CHARLOTTE -- A couple of quick housekeeping things up front: my ESPN.com chat
today is at a special this-week-only time of 2 pm ET
; I'm switching timeslots with Joe Lunardi. Come on by!
As of Friday morning, we've had 82 entries in Bally's BracketBusters Racket
, the fun game where you can win valuable mid-major prizes for picking dance partners for the 102 BracketBusters teams. If we hit 100 by the end of the day, I'll keep it open until the Saturday 11:59 PM ET deadline or whenever the bum-rush happens, whichever comes first. Remember: that deadline is Saturday 11:59 PM ET, before the matchups start leaking out on Sunday. And it's the most fun you can have for three bucks outside of Vegas.Kyle, whatever happened to that dude who was trying to go to every single Division 1 arena this year?- Steve, PA
You're talking about Miguel Rodriguez, a/k/a "Crazy Miguel," who was attempting to visit all 337 arenas, and who used information from this site to create his itinerary. But even though he informed me he'd reached 100 in December, I think he's dropped out. His blog
stopped updating in mid-December, and I didn't get a response when I tried e-mailing him a couple of weeks ago.
Now, Miguel is a great guy and we've had some great conversations about life and basketball -- I consider him a pal of Bally and the site, a wonderful guy, and someone I want to continue to be friends with. With all those qualifications out of the way, I didn't like his quest and never fully endorsed it. Not because I thought it was some kind of threat to my own 100 Games Project
, or because of some sort of invalidation because he was only spending a few minutes at some arenas then going on to the next one.
I didn't endorse The Ultimate Hoops Challenge because it wasn't really about hoops. In giving himself a point when he showed up while a game was going on, he set the relevant context at the question of his presence, not the game's. When the game was sold out, he slipped in the door by latching on to a media outlet and trading an interview for entry. It would have been impressive if he had made it to every arena within the course of the season, but in the same veni-vidi way that visiting all 50 states or all 300 Aleutian islands
This is basketball, and our game is about humility. With very few exceptions, every team misses half or more of their field goals, and everybody's season (except the NCAA and NIT wins) ends with some kind of loss. To contemplate the sheer size of Division I should make anyone feel small -- there are. I cover 225 of those teams, and occasionally I show up to games and the sports information director has forgotten to put me on the media list. It's hard to pop an ego when that happens.
When I went to 100 games two years ago, I stayed until the final buzzer and didn't consider a game experience complete until I wrote at least 500 words about it. I'll go to over 120 in 2006-07, but I have an unfair advantage this time (a press pass)... and therefore don't consider this any sort of quest that merits special consideration. In fact, I'm still a bit bothered because of the "tainted" nature of the 100GP -- I didn't pay for a few of those games and was credentialed in, and the more cocky I got about my growing "insider-ness," karma put blockades in my way: illness, angry readers, blizzards, cancelled games. In the end, I persevered by staying small-headed -- but someday, when I'm a basketball civilian again, I'm going to do 100 the right way: seated in the collapsible bleachers, scorebook in hand, enjoying all our wonderful game has to offer its fans. I promise you that.
So if you're out there, Miguel, please put together another quest and try again. But remember, it should about the game, not about you.How many games have you been to so far, Kyle? Keep up the great work!- Brandon
Yo, Brandon. As of last night, 62.Conference Shootaround!
As mentioned yesterday, last night was filled with games that will directly affect tourney seedings and general buzz from here on out. Here, then, are the results from that giant Hoops Nation-wide throwdown/showdown:#East Tennessee State 80, at Belmont 70, OT (Atlantic Sun) (box)
-- Congrats to ETSU for its 1100th all-time win, and for taking full control of the A-Sun with a 9-1 league record. Eryk Thomas
and Brad Nuckles
both had dub-dubs, and the Bucs hit the thoroughly gassed Bruins in the oh-tee session. #Winthrop 64, at High Point 63 (Big South) (box)
-- The Eagles are without their best player, Torrell Martin
, for the foreseeable future with a bum foot. But Winthrop keeps finding ways to win -- like last night, when the remaining Eags overcame a 14-rebound deficit and nipped HP behind 21 from former bit-player Antwon Harris
. WU has a huge game at home on Saturday, hosting Coastal Carolina in a rematch of last year's BSC title game.at Oral Roberts 73, Oakland 63 (Mid-Continent) (box)
-- In a battle of Mid-Con undefeateds and two teams with extremely shiny team names, the champion Golden Eagles used a strong second half to dispose of the Golden Grizzlies. This game was particularly notable because ORU's good-luck charm in the historic Kansas win
, Marchello Vealy
, had the game of his life. His 17-and-16 double-double led the way, and ORU is 4-0 when he scores more than 10 points.at South Alabama 64, Louisiana-Monroe 57 (Sun Belt) (box)
-- A slow, grinding battle of SBC division leaders went down last night in Mobile. The undersized Warhawks were able to outrebound the home team 30-29, but were underturnovered 10-5 (that's an 8% turnover rate for the Jaguars) and the game was basically settled with a late 10-0 run by Team USA. Now that's South in your mouth.
Other highly edible scraps of mid-major yumminess: Nevada (18-2, 6-1 WAC
) won its first game since losing to conference co-leaders New Mexico State last weekend... Big Sky
leaders and razor afficionados Idaho State (10-10, 4-2) dropped its second straight game, falling on its home floor 71-58
to Weber State (13-9, 5-3). Only three of the nine teams have overall records over .500... In (on?) the Horizon
, Butler (18-2, 6-1) held off Loyola (Ill.) in Chi-town, 70-66
... The Ohio Valley
-leading Austin Peay Govs kept winning, taking their record to 9-1 with a 73-58
home victory over Jacksonville State... The Northwestern State Demons (10-9, 5-2) are 4-0 since Mike McConathy's speech
about fun. Last night, they beat Nicholls State 98-88
in the bayou town of Thibodaux. K-Dub's Krazy Fact of the Day!
I was at Campbell last night, and saw a woebegone North Florida team (2-18, 0-10 A-Sun) fumble away an 11-point second-half lead and lose to the Fightin' Camels 54-49. Campbell is much improved from its own conference win-free season (0-20 in 2004-05), but in this case the home team almost lost because it couldn't put the ball in the hole.
How badly can you shoot and still win a Division I basketball game? It's a question that's only been asked when it's been needed to be asked, and sometimes not even then. Last night, Campbell shot a flat 31%. Going into last night, there were only 281 shooting performances that were worse (out of 6,144 -- that's 4.57%), and only 14 of those resulted in victories. So if you shoot as badly as or worse than the Camels did last night, you have reduced your chance of winning to a mere five percent.
And since this is awards season, the Middy for the season's worst shooting performance in a win goes to (envelope rip)... Alabama State! On Jan. 6, the Hornets overcame Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a SWAC contest 46-43
, despite only hitting 16 of their 55 field-goal attempts for a 29.1% final average. The homestanding Golden Lions made 40% of their shots, but it was that 40-30 rebounding edge that made the difference.