Friday, March 26, 2010

Sports Saturday: 3/27/10

So what if it's not Saturday yet? I usually write this post on Friday anyway, and it's not like I have anything else lined up for today (it's been kind of a slow week), so why not just publish it now?

College basketball - One reason the NCAA Tournament is as popular as it is has nothing to do with the games themselves: it's because of those infamous office bracket pools. Fill out your bracket, put in a few bucks, watch the games, and hey, maybe you'll actually get something right. Thanks to bracket competitions, every game now has meaning, and that makes every game (at least in the first couple rounds) watchable. If not for bracket pools, would anyone really give a crap whether Murray State beat Vanderbilt in the first round? Of course not.

Now, I filled out my bracket too, just like the rest of you. But last night, I realized that the existence of "my bracket" was actually decreasing my enjoyment of the tournament. To illustrate why, let's go back to last night's Butler v. Syracuse game. If not for the bracket pools, I would be rooting for the underdog "mid-major" Butler all the way. Who needs Syracuse? I've seen them win before. Give me somebody different! (Yes, Butler has had a decent run over the last decade, but until now they hadn't translated that into an Elite Eight run.) On the other the back of my mind, I knew that I had picked Syracuse to reach the Final Four, and that a Syracuse win would be better for my bracket. That's typically the problem I face when I watch tournament games. The NCAA Tournament is more exciting if the unexpected happens, Problem is, by definition, my bracket is a reflection of what I expect to happen. So, I can't have it both ways. Sometimes I wish I didn't have a dumb bracket and could just watch the games on their own merits without having to worry about my peers seeing my name at the bottom of the leaderboard, prompting thoughts of, "Why does this guy even bother blogging about sports if he can't even beat his own mother* in a bracket competition?" (* - Actually, my mom knows her stuff, and in fact, she usually wins.)

So...on a related note, I picked Duke to win it all, and they're the local team, so I've kind of been rooting for them. Over the last couple of weeks, I've learned that saying anything to the effect of "Yeah! Go Duke!" in public often conjures up feelings of "booooooo" and "Duke sucks!" from others. Duke is probably the most hated team in all of college basketball, and rooting for them in public is a great way to lose friends, or if you're obnoxious enough about it, get beaten up in a sports bar. I'm not necessarily going to root for Duke in every tournament game from here on out (depends on the opponent), but when I do, maybe I should keep it to myself. You know, for my own safety.

Since I am posting this a day early, I'm going to list Friday night games as well. Why not?

Fri 7:00p - Tennessee v. Ohio State, CBS (locally WRAL)
Fri 7:30p - Baylor v. St. Mary's, CBS
(locally WRAL.2)
Fri 9:30p - Northern Iowa v. Michigan State, CBS
(locally WRAL.2)
Fri 10:00p - Duke v. Purdue, CBS
(locally WRAL)
Sat 1:00p - Division II Championship: Indiana (PA) v. Cal Poly Pomona, CBS
- I'm including this game on the list only because it involves Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Go IUP!
Sat 4:30p - Butler v. Kansas State, CBS
Sat 7:00p - Kentucky v. West Virginia, CBS
Sun 2:00p - Teams TBD, CBS
Sun 4:30p - Teams TBD, CBS

NHL - At last, Versus is back on DirecTV, with a few weeks to spare before the playoffs begin. Whew! Close one. However, if I was a big fan of the Mountain West Conference (talking college sports now), I would be very upset at the timing of all this. DirecTV and Versus parted ways a week or two before Versus's first college football broadcast, and came to terms literally two days after Versus's final college basketball broadcast. So, if you're a Mountain West fan, you basically missed all of football season and all of basketball season, and just barely, too.

I like the NHL playoffs a lot, so I was actually considering my options. If Versus wasn't back on DirecTV by the time the playoffs started, would I have switched to Dish Network? I was prepared to stick it out with DirecTV as long as it was going to take. If Versus wasn't back in time for the playoffs, I was going to call DirecTV and act like I was thinking about quitting, in an attempt to guilt DirecTV into giving me a discount similar to the $50 discount they gave me back in October. But I wasn't actually going to switch. I think DirecTV is better than Dish, and I was afraid that the day after I switched, Versus would be back on the air. I was prepared to miss most of the playoffs, especially considering that the teams I'm most interested (Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay) in won't even be in the playoffs, and that my least favorite team - the Washington Capitals - are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. I don't need to see Alex Ovechkin lift the Cup. Ugh.

That said, once Versus came back on the air, my interest in the NHL playoffs was renewed. Yeah! Anybody but the Capitals!

Fri 7:30p - Ottawa at Buffalo, MSG Buffalo
Fri 7:30p - Minnesota at Detroit, Fox Sports North
Fri 9:00p - Anaheim at Edmonton, Fox Sports West
Sat 1:00p - Calgary at Boston, NESN
Sat 1:00p - Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Fox Sports Pittsburgh
Sat 7:00p - Atlanta at Carolina, Fox Sports Carolinas
Sat 7:00p - Florida at Ottawa, Fox Sports Florida
Sat 7:00p - Tampa Bay at Buffalo, Sun Sports
Sat 7:00p - New Jersey at Montréal, NHL Network
Sat 7:00p - NY Rangers at Toronto, MSG
Sat 7:00p - NY Islanders at Columbus, Fox Sports Ohio
Sat 8:00p - Detroit at Nashville, Fox Sports Detroit
Sat 9:00p - Colorado at Phoenix, Fox Sports Arizona
Sat 10:00p - Vancouver at San Jose, CSN California
Sat 10:30p - Dallas at Los Angeles, Fox Sports Southwest
Sun 3:00p - Calgary at Washington, CSN Mid-Atlantic
Sun 5:00p - Toronto at Pittsburgh, Fox Sports Pittsburgh
Sun 6:00p - Edmonton at St. Louis, Fox Sports Midwest
Sun 7:00p - Columbus at Chicago, Fox Sports Ohio
Sun 7:00p - New Jersey at Philadelphia, MSG Plus
Sun 8:00p - Colorado at San Jose, CSN California

Auto racing - A quick thought from each racing league...

NASCAR: This week, the wing is gone, and the spoiler is back. Yay! I never really liked the wing, but I was never strongly opposed to it, either. And I don't know enough about the aerodynamics to know whether or not this will make the racing better at the 1.5-mile tracks, since I think that's where the "Car Of Tomorrow" racing has been its most boring...we'll see on that one.

Formula One: If the first race was any indication, it looks like we're in for another season of no passing and boring racing. But if you know that going in, then that's okay, right? That's the way I see it.

IndyCar: Versus is back, which means I'll now be able to watch every IndyCar race. Yay! However, due to the fact that I can only record two things at once on my DVR, this Sunday's IndyCar race is getting left out in favor of the NCAA Tournament and the NASCAR race. Too bad! Temporary street circuits often put on the most boring IndyCar races, and I don't know why they race on them all the time. (This season's IndyCar schedule features five races on street circuits, including three of the first four races.)

Sat 2:00p - NASCAR Camping World Trucks at Martinsville, SPEED
Sun 2:00a - Formula One Grand Prix of Australia, SPEED
Sun 1:00p - NASCAR Sprint Cup at Martinsville, FOX
Sun 3:30p - IndyCar at St. Petersburg, ABC

College hockey - Is the NCAA (basketball) Tournament not going your way? Then flip on over to the NCAA (hockey) Tournament!* The hockey tournament gets underway today, and we'll be down to the Frozen Four by Sunday night. That was fast. (* - I guess there is also the NCAA women's basketball tournament, but...meh.)

The list that follows doesn't show every tournament game; only the televised ones. Four of the eight first round games (and all four regional finals) are on ESPNU; the others are on The Frozen Four follows in two weeks. As much as I'd like to get into it, both Michigan State and Minnesota are absent from this year's tournament, and that makes it less interesting in my book. But on the bright side, we do get North Dakota, Bemidji State, Alaska-Fairbanks, Cornell, and even Alabama-Huntsville (whom I'm assuming has zero chance whatsoever of beating top seed Miami (OH) in the first round).

Fri 3:00p - Denver v. RIT, ESPNU (RIT = Rochester Institute of Technology, which I had never heard of until about five minutes ago.)
Fri 6:30p - Cornell v. New Hampshire, ESPNU
Fri 9:00p - Wisconsin v. Vermont, ESPNU
Sat 4:00p - Miami (OH) v. Alabama-Huntsville, ESPNU
Sat 6:30p - Teams TBD, ESPNU
Sat 9:00p - Teams TBD, ESPNU
Sun 5:30p - Teams TBD, ESPNU
Sun 8:00p - Teams TBD, ESPNU


Spartangoogle said...

Since my bracket will take a sharp downturn soon I am free to root for MSU which of course I'd be doing anyway.

James Allen said...

I'm sure you already know this, but here's how it shakes out:
If Duke is national champion, you win.
If Duke loses in the final game, Amber wins.
If West Virginia is national champion, Dad wins.
If West Virginia loses in the final game, I win.
If Baylor makes it to the championship game, Amy wins.