Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" by Hall and Oates

I didn't really have any particular video in mind for this week's Retro Video of the Week, so I left it to chance, vowing to myself that I would make the Retro Video of the Week the next song that came across my iPod (which is always on shuffle) from the MTV era (assuming the song had a video).  As luck would have it, Hall and Oates's 1985 Top 20 hit "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" was the first one to satisfy my criteria, making this the third week in a row that the Retro Video of the Week will feature a 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

Admittedly, this isn't one of my favorite Hall and Oates songs, but rules are rules.  I was actually surprised to see that this song made it as high as #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1985, but then again, that was the worst-charting song for Hall and Oates in about three years.  Check this stat:  between 1981 and 1985, Hall and Oates released 16 singles in the U.S.  All 16 made the Top 40, 14 made the Top 20, 12 made the Top 10, and 5 hit #1.  By only making it as high as #18, "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" did worse than all but three other Hall and Oates singles in that span.  That is pretty remarkable, and I'm glad to see they finally got inducted into the Rock Hall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: A-List Cameos

A few weeks ago, my good friend and confidante Tradd sent me a link to an Esquire blog post called "The 25 Best A-List Movie Cameos."  Due to circumstances well within my control, I have not looked at it until today.  Here is the list (in the same order in the post, which doesn't appear to be ranked in any way):

1.  Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross
2.  Bill Murray in Zombieland
3.  Martin Sheen in Hot Shots! Part Deux
4.  Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder
5.  Buster Keaton in Sunset Boulevard
6.  Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Steven Spielberg in Austin Powers in Goldmember
7.  The Three Stooges in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
8.  Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts in The Player
9.  Gene Hackman in Young Frankenstein
10. Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction
11. Neil Patrick Harris in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
12. John Hurt in Spaceballs
13. Martin Scorsese in Taxi Driver
14. Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street
15. Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers
16. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
17. Orson Welles in The Muppet Movie
18. Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, and Luke Wilson in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
19. Cate Blanchett in Hot Fuzz
20. Charlton Heston in Wayne's World 2
21. Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2: The New Batch
22. Chuck Norris in Dodgeball
23. Sean Connery in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
24. Michael Cera in This Is The End
25. Alfred Hitchcock in pretty much every movie he made

It's a pretty solid list, and the article has clips of each cameo, which is a great way to waste an hour.  The terms "A-List" and "cameo" are kind of amorphous, but here are a couple I would add to the list:
-Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball
-Bob Barker in Happy Gilmore
-Jason Bonham, Nick Catanese, Blas Elias, Stephen Jenkins, Myles Kennedy, Jeff Pilson, Ralph Saenz (aka Michael Starr of Steel Panther), Brian Vander Ark, and Zakk Wylde as various musicians in Rock Star
-Roger Clemens in Kingpin
-Alice Cooper in Wayne's World
-Flea and Aimee Mann in The Big Lebowski
-Matt Damon in Euro Trip (per Ryan, who declared that the list "loses all credibility" as a result of this omission)
-Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous
-Stan Lee in Mallrats
-Alanis Morissette in Dogma
-Cam Neely in Dumb and Dumber

Any others?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

KISS Story

Tonight, KISS will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Of course, they won't be performing because Gene and Paul wanted everyone who has ever been in KISS to be inducted, but only the original four members are being inducted, and Ace and Peter rightly refused to perform with the current lineup (which was the only way Gene and Paul would agree to perform).  Anyway, Gregerson sent me a link to an excellent Grantland article about the history of KISS, written by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Klosterman.  As with most Grantland articles, it will take you about six hours to read, but it's worth it.

And if you want something a little shorter, I suggest reading this article and watching the related video of a guy playing guitar while breaking flaming pieces of concrete with his hands and head.  (Thanks to Hess for the link.)  

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "Lithium" by Nirvana

This past Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide.  It's kind of weird -- and makes me feel extremely old -- knowing that he has been dead for more of my life than he was alive.  

Even now, I have mixed feelings about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.  There is no doubt that they revolutionized music, ushered in grunge, and essentially killed hair metal and happy-go-lucky hard rock for a few years there, for better or worse.  I like Nirvana, and I like their music.  And, of course, if there is a silver lining to Cobain's death, it's that it indirectly gave birth to the Foo Fighters, who I think are one of the best rock bands of the last 20 years (if not the best).

On the other hand, I have a hard time lionizing Cobain.  I understand that he was troubled and had a rough upbringing, but it's hard for me to get past the fact that he was a heroin addict who refused help and shot himself in the head.  Unlike the other famous members of the 27 Club (Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin), who died of accidentally (overdoses in the case of Morrison and Joplin, and choking on his own vomit in his sleep in the case of Hendrix), Cobain killed himself.  Sure, there are mental health concerns and addiction at play, but he still had a choice (and a wife and a daughter).  I also think his death most certainly helped his legacy, more than just about any other rock star who died prematurely.  I'm not sure he would have the accolades and place in rock royalty he has now if he was still alive.  Or maybe he would.  Who knows.

Anyway, here's the video for one of my favorite Nirvana songs, "Lithium," which seems fitting, since lithium is a mood stabilizer used to treat depression.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Tuesday Top Ten: NCAA Championship Game Edition

Yes, I realize it's Monday, not Tuesday, but if I wait until tomorrow to post this, it won't make much sense.

This weekend's Final Four games were not good to me.  Florida lost to UConn, ending any hope I had in any of my "pick-a-team" pools.  Kentucky beat Wisconsin on yet another last-second three-pointer from Aaron Harrison.  I don't like that guy.  At least the games were on TBS, so most of Kentucky's fan base couldn't watch at home.

So, tonight's national championship game pits 7-seed UConn vs. 8-seed Kentucky.  the game tips off at 9:10 PM Eastern on CBS.

Here are some thoughts and stats about the game:

10.  UConn is the first 7-seed to ever reach the championship game, and Kentucky is the third 8-seed to make it to the championship game (UCLA in 1980, Villanova in 1985, and Butler in 2011).  No team with a seed higher than 8 has ever advanced to the title game.  If Kentucky wins, it will tie Villanova for the highest-seeded team to ever win the title, and if UConn wins, it will be the second-highest-seeded team to win a title.  No matter who wins, it will become the 10th national champ since seeding began in 1979 that is not a 1- or 2-seed, and only the 4th national champion whose seed line meant that the team should have been eliminated in the Round of 32 (i.e., seeded 5 or higher) (bolded below). Here are the teams seeded 3 or higher that have won the championship:

1981:  Indiana (3)
1983:  NC State (6)
1985:  Villanova (8)
1988:  Kansas (6)
1989:  Michigan (3)
1997:  Arizona (4)
2003:  Syracuse (3)
2006:  Florida (3)
2011:  UConn (3)

9.  The average seed for the final is 7.5, which is by far the highest for a championship game since seeding began 1979.  In fact, this is on the 7th time the average seed in the final is 3.5 or more (bolded below), and only the 3rd time the average seed is 5 or more.  Here are the average title game seeds since 1979:

2014: 7.5
2013: 2.5
2012: 1.5
2011: 5.5
2010: 3
2009: 1.5
2008: 1
2007: 1
2006: 2.5
2005: 1
2004: 2.5
2003: 2.5
2002: 3
2001: 1.5
2000: 3
1999: 1
1998: 2.5
1997: 2.5
1996: 2.5
1995: 1.5
1994: 1.5
1993: 1
1992: 3.5
1991: 2.5
1990: 2
1989: 3
1988: 3.5
1987: 1.5
1986: 1.5
1985: 4.5
1984: 1.5
1983: 3.5
1982: 1
1981: 2.5
1980: 5
1979: 1.5

8.  With Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, UConn has one of the most talented backcourts in the country.  Everyone talks about how important guard play is to winning an NCAA title, which is why UConn was a relatively popular pick to pull some upsets, although not too many people had the Huskies going this far.  Napier is projected to be a late 1st round or early 2nd round pick in the NBA draft.  On the other side, Kentucky has twin freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison, who are also projected to be late 1st round or early 2nd round picks if they were to enter the draft.

Here are the guards who either started or played significant roles on NCAA title teams who were drafted in the first or second round of the NBA draft since 1989 (when the NBA draft went down to two rounds).  All but four of the last 25 NCAA title teams have had at least one guard drafted.  Some of these players were hybrid shooting guard/small forwards, but I included them if I felt they played enough on the "guard" side to be included.

2013 (Louisville):  Peyton Siva (2nd round 2013)
2012 (Kentucky):   Marquis Teague (1st round 2012), Doron Lamb (2nd round 2012)
2011 (UConn):  Kemba Walker (1st round 2011), Jeremy Lamb (1st round 2012)
2010 (Duke):  Nolan Smith (1st round 2011)
2009 (North Carolina):  Ty Lawson (1st round 2009), Wayne Ellington (1st round 2009)
2008 (Kansas):  Brandon Rush (1st round 2008), Mario Chalmers (2nd round 2008)
2006-2007 (Florida):  Taurean Green (2nd round 2007)
2005 (North Carolina):  Raymond Felton (1st round 2005), Rashad McCants (1st round 2005)
2004 (UConn):  Ben Gordon (1st round 2004)
2003 (Syracuse):  none
2002 (Maryland):  Juan Dixon (1st round 2002), Steve Blake (2nd round 2003)
2001 (Duke):  Jay Williams (1st round 2002), Chris Duhon (2nd round 2004)
2000 (Michigan State):  Jason Richardson (1st round 2001), Mateen Cleaves (1st round 2001), Morris Peterson (1st round 2001)
1999 (UConn):  Khalid El-Amin (2nd round 2000)
1998 (Kentucky): none
1997 (Arizona):  Mike Bibby (1st round 1998), Miles Simon (2nd round 1998), Jason Terry (1st round 1999)
1996 (Kentucky):  Tony Delk (1st round 1996)
1995 (UCLA):  Tyus Edney (2nd round 1995), Toby Bailey (2nd round 1998)
1994 (Arkansas):  none
1993 (North Carolina):  none
1991-1992 (Duke):  Brian Davis (2nd round 1992), Bobby Hurley (1st round 1993), Thomas Hill (2nd round 1993)
1990 (UNLV):  Greg Anthony (1st round 1991)
1989 (Michigan):  Glen Rice (1st round 1989), Rumeal Robinson (1st round 1990)

7.  Ollie can win title in first Final Four appearance, which would make him only the 25th head coach and first since Bill Self in 2008 to win the NCAA title in his first Final Four appearance.  At 41 and 101 days, he would be the youngest head coach to win the title since Billy Donovan won his first title in 2006 at age 40, and the 13th youngest coach to ever win a title.  Here are the ages of the coaches younger than Ollie who have won a title:

40:  Billy Donovan (Florida, 2006); Bob Knight (Indiana, 1981); Phil Woolpert (San Francisco, 1956); Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M, 1945)
39:  Phil Woolpert (San Francisco, 1955)
37:  Jim Valvano (NC State, 1983)
36:  Don Haskins (Texas Western, 1966)
35:  Bob Knight (Indiana, 1976); Fred Taylor (Ohio State, 1960); Howard Hobson (Oregon, 1939)
34:  Bud Foster (Wisconsin, 1941)
31:  Branch McCracken (Indiana, 1940)

6.  If UConn wins, it would become the 9th school to win NCAA tournaments under multiple coaches (having also won 3 titles under Jim Calhoun).  Here are the others:

Kentucky:  Adolph Rupp (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958), Joe B. Hall (1978), Rick Pitino (1996), Tubby Smith (1998), Jim Calipari (2012)

Kansas:  Phog Allen (1952), Larry Brown (1988), Bill Self (2008)
North Carolina:  Frank McGuire (1957), Dean Smith (1982, 1993), Roy Williams (2005, 2009)

Indiana:  Branch McCracken (1940, 1953), Bob Knight (1976, 1981, 1987)
Louisville:  Denny Crum (1980, 1986), Rick Pitino (2013)
Michigan State:  Jud Heathcote (1979), Tom Izzo (2000)
NC State:  Norm Sloan (1974), Jim Valvano (1983)
UCLA:  John Wooden (1964, 1965, 1967-1973, 1975), Jim Harrick (1995)

5.  John Calipari has the chance to become the 15th coach to win multiple NCAA tournaments –- until they are vacated right around the time he bolts for the NBA, of course.  Here are the others:

John Wooden (UCLA):  10 (1964, 1965, 1967-1973, 1975)
Adolph Rupp (Kentucky):  4 (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958)
Mike Krzyzewski (Duke):  4 (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010)
Bob Knight (Indiana):  3 (1976, 1981, 1987)
Jim Calhoun (UConn):  3 (1999, 2004, 2011)
Branch McCracken (Indiana):  2 (1940, 1953)
Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M):  2 (1945, 1946)
Phil Woolpert (San Francisco):  2 (1955, 1956)
Ed Jucker (Cincinnati):  2 (1961, 1962)
Denny Crum (Louisville):  2 (1980, 1986)
Dean Smith (North Carolina):  2 (1982, 1993)
Roy Williams (North Carolina):  2 (2005, 2009)
Billy Donovan (Florida):  2 (2006, 2007)
Rick Pitino (Kentucky, Louisville):  2 (1996, 2013)

4.  This is the first time since the NCAA tournament began seeding in 1979 that there is not at least one team seeded 1-6 in the championship game.

3.  This is only the third final since 1979 that doesn't feature a 1 or 2 seed.  The other two were 1989 (3-seed Michigan vs. 3-seed Seton Hall) and 2011 (3-seed UConn vs. 8-seed Butler).

2.  Between the two schools, they have 11 combined national titles (8 for Kentucky and 3 for UConn).  This is the only the sixth time the schools meeting for the national title have 10 or more titles between them (at the time of that particular game), and the only the second time that has been done without UCLA participating.
1975:  13 - UCLA (9), Kentucky (4)
1980:  10 – Louisville (0), UCLA (10)
1995:  11 - UCLA (10), Arkansas (1)
2006: 11 - Florida (0), UCLA (11)
2012:  10 - Kentucky (7), Kansas (3)
2014:  11 – Kentucky (8), UConn (3)

1.  Perhaps worst of all, Tyler Allen Black -- the UK fan who got a "2014 national champions" Kentucky tattoo before the tournament even started -- may have the last laugh at everyone (including me) who called him a moron when learning that he got the tattoo.  If this alone isn't a reason to root for UConn, I don't know what is.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Why I'm Fine with the How I Met Your Mother Series Finale

**Note:  this post will contain spoilers about the How I Met Your Mother series finale, so if you haven't seen it or don't want to know about it, you probably shouldn't read this post.**

I was (and still am) a fan of How I Met Your Mother.  I came into it a year or two after it started, but between first-runs and reruns, I think I have seen just about every episode.  As you may know, the show's series finale was this past Monday night, and from the way people are reacting, you would think Ted Mosby murdered his wife and kids.  I've seen people go so far as to say that the finale ruined the entire show for them.  That's a bit of an overreaction, and I stand before you today to explain why I am completely fine with the finale.

If you didn't see it, here's what went down.  Ted leaves Barney and Robin's wedding reception early to take the train back to Manhattan, since he was supposed to be moving to Chicago the next day.  On the train platform, he meets Tracy (who will, in fact, birth his children at a later date), the bass player from the wedding band.  Thanks to the yellow umbrella she is holding, they realize they have crossed paths many times, and they are both taken aback a little, realizing they were destined for each other.  We learn that they go on to have two kids, but didn't get married until after the first kid was born.  In 2024, she dies of an unnamed illness.

In other news, three years after their wedding, Barney and Robin announce to the group they're getting divorced, but it's amicable.  Things just didn't work out with Robin's work schedule.  Barney then goes back to his womanizing ways, completes a "perfect month" (bags 31 women in 31 days), only to find out that the 31st girl becomes pregnant, but it's all good because Barney finally falls in love the first time he ever sees his infant daughter.  Robin kind of separates herself from the group, but manages to show up for Ted and Tracy's wedding.

Marshall and Lily continue to make babies, and, as we already knew, Marshall becomes a judge and, eventually, a New York state "supreme court" justice.  As any lawyer can tell you, in the New York state court system, the Supreme Court is actually the county-level trial court, and the highest court is called the Court of Appeals, but I think we can all gloss over that for the sake of avoiding confusing the masses who are not as familiar with the terminology of the New York state court system.

After we find all of this out, Ted is finished telling his kids the story of how he met their mother.  His daughter expresses skepticism that the real purpose of the story was to tell them how he met their mother, since she was only a small part of the story.  Rather, his daughter says that she thinks the real purpose of the story was to explain that Ted still had feelings for Robin and to see if his kids would be okay if he asked Robin out.  After all, this is 2030, and it's been six years since their mom died.

In the last scene, we see Robin –- with a horrible haircut -- walking her many dogs into her apartment.  The buzzer buzzes, and she can't get her fancy security system to turn on, so she goes to a window overlooking the sidewalk.  She opens the window to see Ted below, holding the blue French horn he stole for her on their first date (in the pilot episode).

I am completely fine with this ending.  How I Met Your Mother ended the only way it could:  with Ted making a romantic gesture to Robin.  Ted and Robin's feelings for each other (and how their relationship affected other relationships) was the underlying theme throughout the entire show.  Here's what I mean:
  • The show -– and, therefore, Ted's story to his kids -- starts as Ted decides he needs to meet "the one," and he then meets Robin.
  • In the beginning of the show, Ted tells Robin he loves her on their first date.
  • At the end of the first show, the kids express confusion by the fact that the first thing their dad told them is how he met Robin, and not their mother.
  • Ted breaks up with his longtime girlfriend Victoria to be with Robin.
  • One of the reasons Ted and Robin broke up initially is because Robin never wanted to have children (and it is later revealed that she cannot have kids).  Thus, going on to meet Tracy and have children fulfilled that for Ted.  Then Tracy died, and now Robin can be back in the mix.
  • Stella (Sarah Chalke) didn't want Robin at Stella and Ted's wedding because she was worried Ted and Robin might rekindle their old feelings for each other.  Stella was apparently right, since Robin essentially tried to get Ted to call the wedding off.
  • Ted tries to break up Robin and Barney when they both become fat.
  • When Robin dates her co-worker Don, Ted professes his love for her and tries to get her back.
  • It was Ted who comforted Robin (and erected an intricate display of Christmas lights in the apartment) when she found out she was unable to have kids.
  • After Robin and Kevin (Kal Penn) break up, Ted confesses his love to Robin.
  • When Ted proposes to Victoria, she says yes, only on the condition that Ted sever his relationship with Robin, because Victoria thought Robin was an impediment to their relationship.  Ted refuses, and Victoria leaves, saying she hopes he and Robin end up together one day.
  • Throughout Robin and Barney's entire engagement, Ted struggled with his feelings towards Robin.
  • Ted dug up and found the locket that Robin planted in Central Park when she was 15 (and wanted to wear as the "something old" at her wedding), and then went to great lengths to find it after he misplaced it, so that he could give it to Robin as a wedding present.
  • Ted gave the blue French horn back to the restaurant from which he stole it, and then he stole it back as a sign of affection for Robin.
  • In the second-to-last episode, Robin was freaking out and thinking about calling off the wedding, but it was a grand gesture by Ted (giving Barney Robin's locket to give to Robin) that saved the day (kind of) and got Robin thinking that she should have been marrying Ted.

You can't look at the show as a typical sitcom (i.e., an objective story told solely for the sake of telling a story).  You have to look at the show from the perspective of Ted's children being told a story by their father.  If you do that, the ending makes perfect sense.  Ted's story to his children started when it did –- right before Ted met Robin -- for a reason:  because the story was about Robin.  It came full-circle.

That might not sit well with a lot of viewers, since it seems to diminish what the objective, outside viewer thought the show was about:  Ted meeting and falling in love with Tracy.  Yes, the show was entitled "How I Met Your Mother," but it had to be named that, not only because it's clever and fit with the premise of the show (and built anticipation), but also because if the show was called How I Fell In Love With Robin, it would have been over after Ted and Robin's first date.

It may feel cheap that the story of meeting The Mother was a vehicle for Ted to work out his lingering feelings for Robin, but I don't see it as cheap.  It's still clear that Ted loved Tracy.  Tracy was essential, not only for Ted's catharsis in 2030, but also because there was genuine chemistry there, and Ted needed that love and relationship.  Sure, she died too soon after she was introduced, but that's how it had to be.  Plus, there were plenty of flash-forward scenes this season that let us see Ted and Tracy as a couple, so it's not like we just met her in this last episode right before she was offed.

I've seen a fan's reworking of the end of the finale, in which Tracy doesn't die and the credits roll after Ted and Tracy have their "umbrella" moment on the train platform.  I don't think that would have worked.  If you know Ted Mosby, there has to be more to the story than that.  Throughout the show's run, I was worried that the show would end at the moment Ted met his children's mother, with Ted (in Bob Saget's voice) saying "And that, kids, is how I met your mother."  Blackout.  I'm glad that wasn't the ending.

When you invest time and emotion into a TV show, you want the finale to have both finality and the knowledge that the characters went on to live happy lives.  That's why the ending of The Sopranos sucked.  You got neither.  With How I Met Your Mother, you got finality because Ted finally met The Mother (and because Tracy died and Ted finished his story to his kids), and you know that Ted and Robin are probably going to get together, and it will finally last.  You don't want Ted to be a miserable widower who never tries to love again, and you don't want Robin to be a miserable old maid.  It's the way it had to be.  Lawyered.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Retro Video of the Week: "I Love It Loud" by KISS

I realized today that I haven't had a KISS video as a Retro Video of the Week, which is probably a sin in some religions.  To remedy this, I decided to go with "I Love It Loud" off of KISS's 1982 album Creatures of the Night.  The song was co-written by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent.  This was the last video to feature the band in make-up.  It was also the last video to feature Ace Frehley, who would quit the band, only to be replaced by Vincent (who actually played most of the lead guitar parts on Creatures of the Night, even though Frehley is credited).  The video itself is a classic early '80s video, in which a teenage boy becomes hypnotized by the music and has to get up from the dinner table to watch the video.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

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

March Madness is a bitch.  Plain and simple.  One minute, she's all, "Yeah sure, I'll totally put Florida, Michigan, San Diego State, and Michigan State in the Final Four for you because I love you, and I really want you to succeed."  Then the next minute, she's all "John Calipari just gave me a Corvette, so don't ever call me again.  Oh, and I was sleeping with Bo Ryan like the entire time you and I were dating."  As you wipe the tears from your eyes and the vomit from your mouth, couch, and cashmere sweater that you are wearing for some reason, all you can do is ask "what have I done to deserve this?"  The answer to the question isn't at the bottom of a bottle of gin, but you double check, just in case.

My biggest fears played out on a national stage this past weekend.  It started off great, as Florida beat Dayton to clinch the Gators' 5th Final Four berth (and fourth under Billy Donovan).  Then, Wisconsin beat Arizona, which was good for me, even though I didn't have Wisconsin going to the Final Four a lot of my brackets, since it knocked Arizona out of the mix.  It's Bo Ryan's first Final Four as the Badgers' head coach, and the program's 3rd overall.

Then Sunday came.  There was so much promise, followed by so much heartache.  The Big Ten seemed to have a legitimate shot at getting three Final Four teams for the first time in conference history.  Michigan State, however, was playing UConn in the Huskies' backyard, and UConn ended up winning a hard-fought game, pulling away at the end, for the Huskies' 5th Final Four berth.  No matter, I thought.  As long as Michigan beats Kentucky, I still have a chance.  I went from having a decent shot at finishing in the money in several of my pools to having all of my brackets eliminated from contention, when some highly paid Kentucky freshman hit a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, clinching the Wildcats' 16th Final Four berth and 3rd in the last 4 years under John Calipari (until they are vacated at a later date, of course). 

Here are the Final Four game times this Saturday (Eastern).  Both games are on TBS:
(S1) Florida vs. (E7) Connecticut – 6:09 p.m.
(W2) Wisconsin vs. (MW8) Kentucky – 8:49 p.m.

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

10 (tie).  Thanks to Michigan and Michigan State pissing away their Elite 8 games, the Big Ten missed its shot to have three teams in the Final Four, which would have only been the second time a conference has had three teams in the Final Four (Big East, 1985). 

However, if Wisconsin beats Kentucky on Saturday, it will be the 6th different Big Ten school to have reached the championship game since Michigan State won the Big Ten's last title in 2000 -– the most of any conference in that span:

Big Ten:  5 (Illinois (2005), Indiana (2002), Michigan (2013), Michigan State (2009), Ohio State (2007))
ACC:  4 (Duke (2001*, 2010*), Georgia Tech (2004), Maryland (2002*), North Carolina (2005*, 2009*))
Big East:  3 (Connecticut (2004*), Louisville (2013*), Syracuse (2003*))
Pac-10/Pac-12:  2 (Arizona (2001), UCLA (2006))
SEC:  2 (Florida (2006*, 2007*), Kentucky (2012*))
Big 12:  1 (Kansas (2003, 2008*, 2012))
Conference USA:  1 (Memphis (2008)
Horizon:  1 (Butler (2010, 2011))
*Won championship

If the Badgers win it all, it will end the Big Ten's longest title drought since the 16-year span between Ohio State's 1960 title and Indiana's 1976 title.

10 (tie).  Kevin Ollie of UConn and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin are coaching in their first Final Fours as head coaches, Billy Donovan is coaching in his fourth Final Four, and John Calipari is coaching in his fifth Final Four, although only three of those are still recognized by the NCAA.

History is not on Ollie or Ryan's side, as only 24 of the 151 coaches coaching in their first Final Four have won a title, and 14 of those titles occurred when John F. Kennedy was still alive.  Here are the coaches who have won an NCAA title in their first Final Four appearance, reverse chronologically:

2008:  Bill Self (Kansas)
1999:  Jim Calhoun (Connecticut)
1998:  Tubby Smith (Kentucky)
1995:  Jim Harrick (UCLA)
1989:  Steve Fisher (Michigan)
1985:  Rollie Massimino (Villanova)
1983:  Jim Valvano (NC State)
1979:  Jud Heathcote (Michigan State)
1974:  Norm Sloan (NC State)
1966:  Don Haskins (Texas Western)
1963:  George Ireland (Loyola (IL))
1961:  Ed Jucker (Cincinnati)
1960:  Fred Taylor (Ohio State)
1959:  Pete Newell (California)
1955:  Phil Woolpert (San Francisco)
1954:  Ken Loeffler (LaSalle)
1947:  Doggie Julian (Holy Cross)
1945:  Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M)
1944:  Vadal Peterson (Utah)
1943:  Everett Shelton (Wyoming)
1942:  Everett Dean (Stanford)
1941:  Harold Foster (Wisconsin)
1940:  Branch McCracken (Indiana)
1939:  Howard Hobson (Oregon)

An additional 41 coaches have made it to the national championship game and lost in their first Final Four appearance:

2013:  John Beilein (Michigan)
2010:  Brad Stevens (Butler)
2007:  Thad Matta (Ohio State)
2006:  Ben Howland (UCLA)
2005:  Bruce Weber (Illinois)
2004:  Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech)
2002:  Mike Davis (Indiana)
2000:  Billy Donovan (Florida)
1998:  Rick Majerus (Utah)
1991:  Roy Williams (Kansas)
1989:  PJ Carlesimo (Seton Hall)
1988:  Billy Tubbs (Oklahoma)
1987:  Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
1986:  Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
1982:  John Thompson (Georgetown)
1980:  Larry Brown (UCLA)
1979:  Bill Hodges (Indiana State)
1978:  Bill Foster (Duke)
1976:  Johnny Orr (Michigan)
1975:  Joe B. Hall (Kentucky)
1974:  Al McGuire (Marquette)
1973:  Gene Bartow (Memphis State)
1972:  Hugh Durham (Florida State)
1971:  Jack Kraft (Villanova)
1970:  Joe Williams (Jacksonville)
1969:  George King (Purdue)
1967:  Don Donoher (Dayton)
1959:  Fred Schaus (West Virginia)
1958:  John Castellani (Seattle)
1957:  Dick Harp (Kansas)
1952:  Frank McGuire (St. John's)
1950:  Forddy Anderson (Bradley)
1948:  Bill Henderson (Baylor)
1946:  Ben Carnevale (North Carolina)
1945:  Howard Cann (NYU)
1944:  Earl Brown (Dartmouth)
1943:  Elmer Ripley (Georgetown)
1942:  Ozzie Cowles (Dartmouth)
1941:  Jack Friel (Washington State)
1940:  Phog Allen (Kansas)
1939:  Harold Olsen (Ohio State)

9.  This year is rare because each of the Final Four teams has already won an NCAA title.  This is only the eighth time this has happened since the NCAA tournament began in 1939.  The other years in which this occurred were 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2009, and 2012.

8.  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.  Pretty good:
1.  UConn:  75% (3/4)
2.  Kentucky:  53% (8/15) (I'm including the 1949 Final Four and national title, even though that should be considered vacated due to a point-shaving scandal, as well as the Final Fours in 2011 and 2012 and national championship in 2012, even though those will undoubtedly be vacated at some point, since John Calipari is incapable of taking a team to the Final Four without it later being vacated)
3 (tie).  Florida:  50% (2/4)
3 (tie).  Wisconsin:  50% (1/2)

7.  There are 9 schools with 8 or more Final Fours:  UCLA (18), North Carolina (18), Kentucky (16), Duke (15), Kansas (14), Ohio State (11), Louisville (10), Indiana (8), and Michigan State (8).  This is the 29th year in a row and the 57th year out of the last 58 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 75 Final Fours (1941, 1943, 1947, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1985). 

6.  UConn is the first 7-seed to advance to the Final Four since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and only the second 7-seed (Virginia, 1984) to ever advance to the Final Four.

5.  The 14 combined national titles (which will become 15 next Monday) is also relatively high.  If you look at every year since the tournament began and count all of the Final Four schools' national titles (whether it was won that year, prior, subsequent, or later vacated), this will be only the 21st time (out of 75) that the Final Four schools' combined national titles is 13 or greater.  Of course, everything is skewed whenever UCLA is in the Final Four, since they have 11 titles, so below is the list, with the non-UCLA Final Fours in bold.  As you can see, this is only the 6th time the Final Four schools' combined national titles is 13 or greater when UCLA was not in the Final Four.

1.  1975:  23 - UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Louisville (3), Syracuse (1)
2 (tie).  2008: 19 - Kansas (3), Memphis (0), UCLA (11), North Carolina (5)
2 (tie).  1995:  19 - UCLA (11), Arkansas (1), North Carolina (5), Oklahoma State (2)
2 (tie).  1972:  19 – UCLA (11), Florida State (0), North Carolina (5), Louisville (3)
5 (tie).  1993:  17 - North Carolina (5), Michigan (1), Kentucky (8), Kansas (3)
5 (tie).  1976:  17 – Indiana (5), Michigan (1), UCLA (11), Rutgers (0)
5 (tie).  1974:  17 – NC State (2), Marquette (1), UCLA (11), Kansas (3)
5 (tie).  1968:  17 – UCLA (11), North Carolina (5), Ohio State (1), Houston (0)
9 (tie).  1973:  16 – UCLA (11), Memphis State (0), Indiana (5), Providence (0)
9 (tie).  1969:  16 – UCLA (11), Purdue (0), Drake (0), North Carolina (5)
9 (tie).  1967:  16 – UCLA (11), Dayton (0), Houston (0), North Carolina (5)
9 (tie).  1964:  16 – UCLA (11), Duke (4), Michigan (1), Kansas State (0)
13 (tie).  2012:  15 – Kentucky (8), Kansas (3), Louisville (3), Ohio State (1)
13 (tie).  2007: 15 - Florida (2), Ohio State (1), UCLA (11), Georgetown (1)
13 (tie).  1998:  15 - Kentucky (8), Utah (1), North Carolina (5), Stanford (1)
13 (tie).  1971:  15 – UCLA (11), Villanova (1), Western Kentucky (0), Kansas (3)
17 (tie).  1962:  14 – Cincinnati (2), Ohio State (1), Wake Forest (0), UCLA (11)
17 (tie).  1997:  14 - Arizona (1), Kentucky (8), Minnesota (0), North Carolina (5)
17 (tie).  1980:  14 – Louisville (3), UCLA (11), Purdue (0), Iowa (0)
20 (tie).  1991:  13 - Duke (4), Kansas (3), North Carolina (5), UNLV (1)
20 (tie).  2006: 13 - Florida (2), UCLA (11), LSU (0), George Mason (0)

4.  Moving on to another worthless statistic, if you just look at how many titles the schools had won up to that point (and not including that year's title), this year is even rarer.  Here are the top ten years for number of prior national titles for the Final Four teams (with the number of titles up to, but not including, that year):

1.  2008: 17 - Kansas (2), Memphis (0), UCLA (11), North Carolina (4)
2.  1995:  16 - UCLA (10), Arkansas (1), North Carolina (3), Oklahoma State (2)
3 (tie).  2014:  14 – Kentucky (8), Connecticut (3), Florida (2), Wisconsin (1)
3 (tie).  2007: 14 - Florida (1), Ohio State (1), UCLA (11), Georgetown (1)
5 (tie).  2012:  13 - Kentucky (7), Kansas (3), Louisville (2), Ohio State (1)
5 (tie).  1975:  13 - UCLA (9), Kentucky (4), Louisville (0), Syracuse (0)
7.  1976:  12 – Indiana (2), Michigan (0), UCLA (10), Rutgers (0)
8 (tie).  2006: 11 - Florida (0), UCLA (11), LSU (0), George Mason (0)
8 (tie).  1998:  11 - Kentucky (6), Utah (1), North Carolina (3), Stanford (1)
10 (tie).  1980:  10 – Louisville (0), UCLA (10), Purdue (0), Iowa (0)
10 (tie).  1993:  10 - North Carolina (2), Michigan (1), Kentucky (5), Kansas (2)

3.  Florida is the only #1 seed in the Final Four.  This is the fifth year in a row that one or fewer #1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four, and the 17th time since 1979 it has happened.  Based on the past results, Florida should feel pretty good about its chances, as 8 of the 14 teams who have been the lone #1 seed in the Final Four have gone onto win the title.  Here is a breakdown of how many #1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four each year since 1979.

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**)
**Advanced to championship game

2.  The average seed for this year's Final Four is 4.5, which is only the 6th time since the tournament began seeding in 1979 that the average seed in the Final Four is more than 4 (and the third time in the last four years).

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.  Including UConn and Kentucky this year, 26 teams seeded 5 or higher have advanced to the Final Four since seeding began in 1979, and this is only the 5th time since 1979 that multiple teams seeded 5 or higher have advanced to the Final Four.  Of the prior 24 teams, only 3 have won it all, another 6 have been runners up, and the remaining 15 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:

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
**Advanced to championship game

In closing, fuck Kentucky!