Friday, April 2, 2010

Degenerate Friday!! Final Four Picks!

It’s finally here. No more trying to make up storylines. No more talk about expansion of the tournament (which is going to happen and is an AWFUL decision – but much like a Tiger Woods mistress, the NCAA will do anything for money). No more talk about if this is a bad Final Four – it doesn’t matter. These are the teams that won 4 games and are the only four that didn’t choke it away. And at the end of the day, any of the four could cut down the nets and it would not be a huge surprise. Butler is portrayed as the big underdog because they are the smallest school from the small town (Indy is not exactly a hick town, is it?) and the small conference, but they were a preseason top 10 team and have beaten higher seeded teams than Michigan State on their journey to the Final Four. So where do we put our betting money? Given my success thus far, my picks appear to be about as smart as Shawn Rogers carrying a loaded gun into airport security. Listen, I get forgetting things – I’ve gotten stopped multiple times for forgetting I had a water bottle in my bag – but you forgot a loaded gun? Why were you carrying a loaded gun? Like Vince Vaughn tells his boy Sue in Swingers: “What do you need a gun for? In case someone steps to you, Snoop Dog?”

It’s also the start of the baseball season this weekend, and since the weather has finally turned nice here in New York, there’s nothing better than that hope at the beginning of the baseball season for the 12 teams that have a chance at the playoffs and the 4 that actually could win it all. And at least the Brewers improved their chances of making the playoffs by finding an excuse to keep Jeff Suppan away from active pitching duty by placing him on the DL.

Game #1: Michigan State (+1) over Butler

Celebrity Doppleganger Matchup: Nikki Cox vs. Hilary Duff
The Spartans resemble Cox because you knew she had talent (Unhappily Ever After), she disappeared from your radar for a while, returned with authority (Las Vegas), then has irrevocably changed due to surgery. Michigan State had talent, disappeared in the middle of the season due to some chemistry issues, then has come back with authority in the tournament, only to be changed by an injury/surgery to Kalin Lucas. By the way – someone send a picture of the “new” Nikki Cox over to Heidi Montag as a warning as to where she’s headed.

Hilary Duff started out as a cute young Disney star (she laid out the path for the success of Miley Cyrus) and it’s hard to believe she is 23 and has been on numerous television shows and movies. Butler is still viewed by many as the small Disney feel good story when in reality, they are very talented and have made the leap to a regular on the Hollywood acting scene. And it’s not just because of her threesome scene on Gossip Girl with Jessica Szohr.

The Game:
This is an extremely hard game to predict because on paper, Butler has the advantage. Gordon Hayward is a match up nightmare for Michigan State and they also have Shelvin Mack to take advantage of Korie Lucas, which is where missing Kalin Lucas will be the most glaring. Butler also rebounds extremely well and does not allow teams to get transition baskets against them. The Bulldogs very much resemble a Big Ten team in terms of their stingy defense, average athleticism and disciplined offensive structure. That is an advantage for Michigan State which has been playing the majority of their season against teams with that exact same profile. Unfortunately for Butler, the home crowd will not be as much of a factor on Saturday as it would be on Monday when fans of the teams that lose Saturday night bail out of town and sell off their tickets to the locals which will likely be Butler fans. The biggest mismatch? On the bench where Brad Stevens is 88-14 in his 3 years on the bench, but is no match for the best game coach in the country, Tom Izzo. When it comes down to where to place your money, go with Izzo. Look for the Spartans to be back in the championship game for the second year in a row.

Game #2: West Virginia (+2) over Duke

Celebrity Doppleganger Matchup: Colin Farrell vs. Tom Cruise
Maybe I needed to use Tom Cruise because I saw Katie Holmes and their little girl, Suri, in a Le Quioden (it’s like an Au Bon Pan or Panera Bread and I’m sure I just misspelled it but I’m not looking it up – like you’d know the difference if I did) last night. There was a huge crowd of paparazzi at the door, setting up their cameras so they could get the shot when she walked out. She also had a sizeable and bad ass security team that was standing by the window where she was seated making sure everyone kept moving and took no pictures while she ate. Kind of left me with the feeling of “so you want to be a celebrity? You can’t even grab a sandwich without a team of security guards. That sucks.” Anyway, Duke is like Tom Cruise – had tremendous success, easy to hate for so many obvious reasons (like Cruise barely topping 5’6”), but you can’t deny they have talent.

West Virginia is a pretty good fit with Colin Farrell. They are foul-mouthed (have you ever heard a clip of Bobby Huggins at a practice? The guy makes the paint peel with his liberal use of profanity – it’s an art form to him), rugged, rough and tough. Yet they are immensely talented and have put on some pretty good shows. I’m personally a huge fan of The Recruit, enjoyed Phone Booth, and he was even in Minority Report with Tom Cruise.

The Game:
The key to the game will be West Virginia’s defensive ability to rough up the Duke shooters and prevent them from getting hot from beyond the arc. Their 1-3-1 zone will give the Blue Devils trouble, but could be a chance for Greg Zoubek to be a hero by taking advantage of his size mismatch inside against the smaller Joe Mazzulla, a task that All-American DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t do for Kentucky. I don’t think Coach K will put Kyle Singler on De’Sean Butler like he did against Baylor’s main scoring guard (LaceDarius Dunn) because it definitely impacted Singler’s offense and Duke will need all the scoring they can get. I expect Singler to be matched up with Kevin Butler who can be a threat from the inside and the outside. In the end, West Virginia’s height and stingy defense will be enough to carry them past the Blue Devils and on to the National Championship game. Get ready for Bobby Huggins and his Jersey Soprano-wannabe track suit on the biggest stage on Monday night.

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