Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog


Sunday, March 13, 2005
Looking at the NCAA Tourney Field.

I don't like it.

The actual bids are alright (I have problems with a couple, as you will see later), but the seeding and location of a number of teams is absolutely horrible.  You can tell the selection committee went into the proceedings with no kind of standard and simply placed teams whereever they wanted.

For a number of them, they did think it was cute to pit a number of teams in the first round, namely some intrastate matchups.  However, they did it at the expense of a long travel for some of those teams.

Illinois is in Chicago, UNC goes to Syracuse, and Duke goes to Austin.  That's not surprising.  The surprising one is Washington getting the #1 seed in the Albequerque Region.  Thus, you can not tell me that the selection committee does not listen to the analysts on CBS and ESPN along with the network sports websites, because no one even talked about Washington grabbing a possible #1 seed until Kentucky went down in flames today in the SEC tournament. 

So Wake Forest not only got a #2 seed, but they also was sent out west to Albequerque.  How in the world did they fall so low by simply losing to NC State?  I don't agree with that seeding whatsoever, and I'm sure there's heat on Chris Paul for getting suspended right now.

But at least Wake got a #2 seed.  Definitely the team that caught the worst seed placement by far was Louisville.  Louisville was the Conference USA champion and was ranked 6th in the nation.  How did they end up as a 4 seed having to go to Albequerque?  That's crazy.  Meanwhile, UConn - who was defeated by Syracuse in the Big East semis - got a #2 seed...in Syracuse.  Syracuse, who was ranked pretty equally with UConn throughout the year, got a #4 seed in Austin.  Florida didn't get a good deal, as they won the SEC Championship as well and ended up with a #4 seed.

I did support them giving UAB and Iowa State a bid into the championship, as both of them had great records and fought tough competition throughout the year.  However, Northern Iowa had no business getting a bid to the tournament. 

It's real simple; a mediocre team from a power conference gets dibs over a mediocre team from a mediocre conference.  I find it hard to believe that the Missouri Valley Conference got three bids (Southern Illinois, Creighton, Northern Illinois) without any of them beating a ranked team.  Meanwhile, Notre Dame will go to the NIT despite roughly having the same record yet beating UConn, Villanova, and Syracuse and playing nine games against a ranked team.  That should tell you that the RPI polling system should be trashed.  Not fixed, trashed. 

But, it is what it is.  Let's try to enjoy March Madness while it lasts.  It should be fun.

Posted at 09:08 pm by Expertise
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Here's my picks for the NCAA Tournament.

There are only six conference championship games left, and all of them will be decided by tomorrow.  However, all of the finalists of the major conferences are pretty much locked, and the remaining two's losers won't go to the Dance, so I'll give you 63 teams.

This is based on what who I "think" the tournament will grant bids to, not necessarily who I feel should get them.  In the cases of teams like Holy Cross and Davidson, I will leave them off the list. I think because of their outstanding conference records and winning streak during the season, they should have gotten a bid, but the committee won't see it my way.  Nevertheless, I hope they prove me wrong.

First, the 25 Conference Champions, which get automatic bids:

Pennsylvania Eastern Kentucky Central Florida Winthrop Chattanooga
Niagara Old Dominion Creighton  Gonzaga  Oakland 
Louisiana-Lafayette  Wisc-Milwaukee  Fairleigh Dickerson  Montana  Bucknell 
Vermont  Louisville  Delaware State  Washington  Ohio 
George Washington  Syracuse  Texas-El Paso  New Mexico  Utah State 


Now, the remaining 38, which are receiving at-large bids or their conference title tomorrow:

North Carolina Duke  Wake Forest  Georgia Tech  NC State 
Boston College  Connecticut  West Virginia  Pittsburgh  Villanova 
Illinois  Michigan State  Wisconsin  Minnesota  Iowa 
Kansas  Oklahoma  Oklahoma State  Texas Tech  Pacific 
Cincinnatti  Charlotte  Utah  Arizona  Stanford 
UCLA  Kentucky  Florida  Alabama  LSU 
St. Mary's  Nevada  St. Joseph's  Iowa State  UAB
Southern Illinois  Notre Dame  Texas     


















So there it is.  That should be 63 teams.  The last two spots are reserved for the SWAC champion, as Alabama State matches up against Alabama A&M (Isn't it funny that two Alabama teams are playing for the SouthWestern Championship?), and the Southland Champion, as Southeastern Louisiana faces Northwestern State.

I say again:  NCAA Selection Committee PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG, but if you're going to do it, do it with teams that are actually worthy of getting in.

Posted at 06:11 am by Expertise
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Saturday, March 12, 2005
Championship Week Saturday.

Nothing serious bubble-wise, as a good number of these teams will make it to the Dance.  Memphis tried to start their Cinderella push to get them there, but they fell short to Louisville by a free throw at the Conference USA title game. 

Darius Washington was fouled on a three point shot at the buzzer and down by two, but could only convert one of those three free throws.  That's a tough way to get left out, but maybe they can use that momentum to make a run in the NIT.

If Georgia Tech was a bubble team coming into Saturday's game against North Carolina, they aren't any longer.  Tech beat my Tarheels by three.  Sloppy officiating along with UNC allowing another flavor of the day to go wild, as Will Bynum put up 35 pts.  For some reason, Carolina has started a nasty habit of allowing one guy that's usually not the leader of the team to step up to look like a star.  They usually are able to step up and make a run at the end to close the game, but they weren't able to today. 

Even with all of that happening, McCants had a chance to cut the lead into single digits when he was fouled on a three point play, but only hit one of those three (Sound familiar, Memphis?).  They got the rebound off the third ft and McCants hit the three on the wing and made it a one point game.  But they foul Bynum on the other end, he hits his two, and McCants misses the buzzer beating three that could have sent the game into OT.

Games to watch tonight:  George Washington vs. St. Joseph's (the losing team could be left out of the Dance), Buffalo vs. Ohio (same situation there), Utah St. vs. Pacific, New Mexico vs. Utah, UTEP vs. Boise State.




Posted at 06:21 pm by Expertise
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Nichols is caught.

Alive, somehow.

We found out that he had jacked another car and took the female owner in it hostage, drove to her apartment in Gwinnett, and spent the night there.  Somehow, she left that morning (no one knows whether she escaped or he let her go) and she called Gwinnett police and they got him at her apartment.  Hence, it was a eerie end to a sad weekend in Metro Atlanta.

Oh yeah; CNN this morning caught security film of him walking down a flight of stairs right after he had jacked O'Briant's car, so it was a COMPLETE diversion.   O'Briant's car never left the parking garage.

Now that they have him, let's see some resignations.

I can go back to watching basketball for the rest of the weekend.  Carolina vs. Georgia Tech is on the tube right now.

Also:  Michael "Da" King has the breakdown of everything from the last 36 hours or so on his site.

Think about this too....The SEC Tournament was in Atlanta, about a block from where all of this went down.  Imagine what would have happened if one of the people Nichols had jacked was an SEC attendant.  How much more heat you think Atlanta and Fulton County would have had on their hands?

Heh.

UPDATE:  Well, we find out what he did after he carjacked O'Briant.

He parked the car in the garage, went to the MARTA station (Check the map), got on the train at Dome/Phillps station and went to Five Points, transferred and went to Buckhead (Atlanta's party and entertainment district) by Lennox Station, robbed two people that WERE SEC tourists, went to the home of a federal immigration official, killed him and took his money and ID.  I guess the money wasn't enough, because he then grabbed the Gwinnett woman, probably around Lennox too.

Ain't that some shit?  If this guy really wanted to he could have been on the loose for days at a time and probably wouldn't have gotten caught inside Metro Atlanta.  Remember:  the only reason why he was caught was because the woman got away and called them up, not because of the cops.

Thank god I left that city.

Posted at 01:46 pm by Expertise
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Heads should roll.

There's no doubt about it.

I'm setting aside time away from Championship Week to talk about the Atlanta court murders on Friday.

Here's the story...an accused rapist, Brian Nichols, was being guarded by a female deputy while he was changing from his jail jumpsuit to casual attire for his trial hearing, in which he was facing life in prison if convicted.  He had beaten her so badly that, according to emergency officials, they couldn't tell if she was beaten or shot. The female deputy was 51 years old and only five feet tall.  That's it.  He took her gun, and went straight for Judge Rowland Barnes's chambers, which is in the next building, through the skywalk.

At Barnes's chambers, Nichols demands to know where he is.  An assistant of Barnes hits the emergency button, and when a deputy responds he knocks the deputy out and takes his gun, which makes two guns he's taken from two different deputies.  Now he goes into the Barnes's courtroom, shot and killed Barnes, killed the court reporter, Julie Brandau, and runs out of the courtroom.

Nichols is able to run down eight flights of stairs with deputies chasing him and through an emergency exit door.  He runs across MLK Boulevard and into the Underground Atlanta parking garage.  In there, he kills a deputy and carjacks a SUV.  He gets out of the garage, gets on Peachtree Street, jacks a tow truck at gunpoint, goes down a one-way street.  He gets out of the tow truck at another parking garage, jacks another car that belonged to a female AJC computer programmer, and gets out.  He drives just about a block or two and he sees another guy parking his car in a garage.  He beats him up (it was AJC writer Don O'Briant, who tried to play cowboy and is lucky he isn't dead too) and takes his car, and that's the last anyone saw of him.  Oh; and they found the car in the same garage he carjacked O'Briant at later that night.

Georgia Governor Sonny "Ralphus" Perdue said, "It is a sad day for our country."  Our country?  Don't put the country into this; it's a sad day for YOUR STATE.  Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't happened several times over.

Atlanta PD and Fulton County's Sheriff Department is so incompetent that this was bound to happen.  How in the world do you have a 51 year old grandma that's only five foot nothing standing guard over a former football player that weighed approx 210 pounds, and with no backup.  I guarantee you that happens quite often.

You would have thought as busy as that courthouse is (and it is quite busy) and the number of sheriff deputies there had to be in those buildings they would have been able to capture him in the building.  Not only was he able to damn near kill the guard, but was able to go into the next building, go into Judge Barnes's chambers and disarm another deputy, go into the courtroom and shoot that up before anyone realized what was going on.  Even then he still had enough of a head start that he was able to run down 8 flights to get out of the courthouse?

I'm going to say something real insensitive here:  I'd bet you this wouldn't happen in a rural area.  He might have gotten out of the courthouse, but he would have been found by now, probably in a car chase.  This wouldn't have happened in New York, because for one thing I'd imagine they'd know better than to have such loose security for someone accused of a violent crime.  Even if they did, I'd bet he couldn't get out of that building.   No, you see, Atlanta presented all the tools necessary to allow this to happen; weak security, incompetent justice system, incompetent PD and Sheriff's Department, and just enough people downtown in order to the precise amount of mass confusion and panic so he could slip right out of the city and out of sight.

Not only was this guy able to get the best of Atlanta and Fulton County's finest, but he left a pretty big FUCK YOU to go along with it...taking the time to go kill the judge presiding over his case, instead of simply leaving the courthouse after beating up the guard, and after they had been looking for him all day, left the car he jacked from O'Briant right in the same spot he got it.  None of these Deputy Dog-like cops can tell you how long the car has been there.  For all they know, he could have brought it back as soon as the EMT's left from picking up O'Briant.

So the way I see it, as soon as they find this guy - if they ever do - the following people need to step down:

- Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman

- Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard

- Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington

Add to that any immediate supervisors in charge of assigning inmate security.  People have been complaining about security measures at the courthouse and at Fulton County Jail for years.  Freeman should have addressed that immediately when he was elected last year.  Obviously, no such luck.  Howard has been Fulton's DA for a number of years, including running the show at the horribly botched Ray Lewis trial after the Super Bowl in 2000.  I would have thought the voters would have kicked him out on his ear then.  He never bothered to speak up or do anything about security either.  And any time a fugitive is able to move from the courthouse to Peachtree Street to Marietta Street without one cop actually finding him in the middle of the day, the blame lies upon Atlanta PD.  As many cops as I've seen day after day downtown farting around and playing grabass you would have thought they would have caught a guy in broad daylight who did three carjackings in an hour's time.

Of course, this won't happen, because the media wouldn't dare call for the heads of public officials in Atlanta short of murder, because they all happen to be black.  Besides, incompetence is a staple of Atlanta's public infrastructure.  I wouldn't be surprised if this happened again.

Posted at 06:51 am by Expertise
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Friday, March 11, 2005
Championship Week Friday

A lot of bubbles have burst over the course of the day today.

One of the bigger bubbles, Indiana, has a date with the NIT as they fell to Minnesota.  As I said before; 13 losses is simply too many for an at-large team to have in the Dance.  Minnesota stamped their ticket.  Virginia Tech never had a chance against Georgia Tech, which locks GT in firmly to the Dance and locks the Hokies firmly into the NIT.

UAB's bubble is looking pretty fragile after falling to Louisville.  It was a close game, but UAB needed that quality win in order to have a convincing case.  Now Conference USA's fate lays with the selection committee on whether they have only three teams or as many as five, as UAB beat bubble-team Depaul yesterday.

Texas Tech might have stamped their ticket today by beating Iowa State.  Iowa State, on the other hand, is going to have to have some luck, but I and others think they might slide in.  Miami (OH) is done after falling to Ohio tonight.  They had to at least get to the Mid-American Final, if not outright win it.

Also, I don't think anyone had Iowa upsetting Michigan State tonight 71-69, which all of a sudden gives them a compelling argument.  It gives them that quality win they needed, as they had yet to beat a ranked team.   If Iowa beats Minnesota tomorrow - and that's quite possible, considering both teams split games over the regular season - that would lock Iowa in and make the selection committee's job even harder.  In fact, that probably doesn't bode well for a team that fell this week but are still on the bubble.

Holy Cross's loss to Bucknell in the Patriot League final will probably have them left out of the Dance.  If it does, it's a crying shame, as most people have said the same thing about Davidson losing in their conference tourney last week to UNC-Greensboro.  I don't think you can tell any team in any conference that they can have only five losses overall (Holy Cross in the regular season), and win 16 games in a row going undefeated in conference play (Davidson went undefeated, HC only lost one game) and tell them that's not enough. 

If the selection committee does, I don't think that's right, particularly when you have so many mediocre teams trying to get in from the major conferences this year.  In fact, I think you have to give them dibs over other mid-majors like UTEP and St. Mary's, teams who have records that I'm not impressed by.  I'm probably wasting my breath, but still.

Tonight's games to keep an eye on is Temple vs. George Washington, Oregon State vs. Arizona, Buffalo vs. Western Michigan, Stanford vs. Washington, UTEP vs. Rice, and New Mexico vs. San Diego State.

Posted at 09:44 pm by Expertise
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Bubble Watch: Friday.

Probably the biggest upsets from last night was Oregon State's win over UCLA.  Even with this loss, UCLA gets in, but Oregon State could make a case if they get to the Pac-10 Final.

Vanderbilt's bubble burst as they fell to Auburn in the SEC first round.  George Washington kept their hopes alive in the A-10 tourney by beating Fordham, as well as St. Joe's win over Richmond.  Buffalo continued their winning ways by beating Toledo, and some analysts have them as a lock.  I disagree.  Colorado's huge upset against Texas has the Longhorns quite nervous, but I think they'll eventually get in.  And Arizona State is NIT-bound after not sealing the deal against Washington.

Nothing significant going on in the early afternoon, other than a surprising performance by Clemson that has them up against UNC by nine midway through the second half.




Posted at 01:41 pm by Expertise
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The Contender recap: Jesse vs. Jonathan

 
(Photo: Yahoo's "The Contender" Page)

The drama continued between Ishe and Ahmed, as they exchanged words during Ishe's sparring.  They almost came to blows until Stallone had seen enough and sent Ahmed into his office to chill out.

After that stuff blew over, Sly then rewarded Alfonso for winning the first fight against Peter.  His reward?  A boxing glove pendant, similar to the one from Rocky V AND Alfonso gets to heal until after the seventh fight.  That's a heck of a reward, and Alfonso definitely deserved it.

For winning the mission in the last episode, the West Coast team got to meet two-time heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman.  The guys marked out, as Foreman has been a success in and out of the boxing ring (my momma got two of his grills).  They talked in the gym, and a couple of them showed how well they could use the speed bag. 

Afterwards, Foreman had a BBQ with them, and he dispensed knowledge on how to carry themselves and actually have a plan to move forward in their careers.  "Plan your work, then work your plan" was Foreman's advice, meaning think things through, and then use your emotions and ambition to move forward.  This really struck home with Ishe, and he started to feel as if he was being led into a fight with Ahmed, which could be a trap for him.  This was where things started to change.

The mission this week had the teams in a football stadium, where they had to run up to the top of the stands, grab flags, and bring them back down to the base.  The trick was that they couldn't run down with the flag until the whole team had gotten to the top and they couldn't go back up to get another one until the whole team was back on the field.  Each time they brought a flag to the field one team member could stay until they had all five flags.  Once they had all the flags, part two of the mission was a puzzle they had to figure out and complete.  In the first part, East Coast actually finished first with the West not far behind, but the puzzle proved to be a little more difficult for the East.  The West won another mission, which meant they got to pick the main event.

Of course, the West members automatically thought it would be the inevitable Ishe vs. Ahmed grudge match, but Ishe backed out, saying he didn't want to fight him right now because emotions were riding too high and he wants to wait it out.  Jesse was obviously disgusted by this, and stepped up to fight.

So the main event was Jesse Brinkley vs. Jonathan Reid.   Jesse, 28, had two kids with his girlfriend, Colleen in Nevada.  Jonathan, 32, was a Nashville native who had 4 kids and one on the way, as his wife, Anna, was constantly shown as if she had a watermelon tucked under her shirt.  So yeah; the baby making business is quite good.

The press conference had more sparks than last week, as not only did Ishe and Ahmed get into it again (the extended coverage of Ishe/Ahmed is on Yahoo's The Contender Page, as they didn't air their words on national television), but they also alienated themselves from their teams.  Jesse and Ishe got into words because Jesse felt he chickened out.  Ishe confronted Jesse right then and there at the table, and it looked as if they were about to get into it.  Then out of nowhere Ahmed pops up at the table, and the East Coast members, tired of Ahmed's attitude, speaks their minds.  All through this Jonathan was silent until one of the press journalists (I've seen her before but forgot her name, but she is hot) decides to get him to speak up, and he does a good job with the cliches.  Jonathan came off as a pretty cool guy, and I thought he would win the fight.

In the fight (and please note; I saw the extended version on Yahoo), once again it seemed as if nervousness took another prisoner, as Jonathan simply was not busy enough and fell victim to combinations and counterpunches.  He gave Jesse some trouble early in the fight, but he couldn't seem to get it together in the later rounds.  Jesse won by a unaminous decision, and Jonathan had to walk that empty hall, trying to decide if he wanted to continue his boxing career.

At least Jonathan did have something to look forward to, as his wife had another baby girl.  They didn't show the delivery on air, but the clips are online at Yahoo's The Contender Page.  At least he'll have time to play with her now.  It was a nice moment.

The Contender will move to it's permanent time, Sundays at 8:00 EST.  I expect the drama to continue between Ishe vs. Ahmed vs. the rest of the fighters.  In fact, that Ishe/Ahmed fight will probably happen sooner rather than later, as they will probably be pushed into it through the collusion of both teams.  Should be interesting to watch.

My Other Contender Posts:

1.  The Contender Quarterfinals:  Ishe vs. Sergio
2.  The Contender, Episode Eight:  Jimmy vs. Joey
3.  The Contender Episode Seven:  Juan vs. Tarick
4.  The Contender Episode Six:  Anthony vs. Brent
5.  The Contender Episode Three:  Ishe vs. Ahmed

Posted at 06:23 am by Expertise
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Thursday, March 10, 2005
Championship Week Thursday: Part II.

Not a lot of surprises this afternoon, but some key games did affect the NCAA Tournament:

First, NC State kept their Dance hopes alive by easily beating Florida State.  They looked shaky in the second half, but they weren't in any real trouble as they led all game, and a significant part of it by 20.

That doesn't mean they're a lock.  NC State still has to beat Wake tomorrow.  The good thing is that Chris Paul won't play in that game.  But they're guaranteed to have that bubble burst if they can't get it done, regardless of what the analysts say.  So all today's game meant is that they're still on the bubble instead of them being an afterthought like Maryland.

Also, Depaul fell to UAB today by three in Conference USA action.  That keeps UAB alive and has Depaul hoping someone falls tonight or tomorrow.  I don't have them completely out, but they're in the same shape as Notre Dame right now, if not worse.  UAB, however, can lock it up with an upset against Louisville tomorrow.  That's possible, as they took Louisville to the limit last month, and came up short by four.

Mississippi St beat Georgia, but they'll have to do a little more to make me think they should be considered.  Iowa State beat Baylor in an easy victory.  I'm not sure if that makes them a lock, but they'll have a strong case.  I'd place them as one if they come up with the victory against Texas Tech tomorrow.  Iowa beat Purdue, but they'll probably have to make the Big-12 final in order to get in.

Tonight's games:  Miami vs. Virginia; Oregon State is leading UCLA late in that game, which could put UCLA back on the bubble; Georgetown vs. UConn; George Washington vs. Fordham; Texas A&M vs. Kansas St.; Arizona St. vs. Washington; Vandy vs. Auburn; Stanford vs. Washington St.

Posted at 07:42 pm by Expertise
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Championship Week Thursday: Part I.

The bubble burst for Maryland today, as they lost to Clemson by double digits.  I think it's safe to say that they're NIT-bound, as everyone has agreed that losing three times to Clemson cannot be ignored by the selection committee.

Meanwhile, West Virginia stamped their ticket today by upsetting ACC-bound Boston College, and rather impressively.  West Virginia led by as much as 25 early in the game, and when BC made their run, they were able to endure it and eventually put it away in the final minutes of the game.

Will the Big East be able to get seven teams into the tournament?  It's still possible.  Notre Dame certainly has a problem, but there's a lot of basketball to be played between now and Friday night.  I'm sure they won't be the only bubble team that will flounder before it's all said and done.

In other news, Louisville keeps their outside shot at a #1 seed alive by handling TCU in the first round of the C-USA Tourney.  Buffalo kept their bubble alive by handling Toledo.  St Joseph's is alive too by beating Richmond

The key afternoon games pit NC State vs. Florida State, Villanova vs. Pitt (winner could sneak a #3 seed after BC's flounder), Utah vs. Colorado State, mid-major bubble Akron vs. Western Michigan, mid-major bubble UTEP vs. Hawaii and Iowa St. vs. Baylor.

Posted at 03:17 pm by Expertise
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