February 18, 2011

Handicapping Tougaloo's chances at a #1 seed

A few years ago - inspired by that infamous Gopher poster depicting why they deserved to be crowned national champions because they had defeated Wisconsin or something - Mr. Dickfer and I chased down a long thread of extrapolation to declare that Savannah State indeed did deserve a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. It took a grand total of 10 minutes of back-breaking research, and our reward was that we spend time looking at Savannah State's website, which is always good fun.

Our problem, clearly, was that we didn't go deep enough.

And that brings us to Tougaloo College. Located in Madison County (no, not that Madison County), Mississippi, this small liberal arts college boasts such alumni as Aunjanue Ellis and Robert Honeysucker. With an enrollment of 900, it's hard to see how they could compete with Duke. But by the simple Law of Transitive Properties (which is something we all know is a real thing), the Bulldogs should indeed be squaring off with the likes of North Dakota State in the first round.

You see, Tougaloo defeated Southern University.

Southern then beat Alabama State.

Alabama State beat Kennesaw State.

The Owls picked up a huge win against Georgia Tech (THE MISSING LINK).

Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech.

The Hokies defeated Florida State.

And, of course, Florida State defeated Duke on January 12th.

So there you have it....


When you make the jump down into the NAIA, the world opens up into a flood of beauty. Because from Tougaloo, it's not a far jump to Haskell Indian Nation University. In 1884, it was formed as one of the first Indian Boarding Schools, which were pretty much responsible for the final death blow to Indian culture in America. Indian children were taught only English and were instructed to forget their Indian heritage. So, positive beginnings. They are currently governed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is a government organization that gave rise to groups like AIM strictly for the purpose of opposing them.

Oh, and also:

The academic quality of the university was called into question after receiving a #9 ranking on the 2010 Top 50 Dropout Factory list from Washington Monthly in their College Guide.

The ranking was based on the 9% graduation rate reported to the Department of Education.

Well then. I think even Huggy Bear graduated more at Cincinnati.

But this year, Haskell lost an important game to Bethel. Nope, not that Bethel. This one is in Kansas. And has 500 students. Bethel is located in a town called North Newton. That's a town of 1,500 people.

Oh, and I'm sorry, did I fail to mention that Bethel College is a MENNONITE COLLEGE?

When I was in 10th grade or so, I was at a Burger King out on the edge of town (isn't that a Merle Haggard tune?), and I watched a family walk in from the truck stop in the adjoining building. The mother was wearing clothes that were hand-made and looked to be from 1870. The father had the beard that went down to his stomach. There were two children, both looking like they had literally been working the fields behind the plow-steer all day. I had just been studying about Mennonites for a class (as well as Israeli Kibbutz!) and now I was seeing them in the flesh, for the first time. I just had to know... so I walked up to one of the children and asked them if they were Mennonites. She said yes, and they all smiled and I smiled back and we parted ways.

And clearly folks, I have no bias against the Mennonites. They are goddamned dedicated to peace, and I respect that. I respect it so much that I will now joke about it.

First of all, does the team make their own uniforms with needle and thread? Do they practice by candlelight? Does some rogue edit their season's highlights into a DVD? Because if so, who will watch it? When you go to play the Mennonites in basketball, is there really any competition, or are you all just happy and shaking hands and helping each other up the entire game? I think the Mennonites would actually be happier with losses... that would play more into their religious beliefs. So long as they worked as hard as they could, of course.

And so it's really no surprise that Bethel College was handily defeated by Friends University.

There is a university in Wichita, Kansas that goes by the name of Friends University. No, it's not named after Edward Friend or whatever. It's just Friends. As in, friendship.

Look at that picture. This building clearly used to be a bank. Or a Pizza Hut. Or both.


When you go to the Athletics page on their website, the first link you see is for Cross Country. So we know the priorities are in order.

Also, take a look at the NAMES.
Denzel Goudeau (is that a cheese?)
Thomans Bland (not Thomas. Thomans.)
Eli Applegate ("Tis a fine barn, but sure it is no pool, English!")
Cody AND Colton Rausch (oh god someone find me a picture)
Zak Vanlooy (hey, who smokes grass on the team bus?)

When Friends University faced off against Bethel, the final score was 55-35. It may as well have been 1-0. Or just call it a tie. Because, come on, there are no losers in life. We're all standing in that sunlight, going for that Glory.

And finally, to just wrap this all up, if you're not going to give Friends University a #1 seed, then at least consider giving it to a team that showed they really have what it takes when they defeated the Falcons in overtime: Bacone College.

Mmmmm, I get hungry just thinking about it.

February 15, 2011

Tough Times in the SWAC

King of a castle made out of Styrofoam..."What if we say 'Metroplex?'"...Reliant Stadium is a "facility"

These are not easy days for the basketball teams of the schools of the SWAC.  The schools in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas were used as fodder for others' pre-seasons.  They entered their conference schedule battered and worn.  Hell, who wouldn't be?  We may never know because so often, the strong refuse to play the strong on anything less than their own home court.  Why give ground and prove yourself?  The "big schools" coast and do their thing until they lose in the NCAA's to a school from a small conference.  Problem is, it won't be to one of these schools.

Conference leader Texas Southern promotes their athletic department with "experience the game!"  That's what those in Houston are attempting to do, brushing aside their local competition from Houston and Rice.  The football team has a promising future ahead, with a new stadium being built that will be shared by Houston's MLS team.  The basketball team?  It toils away at something called the HP&E Arena.  But the team has won all their conference games there.  It has yet to play at Reliant Stadium, which is apparently ready for an overflow crowd.

On Valentine's Day, the Tigers traveled to Louisiana to play at Grambling.  The TSU Tigers (not the Grambling Tigers) hit a lay-up with 3 seconds to go to win the game.  It was a close, exciting contest that nearly sent the ESPNU announcers to sleep!  What do you expect - nearly everyone was either romancing their lady or getting a jump start on their drinking...and if the game is on TV, no need to show up.  The Grambling Tigers are a common example of life in the SWAC: all but ONE non-conference game was on the road.  Florida Gulf Coast will play anywhere (they lost a tough one at West Kentucky last night) so that explains that.  They weren't all losses, either.  But it's a long drive back to Louisiana when you're having to deal with a loss of 30 or more, which unfortunately happened 3 times.  Don't worry, Grambling, the school got a hefty check.  The home team announcers said how you play with pride as they shoot for 3 up 25 with 2 minutes to go.

The SWAC tournament was advertised on last night's game as being in "The Dallas Metroplex."  Hmmm...well, American Airlines Arena (or Center, whichever one isn't the Miami arena) is out.  Is Reunion Arena still around?  Hold on...I don't think it's IN Dallas.  Deep digging found that the game will be in Garland, TX.  It also includes a list of restaurants to, you know, save time.

P.E. Squad, travelling men..."Home of the Torii Hunter Baseball and Softball Complex"...the students voted, we are the Lions

Make that Golden Lions, which sounds like a bar, or a fraternal organization, or a cigarette brand in the 1950s.  But it's who they are, despite the dust-mite looking logo.

Pine Bluff has endured something also experienced by Mississippi Valley State this season: playing ALL non-conference games on the road.  Spending that much time away from school presents a double edged sword for the student and the school.  A good way to improve your ability is to play teams better than you.  (This applies to college sports only) You learn, you see your weaknesses, and celebrate any success against these better teams. 

As a result, Pine Bluff hit the endless black ribbon.  But do they feel they have to without getting anyone (hell, Arkansas or Arkansas State) to come to them?  Sure, the school gets the paycheck mentioned above, the guys get to see Chicago, Hawaii, San Francisco...they lose (in some cases by an obscene amount) and pack their bags.  Could it be worse?  You're showing them the country, and the students are ambassadors of a school many have never heard of beyond basketball losses. 

But is that what they are playing for, free travel?  Do the Golden Lions take the losses in stride and show everyone pictures?  Do the fellow students look at it realistically?  Does a player's Facebook album of the time leading up to the Hawaii game trump the final score?  Maybe there isn't a better way to see the country for free, if you can fit the description.  Or maybe it's just how basketball is in the SWAC.

Bad Days in Baton Rouge..."Or Mini-Dome for short"...the who-now?

The school that's having the toughest time is the one that didn't exactly have the hardest road.  I'd like to highlight some of Southern's non-conference foes, and the result.

November 19th, 2010
Tougaloo 71
Southern 58

Tougalou?  The dance?  Wait, hold on.  Tougaloo College, in Tougaloo, Mississippi.  The Bulldogs are NAIA (oh my).  Their very minimal athletics page doesn't even mention the Southern game.  Hey guys, YOU WON!  Hell, Southern mentions the loss; they admit it.  Their page features photos that may or may not be from the school.  And yet, they took care of a D-I school on the road. 

December 20th, 2010
Xavier (LA) 72
Southern 58

Being stupid, I though this was some sort of college out west I didn't know.  I was wrong - it's the Xavier University in Louisiana, not Ohio.  Did Southern think they were playing the boys from Cincy?  Xavier calls their basketball arena "The Barn" which immediately gives them points.  Xavier plays Tougaloo, and also lost to them, so maybe we should cut Southern some slack.

Consider those two losses and then note that Tulane, an actual D-1 school, visited and escaped with a 3 point win.  Analyzing this would make your brain explode, so I'll stop here.

But, come March, someone from the SWAC is going to dance in madness.  That dance itself will be tough, and likely not last very long.  No matter which school, a SWAC representative will show up.  The result, though anticipated, will be tough either way. 

February 9, 2011

Bigg Gregg's Gang o' Dunkers meeting convenes in 3... 2.... 1....


Hands off the Boggs Lite, sonny, this is going down the trap-shoot!

(drinks entire beer, spits dip of Skoal cherry into red plastic cup)

Ben vernidos, hombres! Name of Greg. Big Greg. When you'ns google for "Big Greg", my picture comes up. So I'm going to write on this blog now, and then I'm going to go shit in my pants. TRY AND STOP EITHER ONE!

You needed some new blood around here, and I'm it. You have all fallen into complacency.... Dave Bliznawski mostly writes about athletes being tased and/or hit with paternity suits, Trip Darvez sees the game from the angle of "how many used Subarus can the coach of Utah State sell you before the deadline?", Dickfer can only stammer out rose-colored memories of Miles Tarver, and the only time Drew Boatman writes anything of value is when he stays up until 5am writing about the Bows (and even then, he just researches Barry University until he falls asleep at his desk). SO HERE I AM! BIGG GREGG WITH YOUR TOURNAMENT PREVIEW!!!!

Now, I come from Granbury, TX, which leads the nation in back-scratchers and boa-skin boots. And as such, I don't come here to talk about the Ohio States and Pittsburghs. Hell no. HOW'S COASTAL CAROLINA GOING TO DO, GREGG??? is what you are asking me and yourself right now. So let it begin:

Let's start with the Chanticleers. They're pulling an RPI of 60 despite a 22-2 record. They are undefeated in the Big South, which features other stalwarts such as Gardner-Webb and Radford. But they won at LSU... and took out East Carolina (who are both in better conferences). So, does Coastal have what it takes? Well, they ain't lost in conference yet, and they've swept 2nd place Liberty this year. They don't play another ranked opponent the rest of the way... and they should walk in their tournament. They are just ranked outside the top 25, and if they run the table they should sniff it by the end of the year. But they haven't played much top-shelf competition, and that makes them unpredictable. GREG SAYS THIS NEEDS MORE RESEARCH.

Everyone's talkin' San Diego State this year, but how about St. Mary's? I watched these guys pull a non-cover against St. John's (who has since gone on to win their banquet game), but that was early. They have an RPI of 35 and they are very close to being ranked. BUT HOO BOY, LOOK AT THAT SCHEDULE COMING UP. Of the 6 games remaining, they've got Santa Clara, San Francisco, Gonzaga (those are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in conference) AND they have to play Utah State. Time is going to tell on the Gaels... they've got massive potential, and if they can go 4-2 down the stretch, with a good tournament run, they'll pull a 5 seed. They love to score, and they can hang with any team come tourney time. BIG GREG SAYS GO GAELS IF THEY DON'T STUMBLE.

There is some HOT action in the Missouri Valley Conference (isn't there always?) Wichita State and Northern Iowa are going to be fucking DANG-erous if they sneak in. The Shockers have an RPI of 38, and they'll definitely go if they can not pee the pants. The rest of their schedule looks easy, but that tournament may not be. Northern Iowa is of course a fan-favorite 'round these parts, and with good reason. They are yanking a 63 RPI, but this Saturday, they go head to head with Wichita State. HUGE. If they can pull that out, or can get George Mason on the 19th, look for them to shoot up into contention. They are more of a grind-it-out team this year, but they make their throws and don't turn the ball over. BALL CONTROL = TOURNAMENT SUCCESS. BOOK IT.

I have to go change now. Goin' to Spanky's for pizza buffet. Bye.

February 8, 2011

Fuck You Spike Lee

Lee, a celebrity Knicks fan, told ESPNNewYork.com that Garnett cursed him out "for no reason" during Boston's visit to Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15 and suggested that Garnett "needs to calm the [expletive] down."

Really, Spike? After you spent YEARS doing nothing but talk shit to Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan, and anyone not wearing a Knicks jersey?

Shut the fuck up and try to get back to making watchable films.

February 4, 2011

There are SNAILS on her PLATE

Bring the cheese sandwich things!

Oh, Clippers.  As you know, I did my best trying to follow this team...and the usual ineptitude made it nearly impossible.  Anyone who says otherwise is either the smelly guy yelling to himself at Ralphs or lying.  (I remember Bill Simmons years ago saying he bought Clippers tickets, but I haven't read him in 5 years)  I'll admit, watching Blake Griffin is a joy.  But, he can't play all 5 positions at the same time...and, as it happens, despite a strong run at home, the team is 10 games below .500.  That's a game out of the 8 spot in the East but does them no good now.  Their problem, one of many, is that they are shit on the road.  And, as thus, I continue to wait (as some of LA does...they'll never get the whole city) for them to make me care.  There's no moral victories in pro sports.  (Especially when your owner has no morals - ZING!)  Better than usual means "not good enough."

The Golden Rats...that performance in Indiana can be summed up in 1 stat.  I know, it's more than stats, but I'm a researcher.  Bear with me.  Forget about how many guys are injured, or the lack of depth.
Free Throw %
MN: 50%
IN: 87%

HOOOOOOWEEEEEE!  Did Clem come back and coach and I didn't hear about it?  What the fuck was that?!

OK, now quick bounce pass: we're early, but since I won't be in Halewia, HI for another late night session of drinking and discussing those NCAA "sleepers" (used for free picks and not gambling, of course) let's take a look at some that Hogg McHonk for the NY Daily News seems to miss while only watching the Big East:

(and we're doing some digging here, ok?)

Colonial Shakedown: George Mason (18-5, 10-2 in CAA) vs. OLD DOMINION (18-5, 9-3 in CAA)
Sum bitch, this is one hot match-up.  The likelihood that both schools will make the tourney is a possibility.  If this happens, it would send Billy Packer to a 30 minute monologue to his waitress at Denny's.  But these are two strong teams.  With a record like that, and an RPIs in the 30s, GM and OD are getting no love.

GM as a team is looking good.  Of note is a 41% 3-point percentage, helping them expand leads in close conference games.  OD's man is Frank Hassell, who nearly averages a double-double this season.  OD won this meeting at home earlier this season, and Hassell put up 18 pts and 9 rebounds.  He's going to have to get those boards if they're going to win tomorrow.

George Mason: Ventrail Vaughns, Paris Bennett, Rashad Whack
Old Dominion: Kent Bazemore, Trian Illadis, Marquel De Lancey
Prediction: George Mason

Ivy League "Don't Give Me This Studying Bullshit" Battle: Harvard (15-3, 4-0) vs. Princeton (14-4, 2-0)
The Ivy League plays games on Friday nights, which for whatever reason just seems wrong.  And, Ivy being Ivy, doesn't have photos to show you these guys actually exist.  But it would appear either of these schools will finally unseat Cornell this year. 

The Crimson's Keith Wright is doing a good clean-up job, averaging 14.7 points and 8 rebounds.  But this the Ivy League is all about the extra pass, and Harvard is doing that better than anyone else.  4 guys average double figures, which happens when there's a lot of passing.

Princeton's stats are nearly identical to that of their opponent, so how do they win?  Well, like Harvard, they have 4 guys averaging double figures.  (For Princeton, it's 13.0+ a game)  They make extra passes.  So how do they win?  Beats the shit outta me.

Harvard: Laurent Rivard, Ugo Okam, Dee Giger
Princeton: Ian Hummer, Mack Darrow, John Comfort
Prediction: None, but Princeton is at home, and has someone named Noonan.  Good luck making the free throws with that name, son.  (Then again, Noonan made the put)

Just Because: South Mississippi (17-5, 6-3)
According to Hogg McHonk, this is a Memphis-only conference.  But look closer, and you'll see UTEP and Southern Miss making deals.  I choose the Golden Eagles because of Gary Flowers:
He averages 20 points a game, nearly 50% from 3 point range.  He put up 27 points in 25 minutes vs. Houston.  With his size, can score from multiple ranges.  He can also turn the ball over at the wrong time...which is likely why he's not thought of higher.  (6 TO's against Memphis in the 1 point loss; no help there).  It may come down to UTEP and SM, and the NCAA might take both if it works out that way. 

South Mississippi Names:
Devonte Newbill, Josimar Ayarza, Sai'Quon Stone, Torye Pelham (1-2-3), Kayland Partee

Plenty O Big games this weekend, folks.  Get a can of Old Sconnie and enjoy before the Super Bowl hits you in the food tank.