Sunday, February 26, 2006



Okay, so, I've been informed that it's been quite awhile since I decided to post anything. The reasons for that are two-fold:

1. I go to college and I would prefer my GPA not look like Pedro Martinez's ERA, circa 1999.
2. I'm really, REALLY lazy.

That said, let us all be quiet, whilst we listen to some new power rankings, replete with each team's odds of winning the whole shebangbang (please also note that the odds aren't directly proportional to the ranking, because I'm damn sneaky):

PS: This week's rankings will only be ten teams, as these are the only ten that I think have a shot to win it all.

1. Duke
--Here's the thing that I discounted with them: They've taken each team's best shot every single night out, because they are head and shoulders above the rest of their conference. The only other team you can say that about is Gonzaga, but the teams in their conference generally suck and they're like light-years ahead of the rest, save St. Mary's. Duke can beat anyone because J.J. Redick has morphed into the alpha-dog of college basketball. His mere presence on the court makes all of his teammates worlds better, as evidenced by Shelden Williams, a good but not great player, looking like the Second Coming, and Greg Paulus, an average point guard at best, looking like he actually belongs on the floor.

Odds of Coach K. raising the hardware and thus extending a new deal with AmEx: 6 to 1

2. UConn
--I'm sorry, Jim Calhoun. I didn't mean to make it sound like I was super dissing your team. Obviously, they're pretty freaking good, as evidenced by their second-half dismantling of Villanova, another likely number 1 seed. Your team has the size, strength, talent, and leadership to win it all. It also doesn't hurt that you have the collegiate version of Jason Kidd running your team, even if he shoots even worse than JKidd ever did. You guys deserve a number 1, and you're going to get it. Ladies and gentlemen, your odds on favorite to win it all this year: The UConn Huskies.

Odds of Jim Calhoun telling everyone how great his team is and therefore pissing off everyone around him, while he dances with the trophy: 3 to 1

3. Villanova
--With apologies to John Calipari, I'm not dropping Villanova any further. If Allan Ray is hurt, then we've got a different story, but I'll maintain they might have won earlier today had Ray not gotten his fourth foul. They haven't truly had a shooting night where it all comes together, and if they get one at the right time, and against the right team, they're going to win it all. And remember folks, in the NCAA tourney, great guard play wins. Don't forget that. Please.

Odds of Jay Wright wearing a $10,000 suit while he has a net around his neck: 4 to 1

4. Memphis
--Maybe the most quietly dangerous team in the country. I really like Memphis when they're keeping teams honest with their outside shooting, because they've got the athletes to run anyone this side of UConn out of the gym. Rodney Carney is really, really good, and when Darius Washington Jr. is playing well they're very nearly unbeatable. My only gripe is that they've been ho-humming it through their schedule, which has been fairly weak. Still, they're lethal as a no. 2 or a no. 1.

Odds of Darius Wash. Jr. draining two free throws to win the whole f'ing show: 7 to 1

5. Texas
--Well, they beat Kansas. By a great many points. However, I'm still a bit worried about their little ball of doo-doo that they dropped on center court against the Okie State Alcoholics. The right parts are in place, but I sense something mildly amiss. Obviously, it's not that amiss, or they wouldn't be fifth, but I dunno if we're gonna see what we need to see from this team when they get into a close game. This is an open book, to be sure.

Odds of Vince Young suiting up and running the picket fence for the winner at the horn: 8 to 1

6. Gonzaga
--As noted before, they still play worse defense than most grade school teams, and as noted before, they haven't necessarily found an option behind the flying moustache, so I'm still not sold on these guys. However, His Filthiness did only have 11 points against Saint Diego, and they still won by 16, so maybe I'm just being unnecessarily skeptical right now. Still...make Raivio shoot, get Battista in foul trouble, and all of the sudden, poof, you've got a very, very beatable team, especially outside the Kennel.

Odds that Adam Morrison shaves his moustache on TV after winning it all: 11 to 1

7. George Washington
--They're only up here because of their record, to be fair. Pops is out for the forseeable future, and that makes them very beatable. However, they do have all the athletes, and they have the talent to make a deep run. I don't know if they can win it, but provided Pops is back and healthy in time, they certainly have the better tools than St. Joe's to do it. One thing that scares me is that they still can't shoot, so they'll have to out-athletic teams to win...which hasn't been a problem for them the previous 2 dozen or so times earlier this year.

Odds that Pops will hold the trophy and then give it GrandPops, aka Karl Hobbs: 16 to 1

8. Pittsburgh
--You can call me a homer, I don't really care. They're one of the 8 best teams in the country, and probably more like one of the six best. There isn't a deeper elite team in the country, and they're definitely in an elite class with UConn, Nova, and Duke when Aaron Gray stays out of foul trouble. The shooting is there more than in the past, the toughness never left, and the intangibles are everywhere. This could be the year they make a magic little run to a place called The Final Four.

Odds that Carl Krauser announces he just got granted 2 more years of eligibility while holding the trophy: 9 to 1

9. Ohio State
--The fighting Thad Matta's have emerged from the boiling cauldron of uncertainty that is the Big Ten and have seized control of the proceedings. They're a much better team than the conference's number 2 squad, Illinois, and they possess that magic ingredient, great guard play, that could vault them to the top of the heap. But as I've said before, the best is yet to come with these guys. Greg Oden arrives next year, and they could very well win it all.

Odds that Thad Matta announces he's taking over at Indiana after the season: 15 to 1

10. West Virginia
--If they shoot, they win. If they shoot, they win. If they shoot, they WILL win. Still my darkhorse pick to win it all, and still the most dangerous team in the country when they're making threes. Can lose to anyone and beat anyone on any night, and that, friends, is refreshing. Mike Gansey could end up playing his way near the lottery in the tourney.

Odds Kevin Pittsnogle holds up the trophy then pawns it for improvements to the trailer: 7 to 1

ON THE CUSP: Marquette...Dominic James is filthy good, Steve Novak is too. 20 to 1
Georgetown: Roy Hibbert...well, as they say, you can't teach height. 25 to 1
Tennessee: Bruce Pearl could well sweat them right into the Elite 8 or beyond. 22 to 1
Florida: Only because I like it when they play as a team. 30 to 1

Big Darkhorse: LSU...all the talent is there...can they put it all together? 25 to 1

Even Bigger Darkhorse: Arkansas...just because. 35 to 1

There you have it. I am The Mauler, these are my rankings.

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