Archives for March 2009

Douchebracket Regional Finals Results- David K. Regional

By: David K.

Fifty years from now, when your grandchildren ask you about the all-time greatest performances in Douchebracket history, you will have to mention Rachel Nichols’ run in 2009.  It has been legend… wait for it… legendary!

Sweet 16
#3 Rachel Nichols vs. #7 T-Shirts under basketball jerseys
Despite a spirited effort by Oklahoma’s Tony Crocker and the long sleeve t-shirt he rocks under his jersey, T-Shirts was absolutely no match for Rachel.  Maybe T-Shirts was hypnotized by Rachel’s eyes since she only blinks once every twenty seconds or maybe it was her over-dramatizing every sentence she said like she was a soap opera star.  Whatever is was Rachel came ready to play and it showed in the final score.

#16 Cub fans who blame Steve Bartman vs. #4 Around the Horn
It was a memorable run for the 16 seed Cub fans, but their Cinderella story ended abruptly at the hands of Around the Horn.  Woody Paige’s yelling for no reason and asinine arguments threw Cub fans off their game from the start.  In an absolutely disgusting act that I am sure Jay Mariotti would fully support on the show, Around the Horn showed absolutely no class at the end of the game when host Tony Reali crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it in the face of one of the fans as the clock read zeroes.  Cub fans then camped outside his house the next day waiting for him to emerge from his domicile while sending him death threats, blaming him for being their curse.

Regional Final
#3 Rachel Nichols vs. #4 Around the Horn
You know how when Pittsburgh played Villanova in the Elite 8 this past weekend, it was pretty much a win-win for the Big East Conference seeing as one of their teams was guaranteed to advance to the Final Four.  This is how ESPN felt heading into the match-up.  The biggest difference between the Pitt/Nova game and this showdown was that there was no last second dramatics needed.  Rachel rolled the entire game and then interviewed herself on the court afterwards which led to this awkward sign-off.  “Rachel Nichols told me, Rachel Nichols, that she’s glad she won the game.  And she hopes you vote for me, I mean, I hope you vote for her.  Wait… Whatever.  I’m Rachel Nichols, EEEEEEE SSSSSS PPPPPPPP NNNNNNNNNN.”

Vote in the Dbag Bracket Final Four

Here we go! Polls close at 11pm central on Thursday night. Soon after the title game poll will open. Vote as many times as you like

Top Ten Coaching Jobs in College Basketball

By: David K.

Billy Gillespie gets the boot at Kentucky after not meeting expectations in his two seasons.  John Calipari is attempting to pick up the pieces in Lexington as he bolts from Memphis to help re-build UK.  Tony Bennett leaves Washington State for Virginia while VCU’s Anthony Grant makes the jump from mid-major to major conference by taking the reigns at Alabama.  Ah yes, the college basketball coaching carousel is already spinning round and round.

When Tom Crean left Marquette to become the head coach at Indiana last year, his reasoning was simple; “Because It’s Indiana.  It’s Indiana.”  That sparked debate among my friends and me about the top ten coaching jobs in college basketball. Here is my list ranked 1-10, meaning if you left job #8 for job #6, it would be considered a step-up.

I took into consideration the following factors:
-the history of the program’s success
-success of the team under their current coach
-the longevity of past coach’s tenures
-recruiting abilities

10. Indiana-
This position has certainly taken a hit since the whole Kelvin Sampson debacle.  But as Tom Crean demonstrated when he left Marquette for IU, it is still a very desirable destination because “It’s Indiana.  It’s Indiana.”

Bob Knight not only left his stamp on this job by winning three NCAA Championships, but also because of his eccentric personality.  However, since the General took the Hoosiers to the Final Four in 1992, IU has only returned once (in 2002 as a five-seed in a season they finished with 12 losses.)  In fact, the program has had 13 double-digit loss seasons since 1994-’95 and have not made in past the second round of the tourney.

Long-term history helps Indiana’s stock, but if Crean does not get the Hoosiers back on the winning track soon, this job will continue to lose some of its glamour.

9. Arizona-

It is to be assumed that ‘Zona interim coach Russ Pennell will not retained after this off-season.   Arizona has already stated that they intend to hold a national search to fill the up-coming vacancy, and there should be a plethora of quality coaching candidates wanting to come to the desert this off-season.

The legendary Lute Olsen built the Wildcats into a national powerhouse before having to retire due to health reasons.  ‘Zona has made 25 straight trips to the tourney and because of it’s location out west, it is always a hotbed for high school recruits from all over the U.S.

8. Michigan State-
Since 1976 only two men have been in charge of the MSU program, Jud Heathcoate and Tom Izzo.  Izzo took the reigns in ’95 as has led the Spartans to a National Title and eleven straight trips to the Big Dance.  State hasn’t finished with a below .500 record in more than twenty years.

Sparty has taken control as “the team” in the Big Ten due to their success and the recent downfall of Indiana meaning they are the top program in the Midwest.



7. Syracuse-

Jim Boeheim has put Syracuse on the national map.  In his 33 years with the Orange, Boeheim has won 20-plus games in all but one season, won one National Championship, and finished runner-up twice.  All Big East schools get an extra boost in these rankings because it the elite conference in the country.  A lot of players want to play in the Big East and a lot of coaches want to coach in it as well.

When Boeheim decides to hang it up, this job will likely draw interest from numerous major conference coaches.

6. UConn-
What helps the Huskies most is that they are consistently one of the top teams in the premiere country in America.  Year-in and year-out, they bring in some of the top talent in the nation as 13 Huskies are currently in the NBA.

Jim Calhoun deserves much of the credit for bringing UConn to the upper-echelon of college hoops.  Since taking over in 1986, Connecticut has been to ten Elite 8’s and brought home two NCAA Titles.  When Calhoun steps down, probably in the next couple years, expect to see a lot of interest in his job.

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5. Kentucky-
Historically, Kentucky is the winningest college basketball program of all time.  But their “drought” during the past decade has decreased their current prominence.  They have not made the Final Four since 1998 when they won their seventh National Championship.

Adolf Rupp obviously put Kentucky on the map during his 42 year span as head coach.  Since then major names like Eddie Sutton and Rick Pitino have held the job.  But I think the recent defection of Tubby Smith to Minnesota and Billy Gillespie’s getting the quick pink slip hurts the value of this job a little bit.  Of course, with Calipari about to leave Memphis to head to UK, it also shows the value the position still holds.

4. Kansas-
When you look at KU’s coaches since 1983, it’s an impressive list; Larry Brown, Roy Williams, and Bill Self.  Consider that Brown left Kansas for the NBA and Williams for UNC, and it shows just how respected this position is in the college basketball world.  Add in that Bill Self left a prominent Big Ten school in Illinois to take the job, and you can see why it is listed at number four.

What puts Kansas ahead of Kentucky is their recent success; 20 straight NCAA Tourney berths, three Final Fours since 2002, and of course last year’s National Title.

3. UCLA-

I could see the argument that UCLA should be number one because of the success that John Wooden brought to the Bruins in the 1960’s and 70’s, including seven straight National Titles.  But since Wooden retired in 1975, UCLA has had eight head coaches.

The Bruins are still the cream of the crop out West, but despite having made three consecutive trips to the Final Four from 2006-2008, have fallen behind Duke and Carolina in desirable destinations.

2. Duke-
How anxious are Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski for the day that Mike Krzyzewski decides to retire.  While Duke does not have the historic success of a UCLA, or Kentucky, their recent success is second to none.  Since Coach K became head coach in 1981, Duke ranks number one in NCAA Championships (3), Final Fours (10), and NCAA Tournament wins (71).

Coach K has brought Duke to the top of the college basketball world.  Every coach will be drooling over this job when it finally becomes available.

1. North Carolina-
It was a major statement when Roy Williams left a Kansas team that he had just taken to the National Championship game to head to UNC.  Sure, Williams had been an assistant at Carolina under Dean Smith for 11 seasons, but to leave a year-in, year-out National Title contender where you had just spent the last 15 years as head coach to take over the Tar Heels certainly says something.

Dean Smith set the bar at North Carolina, piling up 879 wins in 37 years as head coach.  Carolina is second all-time with 17 Final Four appearances and has won four National Championships.  UNC is always a major player in the recruiting race, pulling in the top high school players from all around the country, including 50 McDonald’s All-Americans.

Honorable Mentions: Georgetown, Louisville, Memphis

Illinois and Northwestern Seeking New Rivalry Trophy

By Paul M. Banks

EVANSTON, Ill. — The University of Illinois and Northwestern University are collaborating to establish a new trophy for the winner of the football game between the two institutions. The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy, which went to the winner of the Illinois-Northwestern football game from 1945-2008, was retired following the 2008 contest and both schools have agreed to play for a new trophy beginning in 2009.

“Out of tremendous respect for the Native American community, the two universities decided in November that we would institute a new rivalry trophy in 2009,” said Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s director of athletics and recreation. “To be certain, Illinois and Northwestern have a rich history and we want to identify a rivalry trophy that will last for generations. Because of the rivalry and what it means to so many people in the state, we wanted to let our fans have a say in helping us choose the next rivalry trophy.”

Both institutions are asking their fans for feedback on the new trophy by participating in an online poll on each of the school’s athletics web sites. Four possible ideas, along with the opportunity to offer an alternative, will be provided until April 15. The schools expect to announce the new trophy around each of their spring football games on April 25.

Four possible suggestions for the new series trophy include the following:


• The Land of Lincoln Trophy –
A replica of Lincoln’s stove pipe hat mounted on a piece of White Oak (Illinois’ state tree)

Basic and solid, like Dr. Chester Frazier, although not very inspiring or original
• President’s Trophy – Recognizing the four presidents associated with the state of Illinois: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama.

What I’m likely going to vote for, even though the NHL already has dibs on the name.

• The Popcorn Bowl –– Named after the Illinois state snack.

LAME!!! Although at least the game would finally get its long overdue nickname, but it would be better if the game’s nickname were more dramatic and exciting, like BYU-Utah (the Holy War) Oregon-Oregon St. (The Civil War) or Oklahoma-Texas (Red River Shootout). Something like the Prairie State Punishing, only a lot better would work.


• Graham-Grange Fire Bell (original series trophy started in 1941 was a fire bell)
— Named after two of the greatest players at each school — Otto Graham of Northwestern and Red Grange of Illinois.

This isn’t bad, I think this one will actually win.


Fans can vote for one of these four choices, or add their own name, by visiting here

College Hoops 101

By: David K.

Welcome to a weekly article at thesportsbank.net where I will give you the 101 on what has happened in the week of college basketball and what is to come in the days ahead.  One week remaining in the season… what am I going to do with myself after next Monday?

Rewind
-First and foremost, I owe TSB.net’s Peter Christian an apology.  In our staff picks at the beginning of the season, Peter picked Villanova to make it to the Elite Eight, and I called him crazy.  Not only did ‘Nova exceed Peter’s expectations, but his boy Scottie Reynolds hit the game-winning shot with a half-second left in what will certainly be a NCAA Tournament highlight that we will all see over and over for the next fifty years.

In all actuality, the Pitt/Nova game probably never should have come down to the Reynolds’ game-winner.  I am not sure if Jay Wright or the inbounder (Reggie Redding) is to blame, but what a terrible decision made late in the game.  Why the Wildcats went for the home run inbounds pass while leading by two with 10.3 seconds left is baffling.  Throw it to your guard, have him get fouled, and go to the free throw line.  Instead, the Hail Mary is picked off; Pitt gets fouled and ties the game at the charity stripe.  I really like Wright and the call was gutsy, but back-fired worse than Happy Gilmore’s puck trick with the golf chick.

-If you watched the Michigan State Sweet 16 game, you probably saw about 613 cutaway shots of Tom Izzo’s wife, Lupe.  While Peter claims she looks like she belongs on an episode of The Sopranos, I cannot help but wonder if she even understands the game of basketball.  At the end of the game when things were very exciting, she sat there with a stoic look on her face as if she did not know what was going on.  Or maybe she has been injected with so much botox that she was trying to smile but was just unable to do so.  Good thing we will get to see 483 more shots of her during the Final Four.

-Big ups to Marquette’s Jerel McNeal who was named a second team All-American.  A well-deserved honor for McNeal and not one that I would have imagined at the beginning of the season.

-Seth Curry, the younger brother of Davidson’s Stephen Curry and nation’s leading scorer among freshman, has decided to transfer from Liberty to pursue opportunities to play against tougher competition.  Curry will likely end up at an ACC school, possibly Virginia Tech where his father played, but I still am going to send him pamphlets about how Marquette is such a fantastic college institution.  (UPDATE: Seth Curry has committed to Duke and will be eligible for the 2010-11 season.  And I just threw up in my mouth.)

-Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens has decided to turn pro.  DUMB.  Mullens was the Buckeyes’ sixth man and while he showed steady improvement throughout the season, he is nowhere near ready to contribute in the association.  He still has plenty of potential and is an athletic seven-footer which should still make him a late-lottery/mid first round pick.  If Mullens would have stayed in school, The Ohio State likely would have been a top ten team next season.  The only plus to Mullens’ decision is that he won’t end up on my or Peter’s most hated players in college basketball list next season because he looks like a real doofus and has an Adam Morrison-like porn stache going on.

Fast Forward
NIT Championship, Thursday (6:00)
The NIT Final Four features Baylor vs. San Diego State and Penn State vs. Notre Dame.  I’ll take San Diego State vs. Notre Dame in the title game with the Aztecs taking down the Irish to claim the irrelevant championship.

North Carolina vs. Villanova, Saturday
UNC was my and pretty much everybody else’s pre-season pick to roll all the way to the National Championship, but people cooled off when they actually lost a couple games during conference play.  As much as I enjoy watching Nova and would love to see a Big East team in the Finals, I just don’t think they can knock off the Heels with how dominant Carolina was against Gonzaga and Oklahoma.  UNC is just too big and strong inside with running out different bodies down low.  Nova’s guards will need to play out of their mind for the Cats to pull off the upset.
Prediction: UNC 89, Villanova 76

UConn vs. Michigan State, Saturday
I am not going to lie, as much as I dislike Michigan State, they might be the perfect team to take down a UConn sqaud that has saved its best ball for the tourney.  Sparty has the depth and size inside to compete with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien and the quickness in their guard play to hang with A.J. Price and Kemba Walker.  The x-factor (pardon the cliche) will be the match-up between the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson and State’s Raymar Morgan.  Then again, if Thabeet gets into early foul trouble, the Spartans could run UConn right out of the arena just like they did to Louisville.  Oh, and Sparty is playing in their backyard in Detroit.
Prediction: Michigan State 73, UConn 65

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The Drive to 225
My drive for watching 225 college basketball games this season has already been completed.  Like I predicted, the dream of reaching 300 was aiming a bit too high.  I’ll settle with around 275.

Games watched through 3/22: 270

Games watched this past week: 14
Davidson at St. Mary’s
Penn State at Florida
Kentucky at Notre Dame
UConn vs. Purdue
Memphis vs. Missouri
Pitt vs. Xavier
Villanova vs. Duke
Syracuse vs. Oklahoma
Louisville vs. Arizona
Kansas vs. Michigan State
UConn vs. Missouri
Villanova vs. Pitt
Louisville vs. Michigan State
North Carolina vs. Oklahoma

DBag Bracket Banks Regional Champion

By Paul M. Banks

Welcome to the d-bag bracket, a tournament deciding the most insufferable douchebags in all of sports. Please feel free to vote early and vote often for your choice in the Final Four.

Regional Champion: Non-Academically affiliated Notre Dame Fans.

It’s not every year the city of Chicago cancels a long-running parade. And when that rare event coincided with the inaugural year of the douchebracket- ND fans got their ticket punched to the Final 4. The large group of drunk morons engaging in stupid and illegal behavior at the Southside Irish parade (and you know many of them were repping the Golden Dome despite having no actual legitimate connection to the school) clinched it. The one ND alum currently in my social circle, Jim the CF on my rec. league softball team, is a pretty cool guy and a couple weeks ago he read the site and felt compelled to tell me how much he can’t stand these people. It’s similar to how I feel about the central Illinois townies and thuggish ruggish uneducated Chicagoans who think they know as much about/love the Illini as much as I do.

This regional’s #3 seed are the most egregious offenders within a special kind of douchebag classification- white trash idiots aligning themselves with front-runner schools (despite the fact the Fighting Irish haven’t won anything important in either sport for 20+ years) because….1.) Maybe their brother or cousin or somebody attended the school and they’ve been wasted in South Bend a couple times 2.) They’re Irish-American and they ignore this fact pointed out by commenter “Zoo” in round one:

“#3 should take this bracket hands down. Just because you’re Irish shouldn’t make you a Notre Dame fan…Why are they the Fighting Irish anyway? Notre Dame is French.”

I’m guessing these people have never been to the cathedral on Paris’ river Seine! So how did they rout #13 University of Michigan fans in the elite 8 game and squeeze past #2 Roger Clemens in the sweet 16?

It was a very tall order considering that Clemens is a guy who:

1.) Lived a big lie long after everyone stopped believing it

2.) Cheated on his wife with a teenager.

3.) Threw his wife under the bus to try and save his own ass

4.) Had no concept of “team” and made his own selfish rules and double standards during the last few years of his career

5.) Threw a bat at Mike Piazza in a fit of World Series roid rage

6.) I’ll stop here because this could go on for a thousand words, point being that this was a classic douchebracket battle.

The Regional final game against UM fans is reminiscent of when the two football teams each year on the third Saturday in September. When that stadium is filled each autumn, it is to me………well, remember when hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he “wanted Israel wiped off the map”?

All these bandwagon unaffiliated Fighting Irish fans are more evil and dangerous than the Taliban because their existence

-Validates the hypocritical holier-than-thou attitude the school has at every level; from the gelatinous Charlie Weiss to the horribly unprofessional press relations department.

-Creates the inflated consumer demand equilibrium that yielded a special college football television contract no other team has and this stupid notion they should be regularly covered by the Chicago sports media. South Bend is in a different state and time zone from the second city. They are NOT and never have been our home team!

Points From The Point: Frozen Four Edition

by Bryan Vickroy

Lace up the skates, tape up the sticks, and foil the fists, it’s postseason hockey time!  These 16 teams have a dream, to march into Washington, DC, but only four will be voted into the Frozen Four, no congressional investigation needed.  It’s election weekend in college hockey, and only the winners skate on.

This year’s four region, and hosts are :

East:  Bridgeport, CT  (Yale), Bridgeport Arena at Harbor Yard

Northeast:  Manchester, NH (New Hampshire), Verizon Wireless Arena

Midwest:  Grand Rapids, MI (Western Michigan), Van Andel Arena

West:  Minneapolis, MN (Minnesota), Mariucci Arena

Per NCAA guidelines, host universities must play “at home.”  This is mostly for ticket purposes, as it ensures that all the games are sold out.  This year, both Yale (East) and New Hampshire (Northeast) get the benefit of friendly faces in the stands.

HIGHLIGHTS

Before we get into all 16 teams, let’s look at a couple highlights of the tournament

Tournament Favorites

Boston University: Overall #1, Ranked #1 in both the polls and Pairwise rankings.  Regular season and postseason champs, Hockey East

Notre Dame:  Spent time ranked at #1 throughout the year.  Lost national title game last year.  Regular season and tournament champs, Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

Darkhorses

Yale:  Balanced, defensive hockey teams who capitalizes on mistakes.  Which players do you shut down?  Played in, and won, big games this season.  Regular season and tournament champs, East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC).

Minnesota Duluth:  Found their stride down the backstretch of the season.  Went from bubble status to trendy national champion pick.  Goaltender and scorers all playing out of their minds.  Can the good vibes continue?  Tournament Champs, Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

Players to Watch

Jaques Lamoureux, F, Air Force:  Second most goals in the nation.  A threat to light the lamp every time he touches the puck.  Deadly on the power play.

Ryan Duncan, F, North Dakota:  Won Hobey Baker Award in 2007 as nation’s top player.  Off season, but solid two way forward who can turn it on in open ice.

Alex Stalock, G, Minnesota Duluth:  One goal given up in the WCHA Final Five, including back to back shutouts.  Unbeatable in net, but it’s an adventure when he plays the puck outside of the crease.

Jordan Pearce, G, Notre Dame:  In net for all of the Fighting Irish’s 20 unbeaten streak.  8 shutouts and a 1.6 goals against.  Given up more than three goals only three times all season.

Best Games

Minnesota Duluth vs. Princeton:  An old fashioned goalie duel.  Expect free hockey in this game, and a lot of tense moments.  Which team’s sniper will solve the puzzle first?

Michigan vs. Air Force:  Expect the scoreboard to light up in this one.  Both teams have first rate scorers who can do damage in the blink of an eye.  Air Force likes a wide open game, and Michigan has the speed to fly with them.

Regional Breakdown

East

1)Michigan vs. 4)Air Force, Friday 3/27 (2:00pmCT)

Scoring, it’s what Ann Arbor is good at:  These Wolverines like to score.  Aaron Palushaj and Louie Caporusso were both in the top 5 in the nation, including a 24-1 record when Caporusso records a point.  A late season hot streak was fueled by the ability of the rest of the roster to step up the pace.  Nine national titles in program history, but none in over 10 years.  Tournament flameouts have become customary, usually starring a goaltender meltdown.  Backstop Bryan Hogan showed the symptoms against Notre Dame in the CCHA title game.  Will the Wolverines fight back this time?

Footlocker.com

Shock and Awe:  If anything seems oxymoronic, its jets and ice.  However, the Air Force program has taken off recently.  They started this season 13-0, but leveled off the middle of the season before bouncing back to claim the Atlantic Hockey title.  The Falcons live and die offensively by Jaques Lemoureux, ranked second nationally in points, and nine game winners to his credit.  Goalie Andrew Volkening is riding back to back shutouts.

Air Force has the speed to skate with Michigan, but they don’t have the offensive depth.  Barring a sieve-tastic performance by Hogan, the Wolverines should escape.  Michigan 4-2

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2)Yale vs. 3)Vermont, Friday 3/27 (5:30pm CT)

Home Cookin’:  The best season in school history continues, right down the road.  The Bulldogs host the regional, and hopte to parlay that into a trip to DC.  Yale won both the ECAC regular season and tournament titles.  Smart, strong, and balanced, they have five players over 25 points.  Alex Richards is strong in net for the eighth best defensive team in the nation.  Beware their penalty kill.  Besides being ranked third, sophomore Broc Little leads everyone with five short handed goals.

CanTheyMount a Defense:  Of all the teams in the tournament, Vermont’s stock seems to be dropping the fastes.  After giving up only 18 goals in the 2 months prior to the postseason, they gave up 18 in their last four games.  Viktor Stalber is an adapt scorer, but one man can only do so much.  The Catamounts have success when the pester and pressure opposing teams .  Turnovers and defensive lapses have cost them, then need to refocus or go home to the hippie wonderland that is Vermont.

Stoic Yale uses the home ice to their advantage and continues the dream season.  Take that Harvard!  Yale 3-1

EAST REGION FINAL

1)Michigan vs. 2)Yale, Saturday 3/28 (5:30pm CT)

For all the talent and history, Michigan never seems to fulfill their promise.  Playing on Yale’s ice is even less promising.  Yale drops some knowledge on Michigan, as Hogan fulfills the Wolverine curse and melts down in a big spot.  Skull and Bones is pleased for a field trip to the Frozen Four in the nation’s capitol.

Footlocker.com

Northeast

1)Boston University vs. 4)Ohio State, Saturday 3/28 (4:30pm CT)

One for the Other Thumb:  Five titles this season is not enough for Boston U.  Three tournament titles, and both Hockey East championships are not enough.  The Terriers have not won the national title since 1997.  BU is the top overall seed after missing the tourney for the last two years.  #3 offense and defense, and the second best power play in the land.  Top six defenseman are all NHL blue chippers, and support two forward lines better than most top lines in the country.  Tendency to take too many penalties, and give up power plays.  Focus and determination are the only things than can undermine the Terriers.

Lucky Buckeye:  THE Ohio State University enjoys the title of last team in this year.  After a weekend of turbulent tournament games around the country, the Buckeyes graded out higher than Minnesota and Wisconsin.  This team is young, with 22 freshman and sophomores, and still a year or two away.  Have played the top teams all season, and won’t back down against anyone.  Tough to beat when they don’t make mistakes.

The BU blueline is stronger than anyone else’s.  The Terriers shut down the unripe Buckeyes, adding to the recent post season woes of THE Ohio State University.  Boston U 5-1

2)North Dakota vs. 3)New Hampshire, Saturday 3/28 (1:00pm CT)

Five for Fighting (Sioux):  North Dakota is going for its fifth straight Frozen Four.  To do that, the Sioux have to travel cross country and play on home ince in Manchester, NH.  This team is deep and experience, winning the WCHA regular season title.  Played their way out of a possible #1 seed getting swept in the Final Five.  Can NoDak flip the postseason switch?  Two way defenseman Chay Genoway and 2007 Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan lead the scoring.  Son of former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner Ron Hextall, Bret, also adds some offensive punch.

New Hampshire House of Horrors:  The University of New Hampshire hockey team gets to play close to home.  They might not want to.  The Wildcats have lost twice in Manchester when hosting postseason play, and have lost four straight NCAA games.  Which team will be loet out to play:  the one who ended the regular season with six wins in seven tries, or the team who got sept out of the Hockey East tourney, mustering one goal.  Must have James van Riemsdyk, the second overall pick in 2007, focused and involved.  If they don’t play a full 60 minutes, they’ll be walking home.

NoDak fans travel as well as any group in the country, all sports included.  Fargo residents may have to evacuate, but they’ll all probably be in New Hampshire already The Sioux also show up in the postseason.  UND 4-2

East Region Final

1)Boston University vs. 2)North Dakota, Sunday 3/29 (4:30pm CT)

BU is so strong on the back end that everyone will have trouble scoring.  NoDak doesn’t have the scoring of years past, and are playing an unproven freshman goalie.  Terriers march to a Frozen Four while NoDak waits for the next boat back to campus.

Midwest

1)Notre Dame vs. 4)Bemidji State,  Saturday 3/28 (6:30pm CT)

Glove Save Jesus:  Quick, name the only thing worth watching under the Golden Dome the last few years:  a junktastic Harangody jumper, a limp Clausen fade route, or a Jordan Pierce glove save?  The skating leprechaun wins!  Coach Jeff Jackson, who came over from two titles at Lake Superior State, has led the Irish to a #1 seed after losing the title game last year.  This team has three players with five game winning goals, no other team in the country has more than one.  Gritty and scrappy, a proven group of winners who bring the first true hope of a championship for the millions and millions of true Notre Dame fans since Lou Holtz slobbered on the sidelines.  An NBC contract for this team can’t be far behind for this budding powerhouse.

Eager Beavers:  Bemidji State is a team without a family, or perhaps a dam.  Their conference is dissolving after this year and admission into the WCHA has been a slow progress.  They’ve played games all over the country, including against the US National Develepmont team.  A lethal powerplay, and the stat of an 11-1 record when forward Matt Read scores.  Goliath is their task, and they’re up for it. They almost beat eventual champ Denver in overtime in 2005.

As Jebediah Springfield said, “A noble spirit embiggens every man.”  The Beavers have the spirit, but Notre Dame has Jesus.  The Irish should lay the lumber and win convincingly.  Notre Dame 5-1

2)Northeastern vs. 3)Cornell, Saturday 3/28 (3:00pm CT)

The Team that Almost Could:  An historic season at Northeastern that for just a few moments could be so much more.  They led Hockey East wire to wire, until the final weekend.  Boston U beath them in the last second to claim the conference title.  Then they gave up a goal in the final minute in the Hockey East semis.  Add in a Beanpot Final loss, and the Huskies have shown a soft spot in the big games.  A first Frozen Four would be a good way to erase those stage fright doubts.

Cram the Books and the Boards:  Cornell hockey gives its fans another reason to mock other schools:  lower test scores, less intelligent, and less impotent.  Defense is legendary at the Ivy League school, and they are ranked fourth nationally.  Goaltender Ben Scrivens is the admissions officer here.  He had seven shutouts this year, and a goals against under two.  Seventh least penalized team in the nation, but not afraid to throw the extra elbow or slash around.  They’re smart enough to get away with it.

A game that theologians and purists will enjoy.  Hard hitting and defensive, Cornell answers the hard questions and makes Northeastern a fool at the big boy’s table again.  Cornell 3-2

Midwest Region Final

1)Notre Dame vs. 3)Cornell, Sunday 3/29 (7:00pm CT)

An academic bowl is held, and a hockey game breaks out.  Notre Dame is too tough and determined not to make the Frozen Four and win a championship.  NBC adds another zero to the end of the contract, and the bandwagon fills for the trip to DC.  Charlie Weiss asks for a couple scoring plays.

WEST

1)Denver University vs. 4)Miami (Ohio), Friday 3/27 (3:30pm CT)

P-IR-neers:  Denver managed to get a #1 seed despite finishing second in both the regular season and WCHA tournament.  Fought injuries throughout the season, but deep enough to withstand long absences from top scorers.  Freshman defenseman Patrick Wiercioch runs the point on a formidable power play, and has played his way to their top defenseman.  Struggled against other tournament teams, most of those in conference foes.  Focus on the first game, and a shot at possible redemption awaits in the finals.

Score to Soar:  No other team in the tournament lives or dies by their scoring.  The Redhawks have scored five or more goals in 9 games, but when scoring fewer than three goals they’re 4-11-3.  Struggled down the stretch, but have shutout both Michigan and Notre Dame this year.  Keep the puck out of their hands and they struggle.  Miami averages almost 11 more shots per game than their opponent.  Can they shout out another #1 seed this year?

Denver is getting healthy at the right time, which doesn’t bode well for the Redhawks of Miami.  Special teams can only keep you in a game for so long.  Denver can score with the best of them.  DU 3-1

2)Minnesota Duluth vs. 3)Princeton, Friday 3/27 (7:00pm CT)

Duluth, Duluth, Duluth is on Fire:  The hottest team in the country is Minnesota Duluth.  After coasting their way through most of the season, they Bulldogs locked down on defense in the last month, and started to roll.  MacGregor Sharp has as much game as his name, tied for second in the nation with 25 goals.  Goalie Alex Stalock has been unbeatable in the last three weeks, single handedly winning the WCHA tournament.  Has the offense and goaltending to beat anybody.  Biggest threat may come from Stalock himself, as he has struggled playing the puck outside of the net, giving up goals on the turnovers.  Keep him in net and he’s magnificent.

InZane in the Net Frame:  Princeton brings scoring balance to a whole new level, with 11 players with at least nine goals.  Backstopping the Tigers is, possible the best goalie in the nation, Zane Kalemba.  This team doesn’t take penalties, and makes teams work for everything.  Multiple overtime games in the ECAC tournament.  Kalemba can keep a game going, someone needs to make sure to end it on a happy note.

Get your popcorn ready, and expect to get your money’s worth.  Also expect to get some extra sessions.  A goalie duel at its best, where even mistakes won’t be enough to win a game.  Stalock keeps the lift bridge down and himself anchored in net.  UMD 1-0

West Region Final

1)Denver University vs. Minnesota Duluth, Saturday 3/28 (7:00pm CT)

A rematch of the WCHA championship game from a week ago.  They switch sides of the river, but it won’t make a difference.  Staylock stayz blazing and continues his Patrick Roy portrayal.  Let freedom ring, but not the goal horn.  UMD to the Frozen Four.

So upon further review, the Frozen Four should looke like this:

-East:  Yale

-Northeast:  Boston University

-Midwest:  Notre Dame

-West:  Minnesota Duluth

Thanks to it being the postseason, these games can be found on one of the multitude of sports channels available these days, though I think most are supposed to be on the ESPN family, as well as the CBS Sports channel.  Catch some games, you won’t regret it.

Keep it real, and as the immortal Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Points from the Point

by Bryan Vickroy

Howdy doodily sports fanarinos!  A little something new for your sports palette:  a dosage of authentic, All American college hockey!  How and why? Well the higher-ups understand the greatness of hockey and felt a constitutional duty to educate the public.  So a guru I became.  No I’m not Canadian.  No I’m not a Minnesotan, though I have plenty of street and ice cred there.  I have played hockey all my life, and even coached a little bit.  Most importantly, I posses the most important hockey attribute: a head of luxurious McDreamy hair.  I am the dynamo of volition, so without further ado, Let’s Play Hockey!

Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Year End Review

Affiliated Schools:

Alaska Anchorage    Minnesota Duluth

Colorado College Minnesota State

Denver North Dakota

Michigan Tech St Cloud State

Minnesota Wisconsin

The 2008-09 season in the Wild Wild West felt a bit off.  The illustrious programs like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, all started the season in horrible form.  Nonconference drubbings led to a perception that the league was down this year.  Yes and no.  The league wasn’t so much down as it was in flux.  The defections of one and done freshman over the years had eroded the conference greats’ rosters.  The first few months of the season were spent filling freshman and junior transfers into different holes.  Minnesota started the season with 12 freshmen.  The top three teams from last year were all starting  new goaltenders.

North Dakota, coming off four straight Frozen Four appearances, was under .500 until 2009.  Wisconsin, after sneaking into the postseason with a losing record, didn’t get a win until their eighth game of the season.  The high octane Gophers never won more than two games in a row all season.  It seemed parity had caught up to the big boys, and the standings saw the likes of Alaska Anchorage, St Cloud State, and Minnesota Duluth atop the standings.

This may not have been a banner year for the WCHA, but it still received three bids to the NCAA tournament, and its status as a super conference will never be questioned.  These rosters are full of young kids who got lots of playing time, and will most likely be back next year.  It looks like next season will be a shootout, just like the good ‘ol days.

This past weekend brought the WCHA Final Five to the world’s most revered ice sheet, the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  At stake was the conference automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.  For the first time in the history of the event, a team won three games in three days to earn the automatic bid.  Minnesota Duluth held the potent offenses of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Denver to one goal TOTAL in the three games.  Tournament MVP, UMD goalie Alex Stalock recorded two shutouts, and secured the Bulldogs their first trip to the postseason since 2004.

Going into the tournament, North Dakota and Denver had assured themselves as postseason locks, while Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, and Wisconsin were all considered bubble teams.  UMD got the job done, while Minnesota and Wisconsin both fell flat in their first games.  Minnesota had a shot at as the last team in, which would have forced them to play in the West Regional on their home ice, Mariucci Arena.  However, events transpired in other tournaments, popping Minnesota’s bubble, and leaving them as the last team out.

WCHA Year End Awards

All WCHA Team

(Stats in conference play only)

Forward:  Ryan Stoa, Minnesota, Junior (19 G, 17A, 36):  The leader of the Gophers had a hunger for the great light this season, leading the league in goals and overall points.  Streaky at times, but brought a veteran leadership to the minions of freshmen on the Minnesota roster this year. (2nd Round, 2005, Colorado)

Forward:  Justin Fontaine, Minnesota Duluth, Sophomore (10 G, 24 A, 34):  Led conference in assists with nearly one per game as a sophomore.  Nearly all the offense for a plucky, defensive minded team with only two other players over 20 points.  (Eligible for 2009 Entry Draft)

Footlocker.com

Forward:  Ryan Lasch, St Cloud State, Junior (15 G, 15 A, 30):  Played on one of the top lines in the WCHA.  This California kid, who was a Hobey Baker finalist last season, notched more than a point per game production.  Besides eight powerplay goals, tallied four game winners, tops in the conference.  (Undrafted)

Defenseman:  Jamie McBain, Wisconsin, Junior (6 G, 22 A, 28):  No not THE McBain, that’s Rainier Wolfcastle.  This McBain was the elder on a youthful Badger team who caugh fire midseason. The league’s top scoring defenseman quarterbacked one of the most powerplays in the league.  (2nd Round, 2006, Carolina)

Defenseman:  Patrick Wiercioch, Freshman, Denver (8 G, 18 A, 26):  Ran the powerplay, averaged more than a point per game, and a plus/minus of +8.  All as a true freshman.  Picked up the offensive slack for a team that battled injuries this season, and still finished in second place.  Established himself as a top flight defenseman in a very short time.  (2nd Round, 2008, Ottawa)

Goalie:  Alex Stalock, Minnesota Duluth, Junior (2.23 GAA, .920 Save, 3 Shutouts):  Led the league in goals against and shutouts, second in save percentage.  Played the part of Patrick Roy over the last three weeks and carried a defensive minded team to a postseason berth on his shoulders and canary yellow pads.  Needs to stay in the net to be most effective, not playing pucks in corners. (2005, 4th Round, San Jose)

Player of the Year Award

Jamie McBain, Defenseman, Wisconsin:  Tough call between Stoa and McBain, but head to head, conference finish, and the fact that in my world defenseman (like myself) are demigods give the nod to Jamie McBain.  He kept the team from falling off a cliff after its 0-6-1 start, leading them to a solid third place finish.  Gave an old school identity and grit to a team that lacked defensive balance at times.  Is the conference finalist for the 2009 Hobey Baker Award.

Freshman of the Year Award

Jordan Schroeder, Forward, Minnesota (11 G, 24 A, 35):  Such a tough call.  As impressive as Wiercioch was for Denver, Schroeder was even more impressive for The U.  Playing of the top line, he fed Stoa and Jay Barriball more than Homer Simpson at the Frying Dutchman.  Continues the legacy of fabulous Gopher freshman.  Native of Prior Lake, MN, played for the US National program in Michigan before coming back home to Minneapolis.

Footlocker.com

Coach of the Year Award

Dave Hakstol, North Dakota:  For a team who has been to four straight Frozen Fours, this year’s version of the Fighting Sioux seemed to be frozen until 2009.  However they must have made a mighty good New Year’s resolution.  Since the calendar has flipped, the Fighting Sioux have lost only two of 19 games in 2009.  Roster turnover and a starting freshman goalie caused early season drama, but the team turned it around and took home the McNaughton Cup as regular season champs for a record 14th time.

Now that you are in an enlightened state, let me know what you think.  We’ll let the Zamboni take a couple laps, and try it again with the NCAA Tournament preview in the next couple of days.  We’ll give you a look at all 16 teams, all four regions, and the most anticipated games of the other March Madness, as college hockey begins its assault on the Frozen Four.

Keep it real, and as the immortal Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Douchebracket David K. Regional Semifinals

Welcome to the D-Bag Bracket, a tournament deciding the most insufferable douchebags in all of sports.  The field of 64 has been narrowed down to 16.  To check out the complete David K. Douchebracket Regional, click here.  Feel free to express your opinion on who should advance to the Elite 8 and Final 4 in the comment area at the end of the article.

By: David K.

Regional Semifinal: #16 “Cub fans who blame Steve Bartman” vs. #4 “Around the Horn”

How #16 “Cub fans who blame Steve Bartman” got here: Since we are all about making history here at thesportsbank.net, “Cub fans who blame Steve Bartman” not only becomes the first ever 16 seed to win a tournament game, but also pulls off the second round upset of #8 “Acronym Signs.”  Can you say Cinderella?  For the record, “Brett Favre as a Jet” had a turnover on a terrible, completely unnecessary pass late in the game.

How #4 “Around the Horn” got here: Nobody has had a tougher road to the Regional Semifinals than “Around the Horn.”  After narrowly escaping #13 “National Signing Day” in the first round, #12 “Luke Harangody’s Fadeaway Jump Shot” took “Around the Horn” down to the wire in the second round.  Luckily, Jay Mariotti, Woody Paige, and Jackie MacMullen combined for one hell of an effort and brought their douchness ‘A’ game.

Regional Semifinal: #3 “Rachel Nichols” vs. #7 “T-Shirts under basketball jerseys”

How #3 “Rachel Nichols” got here: “Rachel Nichols” is like the UConn of this year’s NCAA Tournament, just running over their competition in the opening two rounds.  The Huskies won their first two tourney game by a combined 82 points, Rachel Nichols by 87 points.  Her doucheness absolutely destroyed Mel Kiper Jr. in the first round and then easily took down the upset minded #11 “Fans who yell ‘GET IN THE HOLE’ after a long drive or iron shot.”  Rachel clearly saved her best ball for the end of the season, just like any good team does.

How #7 “T-Shirts under basketball jerseys” got here: In a tightly contested opener, “T-Shirts” got a questionable call that looked like a flop to save their game against #10 “The Amount of Charges called in College Basketball.”  Then in a Christian Laettner, Tyus Edney, Bryce Drew type thriller, “T-Shirts” pulled off the second round upset of #2 “That Guy” in Fantasy Football, in a match-up that will go down as one of the greatest Douchebracket games of all time.  All the credit goes to Oklahoma’s Tony Crocker, whose long-sleeve t-shirt under his jersey hit the half-court heave at the buzzer to win the game.

The Week in Review Late March

“SEND IT IN- BIG FELLA”

By Paul M. Banks

-Wow! Last week, I missed compiling a Week in Review for the first time in the site’s year history; obviously I was crazy busy (this phrase translates into “wicked busy” in New England English) for that to happen. I’ll recap a lot of what kept me so occupied, and remember it was my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- otherwise known as the first two days of the NCAA tournament. In honor of March Madness, I’m going to end each item with a catchphrase of our favorite b-ball announcer Bill Raftery.

-On the first day of March Madness I gave a presentation entitled “Sports Media in the Post-newspaper Landscape” at Roosevelt University on Michigan Avenue. It was part of the Scholastic Press Association’s Annual Conference. I was up against some heavy hitters (As Kanye says “really heavy hitters, 87 go-getters, two hoes like John Ritter”) from Fox, CBS, the Trib etc. in my time slot, so I was I really proud to have a full house in my room. And thank you Lisa for making that awesome power-point presentation that dazzled everyone………“ELEVATED!…..with the KISS of the glass”

-I also took part in my first ever parade on the 14th, marching with Da Bus Chicago Bears Football Club. I’ll let Da Bus founder Tim Shanley describe the experience.

“WHAT A DAY!!! A sun-splashed, blue sky day that had temps close to 50 degrees brought out a large festive crowd of over 400,000 people to celebrate the 54th downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 14th 2009. Da Bus and it’s crew are celebrating 20 years of tailgating in ’09, and this was the perfect way to kick-off the year long festivities. From the time that Da Bus lined up as float number 36, practically front row, you knew it was going to be a special day. Da Bus, and its crew, marching down Columbus Drive in front of 400,000 people, is a surreal experience in itself. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic and it was hard to hear someone from just a few feet away.

As we strolled past the ABC7 Chicago television camera perched about 20 feet above Columbus Drive, the camera scanned our entire crew, and it also zoomed in and stayed focused on Da Bus. The easiest way to find this video is to google abc7chicago and click on the video link. Scroll down and click on the St.Patrick’s Day Parade, Part 2. Scroll back to the top of the video page. Put your pointer on the video screen to be able to see the time-line.The video is 19.24 minutes long, and Da Bus and its crew come on at the 18.15 minute mark. That is a great download for those of you who were there to celebrate with us, and to get seen on television right in the middle of a huge event taking place in the heart of Chicago.”


-Look for the detailed story behind Da Bus and my interview with founder Tim Shanley as we get closer to the NFL Draft……………….”ONIONS!!!”

-On Saturday my “Tom H to tha Izzo interview/Michigan St. preview was featured on Ball Hype (still not too late to “hype it up” by clicking on the link Tonight the Jayhawks will “see hoop dreams deflate like the true feen’s weight”

-It’s no secret that the “Bracket of Bad” from 670 The Score’s Boers and Bernstein show helped inspire TSB’s “Douchebracket.” In their bracket, “People who use Blue tooth while not driving” was the champion, beating out such noteworthy competitors as Sarah Palin, David Spade’s TV shows, and books by coaches. My pick though would have been Chicago potholes.

-Seriously, every time I drive anywhere in this city it’s like playing a game of Frogger to avoid the giant craters that are EVERYWHERE! Even in the rich, white neighborhoods. I’ve lost two tires in the past nine months due to how shitty the streets are and how undeniably broke this city is. And we want to host the Olympics? HA HA HA!…………”Earl CLARK BARRRR!”

Are you kidding me? I know our 2016 bid was a joke even before a crazy winter created swiss cheese streets to complement the do nothing public transit system, but now I expect us to finish 4th out of the 4 bid cities!…….”

-I have another new and emotional heckler for my work on NBC. Thank you “Jimmy” You helped my Hawks-Sharks preview become the most viewed and 2nd most commented story of the day on NBC Chicago.com’s sports page. Why don’t you come over here and start criticizing the posts. Peter Christian would love to see you in the comment threads.

-Yes, we all got sick of ESPN reminding us that President Barack Obama filled out a bracket- and then we got sick of how bad his bracket is doing. But Coach K. had to voice his complaint about Obama filling one out. I’m sure the Duke leader’s issues/concerns have nothing at all to do with the fact that Coach K. uses state-money to hold Republican fundraisers where he espouses his ultra-right demagoguery. Or with the way he used Team USA basketball as a tool to promote American military hegemony…Nice job in the Nova game too!………“SCOTTIE on the MONEY!!!”

-How come everyone they showed on TV representing VCU during their first round loss to UCLA was…how can I put this delicately? Disgusting white trash? Even their cheerleaders looked nasty with too much spray tanning action and big hair like they just tried out to be in a Bon Jovi video.

-On the flip side, the cameras sure loved those hotties by the Utah state bench! Good lord I was sort of half-hoping the Aggies could eliminate Marquette so we could see more overtly gratuitous shots of those gorgeous blonde mormons as the tournament progressed. SHORRRT-Y! (that’s not a Raffteryism by the way)

-I know both of these Big Ten ballers have seen their teams eliminated from the postseason (Ohio State and Penn State) but it’s still not too late to recap the “text message of the week” from Paul Schmidt

“Take it to the hole, big man” starring Dallas Lauderdale and Tailor Battle. True, it will have more penetration than any movie in history…….”And Schmidt comes out- in the MANTMAN!”

-By the way, did I mention there’s no way in hell our city’s getting the Olympics in 2016?

-Remember in 2006 when Ozzie guillen called A-Rod a hypocrite? Well in Oz’s words “now I look like genius.” As if we needed any more reason to doubt A-Roid’s integrity, he was caught with his pants down with Eliot Spitzer’s madam.

-Yahoo! the web’s fourth highest page in traffic has a news section that is a PATHETIC JOKE! Actually, it makes pathetic jokes look like Walter Cronkite. Here are some of the month’s featured news stories it deemed most important by placing in the prime location on their homepage: Katie Holmes gets a new haircut, Danica Patrick’s tattoo airbrushed out of a picture, Rachael Ray not apologizing for FHM spread she did 6 years ago. I’m considering dropping Yahoo mail, so I can bypass this worthless excuse of a “news” page altogether. You’re dead to me!

-Last week everyone was talking about Comedy Central’s The Daily Show: specifically the episode where Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money received a harsh dressing down from host Jon Stewart. Despite how the interview was marketed, this was not a “feud,” this was a coming-to-Jesus moment for Cramer and an Edward R. Murrow confronting Joseph McCarthy type moment for Stewart. The interview reminded me of a line in “Goodfellas.” The main character, played by Ray Liotta, laments after his guy gets whacked at a time they thought he was getting made: “there’s nothing we could do. He was a made guy, we had to just take it.” Cramer did as well.

Read more about these last two topics at the Washington Times here…….“CARROTS!”

-It’s no surprise that the Chicago Luvabulls got bounced (and lost very badly at that) in the first round of the NBA.com Dance team bracket. Looking at that group I can obviously tell that they were assembled by someone who is definitely not attracted to women…..”the ball was humming my friends”

-This march madness really brought out the country music lyrics in all of us. Watching Illinois I thought to myself “Pour me something strong and tall make it hurricane before I go insane,” A couple days later Marquette and their promising season were dismissed so at least I knew that “I got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my out blues away- and I’ll be ok”……..”ATTACKING the TIN!”

-I know I’ve moved this segment around a lot, and I’ve been told by some that it’s their favorite bit. I think it’s found a new home on late Thu/early Friday. If you enjoyed this segment then…..“Send it on Jerome!”

2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This begins an interesting few weeks.  Now is when we begin to see which underclassmen will be entering the NBA Draft and which will be returning to school.  As the decisions are made, it changes the entire layout of the draft.  These are my projections as to which underclassmen are likely to declare (below you will see a list of who I think will/should stay in school.)  As it is made more concrete as to who is throwing their hat in the ring, we will get a better idea of how the draft might unfold.

1. Sacramento- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and the undoubted number one pick.  He is a double-double machine, a ferocious finisher, and can play facing or with his back to the basket.
Think: Amare Stoudemire

2. Washington – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
-Monroe is an outstanding passer for a big guy and is at his best when taking players off the dribble which is a rare skill to find in a 6-10 player.
Think: Chris Bosh

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.

-Absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  If he is not blocking a shot, he is altering it.  Offensively, his game continues to develop.  He needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Memphis – James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-Harden has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  His offensive repertoire is loaded and is an above average defender even though he played primarily in a 2-3 at ASU.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. *Minnesota- Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-A tremendous athlete for his size, Hill can run the floor, hit the mid-range jumper, and attacks the glass.  He will need to add some muscle to bang down low with the post players in the NBA.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

6. Oklahoma City- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.

-Clark has really elevated his game during the past few weeks.  He has the potential to be a point forward type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.
Think: Lamar Odom

7. Golden State- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Blue Devil finally showed us why he was so hyped since coming to Duke.  He has proven he can be a big-time scorer, knocking down shots from the outside or taking it to the basket.  He will likely only get better once he enters the NBA.
Think: Rudy Fernandez

8. Toronto- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-Evans has led the Memphis charge since John Calipari moved him to the point.  He plays like a man with his ability to almost effortlessly get to the basket.  His shot selection is questionable at times and needs to become more consistent from the outside.
Think: Manu Ginobli

9. ?New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-The Trojan freshman has really come along strong during the past month of the season.  DeRozan is extremely athletic, has a nice mid-range game, and can ‘D’ it up.  His three-point shot needs improvement.
Think: Vince Carter

10. Indiana- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, and when his team needs him to be a scorer.  There might not be a better point guard in college at leading the break.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is probably counting down the days until the NBA Draft.  He chose to play overseas after academic issues prohibited from going to college and has had a difficult time finding his niche.  Still, his potential should be intriguing to NBA scouts.
Think: Kenny Anderson

12. Milwaukee- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym when around the hoop, stroke it from deep, handle the ball, and play a few positions.  His tendency to disappear at important parts of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

13. Charlotte- Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
-Aminu is one of those “upside” picks.  Whoever drafts him probably will not see an immediate contribution, but his size and athleticism will certainly be attractive to an NBA team.
Think: Travis Outlaw

14. Phoenix- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

15. Chicago- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

16. Detroit- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

17. =Philadelphia- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.

-One of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, James is an outstanding athlete.  He shoots the ball well from the perimeter and has an NBA-ready body.
Think: Marvin Williams

18. #Minnesota- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
-Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

19. Atlanta- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.

-Young can elevate, hit it from deep, and has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  He is not the greatest ball-handler on the perimeter, but is ready to contribute right away.
Think: Michael Finley

20. Dallas- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Lawson might be the best floor general in college basketball.  He is gifted in creating with the basketball and finding open teammates, and is very quick with the ball and has improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

21. Portland- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
When Price is on, he can absolutely light it up from deep.  However when his shot is not on, he tends to be too much of a non-factor.  He is a good decision maker and handles the rock fairly well.
Think: Delonte West

22. Utah- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter and must develop more consistency.  His rebounding and passing really help his stock.
Think: Jeff Green

23. New Orleans- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-0, Sr.
-Collison knows how to run an offense and has a lot of success and experience doing so.  He is a smart-decision maker, solid shooter, automatic free-throw shooter, and great on-the-ball defender.  A less than stellar senior season hurt his stock.
Think: Bobby Jackson

24. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
-One of the most decorated players in college basketball defines what toughness is inside.  However, the biggest question is how will his game translate into the NBA?  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level.
Think: Eduardo Najera

25. &Sacramento- Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
-A combo guard, Vasquez has the complete all-around offensive game from handling the ball to lighting it up from deep.  He is not a great defender and needs to add some toughness to contribute at the next level.
Think: Francisco Garcia

26. %Chicago- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.

-An athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

27. ^Minnesota- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
-McNeal elevated his game as an all-around offensive threat this season.  He can handle the ball, drive, and is a much improved shooter.  Add that to his defensive abilities and he could be a late-first round steal.
Think: Charlie Bell

28. Orlando- A.J. Ogilvy, F/C, Vanderbilt, 6-11, So.
-The Aussie has a solid, fundamental low post game and a nice touch around the basket.  He is not very physical or athletic which would be a concern at the next level.
Think: Rasho Nesterovic

29. L.A. Lakers- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
-Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question can kid can flat-out shoot the rock.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  He would be worth the risk this late.
Think: Daequan Cook

30. Cleveland- Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
-Jordan has the size and potential that is intriguing.  He is still growing as an offensive players and has average athleticism at best.  He is a good shot blocker and would be a bit of a project.
Think: Theo Ratliff

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Second Round
31. Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
32. Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
33. Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
34. Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
35. Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
36. Omri Cassipi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
37. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
38. Lester Hudson, PG, UT-Martin, 6-3, Sr.
39. Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
40. Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
41. Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
42. Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
43. Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
44. Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
45. Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
46. Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
47. Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College, 6-1, Sr.
48. Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
49. Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.
50. Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
51. Stefon Jackson, SG, 6-5, UTEP, Sr.
52. Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
53. Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
54. Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
55. Sergio Llull, G, Spain, 6-3, 1988
56. Jeremy Pargo, PG, Gonzaga, 6-2, Sr.
57. Antonio Anderson, SG, Memphis, 6-6, Sr.
58. Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
59. Ben Woodside, PG, 5-11, North Dakota State, Sr.
60. Robert Dozier, F, Memphis, 6-9, Sr.

Declared for the Draft:
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.

Staying in School:
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.

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Other First Round talent likely to stay in school:
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-3, Fr.
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Jrue Holliday, SG, UCLA, 6-4, Fr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
Austin Daye, SF, 6-10, Gonzaga, So.
Cole Aldrich, F/C, Kansas, 6-10, So.
Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-5, So.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-4, Jr.
Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

*Clippers get Minnesota’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protectred) via Marko Jaric trade
?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
=Minnesota gets Philadelphia ’09 1st round pick (from Utah –Gordon Giricek trade-top 22 protected) via Rodney Carney trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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Douchebracket Banks Regional Semifinals

Welcome to the d-bag bracket, a tournament deciding the most insufferable douchebags in all of sports. Please feel free to comment as much as possible  because your feedback will help determine who advances to the Final Four.

By Paul M. Banks

Regional Semi Final #2 Roger Clemens vs. #3 Notre Dame fans with no connection to the school

I think this game could be a national semifinal, not just a regional semifinal as many bracketologists across the country have picked these guys to be their national champions. It’s a lying cheater who threw his wife and close friends under the bus versus people who (for no valid reason) support a team that everyone hates, a team that doesn’t even have the luxury of being hated because they’re good.


How non-academically affiliated Notre Dame fans got here:
this was undoubtedly the stronger portion of the bracket. The #6 People who think Chris Berman is funny destroyed #11 ESPN’s Tim Tebow coverage but fell to ND fans by just one point after leading for 59 minutes of the game. ND had a tough first round opponent in Tyler Hansbrough, who gets more irritating every time he pumps his effete, short T-Rex like arms in celebration, but Psycho T. the man with the worst nickname in all of sports was no match for this group on St. Patrick’s Day when these douchebags are all out in full force. And remember, Chicago has two parades and essentially celebrates the Irish drinking holiday on three separate days each year.

But NOT anymore! After 31 years the city of Chicago suspended the South side Irish parade due to the drunken tomfoolery and rowdiness of inebriated by 10 am hooligans. 54 people were arrested! More than the night Chicago people turned over cars to “celebrate” the Bulls title. You know those morons were probably wearing shamrock beeds, those plastic green hats called…I don’t know those dorky hats that homoerotic dancing men wear and diddley-boppers on their heads. What else were these likely non-high school educated people wearing? Probably plenty of Notre Dame merchandise. And good riddance to the South Side Irish parade. I grew up about 20 minutes from where it takes place, lived in the Chicago area most of my life, and been to it a grand total of one time. And one time too many!

How Roger Clemens got here: by being Roger Clemens and routing Illini fans complaining about the refs in round one. That was the most lopsided game in the tourney so far. Supporters of a fellow juicehead, Barry Bonds, met Clemens in the second round after the seven seed cruised past Peyton Manning’s incessant commercials. These 10 over 7 mild upsets can sometimes be easy to predict. Clemens cheated on his wife with a washed-up drug addicted country singer when she was barely legal meaning he deserved a victory over a group of people who (like followers of Intelligent Design) are too stupid or pig-headed to believe in simple science. But Bonds today is too much of a pariah to see his acolytes advance further in this bracket.

Regional Semi Final  #8 Pro Chief Illiniwek Zealots vs. #13 University of Michigan Fans

A lot of office pools had broken brackets in this side of the regional. While seedings held in the lower part of the bracket, chaos ruled in the upper portion. But consider that II got hate mail from Chief Illiniwek fans just this past week, and a Michigan fan (who didn’t attend the school by the way) actually de-friended me on Facebook for talking trash after Illini won their meeting in the Big Ten tournament. Seriously, you (and you know who you are) started the smack talk but can’t handle the response- LAME! These two groups of irritating Big Ten backers found their way into the Sweet Sixteen.

How the Pro-Chief people got here: First they survived a 6 overtime thriller with the anti-Chief zealots because I had trouble deciding which group was truly the bigger collection of losers besmirching the reputation of my alma mater. In round two I realized that “The General” hasn’t been that relevant as a coach in ages and some of his work on ESPN isn’t half bad. And since he hasn’t choked anyone, attacked any kids simply because they greeted him or laid his convoluted and regressive world views on us lately, he was ripe for a shocking upset in round two. He was also likely tired from his round one slugfest with the drunken and baseball illiterate subset of Cubs fans. That contest came down to a buzzer beater that’s still under review.

How U of M fans got here:
The #4 seed Over-commercialization of Sportscenter was a sleeper pick in many tournament pick’em games, so this might have been the upset of the tourney so far. But Sportscenter still at least has some stats and charts wedged in there with all the self-promotion, cross promotion and segments starring Rick Reilly that appeal to the brain-dead. Once again #12 upset #5 as the annoyance of Chase Daniel is much more fresh in my mind than that of the Back-stabbing Judas, Eric Gordon. Besides Kelvin Sampson was the real enemy and douchebag of that situation and he’s seeded in Peter Christian’s regional. UM fans had no problem dismissing Chase Daniel’s douchitude as he will now descend into obscurity for the rest of his life.