The Numbers Don’t Lie: Tiger Is the Most Important Figure in Sports

300px-TigerWoodsOct2011I said it before the Masters, and I’ll definitely say it now: golf needs Tiger Woods more than Woods needs golf.

The ratings for the Masters back up my argument.  The final round earned a 7.8 rating Sunday afternoon (by the way, a 7.8 rating means that 7.8 percent of American households tuned into the Masters).  Keep in mind that final round included a highly likeable Bubba Watson winning his second Masters title in three years.

The ratings were down 24 percent from last year’s Masters finale, in which Adam Scott beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff.  That’s right, a playoff round in one of the most cherished golf major tournaments generated little interest in the viewing public.

Here’s more.  One of the highest ratings for the Masters in the last 10 years was Tiger’s last win in 2005, which got a 10.3 rating.

So the moral of the story is this: no Tiger (or Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy) in contention means low-ass ratings for golf tournaments.

Allow me to take this a step further.  Tiger is the only athlete in recent memory (the last 10 years) where sports fans – casual or otherwise – literally stop what they are doing to tune in to see him in action.  Ever since Tiger won the Masters in dominating fashion in 1997, he had single-handedly drove several new viewers to golf.  Hell, I never gave two damns about the sport until Tiger started dominating.

As his sponsorships grew to mammoth values (Nike, Titleist and Cadillac are among his biggest), so did tournament purses for his fellow golfers.  You think there were as many multimillionaires on the PGA tour before Tiger came along?  I didn’t think so.

Tiger’s dominance has also made him a transcendent athlete in all of sports.  He and his brand is recognized worldwide.  In my opinion Tiger is the second-most popular athlete in the world after Michael Jordan.

Love him, like him, loathe him, or hate him – y’all have to give Tiger his props.

UConn: the School of Champions

uconnStudents, alumni – and fans – have to be mighty proud to be associated with the University of Connecticut.

After all, both its men’s and women’s basketball teams won national titles this week.  The UConn men defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 60-54 Monday night for the national championship.  The UConn women hammered Notre Dame the following night for their national championship.  Not only the men and women became the second tandem to win the national title in the same season, they were also the first tandem to do so in 2004.

Both teams were impressive in different ways.  The UConn men seemingly came out of nowhere in this tournament.  The Huskies were the seventh seed in their region and were not even expected in some circles to win their opening game vs. St. Joseph’s.  Keep in mind the UConn men got their asses kicked 81-48 to conclude the regular season.  the American Athletic Conference was also devalued by the NCAA Selection Committee (Louisville was a 4-seed?  Really???).

Gotta give props to head coach Kevin Ollie for pushing the right buttons and the senior leadership of Shabazz Napier.  Without those two, UConn would have fallen to St. Joseph’s in its first NCAA Tournament game.

As for the UConn women, what else needs to be said?  40-0.  An average victory margin of over 20 points in the NCAA Tournament.  Oh, and the Lady Huskies slapped the dog piss out of the Fighting Irish in the national title game 79-58.  Oh by the way, Notre Dame was undefeated coming into that game.

And love him or hate him, head coach Geno Auriemma is the best in the business.  His career coaching record is 879–133 (that’s an .868 winning percentage for those keeping score at home), and is not slowing down.  It’s pretty much his program and everybody else in women’s college basketball.

One more thing…

Since 1999, the UConn men won four national titles – and is undefeated in the title games.  The UConn women won nine national titles, the most in the history of women’s basketball program.  Jim Calhoun built UConn men’s basketball, and Ollie is keeping that train rolling.  Auriemma is the standard in women’s basketball.

Like it or not, UConn is not going anywhere in college basketball – men or women…

2014 NCAA Tourney Is Calipari’s Best Coaching

ncaaThe college basketball world’s nightmare is on the verge of coming true: John Calipari becoming a national champion (again).

That’s right folks, the poster child of the “one and done”scenario that has fans, the NCAA, and college basketball seething is one the verge of winning another national championship.  Calipari’s 2011-2012 title team at Kentucky was led by “one and dones” Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  And while this 2013-2014 freshman-led team is not as good as the one that won it all in 2012, the stars are aligning for Calipari to take home another national title.

Haters gonna hate, and college basketball purists are going to lose their ever-loving minds.

While Calipari is perceived as a slimy individual who could coach an all-star Mafia squad, the man can coach – and he is only taking advantage of a stupid-ass rule that was collectively bargained between the NBA and its players’ union.  Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that Calipari is getting away with murder by recruiting these “one and done” team.  Last I checked, prominent coaches such as Syracuse’s Jim Boehiem, UNC’s Roy Williams, and (gasp!) Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski have/are recruited/recruiting “one and done” players and have had success with those players.

The bottom line is this: coaching is a bottom-line business, and the bottom-line is winning games and championships.  If these “one and done” players give coaches the best chance to win a championship, so be it.

Plus y’all have to give it up for Calipari’s coaching in this tournament.  He has taken a mentally fragile squad whose toughness was questioned throughout the season (remember that bad loss to South Carolina on ESPN way back when?) and has it on a potentially historic roll since the SEC conference tournament.  Calipari’s Wildcats when toe-to-toe with Florida in the SEC tournament final, upset top-seeded Wichita State (though I called that one), beat defending champion/hated rival Louisville, beat last year’s runner-up Michigan, and slipped by 2-seed Wisconsin in the Final Four.  Calipari is pushing the right buttons in getting his freshman-laden team to buy in and accept their roles when it matters the most.

It’s hard to believe that this year’s Wildcats are on the verge on winning its second national championship in four years.  That is due to Calipari’s outstanding coaching, whether we like it or not.

Kobe’s Trayvon Comments Were Understandable, but Executed Poorly

kobe_bryant_extensionThis has not been a good sports year for Kobe Bryant.

First, he came back from an Achilles injury he suffered near the end of last season before Christmas – only to get hurt again with a knee injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  The experts – and haters – all said that Bryant came back WAY too soon from his Achilles injury.  Some of those same haters thought that Bryant wanted to stay relevant – which I thought was ridiculous.

Second, when he signed 2-year $48.5 million ridiculous extension, Bryant was criticized left and right for hamstringing the Lakers’ salary cap for the next few seasons.  It will be harder for the Lakers to bring in more than one superstar a la the Miami Heat and be salary cap compliant.  Hell, even I gave my two cents on the matter.

And last – but not least – Bryant gave perhaps the controversial quote of the year.  When asked by a reporter from The New Yorker about the Miami Heat’s hoodie photo in support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old kid who was gunned down by a wannabe vigilante/neighborhood watchman, this was what Bryant had to say:

“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American.  That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”

Let’s examine Bryant’s comments.

First of all,  I understand Kobe’s sentiments.  Kobe’s thoughts were aimed at fellow black people.  Too many of us label our own “Uncle Toms” for not going along with our way of thinking. 

For example, when Mike Vick got busted for dog-fighting, a lot of black folks thought that dog fighting was not such a big deal and Vick should not have been thrown in jail.  The problem with that thought is dog fighting is not only a crime, it became a federal felony when he and his crew crossed state lines while orchestrating the dog fighting.  During ESPN’s Town Hall in Atlanta, many black folks in the audience showed their asses and booed Bryan Burwell (a black sportswriter) who had the nerve to disagree in saying Vick should do his time.

I also feel that just because some issues pertain to Black America, it doesn’t mean we all as Black Americans have to react a certain way.  Here are some good examples: Tawana Brawley and the Duke lacrosse case.  Look it up – Google it. 

I live by what my dad used to say: black people are not sheep.

However, I think Kobe used a bad example in the case of Martin’s murder.  Even though the prosecution failed to convince a jury beyond the reasonable doubt of George Zimmerman’s guilt, I believe that the young brother was racially profiled and led to him being murdered.  In making those statements, Kobe appeared out of touch – and frankly condescending  – with folks in the African American community.

A lot of Black folks are coming out in droves against Kobe.  A had the pleasure of conducting a podcast with Lawrence Watkins (younger brother of the great activist Dr. Boyce Watkins), founder of the Great Black Speakers series.  He called Kobe one of the “safe negroes” for those comments.

I think that is a case of the sentiment being there, but the execution being piss-poor at best.

Something Ain’t Right about DeSean Jackson’s Release

NFLThere are times where I step back and wonder aloud “something ain’t right”.

The Philadelphia Eagles cutting DeSean Jackson last Friday is one of those times.  This comes on the same day reports surfaced of his alleged gang activity/support via the website NJ.com.

Look, I understand that Jackson was, according to most “in the know”, a royal pain in the ass.  I’ve seen his histrionics on the field, most notably when he blew up at his position coach on the field at Oakland.  I do know that the Eagles have a plethora of talent on offense that could make head coach Chip Kelly’s offense thrive in stud LeSean “Shady” McCoy, a health Jeremy Maclin, newly acquired Darren Sproles, and the bigoted Riley Cooper.

I also know that Jackson committed the sin of wishing he was paid more after a home playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.  That did not sit well with fans, and apparently not with Kelly as well.  Kelly figures that he now has more than enough talent on offense to move on from Jackson.

That said, I have a big problem with folks who intentionally sully a guy’s name.  First of all, that report in NJ.com had to come from the Eagles’ organization.  What would anyone else seek to gain from leaking Jackson’s alleged gang ties?

What makes this “leak” even more messed up is that Jackson’s childhood teachers, coaches and family friends all swore that he is not a member of – or even affiliated with – gangs.  While all of those folks would not say that he was a choir boy, they do not think he is a true gangster in any form or fashion.  Also, keep in mind that Jackson has never been arrested or even thought of to be a person of interest in any crime.

And let’s be honest about something here: do we REALLY think that Philly didn’t know about any suspicious off-field activities from Jackson before a few days ago?  Hell everyone knew that perceived character issues were reasons Jackson dropped into the second round to begin with.  So the report making the Eagles nervous is, frankly, bullshit to me.

It’s time for the Eagles organization to come correct.

If Kelly was tired of Jackson’s diva act and thinks that his offense would be just fine without Jackson, just say it.  If the Eagles’ front office didn’t think that Jackson was worth the huge cap number this season, just admit it.

Just don’t sully Jackson’s name for no reason.

Union Ruling for College Athletes Bad for NCAA

ncaaThe Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled yesterday that Northwestern football players qualify as employees of the university and can unionize.

This has the potential of being a HUGE game-changer in collegiate athletics.

If the student-athletes are able to withstand future legal challenges from universities and the NCAA itself, then those athletes will be able to command the following: suitable working conditions, appropriate times for practices, and most of all MONEY.  The working conditions could be anything from clean training facilities (see the mess at Grambling State University), to tricked out locker rooms.  Look at the common denominator in the recruiting arms race in collegiate athletics: flashy, tricked out facilities.  Check out Oregon’s and Florida State’s facilities (newly built or planned) to get an idea.  Simply put, if a school’s facilities are not up to snuff, it’s getting left in the dust on the recruiting trail.

Remember those instances at Michigan and Ohio State when they got popped for too many practices a few years back?  Could you imagine unionized student-athletes bitching about having to practice too much, and not allowing for a life outside of athletics?  Seems far-fetched I know, but you never know.

And of course there is the issue of student-athletes getting paid.  I have been on record of being staunchly against those young people getting paid.  Student-athletes have the type of perks that average college students would give an arm and a leg for – free room and board, access to the best training facilities, better medical care, better dining hall facilities (and food), better living quarters, and – most importantly – access to the best coeds.  As a guy who had part-time jobs in college in order to pay for books and dates, I think that student-athletes get what the need – if not more – from the universities they attend.  Otherwise an inner-city kid, for example, would not be able to attend an institution such as Stanford, Duke, and Michigan.

As for the universities, I think this is potentially bad for colleges everyone.

Most colleges barely break even with their athletics budgets as it is.  If colleges start paying football and basketball players, what about the baseball, lacrosse and volleyball players?  What about women’s sports?  You think the Title IX would be licking their chops over this?  Those colleges that barely break even would pull a Maryland and go broke.

This would also create a bigger gap between the “power conferences” (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) and the “lesser ones”.  You think St. Bonaventure and the like could compete with the likes of Duke, Louisville, Ohio State, Syracuse and Florida for basketball recruits?  Good luck with that one.

All of that said, I think the NCAA needs to blow itself up and start the hell over.  It has some of the silliest rules I have ever seen – remember when some kids got popped for eating too much pasta at a graduation banquet?  Deadspin has a list of some of those stupid-ass violations.  Here is a snippet:

FOOTBALL

Feb. 1, 2012

Violation: Assistant coach Bruce Kittle sent congratulatory text to a student-athlete who had signed with OU.

Feb. 1, 2012

Violation: Assistant coach Cale Gundy sent two congratulatory text messages to a student-athlete who had signed with OU.

May 14, 2012

Violation: Assistant coach Jackie Shipp sent a text message to a recruit who was a junior at the time.

Sept. 12, 2012

Violation: Assistant coach Bruce Kittle sent contact information for one recruit to another recruit, who was a junior at the time, when he meant to send it to assistant coach Josh Heupel. Resolution: For the four violations above, the football staff was precluded from having any written or telephone contact with recruits for two weeks and Kittle, Gundy and Shipp were provided detailed rules education. Contact for the three assistants involved was self-imposed. The NCAA expanded the noncontact period to the whole staff.

Nice job NCAA.

At any rate, couple student-athletes being able to unionize with the on-going Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, the NCAA is entering precarious times.  What happens to the NCAA the rest of the way will be “must-see TV”…

2014 Major League Baseball Preview

mlbThe 2014 Major League Baseball season is only five days away.

There are a lot of storylines heading into the season.  Will the Red Sox repeat?  Will the Yankees and Nationals bounce back?  Will the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig become a star and not a headcase?  Will the Pirates take the next step?  All of those questions will be answered in this preview and proven wrong during the season.

So, without further ado…

Note: *- wildcard team

American League

East Division

  1. Boston Red Sox (98-64)
  2. New York Yankees-* (95-67)
  3. Tampa Bay Rays-* (93-69)
  4. Baltimore Orioles (88-74)
  5. Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)

Analysis:  The AL East is still the best division in the majors.  Any of these teams could contend for division titles outside of the AL East.  Hell, I think that the Blue Jays will finish near or at .500.

At any rate, the Red Sox have close to the same squad that won it all last season, and is the team to beat in the division.  Hell, I’d be shocked if the Red Sox do not contend for the AL pennant.  The team that should be much improved is New York.  My Yankees acquired arguably the most sought-after pitcher in Masahiro Tanaka, who should be the guy that should help take the pressure off of CC Sabathia.  More importantly, the arrivals of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran should boost an offense that includes a healthy Mark Teixeira.  As  long as Tampa Bay employ Joe Maddon as its manager, the Rays will always be there in the end.  It’s too bad that the Orioles and Blue Jays are in this division – two good teams that would at least contend for division titles elsewhere.

Central Division

  1. Detroit Tigers (96-66)
  2. Cleveland Indians (90-72)
  3. Kansas City Royals (88-74)
  4. Minnesota Twins (74-88)
  5. Chicago White Sox (72-90)

Analysis:  Even with the changes the Tigers endured in the offseason, they are still the class of the division.  Iconic manager Jim Leyland retired shortly after the end of the playoffs, and Detroit traded away slugger Prince Fielder to the Rangers.  As long as they still have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers should be fine.

Everyone else in the division is playing for second place.  The Indians were a great story last season, and should be in the mix for a wild-card spot this season.  Terry Francona is one of the best managers in the majors and should have Cleveland ready to go this season.  And as great a story as the Indians were, the Royals were an even better story.  Ned Yost is doing a good job in managing Kansas City, and “Big Game” James Shields is the undisputed ace of the Royals’ pitching staff.  As for Minnesota and Chicago, have fun waiting for football season.

West Division

  1. Texas Rangers (93-69)
  2. Oakland Athletics (92-70)
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near El Segundo south of Hollywood (81-81)
  4. Seattle Mariners (78-84)
  5. Houston Astros (60-102)

Analysis:  The Rangers are looking to avenge last season’s flame-out near the end, when they allowed the Athletics to pass them en route of winning the division for the second year in a row.  When Texas acquired Prince Fielder during the offseason, I thought that move will help put it over the top.  After all, their lack of hitting hurt the Rangers last season.

Oakland will still be a good team this season, but I don’t think the Athletics have the horses to hang with the Rangers this time around.  The Angels have to be the most overrated team in the majors.  The Angels have this going for them, they serve as a cautionary tale for other teams: you cannot buy a championship.  Sure the Mariners have Robinson Cano – and waaaaaay overpaid to do so – but they are still mediocre.  And I would encourage Astros fans to hang in there until football season, but the Texans suck too.

National League

East Division

  1. Washington Nationals (94-68)
  2. Atlanta Braves (90-72)
  3. Philadephia Phillies (87-75)
  4. New York Mets (70-92)
  5. Miami Marlins (60-102)

Analysis:  I think the 2014 should be renamed “Nationals Revenge” because I think the Nats have a lot to prove after last season’s meltdown.  The Nats were a M.A.S.H. unit last season, and still finished within reach of a wildcard spot.  Plus, seeing Nats slugger Bryce Harper so yoked up is an indicator that he and the Nats mean business this year.  The Braves will contend as usual, but I dunno if they have the horses to overtake the Nats this season.  I mean sure, there are the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward, but what about that starting pitching?  Kris Medlen?  Mike Minor?  Really???

And there are the Phillies.  Poor guys.  This is a talented team that has underachieved in recent seasons, been doing so since they won the World Series in 2008.  Maybe new manager Ryne Sandberg will help Philly get it together?  I doubt it, but we’ll see.

Meanwhile, the Mets are still the Mets, and will be among the cellar dwellers in the division.  They MIGHT be a slightly improved team, but that’s not good enough in a division with the Nats and Braves.  As far as the Marlins are concerned, I’m still amazed that management has not been “French Revolution”-ed and run out of town by the locals.  How the Marlins were able to rip off the city for that new crib, still suck and get away with it is beyond me.

Central Division

  1. St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates-* (94-68)
  3. Cincinnati Reds-* (93-69)
  4. Chicago Cubs (75-87)
  5. Milwaukee Brewers (70-92)

Analysis:  This division and the AL East are the best divisions in baseball.  The Pirates and Reds will repeat as wildcards, and the Cardinals will luck their way into another division title.  Look, I lived in Cincinnati for four years, so I had learned to hate the Cardinals as much as I do the Red Sox – so I may be a bit biased against St. Louis.  However, there is no denying that St. Louis (and Tampa Bay) is the best run organization in baseball.  The much-improved Pirates (it’s about damn time they were good again), and Reds will make the Cards sweat in defending its Central Division crown.  Hell, this division didn’t resolve itself until the last couple of weeks of the season.  I am looking forward to seeing how this division shapes out after the All-Star break.

As for fans of the Cubs and Brewers, what can I tell you?  The Chicago will still suck and Milwaukee is still stuck with its lying drug cheat (Ryan Braun).  By the way Chicago, nice new perverted mascot…

West Division

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks (90-72)
  3. San Francisco Giants (85-77)
  4. Colorado Rockies (81-81)
  5. San Diego Padres (65-97)

Analysis:  The Dodgers-D’Backs rivalry will make this division “must-see TV”.  Seeing managers/old school former players Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson jaw at each other during the big brawl between the two teams last season was epic.  Speaking of the Dodgers, they should repeat as division champs this season.  They have a powerful starting lineup led by Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and the enigmatic Puig.  L.A. also has the best starting pitching rotation in the majors led by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren.  Having closer Brian Wilson doesn’t hurt either.  The only thing that will get in the Dodgers’ way is themselves – see the latest stunts pulled by Puig.

The aforementioned D’Backs and Giants are good, but not great.  Both will fight it out for the right to play spoiler to the Dodgers/second place in the NL West.  The Rockies are just mediocre, nothing to get too excited about.  As for the Padres fans, there is always football season!

American League champions:  Boston Red Sox

National League champions:  Los Angeles Dodgers

2014 World Series champions:  Los Angeles Dodgers

Join My NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge to Win $100!!!

WASSUP Y’ALL!

To be officially part of March Madness, come join my “Klown Times NCAA Challenge” bracket group now for a shot to win $100!  By the way, I bet your bracket won’t be worse than mine!!!

Oh, and the deadline is Thursday (that would be tomorrow).

Click here to join: https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/quickenloansbracket/group/130275/invitation?key=11b6ad90630d64d8

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We at “The Klown Times” wish you mo-fos a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  May you all drink your asses off, boink random people, and fail many sobriety tests.  By the way, if any of you try to pinch me for not wearing green, I will beat the hell out of you.

That is all…

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview

ncaaMarch Madness is here!  The college basketball conferences have finished, and the 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket had been announced on CBS and ESPN (by the way, ain’t it cool that you could watch BOTH online – for FREE?!).

There were a few surprises this time around – my alma mater NC State making it, Iowa getting an 11-seed and a play-in game while BYU got a 10th seed, and SMU getting snubbed were the main notables.  However, I liked the fact that Wichita State was awarded with a top-seed for its undefeated season heading into the tournament – and the fact that the Shockers were placed in the hardest region so they could prove their undefeated season wasn’t a fluke.  I also liked Virginia getting a top seed over Michigan.

All in all, I think that this may be the most exciting tournament in recent memory.  Let’s get this preview started – shall we?

South Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Florida
  2. Kansas
  3. Syracuse
  4. UCLA

Dark horse:  Pittsburgh

Analysis:  This is a decent bracket, but not as brutal as the Midwest Region (more on that later).  While Pitt and New Mexico are playing their best basketball right now, Florida is by far the big dog of the region.  Syracuse has the talent to push Florida in the South Region, but the Orange have been spotty down the stretch.

Final verdict:  Florida should moonwalk out of this region.

West Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Arizona
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Creighton
  4. San Diego State

Dark horse:  Oregon

Analysis:  Arizona, like Florida in the South Region, is the class of the West Region.  The only team that I see giving them some trouble is Oregon.  After all, the Ducks beat the Wildcats the last game of the regular season at home, and they had a good run in the Pac-12 tournament.  The problem is that Oregon is SO much better than their 23-9 record indicates.  Creighton and Doug McDermott are a nice story and will be fascinating to watch, but I do not think the Blue Jays will get past Oregon in the Sweet 16.

Final verdict: Arizona shouldn’t sweat it, even if Oregon has something to say about it.

East Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Virginia
  2. Villanova
  3. Iowa State
  4. Michigan State

Dark horse:  North Carolina

Analysis:  Some people think that the South Region is in the easiest region of the NCAA Tournament.  I would disagree.  Virginia does not have an easy path to the Final Four.  Teams like Michigan State and North Carolina should put a little bit of fear in the Cavaliers.  Speaking of Michigan State, the Spartans are peaking once again at tournament time.  The way that the Spartans beat down Michigan in for the Big Ten tourney title served notice that they are to be reckoned with.

Final verdict:  Michigan State will beat Virginia in the Sweet 16 en route to winning the South Region.

Midwest Region

Top four seeds:

  1. Wichita State
  2. Michigan
  3. Duke
  4. Louisville

Dark horse:  Kentucky

Analysis:  Well, Wichita State, here’s your shot at the big time.  In fact, the Shockers get their shot in what is hands-down the toughest region in the tournament.  Michigan as the #2 seed.  Duke as the #3 seed.  Defending champion Louisville as the #4 seed.  Oy, good luck with that Shocker Nation.  I’ve got some bad news for you Shocker fans, not only will your team not make the Final Four, it will not make it out of the second round.  That would be Kentucky taking out the Shockers.  Look, it’s been a great run for Wichita State, and it is deserving of a #1 seed.  However, the Shockers have not seen the athleticism they will see in the tournament – and it will manifest itself early.

Final verdict:  Louisville will take out Duke in the Elite Eight to reach the Final Four.

Final Four picks:  Florida, Michigan State, Arizona, Louisville

2014 National Champion:  Florida

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