Lots and Lots and Lots of Games: Conference Quarterfinals Day One
Ahh! The laughing! It's burned into my head! Will it ever stop! Digger you are the bane of my existence!Today and tomorrow are two of the more underrated days of the year in sports. Consider it a warmup for next week in terms of excitement, quality basketball and, most importantly, pirating illegal broadcasts of basketball on your computer and pushing thin excuses upon your boss to get out of working. There simply must be a study on the amount of national productivity lost on the first two days of the NCAA Tournament. I will not sleep until one is conducted.
Anyway, with the major conferences doing their quadruple-headers today and tomorrow and with a crowded Bubble and whole buttload of parity in college hoops this year, the basketball over the next two days should be both frantic, overwhelming and, of course, awesome. Here are some quick, mostly analysis-free looks at the quarterfinals today and what to watch for.
This is, in my opinion, the best ticket in college basketball not involving the NCAA Tournament. The top eight teams in America's best conference are all in action today in the Staples Center, with each game containing a team on the Bubble in varying degrees. When the Pac-10 was on TV on the East Coast, which generally coincided around most lunar eclipses, it was must-see TV, no matter who the hell was playing. That's how good the league was. If you are an NBA scout you can basically do an entire seasons worth of work in one day for a couple hundred bucks. That's a bargain even Donald Sterling couldn't pass up. Here are the future pros in action today at Staples:
Brook Lopez, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Davon Jefferson, Chase Budinger, Ryan Anderson, James Harden, Jordan Hill, Bryce Taylor, DeVon Hardin, Robin Lopez, Jeff Pendergraph, Kyle Weaver.
And those are just the guys that are basically sure things.
Fun Things To Watch For Because Fun is Fun: Jack Nicholson has been showing up at UCLA games this year so look out for the Bruins new fan. Well, he might be a Bruins' fan or his publicist might just tell him the colorful jerseys are those of the Lakers and he's too far off the deep end to realize what the hell is going on.
These games are on FSN, which actually provides a pretty solid broadcast, even though us on the East Coast probably have to do unspeakable things to watch it. Marques Johnson is a Pac-10 broadcaster and does a very good job, even if the legend from South LA is obviously not used to talking about basketball in wholesome, white person-friendly terms. You can audibly here him holding back some kind of awesome, indecipherable explanation when OJ Mayo embarrasses someone. It's kinda annoying, the guy knows so much about basketball and he has to pander to some corny old alumni. Just once I wish he could get let it all hang out, but then I suppose there is the danger of this (about 1:50 mark and then again 3:00):
For College Students, A Drinking Game For Each Contest:
USC-Arizona State: Drink every time you realize how awesome it is that's its the middle of a Thursday and you are drinking and watching basketball./bitter
California-UCLA: Drink every time Ryan Anderson or Kevin Love are praised for footwork, shooting stroke, passing, boxing out or heart. CBS Sportsline columnist Mike Freeman should not play this game.
Oregon-Washington State: Drink every time a Duck physically leaps over a Cougar or and you wonder how in the hell Oregon is still losing to Washington State.
Arizona-Stanford: Drink every time a Lopez twin talks shit to Jerryd Bayless but has absolutely nothing to say to Jordan Hill.
Big EastUsually the best ticket in college hoops, but still second only to the Pac-10 this year. Gets added points for being at Madison Square Garden, which is the best place to watch basketball in the country, as long as it's not the Knicks. The only quarterfinal that can boast seven nearly surefire NCAA Tournament teams (especially with West Virginia taking it to Connecticut as I write this). If this were the bottom half of an entire NCAA regional, I don't think anyone could complain. Even better than watching these games is attending them as this weekend turns the MSG area into an alcohol-induced warzone. Every bar around the arena is staved off by a certain fanbase and any intermingling results only in death. At least five percent of the paid attendance will be kicked out of the arena by the time the session is over.
Fun Things To Watch For Because Fun is Fun: The promo song for the Big East this year, and basically every year, is some completely retarded attempt at appealing to the "street-tough, New York hip-hop" persona. It is perpetrated by some white ESPN suit (likely this man) and is supposed to make you feel like the Big East is still some kind of tough league. Yes, because there is nothing that makes me think of hip-hop more than nine-dollar beers, school bands and Jamie Smalligan.
Speaking of Smalligan and the Mountaineers, the real question about their performance in this tournament is not whether it will get them into the NCAAs, but will it get them into Scores?
For College Students, A Drinking Game For Each Contest:
Villanova-Georgetown: Game already over, I think your livers could use a midday break anyway.
West Virginia-Connecticut: The game is almost over, so drink every time a Mountaineer completes a successful post-game handshake with a Huskie without getting poked in the eye.
Pittsburgh-Louisville: Drink every time the announcers mention a Pittsburgh player is from NYC or how well Jamie Dixon recruits there. Take a shot if Carl Krauser is mentioned and another one if his current whereabouts are known.
Marquette-Notre Dame: Drink every time Luke Harangody is called "Gody" and you refrain from smashing the TV with a sledgehammer. At that point, you've earned it.
Wildcard drinking procedure: Drink every time Digger Phelps and Bobby Knight go into that insufferable schtick where they resemble Grumpy Old Men in their comedic value, contemporary relevancy and general vitality. Drink every time one of them looks as though he soiled himself. Drink every time assumption is proved true. Call ambulance.