappropriately texting a teenager.
Butler is the second of Matt Rhule’s new hires to be fired by the university, as former Assistant Strength Coach Brandon Washington was fired in February after being arrested in a prostitution sting.
Monday also wasn’t kind to a former Baylor player, Tre’Von Armstead, who was arrested in Las Vegas for domestic battery and who also got charges of resisting arrest and damaging a police vehicle when he kicked out the back window of a police car. Armstead was one of the players named in the rape investigation of 2013, but he was not kicked off the team until 2015, for a “violation of team rules.”
Other Neat Articles to Peruse
- CBS Sports named 10 college football players to watch during spring practice, and one of them is Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush
- 2018 defensive end recruit Tahj Rice released an amazing and cheesy superhero-themed video in his announcement of his commitment to Duke...I love it so much
- The Baker Mayfield arrest video was released, so definitely check it out if you want to see some policemen sack the shit out of a Heisman favorite
- John Harbaugh told a story about playing a family game of basketball with Jim, and how Jim handled the game is the least surprising thing you’ll read today
- Sports Illustrated put out a ranking of the best schools for sports lovers, ranking schools based on strength of athletics and strength of academic institution. Notre Dame nabbed the 2nd spot on the list