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.

I’m going on a trip this Spring…

So I’m taking a well deserved vaca in June. The first real trip I’ve ever planned by myself, and the first vacation I’ve gone on in years (as the great Bill Belichick says, “No Days Off”). Gonna be a great way to expand my horizons and get some grade A #content for the Brian’s Den. There’s only one catch…I’m flying there. Normally, that means nothing. But now? Well, let me direct you to one of my favorite YouTube videos…

That’s right, I’m going to Denver (no, it’s not for the weed), which means I’m flying into and out of the Denver International Airport. The ultimate hub of conspiracies. I think it has ties to every secret society known to man (nothing gets my blood flowing like secret societies. Mention any of them and I instantly believe anything you say. I can easily be convinced the Illuminati are behind literally any event that has ever taken place. And have you ever walked by a Masonic lodge? You can feel the dark energy poring out). Crazy things reportedly go down each and every day. And the worst part? It’s all 100%, unequivocally true. Think about it- what’s the point of starting conspiracy rumors about the Denver airport? It’s such a random place. If this video was about the Pentagon or something like that I’d roll my eyes and move on. But the Denver airport? Now I’m listening. And it doesn’t take much effort to find other videos like this. There’s something going on at this airport, and I intend to find out what.

In the first piece of investigative journalism here at the Brian’s Den, I promise to expose every angle of the Denver airport’s many mysteries, and I intend to get as much of it on video as possible. I realize how dangerous this is. Delve even an inch to far into the thick web of influence and I’m likely dead, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I won’t rest until every stone is unturned: the murals, the rug pattern, the horse statue, the swastika runways, the underground series of tunnels and bunkers. I’m going to shed a light on all of it and show the world what’s going on. The Masons, Illuminati, New World Order, Nazis, and even the Skull and Bones Society better get ready, because I’m coming for them whether they like it or not.

BONUS: Best Conspiracy Videos

A good way to lose an hour, a day, a week, a lifetime is to get deep into YouTube conspiracy videos. A good rule of thumb is that a conspiracy video’s quality is inverse of the video quality-if it looks like it was filmed in 1982, then you’re in for something good. Here’s some of my favorites.

Listen, Tony Temple’s record is invalid. It’s really as simple as that.

I don’t know who NFLranking is, but the only thing he ever made was a 9-part series about how the 2002 Western Conference Finals was fixed. The more parts a conspiracy video series has, the better. NFLrankings was truly doing God’s work.

Flat Earth truthers are absolute idiots. Hollow Earthers? Well, there might be something to it.

Well, I’m convinced.

At the risk of disturbing the Beyhive, this might be my favorite. Beyonce sucks.

NL Central Preview


Back again with another MLB division preview, this time with the NL Central, home of the World Series champion Chicago Cubs(?). Don’t really expect the standings to look a whole lot different this season, so let’s dive right in. As always, win projections from Atlantis Casino Resort.

Chicago Cubs

127px-chicago_cubs_logo-svgWhat else can you really say about this team? Last year they put together one of the greatest seasons ever: Best pitching staff in the majors by ERA+, second in the National League in runs, one of the greatest defenses of all time, and had the best record in the league. And they’re adding Kyle Schwarber and Wade Davis? Won’t be long until the only curse associated with the Cubs is the Curse of the Pink Hats that has afflicted the Red Sox since 2004.

Centerfield is pretty much the only question mark. Losing leadoff man Dexter Fowler hurts, but 22-year-old Albert Almora is a good prospect, and if he ever finds a position, Schwarber’s offensive upside is far higher than Fowler’s. This is the best roster in the (National) league, and they should roll to another 100+ wins this year.

Over/Under 95.5 Wins: Over

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Wade Davis

Burning Question: Can the Cubs survive Theo’s next soul searching journey?

Bold Prediction: Jason Heyward sets the record for grounding into 50 double plays

St. Louis Cardinals

216px-st-_louis_cardinals_logo-svgThe Best Fans in Baseball are probably excited for this season, but that’s mostly because smelling their own farts for so long has dulled their already limited cognitive abilities. This team just feels like it’s in no man’s land. They’re definitely not good enough to contend for their own division (let alone the World Series), but they’re not really that bad, not that the proud Cardinals would ever fully commit to a rebuild. I realize counting out the Cardinals is always foolish, but I really don’t see much when I look at this team.

Listen, they’re still gonna be decent. Their offense was good last year. Fourth in the majors in runs, most home runs in the National League, fourth in slugging, and they’re adding Dexter Fowler, who will add to their already solid team on base percentage. He’s not going to help their lousy defense, though. Or their middling pitching staff (rookie Alex Reyes is nasty). Or their lack of top-end talent. But hey, they have “great” fans, so what does any of that matter? They’re like the Atlanta Hawks of baseball. Good enough to finish above .500, not good enough to do anything else.

Over/Under 87.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Signing Dexter Fowler

Burning Question: Who’s going to break the news to Cardinals fans that Yadier Molina sucks now?

Bold Prediction: Cardinals fans will turn on Dexter Fowler for his beliefs by May. Oh, wait, it already happened?

Pittsburgh Pirates

87px-pittsburgh_pirates_logo_2014-svgAfter a million straight Wild Card Game exits, the Pirates took a serious step back last year. To gear up for the comeback season, they went out and added…Ivan Nova? That’s it? I know the Pirates aren’t a traditional free agent hot spot, but surely they could have done a little more.

It’s actually kind of amazing they even won 78 games last year. They weren’t good at anything. Their pitching was trash, led by a down year from presumed ace Gerrit Cole. The offense was trash, led by a career worst year from star Andrew McCutchen. The defense was absolute trash, led by everybody (so McCutchen finishes dead last among all centerfielders in UZR and he wants to complain about being moved to right? Makes sense). They have a lot of really good individual talents: Cole still has good stuff if he can get right mentally. Jameson Taillon is a promising young pitcher. Starling Marte had a great year last year, and longtime top prospect Gregory Polanco showed some signs. I think McCutchen still has something left in the tank. I mean, this is a pretty boring team, but I think their record will probably be a few games better this year.

Over/Under 85.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Signing Ivan Nova

Burning Question: What’s really the point of anyone in the NL Central trying for the next few years?

Bold Prediction: They will add to their recent run of success by not winning a playoff game again this year

Cincinnati Reds

176px-cincinnati_reds_logo-svgOnce I got to the Cardinals, I kind of started to regret doing this division. Because outside the Cubs, this division stinks. I foolishly thought the AL Central was the most boring division, but by the time I realized I was wrong, it was too late. Cubs could win 120 games going against these teams.

The Reds, in laymen’s terms, are very bad. They might have the worst pitching in the league (third lowest strikeout percentage combined with a league high walk percentage), and outside Joey Votto and Adam Duvall the lineup is terrible. They’re going to be bad again this year. Book it.

Over/Under 73.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Signing Drew Storen I guess?

Burning Question: Do Reds fans exist outside of Cincinnati?

Bold PredictionJoey Votto will request a trade before taking it back because he’s Canadian and doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers

Milwaukee Brewers

176px-milwaukee_brewers_logo-svgGod, what’s the point of this team? Seriously, what are the Brewers playing for? Maybe they can get their prospects some playing time? Is that it?

The Brewers are soooooooooooooo bad. They’re the worst non-Padres offense in the league, their defense is traaaaaash, their pitching was…somehow okay? The Brewers are wasting a great team gimmick by sucking so bad, and I’m sick of it. I’ll start a petition to become the GM of the Brewers. It’s about time someone steps in and makes the Brewers decent again. I know I could do a better job than the people in charge now. I’ll do the impossible and turn Milwaukee into a destination.

Over/Under 72.5 Wins: Under

Key Offseason Move: Trading for Travis Shaw

Burning Question: Did Aaron Rodgers ever donate his salary when Ryan Braun was proved to be a liar?

Bold Prediction: They will sell at least twenty times more Miller Lites in the home opener than the number of games they’ll win this season