Thursday, March 18, 2021

NCAA Tournament: 1st & 2nd Rounds


It feels like March Madness is a double pandemic turning point, right? A year ago we were riding high, winning the B1G, ready to probably win a National Championship. And then BAM, COVID absolutely ravages the entire world and the first main sports casualty is the tourney. Here we are a year later and vaccines are flying off the shelf while you're filling out your brackets. Now, it is possible that I skipped over a few things between last March and this March, but can we have a moment? Do you think the universe will let us just have a goddamn moment and enjoy this?

Only time will tell. I'm knocking on an entire lumber yard right now when I say I'm truly terrified of a COVID outbreak in Indy. Doesn't feel like the collective 'we' of the world has caught a break in the last 12 months, but you know what? It is TIME. Things are on the up and up. There IS light at the end of the tunnel, and color me stupid but I kinda think this Badger team has sandbagged a bit. Under commit, over deliver. Only justification I've got for our complete inability to win a damn game this year. These dudes are saving it, and we are about to shoot the lights out at Mackey.

PS - betwixt you and I, I will never watch any show or movie that 'takes place' during the COVID pandemic. Why the hell would anyone want to transport their mind back to this awful time in this awful place? I will track down every review site I can find for the first COVID romcom and leave a -10 star review. This shit has been miserable and the sooner we stuff it in a barrel and shoot it to the moon, the better.

PPS - fine, it hasn't ALL been terrible. Every dog in the world is still absolutely tippy tappy happy from all day human time. People went through that little bread-making phase. Toilet paper and paper towel moguls made more money than Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk combined. And I got married to the most beautiful bride who has since threatened to divorce me about 2 million times because spending 24/7 with someone in a small apartment for a year straight is kind of tough! Who knew!



TV: CBS is where the big boys play



(1) Michigan
Opponents: Texas Southern OR Mount Saint Mary's, St. Bonaventure/LSU
Undefeated Chances: 80%
Another good thing to happen during the pandemic: We got a puppy! Allow me to introduce Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire AKA Mrs. Doubtfire AKA Mrs. D:

She is adorable and a monster and today during a work call she dripped liquid doo doo over our entire apartment and then threw up a few times for good measure. If my landlord is reading this, please know that it's not our fault there are little gaps in the hardwood floor that may or may not have poop in them forever now.

PS - get us out of this apartment

(1) Illinois
Opponents: Drexel, Georgia Tech/Loyola
Undefeated Chances: 75%
It's too good to be true: There's no way Illinois and Loyola actually meet, right? Seems like every year there's that dream 2nd or 3rd round matchup that we all start greasing up for before the tournament starts, and then something crazy happens and this dork sends Sister Jean home early:

Rush the Court on Twitter: "60 minutes of Josh Pastner in a face shield is  exactly what we had in mind when we started this season of COVID.… "

I get that we want to send the right message and be safe, but I refuse to believe he is actually preventing anything other than accidentally swallowing a bug while running.

PS - yeah I mean I really want the Illinois/Loyola matchup too, duh. I need as much of Loyola's mustache man as I can get:

Cameron Krutwig: Loyola senior among basketball elite - Chicago Tribune

Magnificent. Walking bucket.

(2) Iowa
Opponents: Grand Canyoneros, VCU/Oregon
Undefeated Chances: 70%
My only thought on Iowa is Garza is their Frank: This is Iowa's version of our runner-up team, but we woulda knocked the face off these guys. I know I SHOULD get all B1G sentimental and be happy to see a school like Iowa with a great team, but Fran McCaffery deserves bad things to happen to him. If Grand Canyon wins, I will apply to grad school there.

(2) Ohio State
Opponents: Oral Roberts, Virginia Tech/Florida
Undefeated Chances: 58.6%
Is there something wrong with me: Reality check: I wasn't like bursting at the seams to fill out my bracket this year. In fact, filling out a bracket has become less fun for me as I've turned into this old man who stares down people who run the stop sign on my block like I'm the neighborhood traffic enforcer.

With that said, it's always been about those first two days for me. Is it weird they're on a Friday and Saturday this year? Sure. Does that diminish my excitement to eat my weight in Pizza Hut while demonstrating my absolute mastery of knowing exactly what number channel TruTv is? It does not!

PS - oh I definitely pulled up YouTube TV after this to make sure I even get TruTV these days. The last time we played in the tournament I still had cable... like an IDIOT!

PPS - kinda wish I still had cable so I could do my super cool trick of making CBS/TNT/TBS/TruTV favorites on my cable box, and then you could just keep hitting 'favorite' on the remote to cycle through them. Simpler times.

(4) Purdue
Opponents: North Texas, Villanova/Winthrop
Undefeated Chances: 52%
I have a confession: I did 'dibs' for the first time in my Chicago life. I couldn't not do it. After shoveling 3 spots on our block, I stared at a giant pile of snow in front of my building for DAYS. No one even tried! So If I get out there and spend 45 minutes doing it myself, knowing that my cardio game is QUITE weak right now, then damnit if I'm gonna let someone swindle me when I run out to get my quad shot iced latte with skim milk.

I never felt proud sticking a stupid chair and bucket in the spot, but I slept easy knowing I can escape the confines of my home for a hot second without having to park in a bunny hill of snow.

(9) Wisconsin
Opponents: North Carolina, Baylor/Hartford
Undefeated Chances: 21.5%
There's some history here: We've had some BATTLES with UNC in March. Watching the '05 game at Brats as a freshman went from the highest of highs (Tucker alley-oop) to lowest of lows (their 9 NBA players closing us out). Between Illinois and UNC, we ran into some absolute buzzsaws that year. NOT FAIR

(10) Rutgers
Opponents: Clemson, Houston/Cleveland State
Undefeated Chances: 14%
Good for Buttgers: I legitimately mean that! I think their football program should be disqualified from all future everythings, but it's kind of cool their basketball team is respectable.

(10) Maryland
Opponents: UConn, Alabama/Iona
Undefeated Chances: 14%
Other highlights of a quarantine during a pandemic: because it's not all terrible and we need to find and embrace the little victories:
  • Justifying every delivery order as 'just trying to support our local businesses'. And also there's no way in hell I'm cooking tonight. Gotta support the team.
  • Masks were kinda nice when it was hella cold outside.
  • COVID soared past the weather as the numero uno de facto smalltalk topic. There's a little armchair epidemiologist in all of us!
  • 5 hour video game sessions are now officially 'hanging out with my friends'. It's amazing how 'hey babe gonna hang out with my friends tonight' is a very accurate description of a bunch of 30-somethings getting stomped by middle schoolers in Call of Duty.
  • Golf suddenly became the most socially acceptable physical activity. Which is great, because driving a cart around for 5 hours drinking Miller Lattes is now my go-to form of exercise and will certainly keep the quarantine weight off.

(11) Michigan State

Opponents: UCLA, BYU, Texas/ACU
Undefeated Chances: 10%
This is how the play-in should work: I will keep shouting this until everyone sees the light, but the play-in games should be reserved for the last at-large teams. All automatic qualifiers should go directly to the first round, do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you win your tournament you have earned your ticket. Power conference teams that squeaked in can battle each other for their spots. This will give smaller conferences fair treatment and make the play-in games infinitely more entertaining. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Here's another picture of Mrs. Doubtfire for good measure:


I was ready to declare this the SONG OF THE QUARANTINE for multiple reasons:

Headlights glowing like the sun
All revved up with nowhere to run
Uh-oh, silver, cream, and gold
All dressed up with nowhere to go
'Cause I'm
Dressed up with nowhere to go, whoo

But then I remembered I can count on two hands the number of times I've had jeans on since February 2020. My athleisure game has been maxed out and if I didn't have to be on video for Zoom calls there might be weeks where I wouldn't even contemplate wearing a shirt. Enormous letdown that I never went full old man robe and gave up. Such perseverance!

PS - speaking of robes, I'm aware this is relatively stupid but are the robes in hotel rooms like free to wear? I grew up under a 'don't leave that light on it costs money!' regime, so I've been conditioned to assume every single thing in a hotel room that's not bolted down costs money the second you touch it. 


Can you believe it?

It's been an entire year

Must crush UNC


In honor of St. Patrick's day, let us never forget that this was real and this was spectacular.

PS - I've seen this video about 780 times since ebaums world was a thing, and this week I learned two critical pieces of information:

1. The amateur sketch was auctioned off on eBay for $1,100. $1,100! That's it! With all of this insanity around NFTs, can you even fathom how much the original amateur sketch would go for these days? Some boner out there has been laughing for YEARS knowing they got the steal of a lifetime. Never been more jealous of anything in my life.

2. The leprechaun was actually a dude by the name of Midget Sean:

You see right here is how you do a prank. No one gets hurt, everyone has a laugh, and the guy who just so happens to live around the corner and owns one of the only known thousand-year-old leprechaun flutes in existence can show up ready to seize the moment.

PPS - 

My only hope is that Midget Sean has been able to cash in on his fame. Absolute legend.

Let's just stick with the oldies but goodies, and this is still one of my favorite oldies. Also, 'keen as mustard' is too British for me to even get started on.

This is a cool video and all, but hot damn do I miss bowling. LOVE bowling. Joined a league, bought a ball, went all in. BANG, pandemic strikes. You think back on it and sticking your fingers in a greasy ball and then grabbing a slice of greasy pizza doesn't sound very sanitary. Those are different greases! But oh would I kill to get greasy and throw some rocks. SOON.

PS - the 'who do you think you are, I AM!' guy announced his retirement with a BANG:

What an absolute legend, and my man's got the face of a guy who's spent his entire life in bowling alleys that probably allowed unlimited cigs.


These aren't your ORDINARY Nest wings. These are First Time Getting The Nest Since Quarantine Started Nest wings. The second I stepped foot inside to pick them up was the closest thing to an out of body experience that I've had. The dart board may have been off. No one could pound High Life and spam The Boys Are Back In Town on the TouchTunes. But for that 60 second window, life smelled like normal. And when I got home, it tasted like normal. Never craved normal so badly.

PS - It should go without saying but here we are: BBQ is the worst wing flavor at the Nest and at every single wing establishment*. Why would you waste your time with janky reject ketchup when you can get, oh I dunno, buffalo? Or teriyaki? Or any of the fun ones at other spots that make your eye sockets sweat? BBQ sauce is garbage juice.

*except at Twin Anchors, where Capone himself used to get the wings with Prohibition sauce.


Elite sunbeams. Dany had no idea why we spent a half hour not moving on our walk and taking pictures of the sky.


You know what's weird? The last time we had a Preview for the NCAA Tournament, this is what I wrote here:
Underseeded and overlooked. Just where we want to be. This team is stupidly due to hit shots, and nothing enables that more than having two bigs that draw attention in the post. Koenig/Showy/Vitto/Trice - just need two of them to catch fire in any given game. Next thing you know teams can't double Happ and BANG we are playing next weekend.
My my my, how the turntables don't turn at all. That is basically the exact same situation we are in right now. Our seed sucks, but get over it. At the end of the day, nothing matters more than whether or not we can hit some threes. If we shoot 40% from three, it will be very hard for UNC to beat us. Basketball can be a complicated game, but usually it distills down into can we make a goddamn bucket. I'm ready to feel positive vibes only. Trice is basically dripping icewater out of his veins. Aleem's entire career is on the cusp of culminating in burying the open threes he gets every game. Potter got that big man swag and loves to drop bomps. Life has been too miserable the last year to be anything other than optimistic here. LET'S GO. THE PICKS:

WISCONSIN 63, North Carolina 59

WISCONSIN 66, Baylor 65

Stay safe. Get your vaccine when it's time. Enjoy the games. HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS.




  1. I legit snort-laughed my latte out of my nose whe I read ‘Miller Lattes.’

  2. Absolutely nailed the game show blooper. Fucking died.
    Also that bowling alley has killer brunch if you're ever in Minny and stop by.