The Celtics Plan Without Rajon Rondo

This isn’t the kind of injury that you can replace with a game-manager or fill in/expiring contract to replace a starter. This is Rajon Rondo we are talking about. Rondo probably means more to his team than a lot of other stars mean to theirs. Knowing this, it’s going to take someone special to replace Rondo in the short term, and even then the replacement probably won’t be up to Rondo’s par.

Not many players even have the potential to be on Rondo’s level. This trade I’m going to throw out there might fix the Celtics’ problems short term and long term. Let me explain.

(It’s a four-team trade, so you’re excused if it’s confusing. It’s making my head hurt,and I haven’t even written it yet.)

 

Boston acquires Tyreke Evans from Sacramento and Steve Blake from the Lakers.

Sacramento acquires Courtney Lee and Fab Melo from Boston. Devin Ebanks and Jodie Meeks from LA and Omri Casspi from Cleveland.

Los Angeles acquires Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox from Boston and Tyler Honeycutt from Sacramento.

Cleveland acquires Francisco Garcia from Sacramento and a future second-round pick from Boston and LA.

 

Now we get to the explaining part.

First off is Boston. The Celtics get two point guards to at least do a half-decent job of filling in for Rondo. Obviously no one is going to replace Rondo, but Evans has the potential to be very good. Blake is one of the more consistent backup point guards in the league.

Boston also gets help long term. Not only would Boston have the option to re-sign Evans before anyone else does in free agency (that’s a huge stretch, but the Celtics would have the option,) but if they feel Evans doesn’t work, then they can let him walk and save the money that they owe long term to Lee. Blake gives them value this year, but also next year as a more-than-appealing expiring contract in a trade.

Sacramento. I have a little trouble with this if I’m the Kings Sonics. And the only problem I have is with Lee, more specifically, Lee’s contract. That is a lot of money long term for a starter-on-a-bad-team-bench-guy-on-a-good-team player. Sacramento Seattle gets another look at Casspi, plus Melo, a high upside big. Meeks’ contract is very team friendly in terms of what he can do. Ebanks is another guy on an expiring deal who could pan out given the chance. Sacramento gets rid of Garcia’s and Honeycutt’s contracts going forward.

The Lakers would love this trade if they made it. The one upside of Blake’s recent injury is the emergence of Duhon as more than just a trade throw in. That and the ever looming Darius Morris make Blake expendable. He’s even more expendable due to the fact that LA wants to save money. Dealing Blake would do that. LA also gets a Barbosa-Nash-D’Antoni reunion. (Side note, how many Phoenix fans envisioned that within five years of each leaving the Suns? The answer is one. That one guy who wants to rebuild and trade away anyone who isn’t 22 with big potential. We’ve all met them.) LA also gets more big-man insurance with Wilcox. Plus the fact that (and I’m no salary cap aficionado) Honeycutt’s contract might be non-guaranteed. Thus the team waves him, or buys him out, keeps a roster spot and saves enough money to buy the whole team lunch for a month or two.

Cleveland gets picks going forward, but also gets an interesting piece in Garcia. Yes, he costs them an extra four million, but has the potential to, like Blake, be a very appealing option as an expiring contract next year in terms of trade value.

I think the smartest thing for Boston to do is to go get Evans. You obviously aren’t going to finish with the best record in the conference, but maybe Evans finally figures it out under the tutelage of Doc Rivers, KG, Paul Pierce and a hobbling Rondo. Maybe Evans stays long term and plays well alongside Rondo in the future. Those “maybes” might turn into something better than a regular season conference title.

Chronicle of Couch: Three Time Zones, Two Continents, Three Sports and One Couch

You thought the whole Los Angeles feat was impressive. Get a load of this one, one couch for three different sporting events in one day. Yes, more impressive than hosting multiple playoff games by three different franchises in a couple days. I’m taking one for the team and watching the Italy-Germany soccer match followed by (pending MLB Network’s cooperation) the Tigers-Rays game and the NBA draft.

Just to give you an idea, “Chronicle of Couch” was the winner of a very tight race for the naming rights. Here’s a quick peak at the Knowhitter drawing board.

Couchaggedon

Diary of a Couch

The Couch Diaries

And there you have the long, drawn out process of how I got to the highly acclaimed “Chronicle of Couch”.

10:38:

This isn’t necessarily a bunch of playoff games like the aforementioned LA mess, but the games still hold water. Italy-Germany not only figures to be a closer game than people think, but it should be pointed out that the winner gets the right to play the overhyped Spaniards in the Euro 2012 Final. I don’t think the Spanish are bad mind you, it’s just that I watched their 1-1 draw with the Azzuri and they didn’t scream “Winners”. As stated, the game is going to be much better than people think. I’ll take the Italians in an upset, 2-0. This might be a bogus looking prediction because I’m posting this after it all happens, but that’s why I’m putting the respective times in. From an analysis point of view, if the Italians can control the game through Andrea Pirlo, then they have an excellent shot to beat the Germans. However, that certain sword is double sided: if the Germans can silence Pirlo, the Italians could have some trouble.

11:18:

Since I’ll be absorbed in the Italy-Germany tussle, here’s why the regular season matchup between the Tigers and the Rays is so important for Detroit. The Tigers need to take the series and they might as well do it. A quick aside, here is one of the few things that baffle me about baseball, in the last two years the Tigers are 8-2 against Tampa Bay. As good as the Rays have been in recent years, they have only mustered two winners in their last ten against Detroit. It should also be noted that the Tigers beat-every-team-in-plain-sight tear that propelled the squad to its first AL Central Division title last season originated with a strong showing in where? Tampa.

11:33: 

Kickoff coming soon, the tactical lineups are out and the Italians have key defenseman Girorgio Cheiellini back in the lineup after going down with a leg injury versus the Irish in the group stage. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up. Sorry to get all soccer-y on you there.

11:52:

Just wanted to point out that the Germans have never beat Italy in a major competition. I should also try not to make this a twitterfeed. Sorry readers.

12:10:

Mario Balotelli scores with a “noggin toboggan” for Italy, it looks like we’ll be getting the Super Mario instead of the other guy who shows up. Here’s my take on Balotelli. He’s deemed as “disruptive,” maybe the Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco of European soccer, maybe even Milton Bradley. The point is, I Wikipedia’d him and his “antics” are bad, but wouldn’t be considered too terrible if he were playing in America. I‘m not saying that I approve of some of his actions, but that just shows you why people are so much nicer and have higher expectations  in Europe than in the US.

12:26:

Balotelli scores again; rocketing it past the German keeper. He got carded for the whole shirt-taking-off celebration, but let’s remember, Germany hasn’t trailed in a game in around two years. They’re down two-nil already. If Mario Balotelli is Super Mario then the Germans are playing like Bowser who keeps getting beat. Sorry, nerdy I know, but it makes works.

1:27:

The Italians nearly scored twice on tries by Juventus mid-fielder Claudi Marchisio. The substitutes have also come on in force. Antonio Di Natale is on for “Super” Mario Balotelli, who left with supposed cramps. Thiago Matta has also checked in for another midfielder, Riccardo Montolivo. The last substitute of mention and the first chronologically was the swap of Alessandro Diamanti taking the place of Antonio Cassano. I won’t say that the Germans have given in here, but they seem a bit sluggish. With all the crosses being crossed in, the Germans have the air of a basketball team down twenty with two minutes left that just starts hucking up threes.

1:34:

Gianluigi Buffon has been spectacular in goal for the Azzuri. As I say this, Frederico Balzaretti got called for a handball in the box and the Germans score on the PK. The German keeper is playing in the Italian half now, but it’s too late. Italia wins 2-1. I honestly did call the win, no going back and editing the previous prediction here. Italy-Spain is going to be quiet a game this weekend.  I’ll take the Italians again. Now a break and then the NBA Draft and the Tigers game.

2:00:

One of my favorite parts of soccer: when the team is down and the keeper plays up with the midfielders.

2:28

We get a break in the break because of news via Jason Beck and other sources which report that Victor Martinez could return in mid-late September. That’s great news for V-Mart and the Tigers after he tore his ACL in the off-season. I’m sensing something along the lines of Martinez coming back and going beenaners (That’s bananas for all you folks who don’t know) in the playoffs.

4:03:

Almost draft time and MLB Network is cooperating, so the Tigers-Draft back-and-forth is going to be tricky. I’ll be flipping back and forth with the analysis/commentary/occasional babble and such. As stated earlier, I’m looking forward to the Tigers playing in Tampa. For some odd reason the Tigers do well against Tampa Bay and if all goes as it did last year, the Tigers should turn their season around tonight.

4:16:

After Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry go down in order, Miguel Cabrera shoots a double into right-center with two outs in the first. The Rays amaze me that they are still contending with an infield cobbled together with the likes of Elliot Johnson, Jeff Keppinger and Brooks Conrad. Hopefully I’ll get in as much of the Tigers game as possible before switching back to see Northwesterner’s favorite commissioner shake Anthony Davis’ hand.

(The Secret Word is… sarcasm).

 4:21:

Joe Maddon’s lineup choices are curious to say the least. This is the guy who hit John Jaso leadoff a fair number of times before the backstop was dealt to Seattle. He now has Carlos Pena in the two hole. Which, you know, makes sense because Pena hits a robust .198.

4:24:

Pena’s first AB of the night currently, and I’ve already been showed up by the Rays broadcasters. Apparently Pena draws a ton of walks. I’m sorry for the skepticism Joe Maddon.

4:28:

Still confused as to why the draft is in New Jersey. I guess that’s David Stern’s way of saying, “I’m sorry for making you drive to Brooklyn to see your team”. Also confused as to why we didn’t have the ping pong balls at the lottery. Stern is asking for conspiracy theories, which most of them about Seattle are probably true.

4:29:

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Sorry had to boo Stern when he came out to talk. Got to take every chance I get. I know Miami just won the title, but Stern’s asking for it by bringing up the Heat.

4:36:

Back to the Tigers game, Cabrera a double in first, Young and Peralta get on here in the second. Shields is striking guys out, but can he keep this up against this good of an offense?

Nope.

4:39:

Anthony Davis is picked first overall. No one, absolutely no one, saw that coming. Otherwise a great piece for New Orleans to build their franchise around.

4:42:

Now here’s where the draft really starts. Does Brad Beal go to Charlotte and play for the ‘Cats? Is he picked and dealt to say Cleveland or maybe, gasp, OKC? Is someone else picked? Say Thomas Robinson? Remember, the Bobcats traded for Ben Gordon, so who knows?

4:44:

Wow, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist goes to Charlotte, a high motor guy, going to outplay you every day of the week. A good pick for the Bobcats, he isn’t going to carry this team, but he is going to be a little Gerald Wallace-esque. So that’s settled, this pick probably isn’t going anywhere. Kentucky is the first school with the first two pick in modern era draft history.

4:48:

A quick check on the Tigers has Max Scherzer cruising through the sides of Tampa Bay’s lineup. By sides I mean this, if the middle of the order is the meat of the order, then the bottom or less potent part of the lineup is the sides, or sides of the meal.

4:49:

Bradley Beal is finally off the board going to Washington. The SEC party continues. I know its Beal’s birthday, but that’s a crap birthday present from the NBA: “Look kid, welcome to the league, say hello to David Stern.” Like I said, great birthday present. Quick side note on the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette deal, have you noticed that he’s (Maggette) played for a good deal of lottery teams in the past couple years? Charlotte, Golden State, Milwaukee and now Detroit. Nothing says “Lottery Bound” like Corey Maggette.

4:56:

Wow, Dion Waters, who didn’t start at Syracuse, going to Cleveland at four. I haven’t seen a lot of tape, but he’s supposedly a potent scorer. That’s a solid, young back court for the Cavs to build on with him and Kyrie Irving.

 

5:00:

Back to Tampa, after Austin Jackson gets on, Quintin Berry drops down a beauty of a bunt to put two men on for Miguel Cabrera. As I say this Jeff Keppinger makes a spectacular play to not only grab the ball out of the air, but to then outrun a fast Jackson to second to double him off. Prince Fielder then gets on after Keppinger can’t make a dandy of a play again in the shift. It must be a little troubling for Tampa seeing as the Tigers’ hitters 1-5 all have two ABs through the third. You give this team that many chances and you’re going to get hurt. And again, as I write this, the Rays get hurt by former Devil Ray’s number-one-overall-pick Delmon Young hits a single through the left side, and Berry beats the throw easily to score from second.

5:05:

Alex Avila is really getting back into the swing of things here, a couple of hits yesterday and today he’s got an RBI double. Fielder comes huffing and puffing around to score. Jhonny Peralta followed up by grounding out, which is unusual because he generally eats James Shields for breakfast when they play the Rays. You know, a little break from the egg-white omelet.

5:07:

Let’s recap the Delmon Young thing for un minuto. What a great deal for the Rays. Yes, he gave Minnesota some nice years and one really good one, but Minny gave up Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to get him. Throw in the ridiculous return obtained by the Cubs for Garza as well as the solid bullpen arms picked up in exchange for Bartlett from the Padres, and it makes the Rays look pretty darn good. Minnesota didn’t get short ended by the whole process though, they picked up Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris in the trade. That more than made up for the other losses.

(The Secret Word, again, is … sarcasm)

5:14:

Great pick by Sacramento. They needed a four, and Thomas Robinson is a great option for them. Real happy for Thomas Robinson after all that’s happened to him. An NBA PF in the fullest.

(If you’re wondering, I don’t have quick typing skills at all here; I’m just pushing my DVR to its limit.)

5:21:

Portland about to pick…(waits for Stern to announce the pick)… Portland selects Damian Lilard. A guy with in-the-gym range gets to the rim. Nice pick for Portland. That whole Andre Miller/Raymond Felton thing the last couple years hasn’t been amazing. Nice pick here. Plus, when is the next Weber State lottery pick going to come along?

5:25:

Gotta love the constant booing of Stern. Warriors take Harrison Barnes, a great pick to add to the wing spot for Golden State. You talk about Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. That’s a lot of offense there. Young offense. Golden State has wanted to run in the past and drive up the score, but now they can do it successfully too.

5:29:

Back to the Deeetroit Tigers, Max Scherzer continues to mow through the Rays lineup. That’s the one thing with Tampa, if they get behind, and a few guys are cold at the plate… well let’s just say that a shutout or knowhitter (see what I did there?) could come into play. Lots of potential 0-4s in the Rays lineup.

5:33:

Carlos Pena has won some hardware for his fielding, but here he commits a big miscue. Could have tagged Berry on the way to first, can’t get him, Boesch scores. Next play Austin Jackson supposedly tagged out at home on a Miguel Cabrera single. After that, Jeff Keppinger is in the right place for once on the shift and gets Prince out at first. Underlying theme, the Tigers get another run early off “Big Game” James Shields. Commercial time, back to the draft.

5:33:

Toronto takes Terrence Ross, a UW product. Good shot, really good shot, he’s probably a prototypical wing. I know Toronto liked Dion Waters, so maybe they picked Ross as an alternative. Not sure there. I’m obviously not inside of the Toronto brasses’ collective heads so I don’t know. All this Nash-to-Toronto talk with Ross and Bargnani is pretty exciting.

5:42:

Pistons on the clock, Andre Drummond would be potential pick here… and yep, it’s Drummond. Great pick by Detroit. They get the guy they wanted for the third year. Monroe, Knight and now Drummond, a great nucleus there.

5:46:

With the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the David Stern cronies 2.0 select… Austin Rivers. A pure scorer. Nice paring with Anthony Davis to couple with Eric Gordon for a growing nucleus. Anyone else noticed we haven’t had any movements on the trade front? The draft could have gone like this or have trades every-which-where.

5:53:

Meyers Leonard is the pick for Portland. An athletic big guy with good potential. Some nice post moves. He’s got some big potential, but is still very unproven.

5:55:

Here’s the weird part of the draft where guys like Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Jared Sullinger, guys that could go anywhere from the top ten to maybe the late teens. Not sure who goes here, especially with Houston picking three times in the next half hour-ish. Notice that they didn’t move up? Maybe they are some pieces to throw at Orlando for Dwight Howard (probably) or maybe even Pau Gasol (probably not). It’s going to be interesting. On that note, we’re going back to baseball for the Tigers update.

5:58:

Max Scherzer continues to mow through the Rays lineup with relative ease. As I say that, Brooks Conrad leads off with a double. As we get into the sides. There is potential to get out of this unscathed. And again as I say that, the Rays get on the board. No more damage after that. Tigers batting again with Jackson on base, yet again.

6:03:

Houston on the clock for the first of their many picks, they go with… Jeremy Lamb. Great pick either way. Lamb can fill it up and fill in for Kevin Martin when and/or if he leaves. He could be a really good player for the Rockets, or he could be a centerpiece for a Dwight Howard-like trade. Either way, nice pick.

6:07:

MOVEMENT!… Nope, it’s just Bucher announcing that the Raptors want to get Steve Nash. Right after this Phoenix takes point guard Kendall Marshall. I’m pulling for him to wear number eleven in the league due to all the double L’s in his name. This also proves that the NBA isn’t right with their whole green room ordeal. Marshall wasn’t invited. He won’t necessarily push Nash out, but he might be the heir apparent or what not to Nash.

6:13:

John Henson is going to Milwaukee. On a random side note, maybe my favorite headline on ESPN.com, Gym Henson. Moving on, UNC killing Kentucky so far in players drafted.

6:16:

Back to Tampa again. James Shields goes to pick off Austin Jackson and is charged with an error after the ball goes into foul turf. Shields comes back with a strong throw to get Berry at first on a really good bunt. Nothing Berry can do on that one. Cabrera follows it up with a single that bounces off the mound, Keppinger misses it. The Tigers have now set new career highs for both Roy Oswalt and James Shields in terms of hits allowed in back-to-back games.

6:22:

Philly takes Maurice Harkless. They add yet another athletic wing player to their team of seemingly all athletic wing players.

6:24:

The Rockets are still reaping the benefits of the Tracy McGrady deal, and get Knicks pick here because of it. More future trade piece fodder. Tyler Zeller would make sense for them, though if the picks for someone else, we’re not totally sure. Pick is in… Kevin McHale’s team picks Royce White. Such a versatile player. He could play multiple positions on the offense end and is a great passer. This is a good pick for the Rockets or whoever gets this pick in the end.

6:29:

Dallas picking… Dirk with his lowest point total (21.9) since the beginning of the current century. Ho hum. That’s not too bad, not great for Dirk, but still a good output. Mavs and Tyler Zeller would make sense; I said that for Houston too. I like Zeller, he’s going to go at some point. Also grounds for gambling with a Sullinger or Jones. Nope it is Zeller. Good pick, he’ll contribute right away for Dallas.

6:34:

Another Rockets pick… La di da di da. And it’s Terrence Jones, second Terrence to go here in the draft, athletic power forward. Joins another former Wildcat in Houston: Patrick Peterson. Lamb, White and Jones form a solid group of wings for the Rockets.

6:37:

Tyler Zeller going from Dallas to Cleveland for a host of the Cavs picks. Orlando is now on the clock, Dwight Howard not going anywhere yet. The Magic need to do well with this pick after struggling with their last couple first rounders. ST. BONNIES Andrew Nicholson is the pick for Orlando. When did we have a draft with a St. Bonnies and a Weber State player drafted in the first round? When will we again?

6:43:

Evan Fornier is the first international pick of the draft. I don’t know a ton about the guy, but after his highlight package, he looks like a pretty good player. Good, potential stash pick for Denver.

6:44:

Before the Celtics hogging of the podium, we’ll switch back to the Tigers game for some somewhat, in-depth analysis.

Nothing new to note other than a few stranded base runners and Phil Coke’s comical entrance where he sprints in. It’s pretty funny. Scherzer in line for the win, another run comes home though as the sides of the Rays’ lineup get it done. Coke gets out of a jam and Austin Jackson shows his wheels with a two out triple to the wall in the next inning. Quintin Berry up, he can’t plate the run, but the Tigers stay on top. Back to Boston’s picks.

6:51:

Boston has some interesting decisions.  KG is probably back, but Ray Allen is a different story. Should he come back and maybe come off the bench behind Avery Bradley?  Allen has supposedly looked at Miami and New York as options. If he stays in Boston, the Celtics should be in the playoffs again next year. Boston has the opportunity to take a gamble on a guy like a Jared Sullinger or Perry Jones III here. Toney Wroten, Jr might make sense as a combo-point guard type. Jones is tabbed as the tenth best player available by ESPN’s Jay Bilas. He’s still on the board at 21, worth a flyer here. Maybe. Nope, not there. Sullinger is the pick. Remember when we were talking about him being a lottery pick as late as last year? Either a great steal for Boston, or a low-ish risk here at the bottom end of the first round.

7:02:

Boston goes with seven-footer Fab Melo with the next pick. Another big body to throw out there, he’s an ever-improving player with some potential. A great value for Boston in the first round. I would have gone with Jones, but that’s just me.

7:05:

Atlanta on the clock, the oldest team in the league, lots of puzzling contracts. The pick is in; they go with John Jenkins the sharpshooter. Good pick for the Hawks to improve offensively.

It sounds very unprofessional, but I’m going to go eat.

7:26:

And we’re back. A handful of teams picked, including Miami while I ate, and no one took Perry Jones III. Very surprising. More surprising picks include Miles Plumlee to Indiana and Jared Cunningham to Cleveland, or probably Dallas after the Tyler Zeller trade.

7:28:

The Raiders are on the clock next, and they’re showing the team’s respective contracts, one of which is Thabo Sefolosha through 2013-2014. I can’t fathom the length of that contract. Must be a terrible owner dolling out that money. Oh wait…

7:32:

OKC takes Perry Jones. I’m convinced David Stern published the doctor’s report that said Jones had a bum knee that made him plummet to the Raiders so his little buddy could take PJIII (Does anybody call him that yet?).

7:37:

Bucher gets another morsel of air time as the Heat deal Arnett Moultrie (the 27th pick) to Philly for the 45th pick and a future first rounder. A great pickup for Miami in terms of future trade ammo.

7:41:

First off, I love how the crowd booed off Stern and cheered when he announced that he was done and Adam Silver was taking over. I now love New York/New Jersey fans.

7:42:

Festus Ezeli goes to Golden State at the end of the first round. The pick was acquired in the Stephen Jackson trade, a great name and talent.

7:44:

With the first round over, we are going to go check on Detroit, who I think is done according to the DVR. Sorry Tigers-Rays game. When we left off it was 4-2 Tigers and Detroit was well into their bullpen with the lead. Generally that means a win. Last year the team was lights out when having the lead with their bullpen entering the tail end of the game. Hopefully all goes as planned and the Tigers get a win. As it stands, the Tigers have the lead by the same aforementioned score with a run tacked on going into the ninth. Here comes the Big Potato, and here comes the antics.

7:49:

Tigers win 5-2. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera each had four hits apiece, and Miguel Cabrera made his sixteenth foray into “Souveeenir City” as the Tigers roll. The Tigers are now 9-2 in their last 11 over Tampa. That’s a rap on Detroit as my teams improve to 2-0 today. Now back to the draft.

7:53:

Got to love the applause for Silver instead. Nobody likes Stern. Well, outside of the state of Oklahoma.

8:00:

Also got to love the Bernard James pick, a great story. He plays hard and is a great rebounder.

8:03:

I’m getting a little more blippy as the draft goes on. I’m not going to comment on everything because I don’t know a ton about some of the second round guys. Just a warning.

8:04:

Jae Crowder comes off the board as well as Draymond Green as the seniors start to go here in the second round.

8:06:

Orlando Johnson can fill it up. No bones about it. Good value for Sacramento.

8:09:

Quincy Acy, big time energy guy going north of the border.

8:10:

Quincy Miller, it’s a “Baylorpalooza”. Thanks Reece Davis.

8:11:

Orlando Johnson actually going to Indiana for cash from Sacramento.

8:15:

Efficient three-point-marksmen Doron Lamb going to Milwaukee, fifth Wildcat taken in the draft. UNC down 5-4 in terms of number of players picked this year. See? I’m getting blippy.

8:24:

Darius Miller going to New Orleans with Anthony Davis. He’s also the sixth Kentucky player to be drafted, modern era record right there.

8:31:

Kyle O’Quinn, a good rebounder goes to Orlando to beef up the Magic’s frontline.

9:03:

Robert Sacre taken with the last pick by the Lakers. Great value pick, the best free-throw-shooting big man in the league right now. You heard it here first.

So that’s it for the “Chronicle of Couch Volume I.” I should throw in other tidbits such as the Rafael Nadal loss as well as the fact that Dwayne Wade is going to miss the Olympics.

I also applaud any of you who are still ready after 4,000 plus-odd words. Thank you and good night.

NCAA Tournament Picks to Clicks

March Madness is back. Christmas has come back early in March. None the less, the Madness is here again.

Here’s what you need to know when you fill out the brackets:

  1. Curious seeding to look out for. Some teams are grossly (for lack of a better term) under or over seeded. The unders include Detroit, Long Beach State, and Creighton. The overs include the likes of Notre Dame, West Virginia and Virginia. (If you’ll notice, my under-seeded teams are all Mid-Majors and all my over-seeded teams are High-Majors. Just a thought.)
  2. The 8-9 is almost a coin flip. The two seeds that are closest to each other are generally the most difficult to pick.
  3. Never pick 16 seeds. A 16 seed has never, never beat a 1.
  4. 2s are a little tougher story. We’ve seen close 2-15 games in the past a la Robert Morris-Villanova. Don’t expect any upsets this year, but Detroit might give Kansas some problems.
  5. Vanderbilt could lose to Harvard. Yes, frankly any team could lose, but Vandy has lost as a 4 or 5 seed in the past couple tourneys. The Commodores could lose, but after nipping Kentucky in the SEC title game, they likely will win here.
  6. Some teams should be overly happy to be in the tournament. These squads would be BYU, Virginia and West Virginia.
  7. Upset Alert:  Watch out this year for double digit squads such as Cal, Montana, New Mexico State, Iona and Long Beach State as potential bracket busters.
  8. Potential third round trip ups- (I had “second round stumbles” written in, but with the new play in games and everything it doesn’t make sense. There goes my over-thought-out alliteration. ) Anyways, UConn, or frankly Iowa State, could give Kentucky a lot of problems in the round of 32. Jim Calhoun’s team has a lot of size up front to combat national POY candidate Anthony Davis and the Wildcats. Florida, providing they take care of Virginia, has the potential to upset Missouri in the next round. Missouri supposedly has the easiest path to New Orleans because they don’t have a lot of teams in their bracket with a lot of size. That being said, Florida can easily fight fire with fire and beat the Tigers at their own game with a Sweet Sixteen birth on the line. Gonzaga’s size has the potential to really worry Ohio State in Pittsburgh should the matchup present itself. Physically, the Zags have size to deal with Jared Sullinger and the Buckeye frontline while they have the guard play to match up with OSU’s talented back court.
  9. Cinderella? VCU, George Mason, Butler, Gonzaga. Almost every tournament has a Cinderella. This year’s potential Cinderella’s include the aforementioned Zags, Montana, Memphis, Long Beach State, Detroit and Belmont.

 

Here is my first round, and rest of tournament picks to click:

In the first round I have Western Kentucky prevailing over Mississippi Valley State, Lamar over Vermont, Cal over the Bulls of South Florida and Iona over BYU.

South-

(I try to stay away from all chalk. Emphasize try.) Here are the picks:

1 Kentucky over 16 WKU

  • Just too much for WKU. Kentucky in a rout.

8 Iowa State over 9 UConn

  • Royce White will give the defending champs all kinds of matchup nightmares. ISU’s three-point barrage could bury the Huskies.

5 Wichita State over 12 VCU

  • Last year’s Cinderella team will have trouble against a very complete Wichita State squad.

4 Indiana over 13 NMSU

  • Cody Zeller and Wendell McKines will be quiet a battle down low. Expect Zeller and the Hoosiers to come out on top, but don’t be surprised if the Aggies move on to the round of 32.

6 UNLV over 11 Colorado

  • Las Vegas is very complete and has the potential to go far in the tournament on the back of Mike Moser. Expect a UNLV win.

3 Baylor over 14 South Dakota State

  • Nate Wolters has the chance to go bananas, and he probably will, but Baylor has too much size and talent across the board to lose.

10 Xavier over 7 Notre Dame

  • Kenny Frease could have a big game against more of a perimeter-relying Notre Dame team. X will win.

2 Duke over 15 Lehigh

  • The Blue Devils have too much talent everywhere you look. Get ready Xavier.

West-

Moving down to the West, there’s more chalk. Sadly.

1 Michigan State over 16 LIU

  • LIU will come to play, but Draymond Green, and the Spartans are too much.

8 Memphis over 9 Saint Louis

  • Expect to see a lot of Joe Jackson and the Tigers talented wing players in a win over the Bilikins.

5 New Mexico over 12 LBSTU

  • Dan Monson’s team will put up a fight, expect a close one, but in the end Drew Gordon and New Mexico will prevail.

4 Louisville over 13 Davidson

  • Davidson has beaten Kansas and played Duke tough, but Seattle native Peyton Siva and Co. will win in a close-ish one.

6 Murray State over 11 Colorado State

  • The Racers kill teams with their three pointers. Making almost 41 percent of them (40.6), which incidentally is what Colorado State is most vulnerable to.

3 Marquette over 14 Iona

  • Iona gets here after their excellent guards presumably tear up the Cougars, who have struggled against top notch guards (see Kevin Pangos’s 30 points against BYU). The Golden Eagles are susceptible to Iona’s tendency to force turnovers, but expect a Marquette win.

7 Florida over 10 Virginia

  • The Gators attack lead by Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal will probably struggle early against Tony Bennett’s tenacious-like D, but Florida will hit their groove eventually and win.

2 Missouri over 15 Norfolk State

  • Ricardo Ratliffe might struggle against 6”10 defensive presence Kyle O’Quinn, but Kim English and all of Mizzou’s perimeter threats will overwhelm Norfolk State.

East-

I deviate from the all-chalk field in the slightest here.

1 Syracuse over 16 UNC Ashville

  • UNC Ashville will play Syracuse tight. They will lose, but not by any 50 points.

8 Kansas State over 9 Southern Miss

  • A balanced Southern Miss team will have its hands full with an intense Frank Martin squad. Expect KSU to win by somewhere in the neighborhood of 13.

5 Vanderbilt over 12 Harvard

  • Vandy has lost to Richmond, Murray State and Sienna in their last 3 tourneys as 4 or 5 seeds. Might be a trap game, or Vandy will win in comfortable fashion.  Vanderbilt wins. That’s the underlying theme.

13 Montana over 4 Wisconsin

  • One word describes the Badgers offense. Stagnant. And that’s just how it will play out with Montana getting to the round of 32.

6 Cincy over 11 Texas

  • Cincinnati is peaking at the right time. Expect a comfortable win for Mick Cronin’s team.

3 Florida State over 14 St. Bonaventure

  • St. Bonaventure will give the Seminoles all they can, but in the end, future pro Andrew Nicholson and the Bonnies won’t have enough.

7 Gonzaga over 10 West Virginia

  • The Zags have the defensive stalwarts (read Gary Bell Jr and Rob Sacre) to stop the Mountaineers two-man show of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.

2 Ohio State over 15 Loyola MD

  • Loyola will try, but in the end they won’t be able to match up with Ohio State’s size and perimeter threats.

Midwest-

A lot less chalk to put it plainly.

1 UNC over Lamar

  • The worst group of Seniors Pat Knight has ever seen will end their college careers with a loss to the Tar Heels.

8 Creighton over 9 Alabama

  • Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs will power the Blue Jays to a win over a struggling offensive Alabama squad.

12 Cal over 5 Temple

  • Jorge Gutierrez and the other Golden Bears are too good for USF and will prevail against Temple as well.

4 Michigan over 13 Ohio

  • Ohio will have a chance if they can make Michigan die by the three. However, if Michigan lives by the three. Ehhh. No gratitude for Ohio from Ohio State for losing to the Wolverines

11 NC State over 6 San Diego State

  • NC State’s talent will show out as CJ Leslie will have a huge game in the classic 11-6 upset. If Leslie doesn’t show up, watch out, SDST might win.

14 Belmont over 3 Georgetown

  • Belmont lost to Duke by one. Surely the Hoyas don’t scare them. Belmont’s three pointers will absolutely sink Georgetown if the buckets are falling. If not, the Bears might be in for a long day on the glass.

7 St. Mary’s over 10 Purdue

  • Mathew Dellavadova is good enough to propel the Gaels to a win, but the Gaels might have trouble with a bigger team in the future (read Kansas). As an aside, does anyone else notice that Dellavadova’s mouth guard looks like a block of mozzarella cheese? Just thought I’d point that out.

2 Kansas over 15 Detroit

  • Ray McCallum and friends will play Kansas very tough, but expect to see the Jayhawks win it.

So, to recap, my round of 32 looks like this in each region:

South-

1 Kentucky vs 8 Iowa State

5 Wichita State vs 4 Indiana

6 UNLV vs 3 Baylor

10 Xavier vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 8 Memphis

5 New Mexico vs 4 Louisville

6 Murray State vs 3 Marquette

7 Florida vs 2 Missouri

East-

1 Syracuse vs 8 Kansas State

5 Vanderbilt vs 13 Montana

6 Cincy vs 3 Florida State

7 Gonzaga vs 2 Ohio State

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 8 Creighton

12 Cal vs 4 Michigan

11 NCST vs 14 Belmont

7 St. Mary’s vs 2 Kansas

 

Now to whittle it down to the Sweet Sixteen

South-

1 Kentucky over 8 Iowa State

  • Royce White will probably go off, but it won’t likely be enough. If the Cyclones can hit 3s, watch out. Upset brewing.

5 Wichita State over 4 Indiana

  • Tyler Zeller again does battle with another quality post as he checks Garret Stultz. Expect a close one, but in the end the experienced Shockers will win.

3 Baylor over 6 UNLV

  • Mike Moser will be big, but Baylor’s athleticism will win out in a comfortable victory for the Bears.

2 Duke over 10 Xavier

  • X will be a tough out for the Blue Devils, but expect Coach K’s young guards to get a hold on Tu Holloway as Duke gets the win.

West- 

1 Michigan State over 8 Memphis

  • The Tiger’s athleticism and ability will help them, but only so far against Draymond Green and the Spartans. Spoiler alert- don’t be surprised if Green pulls a Jimmer or Stephen Curry on us and carries the Spartans deep in the tourney on his back.

5 New Mexico over 4 Louisville

  • Drew Gordon and friends will face a challenge with the Cardinals D, but New Mexico will rally.

3 Marquette over 6 Murray State

  • This Cinderella story ends for Murray State. The Golden Eagles are too talented, possibly Elite Eight talented.

2 Missouri over 7 Florida

  • Expect a tight one. Florida will play Missouri like Missouri. In other words, expect two similar teams battling it out. Don’t be overly shocked if Billy Donovan’s team pulls it off.

East-

1 Syracuse over 8 Kansas State

  • I may be contradicting upset special here, but the Wildcats might be prone to an ugly one.

5 Vanderbilt over 13 Montana

  • Montana will play hard, but Vandy’s experience will oust the Grizzlies.

3 Florida State over 6 Cincy

  • The Bearcats are victims to a streaking Florida State team that will clamp down anyone with their defense.

7 Gonzaga over 2 Ohio State

  • To quote Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” The Zags have the size and talent to match up with most teams in the country. If freshmen backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr are on, “then it’s gonna be an upset special BABY!” (Dicke V voice)

Midwest-

1 UNC over 8 Creighton

  • Everyone is going to see high school teammates and star players go at it as Doug McDermott takes on Harrison Barnes. Expect the latter team to prevail.

4 Michigan over 12 Cal

  • The Wolverines are still living off the three as it is. Cal won’t go quietly either.

11 NCST over 14 Belmont

  • Belmont’s magic just runs out versus the Wolf Pack.

2 Kansas over 7 St. Mary’s

  • The Jayhawks are too good to lose. At least not yet.

And now, here is the all-important, hypothetical Sweet Sixteen! (cue corny trumpets in the backround)

South-

1 Kentucky vs 5 Wichita State

2 Duke vs 3 Baylor

West-

1 Michigan State vs 5 New Mexico

2 Missouri vs 3 Marquette

East-

1 Syracuse vs 5 Vanderbilt

3 Florida State vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 4 Michigan

2 Kansas vs 11 NCST

 

We’ll start in the South where Kentucky has a tough draw with Wichita State.

South-

1 Kentucky over 5 Wichita State

  • This one could also be an upset special, but the Wildcats’ top rung talent will prevail in a hard-fought, close game.

2 Duke over 3 Baylor

  • I really like Duke for some reason. I know they will get a challenge with the Bears’ athleticism, but Duke is too balanced and too talented not to pull away. It will be close. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if this one went into OT or if Baylor won.

In the tradition of starting in the top left-hand corner, and moving down, here is the West.

West-

1 Michigan State over 5 New Mexico

  • The Spartans are still riding the Draymond Green factor. Expect a gritty game.

3 Marquette over 2 Missouri

  • Jae Crowder and the Golden Eagles will give Missouri some issues that they haven’t faced before, mainly a size problem.

Syracuse is probably the most vulnerable 1 seed in the Sweet Sixteen. Goliaths beware.

East-

5 Vanderbilt over 1 Syracuse

  • The Commodores have all the intangibles to upset a previously-stated vulnerable Cuse team.

7 Gonzaga over 3 Florida State

  • Even if Gonzaga doesn’t win, the winner of this game is my Final Four pick out of this region. The Noles could be riding high. Time to get knocked off their high horse.

The last region before the Elite Eight!!! (more corny trumpet noises….)

 

Midwest-

1 UNC over 4 Michigan

  • With John Henson back, the Tar Heels roll on.

2 Kansas over 11 NCST

  • The Wolf Pack will go down fighting to the last man, but KU wins.

That leaves us with the round of eight. More commonly capitalized and call Elite Eight.

South-

1 Kentucky vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 3 Marquette

East-

5 Vanderbilt vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 2 Kansas

 

South-

1 Kentucky over 2 Duke

  • The Blue Devils were able to deal with Baylor’s athletes. They won’t be able to handle Coach Cal’s. KU comfortably.

West-

1 Michigan State over 3 Marquette

  • Marquette will be too small of a team to matchup with Sparty. Yet another Final Four for Tom Izzo.

South-

7 Gonzaga over 5 Vanderbilt

  • Writing was on the wall. Or the last couple paragraphs, whatever sounds more eerie. The Original Cinderella finally gets its first Final Four.

Midwest-

1 UNC over 2 Kansas

  • Both could have been Number 1 seeds, but here we sit. T-Rob and the Jayhawks will battle, but UNC is far more talented across the board.

Now we get to the Final Four. One of the most cherished events in all of sports. (Unless of course your school got knocked out in the Elite Eight), this year’s event is in the Big Easy, and this will be anything but that.

South vs West

1 Kentucky vs 1 Michigan State

East vs Midwest

1 UNC vs 7 Gonzaga

The Predictions:

South vs West

1 Michigan State over 1 Kentucky

  • Coach Cal’s first title is going to have to wait. The Spartans will get a potential shot at revenge against UNC, for, you know that one tournament game a couple years back.

East vs Midwest

1 UNC over 7 Gonzaga

  • The Bulldogs bandwagon sadly stops here. The Tar Heels are much too talented. They will get their shot at MSU. Gonzaga misses a potential rematch against the Spartans, who they only lost by 7 to and could have easily won the game.

Title Game

1 Michigan State vs 1 UNC

Prediction:

1 Michigan State over 1 UNC

  • The Spartans get some payback for the aforementioned game as well as putting Draymond Green’s name in the same sentence as Jimmer, Curry and Farokmanesh.

So there you have it. Michigan State in a rematch. Unless someone else picks the exact same thing, then I’ll leave a final score prediction of 73-69 as a tie breaker of sorts.

Happy Bracket Scribbling Everyone!