Category Archives: 100 Days of SEC Dominance
I haven’t filled out my bracket yet. Let’s walk you through my failure!
The 2016-17 college basketball season was characterized by an absurdly strong commitment by all teams to keep fans not knowing what the hell was going on. I saw the top 25 at some point this season headlined by Baylor, a team who I didn’t know (and still don’t think, FWIW) was good. Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Kentucky, and Duke also spent time at #1, and all five would be pretty good picks to win it all.
There were no Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis performances by freshmen, as the young guys largely (non-Lonzo Ball/Malik Monk division) underperformed compared to expectations. Instead, senior Frank Mason (Kansas), junior Josh Hart (Nova), and junior Justin Jackson (UNC) won conference player of the year awards and each led their teams to #1 seeds.
Basically, you can’t get this right. I know nothing, so here we go.
Favorites: Villanova and Duke, and given Duke’s performance last week could be viewed as interchangeable. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that brings me zero joy. As the defending champ, Villanova comes in with more experience, but Duke has amassed an insane amount of talent and finally sat repugnant asshole Grayson Allen in favor of athletic PG Frank Jackson.
Final Four possibilities: I submit #5 Virginia and #6 SMU. Virginia suffered a midseason lull, but almost won at Villanova in a weird late-season nonconference game. SMU is back from last year’s postseason ban, and damn near won the AAC title with what we thought would be a depleted roster.
#3 Baylor, as referenced above, I’m not buying. Florida is the 4, and they played well in the SEC. Take that for what it’s worth.
Potential crazy upsets: #8 Wisconsin over Villanova in round 2, as they’ll at least limit possessions and keep the game close. It’ll be aesthetic hell to watch if they can pull it off. I’ll give #7 South Carolina over Duke a slight nod as well since the game would be in Greenville, SC, where UNC also plays, which means a good chunk of the crowd will be heavily invested in cheering for Duke’s opposition. Finally, whomever wins the play-in between #11’s USC and Providence will have a puncher’s chance to beat SMU and go on a run.
Favorites: Gonzaga is the first mid-major since Wichita State (in 201…2? maybe?) to get a #1, and they actually promise to be a tough out. Wichita State ran into an 8-seeded Kentucky team that nearly won the whole damn thing. #2 Arizona lost to Gonzaga in the regular season, but was without two key players and just won the top-heavy Pac-12. #3 Florida State looks like an NBA team from a size and athleticism POV.
Final Four Possibilities: #4 West Virginia presses like crazy, #5 Notre Dame is good…this one’s tough. Special shout-out to St. Mary’s at the 7-seed as well, they’d be the nation’s top mid-major…had they not lost to Gonzaga three times. Hell, 11 seed Xavier started the season in the top 10-15 in major polls.
Potential Crazy Upsets: Either #7 St. Mary’s or #10 VCU could beat Arizona in Round 2. Same for #6 Maryland and #11 Xavier over Florida St. I’m gonna ride with #12 Princeton over Notre Dame as my 12/5 because both teams play such a slow tempo that it’ll come down to the final two minutes.
I know you’re looking at Vanderbilt/Northwestern’s winner (damn this is an academically-sound bracket, even with Florida St. and Arizona) as a possible Gonzaga-beater…but both teams are hella inadequate to do this.
S16: Gonzaga/WVU/Florida St./St. Mary’s (ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
E8: Gonzaga/Florida St.
Winner: Florida St., who serves as my annual ‘Final Four pick to lose on Day 1’.
***IF YOU ARE WILLING TO SPONSOR THIS WEBSITE FOR FOOTBALL SEASON 2017, I’LL LOCK THIS BRACKET IN AND LET YOU MOCK ME WHEN FLORIDA STATE LOSES TO FGCU.***
Favorites: Kansas is here. Louisville is big and again developed a sick combo guard in Shelton Mitchell.
Final Four possibilities: If I don’t go
rock chalk, there are a bunch of teams that could theoretically have potential. However, #3 Oregon just lost a key player, apparently. #4 Purdue was the best team in the B1G and didn’t win a game in their conference tourney. #5 Iowa State is hotter than most teams, and I didn’t know that until looking at the ‘info’ button on the brackets. #7 Michigan is riding high after the plane derailment/B1G title, and #9 Michigan St. is always a tough out in March because Tom Izzo.
This bracket has nobody I’m actually that confident in.
Potential Crazy Upsets: I mean, pick one. I’ve got my eye on Oregon and Iowa State to possibly both get KO’d in the first round. Literally anything besides Kansas vs. play-in is on the table.
S16: Kansas, Purdue, Rhode Island, Louisville
E8: Purdue, Louisville
Favorites: Uhhh…Carolina, Kentucky, and UCLA are interchangeable as 1/2/3, with Carolina having the advantage of having to play one of them, at most. Butler is the fundamentally sound gym rat squad of the tournament who could give the three aforementioned up-tempo teams fits.
Final Four possibilities: Gonna be a tough road to hoe, but #6 Cincinnati and #10 Wichita State both feel criminally underseeded.
Potential Crazy Upsets: The 12/5’s strike again. Minnesota seems pretty nondescript and Middle Tennessee went 30-4. #13 Winthrop has some dude scoring 23 points a game, and guard play wins in March. Anyone knocking off the top 3 would register as well, and I think Cincinnati over UCLA and Wichita over Kentucky in round 2 should both at least merit consideration.
S16: UNC, Middle Tennessee, Cincinnati, Kentucky
E8: UNC, Kentucky
Winner: Kentucky (let’s…let’s not talk about it.)
Villanova vs. Florida St., Kentucky vs. Louisville: Seriously, Florida State is such a weak pick here. Villanova picks them apart and wins by 17. Hey, the nation’s (second) best rivalry! I think its a Kentucky run year.
Shit. Go SEC, I guess.
I am not making light of Hurricane Matthew, and am not (intentionally) showing my bias.
As has been discussed throughout SEC country this week, Florida and LSU failed to play a football game last weekend. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley mandated that the Georgia/South Carolina game not happen on Saturday, and it was played on a beautiful Sunday. Notre Dame/N.C. State and Virginia Tech/UNC were played in torrential downpours. And every model had the games right in the Carolinas by Saturday.
So why didn’t the Florida/LSU game happen, and what happens if it (likely doesn’t) happen later?
It is abundantly clear that LSU was down to play this game. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they moved a game from Baton Rouge to Tempe. The Tigers had a game with Tennessee move to a Monday to avoid another storm. Oh, and just last year, they agreed with South Carolina to play a game in Baton Rouge and donate all proceeds to flooding relief victims. Suffice it to say, they’ve been down this road before.
Florida, too, has been in this situation, as lightning caused their 2014 showdown with Idaho to be delayed, delayed, and finally cancelled. That’s fine, LSU cancelled a game with McNeese State for similar reasons last year.
BUT LSU MADE EVERY EFFORT TO PLAY THIS GAME.
Tigers AD Joe Alleva came out on the offensive in the wake of Thursday’s cancellation, stating that overtures had been made to play the game in Gainesville earlier or later in the day or week. No dice. In Baton Rouge? No, Florida found that unfair. In Mobile? Birmingham? Nashville? New Orleans? No, no, no, and no.
Even from an outside (and again, unbiased) perspective, Jeremy Foley stonewalled until arrangements to play this game wouldn’t happen.
Ironically, safety was the issue. I say ‘ironically’, because his solution kept his players in Gainesville, and because his ‘solution’ is to have LSU play three straight road games in 12 days at the end of the season.
Oh, and in the process take away the home game revenue of LSU’s last home game, Nov. 19, against South Alabama. You may recall that Baton Rouge had some flooding this summer, and their economy is in need of a home game. From Steven Godfrey’s article on the matter:
“I’d say for restaurants like ours in the community, it’s upwards of a $100,000 loss in sales compared to a normal Friday through Sunday,” said Ruffin Rodrigue, a former LSU player and owner of Ruffino’s restaurant in Baton Rouge.
“Of that number, a lot of that is money going directly to our employees, most of whom are coming off the flood. We’re trying to catch up right now. This is the last home game of the season. It’s senior night. That means it’s a homecoming for a lot of fans and families.”
His Ruffino’s location took on no water in the flood, but the Lafayette location did. A 9 p.m. post-flood curfew killed business across the city for almost a month.
“We were open for those three weeks, but no one could get here. The streets were flooded. Our sales went down 80 percent. But hey, still gotta pay your taxes and insurance, except there’s no cash coming in. So, everyone got really, really hurt. We need these home games to make good,” Rodrigue said.
“These home games are critical to getting our head above water, so to speak.”
So, we’re all in agreement that Florida has the egg on its face here, right?
Well, so does the SEC.
Mike Slive was critical in getting the aforementioned games to happen, as the SEC rules state that the commissioner can act as a facilitator to make agreeable concessions in incidents such as this. Greg Sankey? 0 for 1. By not taking a hard stance with Foley on LSU’s reasonable compromises, a failure in leadership up top throws the whole SEC season’s validity into question, because…
What could this impact?
The. Whole. Damn. SEC. Race.
As currently constituted, Florida and LSU will finish with 7 SEC games each. At 2-1, Florida’s remaining path includes Mizzou, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina. Logically played out, Florida should finish that schedule at 6-1, with a lone loss to Tennessee.
Tennessee, you ask? Oh, they play Bama this week. They finish with an easier schedule than that, but one can assume they finish 6-2.
Your SEC East champion based on the SEC’s rules? The Florida Gators.
You could run a similar hypothetical in the West, but its hard to see LSU going through Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Arkansas unscathed. (Although, COACH O!)
With its most daunting challenge ahead, and its starting quarterback out, Florida made zero effort to make this game happen. Until it was cancelled. Then, they leaned on Sankey to make something happen. These things included:
- Asking Georgia to move the Cocktail Party up a week so they could host LSU on Oct. 29. Jacksonville declined.
- Asking Texas A&M to move their Thanksgiving tilt with LSU to Thanksgiving Saturday, thus giving LSU a week’s rest between three tough road games. Both A&M and LSU declined.
- All of this, too, assuming that LSU would sacrifice its Senior Day game, pay off South Alabama (guarantee: $1.5 million), and come to Gainesville on Nov. 21. Florida’s guarantee for Presbyterian, by the way? $500,000.
To Foley’s credit, he is going out with a bang. He has yet to make one concession that would risk the Florida Gators football team, which I guess is his job. In so doing, though, he has undermined the SEC offices and pissed off every member institution in the conference.
Goddamnit, I hate Florida.
You may notice the lack of coverage of SEC Media Days this year. Two reasons: 1) we’re STILL trying to get back into football writing mode; 2) you shouldn’t give a rat’s ass about SEC Media Days. Nick Saban said it best yesterday, when he said (paraphrasing):
You saw our spring game. You know our depth charts. Everything we talk about here, you’ve already written about.
The little man is honest, yet deplorable. The best and worst voice in college football. And absolutely right.
As proof of the uselessness of SEC Media Days, I present this tidbit: the Southern media has correctly picked the SEC champ 3 times in the past 20 years. Sorry, Alabama, you’re doomed.
The SEC East projections were nothing to shout about, but given the above statistic, a fun exercise will be to discuss how they can be absolutely right, or dead wrong.
#SECMD16 SEC East Predictions:
7. South Carolina
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) July 14, 2016
So…the bottom four is interesting in that Vanderbilt and Kentucky are on the rise, and the fallout from that is dropping three of the division’s last six champs to the cellar. But this is the SEC East. Mizzou won after being picked last in 2013, and 4th in 2014. How can everyone win this/blow this thing?
They win if: They win the close games that they showed the proclivity to…not win last year. They should’ve beaten Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas (and only lost at Alabama by 5), return their skill talent, 4 starters on the O-line, and most of a defense which should improve under Bob Shoop (sideways glance toward Daniel Palmer).
They finish last if: Josh Dobbs is still too conservative, injuries blow up the OL, and Shoop does Shoopy things. The schedule is brutal enough– they open SEC play with Florida, at Georgia, at A&M, Bama. Their confidence could be shot after an 0-4 start, making games with the bottom four from the East tough.
They’re gonna be fine, probably.
They win if: They find a quarterback, a playmaker (in the McIlwain/Kiffin ‘get our best guy the damn ball sense) and their defense remains a Florida defense. They have the inherent advantage of being completely in Tennessee’s head.
They finish last if: Luke Del Rio is no better than Treon Harris, losses of Jonathan Bullard, Vernon Hargreaves, and that dude the Falcons took in the 1st round make the defense take a step back, and their streaks against Kentucky (29) and Tennessee (11) end in succession in September.
They win if: Kirby Smart makes a seamless transition on the defensive side of the ball, Jacob Eason makes a seamless transition from high school, and Chubb/Michel make seamless transitions from injury.
They finish last if: Honestly, more feasible than the first two. The 3-4 is an awkward fit in year 1, the secondary’s great numbers from 2015 are based on the crap quality of passing teams they played last year, Chubb and Michel never make it to full speed, and no quarterback establishes himself as even average. Kirby Smart is the next Will Muschamp.
Kentucky (aka the point where you scoff, but in so doing you forget the premise of this exercise)
They win if: They navigate a hellacious road schedule (Florida, Bama, Mizzou, Tennessee) because Drew Barker and Eddie Gran (new hotshot OC) are the truth with everyone else on the offense returning. The defense is good enough to hold people under 30.
They finish last if: The brutal string of 5-7’s wears on the program and they tank. The tough road slate means winnable home games, but South Carolina and Vanderbilt just prove better. The Mississippi State game won’t be on CBS like it was two years ago.
They win if: Trump wins the Presidency. Their defense is going to be legitimately good, so the offense just has to be 2014 Missouri good. Winning the home opener vs. South Carolina buoys them forward through the SEC-East heavy first half of the season, as Florida, Kentucky, and Georgia all fall victim.
They finish last if: They Vandy. Their offense is going to be heinous.
They win if: See 2014. Charles Harris is the next Sam/Ealy/Golden/those dudes. Drew Lock goes from mediocre to efficient. The young offensive line gels.
They finish last if: The players strike again, the offense maintains the status quo, and Barry Odom is not cut out to be a head coach, SEC or otherwise.
They win if: Coach Boom is who we thought he was six years ago when he went to Florida. He actually learned from his mistakes, and he and Kurt Roper manage to piece together an amazing offense to pair with a defense that goes peak Muschamp-y.
They finish last if: Their punter is one of two featured players in Phil Steele’s spread (check). They open with losses at Vandy and Mississippi State, and can’t hold the fort at home vs. any of A&M, Georgia, Tennessee, or Mizzou. That…all seems pretty plausible.
Uncle Verne is leaving us after the 2016 season.
I’m conflicted on this. While I certainly won’t miss his missed calls or worthless reactive platitudes, I just…love the guy. He’s Uncle F***ing Verne. He was the voice of Happy Gilmore. He’s given us hundreds of memorable calls, to the point that the soundtrack of any SEC fan’s fandom could be narrated by none other.
Seriously, try to picture some of these games without him.
Hit the comments and share the best Verne calls or gaffes.
Let’s look back at some of my recent favorites in the meantime:
There’s never a reason not to watch the kick six:
Before my time, but legendary:
LOL. ❤ you, Verne.
Honestly, early onset writer’s block set in this morning. Thank you, Jim and your trolly ways, for giving me some material.
Jim Harbaugh LOVES poking the SEC bear. He has gone out of his way to troll (by my count) Nick Saban, Butch Jones, Bret Bieliema, and Kirby Smart…and Jim McIlwain famously dodged him, saying satellite camps were fine.
Harbaugh has adopted the prison mentality: find the biggest guy in the room on the first day, and punch him square in the face. Has it worked? Maybe. Does it show who the biggest guy in the room is? Absolutely.
Jim Harbaugh wears Braves jersey to Atlanta camp https://t.co/3wAw5KqHnk
— DawgNation (@dawgnation) June 2, 2016
Hank Aaron, former mayor/civil rights leader Andrew Young and Jim Harbaugh talking to campers pic.twitter.com/F5Q6U6YLCG
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) June 2, 2016
Jim Harbaugh’s local attire for today’s Atlanta camp: Braves’ jersey of Hank Aaron. While sitting next to Hank Aaron pic.twitter.com/IeRfdesrLl
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) June 2, 2016
The Hank Aaron jersey …while sitting next to Hank Aaron. Y’all, this man is a LEGEND. And he’s proving our point.