April 5, 2008

Rebuilding Complete - Caps Make Playoffs

That long, painful rebuilding plan for which Capitals' owner Ted Leonsis prepared us seems to be unnecessary. The team has been red hot since Alex Ovechkin signed a (very) long-term contract and the team made a trade for Canadiens' goalie Cristobal Huet. Now, after winning seven games in a row and 10 of 11, the Capitals snuck into the playoffs tonight as a division winner and third seed, narrowly edging the veteran-laden Carolina Hurricanes.

Tonight's match, a win-and-in affair for the Capitals, had the potential to change the future of the franchise. Now the team has something to build on. Huet is more likely to sign, and the skills core of Ovechkin, Semin, Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischman and rookie Nicklas Backstrom (20 years old) is likely to attract the interest of free agents, hopefully defensemen. The Caps are in excellent cap space with Ovechkin the only player eating a significant chunk. They have $11M in space according to NHLSCAP, the premiere site for cap information, the fourth most room in the league.

They might not make the Cup Finals this year, but things are finally looking up.

April 4, 2008

Watching the Watchers - CityPaper Takes WaPo to Task

In the Loose Lips section of this week's Washington CityPaper (D.C.'s alternative rag) the column points out that the 20 WaPo reporters sent to cover the opening of the new Nationals Stadium repeatedly (15 times by their count) cited the cost to taxpayers as $611M. As the CityPaper correctly points out, $611M is the cap approved by the D.C. City Council. The actual cost to the city (and thus taxpayers) has risen above and beyond that figure, and is expected to settle in the high $600Ms. As Loose Lips is quick to note, the Post should have used themselves as the source for the actual cost to the city.

Image taken from Aardvark.net. See this post on the Nats getting a stadium while the D.C. United (who are willing to pay $150M of the cost) suffer. Hmm, baseball is popular with white people and lobbyists. Soccer is popular with kids and hispanics. What could possibly explain the disparate treatment?

I'm not saying the District won't some day recoup those costs and more, but it does seem like this is yet another example of the WaPo painting a rosier picture than actually exists. This seems to be a continuing offshoot of their support of now-Mayor Adrian Fenty over ballparker poo-pooer Linda Cropp. It's certainly no crime to prefer Fenty to Cropp, but as the premiere newspaper in D.C. (especially for Liberal issues), the Post owes its readers more.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards Concept Drawings

This is stolen from Orioles Hangout. Check out the original message board post and follow-up discussion there. Sorry DrLev, but there is no other good way to re-post the awesome pictures. Check out the high-res pictures here at the original post.

Here is the first design, commissioned in 1986. Obviously, we're glad that fell through.

The next design was created in 1987, and resembles what we eventually got. Notice the grandstands are rounded, the exterior ramps, the shortened warehouse and the symmetrical field with the scoreboard in dead center. I cannot see the bullpens, but they do not appear to be stacked. Also, the exterior brick has not beed added yet.

And, lastly, what we actually got. Clearly HOK did a great job refining this concept, because we got a nearly perfect finished product.

Really, you owe it to yourself to check out this link and see the pictures in high resolution that Blogger can't provide. Follow this link.

April 3, 2008

NHL Playoff Race - Final Weekend

We're coming up on the final weekend, and plenty of playoff spots are unsettled. In the East, Carolina and Washington still haven't settled the Southeastern Division, and the loser might not even make the playoffs. All told, Carolina, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Ottawa are battling for four spots. The Rangers and Devils have clinched a spot, with Pittsburgh and Montreal battling it out for the first and second seeds.

In the NHL, the playoff tiebreakers are fairly simply. First, of course, is points (2 for a win, 1 for an OT/shootout loss). Second is wins. Third, between two teams, take the points earned by each team in that head-to-head matchup. If they have an uneven number of home games in the season series, the first home game of the team with more home games is disregarded. If three or more teams are tied, take the highest percentage of possible points earned among those three+ teams, disregarding any odd home games. If still tied goal differential is used. See? Simple.

For the Eastern Conference, here is where we stand (bolded teams are in, division winners get top 3 seeds no irrespective of points):

1) Pittsburgh (102 pts, 47 wins) @PHI Sun 3p
2) Montreal (102 pts, 46 wins) TOR Sat 7p
3) Carolina (92 pts, 43 wins) FLA Fri 7p
4) New Jersey (97 pts, 45 wins) @PHI Fri 7p, NYR Sun 3p
5) New York Rangers (95 pts, 42 wins) NYI Fri 7p, NJ Sun 3p
6) Ottawa (94 pts, 43 wins) BOS Fri 7:30p
7) Boston (92 pts, 40 wins) @OTT Fri 7:30p, BUF Sat 7p
8) Washington (92 pts, 42 wins) FLA Sat 7p
9) Philadelphia (91 pts, 40 wins) NJ Fri 7p, PIT Sun 3p

Note that there are really two races here. The first is for the Southeast Division crown, between Washington and Carolina. Both have only Florida left on the schedule. Because Carolina owns the tiebreakers, Washington wins the division ONLY with a Hurricane loss in regulation tomorrow and a Caps win or OT loss Saturday or a Hurricane OT loss tomorrow and a Caps win Saturday.

blahblahblah Will both wunderkind meet in a first round playoff matchup?

Of the five teams fighting for the last four spots, Carolina most easily controls its own destiny. Ottawa, too, clinches a spot with a win, an OT loss, a Carolina loss, a Washington loss, or a Philadelphia loss. Boston has two games left, but with only 40 wins they stand to lose any tiebreaker with Washington if they both are stuck at 94 pts. Likewise, Philadelphia would lose any tie with Washington if both teams are stuck on 94 pts, but Philadephia would win a tie at 94 against Boston.

The bottom line is points though. With 9 relevant games left, you could go crazy trying to figure out all the scenarios. Root against all the teams ahead of you and most of the teams behind you.

I'm holding off on clicking the post button because the Western Conference is minutes away from settled. And...thanks to Vancouver's loss it now is. All eight spots are locked up.

Before They Were Stars...

Slightly off topic, but it must be shared with a mass audience. I was taking in my usual 2 a.m. Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode on Nick when I happened to catch a second Oscar nominee on the screen. See for yourself.

Sorry the sound doesn't match the video, but it's free so suck it up.

The Ultimate Fighter Premiere

Last night the newest season of "The Ultimate Fighter" premiered. It was preceded by an awesome Ultimate Fight Night that featured a knockout 8 seconds into the first round, some great submissions, and a boring "chess match" that involved 15 minutes of tentative punching and a few takedowns.

If you're keeping track at home, that's 4 hours of the UFC on Spike last night (or about 2.5 hours if you fast-forwarded through all the commercials and interviews in between the fights). With a longer than usual gap between seasons of TUF, this was a welcome return. And since I waste so much of my time watching the show, I figured that I should get some blog material out of it in the process.

The Ultimate Fighter is a strange show. It has moments when it's absolutely gripping television. Every episode promises the possibility of an amazing fight and/or crazy drama at the house. I keep waiting to see someone get seriously injured in one of the drunken fights on asphalt at the house. It's got to happen one of these seasons. Unfortunately, the show also has long stretches when it is painfully boring. Each episode is an hour long, and has a fight at the end. Sometimes the fight only accounts for the last 10 minutes, so you have 50 minutes of training montages and shots of 16 drunk fighters cooped up in a house for weeks at a time.
After watching the first episode of this season, I have to say it looks like it has the chance to be the best one yet. First, Dana White managed to get two perfect coaches. Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin are two of the most popular fighters in the UFC. They're both funny and likable. I think this may be the first time since Season 1 (Liddell - Couture) that I actually like both coaches.
The big twist in episode 1 was that there were 32 fighters invited out to Vegas for only 16 slots on the show. There will be 16 "play-in" fights where the winner makes the show and the loser goes home. Last night featured the weigh-in and the first 8 fights.

I was completely shocked that all 32 fighters made weight within 24 hours of arriving to Las Vegas. Every year there seems to be one guy that has to cut weight like crazy for 3-4 days to get down to fighting weight. Sometimes even after a few weeks in the house one guy can't make weight. This season one of the fighters successfully cut 17 pounds in 24 hours. Predictably, he was totally gassed during his fight and lost to a less-skilled opponent.

Some of the play-in fights were boring, and thankfully we only saw highlights from those. The fights that we did see were very entertaining. There were a few quick knockouts and a great back-and-forth battle where the outcome was in doubt until the end.

I still don't know anyone's name (except for Cale Yarbrough, whose is either related to the NASCAR great or has crazy parents), but I really enjoyed the first episode. It's amazing to see how far the fighters progress from the time they walk into the gym until the finale. After watching Ultimate Fight Night, it was obvious that the difference in skill between even the worst of the pros in the UFC is night and day compared with even the best competitors at the beginning of The Ultimate Fighter.

Verdict: love the new format, love the coaches, looking forward to the rest of the season

The most painful thing in the world...

Tonight, I experienced something so excruciating, I would not wish it on J.J. Redick, the Head Line Monitor of K-Ville, Josh McRoberts, Rich Garcia, Jeffrey Mayer, or Jaromir Jagr.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I was subjected to a full hour of an Idol results show without the benefit of DVR to condense the results show to a mere ten minutes of content. I was subjected to interviews with also-ran Bucky Convington, a performance by Dolly Parton, the call-in content from Idol viewers, the horrible Kids Incorporated group number, and three-minute long commercial breaks what seemed like every five minutes.

Why did I not just tune in for the final ten minutes you ask? Well, you see, part of the fun is the suspense for seeing people's reactions when they get to the bottom three. Kristy Lee Cook making her own seattag for the bottom three. The shock on Brooke White's innocent virgin face when she was banished to the stools of disgrace. This is what Idol gives back to me on a weekly basis.

I fear not though. Comcast will be at my apartment between the hours of 2 and 5 on Saturday afternoon to repair the DVR. At no cost. Which means that they will show up at about 6:30 with a $120 bill.

April 2, 2008

Idol Recap - 4/1

Alright, since apparently both J-Red and Jeremy are too incompetent to work a DVR, this week's Idol recap has fallen on my shoulders. For the record, my wife and I have to watch Idol on a small TV because we record "Beauty and the Geek" and "Biggest Loser" at the same time. Yep, we have no life.

I was a little disappointed that Idol didn't try any huge April Fools jokes. Here are some that I think would have been funny:

  • Simon and Paula will be singing a duet tonight
  • Carly is unable to perform tonight because of an infected tattoo
  • David Archuleta had to be kicked off the show after the producers discovered that he's really 40 years old (the white Gary Coleman)
  • We'd like to welcome tonight's mentor, Ozzy Osborne!
In reality, it was Dolly Parton night. I like some country music, but I wasn't familiar with a lot of these songs, so I didn't enjoy the night as much as some others.

Brooke White - Jolene
I liked the performance, but the judges didn't seem to care for it. It was good to see Brooke take on something a little more up-tempo than the last few weeks. I have a feeling she won't make the top 5 and I'll be pretty disappointed about it.

David Cook - Little Sparrow
Another good performance, but I thought it was a "typical" David Cook rendition of a song. He's in danger of falling into a rut. Every week he takes a song and turns it into a slow, brooding, rock song. Sometimes it works better than others, and last night it didn't work out that great. I'd like to see him mix it up with something completely different (a ballad perhaps?).

Ramiele - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?
Ramiele bores me every week, and this was no exception. Everyone knows she's not talented enough to still be around, but the Filipino voting block is saving her each week. It can't last much longer, right?

Jason Castro - Travelin' Thru
I must not have been paying much attention during this one, because I don't remember it at all. It also must not have been very good.

Carly Smithson - Here You Come Again
I like Carly every week, but it seems I'm in the minority. This was a standard good Carly performance, she showed that she has a good voice, but didn't win over any new fans.

David Archuleta - Smoky Mountain Memories
Good singing, looks like a cute little elf, top vote getter again this week, etc. Why does David even have to perform each week? Couldn't he just get a pass to the finals? I'm not a fan at all, but the boy can clearly sing.

Kristy Lee Cook - Coat of Many Colors
She certainly didn't blow me

out of my socks this week, but the country theme probably bought her another week on the show. She was decent, which is a lot better than normal for her.

Syesha Mercado - I Will Always Love You
As soon as Ryan announced what Syesha was singing, I started railing about how bad a song choice it was. Of course, she ended up sounding like a second-rate Whitney. Trying to tackle an arrangement somewhere between Dolly and Whitney just made it sound like she didn't have the chops to go full-on Whitney Houston. After thinking about it some more, I'm not sure if it was a bad song choice. This was the one song of the night that everyone recognized. Even a mediocre performance of a familiar song might be better than a good performance of an unfamiliar one.

Michael Johns - It's All Wrong, but It's All Right
This was my favorite performance of the night. Michael is finally standing out from the crowd, and I loved the bluesy way he sang this. The Idol band leader (can't remember his name, don't feel like looking it up) was doing blues licks on the electric guitar behind him, which could have upstaged a lesser singer, but with Aussie Mike it worked perfectly.

My favorites of the night (and really, the season):
  • Michael
  • Brooke
  • Carly
The real top three:
  • Little David
  • Big David
  • Michael
The bottom three:
  • Kristy Lee
  • Syesha
  • Ramiele
I think this could be the night Syesha goes home.

April 1, 2008

Is Indiana Really a Step Up from Marquette?

ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that Indiana will announce Marquette's Tom Crean as its new coach tomorrow. My first reaction on reading that: Really? That's a step up?

Why would Crean leave a Marquette team that finished 5th in the Big East and earned a 6 seed in the NCAA tournament for a scandal-ridden Indiana program? Marquette was one point away from a Sweet 16 berth, while Indiana's big story this year was that their coach violated the terms of his NCAA probation.

Indiana could lose all 5 of their regular starters from last year, as two seniors graduate, two starters were dismissed from the team this week, and Freshman Eric Gordon could bolt for the NBA. At this point, the Hoosiers program is clearly a rebuilding job, while Marquette seems to be on the cusp of something bigger.

Indiana certainly has more tradition than Marquette, but it's not that big of a difference. Al McGuire coached the Golden Eagles (known as the Warriors at that time) to the 1977 NCAA championship, and more recently Dwayne Wade led Marquette to some successful seasons. Unless a coach has a very strong connection to another school (like Roy Williams at UNC), I would think that Marquette is not a stepping stone job.

Best of luck to Crean at Indiana. I think he's a very good coach, but this was a stupid decision.

March 31, 2008

Nationals Park - Opening Night Review

In the words of John Malkovich in Rounders "Pay him. Pay the man his fucking money."
So I'm the ECB blogger who was lucky enough to snag tickets to Opening Night at Nationals Park. And yes, the stadium sucked up a lot of tax dollars. And yes, there are other parts of the city that are in trouble. But if anybody thinks that is unique to Washington, I'd like to point you up to another city 30 miles straight up Route 295 where this has been happening for 16 years now. But enough about that, I'm still boiling because I read the Washington Post editorial that somehow seems to expect Nationals Park to cure teen pregnancy in DC, stop poverty, and make people in Ward 8 think that it's not alright to elect a former crackhead repeatedly to represent them on the City Council. On to the truly magical game.
And I didn't stay until the end. I did not see the picture depicted above. It's Murphy's Law. I never leave games early. However, I close on my first house Tuesday, have an insane day today, had been at the stadium since 5pm, was frozen pretty well and through, and decided alongside my dad that we'll be back often enough this season (9 more times and counting) that we could leave early. I think that's how it always goes the only time that you decide to leave a close game early. I didn't even know there was a great ending until my voice mail goes off when the Metro train exited the tunnel and I have one of our loyal six ECB readers who had been watching the game from Michigan describing an incredible finish.
I guess the best thing for me to do is to break this up into sections...
Nicely done WMATA. Very nicely done. They planned, planned, and planned some more. There were lots of people, but that was to be expected. They did a fantastic job of moving people into the station, down the escalators, and onto trains. And they didn't let trains leave the station after the game until they were completely full, then they'd roll the next one in. They literally just had trains lined up. They ran "shuttle trains" between Navy Yard (the Nationals Park stop) and Mount Vernon Square... essentially a five-stop route that allowed trains to service the ballpark more frequently and hit the two big transfer stations (L'enfant Plaza and Gallery Place). If you're going to practically demand that people take Metro, you better make sure that you've got a good gameplan in place. And Metro surely did. For as much shit as they take on a daily basis, Metro hit this one out of the park.
Ballpark Area:
Work in progress. Literally. You come out of the Navy Yard Station and it's a half-block walk to the centerfield gate. Along that route, by the start of next season, we will see a half-block of bars, retail, restaurants, and other things that will make going to a game all that much better and will finish filling in the blanks of what RFK always lacked (i.e. getting to the game 10 minutes before first pitch, leaving immediately after last pitch) and what I've always liked about Camden Yards (get to the game a few hours early, down a few at Pickles, head across the street into the game). For now, it is a sea of construction, cranes, and worksites on both sides of the street.
Ballpark Atmosphere:
The fact that the Ballpark Area is still a work in progress is not fatal because there are countless places inside the park to grab a beer and chill out before the game begins. The Nats of course stand to profit because a beer is $7.50. But I would highly recommend The Red Loft, which is directly above The Red Porch restaurant in centerfield. Trust me, the Loft is going to rapidly become the place to hang out before games. It's a huge porch that overlooks the whole stadium. Imagine if the Orioles set up a large bar in the bullpen picnic area of Camden Yards, except the bar was elevated and felt closer to the plate. That's what you get with the Red Loft. It's probably about 40 feet above field level and is a hell of place to watch BP, chill out, and relax after a day of work. There is also the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk which is a huge and wide concourse behind the scoreboard with tables and conveniently located next to the ballpark Five Guys location. Not such a great view though because you're behind the scoreboard. My favorite are the patios located around the stadium on the ends of the 200-level concourse behind section 220 and the 300-level concourse behind section 320. You stand on these patios and on one side have a fantastic view out over the Anacostia River to the Navy Yard, to Alexandria, to National Airport (close enough so you can watch the planes land), and to the lights of Rosslyn and Arlington in the distance. On the other side, you've got a wide-open unobstructed view of the field with the Capitol Dome looming directly overhead down the third base foul line. Another great place to hang out before the game.
Ballpark Food:
Incredible options. If you want Ben's Chili Bowl, be prepared to wait in a very long line. The good news is if you want a Chili Half Smoke, every Nats Dogs stand around the ballpark serves Ben's Chili Half Smokes. My dad and I did Hard Times Cafe. And yes, the Chili Nachos that are enough food to last you for three meals, will have you gassy enough to destroy the air quality around your seat for the entire game, and will cause you to ingest enough calories to survive four days with no food, are still only $8.50, the same price they were at RFK back in 2006. This is going to be my go-to ballpark food. There were also very popular Red Hot and Blue outlets, and Taste of the Majors is very unique (and located directly behind my season ticket section). For those unfamiliar, Taste of the Majors will offer food unique to the visiting team. For instance, when the Phillies come to town, enjoy a Philly cheesesteak. When the Astros come to town, enjoy Texas BBQ. When the Pirates come to town, enjoy a pierogi. Long lines for concessions again last night and they really are going to have to work to train the concessionaires to work faster. But, unlike RFK, you didn't get screamed at by your concessionaire when you finally got to the head of the line. Fuck you Aramark. Nice to have known you. Or not.
Team Operations:
This is a team and ownership group that listens to its fans. Reading the Nationals message boards, the team already made changes to correct things that had not been optimal at the exhibition game against Baltimore in time for the gates to open last night (stanchions placed at concession stands to prevent lines from spilling onto concourse), separate lines at some concession stations for those who only wanted simple things like a soda. The team also worked hard to make every person who works at the stadium polite and pleasant. From the women who scan your tickets to the people at the concession stands to the ushers checking your ticket... everyone is pleasant, has a smile on their face, and is quick to have a conversation with you. It's amazing how much that impacts one's general feeling about the ballpark. It works. Contrast this with Danny $nyder or Peter Angelos and how they run their respective franchises, deaf to the concerns of their paying customers.
Presidential Appearance:
Yeah... security is just a little tight when the President is throwing out the first pitch. Let's put it this way... the Secret Service at each gate is not messing around. And when the team says get there early to avoid lines, they mean it. Those not at the main gate where there were about 10 security stations lined up had waits of about an hour to pass through security. And yes, people booed President Bush. Some people in my section were screaming some pretty mean shit at him. Everyone knows DC is not a very Republican place, and that's putting it mildly (see 1984 Presidential election). Not to mention that Bush has vetoed numerous times bills that have made it to him through both houses that would allow DC representation in the House. He's not a popular guy around DC or around the nation. Still, I didn't boo him. I wouldn't have booed him if I hadn't been too busy trying to snap a picture of him. But I understand those who did. I don't agree with their decision because I believe that you either respect the Office of the Presidency or you do nothing. Anybody who is surprised that he got booed either lives in a really, really, really red state, lives under a rock, or has zero understanding of the DC area political climate.
Music and Video:
The ballpark is just insane when it comes to this. We didn't have a good angle for the Jumbotron and yet every picture was clean, crisp, and beautiful. In fact, calling it a Jumbotron doesn't quite do it justice. Maybe in Enormotron. Or something like that. Great music selection, played at an appropriate volume. A little chorus of Motley Crue's Mama I'm Coming Home when a run crosses the plate. A little AC/DC Thunderstruck when the team takes the field surrounded by fireworks and a screaming siren. I wish they would show more replays but I read somewhere that there are new MLB restrictions on this. It's something that will never take away from the game experience in my mind, but can certainly add to it. And this definitely adds to it.
Bottom Line:
The stadium doesn't necessarily have the beauty of a Camden Yards, an AT&T Park, or a PNC Park. But it is distinctly Washington. There are great views of the monuments from much of the upper level. It's a clean, well-run, and enjoyable place to watch a game. It's a home for the Nationals. I think that in the scheme of recently opened parks, it will be well ahead of Minute Maid Park (too gimicky) and Great American Park (too blah). I think it will fall in line with Citizens Bank Park of a great place to watch a game that is comfortable, has good sightlines, is fan friendly, fairly easy to access by public transportation, and pays homage to a city. For anybody remotely close to DC, I think you owe it to yourself to catch a game at Nats Park. Do yourself a favor, come early, explore the vistas from the upper concourses, grab a beer at the Red Loft, and find out for yourself how DC has fallen in love with the Nats. Having been to lots of games at both Camden Yards and in DC, I now can tell you that a greater percentage of Nats fans rock the Nats gear to the ballpark than O's fans who rock the Orioles gear to Camden Yards. The team is getting a foothold in the city and if they can build on the success of the stable of young arms in the minors and young talent in the field (Kearns, Milledge, Zimmerman, Dukes), the Nats will be a viable franchise for quite some time.

March 30, 2008


Will post more about the incredible Nationals Park and my experience at Opening Night very soon, but something strange popped out in the box score:

Attendance: 39,389 (95.6% full)

There were scattered singles that I saw, but not nearly empty rows or anything like that. And just for the hell of it, I went on tickets.com today and was able to get two tickets together for the game tonight up until about 3:30 and then you could only get scattered singles. This was because the Nats gradually released the premium seats that they were holding for last-minute season ticket purchasers.

But really? 1,000 people stayed home tonight? Hard to believe, and does not necessarily bode well or look good. Although given that tickets were going for twenty times value on Stubhub, I really think that this 1,000 tickets represented the scattered singles and some of the super premium seats that the Nats held back.

Worst....Bracket Pool....Ever

It finally happened. The scourge of the bracket pool: all four number one seeds making the Final Four. Every office has that guy who takes the bracket pool WAY too seriously, and this year he'll be more bitter than he was when he failed to make the JV tennis team. If, God forbid, someone picked all the number ones to make it, he'll be rewarded. More likely, a ton of people picked three of the four ones to make it, and that means the whole shebang comes down to what all 18-35 year-old sports loving men fear: the first round picks.

I can hardly bear to watch the rest of this chalkfest play out. On the bright side, that secretary (excuse me, administrative professional. The word "secretary" has fell victim to the PC police who view it as too feminine. That's funny, most cabinet members and UN Secretary-Generals have been male) who had Davidson, Western Kentucky and Villanova in the Sweet 16 has likely been mercifully eliminated.

Hey Nats Fans

All three of you should check back here later for Jeremy's review of the brand spanking new Nationals Park...assuming he gets off Metro prior to 4am.

Biggest Disappointments of the NCAA Tournament

Every year, some teams (like Davidson) impress and others flounder. Here's my take on the teams and people who really sucked this year.

Performance in a Leading Role:
Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) - Voted the Big East Player of the Year, Harangody averaged 21.0 pts/game and 10.3 rebs/game for the year. In the second round against Washington St., Harangody shot a staggering 3-17, leading his team to 24.5% shooting for the game and a whopping 41 points. Washington St. plays good defense, but they're not known for having a dominating post presence who was expected to compete with the Big East Player of the Year. He also only had 2 assists, so he wasn't successfully passing the ball either. Though, when your team only has 13 made FG's, there are only so many assists possible. The part that really blows my mind is that he had 22 rebounds, 7 of which were offensive, so he was clearly dominant inside. How did those not translate into points? And he only took 4 FT's, so they're weren't playing Hack-a-Shaq.

Performance by a Conference:
The Atlantic Coast Conference - Clemson was doubling up Villanova in the first half (36-18), and then fell apart (as they've done before). For future reference, it's not recommended to shoot 33 treys when you're only making 27%. More than half of Clemson's shots were 3's. The Tigers lost in spite of taking 16 more shots. Clemson certainly had the talent and experience to go deep in the tournament, as they showed twice against UNC. Duke almost became the first #2 seed to lose since Iowa St. Belmont thoroughly outplayed the Blue Devils and were really only a good inbounds play away from a victory. Duke exited quietly in the next round. Miami beat St. Mary's, but trailed Texas by double digits almost the entire game. UNC, obviously, has done ok so far.

Performance by a Sweet 16 Team:
Tie between two Big Ten teams:
Michigan State - The Spartans laid an egg against Memphis, down 50-20 at halftime. I have never seen a Tom Izzo team get destroyed like that, especially in rebounding. Was that really the same team that beat Pitt?

Wisconsin - So you saw the tape of Davidson vs. G'Town, right? You saw how Davidson attacked a team that plays exactly your style. And yet, Davidson pounds you in the second half, 37-20. The Polar Bear and company only outrebounded Davidson by 3, and only managed 9 assists for the game. It's one thing for G'Town to be caught off-guard when they only had a day to prepare. The Big Ten champs should be ashamed. Obviously, credit Curry and Davidson as well.

Performance by a Head Coach:
Bruce Pearl - For the NCAA tournament second round and Sweet 16 games, Pearl decided to start JP Prince, who wasn't the starting PG all year. He had a few good games, but why do you switch your starting PG midway through the NCAA Tourney? He doesn't have a great assist to TO ratio, and he's 6'7", so he's prone to foul trouble when guarding smaller, quicker players. His line against Butler: 31 min, 9 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast, 6 TO's, 3 fouls. That looks ok, except that those TO's almost all came in the last two minutes, when Butler turned the pressure up. Pearl had to pull him because he was playing so poorly. His line against L'ville: 27 min, 2 pts on 1-3, 1 reb, 2 ast, 4 TO's, 4 fouls. Granted the Vols have struggled at PG all year, but why do you make a change like that at this point in the season when you've been so successful all year?

Performance by a Head Coach being Ejected:
Trent Johnson - Is it just me, or was that the most boring ejection you've ever seen? Can't we get some fireworks? If you're getting tossed during the NCAA Tournament, you damn well better get your money's worth. I want some Lou Piniella action or something.