Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Joyride" by Roxette

This past Monday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Swedish duo Roxette's third studio album, Joyride.  Roxette is one of those groups that you kind of forget how big they were for a few years in the late '80s and early '90s, and then you hear one of their hits and say, "Sweet sassy molassy, those Swedes were huge."  Or maybe you don't say that.  But you should.  

They had four #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, starting with "The Look" in April 1989, which I once dedicated on Z-95 to a guy (Mike) and a girl (Kate) in my class who laid in the grass next to each other and literally just started longingly into each other's eyes for a good hour after school, too scared to kiss because there were four or five classmates watching them.  By the time I got home and called the radio station, they were probably done staring at each other, and they didn't have a radio with them when they were staring at each other anyway, but I'd like to think they got home and were listening to Z-95 when the song came on and thought "Huh, my name is [Mike/Kate].  Wait a minute, that guy on the radio is talking about us.  This song is about us.  I wonder if [Mike/Kate] tastes like a raindrop. And I say la la la la la."  And then Mike probably did a bunch of pushups, and Kate probably decided she wanted Greg instead because she was like six inches taller than Mike.

"The Look" was followed by "Listen To Your Heart" in November 1989, "It Must Have Been Love" (which featured prominently in Pretty Woman) in June 1990, and finally, the title track to Joyride in May 1991.  "Joyride" was the 6th in a string of nine Top 40 U.S. hits for Roxette, and the song is said to be inspired by The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" and Paul McCartney's description of his songwriting partnership with John Lennon as a "long joyride."  The song not only hit #1 in the U.S., but also topped the charts in 9 other countries and hit the Top 10 in another 5 countries.

Most importantly, every time I get into an argument with my wife, at some point when things are particularly heated, I scream, "Hello, you fool, I love you!"  Then, we usually have a good laugh and a makeout session before being asked to leave the funeral home again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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

After one of the most exciting first weekends of an NCAA Tournament, the second weekend was relatively unexciting. 

In the South Region, Thursday's games were both blowouts, as 1-seed Kansas beat 5-seed Maryland, 79-63, and 2-seed Villanova destroyed 3-seed Miami, 92-69.  Saturday's Elite Eight game was much better, with Villanova holding Kansas off in the last minute to win 64-59.  This will be the Wildcats' 5th Final Four and first since 2009.

In the West Region, Thursday's games were also both blowouts, with 1-seed Oregon beating 4-seed Duke, 82-68, and 2-seed Oklahoma ending 3-seed Texas A&M's momentum with a 77-63 win.  In the Elite Eight, behind Buddy Hield's 37 points, Oklahoma beat up on Oregon, 80-68, preventing the Ducks from going to their first Final Four since they won the whole damn thing in 1939, the first year of the NCAA Tournament.  It's the Sooners' 5th Final Four and first since 2002, when they were coached by Kelvin Sampson and lost to Indiana, where Sampson coached after leaving Norman and thereby ruining IU's basketball program for about five years for doing something that is now legal under NCAA rules.  Not that I'm bitter or anything.

In the East Region, my beloved Hoosiers got hammered by North Carolina Friday night, 101-86, as the Tar Heels did what they haven't done all season:  hit threes.  It was a bad omen when Marcus Paige hit his first two from long range in the opening minutes.  All in all, not a terrible season for IU, but obviously, I would have liked to have kept it going longer.  In the other game, 7-seed Wisconsin shit the bed against 6-seed Notre Dame, giving the Irish a 61-56 win after being ahead in the final minute.  Yesterday, Notre Dame kept it close against North Carolina until the Tar Heels went on a big run with about 12 minutes left to pull away, 88-74.  This will be the Tar Heels' 19th Final Four, breaking a tie with UCLA for the most Final Fours all-time, and their first since 2009, when they won it all.

In the Midwest Region, Friday night, 1-seed Virginia topped 4-seed Iowa State, 84-71, while 10-seed Syracuse closed on a 9-1 run over the last couple minutes to upend 11-seed Gonzaga.  Not wanting to be outdone by themselves, the Orange put on a show last night, overcoming a 15-point deficit with 9:33 left thanks to a press and hot shooting, and leaving the United Center with a 68-62 upset over Virginia.  Not bad for a team that many people thought didn't deserve a bid in the NCAA Tournament.  It will be the Orange's 6th Final Four and first since 2013.

Here are the Final Four game times this Saturday (Eastern).  Both games are on TBS:
(S2) Villanova vs. (W2) Oklahoma – 6:09 p.m.
(E1) North Carolina vs. (MW10) Syracuse – 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 (tie).  For the third year in a row, a team with double-digit losses has made it to the Final Four.  Syracuse is the 18th team with 10 or more losses to advance to the Final Four (with all but five coming after seeding was introduced in 1979).  With 13 losses, the Orange is tied for the most losses ever by a Final Four team.  Of the previous 17 double-digit-loss teams, 6 have advanced to the title game, and 3 have won it all.  Here are the teams with 10 or more losses entering the Final Four (and how many losses they had when entering the Final Four):
2016:  Syracuse (13)
2015:  Michigan State (11)
2014:  Kentucky** (10)
2011:  VCU (11)
2005:  Indiana** (11)
2004:  Maryland (10)
2000:  North Carolina (13), Wisconsin (13)
1988:  Kansas* (11)
1986:  LSU (11)
1985:  Villanova* (10)
1984:  Virginia (11)
1983:  NC State* (10)
1959:  Louisville (10)
1954:  Bradley** (12)
1952:  Santa Clara (10)
1950:  Baylor (11)
1949:  Oregon State (10)
**Advanced to championship game

10 (tie).  Both the Syracuse men's team and women's team advanced to the Final Four this year.  This is the 11th time that a school has had both a men's and women's team advance to the Final Four in the same year.  Here is every time it's happened (FYI, the women's tournament started in 1982):
2016:  Syracuse
2014:  Connecticut (both teams won NCAA title)
2013:  Louisville (men won NCAA title; women were runners up)
2011:  Connecticut (men won NCAA title; women lost semi)
2009:  Connecticut (women won NCAA title; men lost semi)
2006:  LSU (both teams lost semi)
2005:  Michigan State (women were runners up; men lost semi)
2004:  Connecticut (both teams won NCAA title)
2003:  Texas (both teams lost semi)
2002:  Oklahoma (women were runners up; men lost semi)
1999:  Duke (both teams were runners up)

10 (tie).  All four 1-seeds advanced to the Elite Eight for the 8th time since seeding began in 1979 (other years were 1987, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2009), but three of them (Kansas, Oregon, and Virginia) lost.  This is only the third time 3 1-seeds have lost in the Elite Eight, and only the 12th time more than one 1-seed has lost in the Elite Eight.  It's only the second time only one 1-seed advanced to the Final Four when all four 1-seeds advanced to the Elite Eight (2003 was the other year).  Here are the other years in which more than one 1-seed lost in the Elite Eight:
2016:  3 (Kansas, Oregon, Virginia)
2012:  2 (North Carolina, Syracuse)
2009:  2 (Louisville, Pittsburgh)
2007:  2 (Kansas, North Carolina)
2006:  3 (Connecticut, Memphis, Villanova)
2003:  3 (Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma)
2001:  2 (Illinois, Stanford)
1998:  2 (Arizona, Duke)
1994:  2 (Missouri, Purdue)
1992:  2 (Ohio State, UCLA)
1987:  2 (Georgetown, North Carolina)
1979:  2 (Notre Dame, UCLA)

10 (tie).  With Oklahoma's win Saturday, Lon Kruger became the 15th coach in NCAA Tournament history to take multiple teams to the Final Four.  His previous appearance was as Florida's head coach in 1994 (the Gators' first Final Four).  Here are the other coaches, in alphabetical order:
Forddy Anderson – Bradley, Michigan State
Gene Bartow – Memphis, UCLA
Larry Brown – UCLA, Kansas (although his 1980 appearance with UCLA has since been vacated)
John Calipari – UMass, Memphis, Kentucky (although his appearances with UMass and Memphis have since been vacated)
Hugh Durham – Florida State, Georgia
Jack Gardner – Kansas State, Utah
Lou Henson – New Mexico State, Illinois
Bob Huggins – Cincinnati, West Virginia
Lon Kruger – Florida, Oklahoma
Frank McGuire – St. John's, North Carolina
Lute Olson – Iowa, Arizona
Rick Pitino - Providence, Kentucky, Louisville
Lee Rose – Charlotte, Purdue
Eddie Sutton – Arkansas, Oklahoma State
Roy Williams - Kansas, North Carolina

9.  Kruger's 22 years between Final Four appearances is amazingly not the biggest span between Final Four appearances for a coach.  Here are the coaches who have had spans of 15 years or more between Final Four appearances:
1.  36 years:  Ray Meyer (DePaul) (1943-1979)
2.  22 years:  Lon Kruger (Florida, Oklahoma) (1994-2016)
3.  19 years:  Lou Henson (New Mexico State, Illinois) (1970-1989)
4.  18 years:  Bob Huggins (Cincinnati, West Virginia (1992-2010)
5.  17 years:  Eddie Sutton (Arkansas, Oklahoma State (1978-1995)

8.  With North Carolina's win Sunday, Roy Williams is taking coaching in his 8th Final Four, moving him into sole possession of fourth place on the list of head coaching Final Four appearances.  Meanwhile, Jim Boeheim became the 12th coach to lead his team to 5 or more Final Fours.  Here are the coaches who have been to 5 or more Final Fours (John Calipari is not on this list because 2 of his 6 Final Four appearances have been vacated by the NCAA):
1 (tie).  Mike Krzyzewski - Duke (12)
1 (tie).  John Wooden - UCLA (12)
3.  Dean Smith - North Carolina (11)
4.  Roy Williams - Kansas, North Carolina (8)
5 (tie).  Tom Izzo - Michigan State (7)
5 (tie).  Rick Pitino - Providence, Kentucky, Louisville (7)
6 (tie).  Denny Crum – Louisville (6)
6 (tie).  Adolph Rupp – Kentucky (6)
8 (tie).  Jim Boeheim – Syracuse (5)
8 (tie).  Bob Knight – Indiana (5)
8 (tie).  Guy Lewis – Houston (5)
8 (tie).  Lute Olson – Iowa, Arizona (5)

7.  All four Final Four coaches have coached in at least one Final Four.  This is the second year in a row and only the 7th time in NCAA Tournament history that all four coaches have previously coached in a Final Four.  Here's when it's happened:
2016:  Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Lon Kruger (Oklahoma), Roy Williams (North Carolina), Jay Wright (Villanova)
2015:  John Calipari (Kentucky), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bo Ryan (Wisconsin)
2012:  John Calipari (Kentucky), Roy Williams (Kansas), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Rick Pitino (Louisville)
1993:  Dean Smith (North Carolina), Steve Fisher (Michigan), Rick Pitino (Kentucky), Roy Williams (Kansas)
1984:  John Thompson (Georgetown), Guy Lewis (Houston), Joe B. Hall (Kentucky), Terry Hollan (Virginia)
1968:  John Wooden (UCLA), Dean Smith (North Carolina), Guy Lewis (Houston), Fred Taylor (Ohio State)
1951:  Adolph Rupp (Kentucky), Jack Gardner (Kansas State), Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M), Harry Combes (Illinois)

6.  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).  Not that great:
1.  North Carolina:  28% (5/18)
2.  Villanova:  25% (1/4)
3.  Syracuse:  20% (1/5)
4.  Oklahoma:  0% (0/4)

5.  There are 9 schools with 8 or more Final Fours:  North Carolina (19), UCLA (18), Kentucky (17), Duke (16), Kansas (14), Ohio State (11), Louisville (10), Michigan State (9), and Indiana (8).  This is the 31st year in a row and the 59th year out of the last 60 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 77 Final Fours (1941, 1943, 1947, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1985).

4.  The ACC has two teams in the Final Four (although really, it's the Big East that has two teams, since I still can't consider Syracuse as an ACC team).  It's the fourth year in a row and 24th time overall that one conference has had two or more teams in the same Final Four.  Here is when it has happened (note:  the NCAA Tournament began giving out at-large bids in 1975, so that was the first year there could have been more than one team from the same conference in an NCAA Tournament):
2016:  ACC – North Carolina, Syracuse
2015:  Big Ten - Michigan State, Wisconsin
2014:  SEC – Florida, Kentucky
2013:  Big East – Louisville, Syracuse
2009:  Big East – Connecticut, Villanova
2006:  SEC – Florida, LSU
2005:  Big Ten – Illinois, Michigan State
2003:  Big 12 – Kansas, Texas
2002:  Big 12 – Kansas, Oklahoma
2001:  ACC – Duke, Maryland
2000:  Big Ten – Michigan State, Wisconsin
1999:  Big Ten – Michigan State, Ohio State
1996:  SEC – Kentucky, Mississippi State
1994:  SEC – Arkansas, Florida
1992:  Big Ten – Indiana, Michigan
1991:  ACC – Duke, North Carolina
1990:  ACC – Duke, Georgia Tech
1989:  Big Ten – Illinois, Michigan
1988:  Big 8 – Kansas, Oklahoma
1987:  Big East – Providence, Syracuse
1985:  Big East – Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova
1981:  ACC – North Carolina, Virginia
1980:  Big Ten – Iowa, Purdue
1976:  Big Ten – Indiana, Michigan

3.  There is only one 1-seed in the Final Four (North Carolina) for the fifth time in the last seven years and the 18th time since 1979 it has happened.  Based on the past results, UNC should feel pretty good about its chances, as 8 of the 15 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.
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**)
**Advanced to championship game

2.  The average seed for this year's Final Four is 3.75, which is obviously skewed by Syracuse being a 10-seed.  This is only the 8th time since seeding began in 1979 that the average seed is 3.75 or higher.  Here are the average seeds for the Final Four since 1979:
2106: 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.  Syracuse is the first 10-seed to ever advance to the Final Four, becoming the 4th double-digit seed to advance to the Final Four and the 28th team seeded 5 or higher have advanced to the Final Four since seeding began in 1979.  History doesn't bode well for the Orange, as none of the previous three double-digit seeds has won its semifinal game.  Of the prior 27 teams seeded 5 or higher, only 4 have won it all, another 7 have been runners up, and the remaining 16 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:
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
**Advanced to championship game

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hair Band Friday - 3/25/16

1.  "When The Walls Came Tumbling Down" by Def Leppard

2.  "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen

3.  "Dream On" by Britny Fox

4.  "Merciless" by Mr. Big

5.  "Give Me More Time" by Whitesnake

6.  "Am I Ever Gonna Change" by Extreme

7.  "Blueberry" by Lita Ford

8.  "Baby's On Fire" by Sammy Hagar

9.  "The Needle Lies" by Queensrÿche

10.  "Teaser" by Mötley Crüe

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bloodsport Meets Benny Hill

Bloodsport is one of my favorite movies from the '80s.  If you haven't seen it, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, but throwing sand in Jean-Claude Van Damme's eyes.  The How Did This Get Made? podcast -- hosted by Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas of The League and fellow comedian June Diane Raphael -- recently analyzed Bloodsport.  Mantzoukas opined that the foot chase scene through Hong Kong would have been better if it was treated like a Benny Hill sketch, with "Yakety Sax" playing.  Someone obliged.  (Thanks to Trashton for the link.)  And someone else made the scene into a Mentos commercial. Both are brilliant.  Seeing both of these makes me wish I would have thought of them first -- and that I had the technical know-how, time, and patience to make them.  The original scene, the Benny Hill version, and the Mentos version are all included in the link above, but in case you don't want to read more background about them than I have provided, here are all three, for your viewing convenience.


Benny Hill


The Tattoo on the Silver Mountain

We've all seen plenty of online slideshows of bad tattoos.  (I'm not sure why I said "online," since I find it highly unlikely that anyone has taken a bunch of photographs of bad tattoos and then had the negatives made into slides and then shown them to you on what I assume is the only remaining slide projector on Earth.  (I suppose I also could have just deleted "online" to save you the hassle of reading these past two parenthetical sentences, but it's important to me to work things out on paper, especially after I've made a mistake.  (I have no idea why I said "paper" in that last sentence.  So we're clear, I don't handwrite blog posts out on processed wood pulp and then transcribe them into Blogger.)))  

But every now and then, you see a tattoo and you say to yourself, "This would make you a better person, a better lover, a better husband, a better father, and, above all, a better concert-goer."  Someone has gotten a tattoo of late metal legend Ronnie James Dio -- the man who brought the devil horns to rock and roll -- making devil horns.  BUT THE DEVIL HORNS ARE THE GUY'S OWN FINGERS, such that whenever his guy makes devil horns, it appears that Dio is throwing up some horns.  Holy diver!  Just click on the link (thanks to Daniel for sending it to me) to see what I mean.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Retro Video of the Week: "Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest

Yesterday, former A Tribe Called Quest member Malik Taylor, aka Phife Dawg, died at the age of 45 (reason not yet confirmed, although he had kidney problems in the past).  A Tribe Called Quest was always a little bit cooler, funkier, and smoother than most other hip hop acts, and Phife Dawg was a big reason why.  I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza in 1994, and they were awesome -- a welcome contrast to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, who played right before them.  

Phife Dawg (and sometimes Phife Diggity) was also the nickname that was given to a guy who lived on my dorm floor freshman year whose last name was Pfeffer, who was the first person I knew that hooked up with two chicks at once.  Sure, neither of them was overly attractive (and he was the first to admit that), but let's face it, when you're a super skinny Jewish kid with a New Jersey accent, the chances of convincing two chicks from Indiana to hook up with you at the same time is rather slim, so he was still my hero. Needless to say, the name Phife Dawg has some extra sentimental value for me.

But I digress.  I went with the song "Scenario" because it's the first song by the group that I remember hearing.  The third single off of their phenomenal sophomore album Low End Theory, "Scenario" was released in 1992 and got to #57 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as #6 on the Billboard Rap Charts.  Notably, "Scenario" is probably the first time you ever heard Busta Rhymes, who has a verse in the song.

The video is an early '90s timepiece, in look, feel, fashion, and personnel, with cameos by De La Soul, Spike Lee, Redman, Fab 5 Freddy (who is in no way related to the University of Michigan's Fab Five, who were also big in the early '90s), and Brand Nubian.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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

Oh, what a weekend.  I honestly can't remember a better first weekend of March Madness.  Add to that the fact that Jester decided to take the kids to visit her sister in Porkopolis, leaving me to my own devices, it was a weekend I won't soon forget.  Or remember.

Here are the highlights from the weekend, both from the NCAA Tournament and my related shenanigans, and then my top ten fun facts about this year's NCAA Tournament.

  • Behind Makai Mason's 31 points, 12-seed Yale beat 5-seed Baylor, 79-75, for the Bulldogs' first-ever tournament victory.
  • 12-seed Little Rock came back from 13 down with about 3 minutes left in regulation to force OT with 5-seed Purdue, thanks to Josh Hagins's 26-foot top-of-the-key three-pointer with about 5 seconds left in regulation.  The Trojans and Boilermakers needed two overtimes before Little Rock pulled off the 85-83 upset.
  • My beloved 5-seeded Hoosiers silenced the critics by absolutely destroying 12-seed Chattanooga, 99-74.  That was pleasant.
  • 9-seed Providence got a last-second layup off an inbounds pass to shock 8-seed USC, 70-69.

  • As I do every year, I took the day off to watch basketball.  Along with a gaggle of other fellas who did the same thing, I went to a bar called The Stretch.  Little did I know it was a Michigan State bar, which was all well and good until . . .
  • 15-seed Middle Tennessee State led wire-to-wire for a massive upset of 2-seed Michigan State, who many picked as their favorite to win it all.  Needless to say, the overall mood in the bar was not great after the Spartans lost.
  • 7-seed Iowa and 10-seed Temple went to overtime before Iowa's Adam Woodbury putback with time expiring gave the Hawkeyes a 72-70 win.
  • 13-seed Hawaii beat 4-seed Cal, 77-66, for the Rainbow Warriors' first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
  • Around dinner time, I made a quick jaunt home to walk the dog.  While doing so, I was walking by the house of an anonymous former Bears player who lives near me.  He happened to be on his porch, getting his mail as I walked by.  His alma mater had won a big game the previous day, so I drunkenly yelled, "Big win by the [his school's mascot] yesterday!"  I clearly caught him off-guard, since I'm pretty sure he has no idea who I am, but we had a nice 10-second awkward conversation about his alma mater's basketball team, before I stumbled the remainder of the way back home, dropped off the dog, and returned to The Stretch.
  • 14-seed Stephen F. Austin dominated 3-seed West Virginia, 70-56, while I sat at the Roadhouse 66 (or something like that), which used to be Uberstein.  There were way too many millennials dressed like cats there.  I wish that last sentence was a joke for several reasons.
  • A few of us decided at some point that we needed to sign some karaoke, so we headed to Rocks.  In between dominating the local amateur rock and roll singing scene, we witnesses a few insane endings to tournament games:
    • After 6-seed Texas tied the game with 11-seed Northern Iowa with 2.7 seconds left, the Panthers inbounded the ball to Paul Jesperson, who hit a halfcourt at the buzzer for an amazing win.
    • 9-seed Cincinnati got what looked like a game-tying dunk at the buzzer to send its game with 8-seed St. Joseph's into overtime, but the ball was still in the player's hand when time expired, capping a wild second day.
  • Not having had enough to drink over the previous 11 hours, we headed to Longroom, a bar that is, in fact, a very long room, where I randomly saw some friends in town from Indy.  After that, I went across Irving Park to The Diner Grill, where my friend Daniel experienced the joys of The Slinger for the first time, both that evening and the next morning, if you know what I mean.  What I mean is that, while delicious, it caused him great gastrointestinal discomfort the next morning.
  • Daniel went home, while Gregerson and I decided that greasy breakfast food had provided us with just enough of a base to keep drinking.  We went to Rose's, a fantastic dive bar not too far from either of us.  We bellied up, and then spent probably 45 minutes discussing music with the 27-year-old female bartender.  At closing time, Greg suggested that we go to a late-night bar, to which I responded that I wanted to get a somewhat decent night's sleep, with the wife and kids out of town.  The bartender overheard this, and the following exchange ensued:
Her:  "Kids?!  You have kids?!"
Me:  "Yeah, I have three."
Her:  "What?!  How old are you?"
Me:  "38."
Her:  "38?!  I thought you were, like, 21."
I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not, but I felt pretty good about myself as I stumbled home and quickly passed out for nearly eight hours.

  • After overcoming a rather solid hangover with the combination of Excedrin Migraine and an egg sandwich, I hunkered down on the couch for a nice afternoon of basketball watching.
  • The second and third best games of the day were 3-seed Miami's hard-fought win over 11-seed Wichita State, 65-57, and 4-seed Duke's too-close-for-comfort win over 12-seed Yale, 71-64.  Which brings us to the best game of the day.
  • A bunch of us gathered at Rocks to watch the IU/Kentucky game.  Good triumphed over evil, as my underseeded Hoosiers beat the underseeded Wildcats, 73-67.  There's no way this game should have been a Round of 32 matchup, and it was played with the intensity of an Elite 8 game on both sides.  I didn't sit for the entire game, and spent most of it pacing back and forth.  According to my trusty Fitbit, I took about 1,500 steps during the game.  A win that was good for the soul and good for the heart.
  • After that, I headed to a restaurant called Sip for my friend Alex's birthday.  The food was awesome, the service was average, and there was a crooked painting on the wall.  There is no longer a crooked painting on the wall.  Just so we're clear, I adjusted it so that's no longer crooked.  I did not steal a painting from a restaurant.
  • Next, we headed to Toon's for some drinks while watching the end of North Carolina's drubbing of Providence, setting up a Sweet 16 matchup between the Tar Heels and the Hoosiers this Saturday.
  • After that, Daniel, his friend from Venezuela, Luis, and I went to Martyr's to see a band called Kung Fu, which I had never heard of before.  I would described Kung Fu as a funk jam band.  Everyone in the band was great, and it was a good time.
  • We ended the night at The Globe, and I left Daniel and Luis after a beer to get another good night's sleep -- as much as one can get a good night's sleep when one goes to bed after 3 a.m.

  • Another hangover, although quite mild, was again quelled by Excedrin Migraine and an egg sandwich.  I then spent the several hours before Jester got home with the kids doing all the things around the house I told her I would do during the course of the weekend.  Laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, taking the trash out, defanging the new cobras, shaving the dog, washing the sex swing, dusting our antique spork collection, etc.  I finished just in time for her to walk in the door with my brood.
  • 6-seed Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger's scored his only two points on a buzzer-beating tip-in to beat 14-seed Stephen F. Austin, 76-75.
  • 2-seed Oklahoma got 29 points from Buddy Hield in the second half to help the Sooners pull out a tough 85-81 over 10-seed VCU.
  • 3-seed Texas A&M came back from 12 points down with 44 seconds left to force overtime with 11-seed Northern Iowa.  One overtime wasn't enough, with the Aggies finally completing their monumental comeback in 2 OTs, 92-88.
  • Bronson Koenig hit a fall-away buzzer-beating 3 from the corner for 7-seed Wisconsin's upset over 2-seed Xavier, to advance the Badgers to their 3rd Sweet 16 in a row.
  • In the final game of the weekend, 1-seed Oregon held off 8-seed St. Joseph's, 69-64, ensuring that the Pac-12 would not be shut out of the Sweet 16.

All in all, a great weekend.  Now, 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 (Louisville)
(2) Villanova (2009) vs. (3) Miami (2013) - Thursday 3/24 7:10 ET CBS
(1) Kansas (2013) vs. (5) Maryland (2003) - Thursday 3/24 9:40 ET CBS

West Region (Anaheim)
(2) Oklahoma (2015) vs. (3) Texas A&M (2007) - Thursday 3/24 7:37 ET TBS
(1) Oregon (2013) vs. (4) Duke (2015) - Thursday 3/24 10:07 ET TBS

Midwest Region (Chicago)
(1) Virginia (2014) vs. (4) Iowa State (2014) - Friday 3/25 7:10 ET CBS
(10) Syracuse (2013) vs. (11) Gonzaga (2015) - Friday 3/25 9:40 ET CBS

East Region (Philadelphia)
(6) Wisconsin (2015) vs. (7) Notre Dame (2015) - Friday 3/25 7:27 ET TBS
(1) North Carolina (2015) vs. (5) Indiana (2013) - Friday 3/25 9:57 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 11 fun facts –- you get an extra one because it wouldn't be fair if I left any of these out -- about this year's NCAA tournament.

11.  14-seed Stephen F. Austin's 14-point win over 3-seed West Virginia tied for the largest margin of victory by a 14-seed over a 3-seed in tournament history (Ohio also beat Georgetown by 14 in 2010). 

10.  Texas A&M's comeback win over Northern Iowa on Sunday was the largest deficit overcome in the last minute of play in college basketball history.  It was truly amazing to watch.  I was about to start crossing A&M off of my brackets with about 45 seconds left in the game, but then the Aggies made a layup, and I put my pen down.

9.  Middle Tennessee State became the 8th ever 15-seed to beat a 2-seed, shocking the college basketball world by beating national title hopeful Michigan State (and is arguably the biggest upset ever in the first round of the NCAA Tournament).  Here are all of the instances in which a 15-seed has beaten a 2-seed:
2016:  Middle Tennessee over Michigan State, 90-81
2013:  Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown, 78-68
2012:  Lehigh over Duke, 75-70
2012:  Norfolk State over Missouri, 86-84
2001:  Hampton over Iowa State, 58-57
1997:  Coppin State over South Carolina, 78-65
1993:  Santa Clara over Arizona, 64-61
1991:  Richmond over Syracuse, 73-69

8.  Every seed except a 16-seed won in the Round of 64 for only the second time ever (the first was in 2013).

7.  Six ACC teams are in the Sweet 16, which is the most any one conference has ever had in a single year.

6.  For the first time since 2012, all 1-seeds survived the first weekend and advanced to the Sweet 16.  If all four 1-seeds win their Sweet 16 games, it will only be the 8th time since seeding began in 1979 that all four 1-seeds will have advanced to the Elite 8.  1987, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2009 were the other years.  Of course, 2008 is the only year in which all four 1-seeds advanced to the Final Four.

5.  Two 2-seeds –- Michigan State in the Midwest Region and Xavier in the East Region -- lost this weekend.  This marks the 33rd time in the 38 years since seeding began in 1979 that all four 2-seeds failed to advance to the Sweet 16, and the 19th year since 1979 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).  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.

4.  The average seed number for Sweet 16 teams this year is 4.125, making this the lowest average seed number in the Sweet 16 since 2009 and only the third time in the last 20 years that the average seed number has been that low.  It still seems pretty 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:
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

3.  Gonzaga is the only mid-major in the Sweet 16, which is the fifth year in a row there have been 3 or fewer mid-majors in the Sweet 16 and the first time since seeding began in 1979 that only one mid-major made the Sweet 16. (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, Utah was a mid-major before joining the Pac-12 a couple years ago. It's not a perfect science. Deal with it.)  23 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:
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

2.  For the second year in a row, there are only 2 teams seeded 8 or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16.  Both are double-digit seeds, which is the 23rd time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that multiple double-digit seeds have made it to the second weekend.  Eleven 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:
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

1.  An NCAA Tournament record ten double-digit seeds won their Round of 64 games.  Two of them advanced to the Sweet 16.  In the Midwest Region, 10-seed Syracuse and 11-seed Gonzaga will play on Friday, which means that a double-digit seed is guaranteed to advance to the Elite 8, meaning that whichever team that advances will become the 17th double-digit seed to have advanced to the Elite 8 since seeding began in 1979:
2016: #10 Syracuse or #11 Gonzaga
2014: #11 Dayton
2011: #11 VCU*
2008: #10 Davidson
2006: #11 George Mason*
2002: #10 Kent State, #12 Missouri
2001: #11 Temple
1999: #10 Gonzaga
1997: #10 Providence
1991: #10 Temple
1990: #10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount
1987: #10 LSU
1986: #11 LSU*
1984: #10 Dayton
1979: #10 St. John's
*Advanced to Final Four

Friday, March 18, 2016

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Guy at a bar to girl: "You're like the coolest girl I've ever met."
Girl: "Yeah, I know. I'm a lesbian."
--Chicago, The Stretch, 3485 N. Clark 
Eavesdropper: Fish

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday Top Ten: NCAA Tournament Edition

The brackets were announced Sunday, and there were a few surprises (Syracuse, Vandy, and Tulsa making it into the field, but Monmouth, San Diego State, St. Mary's, and St. Bonaventure being excluded) and many interesting matchups, beginning with tonight's play-in games between 16-seeds Fairleigh Dickinson and Florida Gulf Coast and 11-seeds Vanderbilt and Wichita State. 

I have already filled out over 25 brackets (not all for money –- calm down, Jester).  Here are a couple initial random thoughts:
  • I was pretty pissed about IU getting a 5-seed, especially since the Selection Committee apparently ranked IU ahead of Purdue and Maryland (also 5-seeds), but nonetheless put IU in the East Region (second weekend games in Philly) and Purdue in the Midwest and Maryland in the South (second weekend games in Chicago and Louisville, respectively).  Then again, the last time IU was a 5-seed, playing against a 12-seed whose mascot name is four letters long, playing in the same region as a 1-seed from the Research Triangle, USC, and a 13-seed whose mascot starts with "Sea," and playing the year after losing to a mid-major in the first round, the Hoosiers went to the national title game.  Anything less than the same result will be a disappointment.
  • As I'm sure you've heard by now, this is the losingest NCAA Tournament bracket ever –- meaning that the combined number of losses of all of the teams in the Big Dance is more than it has ever been.  Only two teams have four or fewer losses (Kansas and Arkansas-Little Rock both have four), which makes it the first time in the history of the tournament that no team in the field has 3 or fewer losses.
  • I think there are about 10 teams that could legitimately win it all and about 20 teams that could legitimately make it to the Final Four, but at the same time, I wouldn't be shocked if all of them lost by the Sweet 16.
  • I think Kansas has the easiest path to the Final Four of any 1-seed, and I think North Carolina has the hardest path of any of the 1-seeds.
  • Unlike many years, most of the top teams are led by upperclassmen, which I think is a refreshing change.
  • There are a few potentially juicy matchups in the Round of 32 for rivalry reasons or otherwise:
    • In the South:  (1) 2-seed Villanova and crosstown rival 10-seed Temple; and (2) former Big 8/Big 12 conference mates 1-seed Kansas and 8-seed Colorado
    • In the West:  3-seed Texas A&M and archrival 6-seed Texas
    • In the East:  (1) 4-seed Kentucky and 5-seed Indiana, who used to play each other every year, until John Calipari got too scared to play the Hoosiers in Bloomington after losing to IU in Assembly Hall in December 2011; and (2) 3-seed West Virginia and 11-seed Michigan, pitting Wolverines' head coach John Beilein against the team he coached from 2002 to 2007.
  • Fuck Kentucky.
Anyway, as I do every year, here are a couple lists of five teams each in a few categories that you should consider when filling out your brackets.  Expect there to be some contradictions, since that's the nature of predicting the NCAA Tournament.  Teams are in alphabetical order.  So you don't think I'm entirely full of shit (or perhaps to prove that I am), I'll put in parentheses what I correctly predicted last year.

Teams with the best shot at winning it all (last year, I had Duke on this list):
1.  Kansas (1-seed South).  The Jayhawks haven't lost a game since a January 25 loss to Iowa State in Ames.  Since then, Kansas has won 14 straight, including wins over tournament teams Baylor (twice), Iowa State, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia (twice).  They have the experience with senior forward Perry Ellis and junior guard Wayne Selden, Jr., and after exiting the Big Dance early the last two years, it might be time for an "on" year for the Jayhawks.
2.  Michigan State (2-seed Midwest).  This is everyone's sexy pick to win it all, and I don't necessarily disagree.  I think MSU should have gotten a 1-seed, although by putting the Spartans in the Midwest Region (which will be in Chicago), the Selection Committee basically gave the Spartans the equivalent of a 1-seed, assuming Sparty makes it to the second weekend (which should be a safe assumption, but weird things happen in March).  They shoot the 3 as good as anyone in the country (best 3-point % in the country and they average 9.2 made threes a game) and have a core of three senior starters, led by jack-of-all-trades Denzel Valentine.  And they went to the Final Four last year, so they know what it takes to get there.
3.  North Carolina (1-seed East).  The Tar Heels have the talent to win it all, and the experience, with senior guard Marcus Paige and senior forward Brice Johnson.  They won the ACC regular season and conference tournament, and all six of their losses were by 6 points or less and all were to NCAA Tournament teams (aside from their loss to Louisville, which was a top 15 team that is on a self-imposed postseason ban this year).
4.  Oklahoma (2-seed West).  Oklahoma is another team led by upperclassmen.  All-American guard Buddy Hield is a monster (and the second-leading scorer in the country), and the Sooners' top four scorers are upperclassmen.  The Sooners hit 10.4 3s a game (more than any other team in the tournament), and they also have a relatively easy region.  They'll be playing their first two games in Oklahoma City.  Assuming they make it to the Sweet 16, then they will likely either play a Texas team with which they are familiar or Texas A&M, which is a good team from a weak conference.  In the Elite 8, they could play the weakest 1-seed (Oregon), a relatively weak Duke team, or Baylor, who the Sooners have beaten twice already this year.
5.  Virginia (1-seed Midwest).  The Selection Committee did UVa no favors by putting the Cavaliers in the Midwest.  If they make it to the Sweet 16, the games will be played in Chicago.  Their Sweet 16 matchup will likely either be with Iowa State or Purdue, both of which are much closer to Chicago than Virginia.  And, of course, the matchup everyone is anticipating in the Elite Eight is against Michigan State, who has knocked UVa out of the tournament the past two seasons.  The Cavaliers' top four scorers are upperclassmen, led by senior All-American Malcolm Brogdon, and while their defense isn't as good as it's been in years past, they can still slow you down.

Final Four sleepers (teams seeded 4 or higher) (last year, I correctly put Michigan State on this list):
1.  Baylor (5-seed West).  Baylor is a team that has been the victim of its own conference's strength, in a way.  The Bears have lost 11 games this year, and 9 of those were in the Big 12 regular season or conference tournament –- all to teams in the NCAA Tournament.  This is a deep team (9 players have played in all 33 of the Bears' games) and another team with talented upperclassmen.  Senior forward Taurean Prince is one of those guys that can do just about anything, and may be a name that haunts Oregon Ducks fans for years to come if the Bears beat the Ducks in the Sweet 16.
2.  Indiana (5-seed East).  Obviously, I'm a little biased here, since I went to IU and all, but I have also watched just about every game they played this year, so I feel like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to IU basketball.  The Selection Committee screwed the Hoosiers over by giving them a 5-seed, presumably because of two neutral court losses in November to bad teams (Wake Forest and UNLV).  However, since a December 2 loss to Duke at Cameron, the Hoosiers have only lost 4 games (and only one by more than five points) on their way to an outright Big Ten regular season title.  Their defense is vastly improved, they are deep, they have the best offensive efficiency and second-best field goal percentage of any team in the tournament, and there isn't a player on the team who gets regular minutes who isn't a threat from 3-point range (of the players on the team who average 9 minutes a game or more, Troy Williams (32.8%) and Collin Hartman (37.8%) are the only ones who shoot less than 40% from deep).  They spread the floor well, and when the Hoosiers are hitting their shots, they can beat any team in the country.  Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell has ice water in his veins, Troy Williams is an athletic wildcard, and Thomas Bryant is a beast who plays within himself.
3.  Kentucky (4-seed East).  Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray, blah blah blah.  Alex Poythress, blah blah blah.  Marcus Lee, blah blah blah.  That's about all I have the desire to say about Kentucky.
4.  Maryland (5-seed South).  Maryland is a perplexing team.  They have a good combination of young talent (see sophomore guard Melo Trimble and freshman forward Diamond Stone –- who, with that name, has a career in porn ahead of him if this basketball thing doesn't work out) and experience (seniors Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon and junior Robert Carter).  After starting 22-3, the Terps have gone 3-5 over their last eight games, but I'm not going to discount them because I have seen them play well, and they can be really good.  I think they have the size and talent to beat Kansas in the Sweet 16, and then after that, whoever they might face in the Elite Eight.
5.  Wisconsin (7-seed East).  Two months ago, there were questions as to whether Wisconsin would even make the NIT.  They were sitting at 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.  Since then, they have gone 11-3 and are one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament (even with losses in their last two games).  Other than redshirt freshman Ethan Happ, everyone in the Badgers' starting lineup playing in the national championship game last year and was at least on the bench for the Badgers' Final Four run two years ago, so they know what it takes to win in March.

Teams seeded 4 or lower who may not make it to the second weekend (last year, I correctly put Georgetown and Kansas on this list):
1.  Cal (4-seed South).  The Golden Bears –- who turn over the ball with concerning regularity -- have a tough matchup with Hawaii in the first round and then, in the next round, could face an up-and-down Maryland team that is as talented as any team in the country.  Cal does not have much recent success on the basketball court, having last made a Sweet 16 in 1997 and losing their first game in the tournament four of the eight times they have made it since then.
2.  Iowa State (4-seed Midwest).  If they can get past a tough Iona team in the first round, they would likely face the twin towers of Purdue, AJ Hammons and Isaac Haas, in the second round.  In their six NCAA Tournament appearances since 2000, the Cyclones have advanced to the second weekend only once (2014), and were upset last year in the first round by 14-seed UAB.
3.  Kansas (1-seed South).  Because it's Kansas.  During Bill Self's 13-year tenure as head coach, the Jayhawks have never been seeded worse than a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and yet they have failed to make it to the second weekend five times, including the last two years, both as a 2-seed.  Everyone is so high on Kansas right now because they haven't lost a game since late January, but a hot UConn team and Colorado are both capable of pulling an upset in the second round.
4.  North Carolina (1-seed East).  North Carolina is good, but they don't shoot the ball very well from the outside.  Providence has a great back court and could upset the Tar Heels in the second round, and no one on the Tar Heels' current roster has ever made it past the Sweet 16.
5.  Villanova (2-seed South).  A matchup with 7-seed Iowa or 10-seed Temple looms in the second round.  Yes, Iowa has played horribly over the last couple weeks, but they were ranked in the Top 5 earlier this season and are a team that, if they play well, can beat anybody (ask Michigan State and Purdue).  Meanwhile, Temple won the outright AAC regular season title and would like nothing more than to send their crosstown rivals home.  There's also this:  since Villanova went to the Final Four in 2009, the Wildcats have not made it out of the first weekend in their five appearances since then, including as a 2-seed in 2010 and 2014 and a 1-seed last year.

Teams seeded 12 or higher with the best chance of pulling an upset in the first round (last year, I got no one right on this list, although I came very close with a couple):
1.  Hawaii (13-seed South).  Cal just fired an assistant coach today, and frankly, I just don't trust the Pac-12 in the NCAA Tournament.  Hawaii has a talented duo of guards in Roderick Bobbitt and Quincy Smith who can help Cal continue their trend of turning the ball over way too much.  Also, 6-8 Stefan Jankovic is a threat from long range, which can cause matchup problems.
2.  Iona (13-seed Midwest).  Iona can hit the three.  Iowa State can't guard the three and can't rebound well.
3.  South Dakota State (12-seed South).  Like I said up above, Maryland is an up-and-down team.  One night, the Terps are beating Purdue by double digits and they next they're losing to Minnesota (who South Dakota State beat, by the way).  The Jackrabbits shoot the ball well and spread the floor well, which Maryland has had trouble with this season.
4.  Stephen F. Austin (14-seed East).  I think the Lumberjacks are underseeded on the 14 line.  They were the only team that swept its conference games this year, they haven't lost in 2016, and they still have a handfull of guys on the team who were part of their first round upset of VCU two years ago (and who nearly upset Utah last year as a 12-seed).  If Huggy Bear doesn't watch out, his Mountaineers might be heading back to Morgantown before Saturday.

5.  Yale (12-seed West).  The Bulldogs are going to be hungry, since the last time they went dancing, Kennedy was president and The Beatles were still cutting their teeth in Hamburg.  It could be déjà vu all over again for Baylor, who lost in the first round as a 3-seed last year to 14-seed Georgia State, especially given that the game will be in Providence, only about 100 miles from New Haven, right up I-95, as opposed to over 1,800 miles from Waco.