published Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

5-at-10: Bracket picks, Bridgewater sinks, Wow — AU hires Bruce Pearl

Hey look, college basketball has started. Great. As expected we'll go wall-to-wall college hoops today. It's that big.

From the "Talks too much" studios, the ball is tipped.

Bracket bonanza

We are participating in three bracket related challenges.

First we will play in the TFP office pool, and since it's for entertainment purposes only, we hope to have as much entertainment as last year when Louisville won it all and made our bracket the office standard. Good times.

Second, we will host and play in the fourth annual "Method to the Madness: Last-in, First-out Challenge." The rules are easy, pick the first No. 1 seed to get bounced and the last double-digit seed to be left in the dance. Since there are more double-digit seeds in the draw, in the case of a split tie (one has the double-digit and one has the No. 1 seed correct), we'll give extra credence to the double-digit seed. If we still have a tie after that, we'll let the Electric Elite Eight Shootout challenge serve as a second tie-breaker. (The Electric Elite Eight Shootout is when you pick two players alive in the second weekend and the pair that scores the most total points wins. We'll get to that next week.)

We'll be the first to enter with Wichita State and Stephen F. Austin (who is way more enjoyable than Stephen A. Smith).

Third, we're going to enter a bracket in the ESPN 105.1 pool at espn,com. Here are the details: Contestants must have an account on www.ESPN.com to enter. If they don't have one, they must create one. Click on "Tournament Challenge" under the "Fantasy & Games" tab. Search for the group name "ESPN 105.1 The Zone." Use the password "chattanooga." One bracket per player and prizes are still to be determined.

As for the ESPN sheet, it would be entered in the Warren Buffett billion-dollar bonanza. What would you do with a billion bucks? Also, how cool would it be to be in Warren Buffett's shoes and know that if you gave away a billion, you'd still have like $55 billion? Wow.

Speaking of picks and picking, if you want real hodgepodge chicanery from the selection committee, look at how Vegas ranks the favorites to win the tournament:

1) Florida (9-2) — No. 1 overall seed

2) Michigan State (5-1) — No. 4 seed

3) Arizona (7-1) — No. 1 seed

4) Louisville (7-1) — No. 4 seed

5) Kansas (10-1) — No. 2 seed in Florida's bracket

6) Duke (15-1) — No. 3 seed

7) Wichita State (15-1) — No. 1 seed

8) Syracuse (15-1) — No. 3 seed in Florida's bracket

9) Virginia (18-1) — No. 1 seed

10) Wisconsin (20-1) — No. 2 seed

11) Michigan (25-1) — No. 2 seed

12) Villanova (25-1) — No. 2 seed

13) Creighton (25-1) — No. 3 seed

14) Iowa State (35-1) — No. 3 seed

15) UCLA (35-1) — No. 4 seed

16) Kentucky (40-1) — No. 8 seed (and an obvious outlier because of the public support)

———

College football news

Let's take a quick five spot spin around the college football realm:

• Maybe Georgia players felt threaten by Clemson suspending four players for the 2014 season opener and wanted to match them twit for tat. Four Georgia players including starting safety Tray Matthews were arrested late Monday for theft by deception. Not good times.

• Alabama continued spring drills Monday and they were featured on ESPN. Did you see the interview? Here's the takeaway: 1) Expect Jacob Coker to have a say in the QB decision; 2) David Pollack interrupted Nick Saban's answer and the level of awkwardness was palatable. Good times.

• UTC took to the field for a season of much anticipation. Here's TFP all-around ace Stephen Hargis' report.

• Tennessee needs fat bodies across the defensive front. Here is UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown's report. Side note: UT's glaring lack of experience across each line is a troubling issue.

———

Quarterback issues

Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater worked out for pro scouts on Monday. Blake Bortles will participate in his pro fay sometime this afternoon.

Bridgewater did not impress. Bortles could grab a firm hold of the top spot.

And in the end, we'd rather have Aaron Murray in round 4 than Bridgewater, Bortles or Johnny Football with a top four pick.

We get it — the craziness that can be quarterback cravings in the quarterback starved NFL.

But know this: The only thing that is worse than not having a QB is spending a top 10 pick on a QB reach and missing. It wrecks your franchise for at least three years, causes an overhaul of front office personnel and puts even more pressure on the next GM to reach in the draft for a QB.

Here are the reaches in the top 10-12 picks in Round 1 in recent years and which star player the team passed on:

2011 — Jake Locker (No. 8), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10), Christian Ponder (No. 12); Pro Bowlers J.J. Watt (11), Robert Quinn (14), Mike Pouncey (15) were still on the board, as were quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick were available in round 2.

2012 — Ryan Tannehill (No. 8); Luke Kuechly (No. 9).

2013 — E.J. Manuel (No. 16); Eric Reid (No. 18), Kyle Long (No. 20).

———

This and that

— Congrats to the XX Mocs on getting an 11 seed — they could have been a step higher in our mind. Still, Lexington is a way better trip than College Station. Also, congrats to the Lady Vols for a No. 1 seed.

— We have high hopes for the XY Mocs tonight. Good times.

— Our man Weeds has a great take on the officiating in college hoops here.

— Indiana declined a bid to the CBI tournament, dismissing the incite because school officials said it was beneath the program. Hoosiers AD Fred Glass said, "We're Indiana. We don't play in the CBI." Wonder if Freddie contacted the seniors and the rest of the players on the IU roster. Maybe they wanted one more chance to play the game.

— The Philadelphia 76ers are epically bad. Losers of 21 in a row, Philly is one of the worst teams in recent memory. The 76ers also are being lauded in some circles.

———

Today's question

OK gang, it's your turn.

Who's your first No. 1 seed out and last double-digit seed still playing? Who's your sleeper? Who's your Final Four?

Also, if you're not much of a bracket hound, here's what do you think was the best first-round upset in the NCAA tournament?

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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jomo11 said...

Fist #1 out- Virginia, last double-digit St. Joesph

Baylor will be the best sleeper to get to the Final Four

And, there seems to be legs in this Bruce Pearl to Auburn. . .though Im surprised

March 18, 2014 at 10:32 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Twitter action is beginning to heat up having Bruce Pearl being offered Auburn job if he wants it. If he takes it, to win at Auburn he will have to resume his shady recruiting ways.

March 18, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
chas9 said...

I was out of range yesterday, so my responses to Monday's 5@10:

My office brackets manager is Luigi. Could that be a problem?

Yes, the UK/UT/Louisville/Duke/Michigan/Shockers branch is loaded. But if you're a Cats or Vols fan, you knew your path would be hard. For each, emerging from the first weekend would require serious upsets, but each has that upside potential. And I think Wichita State is the weakest of the 1 seeds.

Seems to me the teams of Cuonzo and Cal are very similar in that they both started the season with high hopes, then looked moribund in recent weeks, and at the last possible moment drank some energy drinks and look to be dangerous matchups for anybody.

Jay's final four (Florida, 'Zona, Louisville, Sparties) is good, but I can't go with Donovan's dandies. They've looked mortal lately, and weak free throw shooting will bite them. They deserve the overall #1, but they are the weakest overall #1 in memory, as MT said.

Eliminating conference tourneys makes sense, but starting with 96 teams is a horrible idea. Even 68 is four too many. Ever since Plato and Euclid, 64 has been a golden number. That's not a jab at UT. I'm glad they're in.

Agree with the UT analysis by jomo and fec yesterday. I, too, had thought The Vols needed a Lofton. The Commonwealth of KY has lost several killer sharpshooters like Lofton to SEC opponents, but we enjoy seeing them do well. Chris is playing in Turkey, last I heard.

You can't count Jimmy Page as a Patrick on a mere technicality.

JMC--Do you put ketchup on Ft. Worth BBQ?

March 18, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.
MocTastic said...

BREAKING NEWS: Pearl to Auburn.

http://www.auburntigers.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/031814aaa.html

This will be the first time a school has to justify a coach for a show cause hearing.

March 18, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Too bad that UTK petition only helped Pearl go to Auburn. . .coaches all over the country now are begging UTK fans to start a petition with their name, so they can get raises and other better jobs than Tennessee

March 18, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Was going to say it would be funny if the NCAA immediately hit AUburn with a two year NCAA tournament ban, which they theoretically could do just for hiring Bruce, but AU won't be good enough anyway.

One would think the SEC would try to get their schools not to hire coaches with Bruce's pedigree, ie, under a show cause ruling.

March 18, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Chas, agreed that the tourney should go back to 64 teams and stay there. If more at-large teams are wanted, then cut back on the auto bids to bad mid-major conferences. Yes, that might include cutting a bid to the Southern Conference in most years, but would an invite to the NIT be such a bad thing for a relatively "bad" SoCon champ? The overall exposure would be less, but the chance to play more win-able games might be better.

With most of the attention on the Dance, the pressure is low for the Mocs tonight in their tourney game. But I hope that translates into good focused effort and not lackadaisical play.

March 18, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.
fechancellor said...

I don't know. I sort of always liked playing them (Georgia) that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended--Steve Spurrier.

10 Ring is this the spot to say, "and so it goes?"

March 18, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Wow. Bruce Pearl to Auburn leaves us with a huge question: When did Auburn start a basketball team?

Seriously, what a hire. Wow. It could mean probation in three years. It could fall flat, considering we do not know if a rules-following Pearl can win at previous levels.

As for the show-cause, well, AU's two compliance chiefs were the NCAA officials that investigated Pearl, so they likely are pretty familiar with his case. Also, AU can show its recent videos and attendance numbers as a cause for drastic measures. Even if they deny the appeal, if we understand it correctly, it only means that Pearl has limited recruiting chances until August.

March 18, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.
chas9 said...

Whatever happens, don't think Pearl will fall flat. Especially if he's face down. Guess he'll have to paint a blue stripe down his orange belly.

Agree that the IU invite was an incitement.

Will next year's basketball Vols or football Vols be more hurt by attrition?

Buffet's in no danger of losing any of his billions. If all 317 million people in the U.S. filled out a bracket at random, you could run the contest for 290 million years, and there’d still be a 99 percent chance that no one had ever won.

The oddsmakers putting two four seeds among the top four teams confirms my feeling (and Jay's) that Louisville and The Sparties were underseeded. But I can't agree that Kansas has the fifth best chance to win it all. Without Embiid, they lose early.

I won't be picking 40-1 Kentucky to win it all, but the oddsmakers' picking them 16th is in line with their RPI. So they may be underseeded, too.

Weak as the XY SEC is, the XX SEC is strong. Got two of the four 1 seeds. And the Lady Cats are a strong 3 seed. Their seed is fair, but head to head with The Lady Vols, they showed they're just as good. And like the XY Vols and Cats, they seem to be peaking at the right time.

I wish the XX Mocs well, but they won't escape the XX Cat's homecourt advantage.

It'd be cool for the three top XX SEC teams to join UConn in the final four, but it won't happen, because Kentucky has little chance of taking out the 32-0 Notre Dame.

Weeds' take on the rule changes and officiating is good. Cal's saying his team will now foul on every possession may be happening. After getting to the charity stripe way more than its foes all season, Georgia shot 30 FT's to UK's 18 Saturday.

March 18, 2014 at 11:39 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Pearl will make Auburn good quickly. He will own Atlanta ( a hotbed for BBall recruits ) being on ESPN the last few years will help him recruit nationally. Except for Calipari and Frank Martin, all the other SEC coaches have had charisma-bypass surgery.

March 18, 2014 at 11:41 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

If they could/do hit Auburn with an NCAA tournament ban, it only would matter because of what Pearl brings. And if AU went another way, it would for all intents and purposes be an internal NCAA tournament ban that could last for who knows how long.

Stewwie —

Have similar hopes for a good UTC performance. And we could see a future in which the NCAA tries to beef up the NIT, because if the big boys leave, the NIT will be all the NCAA has.

FE to the C —

We thought of that exact quote from the OBC this morning.

And "So it goes" is a lot like a cold Bud Light, khaki shorts and a visor with your favorite school on it — there's never really a bad time for it, it's never really out of style and it goes with almost everything.

Selah.

March 18, 2014 at 11:42 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

So what hot Auburn coed will Pearl take a shirtless picture on the lake with?

Maybe player arrests should be done as if it's a NASCAR event. You know, "And with those arrests, Georgia takes the lead in the Fulmer Cup!"

Still think Arizona is the first No. 1 done.

March 18, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.
titanic said...

Great move by AU on the Pearl hire. I must admit as a Johnny Vol, this stings. I was/am a big fan of Bruce. Say what you will but, I believe the man went 3-1 against those back-to-back champion Florida teams with Dane Bradshaw at power forward.

Looks like in the future Auburn is raising the bar and UT will be lowering the curtains.

March 18, 2014 at 12:43 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Spy, I doubt Pearl's successful charismatic romance directly aimed at Vol fans will be repeated in the similar manner at Auburn, however, I do know of a secluded location south of Auburn where Pearl can show off his BBQ skills to recruits.

March 18, 2014 at 1:38 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Auburn plays AT UTK next season, , , , we really need to get an isolation camera on Dave Hart during the game. Would be incredible reality TV. And then get some quotes from Jummy Cheek

March 18, 2014 at 1:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

That will be an event. And while Dave Hart's reaction would be nice, we'd like to have Mike Hamilton mic-ed up for that one.

And it could be a rough Thursday at work for Mr. Hart if a) Auburn hiring Bruce Pearl and b) UT loses in a play-in game in a 36-hour stretch. First one has happened.

FE to the C —

The greater Auburn area is filled with 'secret' spots — it's in the town charter.

Titanic —

Love that final line.

Spy —

Who's your double-digit seed left lingering?

March 18, 2014 at 1:49 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

War Pearl!

1st #1 seed out is UVA, last double digit still in Nebraska.

March 18, 2014 at 2 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Has UTK now changed the name of the "Blame law firm" to Fulmer,Hamilton,Kiffen,Dooley,Hart,Martin ????

March 18, 2014 at 2:01 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Not so much changed as just added a new partner. Stupid Martin for making the tournament and keeping his job. (Sarcasm. Mostly.)

McPell —

You are in.

March 18, 2014 at 2:05 p.m.
jomo11 said...

I also just saw a tweet today that Bruce Pearl collabarated with Butch Jones to cure cancer . . .TODAY

March 18, 2014 at 2:32 p.m.
jomo11 said...

On another note, look for Georgia's Mark Fox to end up at Washington State and Ben Howland at Georgia

March 18, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Curious for all you UTK fans...how many NBA players did Pearl develop at UTK?

March 18, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Ah, Spring...The clocks have sprung forward. The cherry blossoms should be blooming any day now. A young man's fancy has turned to love. And, me and my Bulldog brethren are once again cross referencing our roster with the latest copy of "Just Busted" magazine in an attempt to calculate the rate of gridiron attrition.

Some annual traditions are better than others.

March 18, 2014 at 3:37 p.m.
chas9 said...

First #1 to lose--Wichita State

Last double digit seed still in--St. Joe

Final four--Michigan, Virginia, 'Cuse, 'Zona

March 18, 2014 at 4:05 p.m.
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