The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness 2019

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Folks,,, it’s March Madness time. Crazy how it happens around the same time every year. The first weekend is my favorite four day stretch of the year, it’s your favorite four days of the year, it’s everyone’s favorite four days of the year. It’s a time to eat infinite amounts of pizza, wings, and snacks, drink as much beer as you want, and let your brain and body turn to mush as you watch a million consecutive hours of college basketball. The comedown from this high is something I imagine heroin users deal with when trying to get clean. Maybe not that bad, but still.

I’ve made it a tradition over the last couple years to give one-sentence primers for every team in the field to help with your brackets. I’ll do the same here, obviously, but there’s one problem: I’m so out of the loop with college basketball this year. I’ve hardly watched any. I’m busy most nights and then the NBA is more interesting and UConn is the worst team in D1 and there are a million other factors, but I’m the guy that’s tuning in for his first extended run of college b-ball watching this weekend. Only difference between me and the other casual Johnny-Come-Latelys is that my brain is big enough to put together a perfect preview without the full knowledge. I can always see the full board, and I know these teams better than they know themselves even though I don’t know them at all. Just think about how impressive that is. So don’t worry. You’re still in good hands. Yearly reminder that if you’re making earnest “Where’s TruTV?” jokes or legitimately can’t find a television channel in the year of our Lord 2019, you don’t deserve to live anymore.

East Region

  1. Duke– Zion Williamson, am I right?
  2. Michigan State– Every single player on their team is hurt so don’t expect much.
  3. LSU– Their coach is being investigated by the FBI and is suspended, so things are going great.
  4. Virginia Tech– Buzz Williams coached Jimmy Butler, people forget that.
  5. Mississippi State– Alright, like, come on, Mississippi State is the worst 5 seed in history.
  6. Maryland– One of the youngest teams in the field so they’ll make you feel really good about your life.
  7. Louisville– Feel like they’re due for a run (#analysis).
  8. VCU– VCU will always be somewhere between an 8-10 seed and always run the same full-court press regardless of roster or coach.
  9. UCF– Tacko Fall is 7’6″, which my sources are confirming is quite tall.
  10. Minnesota– No word on if Richard Pitino reaches climax as quickly as his father.
  11. Belmont– Belmont should have been in the regular field without dealing with play-in game antics.
  12. Liberty– People forget Seth Curry went to Liberty his freshman year and averaged 20 a game.
  13. Saint Louis– Remember a few years ago when Saint Louis was randomly good for a few seasons? What was up with that?
  14. Yale– I will die fighting against people who frame Ivy League teams as plucky underdogs.
  15. Bradley– I respect the delusion it takes to strip a reporter of his press pass for not advancing the Bradley brand enough.
  16. N.C. Central/North Dakota State– Why are there two play-in games in the same bracket and why is there a Midwest region instead of a North region and why does no one but me care?

Midwest Region

  1. North Carolina– I know they’ve got a few NBA guys on the team, but when did UNC lose all its star power? They haven’t had any must-watch guys in years.
  2. Kentucky– Please let Tyler Herro hit a game-winning shot so we can have a pun-pocalypse.
  3. Houston– I know they’re a fellow AAC team but if you actually believe they can do anything in the tournament I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.
  4. Kansas– Kansas STINKS this year but they’re still somehow the last team I’d want to play.
  5. Auburn– Their strategy is “shoot a billion 3s,” which I respect on a deep level.
  6. Iowa State– Somehow three guys from this team will be in the NBA in four years.
  7. Wofford– They’ll be the trendy upset pick because people like college teams with a bunch of white guys who can shoot.
  8. Utah State– I’m kind of feeling them this year even though I don’t love their draw.
  9. Washington– I assume they’re still handsomely paying elite athletes under-the-table (or over-the-table, I don’t think they really care) to put on the purple and gold.
  10. Seton Hall– Seton Hall sounds like an English soccer stadium name.
  11. Ohio State– It’s always kind of stupid when teams like Ohio State get seeded so low because, like, they’ve gotta have better players than Utah State.
  12. New Mexico State– Pascal Siakam went to New Mexico State, bet not many people knew that.
  13. Northeastern– I took a tour of Northeastern when either my sister or I was touring colleges so there’s that.
  14. Georgia State– Still got R.J. Hunter, right?
  15. Abilene Christian– Abilene Christian always pops up every few years and does absolutely nothing in the tournament.
  16. Iona– They’re my local team, now.

South Region

  1. Virginia– Can’t really get worse, can it?
  2. Tennessee– Grant Williams is giving me major “Derrick Williams in 2011” vibes (that’s a good thing).
  3. Purdue– First Man came out just before the season, which should propel Purdue to their typical second-round exit.
  4. Kansas State– Super boring. That’s really all you need to know.
  5. Wisconsin– The year is 2187, and Wisconsin basketball is led by two white guys with buzzcuts who like to take charges.
  6. Villanova– Spent long stretches of the season being absolutely awful but count them out at your own risk.
  7. Cincinnati– If it wasn’t reckless libel, I would probably imply that Mick Cronin’s absurd outbursts of anger and violence on the sidelines likely follow him home.
  8. Ole Miss– If you told me Ole Miss didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  9. Oklahoma– If you told me Oklahoma didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  10. Iowa– What’s the post-WWII record for most white guys in one region?
  11. St. Mary’s– St. Mary’s has never been anything other than an 11 seed.
  12. Oregon– Bol Bol won’t be playing, so the one guy you might have known is out the window.
  13. UC Irvine– Doc Rivers and Caron Butler both have kids on this team, how about that?
  14. Old Dominion– Love coach Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Haha, no, we have fun here.
  15. Colgate– You have my permission to slap anyone who makes toothpaste jokes.
  16. Garnder-Webb– I don’t know, man. They’re gonna lose, who cares?

West Region

  1. Gonzaga– They have the most high-level players in the country, so expect them to lose before the Elite Eight because that’s how the Tournament works.
  2. Michigan– I’m pretty sure I’d be like, the third best scorer on this Michigan team.
  3. Texas Tech– Veteran team with at least one NBA guy= Elite Eight.
  4. Florida State– No idea how Florida State always has ten 7’2″ guys but they do.
  5. Marquette– Markus Howard is going to be your new favorite player (assuming he gets hot and they win).
  6. Buffalo– How do you convince a bunch of good basketball players to go to school in Buffalo? Just money?
  7. Nevada– Nevada was supposed to be super nasty this year. They weren’t.
  8. Syracuse– Sources have yet to confirm if Tony Stewart will be behind the Orange bench.
  9. Baylor– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  10. Florida– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  11. Arizona State/St. John’s– Does Arizona State just have a permanent spot in the First Four?
  12. Murray State– Ja Morant is good.
  13. Vermont– Committee screwed my Cats with this matchup. Trying to keep the Blue Bloods down smh.
  14. Northern Kentucky– Northern Kentucky is nicknamed the Norse after the famed Norse from Northern Kentucky.
  15. Montana– I bet Montana is a nice place to live.
  16. Fairleigh Dickinson– Really dislike the way Fairleigh is spelled.
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Whose Medical Condition is (Allegedly) Faker: Urban Meyer’s or Markelle Fultz’s?

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Two of the biggest stories in the sports world right now revolve around the mysterious ailments afflicting Urban Meyer and Markelle Fultz. Now, anyone with a brain can figure out both of them are (allegedly) fake. The real question is which one is (allegedly) more fake? The headaches or the shoulder? The answer may shock you.

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The Urban Meyer illness, also known as Coachkitis, is obviously (allegedly) fake. It’s happened before! When the going gets tough, Urban gets fakin’. When he was at Florida, the second they lost an undefeated season he had “heart problems” and “wanted to spend more time with his family” so he took a leave of absence that was just an excuse to skip the build up for the bowl game and the next season (allegedly). The next year they went 7-5 and he retired. Because of health and nothing else.

Literally one year later he took the Ohio State job and was magically cured. Until this year, when his team got smacked by Purdue and spent a month and a half looking like shit. All of a sudden he’s got crazy headaches and can barely stand. Miss the playoff for the third year in a row? Have a terrible domestic violence case hanging over the program’s head? Ow, my head (allegedly)! Doesn’t help that his wife is selling him out, saying “winning cures a lot.” Gee, ya think? I wonder if there’s some NCAA sanctions coming Ohio State’s way, too. That might make the ol’ noggin ache a little harder. It’s obvious what’s going to happen: Ohio State is either going to get hit by the NCAA or just start to decline, Urban takes a year off, Brian Kelly gets fired at Notre Dame. Hmm, if only there was a coaching legend who we could hire without needing to pay a huge buyout clause. What’s that? Urban Meyer is healthy again and not doing anything? Wow, what luck! Then in 2023 his back will flare up when they go 8-4 (allegedly).

Verdict: FAKE (allegedly)

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But what about Markelle Fultz? I think I can drop the (allegedly) here, because this is just a made up condition. Thoracic outlet syndrome? That’s not a real thing. I refuse to even entertain the thought that thoracic outlet syndrome is a legitimate medical condition. Like, I’m sorry that Jimmy Butler is bullying you, bro, but you might just suck. He’s completely forgotten how to play basketball. Everything that made him good at every level before the NBA is gone. He’s a total zero on the court. Does nothing well. Maybe it’s just a mental thing? Maybe you weren’t ready to be the number one pick? Maybe you don’t like the pressure of being on a winning team? Maybe you don’t want everyone to look at you all the time even if you’re seemingly intentionally making yourself more of a sideshow than was ever necessary? Do you even want to play basketball anymore? I mean hell, I’ll go out there for ten minutes and hit zero shots. Can’t be that hard. I just can’t wrap my mind around this whole situation. He’s still so talented and could turn it all around. But he’s doing himself no favors by being the most mentally weak person in human history and letting his agent run around telling everyone he’s (allegedly) injured with the well known and definitely not fabricated thoracic outlet syndrome. It’s time to grow up, dude. Just request a trade to Orlando or something, already.

It takes a lot to unseat Urban Meyer when it comes to fake injuries. Up to this point, only Coach K had ever (allegedly) been above him. But there’s a new crown prince of fake injuries, and his name is Markelle Fultz.

Verdict: Very, very, very, not even allegedly Fake

Welcome to the Brian’s Den Newsroom

Introducing a new feature here at https://www.briansden69.com, the Newsroom. Since there’s going to (hopefully) be a lot going on in my life soon, I think this is a good way to kind of cover a lot of the stories I may not get the chance to talk about, particularly in the sports world. I’m thinking about doing these a few times a week. Let me know your thoughts- good, bad, never do it again? Either way, there’s some good stuff coming up in the near future.

I’d Rather Miss the Tournament than Lose like Cincinnati

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Listen, I know I’m a few days late on this take. So sue me. I’m planning a pretty big move, if you hadn’t heard. but just because I’m tight on time at the moment doesn’t mean I can’t generate scalding takes, and I can’t just sit on this one even if everyone’s already forgotten this game happened: I’d rather miss the NCAA Tournament/playoffs than lose the way Cincinnati just did.

Before everyone gets up in arms, Sports Take Law requires me to establish my own rooting interests: people forget I went to UConn. We did, in fact, miss the tournament. We were the worst team in D-1. Worst offense of all time. Somehow played uglier games than Virginia and Syracuse, who’s entire gameplan is to make games ugly. They were so bad they got a guy who played at UConn and won a title four years ago run out of town (yes, he was very bad and I wanted him gone, but the fact remains). We stink at basketball. You know what we didn’t do, though? Blow a 22-point second half lead in like 30 seconds.

I should also probably state that I hate Cincinnati. They’re UConn’s “rival” in the fact that they’re in the same conference and were both in the old Big East, but they’ve kicked our ass for years, now. I hate that little gremlin Mick Cronin. Guy’s got the worst roid rage of all time despite being like 5’6″ 150 lbs. I have no idea how he gets anyone to play for him. So seeing them totally collapse against Nevada was quite satisfying. One of the worst losses of all time. Cincinnati might as well have been up 50 with five minutes left. They were completely dominating. Nevada had nothing going whatsoever. No game has ever been such a sure thing. But then they just…lost. I’ve never seen a collapse like that. Not the Lakers in the 08 Finals, not the Falcons, not even Virginia. Sure, Virginia panicked after going down 2-0 against a 16 seed, but they just got their butts whupped. Cincinnati had such a stranglehold on the game the announcers had started digging into the garbage time stories with 10 minutes left. It was over. But they lost. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to know you’re going to win but then just stop playing. Talk about embarrassing! Those Cincinnati players must feel absolutely terrible about themselves. Probably going to stick with them until they die. You hate to see it.

But, yeah, I’d much rather just stink than have these losses. These games scar you. I’ve never gotten over Super Bowl 42. I’m willing to bet that one game is the reason I’m such a miserable piece of shit. Then there was Super Bowl 46. And the 2003 ALCS. And the 2010 NBA Finals. And Super Bowl 52. If I was given the option of making it to the big game and losing or missing the playoffs I’d take missing the playoffs 1000000000% of the time. I don’t need that stress in my life. I don’t need one of my teams going down in infamy because they blew it so bad. I mean, one of Cincinnati’s best players fouled out with five minutes left because he was being an idiot. Completely let his teammates and everyone who believed in him down. He’ll never get over it. I’d say it was the worst moment of his life, but after a loss like that, I won’t sit here and say he won’t go into a downward spiral. Anyway, I wouldn’t want any of my guys to have to deal with that. Sure, you have to make a few playoff runs to keep everyone off your back, but no one remembers that the Nuggets missed the playoffs in 2016, only that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead. It’s all about subverting your own expectations and keeping the pressure off, not trying to be a hero only to get dragged back to Earth in the worst way possible. Aim for mediocre, not heartbreak. Unless you can actually win, then do that.

Cincinnati’s loss was so bad no one even noticed Xavier collapsed just as bad. Rough week for Sam Wyche.

The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness 2018

773b17629f714a1b80f19b999bd9faa4-220px-2018_ncaa_mens_final_four_logoHere we are at the end of another college basketball season. Or the start, depending on your level of commitment. I won’t judge. Not too hard, at least. Either way, the NCAA Tournament is starting tonight. Yes, the play-in games count. What better way to warm up? Diving in to the deep end of basketball heaven on Thursday without whetting your appetite first is dangerous to your health. Without prior exposure, getting hit with the same four commercials all day can bury you. You can get used to tuning in to TruTV, even though Tournament games have been on TruTV for at least six years now, so you’re really a giant idiot if you have to ask what TruTV is in 2018 (instances like this make me wonder if I’m the weirdo for retaining information and knowing every channel I’ve ever tuned into). You can slowly expose your body to the terrible food and drinks you’ll endlessly consume over the long weekend. The First Four are a necessary step in the March Madness process, regardless of how bad the games wind up being.

Last year, I gave you a rundown of all 68 teams in the field. Everything you needed to know in one sentence. Why change anything now? Unlike the selection show executives, I see no point in messing with a winning formula. I’m here to guide you in your bracket creation. Need a refresher on who’s in the field? Forget who’s good? Stuck on a pick and need some inspiration? Look no further. With UConn sitting at home for a second straight year, my thoughts on this year’s field are unclouded by bias. It’s time to attack the bracket with a zeal unknown to mankind in pursuit of perfection. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

East Region

  1. Villanova– If Big East games weren’t stuck on FS1 I bet more people would respect Nova.
  2. Purdue– Imagine thinking Purdue was going to do anything in the tournament?
  3. Texas Tech– They’re my annual “All-In on a random team” team, which means they’re out in the first round.
  4. Wichita State– In 2018 PC culture, the fact that Wichita State is able to remain the Shockers is absolutely astounding.
  5. West Virginia– Huggins is making the Final Four this year, I can feel it in my bones.
  6. Florida– Honestly don’t think I watched one second of Florida hoops this season.
  7. Arkansas– Honestly don’t think I watched one second of Arkansas hoops this season.
  8. Virginia Tech– It’s divine March Madness law that Virginia Tech play in the 8-9 game every year.
  9. Alabama– This bracket is a little too SEC heavy for my taste.
  10. Butler– People forget Gordon Hayward almost hit that half-court shot that one time.
  11. St. Bonaventure/UCLA– Not enough colleges have brown jerseys.
  12. Murray State– I still remember being in a random Applebee’s in New York City that time they won on a buzzer beater in the first round.
  13. Marshall– If McConaughey’s there, look out.
  14. Stephen F. Austin– Hey, kind of like Stone Cold Steve Austin, right? Get it?
  15. Cal State Fullerton– How many state universities does California have, 10,000?
  16. LIU Brooklyn/Radford– There are four play-in games. Two of them are in this bracket. This annoys me.

Midwest Bracket (I don’t care if you have it in the same podunk midwest arena, for the love of God call it the North region)

  1. Kansas– Think I could suit up for Kansas and they’d still win the Big 12.
  2. Duke– *sigh* Duke’s probably winning the title this year.
  3. Michigan State– Might have two future NBA All Stars and might lose first round.
  4. Auburn– Auburn stiiiiiiiinks.
  5. Clemson– Trying to figure out the reasoning behind Clemson and Kentucky being the same seed.
  6. TCU– Such a nondescript team.
  7. Rhode Island– Everyone saying Dan Hurley is the next UConn head coach so I’m rooting for whatever result will prevent that from happening.
  8. Seton Hall– Love me some pirate mascots and also Sam Dalembert.
  9. N.C. State– They won the title in ’83, so you know they’ve got the mental makeup to go deep.
  10. Oklahoma– Quite possibly the most fixed selection of all time.
  11. Arizona State/Syracuse– I already know Syracuse will somehow win a couple games purely because they have absolutely no business being in the field whatsoever.
  12. New Mexico State– A popular upset pick, which means they’ll lose by 25.
  13. Charleston– I’m just gonna come out and say it- there’s too much maroon in the bottom of this bracket.
  14. Bucknell– Bison are one of the great American animals, they need more mascot representation.
  15. Iona– I don’t know why, but I always picture Iona’s campus as a big cathedral but they worship Satan instead of God.
  16. Penn– I’m just glad Harvard didn’t make it.

South Region

  1. Virginia– So, so, so boring, but also good.
  2. Cincinnati– If you win the American Conference tournament but no one watches, did it really happen?
  3. Tennessee– I can’t be the only one surprised that they were randomly good this year.
  4. Arizona– Haven’t seen anything this under-seeded since the first time I tried playing Farming Simulator. Bada-bing!
  5. Kentucky– “I know I only recruit highly touted one-and-done guys so we’re young by design, but you can’t blame me, we’re a young team!”- John Calipari after they lose.
  6. Miami– If The Rock has eligibility left, they might make a run.
  7. Nevada– As Greg Gumbel would say, you gotta watch out for all the Wolfpacks out there.
  8. Creighton– Just assume they have a white senior with 2,000 career points.
  9. Kansas State– Starting to feel like I didn’t watch enough college basketball this year because I have literally no opinion on so many teams.
  10. Texas– If they make a run, is Texas Officially Back?
  11. Loyola-Chicago– My sources tell me they play stifling D, which is the first step towards a Cinderella run.
  12. Davidson– Wish college Steph was still around.
  13. Buffalo– Western New York needs something good to happen, just once.
  14. Wright State– Hey, uhh, more like Wrong State, amirite?
  15. Georgia State– Ludacris went to Georgia State.
  16. UMBC– I’m salty they beat UVM, but they also have a fellow Curran on the roster, so I think I’m on-board.

West Region

  1. Xavier– The least-confident one seed in recent memory, which means they’ll win the title.
  2. North Carolina– Kind of forgot they won last year.
  3. Michigan– B1G playing in NYC a week early is the worst thing to ever happen to college basketball.
  4. Gonzaga– The Official Brian’s Den 2018 Champion Pick.
  5. Ohio State– It’d be funny if they played Michigan in the Elite 8. Because they’re rivals, you see.
  6. Houston– Is Houston Street (the New York street, not the closer) being pronounced differently than the city of Houston the most needlessly New York thing of all time?
  7. Texas A&M– Ampersands need to make a comeback.
  8. Missouri– If Mike Porter, Jr. is really all that, Xavier’s getting screwed 2nd round.
  9. Florida State– Always underwhelming in the tournament.
  10. Providence– SMH, the FBI’s investigating the NCAA and aren’t indicting the headquarters of the- BRIAN’S LAWYER HAS ADVISED HIS CLIENT TO REFRAIN FROM MAKING ANY INFLAMMATORY REMARKS FOR HIS OWN SAFETY.
  11. San Diego State– Is San Diego State guilty of appropriating Aztec culture?
  12. South Dakota State– I, for one, am tired of the stranglehold the Dakotas have over American athletics.
  13. UNC-Greensboro– They’ve got a pretty cool logo.
  14. Montana– Have to imagine Montana is a fertile basketball recruiting ground.
  15. Lipscomb– Apparently Lipscomb is in Nashville? Who knew?
  16. NC Central/Texas Southern– Calling it right now- Texas Southern’s making the Final Four.

UConn Men’s Basketball Being Investigated for Potential Recruiting Violations

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ESPN– The University of Connecticut is the target of an NCAA investigation into its men’s basketball program.

University President Susan Herbst said in a statement Friday that the school will cooperate in a “thorough and transparent manner reflective of the model athletic and academic institution we continually strive to be.”

The university didn’t specify the allegations and said it would have no further comment, but would “address and respond appropriately as the inquiry moves forward.”

Hearst Connecticut Media, which first reported the investigation, cited unidentified sources saying the inquiry was related to recruiting.

Letttt’sssssssssssss goooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!! I know I should react differently to my alma mater getting dragged into a potentially serious recruiting scandal, but I can’t help it. I guarantee this is just another case of a player taking a bunch of money. Oh no, not that! How can I possibly live with the moral implications of supporting a team that pays the players that produce millions of dollars of revenue for the school? I’d never recover.

Listen, theoretically, cheating is bad. I don’t really care, personally, and literally every single college basketball and football team that’s worth anything gives the top level recruits bags of unmarked bills, but hey, if you want to feel good about yourself you can say cheating is bad. You know what’s definitely bad? Being barely over .500 in the American Conference and, barring some miracle, missing the NCAA Tournament two out of the last three years. Kevin Ollie SUCKS. His “offense” is grade-school level at best. No UConn player has actually gotten better in their time in Storrs since Shabazz Napier, who, you know, wasn’t coached by Ollie until his senior season. His excuse for every loss is that the team isn’t “tough enough.” He never takes responsibility for his terrible game-planning and in-game “strategy,” despite the fact that he’s the coach and it’s his job to put the team in position to win, thus making virtually every loss his fault. And while I understand how many injuries there have been this season and the limitations being stuck in the AAC puts on the recruiting pool, but it’s also his fault the roster is trash. It’s literally 100% his fault UConn basketball sucks, which it never should. Which is why this potential scandal pumps me up. I’ve seen that the state of Connecticut doesn’t really want to pay his buyout and another coach at the same time. Well, virtually every big time university puts in some kind of “rules violation clause” that allows them to dump a coach caught up in something like this, so we just have to keep our fingers crossed that whatever happened happened under his watch. I don’t even care who the replacement coach is, because any organism capable of independent thought would be an upgrade. A scandal like this also gets UConn’s name back out there. The R.J. Barretts and Zion Williamsons of the world aren’t thinking about a mediocre team in a mediocre conference with a mediocre roster with a less than mediocre coach. But when it’s confirmed that you get paid to play there? Now we’re talking. Now there’s some intrigue. Now they’re thinking, “well, I used to question why I would spend my one year in college on a remote campus in the middle of Connecticut that’s surrounded by farmland and becomes a giant wind tunnel in the winter, but now that they’ve given me $100,000 and a new car, I’m sold!” One and done guys don’t care about getting caught, and nor should they. Once the penalties have run their course, this little scandal can only help UConn return to relevancy. So please, NCAA, do your worst.