Thursday, February 11, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Gotta Get Away" by The Offspring

I heard this one on the radio this morning as I was dropping the girls off at school, and I remembered how much I liked this song (and the Smash album, for that matter).

Updated Big Ten Tournament Seeding Predictions and NCAA Tournament Resumes

Last night, Wisconsin beat Nebraska for the Badgers' sixth win in a row, and Michigan held off a pesky Minnesota team in the Barn for an 82-74 victory.

Now is when things get interesting, for the Hoosiers anyway.  Tonight, they play first-place Iowa at home, and Sunday they play Michigan State in East Lansing (pretty much right smack dab in the middle of when I will be on a plane).  These two games will determine if IU is a contender or pretender.  Win both, and the Hoosiers are sitting pretty for a top 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title.  A split isn't too bad either, given that both are top 10 teams.  Losing both won't be the end of the world, but I will be pretty pissed because it will all but assure that IU won't win the regular season Big Ten title.

Elsewhere, on Saturday, Michigan has a huge home game against Purdue, as the Wolverines are in need of a couple more "good" wins to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.  And Wisconsin travels to Maryland, looking to stay hot.

Next games
I'm going to be out of town tomorrow, so here are the games for tonight and the weekend (all times Eastern):
Tonight
-Iowa at Indiana (9 p.m.; ESPN)
Saturday
-Purdue at Michigan (2 p.m.; ESPN2)
-Ohio State at Rutgers (4 p.m.; BTN)
-Penn State at Nebraska (6 p.m.; ESPNU)
-Wisconsin at Maryland (6:30 p.m.; ESPN)
-Illinois at Northwestern (8 p.m.; BTN)
Sunday
-Indiana at Michigan State (1 p.m.; CBS)
-Minnesota at Iowa (7:30 p.m.; BTN)

Current Standings
Here are the current standings, with the conference record, each team's remaining Big Ten games, and my predictions.  I will try to update these after every day or every couple days of games.

1.  Iowa (10-1):  at Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Penn State (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Indiana (W); at Michigan (L)
2.  Maryland (10-2):  Wisconsin (W); at Minnesota (W); Michigan (W); at Purdue (L); Illinois (W); at Indiana (L)
3.  Indiana (9-2):  Iowa (W); at Michigan State (L); Nebraska (W); Purdue (W); at Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Maryland (W)
4 (tie).  Purdue (8-4):   at Michigan (L); Northwestern (W); at Indiana (L); Maryland (W); at Nebraska (W); Wisconsin (W)
4 (tie). Michigan (8-4):  Purdue (W); at Ohio State (L); at Maryland (L); Northwestern (W); at Wisconsin (L); Iowa (W)
6.  Wisconsin (7-4):  at Maryland (L); at Michigan State (L); Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Michigan (W); at Minnesota (W); at Purdue (L)
7 (tie).  Michigan State (7-5):  Indiana (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Penn State (W); at Rutgers (W); Ohio State (W)
7 (tie).  Ohio State (7-5):  at Rutgers (W); Michigan (W); at Nebraska (W); Michigan State (L); Iowa (L); at Michigan State (L)
9.  Nebraska (5-7):  Penn State (W); at Indiana (L); Ohio State (L); at Penn State (W); Purdue (L); at Northwestern (L)
10.  Northwestern (4-8):  Illinois (W); at Purdue (L); at Michigan (L); Rutgers (W); at Penn State (L); Nebraska (W)
11 (tie).  Illinois (3-8):  at Northwestern (L); Rutgers (W); at Wisconsin (L); Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Maryland (L); at Penn State (L)
11 (tie).  Penn State (3-8):  at Nebraska (L); Iowa (L); at Rutgers (L); Nebraska (L); at Michigan State (L); Northwestern (W); Illinois (W)
13 (tie).  Rutgers (0-11):  Ohio State (L); at Illinois (L); Penn State (W); at Minnesota (L); at Northwestern (L); Michigan State (L); Minnesota (W)
13 (tie).  Minnesota (0-12):  at Iowa (L); Maryland (L); Rutgers (W); at Illinois (L); Wisconsin (L); at Rutgers (L)

Projected Big Ten Tournament Seeding
Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place:

1.  Iowa (15-3)
2.  Indiana (14-4) (would have tiebreaker over Maryland based on 1-0 record vs. Maryland)
3.  Maryland (14-4)
4.  Michigan State (13-5)
5.  Purdue (12-6)
6.  Michigan (11-7)
7.  Wisconsin (10-8) (would have tiebreaker over OSU based on 1-0 record vs. OSU)
8.  Ohio State (10-8)
9.  Northwestern (7-11) (would have tiebreaker over Nebraska based on 2-0 record vs. Nebraska)
10.  Nebraska (7-11)
11.  Illinois (5-13)
12.  Penn State (4-14)
13.  Rutgers (2-16)
14.  Minnesota (1-17)

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Here are the dates/times/TV schedule for the Big Ten Tournament (and a link to the bracket), which will be in Indianapolis.  All times are Eastern.

Wednesday March 9 – First Round
(12) vs. (13) (4:30 p.m. ESPN2)
(11) vs. (14) (7 p.m. BTN)

Thursday March 10 – Second Round
(8) vs. (9) (Noon, BTN)
(5) vs. (12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., BTN)
(7) vs. (10) (6:30 p.m., ESPN2)
(6) vs. (11)/(14) (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Friday March 11 – Quarterfinals
(1) vs. (8)/(9) (Noon, ESPN)
(4) vs. (5)/(12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
(2) vs. (7)/(10) (6:30 p.m., BTN)
(3) vs. (6)/(11)/(14) (9 p.m., BTN)

Saturday March 12 – Semifinals
(1)/(8)/(9) vs. (4)/(5)/(12)/(13) (1 p.m., CBS)
(2)/(7)/(10) vs. (3)/(6)/(11)/(14) (3:30 p.m., CBS)

Sunday March 13 – Finals
(1)/(4)/(5)/(8)/(9)/(12)/(13) vs. (2)/(3)/(6)/(7)/(10)/(11)/(14) (3 p.m., CBS)

NCAA Tournament Resumes for All 14 Big Ten Teams
Here is each Big Ten team's NCAA Tournament resume, including each team's RPI (based on ESPN's daily RPI), overall record against D-1 opponents, "good" wins (wins against RPI Top 50 teams or, if none, the team's best win), "bad" losses (losses against teams with an RPI of 101+ or, if none, the team's worst loss).  An * means the game was played on a neutral court, and for the "good" wins and "bad" losses, the team's current RPI is identified.  I have categorized the teams by "In," "Bubble," or "Out," which is my best guess, based on what I know right now, as to whether each team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, is on the bubble, or is out.

In
1.  Maryland
RPI:  5
Overall record:  21-3
Good wins:  3 (Iowa (7), Purdue (20), Connecticut* (46))
Bad losses: None (at Michigan (56))

2.  Iowa
RPI:  7
Overall record:  19-4
Good wins:  6 (Michigan State (18), at Michigan State (18), Purdue (20), at Purdue (20), Florida State (38), Wichita State* (41))
Bad losses:  None (Notre Dame* (25)

3.  Michigan State
RPI:  18
Overall record:  20-5
Good wins:  5 (Kansas* (4), Maryland (5), Florida (23), Louisville (27), Providence* (36))
Bad losses:  1 (Nebraska (159))

4.  Purdue
RPI:  20
Overall record:  20-5
Good wins:  3 (Michigan State (18), Florida* (23), at Pittsburgh (37))
Bad losses:  1 (at Illinois (121))

Bubble
5.  Indiana
RPI:  51
Overall record:  19-5
Good wins:  1 (Notre Dame* (25))
Bad losses:  2 (at Penn State (110), UNLV* (135))

6.  Michigan
RPI:  56
Overall record:  17-7
Good wins:  2 (Maryland (5), Texas* (19))
Bad losses:  None (Indiana (51))

7.  Wisconsin
RPI:  60
Overall record:  15-9
Good wins:  3 (Michigan State (18), VCU* (40), at Syracuse (44))
Bad losses:  3 (at Northwestern (111), Milwaukee (167), Western Illinois (272))

Out
8.  Ohio State
RPI:  80
Overall record:  15-10
Good wins:  1 (Kentucky* (16))
Bad losses:  3 (UT-Arlington (102), Memphis* (119), Louisiana Tech (145))

9.  Penn State
RPI:  110
Overall record:  12-12
Good wins:  None (Indiana (53))
Bad losses:  1 (Radford (173))

10.  Northwestern
RPI:  111
Overall record:  16-9
Good wins:  None (Wisconsin (60))
Bad losses:  1 (Penn State (110))

11.  Illinois
RPI:  121
Overall record:  11-13
Good wins:  1 (Purdue (20))
Bad losses:  2 (North Florida* (147), Nebraska (159))

12.  Nebraska
RPI:  159
Overall record:  13-12
Good wins:  1 (at Michigan State (18))
Bad losses:  2 (Northwestern (111), Samford (254))

13.  Minnesota
RPI:  243
Overall record:  6-18
Good wins:  None (Clemson (87))
Bad losses:  8 (at Penn State (110), Northwestern (111), at Northwestern (111), Illinois (121), Oklahoma State* (146), at Nebraska (159), Milwaukee (167), South Dakota (183))

14.  Rutgers
RPI:  252
Overall record:  5-18
Good wins:  None (Farleigh Dickinson (216))
Bad losses:  4 (Illinois (121), Nebraska (159), at Nebraska (159), at St. John's (201))

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Updated Big Ten Tournament Seeding Predictions and NCAA Tournament Resumes

Last night, Purdue blew a 16-point halftime lead at home against Michigan State, but forced overtime, winning by one.  This is significant for seeding purposes because the Spartans –- who are now four games back in the loss column from first-place Iowa and three games back in the loss column from Indiana and Maryland -- may not lose another regular season game.  Elsewhere, Ohio State held on to its slim NCAA Tournament hopes by coming from behind to beat Northwestern at home.

Next games
The next slate of games is tonight.  Here they are (all times Eastern):
-Nebraska at Wisconsin (7 p.m.; BTN)
-Michigan at Minnesota (9 p.m.; BTN)

Current Standings
Here are the current standings, with the conference record, each team's remaining Big Ten games, and my predictions.  I will try to update these after every day or every couple days of games.

1.  Iowa (10-1):  at Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Penn State (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Indiana (W); at Michigan (L)
2.  Maryland (10-2):  Wisconsin (W); at Minnesota (W); Michigan (W); at Purdue (L); Illinois (W); at Indiana (L)
3.  Indiana (9-2):  Iowa (W); at Michigan State (L); Nebraska (W); Purdue (W); at Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Maryland (W)
4 (tie).  Purdue (8-4):   at Michigan (L); Northwestern (W); at Indiana (L); Maryland (W); at Nebraska (W); Wisconsin (W)
5.  Michigan (7-4):  at Minnesota (W); Purdue (W); at Ohio State (L); at Maryland (L); Northwestern (W); at Wisconsin (L); Iowa (W)
6.  Michigan State (7-5):  Indiana (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Penn State (W); at Rutgers (W); Ohio State (W)
7.  Wisconsin (6-4):  Nebraska (W); at Maryland (L); at Michigan State (L); Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Michigan (W); at Minnesota (W); at Purdue (L)
8.  Ohio State (7-5):  at Rutgers (W); Michigan (W); at Nebraska (W); Michigan State (L); Iowa (L); at Michigan State (L)
9.  Nebraska (5-6):  at Wisconsin (L); Penn State (W); at Indiana (L); Ohio State (L); at Penn State (W); Purdue (L); at Northwestern (L)
10.  Northwestern (4-8):  Illinois (W); at Purdue (L); at Michigan (L); Rutgers (W); at Penn State (L); Nebraska (W)
11 (tie).  Illinois (3-8):  at Northwestern (L); Rutgers (W); at Wisconsin (L); Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Maryland (L); at Penn State (L)
11 (tie).  Penn State (3-8):  at Nebraska (L); Iowa (L); at Rutgers (L); Nebraska (L); at Michigan State (L); Northwestern (W); Illinois (W)
13 (tie).  Rutgers (0-11):  Ohio State (L); at Illinois (L); Penn State (W); at Minnesota (L); at Northwestern (L); Michigan State (L); Minnesota (W)
13 (tie).  Minnesota (0-11):  Michigan (L); at Iowa (L); Maryland (L); Rutgers (W); at Illinois (L); Wisconsin (L); at Rutgers (L)

Projected Big Ten Tournament Seeding
Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place:

1.  Iowa (15-3)
2.  Indiana (14-4) (would have tiebreaker over Maryland based on 1-0 record vs. Maryland)
3.  Maryland (14-4)
4.  Michigan State (13-5)
5.  Purdue (12-6)
6.  Michigan (11-7)
7.  Wisconsin (10-8) (would have tiebreaker over OSU based on 1-0 record vs. OSU)
8.  Ohio State (10-8)
9.  Northwestern (7-11) (would have tiebreaker over Nebraska based on 2-0 record vs. Nebraska)
10.  Nebraska (7-11)
11.  Illinois (5-13)
12.  Penn State (4-14)
13.  Rutgers (2-16)
14.  Minnesota (1-17)

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
Here are the dates/times/TV schedule for the Big Ten Tournament (and a link to the bracket), which will be in Indianapolis.  All times are Eastern.

Wednesday March 9 – First Round
(12) vs. (13) (4:30 p.m. ESPN2)
(11) vs. (14) (7 p.m. BTN)

Thursday March 10 – Second Round
(8) vs. (9) (Noon, BTN)
(5) vs. (12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., BTN)
(7) vs. (10) (6:30 p.m., ESPN2)
(6) vs. (11)/(14) (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Friday March 11 – Quarterfinals
(1) vs. (8)/(9) (Noon, ESPN)
(4) vs. (5)/(12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
(2) vs. (7)/(10) (6:30 p.m., BTN)
(3) vs. (6)/(11)/(14) (9 p.m., BTN)

Saturday March 12 – Semifinals
(1)/(8)/(9) vs. (4)/(5)/(12)/(13) (1 p.m., CBS)
(2)/(7)/(10) vs. (3)/(6)/(11)/(14) (3:30 p.m., CBS)

Sunday March 13 – Finals
(1)/(4)/(5)/(8)/(9)/(12)/(13) vs. (2)/(3)/(6)/(7)/(10)/(11)/(14) (3 p.m., CBS)

NCAA Tournament Resumes for All 14 Big Ten Teams
Here is each Big Ten team's NCAA Tournament resume, including each team's RPI (based on ESPN's daily RPI), overall record against D-1 opponents, "good" wins (wins against RPI Top 50 teams or, if none, the team's best win), "bad" losses (losses against teams with an RPI of 101+ or, if none, the team's worst loss).  An * means the game was played on a neutral court, and for the "good" wins and "bad" losses, the team's current RPI is identified.  I have categorized the teams by "In," "Bubble," or "Out," which is my best guess, based on what I know right now, as to whether each team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, is on the bubble, or is out.

In
1.  Maryland
RPI:  5
Overall record:  21-3
Good wins:  3 (Iowa (7), Purdue (21), Connecticut* (48))
Bad losses: None (at Michigan (56))

2.  Iowa
RPI:  7
Overall record:  19-4
Good wins:  6 (Michigan State (17), at Michigan State (17), Purdue (21), at Purdue (21), Florida State (39), Wichita State* (43))
Bad losses:  None (Notre Dame* (24)

3.  Michigan State
RPI:  17
Overall record:  20-5
Good wins:  5 (Kansas* (4), Maryland (5), Florida (23), Louisville (25), Providence* (32))
Bad losses:  1 (Nebraska (156))

4.  Purdue
RPI:  21
Overall record:  20-5
Good wins:  3 (Michigan State (17), Florida* (23), at Pittsburgh (40))
Bad losses:  1 (at Illinois (115))

Bubble
5.  Indiana
RPI:  53
Overall record:  19-5
Good wins:  1 (Notre Dame* (24))
Bad losses:  2 (at Penn State (108), UNLV* (132))

6.  Michigan
RPI:  56
Overall record:  16-7
Good wins:  2 (Maryland (5), Texas* (20))
Bad losses:  None (Indiana (53))

7.  Wisconsin
RPI:  62
Overall record:  14-9
Good wins:  3 (Michigan State (17), VCU* (41), at Syracuse (46))
Bad losses:  4 (Marquette (106), at Northwestern (111), Milwaukee (169), Western Illinois (272))

Out
8.  Ohio State
RPI:  79
Overall record:  15-10
Good wins:  1 (Kentucky* (15))
Bad losses:  2 (Memphis* (114), Louisiana Tech (145))

9.  Penn State
RPI:  108
Overall record:  12-12
Good wins:  None (Indiana (53))
Bad losses:  1 (Radford (173))

10.  Northwestern
RPI:  111
Overall record:  16-9
Good wins:  None (Wisconsin (62))
Bad losses:  1 (Penn State (108))

11.  Illinois
RPI:  115
Overall record:  11-13
Good wins:  1 (Purdue (21))
Bad losses:  2 (North Florida* (147), Nebraska (156))

12.  Nebraska
RPI:  156
Overall record:  13-11
Good wins:  1 (at Michigan State (17))
Bad losses:  2 (Northwestern (111), Samford (255))

13.  Minnesota
RPI:  241
Overall record:  6-17
Good wins:  None (Clemson (88))
Bad losses:  8 (at Penn State (108), Northwestern (111), at Northwestern (111), Illinois (115), Oklahoma State* (146), at Nebraska (156), Milwaukee (169), South Dakota (187))

14.  Rutgers
RPI:  249
Overall record:  5-18
Good wins:  None (Farleigh Dickinson (212))
Bad losses:  4 (Illinois (115), Nebraska (156), at Nebraska (156), at St. John's (203))

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite 30 For 30s

I have been watching ESPN's 30 for 30 sports documentary series since it started back in 2010 and, while I haven't seen all of them, I have seem a majority of them (and still have several on my DVR that I need to watch).  For the most part, everything I've seen has been good, and many of them are simply excellent, either casting a new perspective on something familiar or telling us about something that we didn't know much about.  Last Thursday, I watched The '85 Bears, which prompted me to take stock in what I thought were my favorite documentaries in the 30 for 30 series.  With that, here are my ten favorite 30 for 30s, along with a list of all the other ones I've seen (so you don't yell at me for not including Bad Boys or some other one on my list).

Others seen (in chronological order):  Kings Ransom; Without Bias; The Legend of Jimmy the Greek; Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks; Guru of Go; Run Ricky Run; Straight Outta L.A.; June 17th, 1994; The Two Escobars; Unmatched; Fernando Nation; 9.79*; Benji; Ghosts of Ole Miss; This Is What They Want; Bernie and Ernie; The Price of Gold; Requiem for the Big East; Hillsborough; Maradona '86; The Opposition; Mysteries of the Rimet Trophy; Barbosa: The Man Who Made All of Brazil Cry; White, Blue and White; Playing for the Mob; The Day The Series Stopped; Brian and The Boz; Rand University; I Hate Christian Laettner; Trojan War; The Prince of Pennsylvania; Four Falls of Buffalo

10.  Free Spirits
This one was about the Spirits of St. Louis of the ABA.  I didn't know a lot about the ABA or its merger with the NBA before I saw this documentary, and it was pretty interesting.  Most interesting, of course, is the sweetheart deal that the owners of the Spirits made with the NBA as part of the 1976 ABA/NBA merger –- which did NOT include the Spirits.  In exchange for agreeing to shut their franchise down, the owners of the Spirits and the NBA agreed that the owners of the Spirits would receive 1/7 of share of the TV revenues from the ABA teams that did join the NBA, in perpetuity.  Of course, at the time, the NBA had no idea how big TV revenues would become, and this deal has made the former owners of the Spirits hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 40 years.

9.  The Best That Never Was
This had been on my DVR for a while, and I finally watched it last month.  It is about Marcus Dupree, one of the most heralded high school running backs of all-time, who went to Oklahoma, and was a second-team All American as a freshman.  In his sophomore season, he quit after five games and decided to transfer to Southern Miss (which was closer to his home).  When he realized he would have to sit out the entire next season due to NCAA transfer rules, he ended up signing with the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL in 1984 (since the NFL had a rule at the time that a player had to have graduated from college to go to the NFL).  In his second season in the USFL, he suffered a devastating knee injury and retired from the USFL.  I kind of recognized the name Marcus Dupree, but figured that was going to be the end of the story –- a sad tale of what could have been.  But then, after sitting around for five years in his small hometown in Mississippi, Dupree decided to get back into shape and try out for the NFL.  He ended up making the Rams' roster in 1990 and playing for almost two seasons, which is pretty amazing, and it was clear from the documentary that Dupree isn't upset about his lot in life because he fulfilled his dream of playing in the NFL.

8.  Survive and Advance
As an NCAA basketball enthusiast, there is something special about the 1983 NC State team that won the NCAA championship as a 6-seed on that last-second air ball thrown up by Dereck Whittenburg before being caught and slammed home by Lorenzo Charles for one of the biggest upsets in NCAA title game history.  Survive and Advance is about that NC State basketball team, coached by Jim Valvano, who, in the madness after Charles dunked home the winning basket, was running around the court just looking for someone to hug.  The documentary was a great retelling of the story of how they got there and what happened afterward, mostly from the former players.

7.  Small Potatoes:  Who Killed the USFL?
If you need another reason to hate Donald Trump, watch this documentary.  In the mid '80s, the USFL was trying to challenge the NFL, by playing football in the NFL's offseason and signing some of college football's biggest stars before the NFL could.  Future NFL Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White, and Gary Zimmerman all got their start in the USFL, not to mention other future NFL stars Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie, Bobby Hebert, Craig James, Anthony Carter, and Mike Rozier.  Trump owned the New Jersey Generals, and he wanted to move the USFL's schedule to the fall and winter to directly challenge the NFL, in hopes that the NFL would then want to merge with the USFL, which would presumably result in huge returns for the USFL owners.  Pushed by Trump, the USFL sued the NFL for antitrust violations, and the USFL won, but was only awarded $1, which basically required the USFL to shut down.

6.  Pony Exce$$
It is hard to believe that Southern Methodist University had one of the best college football programs of the early '80s, posting the highest winning percentage in D-1A between 1980 and 1984.  With a backfield consisting of future NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and Craig James, the Mustangs were deemed the "Pony Express."  But there was a reason for all of this success.  For nearly a decade, players were getting paid by boosters, assistant coaches, and university officials, and the university knew about it.  In 1985, SMU was placed on probation by the NCAA, but that didn't stop the flow of cash to players and recruits.  In 1987, SMU was busted again, which resulted in the famed "death penalty" –- the only football program that has received the punishment from the NCAA.  Under the death penalty, SMU's 1987 football season was canceled.  They were allowed to play only away games in 1988, but had such a problem fielding a team (because basically all of their scholarship players had been granted releases and transferred) that they canceled the 1988 season, too.  Their scholarships and size of their coaching staff was restricted for several years, and they were banned from bowls and live TV for several years.  SMU's football program has never recovered.

5.  Big Shot
Who knew that some random dude almost bought the New York Islanders, even though he didn't have anywhere close to the amount of money needed to buy a professional sports team?  Until I saw this, I certainly didn't know.  But that's exactly what happened in 1996, as some guy from Dallas named John Spano, who basically convinced the NHL, the Islanders' owner, and Fleet Bank that he had a ton of money and wanted to buy the Islanders.  What I found to be so amazing is how close he came to actually succeeding, as he was close to restructuring a stadium deal that would have provided the Islanders with a cash influx and would have allowed Spano to make the necessary payment to the old owner.  If that had happened, perhaps we never would have known that Spano was a fraud.

4.  Once Brothers
Once Brothers was about NBA stars Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic, who played together on the Yugoslavian national team from 1986 to 1990 (along with many other future NBA players) and were really good friends.  However, in the early '90s, as the Iron Curtain fell, Yugoslavia was torn apart by war, pitting Serbians and Croatians against each other.  Divac (a Serb) and Petrovic (a Croat) had a falling out as a result of the war, although both went on to play in the NBA.  Petrovic died in a car accident in 1993, before he and Divac had a chance to reconcile.  The documentary is narrated by Divac, and I thought it was really well done and emotionally compelling.

3.  You Don't Know Bo
Bo Jackson is potentially the greatest athlete of my lifetime.  The guy was amazing, and were it not for a total fluke tackle that ended up popping his hip out of joint, he could have been the first Hall of Famer in the NFL and MLB.  The documentary was great, not only because it showed how great he was, but it also highlighted his comeback in baseball after hip replacement surgery, when he hit a home run in his first at bat back (as a member of the White Sox).  And we also see that he is now an insanely good bow hunter.

2.  The U
Until last week, this was hands down my favorite 30 for 30.  Detailing the rise of the University of Miami football team in the late '70s and '80s, The U was two hours of swagger.  I grew up watching Miami, since they were often on national TV, and their teams in the '80s were always good and had an attitude unlike any other college football team.  And, of course, there were the touchdown celebrations, which drew the ire of opposing teams and fans.  To paraphrase one of the former Hurricanes in the documentary, if you don't want to see us dance, then don't let us score.  This one was by far my favorite 30 for 30 until...

1.  The '85 Bears

Granted, I'm very biased, but I have now watched this twice, and it is really good.  I moved to the Chicago area in August 1985, a few months before turning eight.  The '85 Bears were my introduction to football, and I can safely say that the '85 Bears were the reason I fell in love with football.  The documentary was done really well, from they way the story is told to the pace of the documentary to the musical score.  It's not hard to make the greatest football team of all-time look good, but this documentary showed that the members of that team were human, driven, and often times pretty damned funny.  I also really liked that there was virtually no mention of the Super Bowl Shuffle.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Big Ten Tournament Seeding Predictions and NCAA Tournament Resumes

Now that football is over (after what was one of the most boring Super Bowls in recent memory) and we are only one month from the Big Ten Tournament, it appears to be time for my annual attempt at predicting the Big Ten Tournament seeds, based on every team's remaining schedule, and each Big Ten team's chances of making the NCAA Tournament.

For shits and giggles, let's take a look at how my initial Big Ten Tournament seeding predictions last year compared to how things actually shook out.  For each seed, my initial prediction is the first team listed, with the predicted record in parentheses, and the second team is the team that actually ended up with that seed, with their actual record in parentheses.

1.  Wisconsin (15-3); Wisconsin (16-2)
2.  Maryland (15-3); Maryland (14-4)
3.  Ohio State (13-5); Michigan State (12-6)
4.  Indiana (13-5); Purdue (12-6)
5.  Michigan State (12-6); Iowa (12-6)
6.  Michigan (12-6); Ohio State (11-7)
7.  Purdue (10-8); Indiana (9-9)
8.  Iowa (10-8); Illinois (9-9)
9.  Illinois (7-11); Michigan (8-10)
10.  Nebraska (7-11); Northwestern (6-12)
11.  Minnesota (6-12); Minnesota (6-12)
12.  Northwestern (2-16); Nebraska (5-13)
13.  Rutgers (2-16); Penn State (4-14)
14.  Penn State (2-16); Rutgers (2-16)

So, 3 out of 14 isn't great.  Hopefully, my inner Nostradamus will shine through this year.  Right now, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan have been the surprises of the Big Ten (even with Michigan's two bad home losses last week to IU and MSU, and even with IU's bed shitting at Penn State this past Saturday).  Maryland and Purdue have played up to expectations, while Michigan State and Ohio State have somewhat underperformed (although MSU is still a Top 10 team, while OSU is on the outside looking in for an NCAA Tournament bid as of right now).  After back-to-back Final Fours, Wisconsin has fallen back to reality, but has improved its chances at an NCAA Tournament berth after winning their last five games.  Northwestern has cooled after a hot start.  Nebraska has been up and down.  Illinois and Penn State have been bad, and Rutgers and Minnesota have been downright horrible.

Next games
The next slate of games is tomorrow night.  Here they are (all times Eastern):
-Bowie State at Maryland (6 p.m.; BTN)
-Michigan State at Purdue (7 p.m.; ESPN)
-Northwestern at Ohio State (8 p.m.; BTN)

Current Standings
Here are the current standings, with the conference record, each team's remaining Big Ten games, and my predictions.  I will try to update these after every day or every couple days of games.

1.  Iowa (10-1):  at Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Penn State (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Indiana (W); at Michigan (L)
2.  Maryland (10-2):  Wisconsin (W); at Minnesota (W); Michigan (W); at Purdue (L); Illinois (W); at Indiana (L)
3.  Indiana (9-2):  Iowa (W); at Michigan State (L); Nebraska (W); Purdue (W); at Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Maryland (W)
4 (tie).  Michigan (7-4):  at Minnesota (W); Purdue (W); at Ohio State (L); at Maryland (L); Northwestern (W); at Wisconsin (L); Iowa (W)
4 (tie).  Michigan State (7-4):  at Purdue (L); Indiana (W); Wisconsin (W); at Ohio State (W); Penn State (W); at Rutgers (W); Ohio State (W)
4 (tie).  Purdue (7-4):   Michigan State (W); at Michigan (L); Northwestern (W); at Indiana (L); Maryland (W); at Nebraska (W); Wisconsin (W)
7.  Wisconsin (6-4):  Nebraska (W); at Maryland (L); at Michigan State (L); Illinois (W); at Iowa (L); Michigan (W); at Minnesota (W); at Purdue (L)
8.  Ohio State (6-5):  Northwestern (W); at Rutgers (W); Michigan (W); at Nebraska (W); Michigan State (L); Iowa (L); at Michigan State (L)
9.  Nebraska (5-6):  at Wisconsin (L); Penn State (W); at Indiana (L); Ohio State (L); at Penn State (W); Purdue (L); at Northwestern (L)
10.  Northwestern (4-7):  at Ohio State (L); Illinois (W); at Purdue (L); at Michigan (L); Rutgers (W); at Penn State (L); Nebraska (W)
11 (tie).  Illinois (3-8):  at Northwestern (L); Rutgers (W); at Wisconsin (L); Indiana (L); Minnesota (W); at Maryland (L); at Penn State (L)
11 (tie).  Penn State (3-8):  at Nebraska (L); Iowa (L); at Rutgers (L); Nebraska (L); at Michigan State (L); Northwestern (W); Illinois (W)
13 (tie).  Rutgers (0-11):  Ohio State (L); at Illinois (L); Penn State (W); at Minnesota (L); at Northwestern (L); Michigan State (L); Minnesota (W)
13 (tie).  Minnesota (0-11):  Michigan (L); at Iowa (L); Maryland (L); Rutgers (W); at Illinois (L); Wisconsin (L); at Rutgers (L)

Projected Big Ten Tournament Seeding
Given my predictions and Big Ten tiebreaking rules, here is how the Big Ten Tournament seeds should fall into place:

1.  Iowa (15-3)
2.  Indiana (14-4) (would have tiebreaker over Maryland based on 1-0 record vs. Maryland)
3.  Maryland (14-4)
4.  Michigan State (13-5)
5.  Purdue (12-6)
6.  Michigan (11-7)
7.  Wisconsin (10-8) (would have tiebreaker over OSU based on 1-0 record vs. OSU)
8.  Ohio State (10-8)
9.  Northwestern (7-11) (would have tiebreaker over Nebraska based on 2-0 record vs. Nebraska)
10.  Nebraska (7-11)
11.  Illinois (5-13)
12.  Penn State (4-14)
13.  Rutgers (2-16)
14.  Minnesota (1-17)

Big Ten Tournament Schedule
In the past, I have also included far-too-premature predictions for every game of the Big Ten Tournament, but, like the last couple years, I'm not even going to try to do that this year until the seeds are announced.  However, here are the dates/times/TV schedule for the Big Ten Tournament (and a link to the bracket), which will be in Indianapolis.  All times are Eastern.

Wednesday March 9 – First Round
(12) vs. (13) (4:30 p.m. ESPN2)
(11) vs. (14) (7 p.m. BTN)

Thursday March 10 – Second Round
(8) vs. (9) (Noon, BTN)
(5) vs. (12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., BTN)
(7) vs. (10) (6:30 p.m., ESPN2)
(6) vs. (11)/(14) (9 p.m., ESPN2)

Friday March 11 – Quarterfinals
(1) vs. (8)/(9) (Noon, ESPN)
(4) vs. (5)/(12)/(13) (2:30 p.m., ESPN)
(2) vs. (7)/(10) (6:30 p.m., BTN)
(3) vs. (6)/(11)/(14) (9 p.m., BTN)

Saturday March 12 – Semifinals
(1)/(8)/(9) vs. (4)/(5)/(12)/(13) (1 p.m., CBS)
(2)/(7)/(10) vs. (3)/(6)/(11)/(14) (3:30 p.m., CBS)

Sunday March 13 – Finals
(1)/(4)/(5)/(8)/(9)/(12)/(13) vs. (2)/(3)/(6)/(7)/(10)/(11)/(14) (3 p.m., CBS)

NCAA Tournament Resumes for All 14 Big Ten Teams
Because I am insane, like last year, I am also going to post updates on each Big Ten team's NCAA Tournament resume.  From top to bottom, I will list each team's RPI (based on ESPN's daily RPI), "good" wins (wins against RPI Top 50 teams or, if none, the team's best win), "bad" losses (losses against teams with an RPI of 101+ or, if none, the team's worst loss).  An * means the game was played on a neutral court, and for the "good" wins and "bad" losses, the team's current RPI is identified.  I have categorized the teams by "In," "Bubble," or "Out," which is my best guess, based on what I know right now, as to whether each team is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, is on the bubble, or is out.

In
1.  Maryland
RPI:  5
Overall record:  21-3
Good wins:  3 (Iowa (8), Purdue (23), Connecticut* (50))
Bad losses: None (at Michigan (55))

2.  Iowa
RPI:  8
Overall record:  19-4
Good wins:  6 (Michigan State (16), at Michigan State (16), Purdue (23), at Purdue (23), Florida State (38), Wichita State* (41))
Bad losses:  None (Notre Dame* (28)

3.  Michigan State
RPI:  16
Overall record:  20-4
Good wins:  5 (Maryland (5), Kansas* (6), Louisville (21), Florida (22), Providence* (32))
Bad losses:  1 (Nebraska (163))

4.  Purdue
RPI:  23
Overall record:  19-5
Good wins:  2 (Florida* (22), at Pittsburgh (39))
Bad losses:  1 (at Illinois (119))

Bubble
5.  Michigan
RPI:  55
Overall record:  16-7
Good wins:  2 (Maryland (5), Texas* (20))
Bad losses:  None (Indiana (56))

6.  Indiana
RPI:  56
Overall record:  19-5
Good wins:  1 (Notre Dame* (28))
Bad losses:  2 (at Penn State (108), UNLV* (132))

7.  Wisconsin
RPI:  59
Overall record:  14-9
Good wins:  3 (Michigan State (16), VCU* (40), at Syracuse (44))
Bad losses:  3 (at Northwestern (104), Milwaukee (167), Western Illinois (273))

Out
8.  Ohio State
RPI:  85
Overall record:  14-10
Good wins:  1 (Kentucky* (19))
Bad losses:  3 (UT-Arlington (103), Memphis* (116), Louisiana Tech (146))

9.  Northwestern
RPI:  104
Overall record:  16-8
Good wins:  None (Wisconsin (59))
Bad losses:  1 (Penn State (108))

10.  Penn State
RPI:  108
Overall record:  12-12
Good wins:  None (Indiana (56))
Bad losses:  2 (Duquesne* (102), Radford (174))

11.  Illinois
RPI:  119
Overall record:  11-13
Good wins:  1 (Purdue (23))
Bad losses:  2 (North Florida* (147), Nebraska (163))

12.  Nebraska
RPI:  163
Overall record:  13-11
Good wins:  1 (at Michigan State (16))
Bad losses:  2 (Northwestern (104), Samford (265))

13.  Minnesota
RPI:  228
Overall record:  6-17
Good wins:  None (Clemson (78))
Bad losses:  8 (Northwestern (104), at Northwestern (104), at Penn State (108), Illinois (119), Oklahoma State* (140), at Nebraska (163), Milwaukee (167), South Dakota (186))

14.  Rutgers
RPI:  248
Overall record:  5-18
Good wins:  None (Farleigh Dickinson (215))

Bad losses:  4 (Illinois (119), Nebraska (163), at Nebraska (163), at St. John's (195))

Friday, February 05, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 2/5/16

1.  "Looks That Kill" by Mötley Crüe 


2.  "Eagles Fly" by Sammy Hagar



3.  "Moby Dick" by Drum Madness



4.  "Promise Her The Moon" by Mr. Big



5.  "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Warrant



6.  "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger



7.  "Apolitical Blues" by Van Halen



8.  "Smoke Signals" by Extreme



9.  "Back Home Again" by Cinderella



10.  "Metal Gods" by Judas Priest

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Girl You Know It's True" by Milli Vanilli

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of a rather sad day in pop history.  On February 4, 1996, former Milli Vanilli member Rob Pilatus was hospitalized after being hit in the head with a baseball bat, after Pilatus attempted to steal the bat-wielder's car in Hollywood.  If only there had been some precipitation, then Pilatus could have blamed it on the rain -- a surprisingly viable defense in sun-drenched southern California.  Instead, Pilatus spent some time in jail in 1996, and then eventually died of an overdose in a Frankfurt, Germany hotel room.  All or nothing, indeed!

Anyway, in honor of Pilatus's downfall, this week's Retro Video of the Week will remember the good times, when Milli Vanilli ruled the world for about a year and a half at the end of the '80s.  "Girl You Know It's True" was the duo's first big single, reaching #2 on the Billboard charts, #1 in Germany, Spain, and Austria, and the Top 5 in another ten countries.  Of course, it was also the song playing at that fateful 1989 concert in Connecticut when the tape skipped, playing "girl you know it's" over and over again, and exposing Milli Vanilli's lip syncing secret.  One thing is for sure:  those badass dance moves aren't fake.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: Big Ten Tournament Seed I Expect IU to Have

On December 2, in front of a national audience on ESPN, IU was embarrassed by Duke, losing 94-74 at Cameron as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  That loss left the Hoosiers with a 5-3 record, and even the most ardent Tom Crean supporters were wavering.  Since then, the "fire Crean" contingent has been quieted significantly, as the Hoosiers -- without their second-leading scorer James Blackmon, Jr., who is out for the season -- have won 13 of 14 and are off to an 8-1 start through the first half of the Big Ten season.  Their only hiccup in that stretch was last Tuesday's overtime loss to Wisconsin in Madison where, predictably, the Badgers committed 14 fewer fouls and attempted 19 more free throws than the Hoosiers did.  Regardless, IU is #22 in the AP poll and #21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and the Hoosiers are sitting tied atop the Big Ten standings with Iowa. 

Their defense is vastly improved, and they continue to shoot well from three-point range (aside from a 2-18 aberration this past Saturday in a win over Minnesota).  The team has rallied since Blackmon's injury, and if you would have told me in December that we would be 8-1 halfway through the Big Ten slate, I would have been overjoyed. 

I'm excited, but I'm also cautiously optimistic because I know IU has a tough road ahead.  IU's schedule is backloaded, with five games against ranked teams -- at home against Iowa, Purdue, and Maryland, and on the road at Iowa and Michigan State –- in their last seven.  And tonight at 9 Eastern on ESPN, the Hoosiers play a tough Michigan team (17-5 overall, 7-2 in the Big Ten) on the road in a pivotal game.  A win would be a huge road win over an NCAA Tournament team and would keep the Hoosiers on top of the Big Ten standings.  A loss would drop the Hoosiers to two losses in the Big Ten, along with Michigan and Maryland.

The Big Ten Tournament will be Wednesday March 9 through Sunday March 13 in Indianapolis.  Here are the top ten most likely Big Ten Tournament seeds that I think the Hoosiers will have.

10.  10th seed
For this to happen, IU would basically have to lose the rest of its games, and some other teams near the bottom of the standings would have to pull off some upsets.  In the last five seasons, no team that has finished 8-10 in the Big Ten has had worse than a 9-seed in the Big Ten Tournament.  So, if IU goes 8-10 and gets the 10-seed, you can assume that Tom Crean will not survive the off-season, minus a miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.  You can also assume that I will be mentally and emotionally ruined, forever.

9.  9th seed
This one is also highly unlikely, as it would likely mean that IU would have to lose the rest of its games.

8.  8th seed
This one is also highly unlikely, as it would likely mean that IU would have to lose the rest of its games or maybe win one more game.  Over the past five seasons, the worst seed a team with a 9-9 record has gotten has been the 8-seed.

7.  7th seed
I also don't see this one happening either.  In the last five years, the 7-seed has had either a 9-9 or an 8-10 conference record.  Again, that would mean that IU would have to win no more than one game over its last nine.

6.  6th seed
Given the strength of the teams in the top half of the Big Ten, a 6-seed is not out of the question if IU manages to shit the bed in the second half of the season to end up at 11-7 –- a record that got Ohio State the 6-seed in last year's Big Ten Tournament, which was the first tournament since the Big Ten expanded to 14 teams.  In the prior four years, an 11-7 record would have given a team between the 4-seed and 6-seed.  However, with how top-heavy the Big Ten is this year, even a 12-6 record could mean a 6-seed, based on tiebreakers, if a few teams end up at 12-6.

5.  5th seed
A 5-seed would be a disappointment, unless there was a five-way tie for the Big Ten regular season title and IU just happened to get the 5-seed via seeding tiebreakers.

4.  1st seed
The Hoosiers control their own destiny.  If they win out, they will win the Big Ten by at least a two-game margin.  Of course, they don't have to win out to get the 1-seed in the Big Ten Tournament.  Realistically speaking, with the teams remaining on their schedule, it will be tough for them to grab the top spot.  But hear this:  when they're hitting shots, there isn't a team in the country that can keep up.  I think they would have to finish no worse than 15-3, beating Iowa at least once.  If they get the 1-seed, I think you have to give Crean the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

3.  4th seed
Any one of the top four seeds would be huge because it would mean a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament to the quarterfinals.  It seems like IU manages to end up with the 4-seed or 5-seed most years (well, in 6 out of the 18 Big Ten Tournaments, anyway).  This year, I think a 4-seed probably either means the Hoosiers have gotten in a four-way tie for the Big Ten title or ended up in a multiple-team tie for second or third.  With a record between 12-6 or 14-4, I think IU could still end up with the 4-seed, depending on how other teams fare.

2.  3rd seed
A 3-seed is likely because it could happen either because IU ended up in a 3-way tie for the regular season title, tied for second, or tied for third.  Any scenario is a pretty good one for the Hoosiers, and I think a 13-5 or 12-6 record –- which would mean IU would have to go 5-4 or 4-5 over its last 9 games -- is probably good enough to clinch a 3-seed.  For historical comparison, since the Big Ten went back to an 18-game schedule in the 2007-2008 season, a 12-6 regular season record would have garnered a 2- to 5-seed (2-seed twice, 3-seed twice, 4-seed six times, and 5-seed three times), and a 13-5 record would have garnered a 1- to 4-seed (1-seed once, 2-seed four times, 3-seed four times, and 4-seed twice).

1.  2nd seed
Realistically, I think the Hoosiers will probably get the 2-seed.  I envision them splitting their remaining 6 games against the top half teams (Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, MSU, and Purdue) and winning the other three games, which would put their regular season record at 14-4.  That might mean that they tie for the Big Ten regular season title, but lose out on the 1-seed because of the seeding tiebreaking system, or that they simply finish second, since Iowa has a relatively easy schedule from here on out (and is unlikely to lose three more games).  Since the Big Ten went back to an 18-game schedule in the 2007-2008 season, a 14-4 record would have gotten a team a 1-seed three times, a 2-seed five times, and a 3-seed twice.