Hope you enjoyed the glorious weekend weather as much as we did.
There's a ton of stuff to get to, so from the soon-to-be-closed Bubble bubble inside the "Talks too much" studios, let's do this. (Or if Dick Vitale was involved — LET'S DO THIS, BAY-BEEEE!!!!!! Side note: Dickie V was off his game last night, missing match-ups and only kissing up to Duke every third sentence as opposed to every other sentence. Say what you want about the guy — and we have plenty of times — he loves college hoops like few others. Maybe he should have a spot on the selection committee;he watches a ton of games, he knows everyone and he truly loves it. Just a thought. Plus, if he's locked in a room for four days in March, that's four days he would not be splitting our ears. Win-win, BAY-BEEEE.)
Unless you are StuckinKent or Joey Brackets, you probably were left with a few questions after the NCAA tournament bracket was released Sunday night. StuckinKent, our resident bracketologist got 67-of-68 NCAA teams correct, missing only by picking Tennessee over MTSU (which we'll get to in a moment). Joey Brackets' "last four in" as of 40 minutes before the show was spot on and his top team on the "first four out" was Tennessee, and we believe that's how it fell.
Is it tough for Johnny Vols Fans and for Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin? You bet, especially after a torrid final four-plus weeks to the season. But, as Hyman Roth says in Godfather II, "This is the business we have chosen."
The Conz and Co. were working from behind the 8-Ball after an awful 11-10 start. And man, Jay Bilas was spot-on in his analysis last night that the selection committee was looking at who you lost to way more than who you beat. Otherwise it's tough to argue keeping out a Vols team that had nine wins against the top-100. Bilas also accurately noted that the little guy got the benefit of the doubt in every debate.
So the Vols were jacked. Yeah, more than a little bit, considering the resumes. And while we're here, we think the tournament committee overall did a pretty good job. Tennessee has a beef, and we probably would not have given Gonzaga a No. 1 seed, but those are quibbles more than glaring question marks. Our ace columnist and college basketball guru Mark Wiedmer has more complaints about the field. (And here's a theory about the committee's appeared anti-SEC bias: There are 10 people who are involved in college athletics on the selection committee and whenever a team that is in your school's conference comes up, you leave the room for discussion. There was one SEC person on the committee — LSU's AD — and can't you just hear the talks when a Tennessee, Alabama or Kentucky comes up: "The SEC makes huge money on football, they don't need this too." Or, as Weeds said, "That's a football league, these teams play in basketball leagues." Yes, the SEC was down, but three teams? Ouch-standing.)
And before anyone complains too much about this inclusion or that denial, the best thing about the NCAA tournament selection process is other than the Ivy League schools which do not participate in a conference tournament, every school in the country was technically in the NCAA tournament during the last two weeks. Ole Miss was on the bubble and worried about its spot, so the Rebels went and won a ticket to the Dance. The Mocs were part of the SoCon tournament, and if they had won four games, they would be among the field. Tennessee, same story only with an orange cover.
So now we're here. We're to the week that even casual sports fans will know that Creighton's nickname is the Bluejay and their best player can score with anyone. That guy who doesn't know a free throw from a fungo will start talking about how he likes 12-seed Cal because they are playing a home game for all intents at purposes, and we all know at least one 12-seed wins during the opening weekend.
This is the point where the marathon march of mediocrity that is college basketball's regular season becomes the merriment of March and magic.
Enjoy, whether your team is in the Dance or not.
We're back, and of the contests, this is one that has stayed relatively the same throughout the three years of the 5-at-10: First No. 1 out, last underdog in.
The rules are pretty simple: Send us two teams — the No. 1 seed you think will be eliminated first and the last double-digit seed to be playing. The first No. 1 out and the last underdog (double-digit seeded) to be dismissed.
We'll play for some Masters gear or some Final Four stuff, winner's choice.
Deal? Deal. Hey you might as well play, it don't cost nothing.
Some of the mind-boggling numbers for the NCAA tournament that we recycle because, well, they are mind-boggling:
— Over $12 billion (yes, billion with a 'B') worldwide is expected to be wagered on NCAA tournament, and that's more than the Super Bowl. According to RJ Bell of pregame.com, less than 1% of that worldwide sports betting occurs in Nevada and more than 100 million people likely will play a tournament bracket contests.
— There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets (9.2 quintillion). That number is a million times bigger than 9 trillion. It's also this big:
— If everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over ONE BILLION to 1 against any person having a perfect bracket.
— If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 BILLION years to fill out all possible brackets (that's 20 times longer than the universe has existed).
— If all the people on earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take over 43 years to fill out every possible bracket.
— If all possible brackets were stacked on top of each other (on standard paper), the pile would reach from the moon and back over 1.1 million times.
Plus, the calculations above assume a 64 team bracket – if expanded to consider 68 teams, multiple the figures by 4.
Wow. And good luck.
Butch Jones is rolling.
The Tennessee Vols have started spring with enthusiasms. (Side note: As many great turns as DeNiro had, his portrayal of Al Capone in "The Untouchables" was great and is rarely mentioned as one of his better roles. That, friends, is the functioning definition og an impressive resume.)
Jones has enjoyed what appears to be an early buy-in from the team, and the excitement seems to be catching. For example, we loved the photo we ran on the front of Sunday's sports section. There was energy and passion.
Now, granted, there is always new-found hope with new arrivals. When Kiffin bolted, we were quick to praise Dooley's steadiness. Now, it's easy to embrace Butch's energy.
Does that mean any extra win or two come October? No and yes. Yes and No. Finkel is Einhorn. Einhorn is Finkel.
Still, the biggest knock on Butch and the Boys was the legitimate question whether they can recruit on an SEC-level? That appears to be a definite yes, considering the Vols landed five commits in the last 10 days and have 2014 pledges six overall.
Plus, there seems to be a method to the madness of the spring drills with odd scoring systems and all, a sense to the silliness if you will that looks to be fun.
We'll start going around the SEC spring drills with a little more regularity, but the Vols' energy from this weekend actually leapt from the page. And that has to count for something.
This and that (with a question)
— The Miami Heat keep winning. The streak has reached 22 games, and Miami could take sole possession of the second longest winning streak in NBA history with a win at Boston tonight. Miami is playing at a different level right now, converting when it has to and getting stops when it needs them.
— Congrats to Kevin Streelman, the PGA Tour journeyman who won for the first time in 10 years this weekend at the Tampa Bay Open.
— Kasey Kahn won the NASCAR event at Bristol, and to be fair after all the belly-aching and bagging on the new Gen-6 ride, the race was entertaining and fun. That said, as TFP prep ace Stephen Hargis accurately tweeted during the event, it was pretty jarring to see that many empty seats at Bristol.
— Remember the Lady Mocs and the Lady Vols will find out tonight where and when and who they will play in the women's tournament tonight. If you are so inclined the Lady Mocs have a watching shindig at Big River, and the festivities start around 6.
— Amid the NFL free agent moves — including Jake Long going from Miami to St. Louis — there was an interesting item that the Arena League team in Orlando is trying to sign Tim Tebow. It would be a genius PR move, but just one question: Would he play linebacker or tight end? (Kidding, mostly.)
— In case you're one of the few that play a bracket, we have UT, Kentucky, Virginia and Alabama as our NIT Final Four. Yes, that's a lot of chalk — UT is a No. 2 seed, the rest are 1-seeds — but so it goes.
— The Jimmy Valvano 30-for-30 last night was excellent. Simply outstanding. It's in our top five of the 30-for-30s, which is saying something.
— After going tournament-less for the last two years, do you think Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin starts next year on the hot seat? We believe he is a very good-to-great coach, but coaching is a tough BID-ness, and three years without a dancing partner is a long time.
— Discuss and feel free to review any of the weekend topics.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...