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2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Picks

Posted by sportsmaven on March 19, 2009

Three hours until tip off of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  Today launches two of the most unproductive work days of the year.  I’ve already completed and posted my women’s picks yesterday.  The men’s bracket is more of a challenge.  In the women’s game, the difference between the best and worst teams is much greater than in the men’s game. That fact makes the men’s brackets more difficult to choose, as more teams have a chance to upset higher seeded teams.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There are really four strategies you can follow in doing your brackets.  The first strategy is just to pick the higher seed and let the lesser teams get washed out and separated.  There are always going to be upsets, but how do you decided which high seed is vulnerable?  You don’t.  Let the law of averages rule overrule luck.

The second strategy is to pick which teams will be upset in which rounds.  Play the hot hand, requires some working knowledge of which teams are peaking going into the tournament and which teams are upstart enough to engineer an upset.

The third strategy is to find an expert’s brackets and choose those picks.  The ESPN experts picks.  Leverage their knowledge and exposure to the game to make your picks.  You might even do well with this strategy if you want to win the office basketball pool.  It’s not sexy, nor a challenge, but it seems better than the last strategy – what I call the women’s pick.  Pick by favorite team, mascot names, colors, and allegiances.  This is the most random of all methods, but one that seems to produce a winner on rare occasion.  Even resourceful women ask their men to make their picks, but those who opt to make their own, good luck!

So, for those who exercise the choose the experts picks, here are my picks.  Good luck if you decide to use these picks.  If you win anything, I want my cut of the payout:

First round winners:

Midwest Region: Louisville, Ohio State, Arizona, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Kansas, USC, Michigan State

West Region: Connecticut, Texas A&M, Purdue, Washington, Marquette, Missouri, Maryland, Memphis

East Region: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Florida State, Xavier, UCLA, Villanova, Texas, Duke

South Region: North Carolina, LSU, Illinois, Gonzaga, Arizona State, Syracuse, Clemson, Oklahoma

Sweet 16: Louisville, Wake Forest, Kansas, Michigan State, Connecticut, Washington, Marquette, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Florida State, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Oklahoma

Final 4: Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, North Carolina

National Championship Game: Louisville vs. North Carolina

National Championship: Louisville

I wrestled back and forth between Louisville and North Carolina before choosing Louisville.  This is, perhaps, Rick Pitino’s best team at Louisville and they look poised for a run all the way.  I thought going into the tournament that the two teams that the biggest chips on their shoulders would be Louisville and Memphis.  The arguments against Memphis always starts and ends with their soft conference schedule.  I think Memphis is one of the 4 best teams in the country.  I just hope they prove me correct in this tournament.

There are the picks, and with more than an hour to spare.  Check back often, as I will update my progress after each round.

Posted in Fighting Illini | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Best Is Yet To Come For Illinois…Football, That Is

Posted by sportsmaven on January 11, 2008

Don’t let Illinois’ Rose Bowl performance fool you, the Fighting Illini are on the rise. After New Year’s Day’s meeting with the USC Trojans, Illinois is a better team that the final score of 49-17 indicated. The Illini played with heart and toughness, and with a bit of talent, but USC is arguably the team with the best talent in the country. Illinois, at times, hung in with the Trojans, but the gap in talent between Illinois and USC was too great, at least for this game, on this day.

Better Days For Illinois Football

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

Now many people think that Illinois should just be happy they made a BCS bowl and that any other year, the 9-3 Illini are happily playing the Capital One Bowl, watching Ohio St. in the Rose Bowl. I think that’s fodder for narrow-minded; pessimistic thinkers. Illini Coach Ron Zook is an outstanding recruiter, and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s spread offense and his Washington DC area connections (as well as his remarkable eye for recruiting difference-makers) provides the rebirth of the Illini football program.

Now, if we could only get Ron Zook to help Bruce Weber recruit for the basketball program……

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Welcome To Chicago, Mr. Floyd

Posted by sportsmaven on January 25, 2007

Another Floyd has blown into the Windy City today with the Chicago Cubs signing OF Cliff Floyd to a one-year contract with a mutual option for a second year. The contract may be worth up to $17.5M for the two years. Here’s hoping that Cliff has a better Chicago tenure than Tim, the last prominent Floyd that hit the Chicago sports landscape. Cliff, you better come out banging and healthy, because if not, you will wish you were with Tim at USC.

I’m not exactly sure what to think of this acquisition. When healthy, Cliff Floyd can be outstanding, but he has found his way onto the DL in something like 7 out of the last 8 years. Floyd’s value seems to be his left handed bat, something the Cubs have coveted for a long time. He will take playing time away from a developing Matt Murton, which is what I really don’t like about this signing.

Unless the Cubs trade Jacque Jones, there is a logjam of OF on the current Cubs roster, which is not entirely a bad thing, but something that must be resolved in spring training.

Mr. Floyd, welcome to the Friendly Confines, welcome home.

Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »