Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Badger Preview: Sweet 16... And Elite 8?

Some Badger reviewing before we move on to the previewing...


What a weekend.  And when I say 'weekend', I'm referring to the entire Thursday-Sunday stretch.  Thursday morning started off exactly as planned: A trip out to Pizza Hut to load up on grub for the day.  After an hour or so of somewhat-boring games, UW and The Gregarious Griz of Montana took the court.  Just a classic, clinical Bo Ryan performance.  Jordan Taylor played about as well as he has all season (17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 0 turnovers, 60% from the field and three).  Evans was AWESOME.  Hell, even Bruiser got in on the action with his first made three pointers since the Nixon administration.

Defensively, it was just as impressive.  Montana's top Grizballer, Will Cherry, was stymied to the tune of 3-14 shooting.  As a team, the Bro Griz couldn't even crack the 40% barrier.  Chalk that up to a Badger team contesting every shot and clamping down in the second half.  True, the Men of Montana did get a decent amount of good looks in the paint early on, but that game was quickly shut down once Bo (most likely) laid into the team at halftime.  Great sign to see the Badgers only give up 20 points after the break.

And then things got a little weird for me.

In my post-Badger victory bliss (and 7ish Rolling Rocks deep), I decided it would be a great idea to set up shop on my balcony and watch the afternoon games from outside.  It was freaking GLORIOUS outside, and it felt a little criminal to spend the ENTIRE day inside like a nerdbox.  A friend on Twitter asked if I had TV's on my balcony (I SHOULD), so I went out there to take a pic showing that I could very easily see the living room TV from the balcony.  As I'm nudging the couch to squeeze by (only suckers take the long way around), I hear something rip.  'Shit, I just ripped the couch.'  At least that's what I THOUGHT happened.  I looked down and my leg was just leaking watered down booze blood.  There's nothing fun about that moment that you realize you just did something really stupid and frustrating.

Anyway, apparently the back of our couch is a Siberian death trap:

So that bled for a while.  I'm not gonna post the picture here, because, gross.  But let's just say getting some stitches probably wouldn't have been a bad idea.  I also realized while I was sitting on the floor tending to my wound that I had some Za Hut heating up in the oven.  So I had to scurry over, trying not to leak blood everywhere, and get that shiz out before it burned.  Needless to say, it was a strange day.  The next day started with a tetanus shot, because fuck lockjaw I don't want that.  I'm still of the mindset that I need to stare as far away as possible from the needle when I get a shot.  Is that juvenile or normal?  Maybe the trick is to stare deep into the eyes of the nurse giving you the shot.  Let 'em know what's up.  I think I'll give that a try the next time I get a shot, which is hopefully never.

Alright, I felt the urge to draw.  Here's a reenactment:

Fo' grizzle.


The St. Patrick's Day/Badger Gameday combo was absolutely INTENSE.  I assume everyone, like me, was hoping for a 1 pm tip - that would ensure not being completely blacked out during the game.  Well that didn't really pan out.  What DID pan out, however, was another very solid performance by the Badgers, clinching their spot in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.  Moreso here than against the Grizzlers, Wisconsin's defense was fantastic.  Vandy has legit 3 guys who will get a good, hard look from the League (Taylor/Jenkins/Ezeli).  Didn't matter on Saturday, though.  A flu-ridden Josh Gasser was beastly on the defensive end, and even Jordan Taylor pitched in to help hold Jenkins and The Other Taylor to a combined 7-25 (3-14 from three) from the floor.

And yet, UW found itself down a point with 2 minutes to go.  Needing a season-saving bucket, Bo turned to Jordan Taylor, who drilled the game-winning 3 as the shot clock expired.  Ice water.  Veins.  After a few defensive stops and a free throw from Evans, Berggs deflected the Ha*l Ma*y inbound pass to send the Badgers to Boston.  I may or may not have been very drunk and very, very excited:

I really wish I didn't have a smartphone when I was hammered.

Regardless, here we are, on the verge of greatness.  Beating Syracuse won't be easy, but if we can get past them, the potential rubber match with OSU could be the single biggest game in Badger hoops history (THE HYPE MACHINE IS WORKING OVERTIME).  Let's do this thing.

CHICAGO BADGERS: Feels like a Redmond's night.  Yeah yeah, we lost to Cornell the last time we tried pulling this off.  Oh well.  I'm trying really, really hard to make my brain understand that where I/we watch a game doesn't actually affect the outcome.  I really want to move past this phase of my life, but I'm starting to seriously think that it will never change.  Just note that if you're eating tater tots at the start of the game and we go on a run, you WILL eat tater tots for the rest of the game and/or tournament.  That shit's real.



BOOM, double letters.  I feel like I've kinda plateaued with my Motion W paint skills.  I can't quite grasp what I need to do to improve.  Constructive criticism is welcome.

  • Former UW Chancellor and Awesome Name Owner Donna Shalala went to grad school there.
  • They play a 2-3 zone, and ONLY  2-3 zone.
  • They've got a rap sheet longer than my... well, it's long.  Seriously, the Bernie Fine thing, reports that kids were failing drug tests 4 times and still playing, Fab Melo's suspension... just a filthy program.
  • Did you know 'rap' is short for Record of Arrest and Prosecution?  Because I definitely did not.  And now we've all learned something completely useless.  Unless you ever end up on a game show and they ask you this question, in which case you probably owe me a hefty % of your winnings.  This will be one of your Slumdog Millionaire 'moments'.
  • FAB MELO.  That's such a hot name.
  • Best 'Notable Alum' I've seen yet: Lexington Steele, owner of Mercenary Motion Pictures and Black Viking Pictures Inc.  I laughed at my desk for a good 3 minutes when I saw him listed on their Wikipedia page.  God bless the internet.
  • This is what the first annual class of Syracuse University looked like:
You know, people were a lot uglier back then, but damn if they didn't know how to dress.  There's a lot of 1870's swag in this picture.

Speaking of the 1870's, I'm definitely baffled that they had cameras back then.  I figured they were invented sometime in the 1950's along with electricity.  Obviously this sent me on a Google/Wikipedia adventure, and I have since discovered that this was the first picture ever taken:

And damn, that's a terrible fucking picture.  Even an iPhone 3G takes better pictures than that.  If I'm Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, I'm pretty pissed off that I'm famous for taking the world's worst photograph.  Look at the shadows.  Are there 2 suns?  THINGS FRENCH PEOPLE ARE TERRIBLE AT:
  • War
  • Taking pictures
  • Most everything else not involving wine and/or croissants
I safely assume everything in France is exactly like this terrible quality video.

CONCLUSION: Only French people root for Syracuse.



Ben Brust: ZONE BUSTER.  Or at least that's the hope.  I'm not digging too deep with my analysis here: Since Syracuse will be bopping around in their zone, UW will most likely take a lot of threes.  On paper, a guy like Brust who mainly sees the court because of his ability to drain from deep should thrive.  But it hasn't always worked like that for Ben.  He killed it in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but has been rather quiet since the level of competition stepped up in Big Ten play.  Fortunately, he looks to have regained his stroke in the last couple games, including a HUGE stretch against Vandy when he drained 3 deep balls and finished on a nice backdoor layup.  If Brust can come in and give the Badgers a solid 15-20 minutes off the bench and make a few shots, I think we're in good shape.  It feels like the team feeds off him when he's making shots, and it's gonna take a spark of some kind to push the Badgers through their inevitable second half scoring drought.  Insert Brust.  Do work, kid.

I gotta give the Orange credit: they have some GREAT names in their program.  Scoop Jardine is just an AWESOME name for a person.  I'm not sure if Scoop is his birth name, but I'll happily go through the rest of my life assuming it is.  He's also a pretty damn good point guard.  DID YOU KNOW that Scoop Jardine and Jordan Taylor were roommates at Chris Paul's point guard skill camp?  PLAY THAT ANGLE, CBS.

As I wrote last week, teams in March almost always rely on their point guard to carry them.  Syracuse really isn't that different.  In a hard-fought win over 16 seed UNC-Ashville (wait, what?), Scoop finished with 11 points, 7 assists and a couple of zone-boosted steals.  But with the competition stepping it up a few notches a few days later against Kansas State, Jardine went off for 16/8/5 - very close to Taylor's line against Montana.  The only difference?  Scoop finished the game against Kansas State with a whopping 6 turnovers.  That gives him 14 turnovers in his last 3 games.  UW's game is definitely not forcing turnovers, but Taylor pestering Jardine into a couple costly TO's will definitely help nudge us closer to victory.


Neon Trees - Everybody Talks

If you've been watching the NCAA tournament, you've heard this song approximately 3,000,000 times.  Or, about 1/100th as often as this song...

Black Keys - Gold On The Ceiling

I'm not sure, but I think CBS really, really likes this song.  It comes on before and after virtually EVERY commercial break.  Is there a reason they couldn't rotate through a few songs?  The worst part: I LIKE this song.  And they're just gonna go ahead and ruin it for me and everyone else.

Anberlin - A Day Late

What compels someone to leave this comment on the internet?

At the very least, I feel like she owes us a follow-up down the road so we can rest easy knowing whether or not her middle school crush felt the same way.  All thanks to a random Anberlin song.  True love.

B.o.B - So Good

New B.o.B?  I'll take it.  Pretty sure he has a new album coming out, and it's about freaking time.  The Adventures of Bobby Ray WAS my summer two years ago.

Jimmy Eat World - Sweetness

Get it?


Beat the zone, beat 'Cuse

That's easier said than done

But in Bo I trust.


Probably not the type of behavior you expect to find at Stanford.  And there's this:

I've said it before: It's a rare breed of person that comments on YouTube videos.

I'm pretty sure I will always enjoy a good prank call.  And this one is great.

And finally, this week's BLAST FROM THE YOUTUBE PAST: The QVC Katana Slip!  I've laughed all 6,000 times I've watched this clip.  HALLOWEEN IDEA: Have one smaller friend go as a guy with a sword sticking out of his gut, and a bigger guy walking around like a slob talking about doing emergency surgery in the studio.  Too vague?  Too vague.


You're looking at PORK BELLY PASTRAMI from ye olde Pork Shoppe in Chicago.  'Ye olde' is not actually in the name, but it definitely should be.  It was virtually impossible for me to see something like pork belly pastrami on a menu and not try it.  The PBP was actually pretty bacon-y, which shouldn't be surprising because I'm pretty sure bacon comes from the belly of the pork.  I definitely appreciated the selection of BBQ sauces they had (spicy/tangy/sweet), and the fries were quite tasty.  Maybe a little too salty, but that'll happen.  If you're ever out trying to hit up Kuma's or Hot Doug's but don't feel like waiting 5 hours for a table, I highly recommend you go down the street and check it out.

PS - $2 beers make the world go 'round.


More sky porn that I've swindled from other people.  I'm really hoping I can pick up my sky porn game now that the sun doesn't set at 3 pm.  If you have a nice rooftop on your building, you should probably invite me over for a romantic sunset dinner.  I'll bring the wine and my iPhone, you provide the rooftop and dinner.  Ultimate win/win deal.


Comes down to the classic struggle: Mind vs. Heart.  Because my mind is telling me that we simply can't overcome their swarming zone and ultra-fast transition game.  My mind is telling me that we'll have a 9 minute scoring drought in the second half and end up down 14 with 7 minutes to go wondering what the hell just happened.

But my heart... my heart's screaming out 'we ain't done yet!'  Does that read as sappy as it felt writing it?  Tough.  And I guess I just keep coming back to one thing: Is Jordan Taylor really done playing for Wisconsin yet?  Bo Ryan doesn't think so.  Chokes me up a little when he points at Taylor and Wilson, pauses, and says 'There's now way you're being done'.  That's the motto I'm gonna embrace as well.  There's no way we're being done.  The Pick:


I said it at the top and I'll say it again: If we meet Ohio State in the Elite 8, it very well could be the biggest game in Badger history.  I know we went to a Final Four in 2000, but something about this just feels... different.  And there would be no more appropriate opponent to stand in our way than the Buckeyes.  The teams split the regular season meetings, each oddly winning on the road.  OSU is just bursting with talent, and the guy that actually scared me the most during conference play (Deshaun Thomas) is in full-on beast mode in the tournament.  But we've learned that the Badgers are capable of shutting Sullinger down (and sending him sprawling after a graze from our point guard).  Taylor has shown he can score on Craft.  And there's no way we're being done.  The Pick:


Heart over mind, every damn time.


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