Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What To Root For/Against This Week

So you are trying to figure out who to root for this week as the NCAA Tournament looms. That is part of the problem with betting on sports and playing fantasy sports - you wind up having to root for people like Bob Huggins to win Tourney games, and Chipper Jones to have good seasons. The trick of course, is to only bet/play with teams and players that you already like, or have reason to.

Louisville will be easy to root for because they were the forgotten little sisters, still not unanimously considered a 1-seed even after beating UConn and Pitt in the regular season and outlasting them and winning the Big East Tournament. Though they were eventually rewarded with the benefit of playing within two-and-a-half hours of home for the first four rounds, and having the weakest 2, 3, and 4 seeds in the Tourney.

West Virginia will be easy to root against because, again, Bob Huggins is a sleazeball. I have them beating Dayton in the first round but losing to Kansas, which will be nice considering that Kansas is another team that's easy to root for.

Need a villain? How about Cal State Northridge? I know it seems weird to root against Cinderella, but they are terrible and won't get out of the first round unless Memphis actually fails to appear anyway. More importantly, the Matadors have the lowest graduation rate among all 65 competitors - 8%. Of the 12 guys on the team, one will graduate within six years. And it isn't as though they are losing these kids to the NBA. But just wait till Huggins has been at WVU long enough to be counted in this stat. 8%...ha!

I am not sure if Florida State is a hero or villain. They are a decent pick to knock off 1-seed Pitt in the Sweet 16 and would be a fun story, but they are also an athletic department plagued with academic dishonesty and administrative neglect. The jury is still out on the 'Noles.

Switching gears, someone to root against is an 89-year-old Ohio woman, Edna Jester (who ironically has little or no sense of humor). When Mrs. Jester's neighbors' kids' ball went into her yard one too many times, she kept it and refused to give it back. The kids' parents (who are also not to be rooted for) sued her for the ball. The case was thrown out and she counter-sued for emotional distress...which was also thrown out. But at least our taxes paid for all of this.

Manny Ramirez is another one to root against. Not only is he on the Dodgers, which automatically makes him hate-able, but he has now officially staked claim on a lingering hamstring injury that can't really be fixed or medically disproved. So he has his built-in excuse for lagging for the remainder of the year. Enjoy, Dodger fans. The fantasy value of every player on your team and the potential division championship just flew out the window as Troy Tulowitski's liner flew down into the left field corner, forcing Manny to take 10-15 running steps before "re-injuring" himself. But at least it was determined that Jason Schmidt does not have the arm-strength to be a starter.

Looking for a true American hero? How about Jenyne Butterfly, winner of the 2009 U.S. Pole Dance Championships, hosted by the U.S. Pole Dance Federation. Really, no more needs to be said here...except that this makes it possible for women everywhere to dream big. Way to go Jenyne.

Hmm, Jay Cutler or the Broncos. I tend to want to side with players in messes like this, and I kinda like Cutler because Philip Rivers is such a huge a-hole. But seriously Jay. You are a professional athlete and you do not have a lifetime contract with the team. If they were contacted about a trade for you and said no, isn't that all you need to know about them wanting you around? If they allegedly looked at the market and realized that you were their guy, shouldn't you be happy for now and work hard to make sure that stays the case? Instead, you whine that they have turned their back on you (despite that they turned down the freaking trade!) and now you pull your house on the market and reportedly demand a trade. You sir, will be have whiny brat stamped on your player bio for the rest of your career.

Sergio Escudero. Never heard of him? He is a soccer player, so clearly he is someone to root against, but he is perfect example of why soccer players are to be disliked. Watch the video to see why. And keep in mind that a foul cannot be called on a referee. Perhaps he is a method actor and cannot "turn it off." Somewhere Vlade Divac is smiling. Clearly this guy sucks anyway because he is Brazilian and doesn't go by just one name.

I got distracted...back to the Tourney. You have to root against Big Ten schools, partially because there are eleven schools in the Big Ten. It should be the Big Televen...and so it shall be on this site. Anyway, Purdue was the conference's preseason favorite and was the best team all season till they stumbled at the end of the season. They went on to win the Big Televen tournament however. So it is fair to say that they are the best team in the conference if not second best. And they got a 5-seed. But somehow the Selection Committee (also to be jeered for having hosed small conferences, and also for this) thought that there were six other schools in this league good enough to be among the field. If you're counting, that means you root against Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan as well. If you have a hard time remembering all of them, just look for the teams scoring in the 40's...that'll be the Big Televen.

Obviously that also means Arizona must be jeered as well for being in undeservedly, but more importantly, the mid-majors that did get in need extra support since there were only four selected this year. So be sure to get behind Xavier and Dayton (Atlantic 10), Butler (Horizon) and BYU (Mountain West). Temple, Gonzaga, Utah, Western Kentucky, American, Portland State, Northern Iowa and Siena are all mid-major/small conference automatic bid winners who have good shots to make some early round noise as well, with the Zags being the flag bearers, of course.

I will also be rooting for certain match ups to occur, even if it means rooting for teams I don't like. UCLA-Duke, UNC-Gonzaga, and Memphis-Missouri would make for great Sweet 16 games, and Duke/UCLA-UNC would make for a fantastic Final Four game as well.

The fans in Kansas City and Miami could use some support this week as well. Not only did they not get any local teams to root for, they only got one game that anyone cares about (Maryland-Cal). Memphis-CSUN, Oklahoma-Morgan St., Clemson-Michigan, ASU-Temple, Syracuse-S. F. Austin, Utah-Arizona and Wake Forest-Cleveland St. Ouch. Those people are paying just as much as the people in Greensboro who get to see Duke and UNC play home games, and a potentially awesome 8-9 game (LSU-Butler).

And finally, we should all root against any of the Dayton games being any good, so CBS will air as little of Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery as possible. Of course, they also air every game free on their website, so maybe this last one doesn't matter as much. In related news, hurray for CBS broadcasting every single game for free despite that they could obviously charge ridiculous amounts of money for this, like Major League Baseball and the NFL do.

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