The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness

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I feel like I may have said this a couple times before, but this really is my favorite time of the year. The four day stretch from Thursday at 12:15 pm to Sunday at like midnight has to be the primary reason why this planet was created. To become one with the couch, to lose track of where you end and the pizza begins, to watch so much basketball it actually deep-fries your brain (Quick Optimum update: I still don’t have CBS. And people wonder why the Knicks fail). It’s what humans were put on Earth to do, and it’s my natural element. I thrive on March Madness. I’m energized by it. The endless loop of the same five commercials becomes my lifeblood. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I’m my true self during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Now, March Madness presents a number of new social obligations, as well. Regardless if you’re at school, in the office, or just with your family, it’s required that you discuss the tournament ad nauseam. Mostly, that means listening to everyone you know’s bracket picks. Hey, did you know a 12 seed always beats a 5 seed? No, Scott from Accounts Payable, I didn’t. Thanks for enlightening me! An important part of these discussions is establishing dominance. That can happen one of two ways. The first is by spewing out as many tired facts and arguments (how many brackets are you allowed to have? etc.) as possible and wearing down the casual fans around you. The second is by spitting out cold, hard facts that silence the poseurs and show the world who the real expert is. Any reader of mine surely fits in to the second category, but perhaps you need a little help getting to true savant status. You can go anywhere and find all the numbers and in-depth analysis you want, but I’m going to save you a little time. Here’s every single tournament team in one sentence. You can thank me after you win your bracket pool. I only ask for 10% of the winnings (Venom me @Brian-Curran-4)

East Region

  1. Villanova– Quietest defending champ in a long time, but I’m done picking against them.
  2. Duke– Don’t worry, they’ll lose second or third round.
  3. Baylor– This team sucks and it makes me mad they were so highly ranked all year.
  4. Florida– If Lee Humphrey finds a way to suit up, they’ll go all the way.
  5. Virginia– Most unwatchable team in America.
  6. SMU– They pretty much have five of the exact same guy on the court at all times.
  7. South Carolina– Sindarius Thornwell is the most over-the-top fancy name ever.
  8. Wisconsin– They’re seeded too low, but that’s because they aren’t that good.
  9. Virginia Tech– Randomly beat Duke by double digits.
  10. Marquette– Great shooting but horrible D.
  11. Providence/USC– Pepperidge Farm remembers a better time when there was only one play-in game.
  12. UNC Wilmington– This one group of Seahawks that isn’t addicted to adderall.
  13. East Tennessee State– Why is a team from a land-locked state called the Buccaneers?
  14. New Mexico State– Do they still have Sim Bhullar?
  15. Troy– Went to high school with a kid named Troy and I wasn’t a fan.
  16. Mt. St. Mary’s/New Orleans– Calling it now- New Orleans wins the championship.

Midwest Region (It bothers me to no end that it’s the Midwest Region not the North Region)

  1. Kansas– You’ll never believe this, but Kansas was really good this year.
  2. Louisville– Their ideal offense scores in 15 seconds or less.
  3. Oregon– No team with wacky jerseys has ever really won anything.
  4. Purdue– Just as likely to lose first round as to make the Final Four
  5. Iowa State– Half their players seem like they’ve been in school for 20 years.
  6. Creighton– Won’t really do much of anything without their star point guard.
  7. Michigan– I wish yellow text was easier to read.
  8. Miami– I don’t know why but I was so glad when that good Miami team from a few years ago lost early.
  9. Michigan State– You know what they say, never count out Tom Izzo in March (except when they lose first round).
  10. Oklahoma State– One of my favorite teams to watch.
  11. Rhode Island– If they can get Lamar Odom courtside they may win some games.
  12. Nevada– They’re really ahead of Vermont?
  13. Vermont– If you think maple syrup from anywhere but Vermont is acceptable we need to fight.
  14. Iona– I always randomly like Iona.
  15. Jacksonville State– I’m pretty sure this is in Alabama not Florida and it messes me up big time.
  16. North Carolina Central/UC Davis– It’s not good when I have to Google what your team colors are.

South Region

  1. North Carolina– This team’s ceiling is higher than any one else’s roof.
  2. Kentucky– Weird that they aren’t under-seeded to give them a favorable matchup this year.
  3. UCLA– Honestly wouldn’t mind if they lost first round and sent Lavar Ball into shock.
  4. Butler– Are they still considered a scrappy underdog even though this is their millionth straight tournament.
  5. Minnesota– I’ve made my feelings on this team clear.
  6. Cincinnati– It’s only a matter of time before Mick Kronin’s head literally explodes on the sideline.
  7. Dayton– Feel like they’re perpetually a thorn in bigger team’s sides.
  8. Arkansas– Didn’t hear about them once all year, but all of a sudden they’re a huge lock to make the tournament?
  9. Seton Hall– I’m always on board with Pirate mascots.
  10. Wichita State– This team is really good how are they a 10 seed?
  11. Wake Forest/Kansas State– How long until everything is just a play-in game?
  12. Middle Tennessee State– Honestly nervous for my Gophers in this matchup.
  13. Winthrop– One of those new-fangled 3-point obsessed teams that’s sure to get some hot takes from the older generation.
  14. Kent State– Please beat UCLA, please beat UCLA, please beat UCLA.
  15. Northern Kentucky– Willing to bet at least 70% of the Northern Kentucky alumni are still rooting for Kentucky in this game.
  16. Texas Southern– I know it’ll be tough in the moment, but it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault you were offered up as a sacrifice to UNC.

West Region

  1. Gonzaga– Kinda-sorta-almost lost to the 16 seed the last time they were a 1 seed, just saying.
  2. Arizona– Listen, one of these teams has to make the Final Four at some point.
  3. Florida State– Pretty much just Baylor if they were in Florida.
  4. West Virginia– I was all in on them until they blew a 50-point lead in five minutes to Kansas, now I’m way, way out.
  5. Notre Dame– Somehow a Notre Dame sports team has gone under the radar.
  6. Maryland– Overhyped and overrated.
  7. Saint Mary’s– The whole team better be rocking the Delly Ones.
  8. Northwestern– Northwestern grads are a lot like vegans.
  9. Vanderbilt– If they were playing in their wacky home gym I’d feel good about them.
  10. VCU– They’re still good, huh?
  11. Xavier– Got a friend named Xavier.
  12. Princeton– Man, gotta feel good for this rag-tag group of underdogs from that destitute Ivy League Conference.
  13. Bucknell– Always grateful for Bucknell for being UConn’s first round opponent in 2011.
  14. Florida Gulf Coast– Is Dunk City back for another run?
  15. North Dakota– Not enough green in this bracket.
  16. South Dakota State– Rigged seeding built for an all Dakota Elite Eight.
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AL West Preview

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Another one of these? Believe it or not, there’s another two on the way after this one. Anyone else starting to regret the decision to break down each team with minute detail? Not that I am or anything. Anyway, here’s the American League West, because why not? As always, all win totals taken from the Atlantis Casino.

Houston Astros

250px-houston-astros-logo-svgAfter 2015’s stunning turnaround the Astros kind of stalled out last season, in part (in my mind) because of their disappointing decision to abandon the home-run-or-bust strategy that brought them success. After finishing only two dingers behind the league leading Blue Jays in 2015, they were middle of the pack last year. Part of the change, though, was turning the team over to their super-stud young players like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman. I’ve heard Jose Altuve is good, too. And fellow UConn Husky George Springer could have 30+ homers. I’m not worried about their offense. They’re going to score a lot of runs, and they’re going to prevent a lot of runs with their excellent defense.

The fact that their pitching was still pretty good last year despite a bad year from 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel tells me their 2016 record may have been more of a product of some bad luck than anything. But even though all the numbers say their pitching was anywhere from decent to well above average last year, I don’t really feel great about it. I mean Keuchel has had at least 16 starts all five years in the league. 3 out of the 5 seasons his ERA has been at least 4.55. Are we sure he didn’t just get crazy hot for a year? At this point, Lance McCullers is probably their best starter. Everyone else is getting older and was never that great to begin with. The bullpen is okay, but their big offseason addition Ken Giles had a really disappointing year. I think he’ll bounce back, but I don’t know if the rest of the pitching is really that good. Felt like a lot of smoke and mirrors last year, and if Keuchel doesn’t rebound it could be a long year for this staff.

Over/Under 87.5 Wins: Under (think they get 87 exactly)

Key Offseason Move: Signing Josh Reddick and my grandpa Carlos Beltran

Burning Question: Why would you get rid of Tal’s Hill, the coolest and most unique ballpark feature in the Majors? Talk about bad karma.

Bold Prediction: There will be a couple of stories about the fact that Jose Altuve is short before the All Star break

Texas Rangers

300px-texas_rangers-svgBaseball’s luckiest team (no one outperformed their adjusted win-loss record by more wins) is back to defend an unexpected division title, only this time Mike Napoli is back! All joking aside, though, this is still a good team, despite the losses of Ian Desmond, Carlos Beltran, and Prince Fielder (was that even really a loss?). They resigned Carlos Gomez, which is never a good idea, but other than that, a lot of low risk moves this offseason could lead to another good campaign in Texas.

It might not be as exaggerated as Coors Field, but whatever they’re calling the Rangers’ stadium these days is always conducive to high octane offense. This team should club a bunch of homers once again this year behind ageless wonder Adrian Beltre, “21-year-old” star Nomar Mazara, Roughned Odor, and Nap. And if they ever give the Paul Bunyan-esque Joey Gallo consistent playing time, forget about it. They were sixth in the majors in slugging last year for a reason.

Also like the Rockies, the Rangers’ pitching needs to be graded on a slight curve, and when you take ballpark effect into consideration, their pitching is about league average, but with high upside at the top. Yu Darvish should be all the way back from Tommy John surgery, and could pair with Cole Hamels to form one of the highest-strikeout duos in the American League. The rest of the starters are pretty eh, but new signee Tyson Ross still has some potential. It’s really crazy how good bullpens are these days. The Rangers’ pen wasn’t even that bad last year and they still ranked in the bottom ten in ERA+. Part of the reason is that they don’t strike anyone out: only the Angels bullpen had a lower combined strikeout percentage. In today’s game, if your bullpen isn’t racking up ks, it’s probably going to end up getting hit around a bit. And they didn’t really do anything to make it better, either. They’re just content to throw Sam Dyson out there so he can get upset when people flip their bats on him. Kind of seems counterintuitive for a team trying to expel their postseason demons.

Over/Under 86.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Resigning Josh Hamilton Picking up Jonathan Lucroy’s option

Burning Question: If Roughned Odor’s brother Roughned Odor took him out at second with a hard slide, who would win the fight?

Bold Prediction: Probably lose in the playoffs in the most heartbreaking way possible

Seattle Mariners

300px-seattle_mariners_logo-svgIf I wasn’t already convinced the Red Sox were winning the World Series, I’d say the Mariners were a dark horse contender in the American League. Why? Just kind of a gut feeling I have. And when you’re in the business of divination, gut feelings can be pretty powerful indicators. And this is a good team.

Pretty much no one was more active during the offseason. They made trade after trade after trade, and now they’re left with an interesting roster that could wind up with the best hitting infield and worst hitting outfield in the league. I can certainly understand the reasoning behind trading for a guy like Jarrod Dyson, one of the best defensive players in the league coming to one of last year’s worst defensive outfields, but he does nothing to add to a light-hitting (to put it mildly) unit that could ultimately hold this team back. If young first baseman Dan Vogelbach can tap in to his deep reserve of power, the five-some of him, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, and Jean Segura could be a quasi-Murderer’s Row. The infield is good enough (offensively) to contend for a title. But what about the outfield?

I can’t really figure the pitching out. I feel like they should be better. Felix Hernandez, who has seen his velocity go on a steady decline for a while now, has to return to some semblance of his dominant form if this team has any chance. Hisashi Iwakuma was really good when he first came over, but he’s 35 now and showed obvious signs of decline last year. I don’t mind trading Taijuan Walker, who had kind of stalled in his development, and I like getting Yovani Gallardo, who I think still has something left. They added a lot to what was a decent bullpen last year, but the starters are my main concern. That all goes away, though, if Felix becomes the King again.

Over/Under 85.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Jean Segura

Burning Question: Has anyone investigated the fact that Felix Hernandez’s decline coincides with the legalization of marijuana in Washington? Hmmmm…

Bold Prediction: They’ll make it to game 7 of the ALCS against the Sox, be down one in the ninth, have runners on the corners with one out…then bunt into a double play, officially getting Pete Carroll off the hook

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

187px-los_angeles_angels_of_anaheim-svgThe Angels make me so mad. They’re wasting one of the greatest players of all time! They sucked last year and their big offseason move was…trading for Danny Espinosa. Come on, man. Mike Trout is gonna fade into obscurity on this roster. They’re gonna be bad again this year. Their record might not be all that terrible simply because Trout will singlehandedly win about 20 games, but still. For the good of everyone, just trade Mike Trout if you’re not gonna try to win with him. Please.

Over/Under 76.5 Wins: Under out of spite

Key Offseason Move: Not doing anything to help one of the best players in the 150 year history of Major League Baseball

Burning Question: How long until someone organizes a KG-style rescue mission and puts Trout on a good team?

Bold Prediction: Trout hits over 45 home runs but only has 80 RBI because the rest of the team is so bad

Oakland Athletics

300px-oakland_athl_primlogo-svgNow that I think about it, I think the A’s have my second favorite jerseys in sports (behind Wyoming football). The green hat with the yellow brim is one of the greatest designs in the history of millinery. And those all-white shoes with the home white jerseys? Simply to die for. Then adding in a yellow shirt and a green shirt? It gets my heart all aflutter. The team stinks, but they’ll look good while stinking.

Over/Under 66.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: I honestly don’t even know

Burning Question: Does Brad Pitt ever show up at the team office and start making roster moves?

Bold Prediction: Khris Davis becomes the most random guy to ever have back-to-back 40 home run seasons

The Dream is Dead. So now who do I root for?

It was always a longshot, but UConn is officially dead and buried. They were so bad in the regular season that they won’t even make the NIT. It’s over. But I can’t wallow in self-pity. I need to pick myself up off the mat and find a team to root for in the tournament. With 68 options, how can I pick the right one? I guess I just have to go through some of the stronger contenders and find the true recipient of the Brian’s Den Blessing.

vermont_basketballVermont– Since I was born in and spent the first 23 years of my life living in Vermont, this is always the sentimental pick. UVM in the tournament is always a special treat. Especially when they’re good, which they are this year. Undefeated in conference, as a matter of fact. Won a million straight games. And, as is pivotal for any good random mid major in the tournament, I couldn’t name one player on the team. I assume it’s mostly white guys with one black role player, but maybe they’ve switched up the formula this year. Either way, it’s working this season. But the thing is, I always root for UVM when they make the tournament. I would have rooted for them even if UConn had made it (unless they played each other, of course). So it would feel cheap to pick the Catamounts as my new team, since they always were my team in the first place. So sorry, Burlington, but my search continues.

2000px-ucla_bruins_textlogo-svg_UCLA– With the absence of Washington, the Celtics fan in me sees UCLA as the obvious choice. After all, I might as well get used to rooting for Lonzo Ball, right? Plus, they’re really fun to watch, playing a Warriors style of ball-movement-and-3s based offense. They’ve got at least two future pros and a bunch of good role players, including my man Thomas Welsh, who’s pretty much the white Udonis Haslem with his automatic baseline 12-foot jumpers. But can I, in good conscience, root for Lonzo Ball when that means that, by default, I’m rooting for both Lavar and Lamello Ball? I don’t think I can do it.

beatdookUNC/Duke– I already root for the Patriots and Red Sox. I didn’t see it coming, but I’m kind of tied to Barcelona now, too. Why not just go all the way and commit to North Carolina or Duke? Well, it may not seem like it, but I do still have some semblance of a soul left. Considering some of the teams in this year’s field it may seem foolish to willingly pass on two teams that could easily make the Final Four or win the tournament, I don’t think I can become the true heel.

345px-gu_bulldogs_logo-svgGonzaga– This year’s team is different! They’ve got what it takes now! It’s true, this Gonzaga team is really, really good. But so were the last 20. While I’d love to heroically guide the Zag’s bandwagon to it’s first Final Four, I’m not in the business of rooting for futility. They’ll get knocked out in the Sweet 16 (again) and I’d wind up looking like a fool. No thanks.

 

152px-northwestern_wildcats_logo-svgNorthwestern– Don’t know if you’ve heard, but Northwestern’s never made the tournament before. They’ve also produced roughly 70% of the national media. If you didn’t know, don’t worry. Everyone will gladly tell you all about it next week. With apologies to the actual team, which I’m sure is full of good kids, I can’t support the most aloof, smug, and self-masturbatory group of alumni this side of Cambridge. I guarantee they win at least one game, and the response to it will be vomit-inducing. I can’t stand when like Harvard or someone wins a game and they’re talked about like some group of scrappy underdogs. It’s still Harvard! Those kids are still set for life! Don’t tell me they’re these big underdogs and we should all be happy for them and name our kids after their best players. Now I’m pissed off and they haven’t even technically made it yet. I’m passing on them, if you couldn’t tell.

291px-maryland_terrapins_logo-svgMaryland– Now that I’m fired up, I just wanted throw out that I hate Maryland. Melo Trimble is randomly my least favorite player in the country and I love the fact that he passed up his small chance at the NBA his freshman year and is now a nothing prospect. I can’t wait for them to lose first round. I’m obviously out on them, too.

 

 

182px-fgcu_athletics_seal-svgFlorida Gulf Coast– Dunk City is back, baby! That run they went on a few years ago was so awesome, and they best part is that the university has fully embraced their brand and now only recruits players who specialize in throwing or finishing alley-oops. In addition to making everyone my age regret the fact that  they didn’t know this fake college existed, they add to their tropical mystique by taking advantage of the little used blue-green color scheme for their jerseys. But it’s not like they’re gonna come out of nowhere again. Literally everyone’s gonna be pulling for them. It’s too mainstream for me. Time to move on.

neworleansprivateersNew Orleans– There’s a New Orleans University? And they’re Division 1 in basketball? What the hell? Odds are they’ll have to play a play-in game, but if they escape that, look out. Every year I find a 16 seed that I think can win a game, and this year look no further than the Privateers. If they get to play Gonzaga, they’re winning. I guarantee it. Think we finally have a strong contender, but let’s keep looking just in case.

512px-oregonducks-svgOregon– Another obvious candidate, at least for me. I turned to them for college football long ago, especially once I realized UConn football was singlehandedly trying to set the game back 50 years. Now I see the same qualities in their basketball team: talented athletes, appealing play style, great jerseys (side note: I’ve always loved green jerseys. They’re so underutilized and I have no idea why), and, of course, the full backing of Nike. They’re also good, but not so good that I feel cheap picking them to go all the way. Are they the winner? It sure seems like it. But maybe there’s one team better?

177px-minnesota_golden_gophers_logo-svgMinnesota– Minnesota? Really? You bet your ass, Minnesota. I’m going with the Gophers for a few reasons. They’re scorching hot. Won 9 out of 10. Tearing up the B1G. They have great guards. They lead the country in blocked shots. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they say defense wins championships. They’ve got outstanding jerseys. Maroon and yellow is the best jersey combination out there. It doesn’t matter anymore, but they have a great home gym, too. Now that I think about it, I haven’t been this sure a team was going to make a deep run since the Lopez brothers were at Stanford (didn’t really work out, but still). Minnesota is my new team, and they’re about to crash the Final Four party.

Patriots trade for Brandin Cooks, continue run of Dominance

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals

I’ve always been a huge Brandin Cooks guy. Loved him when he was dominating at Oregon State, loved him on the Saints. It’s just too bad they had to give up Super Bowl legend Malcolm Butler. Wait, what’s that? They didn’t trade Butler? They only gave up a first and a third for a 23-year-old receiver with back to back 1,000 yard seasons? And earlier today they got Kony Ealy, who one year ago completely dominated the Super Bowl, for nothing? And they signed Stephon Gilmore, one of the best defensive free agents? And they got Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett’s younger, cheaper replacement for a bag of balls and an air pump (little topical Deflategate joke)? And they still have over $40 million in cap space to sign Dont’a Hightower, arguably the best player on their defense? And they might get a king’s ransom for backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! UNREAL!!!! This must be what it feels like to be a Dolphins fan in March, because the Pats have already locked up the prestigious Offseason Super Bowl. Oh, yeah, they also just won the actual Super Bowl. Does the NFC even send a representative to Minneapolis? Or do they just punt on 2018? Hey, the Falcons are bringing everyone back! Look out! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I can’t stop laughing! How does anyone else even root for another NFL team? What’s it like fluctuating between being decent and being horrible every other year? It’s a legitimate question, because honestly I have no idea. Absolutely unreal. If I was another GM I wouldn’t even take a call from Bill Belichick, because there’s a 100% chance I’d wind up getting embarrassed. What’s the old saying? Someone’s playing chess while someone else is playing checkers? Well Belichick is playing Bobby Fisher-level chess while every other team is trying to put the right shaped peg in the right shaped hole. Honestly, it’s kind of getting annoying. I keep having to buy new Super Bowl Championship gear, and it looks like that’s not changing anytime soon. Think of my wallet Bill! Have a heart!

Considering how out of character this all-in offseason strategy has been, it’s clear to me that Belichick thinks Brady’s only got a year or two left at the top. Kind of makes me wonder what the point of trading Jimmy G would be, because if the incumbent only has one or two more seasons, why give up a quality QB, the rarest commodity in sports? Just look at the Packers. They had a legendary QB and a good backup, now they have another legendary QB. Garoppolo doesn’t need to become Aaron Rodgers to be valuable-he just needs to be above replacement level, which these days is remarkably low. But who am I to question Belichick? Either way it’ll work out. Keep Jimmy and he’ll become a Hall of Famer. Trade him and Brissett will become the ultimate version of Donovan McNabb. There’s literally no reason to ever stress out about the Pats’ moves. Remember last year when trading Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins would cripple the defense and cost them a Super Bowl? Me neither. Everything always comes up Belichick, no matter what. Isn’t life as a Patriots fan just great?

Would UConn winning the American Athletic Conference tournament and going to the Big Dance be the Greatest Upset of All Time?

conn-15-huskySo the American Athletic Conference basketball tournament starts today in Hartford. My UConn Huskies are the 6th seed. They are probably not going to win.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How can he say My UConn Huskies when he hasn’t written about them once all season?” Well, UConn hasn’t been what you would call “good” this season. Granted, it’s hard to win when two of your three best players go down for the season in the same week a few games in. But still, this season hasn’t been one to remember. But, it is March, as they say, and anything can happen.

I’m not going to sit here and say that they could get hot, win four straight games against teams they haven’t beaten all season, have to go to Dayton for a play-in game, then go on a surprise Final Four run out of nowhere. That would ruin my credibility. But, I’m not ruling it out, either. UConn basketball is like the anti-Falcons- They never die late in the season. I’ve seen it first hand: my freshman year in Storrs was the year Kemba dragged them to the title, then my senior year Shabazz Napier did the same (I know, I’m very #blessed when it comes to sports teams). Those teams weren’t that good, but the second they won two games in a row in the month of March other teams started pooping all over themselves they were so nervous. Even young Kawhi Leonard was flustered by the UConn jersey. Amazing what reputation can do.

They should beat South Florida tonight: it’s just about the only team they’ve beaten all year. After that, who knows? They’d most likely play Houston, Cincinnati, and SMU, three teams they have mental blocks against beating (I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that SMU is so much better at basketball than we are. It makes no sense whatsoever. It’d be like if my movie beat a Holocaust movie for the Oscar. It shouldn’t happen). I’d almost rather they just lose right away. I don’t want to get my hopes up for the championship game only for them to score 50 points because they haven’t really had any kind of offensive system since before Kevin Ollie took over. But maybe they’d hold the opponent to 49. The good thing about being a pessimistic fan of great teams is that I’m emotionally prepared for every outcome. By halftime of the Super Bowl, I had already mentally moved on to baseball before getting dragged back in. So it wouldn’t surprise me if they laid an egg against South Florida. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they won the AAC and went on to knockout Duke. What will actually happen? They’ll lose in OT to Cincinnati after being up 10 in the first half.

But if, if, they do somehow make the NCAA tournament? It might be one of the greatest upsets of all time. I know the AAC isn’t exactly the ACC, but they still have some good teams. Under .500 teams don’t win major conference tournaments. If anyone can do it, though, it’s UConn playing at home. It would be shocking. Stunning, even. Would it be the most monumental upset ever? Probably not. After all, Cincy and SMU are both teams likely to have mental breakdowns against inferior teams and neither one is exactly 2012 Kentucky. But if they won the AAC and went deep in the NCAA tournament? Now we’re talking. Now you’ve got one of the most unexpected team performances ever. Or maybe it’d be another sign of the reckless greed and de-purification of the game of college basketball that the conference tournaments themselves represent. Kind of a toss up, if you ask me.

Barcelona overcomes biggest deficit ever to advance in Champions League

2017 must be the year for comebacks. First the Pats, now Barcelona. They were dead in the water after the first leg. Down 4-0. No spark whatsoever. I had a giant egg on my face for my proclamation that PSG was trash and had no shot. I was even taking heat in the comments section:

Surely PSG would just see it out until the end, no? Wait, what happened?

Huh?!?!? They won? Yet another prediction came up the Brian’s Den way? Well, color me surprised.

Listen, it doesn’t matter the sport, some teams are just losers. It’s in their DNA. They may be flashy, put up big stats, dominate the lesser competition, but when it comes time to play the big boys, they always, always falter. The NBA has the Suns and Clippers. The NFL has the Falcons and Bills. The MLB has the Cubs Indians and Rays. And soccer has PSG/Arsenal (who predictably got massacred). It’s not the players’ faults, necessarily. With all these types of teams, the specific roster doesn’t really matter. Michael Jordan could have suited up for the Suns in 1996 and not they still wouldn’t have won anything. PSG is just a loser team. Having Cavani doesn’t really help things, but this was just destined to happen. Barcelona has the greatest front line ever put together. They weren’t going to lose to PSG in the round of 16. It was like a mirror image of the Super Bowl. The Falcons were never going to beat the Pats. Cavani’s goal was like Julio Jones’ catch. A sigh of relief against the relentless tide, but then they still blow it anyway. It’s unbelievable but at the same time very believable. Barcelona is winning the Champions League now, no doubt about it. They were always going to win it, but this comeback only seals it. Put your life savings on them.

A more important development is that I’m officially the football Nostradamus. Doesn’t matter what country the game is being played in, I’ve already foreseen the ending. It’s not my fault I don’t see crazy comebacks coming. I just know the end result. I think any sane person would now double down on all my predictions for the other Champions League fixtures and the future games. At least, anyone who enjoys being right.