Brackets, Sportsgirl style…

Hey ladies… so the deadline is here, you need to have those NCAA brackets handed out and your money turned in ASAP… what, you haven’t been paying the slightest bit of attention to college hoops?  First of all, its all good even the most dedicated college basketball guys can’t get all of the games right?  Second of all, I’m here to help… keep these few rules in mind and you’re guaranteed success.  And if you weren’t considering joining the office pool…rethink this…it will keep you up to speed in all of the office talk and some of the best social gatherings take places at the bars over the next three weeks as the games are telecasted on a multitude of screens. 

 

Ok, back to my rules…

Rule #1:  If you’ve never heard of the school, you have no business picking them… North Dakota State?  Umm, no… Morehead State?  Who?  Exactly….its not like going shopping at boutique shopes where the up and coming name is a sure pick…  Stick with what you know, and you’ll be successful.  The only schools this year that you may not have heard of…but may want to consider picking in the early rounds are Marquette (a #6 seed), Gonzaga (a #4 seed) and Xavier (another #4 seed). 

Rule #2:  No #1 seed has EVER lost in the first round.  Thats right, EVER!  So unless you are a die-hard, hopeless romantic who always picks the underdog and don’t feel like collecting four free points in the first round, do NOT pick a #16 seed to win a game.

Rule #3:  Google ‘Images’ is your friend.  Why’s this?  Well, that leads me to…

Rule #4:  The better dressed coach is usually victorius… dapper coaches like Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Villanova’s Jay Wright seem to be more adept than others who aren’t quite as stylish.   And if not?  Hey, at least you looked good going down, right?  Now there isn’t technically anything scientific about this rule, however my feeling is…you if the coach looks good, he probably slept well enough not to worry about the success of his team. 

jaywright

Jay Wright...I say pick him even for the hope you can see him week after week....

Rule #5:  When in doubt, go with the better nickname.  Wildcats?  Strong, confident.  Utes?  What the hell is that?  Stay with what you know.

Rule #6:  Team colors are your friend.  No girl would ever choose something with bad style… Carolina blue is an absolute classic.  Siena’s Green and Gold…?  Ehh, not so much (and I love the color green…just not with gold…unless its a big emerald rock with a gold band).

Keep these rules in mind and you’re bound to be successful in your tournament pool.  And remember, no matter what happens, enjoy the next three weeks, they are the absolute best time of the year for sports, there’s nothing like it.  And when its over, you can reward yourself at the mall!  Good luck ladies, enjoy the games!

-sportsgirl

A Little Early “Onions!”

So ladies, the Madness has officially started with Sunday night’s unveiling of the 65 team field for this year’s NCAA Tournament.  What does that mean for us?  A few things, a few verrry important things:  First, it means that you have a choice… for the next three weekends you can either get angry at your significant other for NEVER taking his attention away from the tournament, or you can embrace it and learn to love one of the best events of the year.  Personally, I choose to embrace it, mainly because of the possibility for shopping.  Thats right, I said shopping… that “just for fun” NCAA Tournament pool in your office?  All of those $10 or $20 entry fees add up quickly, if you have been paying attention like I’ve been telling you too throughout the season now is the time to turn that knowledge into some serious cash, which will translate to serious shopping (OK, I know we’re in a recession, so maybe you’ll do some serious saving instead, but hey, its still free money!) 

Whats that you say?  You haven’t been following the teams closely enough over the past few months?  Have no fear, sportsgirl is here to guide you to bracket success… full guide to come tomorrow, but for now here are a few interesting tidbits to get you started:

  • Three of the four #1 seeds are from the Big East conference (Pitt, Louisville, and UConn).  The only #1 from another conference is North Carolina… But, did you know that if all three of those Big East teams made it to the Final Four it wouldn’t be the first time that three teams from the conference made it to the Final Four in the same year?  Thats right, in 1985 Georgetown, Villanova, and St. John’s were in the Final Four along with Memphis, and Villanova eventually won the championship over Georgetown (as a #8 seed!)
  • Everyone who tells you that “Cinderella” rules the dance couldn’t be more wrong.  In fact, Cinderella routinely gets her glass slipper trounced on by the big, bad power teams… in fact, last year all four of the #1 seeds made it to the Final Four.  The defending champ (Kansas) and defending runner-up (Memphis) both have pretty high seeds this year, and it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see either of them in the Final Four again.
  • Starting on Thursday at noon, the best 4 days in sports begin:  48 games will be played between then and early Sunday evening, filtering the field down to the Sweet 16 headed into next weekend.  There’s never a shortage of buzzer beaters, great finishes, unlikely heroes, and “ONIONS!”.  Not picking up the “ONIONS!” reference?  Apparently you wouldn’t get along with my husband… its one of his favorite college basketball announcer’s (Bill Raftery’s) catch phrases, and its a classic.  Check out the video below (at 0:08 and then again at 0:39), maybe you’ll fall in love too…  “Billy Raf” will be calling games over the next two weekends, and he makes everything more entertaining.

So, like I said I’ll be back tomorrow with some more tournament advice, and maybe a few other exciting tournament video links to get you excited… this really is the best event in sports, make sure you enjoy the next three weeks.  Talk to you tomorrow!

-sportsgirl

The “Instant Classic”

Hey ladies.  I think most of us feel that the first weekend of the NCAA tournament (next weekend) is probably the best sports weekend of the year… yes, there are a few other contenders (Final 4/Baseball Opening Day weekend, Nordstroms Half-Yearly Sale, etc), but Im going to add an unexpected wrinkle to the mix.  This weekend, which is home to most of the major college basketball conference tournaments, might top them all.  Teams are playing to stay alive and achieve their dream of making it to the Dance, bubbles are bursting and millions of fans are treated to the occasional “Instant Classic”.  Thursday night’s BigEast quarterfinal between Syracuse and Connecticut was a prime example of why so many of us love college basketball.

Syracuse 127, Connecticut 117… seems like just a rare high scoring Big East game until you see the rest of the summary:  6 OT’s.  Yes, that’s correct, it took 6 overtimes to come up with a winner in this one, and each one got better than the last.  Both teams are comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, however each squad played with a determination that would make you think they wouldn’t be allowed to come home without a win.  Numerous players fouled out, and Syracuse ended up with a walk-on player having a significant role in the 5th and 6th overtime periods.  Do you realize how long 6 overtimes is?  They basically played three 20 minute halves plus another 10 minutes!  Almost two entire games.  The game ended after 1:20 AM Eastern time, and there weren’t many empty seats in Madison Square Garden at the time, everyone stayed, knowing they were watching something special.  The moral of the story?  Next time you’re stuck watching a game that you’re not really into, pay a little bit of extra attention, it could end up becoming the next “Instant Classic”… you just never know, and thats what makes sports so great.

In other news bubble teams are keeping a close eye on tournaments such as the Atlantic 10, the Big 12 and Conference USA.  Why? Each of these tournaments have at least one surprise team in the finals (a team that would otherwise not be selected for the NCAA tournament).  If one of these teams wins their tournament and the resulting automatic bid it will take away a spot for a bubble team..for example if Memphis (a lock for the tournament) loses the Conference USA championship they will have to take one of the “at large” positions that would have otherwise gone to a bubble teams…leaving a bubble team (like Virginia Tech) out of the tournament.  

Here are a few of the key games for you to see on Saturday…

The A10 Championship Game (Temple vs. Duquense)…both of these teams are in Pennsylvania…neither were predicted to make it to the NCAA tournament…but now one of them will prevent one of those bubble teams to make it (could it be PennState…after their loss to Purdue on Friday night who knows?)

The Big East Championship – Louisville will try to win their first Big East tournament against either Syracuse or West Virginia

The Big 12 Championship  – Upstart Baylor (ladies…my husband tells me that upstart means that Baylor is a surprise) tries to complete a comeback from numerous scandals like murder (dead serious…one player murdered another player a few years ago….)

Pac 10 Championship – The LA fan base will have to decide their rooting interest between whichever hometown school makes it (USC or UCLA) and Arizona State, which has several LA area starters….

So, as you can see…there is drama in the world of sports…I promise, even I can tolerate game after game….Enjoy the rest of conference championship weekend, keep studying, the brackets will come out on Sunday at 6 PM Eastern!

-sportsgirl

“The Bubble”: Shopping Style

Hey ladies… so, we’ve entered the last regular season weekend of college basketball, and in fact some of the leagues around the country have already started their conference tournaments.  What does this mean?  Well, it means a couple of things… first of all, the calendar has turned to March, which means the month of the madness is upon us, and the next few weeks are some of the most exciting weeks of the sports year…I have to admit…as bored as I’ve been with sports all winter…I even get excited…maybe that’s because when the brackets come out money is involved…and I like a good competition….but who knows…it could be the start of warm weather.  I digress…the  second thing it means is that over the next week you’ll be hearing a lot about this concept called “the bubble”, which I thought I’d explain to you a little bit today.

A college basketball team that is “on the bubble” is one that is right on the edge of whether they will get selected as one of the 65 teams to play in the NCAA Tournament (the Big Dance).  Here’s how the tournament selection works:  there are 31 automatic bids that teams get from winning their conference tournaments (or regular season title, in the case of the Ivy League:  Cornell is already in).  That leaves 34 “at-large” bids that the Selection Committee can give out… that seems like a lot, but you have to remember that there are a lot of teams that are “locks” to get in who don’t win their conference tournaments, so they take up a good deal of those 34 spots… the teams that are right on the edge of getting one of those spots are known as “bubble” teams….a few examples to impress people with are University of Minnesota, University of Cincinnati, University if Kentucky…just a few. 

Think about it this way ladies:  you have $300 to go shopping with, and you know that you need a new pair of jeans, maybe a top or two for a coming occasion, and these things together will cost you about $225 (I am assuming there is a jeans sale).  So you have $75 left, but there are 3 pairs of earrings that you want, a cute sun dress, and maybe a great pair of shoes… total cost?  $175.  So you can’t buy all of them, only one or two of them will make it into your shopping bag.  The items that you’re considering are “on the bubble”… got it?  Good.  Enjoy the big college hoops weekend, start getting yourselves familiar with the teams and players so you can impress as March Madness kicks off soon, you don’t want to be coming in last place in that office pool!  

Talk to you soon.

-sportsgirl

PS..with March Madness in front of us…expect a lot more from me!!!

Somehow golf just got interesting…

Family time is over, Tiger is back to work...

Family time is over, Tiger is back to work...

Hey ladies… Not sure how many of you out there follow golf, or are even interested in golf at all, but this will be one of the few times per year that I’ll even touch on the subject (the others probably being the 4 major tournaments).  In case you haven’t heard, Tiger Woods is coming back to the PGA Tour on Wednesday after an 8 month break to recover from knee surgery.  I mean seriously, have you ever seen so much excitement about someone just entering a tournament?  Well, as you may have figured out, Tiger isn’t just any normal golfer.  And by the way, have you seen the new pictures of him with his new son and the rest of his family?  Pretty cute, I must admit.

 

Tiger’s participation in a tournament makes golf “mainstream”… people who don’t usually care about who’s winning the Bob Hope Desert Classic or the Northern Trust Open will tune in if they know that Tiger is participating.  He is one of those elite athletes who transcends popular culture, people who don’t know the difference between a driver and a 9-iron (me being one of them) will tune in to watch the back 9 (that’s the last 9 holes of the round) on Sunday if Tiger is in the hunt.  So, with that being said, keep an eye out for Tiger starting on Wednesday as he participates in the Match Play Championship (Match Play means you just play against one player…not the entire field of participants)  in Tucson, AZ… the ratings will increase, attendance will increase, and the lead story on Sportscenter may just be about a golf tournament… all because one guy decided to tee it up.  He may not win this week, but I’m told he will be getting his game ready for the Masters, which is the first major tournament of the four, held the second weekend in April.

More info to come on the golf later ladies, will be back soon with some more timely info!

-sportsgirl

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

Hey ladies… on this weekend where so much of the country is focused on love, I decided to discuss a matter of the heart:  the old saying that absence (or distance) makes the heart grow fonder.  Hopefully this is the case with my excellent writing.. since I’ve been away for a bit I hope that you’re all aching for another informative, quirky, and highly original post.  Well, if thats the case, here I am.  Lucky (or unlucky, as some may see it) for you, I’m not the only thing returning from a lengthy absence this weekend:  many of the 30 major league baseball teams start Spring Training this weekend, which is the first sure sign that warm weather is returning (or at least my husband likes to think so).  Apparently I’m one of those people who just doesn’t understand how “meaningful” this day is… this is a great day for baseball fans, probably running a close second to Opening Day (just wait until my blog post for that one…seeing as my husband already has a countdown going…I should have a lot of information)…  

For weeks now, maybe even months, my husband has been counting down with his Dad, his good friends, and basically anyone else who will listen to him, which isn’t really many people:  Pitchers and Catchers report in 5,4,3,2 days!  What is so special about pitchers and catchers, they’re only two of the nine players on the baseball field at any given time?  Well, it turns out that in the world of baseball the pitchers and catchers are required to report to Spring Training a few days before the rest of the team, usually 5-7 days, to give them time to build familiarity with one another and start getting their arms and bodies in shape for the season.  Apparently this is mainly for the pitchers, but they wouldn’t have anyone to throw to if the catchers didn’t show up too.  And this used to be a much bigger issue in decades gone by, when players typically didn’t work out in the offseason and commonly showed up to Spring Training 20-40 pounds heavier than the last time we saw them in the fall (rumor has it that Ryan Howard of the Phillies will be appearing 20 lbs lighter…look at him).

So, now that you know why they’re required to show up at camp before everyone else, my question is, why wouldn’t everyone show up as early as possible?  All of these teams train at luxurious complexes in Florida and Arizona, spending 6-7 weeks in great weather getting ready for the season, and also working on their golf games and their tans… I’d be there the first day I was allowed to show up!  The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies (wow, that phrase looks weird… and great) started Spring Training on Saturday, and I’m sure their long absence from the sporting landscape in Philadelphia (it has been about 15 weeks since the parade!) has made a lot of hearts grow fonder, and ready for the 2008 season.  So ladies, keep an eye out on the TV for glimpses of palm trees swaying in the breeze and catchers mitts popping with good fastballs, baseball is back, and that means warm weather can’t be far behind…damn groundhog!!

 

Alright..here’s to motivation that I can get my act together this week…I am just particularly bored with sports right now…but I don’t want to let any of you down….I’ll be back

 

-sportsgirl

I Bet Even Guys Don’t Know What “AFT” Means…

Well ladies… despite the unfavorable outcome from my perspective, after a very exciting finish to the Super Bowl we have finally reached the first weekend of AFT (After Football Time).  OK, well technically the ProBowl is this weekend, but according to my husband, this really doesn’t matter or mean anything….I know, I know, you can stop cheering now.  Just because football is over doesn’t mean that there aren’t any “great” sporting events to watch on TV this weekend… and even if you’re not interested, at least you can make your significant other happy by recommending them to him and then sneaking out to the mall after he dozes off on the sofa!  Here’s a quick look at a couple of events on tap for the weekend:

  • The PGA Tour is holding what is usually its first ‘big-name tournament’ (aka Tiger participates) of the year, at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA.  Well, Tiger isn’t back from his knee surgery yet… this week he said that he is close to returning but he’s waiting until after his second child is born, which should be very soon.  So, in the absence of Tiger you still get Phil Mickelson and the incredible views of La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean in HD.  Hey, if its freezing where you live, at least watching golf will help you feel warm!
  • Two good non-conference college basketball games on Saturday to go along with the usual strong Saturday slate of conference games.  First, #1 UConn is hosting Michigan at 6:00 PM (ESPN), and then later on Sunday Memphis is traveling out west to take on Gonzaga.  Two good matchups among teams that don’t get together too often (or, so I’ve heard).

Lets be honest here… hopefully you are able to get away from watching sports this weekend, especially since most of you have been stuck watching football every single weekend since September.  If not, keep in mind the couple of ideas I gave you above, and enjoy the weekend! 

-sportsgirl



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