Thursday, March 18, 2004

Tournament Time!!!
Along with the beginning of each Spring Training comes the anticipation of the single greatest event in all of sports: March Madness! I love several sports more than college basketball as a whole, but there is nothing like the NCAA Tournament. In honor of it's start in just about 7.5 hours, I'd like to share with you all my picks for the 2004 Final Four Brackets.

St Louis Region -
1st Round Winners:
1 Kentucky
8 Washington
5 Providence
4 Kansas
11 Utah
3 Georgia Tech
10 Nevada
2 Gonzaga

2nd Round:
8 Washington
4 Kansas
3 Georgia Tech
2 Gonzaga

3rd Round:
4 Kansas
2 Gonzaga

Region Final Four Representative:
2 Gonzaga

East Rutherford -
1st Round Winners:
1 St. Joseph's
9 Charlotte
12 Manhattan
3 Wake Forest
6 Wisconsin
3 Pittsburgh
7 Memphis
2 Oklahoma St.

2nd Round:
1 St. Joseph's
12 Manhattan
3 Pittsburgh
2 Oklahoma St.

3rd Round:
1 St. Joseph's
3 Pittsburgh

Region Final Four Representative:
3 Pittsburgh

Atlanta-
1st Round Winners:
1 Duke
9 Arizona
5 Illinois
4 Cincinnati
6 North Carolina
3 Texas
10 Louisville
2 Mississippi St

2nd Round:
1 Duke
4 Cincinnati
3 Texas
2 Mississippi St

3rd Round:
4 Cincinnati
3 Texas

Region Final Four Representative:
3 Texas

Phoenix-
1st Round Winners:
1 Stanford
9 Southern Ill.
5 Syracuse
13 UTEP
11 West. Michigan
3 N.C. State
10 Dayton
2 Connecticut

2nd Round:
1 Stanford
5 Syracuse
3 N.C. State
2 Connecticut

3rd Round:
5 Syracuse
3 N.C. State

Region Final Four Representative:
3 N.C. State

Final Four and Championship Game-
2 Gonzaga v. 3 Pittsburgh
3 Texas v. 3 N.C. State

3 Pittsburgh v. 3 N.C. State

3 Pittsburgh

I know, I have 0 #1 seeds in the Final Four. That's just how it worked out. This is going to be yet another great tournament and unfortunately, I don't think UConn's big man, Emeka Okafor, will stay healthy, otherwise I'd have them as the odds-on favorite. Texas is a bit homerish, even more so than last year since we're without T.J. Ford now, but this team can make some noise with their depth and perimeter shooting. I have Maryland bowing out in the first round because I believe that they spent all their energy just getting here. Great ACC Tourney run, but they might have peaked a tad too early in March.

I have 10 first round upsets, but a portion of them are 9s over 8s and 10s over 7s, hardly upset specials. I like Manhattan again, but Billy Donovan may do another bend-but-don't-break performance like that against Butler a few years ago when Mike Miller hit that leaner to win it. I took Manhattan as a 14 last year, I have to take them as a 12 this year!

Continued coverage of this bracket can be found here at this very blog. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


The Leviathon Hits Stores!
SportsWeekly just released it's fantasy baseball "bible" yesterday complete with LABR results as well as John Hunt's projections and prices for the upcoming season. When I first started playing fantasy baseball as a wee lad some 9 or so years ago, I truly considered this my bible for the draft. I knew the magazines were hokey and came out far too early to contain any real valuable information, so I relied on Mr. Hunt. The first year I went at it alone, that is to say I did not consult my father on each pick, my trusty bible lead to a 5th round pick of Mike Macfarlane in a 10 team AL Only. I drew a few chuckles and largest eye roll my father has ever executed. He wasn't mad, hell, it helped him. Later, I justified the pick by pointing out his 20 home runs at catcher just a year ago. I got 14 home runs and just 92 games worth ol' Mac that year. I still haven't lived that pick down.

I have since grown up in terms of my fantasy publications used to come up with my strategies, but I still buy the Leviathon, if for no other reason than tradition. It can be quite entertaining, too. Take for example the following tidbits found in pullout:

- Edwin Jackson, the 20-year old phenom vying for Los Angeles' 5th spot, is apparently the 22nd best pitcher in the National League. Ahead of such non-rookies currently battling for their rotation spot as:

Andy Pettitte
Carl Pavano
Kip Wells
Greg Maddux
Ben Sheets
Russ Ortiz
Wade Miller
Brad Penny


And the list goes on. This is indefensible. There is no way you can justify encouraging people to pay $16 for a rookie guy that doesn't even have a spot completely nailed down as of yet. And not only am I supposed to shell out $16 bucks, but $16 bucks that could've been spent on Maddux, Miller or Sheets? Please!!

- Jackson is then listed in the sleeper section, along with Morgan Ensberg.

I don't know about you, but I don't pay $16 for my sleepers or $23 as in Ensberg's case. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Hunt, but this is painfully inconsistent stuff here.

- Carl Crawford is apparently good 11 HRs this season.

After topping out at 7 in 2002 in Durham and hitting just 7 more in his 214 major league games, Crawford is apparently due for some inexplicable power surge.

-Fingers Carlos Beltran in his piece on overrated players and then posts him 2nd among AL hitters.

Which is it?! If he's not better than A.Rod and Guerrero, why isn't he below both of them on the projection list?! It just doesn't make sense.

So those are just a couple. I'm really not out to fry the guy, in fact I recommend buying a copy if for no other reason than to know what your opponents have read and may actually be heavily relying on. It's just that overall, there seems to be little consistency and little more than throws at the dart board when it comes to making these projections.


March is in ful effect!