Thursday, April 19, 2018

New Book: But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

A few weeks ago, or maybe a month -- shit, I don't know, man -- I finished reading How Music Works by David Byrne.  Byrne -- who was, of course, the lead singer and lead songwriter for Talking Heads -- wrote what is basically a text book about various aspects of music, music theory, the history of music, how we think about music, and why we make and listen to music.  It was interesting, and definitely a book that you don't need to read straight through or need to read quickly all at once.  That's not meant to be a knock, as Byrne himself admitted that the chapters are pretty much independent.  The chapter I found most interesting was on the business of music and how artists get paid, both on the publishing side and the recording/performing side.  The bottom line is this:  don't buy digital music because it is fucking over the artists.  I knew there was a reason I still buy CDs and vinyl.  More money goes to the artist.

I have since started reading But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman.  He is one of my favorite authors and has been since I read Fargo Rock City about twelve years ago.  I think I've read every one of his books, fiction and nonfiction.  But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past is based on the premise that we are mostly wrong about predicting the future, and we are usually wrong when we arrogantly think that what we know now is how it will always be.  So far, it's a fascinating read, and kind of a mind fuck.

Books Read in 2018:
-How Music Works by David Byrne

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" by Pras, featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard and Mýa

Apologies for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  Between work, filling out my tax return in ink made entirely of hamster blood (that's a lot of hamsters!), and amateur plumbing, I simply didn't have the time.  On the plus side, I think I may have fixed an issue with my GMYH Facebook profile and my Facebook page for GMYH, so that whenever I post something here, it will automatically post a link on both of the Facebook sites.  We'll see if it works.

But I digress.  This Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the soundtrack to the movie Bulworth -- a relatively successful Warren Beatty vehicle.  I've never seen the film, but I have definitely heard much of the soundtrack, which peaked at #10 on the Billboard album charts and went platinum in the U.S., thanks to its solid cast of hip hop songs by the likes of Dr. Dre and LL Cool J, Black Eyed Peas, Public Enemy, Mack 10 and Ice Cube, Eve, and various members of Wu-Tang Clan, among others.  

But the song we remember most is "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" by Fugees member Pras, featuring ODB (a.k.a. Ason Unique, a.k.a. Dirt McGirt, a.k.a Osirus, a.k.a. Big Baby Jesus) and Mýa, with Mýa's unforgettably catchy chorus riffing on Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream."  If you were in college in 1998, this song was a staple at any party, and it ended up being a worldwide smash.  While it "only" hit #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, it topped charts in Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Europe (European Hot 100 Singles), Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, and went Top 10 on the charts in Australia, Belgium (Wallonia), Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Here's the video, in which we learn that Warren Beatty is Pras.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 4/13/18

1.  "If You Don't Like It" by Cinderella


2.  "Somebody Get Me a Doctor" by Van Halen


3.  "Fly To The Angels" by Slaughter


4.  "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses


5.  "Can't Catch Me" by Lita Ford


6.  "Best of Friends" by Dangerous Toys


7.  "You're Too Bad" by FireHouse


8.  "Shot In The Dark" by Junkyard


9.  "Down and Dirty" by Y&T


10.  "CDFF-Lucky This Time" by Mr. Big

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "The Flame" by Cheap Trick

Thirty years ago today, Cheap Trick released their tenth studio album, Lap of Luxury.  Succumbing to pressure from their label, the band agreed to let outside songwriters contribute or collaborate on songs.  For better or worse, it spawned a successful album, which went platinum in the U.S. and reached #16 on the Billboard album charts -- the band's most successful album since 1979's Dream Police.  Lap of Luxury included four songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100:  "The Flame" (#1), "Don't Be Cruel" (#4), "Ghost Town" (#33), and "Never Had A Lot To Lose" (#75).

"The Flame" was the band's first #1 song, and the band's first top ten song in the U.S. since the live version of "I Want You To Want Me" hit #7 in 1979.  This was one of the aforementioned songs that was written by outsiders (Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham, to be precise).  Their record label offered up "The Flame" and "Look Away" to Cheap Trick, and the band took the former -- with the latter then becoming a #1 hit for Chicago.  "The Flame" is one of Cheap Trick's biggest and most memorable songs, and it surely quickly made its way into the high school dance theme realm.  I imagine that there are a good number of 29-year-olds in the world that can thank their existence to this song.

For you Chicagoans, Rick Nielsen's five-necked guitar makes a couple appearances in the video.  If you've ever been to Piece Pizza in Wicker Park (my favorite pizza place in town), you may have seen that very same guitar hanging on the wall.  You see, in addition to being the guitarist and primary songwriter in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, Nielsen co-owns Piece. Which reminds me: next time you go there, order a clam and bacon pie with the white sauce. Trust me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Songs by The Darkness by Album

Tomorrow night, I will have the pleasure of seeing two amazing live bands -- The Darkness and Diarrhea Planet -- at the Park West here in Chicago.  It's been a few years since I've seen Diarrhea Planet, but I was pumped when I saw that they would be opening for The Darkness on this tour.  Of course, I've seen The Darkness multiple times, and the last two times, I've caught a guitar pick and bass pick, respectively.  All that's left is a drum stick and a unitard.

For most people, if they know only one Darkness song, it's "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" -- which is a fantastic song.  But did you know that the band has five full-length albums?  I did.  Because I own all of them.  And I love them.  All of them.

To allow you to perhaps discover some real rock and roll made by a current band, I am going to give you my favorite song off of each album, along with my five other favorite songs by the band, regardless of album.  Here you go:

Favorite Song by Album (in chronological order)
1.  "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" (Permission to Land, 2003)
This is the one that started it all, and it's still my favorite song by the band.  At a time when rock was either nu metal/post-grunge or being stripped down to garage rock, this song was an outlier -- pure glam joy.  It might be the best rock and roll song of the 2000s.

2.  "Knockers" (One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back, 2005)
The band's second album kept the bombast going.  There are a lot of great songs off of One Way Ticket, but "Knockers" is my favorite.  It's got a groove, and it's catchy as hell, with a slide guitar kind of hanging out in the background.  And then there's that chorus, with Justin Hawkins's trademark falsetto complimenting a lucky lady about what she's done with her hair.

3.  "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" (Hot Cakes, 2012)
The band broke up after One Way Ticket due to Justin's substance abuse issues, but after he got clean and was comfortable enough with his own sobriety to put himself back in the rock and roll lifestyle, the band reunited after about seven years away.  They released Hot Cakes in 2012, picking up right where they left off, with ballsy, glammy rock that you want to sing along to.  "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" off Hot Cakes is a hard-hitting wailer with a badass thrashy intro. 

4.  "Open Fire" (Last Of Our Kind, 2015)
2015's Last Of Our Kind is another great set of rock and roll songs. Justin Hawkins has mention his love of The Cult, and it's hard not to notice the influence of The Cult in the opening riff to "Open Fire."  The song is a solid rocker, and Justin Hawkins's voice is different on this one (other than the occasional falsetto wail).

5.  "Southern Trains" (Pinewood Smile, 2017)
While the song "Solid Gold" has the best chorus on the album -- "We're never gonna stop / Shitting out solid gold -- I have to go with "Southern Trains" as my favorite song off of Pinewood Smile.  It's a tongue-in-cheek song about how shitty some train lines are, and it manages to rock harder than pretty much anything that's been on the radio in the last five years.  That guitar solo is ridiculous -- though not as ridiculous as the video.

Five Other Favorite Songs (in chronological order)
6.  "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman" (Permission to Land, 2003)
"Get your hands off of my woman, motherfucker."  A blunt, but effective, chorus if I've ever heard one. Note that the chorus in the video has been edited.

7.  "Growing On Me" (Permission to Land, 2003)
When you listen to the lyrics of this song, it sounds like a sweet love song about falling in love.  It's actually about genital warts, which makes it more brilliant, in my mind.

8.  "One Way Ticket" (One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back, 2005)
It was a close race between this and "Knockers" for my favorite song off of the second album.  This song will always have a place in my heart because it was the first song the band played when I saw them at Metro in 2012 on their first tour of the States since reuniting.  The entire audience was bouncing up and down in excitement and singing along.  It was one of the happiest concert memories I've ever had, which is saying a lot.

9.  "With A Woman" (Hot Cakes, 2012)
A great, raunchy riff leads into another catchy hard rock song with some great falsettos.

10.  "Mudslide" (Last Of Our Kind, 2015)
This has a great intro and riff, and just plain rocks. It's about hating mudslides.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Hair Band Friday - 4/6/18

1.  "Shake A Leg" by AC/DC


2.  "Rescue Me" by Y&T



3.  "Had Enough" by Mr. Big



4.  "I Wanna Be Your Hero" by Def Leppard



5.  "Outlaw" by Dangerous Toys



6.  "You Ain't The First" by Guns N' Roses



7.  "Shout At The Devil" (demo) by Mötley Crüe 



8.  "Sinner's Swing!" by Van Halen



9.  "Stop Fighting Love" by Dokken



10.  "Two Sides Of Love" by Sammy Hagar

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2

Today is the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a tragic end to the life of an American hero who strove to end racial injustice.  For me, there's one song that comes to mind for this week's Retro Video of the Week, U2's musical tribute to Dr. King, "Pride (In the Name of Love)," off of the band's 1984 Unforgettable Fire album.  Even though the timing of Dr. King's death is erroneously reported as "early morning" (when it was, in fact early evening), the message of the song rings true.  Don't be dicks to each other, people.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Fun Facts About This Year's Final Four

It was another great weekend of college basketball.  This has to be one of the more exciting NCAA Tournaments in recent memory.  I'm about to head out on vacation, but I figured I'd leave you all with one last nugget before I spend the next seven days on Hornitos Island.

Thursday night, in the South Region, 11-seed Loyola's run continued with another nail-biting win, this time over 7-seed Nevada, 69-68.  That was followed by another great game, with Bruce Weber's 9-seed Kansas State Wildcats upsetting 5-seed Kentucky, 61-58.  Saturday's regional final didn't quite have the same drama, but was pretty awesome nonetheless.  After winning its first three games by a combined 4 points, Loyola decided to put the foot on the gas pedal, beating Kansas State 78-62 to send the Ramblers to their second Final Four and first since 1963.  They are the first Chicago school to make the Final Four since DePaul in 1979.  What's crazy to think about is that, had Wichita State not jumped from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Conference this year, Loyola might not have even made the NCAA Tournament.

In the West Region, in the Sweet 16, 3-seed Michigan destroyed 7-seed Texas A&M, 99-72, while 9-seed Florida State upset 4-seed Gonzaga, 75-60, to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993.  In Saturday's regional final, Michigan held on in a low-scoring 58-54 affair.  The Wolverines will be going to their second Final Four under John Beilein, first since 2013, and 8th overall (if you count the two vacated Final Fours from 1992 and 1993).

In the East Region's Sweet 16 games Friday night, 1-seed Villanova beat 5-seed West Virginia, 90-78, while 3-seed Texas Tech beat up on 2-seed Purdue, 78-65.  For the Boilermakers, since the NCAA Tournament started in 1939, this marks the 79th year in a row they have not won an NCAA title and 38th year in a row they have failed to make it to the Final Four.  For the Red Raiders, this was the first time they had advanced past the Sweet 16.  In Sunday's regional final, however, it was all Villanova, as the Wildcats won 71-59.  They will be playing in their 3rd Final Four under Jay Wright, first since 2016 (when they won it all), and 6th overall (if you include their vacated Final Four in 1985).

In the Midwest Region, both Sweet 16 games were closer than expected, with 1-seed Kansas holding off 5-seed Clemson, 80-76, and 2-seed Duke topping ACC rival 11-seed Syracuse, 69-65.  Sunday's regional final between two college basketball blue bloods was a great game.  With the game tied, as time expired in regulation, Duke's Grayson Allen had a floater in the lane that circled the rim a couple times before falling out.  In OT, Kansas pulled away, winning 85-81.  The Jayhawks will be going to their 3rd Final Four under Bill Self, first since 2012, and 15th overall.

Here are the Final Four game times this Saturday (Eastern).  Both games are on TBS:
(W3) Michigan vs. (S11) Loyola (IL) – 6:09 p.m.
(E1) Villanova vs. (MW1) Kansas – 8:49 p.m.

As I do this time of year, I'm going to drop some Final Four statistical knowledge on you.  Get ready for it.

10.  For the first time since 2013, none of the Final Four teams has ten or more losses.  In fact, no team has more than 7 losses (both Kansas and Michigan have 7).  Since seeding began in 1979, there have only been 11 years (including this year) in which all four Final Four teams have had 7 or fewer losses entering the Final Four.  Here are the years in which it has happened, showing the number of losses for the Final Four team(s) with the most losses heading into the Final Four:
2018:  7 losses (Kansas, Michigan)
2009:  7 losses (Villanova)
2008:  3 losses (Kansas*, UCLA)
2007:  6 losses (Georgetown)
2005:  6 losses (Michigan State)
2003:  7 losses (Kansas**)
1998:  4 losses (Kentucky*, Stanford)
1993:  6 losses (Kansas)
1991:  7 losses (Duke*, Kansas**)
1989:  7 losses (Michigan*, Duke)
1979:  6 losses (Michigan State*)
*Champions

**Advanced to championship game

If history holds true, it doesn't look good for Kansas or Michigan to win the national title.  Since 1979, the team in the Final Four with the most losses has won the title only 10 of 39 times (and all but one occurred in the last millennium):
-1979:  Michigan State (6 losses)
-1981:  Indiana (9 losses)
-1983:  NC State (10 losses)
-1985:  Villanova (10 losses)
-1988:  Kansas (11 losses)
-1989:  Michigan (7 losses)
-1991:  Duke (7 losses)
-1997:  Arizona (9 losses)
-1998:  Kentucky (4 losses)
-2008:  Kansas (3 losses)

9.  Since 2000, the Big Ten has sent a representative to the Final Four 15 times, the most of any conference in that span.
1.  Big Ten – 15 (Michigan State (6), Wisconsin (3), Michigan (2), Ohio State (2), Indiana (1), Illinois (1))
2.  ACC – 14 (North Carolina (6), Duke (4), Maryland (2), Georgia Tech (1), Syracuse (1))
3.  Big East – 12 (Connecticut (3), Villanova (3), Louisville (2), Syracuse (2), Georgetown (1), West Virginia (1))
4.  SEC – 10 (Florida (4), Kentucky (4), LSU (1), South Carolina (1))
5.  Big 12 – 9 (Kansas (5), Oklahoma (2), Oklahoma State (1), Texas (1))
6.  Pac-10/Pac-12 - 5 (UCLA (3), Arizona (1), Oregon (1))
7.  Conference USA – 3 (Louisville (1), Marquette (1), Memphis (1)
8 (tie).  Colonial – 2 (George Mason, VCU)
8 (tie).  Horizon – 2 (Butler (2))
8 (tie).  Missouri Valley – 2 (Loyola (1), Wichita State (1))

8.  This is only the tenth time since the NCAA tournament began in 1939 where each of the Final Four teams has already won an NCAA title.  The other years in which this occurred were 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2015.

7.  With Michigan going to its 8th Final Four (including vacated ones), there are 10 schools with 8 or more Final Fours:  North Carolina (20), UCLA (18), Kentucky (17), Duke (16), Kansas (15), Ohio State (11), Louisville (10), Michigan State (9), Indiana (8), and Michigan (8).  This is the 33rd year in a row and the 61st year out of the last 62 that at least one of those 9 teams has been in the Final Four.  In fact, one of those teams has been in all but 8 of 79 Final Fours (1941, 1943, 1947, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1985).

6.  While it will be tough to top Oregon's 78-year span between Final Fours (1939-2017), Loyola has managed the fourth-longest span between Final Four appearances.  The Ramblers have not been to the Final Four since winning it all in 1963.  Here are both the longest current Final Four droughts and longest all-time droughts between appearances.

Here are the longest current Final Four droughts for teams that have previously played in at least one Final Four (and are currently Division 1 schools –- sorry CCNY fans).  I was surprised that half of them are "major" conference teams.  I'm adding a year, since the earliest these teams could make the Final Four would be 2019:
1.  Duquesne:  79 years (1940)
2 (tie).  Pittsburgh and Washington State:  78 years (1941)
4.  Wyoming:  76 years (1943)
5 (tie).  Dartmouth and Iowa State:  75 years (1944)
7.  Holy Cross:  71 years (1948)
8.  Baylor:  69 years (1950)
9.  Santa Clara:  67 years (1952)
10.  Washington:  66 years (1953)

Here are the ten all-time longest droughts between Final Four appearances:
1.  Oregon:  78 years (1939-2017)
2 (tie).  Stanford:  56 years (1942-1998)
2 (tie).  Texas:  56 years (1947-2003)
4.  Loyola (IL):  55 years (1963-2018)
5.  West Virginia:  51 years (1959-2010)
6.  Oklahoma State:  44 years (1951-1995)
7.  Oklahoma:  41 years (1947-1988)
8.  Georgetown:  39 years (1943-1982)
9.  Illinois:  37 years (1952-1989)
10.  DePaul:  36 years (1943-1979)

5.  Based on past performance of national titles per Final Four appearances, here is how the teams stack up, as far as percentage of national titles per Final Fours (not including this Final Four, obviously).
1.  Loyola:  100% (1/1)
2.  Villanova:  40% (2/5)
3.  Kansas:  21% (3/14)
4.  Michigan:  14% (1/7)

4.  If Loyola and Villanova win their semifinal games and meet in the championship game, it would be only the 6th time in the history of the NCAA Tournament that two private schools met in the championship game.  Here are the other occurrences:
-2010:  Duke over Butler
-1985:  Villanova over Georgetown
-1955:  San Francisco over LaSalle
-1954:  LaSalle over Bradley
-1942:  Stanford over Dartmouth

This is also only the 21st Final Four ever to feature two or more private colleges/universities.  Here are the others:
-1940:  Duquesne, USC
-1942:  Stanford*, Dartmouth**
-1943:  Georgetown**, DePaul
-1948:  Baylor**, Holy Cross
-1950:  Bradley**, Baylor
-1952:  St. John's**, Santa Clara
-1954:  LaSalle*, Bradley**, USC
-1955:  San Francisco*, LaSalle**
-1956:  San Francisco*, SMU, Temple
-1958:  Seattle**, Temple
-1963:  Loyola (IL)*, Duke
-1970:  Jacksonville**, St. Bonaventure
-1978:  Duke**, Notre Dame
-1979:  DePaul, Penn
-1985:  Villanova*, Georgetown**, St. John's
-1987:  Syracuse**, Providence
-1989:  Seton Hall**, Duke
-2003:  Syracuse*, Marquette
-2010:  Duke*, Butler**
-2016:  Villanova*, Syracuse
*Champions

**Advanced to championship game

3.  There are two 1-seeds in the Final Four (Villanova and Kansas).  One of them is guaranteed to advance to the title game.  Oddly, in the 16 previous years in which two 1-seeds have advanced to the Final Four, one of them has won the title only 10 times.  Here is a breakdown of how many #1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four each year since 1979.
2018:  2 (Villanova, Kansas)
2017:  2 (North Carolina*, Gonzaga**)
2016: 1 (North Carolina**)
2015: 3 (Duke*, Wisconsin**, Kentucky)
2014: 1 (Florida)
2013: 1 (Louisville*)
2012: 1 (Kentucky*)
2011: 0
2010: 1 (Duke*)
2009: 2 (North Carolina*, Connecticut)
2008: 4 (Kansas*, Memphis**, North Carolina, UCLA)
2007: 2 (Florida*, Ohio State**)
2006: 0
2005: 2 (North Carolina*, Illinois**)
2004: 1 (Duke)
2003: 1 (Texas)
2002: 2 (Maryland*, Kansas)
2001: 2 (Duke*, Michigan State)
2000: 1 (Michigan State*)
1999: 3 (Connecticut*, Duke**, Michigan State)
1998: 1 (North Carolina)
1997: 3 (Kentucky**, North Carolina, Minnesota)
1996: 2 (Kentucky*, Massachusetts)
1995: 1 (UCLA*)
1994: 1 (Arkansas*)
1993: 3 (North Carolina*, Michigan**, Kentucky)
1992: 1 (Duke*)
1991: 2 (UNLV, North Carolina)
1990: 1 (UNLV*)
1989: 1 (Illinois)
1988: 2 (Oklahoma**, Arizona)
1987: 2 (Indiana*, UNLV)
1986: 2 (Duke**, Kansas)
1985: 2 (Georgetown**, St. John's)
1984: 2 (Georgetown*, Kentucky)
1983: 2 (Houston**, Louisville)
1982: 2 (North Carolina*, Georgetown**)
1981: 2 (LSU, Virginia)
1980: 0
1979: 1 (Indiana State**)
*Champions
**Advanced to championship game

2.  The average seed for this year's Final Four is 4, which is skewed by Loyola being an 11-seed.  That said, this is only the 7th time since seeding began in 1979 that the average seed is 4 or higher.  Here are the average seeds for the Final Four since 1979:
2018:  4
2017:  3
2016: 3.75
2015: 2.5
2014: 4.5
2013: 4.5
2012: 2.25
2011: 6.5
2010: 3.25
2009: 1.75
2008: 1
2007: 1.5
2006: 5
2005: 2.75
2004: 2
2003: 2.25
2002: 2.25
2001: 1.75
2000: 5.5
1999: 1.75
1998: 2.25
1997: 1.75
1996: 2.75
1995: 2.25
1994: 2
1993: 1.25
1992: 3.25
1991: 1.75
1990: 3
1989: 2.25
1988: 2.5
1987: 2.5
1986: 3.75
1985: 3
1984: 2.75
1983: 3
1982: 2.75
1981: 1.75
1980: 5.25
1979: 3.5

1.  Loyola is the 4th 11-seed to get to the Final Four and the 30th team seeded 5 or higher have advanced to the Final Four since seeding began in 1979.  None of the three prior 11-seeds -- LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006, and VCU in 2011 -- that made it to the Final Four have advanced to the championship game.  Of the prior 29 teams seeded 5 or higher, only 4 have won it all, another 7 have been runners up, and the remaining 17 have lost in the semis.  Here are the years in which there have been any teams seeded 5 or higher in the Final Four since 1979:
2018:  1:  11-seed Loyola (IL)
2017:  1:  7-seed South Carolina
2016:  1: 10-seed Syracuse
2015:  1: 7-seed Michigan State
2014:  2: 7-seed UConn* and 8-seed Kentucky**
2013:  1: 9-seed Wichita State
2011:  2: 8-seed Butler** and 11-seed VCU
2010:  2: 5-seeds Butler** and Michigan State
2006:  1: 11-seed George Mason
2005:  1: 5-seed Michigan State
2002:  1: 5-seed Indiana**
2000:  3: 5-seed Florida**, 8-seeds North Carolina and Wisconsin
1996:  1: 5-seed Mississippi State
1992:  1: 6-seed Michigan**
1988:  1: 6-seed Kansas*
1987:  1: 6-seed Providence
1986:  1: 11-seed LSU
1985:  1: 8-seed Villanova*
1984:  1: 7-seed Virginia
1983:  1: 6-seed NC State*
1982:  1: 6-seed Houston
1980:  3: 5-seed Purdue, 6-seed Iowa, 8-seed UCLA**
1979:  1: 9-seed Penn
*Champions
**Advanced to championship game

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Retro Video of the Week: "Legs" by ZZ Top

This Friday will mark the 35th anniversary of the release of ZZ Top's seminal Eliminator album.  Already an established rock trio -- comprised of two guys with long beards and a third guy without a beard whose last name is, ironically, Beard -- ZZ Top used a combination of great, catch rock songs and memorable music videos to make Eliminator their best-selling album (it is certified Diamond by the RIAA, meaning it has sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone).  Songs like "Legs," "Gimme All Your Lovin'," and "Sharp Dressed Man" became instant classics.  The album went Top 10 in the U.S., which wasn't a first for the group, but it was also the band's first true international hit album, cracking the top ten on the album charts in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Austria, and The Netherlands.

For this week's Retro Video of the Week, I'm going with "Legs" because it's the first ZZ Top song I remember hearing.  It was also the band's first top 10 hit in the U.S., getting up to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.  For me, it's right up there with "LaGrange" or "Tush" as the first song that comes to mind when I think of ZZ Top.  And, of course, there is the iconic video, in which the dowdy, yet attractive, shoe store clerk gets picked on by everyone, until she is saved by the Eliminator Girls, who transform her into an '80s hot vixen, who gains the confidence to confront her former harassers and take the one guy who was nice to her off into the sunset in what appears to be a very unsafe dune buggy. Man, I miss the '80s.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday Top Ten: Fun Facts About This Year's NCAA Tournament

Well, holy shit.  Now that was a great first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  We had major -- major -- upsets, buzzer beaters, overtime games, and, of course, Sister Jean.  The first two rounds featured 17 games decided by five points or less, including 2 OT games.  Two 1-seeds, two 2-seeds, 2 3-seeds, and 3 4-seeds fell this weekend.

If the Sweet 16 is half as good as the first two rounds, then we should be in for a treat.  Here are the Sweet 16 teams, along with the last time they made the Sweet 16 (and their region, seeds, game time, and what station is televising the game):

South Region (Atlanta)
(7) Nevada (2004) vs. (11) Loyola (IL) (1985) - Thursday 3/22 7:07 ET CBS
(5) Kentucky (2017) vs. (9) Kansas State (2010) - Thursday 3/22 9:37 ET CBS

West Region (Los Angeles)
(3) Michigan (2017) vs. (7) Texas A&M (2016) - Thursday 3/22 7:37 ET TBS
(4) Gonzaga (2017) vs. (9) Florida State (2011) - Thursday 3/22 10:07 ET TBS

Midwest Region (Omaha)
(1) Kansas (2017) vs. (5) Clemson (1997) - Friday 3/23 7:07 ET CBS
(2) Duke (2016) vs. (11) Syracuse (2016) - Friday 3/23 9:37 ET CBS

East Region (Boston)
(1) Villanova (2016) vs. (5) West Virginia (2017) - Friday 3/23 7:37 ET TBS
(2) Purdue (2017) vs. (3) Texas Tech (2005) - Friday 3/23 10:07 ET TBS

If you're like me -- and you better pray to Zeus that you're not –- you not only love the NCAA Tournament, but you are fascinated with the history and statistical minutiae associated with the tournament.  Like I've done the last couple years, I'm going to drop knowledge bombs on your mind.  Here are 13 -- I made it 13 so I could put UVa's loss at unlucky #13 -- fun facts about this year's NCAA tournament.

13.  The unthinkable happened for the first time ever.  A 16-seed beat a 1-seed, and it wasn't even close.  Virginia came into the NCAA Tournament as the number one overall seed, and UMBC -- that stands for University of Maryland - Baltimore County -- was, the worst 16-seed, meaning the worst team in the tournament, according to the Selection Committee.  No one told the Retrievers, as they charged to a 74-54 win Friday night, becoming the first of 136 16-seeds since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to beat a 1-seed.  UMBC -- a team that lost to Albany by 44 points in January -- scored 53 points in the second half, which is more points than 15 of Virginia's opponents scored in an entire game this year.

For Virginia fans, they now have to suffer quietly knowing that this upset is actually worse than the previous "biggest upset in college basketball history" -- #1 Virginia's loss to NAIA Chaminade on December 23, 1982.  At least Ralph Sampson can sleep easy tonight knowing that he's no longer a part of the worst upset in NCAA history.

12.  In the South Region, none of the top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16.  This is the first time since the Tournament began seeding in 1979 that this has happened.

11.  Everybody's favorite Cinderella, Loyola (IL) -- which is still the only school in the State of Illinois to win an NCAA Division 1 men's basketball championship -- is the first Chicago team to go to the Sweet 16 since DePaul in 1987.  They will play Nevada Thursday evening for the chance to go to the Elite Eight, and you should not count them out to go to the Final Four.  Since the Tournament began expanded to 32 teams in 1975, here are the Chicago teams that have gone to the Sweet 16 or beyond (not counting this year's Loyola team):
-DePaul
--Final Four: 1979
--Elite 8:  1978
--Sweet 16:  1976, 1984, 1986, 1987
-Loyola (IL)
--Sweet 16:  1985

10.  Defending champ North Carolina lost in the Round of 32, getting blown out by 21 to 7-seed Texas A&M.  It was the second year in a row that the defending champ lost in the Round of 32, and it was the worst loss by a defending champ in the NCAA Tournament since Arizona lost by 25 to Utah in the 1998 Elite Eight.  However, it was the 4th time in a row UNC failed to advance to the Sweet 16 the year after winning the national title.  Apparently, this isn't that uncommon.  Here is a breakdown of defending champions who have lost before the Sweet 16 or failed to make the NCAA Tournament, since seeding began in 1979:
2018:  North Carolina (lost in Round of 32)
2017:  Villanova (lost in Round of 32)
2015:  UConn (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
2013:  Kentucky (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
2012:  UConn (lost in Round of 64)
2010:  North Carolina (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
2008:  Florida (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
2006:  North Carolina (lost in Round of 32)
2005:  UConn (lost in Round of 32)
2000:  UConn (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
1996:  UCLA (lost in Round of 64)
1994:  North Carolina (lost in Round of 32)
1993:  Duke (lost in Round of 32)
1990:  Michigan (lost in Round of 32)
1989:  Kansas (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
1988:  Indiana (lost in Round of 64)
1987:  Louisville (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
1986:  Villanova (lost in Round of 32)
1984:  NC State (did not make the NCAA Tournament)
1982:  Indiana (lost in Round of 32)
1981:  Louisville (lost in Round of 32)
1980:  Michigan State (did not make the NCAA Tournament)

9.  There is no region in which all top four seeds advanced to the Sweet 16.  I would have thought this was rare, but apparently, I am wrong. Since seeding began in 1979, that has now happened 22 times:  1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018.

8.  For only the 5th time since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, no 12-seed upset a 5-seed.  However, 6 double-digit seeds won their first round games, which is about average.  In the 34 years since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 207 double-digit seeds that have won their first round games, which is an average of 6.09 per year.  

Here is a year-by-year list of every double-digit seed that has won its first round since 1985:
2018:  6 (#10 Butler, #11 Loyola (IL), Syracuse, #13 Buffalo, Marshall, #16 UMBC)
2017:  5 (#10 Wichita State, #11 Rhode Island, USC, Xavier, #12 Middle Tennessee State)
2016:  10 (#10 Syracuse, VCU, #11 Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, #12 Little Rock, Yale, #13 Hawaii, #14 Stephen F. Austin, #15 Middle Tennessee State)
2015:  5 (#10 Ohio State, #11 Dayton, UCLA, #14 UAB, Georgia State)
2014:  6 (#10 Stanford, #11 Dayton, Tennessee, #12 Harvard, North Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin)
2013:  8 (#10 Iowa State, #11 Minnesota, #12 California, Mississippi, Oregon, #13 LaSalle, #14 Harvard, #15 Florida Gulf Coast)
2012:  9 (#10 Purdue, Xavier, #11 Colorado, North Carolina State, #12 South Florida, VCU, #13 Ohio, #15 Lehigh, Norfolk State)
2011:  6 (#10, Florida State, #11 Gonzaga, Marquette, VCU, #12 Richmond, #13 Morehead State)
2010:   8 (#10 Georgia Tech, Missouri, St. Mary's, #11 Old Dominion, Washington, #12 Cornell, #13 Murray State, #14 Ohio)
2009:  8 (#10 Maryland, Michigan, USC, #11 Dayton, #12 Arizona, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin, #13 Cleveland State)
2008:  6 (#10 Davidson, #11 Kansas State, #12 Villanova, Western Kentucky, #13 San Diego, Siena)
2007:  2 (#11 Winthrop, VCU)
2006:  8 (#10 Alabama, NC State, #11 George Mason, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, #12 Montana, Texas A&M, #13 Bradley, #14 Northwestern State)
2005:  5 (#10 NC State, #11 UAB, #12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, #13 Vermont, #14 Bucknell)
2004:  3 (#10 Nevada, #12 Manhattan, Pacific,)
2003:  5 (#10 Arizona State, Auburn, #11 Central Michigan, #12 Butler, #13 Tulsa)
2002:  7 (#10 Kent State, #11 Southern Illinois, Wyoming, #12 Creighton, Missouri, Tulsa, #13 UNC-Wilmington)
2001:  9 (#10 Butler, Georgetown, #11 Georgia State, Temple, #12 Gonzaga, Utah State, #13 Indiana State, Kent State, #15 Hampton)
2000:  3 (#10 Gonzaga, Seton Hall, #11 Pepperdine)
1999:  8 (#10 Creighton, Gonzaga, Miami (OH), Purdue, #12 Detroit, Southwest Missouri State, #13 Oklahoma, #14 Weber State)
1998:  8 (#10 Detroit, West Virginia, St. Louis, #11 Washington, Western Michigan, #12 Florida State, #13 Valparaiso, #14 Richmond)
1997:  5 (#10 Providence, Texas, #12 Charleston, #14 Tennessee-Chattanooga, #15 Coppin State)
1996:  6 (#10 Santa Clara, Texas, #11 Boston College, #12 Arkansas, Drexel, #13 Princeton)
1995:  6 (#10 Stanford, #11 Texas, #12 Miami (OH), #13 Manhattan, #14 Old Dominion, Weber State)
1994:  5 (#10 George Washington, Maryland, #11 Pennsylvania, #12 Tulsa, Wisconsin-Green Bay)
1993:  4 (#11 Tulane, #12 George Washington, #13 Southern, #15 Santa Clara)
1992:  5 (#10 Iowa State, Tulane, #12 New Mexico State, #13 Southwest Louisiana, #14 East Tennessee State)
1991:  8 (#10 BYU, Temple, #11 Connecticut, Creighton, #12 Eastern Michigan, #13 Penn State, #14 Xavier, #15 Richmond)
1990:  5 (#10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount, #12 Ball State, Dayton, #14 Northern Iowa)
1989:  8 (#10 Colorado State, #11 Evansville, Minnesota, South Alabama, Texas, #12 DePaul, #13 Middle Tennessee State, #14 Siena)
1988:  4 (#10 Loyola Marymount, #11 Rhode Island, #13 Richmond, #14 Murray State)
1987:  6 (#10 LSU, Western Kentucky, #12 Wyoming, #13 Southwest Missouri State, Xavier, #14 Austin Peay)
1986:  5 (#10 Villanova, #11 LSU, #12 DePaul, #14 Arkansas-Little Rock, Cleveland State)
1985:  5 (#11 Auburn, Boston College, UTEP, #12 Kentucky, #13 Navy)

7.  In the South Region, 1-seed Virginia and 2-seed Cincinnati failed to advance to the Sweet 16, while in the West Region, 1-seed Xavier and 2-seed North Carolina also failed to advance to the Sweet 16.  This is only the second time since seeding began in 1979 that the top two seeds in two regions failed to advance to the Sweet 16.  Here are the times that has happened (with the year, region, and 1- and 2-seeds, respectively):
2018 (South Region - Virginia, Cincinnati)
2018 (West Region - Xavier, North Carolina)
2017 (East Region – Villanova, Duke)
2015 (East Region – Villanova, Virginia)
2004 (St. Louis Region – Kentucky, Gonzaga)
2000 (South Region – Stanford, Cincinnati)
2000 (West Region – Arizona, St. John's)
1992 (Midwest Region – Kansas, USC)
1990 (Midwest Region – Oklahoma, Purdue)
1981 (Mideast Region – DePaul, Kentucky)
1980 (West Region – DePaul, Oregon State)
1979 (East Region – North Carolina, Duke)

Notably, only one national champion has come out of those regions (Indiana in 1981).

6.  All three Pac-12 teams lost in the First Four or the Round of 64.  Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, here are the major conferences –- which I define as the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 8/Big 12, Pac-10/Pac-12, and the Big East (until 2013) –- that only advanced one team (or no team) to the Sweet 16:
-ACC:  5 times (one team in 2007-2008, 2010, 2014, and 2017)
-Big East (until 2013):  5 times (no team in 1986 and 1993, and one team in 1988, 1992, and 2001)
-Big 8/Big 12:  12 times (no team in 1990 and 1998, and one team in 1985-1986, 1992, 1996-1997, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2013)
-Big Ten:  7 times (no team in 1995-1996 and 2006, and one team in 1985, 1997, 2004, and 2007)
-Pac-10/Pac-12:  21 times (no team in 1985-1987, 1993, 1999, 2004, 2012, and 2018, and one team in 1988-1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2009-2011, and 2016)
-SEC:  13 times (no team in 1988 and 2009, and one team in 1990-1992, 1997-1998, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, and 2015-2016)

5.  As discussed above, Virginia, the top seed in the South Region, fell to 16-seed Wisconsin on Friday, but Xavier, the top seed in the West Region, also lost (Sunday to Florida State), making it the 7th time in the last 9 years and 24rd time overall that at least one 1-seed lost in the Round of 32 or before -- but only the 4th time two 1-seeds have failed to advance to the Sweet 16.  Here are the 1-seeds that have lost in the Round of 32 since the tournament began seeding in 1979:
2018:  Virginia, Xavier
2017:  Villanova
2015:  Villanova
2014:  Wichita State
2013:  Gonzaga
2011:  Pittsburgh
2010:  Kansas
2004:  Kentucky, Stanford
2002:  Cincinnati
2000:  Arizona, Stanford
1998:  Kansas
1996:  Purdue
1994:  North Carolina
1992:  Kansas
1990:  Oklahoma
1986:  St. John's
1985:  Michigan
1982:  DePaul
1981:  DePaul, Oregon State
1980:  DePaul
1979:  North Carolina

4.  Two 2-seeds –- UNC in the West and Cincinnati in the South -- lost in the Round of 32.  This marks the 35th time in the 40 years since seeding began in 1979 that all four 2-seeds failed to advance to the Sweet 16, and the 21st year since 1979 -- and fifth in a row -- that two or more 2-seeds failed to make the Sweet 16 (1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1999-2001, 2003-2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).  In three of those years, three 2-seeds failed to make the Sweet 16 (1990, 1999, 2000).  1982, 1989, 1995, 1996, and 2009 are the only years in which all four 2-seeds advanced to the Sweet 16.

3.  The average seed number for Sweet 16 teams this year is 5.3125, making this the highest average seed number in the Sweet 16 since 2000 and only the 4th time since seeding began in 1979 that the average seed number has been that high.  It extremely high if you consider that, if the seeding played out as it should (i.e., all teams seeded 1-4 advancing to the Sweet 16, which has never happened), the average seed number would be 2.5. Here is the average seed of Sweet 16 teams since 1979:
2018: 5.3125
2017: 4.0625
2016: 4.125
2015: 4.375
2014: 4.9375
2013: 5.0625
2012: 4.5625
2011: 5
2010: 5
2009: 3.0625
2008: 4.375
2007: 3.1875
2006: 4.4375
2005: 4.5
2004: 4.5625
2003: 4.1875
2002: 4.6875
2001: 4.5625
2000: 5.3125
1999: 5.5
1998: 4.75
1997: 4.8125
1996: 3.6875
1995: 3.1875
1994: 4.25
1993: 4.0625
1992: 4.1875
1991: 4
1990: 5.5
1989: 3.125
1988: 4.3125
1987: 4.25
1986: 5.5625
1985: 4.875
1984: 3.8125
1983: 3.5
1982: 3.1875
1981: 4.5625
1980: 4.125
1979: 3.8125

2.  We have three mid-majors in the Sweet 16 -- Gonzaga, Loyola (IL), and Nevada -- for the first time since 2013. (I consider schools in conferences other than the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC to be mid-majors, even if a school is now in one of those conferences, so, for instance, Butler and Xavier were mid-majors before joining the Big East a couple years ago, but are no longer mid-majors. It's not a perfect science. Deal with it.)  24 mid-majors have advanced to the Final Four since 1979.  Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the number of mid-major teams that made it to the Sweet 16 since 1979:
2018: 3 (Gonzaga, Loyola (IL), Nevada)
2017: 1 (Gonzaga*)
2016: 1 (Gonzaga)
2015: 2 (Gonzaga, Wichita State)
2014: 2 (Dayton, San Diego State)
2013: 3 (Florida Gulf Coast, LaSalle, Wichita State*)
2012: 2 (Ohio, Xavier)
2011: 5 (Butler*, BYU, Richmond, San Diego State, VCU*)
2010: 5 (Butler*, Cornell, Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, Xavier)
2009: 3 (Gonzaga, Memphis, Xavier)
2008: 4 (Davidson, Memphis*, Western Kentucky, Xavier)
2007: 4 (Butler, Memphis, Southern Illinois, UNLV)
2006: 5 (Bradley, George Mason*, Gonzaga, Memphis, Wichita State)
2005: 2 (Utah, UW-Milwaukee)
2004: 4 (Nevada, St. Joseph's, UAB, Xavier)
2003: 2 (Butler, Marquette*)
2002: 2 (Kent State, Southern Illinois)
2001: 2 (Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Temple)
2000: 2 (Gonzaga, Tulsa)
1999: 4 (Gonzaga, Miami (OH), SW Missouri State, Temple)
1998: 3 (Rhode Island, Utah*, Valparaiso)
1997: 3 (St. Joseph's, Utah, UT-Chattanooga)
1996: 3 (Cincinnati, Massachusetts*, Utah)
1995: 3 (Massachusetts, Memphis, Tulsa)
1994: 2 (Marquette, Tulsa)
1993: 4 (Cincinnati, George Washington, Temple, Western Kentucky)
1992: 5 (Cincinnati*, Memphis State, Massachusetts, New Mexico State, UTEP)
1991: 4 (Eastern Michigan, Temple, UNLV*, Utah)
1990: 4 (Ball State, Loyola Marymount, UNLV**, Xavier)
1989: 2 (Louisville, UNLV)
1988: 4 (Louisville, Rhode Island, Richmond, Temple)
1987: 3 (DePaul, UNLV*, Wyoming)
1986: 5 (Cleveland State, DePaul, Louisville**, Navy, UNLV)
1985: 3 (Louisiana Tech, Loyola (IL), Memphis State*)
1984: 6 (Dayton, DePaul, Houston*, Louisville, Memphis State, UNLV)
1983: 4 (Houston*, Louisville, Memphis State, Utah)
1982: 6 (Fresno State, Houston*, Idaho, Louisville*, Memphis State, UAB)
1981: 5 (BYU, St. Joseph's, UAB, Utah, Wichita State)
1980: 2 (Lamar, Louisville**)
1979: 8 (DePaul*, Indiana State*, Louisville, Marquette, Penn*, Rutgers, San Francisco, Toledo)
*Advanced to Final Four
**Won NCAA title

1.  For the first time since 2014, there are 4 teams seeded 8 or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16.  Twelve teams seeded 8 or higher have advanced to the Final Four (Villanova in 1985 was the only national champion).  Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the number of teams seeded #8 or lower that made it to the Sweet 16 since 1979:
2018: 4 (#9 Florida State, #9 Kansas State, #11 Loyola (IL), #11 Syracuse)
2017: 2 (#8 Wisconsin, #11 Xavier)
2016: 2 (#10 Syracuse*, #11 Gonzaga)
2015: 2 (#8 NC State, #11 UCLA)
2014: 4 (#8 Kentucky*, #10 Stanford, #11 Dayton, #11 Tennessee)
2013: 4 (#9 Wichita State*, #12 Oregon, #13 LaSalle, and #15 Florida Gulf Coast)
2012: 3 (#10 Xavier, #11 NC State, and #13 Ohio)
2011: 5 (#8 Butler*, #10 Florida State, #11 Marquette, #11 VCU*, and #12 Richmond)
2010: 4 (#9 Northern Iowa, #10 St. Mary's, #11 Washington, #12 Cornell)
2009: 1 (#12 Arizona)
2008: 3 (#10 Davidson, #12 Villanova, #12 Western Kentucky)
2007: 0
2006: 2 (#11 George Mason*, #13 Bradley)
2005: 2 (#10 North Carolina State, #12 UW-Milwaukee)
2004: 3 (#8 Alabama, #9 UAB, #10 Nevada)
2003: 2 (#10 Auburn, #12 Butler)
2002: 4 (#8 UCLA, #10 Kent State, #11 Southern Illinois, #12 Missouri)
2001: 3 (#10 Georgetown, #11 Temple, #12 Gonzaga)
2000: 4 (#8 North Carolina*, #8 Wisconsin*, #10 Seton Hall, #10 Gonzaga)
1999: 5 (#10 Gonzaga, #10 Miami (OH), #10 Purdue, #12 Southwest Missouri State, #13 Oklahoma)
1998: 4 (#8 Rhode Island, #10 West Virginia, #11 Washington, #13 Valparaiso)
1997: 3 (#10 Texas, #10 Providence, #14 UT-Chattanooga)
1996: 2 (#8 Georgia, #12 Arkansas)
1995: 0
1994: 2 (#9 Boston College, #10 Maryland, #12 Tulsa)
1993: 1 (#12 George Washington)
1992: 2 (#9 UTEP, #12 New Mexico State)
1991: 3 (#10 Temple, #11 Connecticut, #12 Eastern Michigan)
1990: 4 (#8 North Carolina, #10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount, #12 Ball State)
1989: 1 (#11 Minnesota)
1988: 2 (#11 Rhode Island, #13 Richmond)
1987: 2 (#10 LSU, #12 Wyoming)
1986: 4 (#8 Auburn, #11 LSU*, #12 DePaul, #14 Cleveland State)
1985: 4 (#8 Villanova**, #11 Auburn, #11 Boston College, #12 Kentucky)
1984: 1 (#10 Dayton)
1983: 1 (#10 Utah)
1982: 1 (#8 Boston College)
1981: 2 (#8 Kansas State, #9 St. Joseph's)
1980: 2 (#8 UCLA*, #10 Lamar)
1979: 2 (#9 Penn*, #10 St. John's)
*Advanced to Final Four
**Won NCAA title