Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday 03/29 (Very) Quickie: Elite Me!

The Elite Eight is set: UNC-Louisville and UCLA-Xavier today, Kansas-Davidson and Memphis-Texas tomorrow. It's a very compelling batch of games.

As for last night, we got four routs, although one (Davidson over Wisconsin) was shocking in that a 10-seed routed a defensive-minded 3-seed, behind the continuation of one of the great individual star performances of all time in the NCAA Tournament.

Today's regional finals are interesting: UNC has been unstoppable recently, but Louisville plays tough D and has the athletes to run with UNC; Xavier has had this "refuse-to-lose" thing going on all Tournament, while UCLA has sort of been "no-win-is-a-bad-win" for the last month. I have UCLA winning it all, but Xavier could surprise.

You can't possibly be rooting against Davidson (unless you're a Kansas fan or near the top of your pool and NEED Davidson to lose) and back in-state, Texas played as well as any 1-seed, but given the way the top seeds are playing, an "all-1" Final Four wouldn't be a terrible outcome.

NBA: Celtics beat Hornets. Go back a year and imagine your reaction if someone said they would be leading their conferences this year.

Kobe hangs 53 on the Grizzlies: He is the Stephen Curry of the NBA, I guess you could say.

NCAA Hockey Tournament: Top-seeded New Hampshire is out, upset by noted hockey power Notre Dame.

-- D.S.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Davidson Advances! Stephen Curry Rules!

Wow, Davidson is impossible not to like -- double that for Stephen Curry, who after tonight's 33-point game (on top of the other two games where he combined for 70) is the most must-see individual talent in the NCAA Tournament since Carmelo. But Curry is even more exciting to watch -- and even better than the quick-release 3s was that wild twisty layup.

Based on the way they thoroughly outplayed Wisconsin -- the second half wasn't even close -- you have to give them a chance against the Kansas-Villanova winner in the regional final. I am enjoying Davidson's run even more than George Mason's two years ago. -- D.S.

Expanding the NCAA Tournament to All Teams Gains Traction

In the New Republic, Leitch agrees with my "expand-the-NCAA-Tournament-to-everyone" theory.

-- D.S.

Friday 03/28 A.M. Quickie:
Xavier, Pitino, Love, Curry, UNC, More!

A ton to cover in today's Sporting News column:
  • How big was that dagger by Xavier's BJ Raymond?
  • How bad do I feel about the Vols' being ousted?
  • How could I pick against Rick Pitino in a regional semi?
  • How unstoppable does UNC look right now?
  • How much credit does Western Kentucky deserve?
  • How many points will Stephen Curry score against Wisco?
  • How big of a choke will Bill Self or John Calipari serve up?
  • How does Barry Bonds fit in the 2008 MLB picture?
  • How excited should you be for Nats Park opening?
  • How much bad info is there about Glenn Dorsey?
  • How does Jeff Novitzky get his inside info?
  • How obvious was Ryan Perilloux's suspension ending?
That and a lot more... after the jump.

More coming later today.

-- D.S.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dan Reed: Future Commissioner of the NBA

Dan Reed is the President of the NBA's D-League. I also think he is the future Commissioner of the NBA (let's say: when Adam Silver, who will replace David Stern, retires).

Being commissioner of a sports league is right near the top of my No. 1 dream jobs. Reed is living that dream. Hardwood Paroxysm has a great interview with him.

I'm in the bag for Dan, because I have known him since he was a freshman phenom on the Northwestern University "club" basketball team that I coached (one step below varsity... hey: no jokes!) He also followed me by a few years at Harvard Business School (eh: He did a wee better than I did, wouldn't you say?)

But here's what I really like about Dan's story: Like Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer or Andrew Friedman or any of the other "boy geniuses" of baseball, Dan's place as a league president IS just like one of YOUR friends getting a job as a sports-league commissioner. They aren't some crusty (or even middle-aged) guy; they are like... you. (Yeah, just a little more successful, I guess. At least compared to me, they are. Way are.)

I'm not saying Dan isn't all-business; he is -- he is as talented a sports exec under 35 as there is right now. But he blogs, because he gets that accessibility is a big deal to consumers. And he wants to make the D-League an R-and-D lab (like trying H-O-R-S-E during All-Star Weekend). And he gets to make his passion -- basketball -- his work. And he's a really good guy, too.

I'm participating in my first-ever fantasy baseball auction tomorrow afternoon. Guys like Dan (or Theo) get to live the reality. From my perspective, there's nothing wrong with living vicariously.

-- D.S.

Robin Lopez Dating Michelle Wie?

Wait: Robin Lopez is dating Michelle Wie?!?! Yes, worth its own post. SI may have mentioned it, but it didn't get traction until Brooks blogged about it yesterday. Then Yahoo Sports' MJD blew it up. "Most interesting player in the NCAA Tournament?" MJD, my friend, I think you dabble in understatement: I think this development makes him the most interesting athlete around, anywhere. I should keep a weekly ranking of that. -- D.S.

2008 Shallowest MLB Season Preview: NL

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Cubs
NL Champ: Mets

Individual Awards:
MVP: David Wright
Cy: Johan Santana
Rookie: Geovany Soto
Manager: Willie Randolph

Find the AL Preview here.

Add your own predictions in the Comments!

-- D.S.

Thursday 03/27 A.M. Quickie:
Sweet 16, NFL Hair Scandal, Kobe, More

Today's Names to Know in today's Sporting News column:

Joe Alexander, Bob Huggins, Drew Lavender, Sean Miller, Roy Williams, Tony Bennett, Derrick Low, Ty Lawson, Kevin Love, Courtney Lee, Rick Pitino, Bruce Pearl, A-Rod, Kobe, KG, Long Hair in the NFL, Tyreke Evans, Ole Miss, Ohio State and More!

Why you should root for Sweet 16 upsets...
Why Bruce Pearl will leave for Indiana...
Why A-Rod is fine staying quiet about Canseco...
Why Kobe is no KG...
Why the NFL's "hair rule" will embarrass them...
Why Tyreke Evans is hardly uncommitted...
Why the NIT Final Four is intriguing...
Why Marcus Trufant got paid...
And more... after the jump.

Bonus Post coming later today: 2008 MLB Preview, Part 2 -- NL! (Check back noonish)

And...Meet the future commissioner of the NBA!

Couple of Varsity Dad updates this week, for those of you who check out that site from time to time.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 MLB Baseball Preview: AL

Let's get going on predictions for the season, starting with the AL (with the NL coming tomorrow):

Division Races:
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Tigers
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Yankees
AL Champ: Tigers

Notes: My only real issue here is leaving the Indians out. One of the best subplots -- if not the best subplot -- of the season will be the race between Boston, New York, Cleveland and Detroit for three playoff spots. All through the offseason, I have been admiring the Tigers' aggressive moves, in the face of dominance by the Red Sox. Hard to stop Detroit's lineup.

Individual Awards:
MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Cy: Francisco Liriano
Rookie: Clay Buchholz
Manager: Jim Leyland

Notes: Picking Cabrera for MVP tracks with picking Detroit to win the AL pennant. But surrounded by the lineup he is in, at the stage of his growth he is at, taking on what seems to be a sub-par group of AL pitchers (compared to the NL), he should have a monster year.

(Picking Liriano to win the Cy is a nod to the lack of depth of star pitchers in the AL, along with a nod to the longtime Quickie readers who were with me in the Summer of Liriano back in 2006, when he wasn't just the best rookie pitcher, but the best pitcher in baseball.)

Let me open it up to you: Who are your picks to win the divisions and to pick up the individual awards in the American League? Leave them in the Comments. I will post them as often as I can.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 03/26 A.M. Quickie:
Canseco, Lofton, Summitt, West, Manny

Today's Names to Know in today's Sporting News column:

Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Pat Summitt, Chris Lofton, David West, Manu Ginobili, Josh Howard, Darren McFadden, McDonald's All-Americans, Wally Szczerbiak and More!

Why I believe Jose Canseco...
Why Manny will have a big year...
Why Coach K is no Pat Summitt...
Why the Vols don't need Chris Lofton...
Why the Mavs don't need Dirk...
Why David West is having a career year...
Why Darren McFadden is the draft's best...
Why I messed up yesterday's lead item...
And more... after the jump!

Bonus Post: Baseball season preview time! (If only because the NCAA Tournament will overwhelm us all in the days leading up to MLB's league-wide season-openers on Monday.) Today: The American League! Check back around noon. (Or, for a sneak peek, check out the Sporting News column.)

In case you missed it yesterday afternoon: Breaking down the National Bracket! (Headline: Out-performing 80 percent of you!)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The State of the National Bracket:
Outperforming 80 Percent of You

So it came out yesterday that only 2 out of 3.6 million brackets in's Tournament Challenge had the Sweet 16 in its entirety. (After the first round, not a single person could claim a "perfect bracket.")

If you used the "National Bracket" -- the aggregate opinion of every participant in the Tournament Challenge and the closest thing we have to a "Wisdom of Crowds" prediction system about the NCAA Tournament -- you would be just short of the 80th percentile overall.

That means two things: (1) You wouldn't be winning your pool (assuming you had minimal competition, like 10 people), and (2) you would be out-performing 80 percent of everyone else in your pool. All for going with the people's choices.

(The most startling was in 2006, when I tracked the National Bracket and it out-performed 90 percent of all brackets submitted.)

It's not a bad outcome, in most cases: Bragging rights over 80 percent of your competitors is pretty good, compared to the 1-in-whatever chance you have of actually winning (or even finishing ahead of the 80-percent threshold).

The National Bracket's biggest win: Picking Davidson over Gonzaga. Traditionally, there aren't many lower seeds that are picked to beat higher seeds. In this bracket, there were two: Davidson (correct) and St. Mary's (incorrect).

A notable second-round miss for the "nation" was picking 5-seed Notre Dame ahead of 4-seed Washington State; chalk that up to East Coast Bias (or Media Bias, your pick).

The National Bracket has 10 out of 16 Sweet 16 teams remaining, missing Duke and Georgetown, UConn and Pittsburgh (like most), and Clemson and Notre Dame (like some). Not bad. The National Bracket has 6 of 8 Elite Eight teams remaining.

The only problem? The N.B. has all 4 of its Final Four teams remaining, but they are the 1-seeds, and everyone knows that all four 1-seeds never make it to the Final Four.

Again, the lesson of the National Bracket is that you will outperform most competitors, but you will never be at the very top.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 03/25 A.M. Quickie:
Curry, Sixers, MLB in Japan, Tiger, More

In case you missed it yesterday:
* Mrs. Shanoff's picks rule. (h/t: Deadspin)
* Nova fans trump Duke fans. (h/t: CBB)

Today's Names to Know in today's Sporting News column:

Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Dirk, Donnie Walsh, Joe Nathan, Kerry Wood, Tiger, NIT, MLB in Japan and More!

Why Stephen Curry is so unique...
Why the Sixers deserve better...
Why Joe Nathan is intriguing...
Why Kerry Wood is The Man...
Why Tiger sucks (kidding)...
Why I skipped the Red Sox game...
And more... after the jump!

Meanwhile, launching a new recurring feature on Ballhype, I debate Fanhouse's Tom Ziller on whether the NBA is a "niche" sport rather than still deserving of the "big" label.

(To be honest, this began as an fairly innocuous email back-and-forth with Tom about what a column COULD be, then suddenly turned into a published column on Ballhype. So excuse any lapses in logic or argumentation on my part -- more than usual, I should say. I am not actually in the recurring feature; I am merely a participant in its debut.)

Bonus Post coming later today: Revisiting the National Bracket (as many of you know, one of my favorite parts of the Tournament).

-- D.S.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Would You Rather Be Duke or Villanova?

I brought this up in my Sporting News column today, and I would like to get your take:

Team A: Has an amazing regular season, spending most of it in the Top 5. Earns a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Loses in the Tournament's first weekend.

Team B: Has a so-so regular season. Ekes its way into the NCAA Tournament as the last at-large team selected. Advances to the Tournament's Sweet 16.

Obviously: "Team A" is Duke, and "Team B" is Villanova.

And I would rather be Villanova.

I would rather have a mediocre regular season and an NCAA Tournament run into the second weekend than a great regular season and have my NCAA Tournament end abruptly (and humiliatingly) in the first weekend.

Fair or not, college hoops success is judged by what you do in March. (It's a little like the NFL, where success is ultimately judged by Super Bowl rings.)

That Duke SHOULD do better than they have (and exited even earlier a year ago) compounds the failure. There's no question: Duke is the better, more high-profile program. And yet, right now, Nova fans have the upper-hand.

So do fans of teams from less-than-power conferences: Western Kentucky, Davidson, Xavier. Or teams with lesser reps than Duke: West Virginia, Washington State. All were seeded worse than Duke -- all managed to advance.

Last week, I wrote about the two sides of Expectations in the NCAA Tournament: Duke is mired in Expectations Purgatory (or even Hell); for Villanova, it is all a bonus.

Given the expectations -- and the realities -- how could you NOT favor Villanova's route over Duke's: Save your wins for when they matter -- in late March.

- D.S.

Daily Quickie Readers Tournament Challenge Update: Familiar Name in Top 10?

Of the many reasons I love my wife, this one has to place near the top:

Out of 695 competitors in the Daily Quickie Readers Tournament Challenge group, Mrs. Quickie is tied for 8th overall as we reach the Sweet 16 plateau.

This isn't new:

In 2006, making picks on behalf of our unborn baby, my wife finished in the Top 30 out of more than 10,000 entries in the biggest-public-group-in-the-nation Daily Quickie Readers pool.

Last year, making picks for our then-10-month-old, she finished in the Top 10 out of more than 1,000 entries in the Daily Quickie Readers pool.

Now, cynics (and even spouses) might chalk up her success to the simultaneous success of Florida (as everyone who reads this blog knows: HER team), even if you've got to get a lot more picks right than just the eventual champ if you want to finish that high.

Still, this year would be the true test.

As we watched game after game end over the weekend -- and correct pick after correct pick go "green" on her bracket -- I found myself overwhelmed with pride at her bracket brilliance (offsetting my frustration about my own bracket buffoonery).

This four-day stretch between the end of the Round of 32 and the start of the Sweet 16 is likely to be her apex in the DQR group: She lost Georgetown yesterday (although most of us did, too).

Here's the make-or-break decision: She picked Tennessee not just to beat UNC in the East Region finals, but also to beat Kansas in the Final Four (before losing to UCLA for the title). If that happens, she will have earned her spot near the top -- if not at the top -- of the 695.

The biggest thing going against her? Her husband -- among other things, known for his own branded predictions "jinx," -- also has Tennessee advancing to the title game, only to lose to UCLA.

Given how good her picks have been so far, it makes me feel better to know she has that same title-game pairing and result. Given how bad MY picks have been, it might make her feel worse.

Regardless of how she finishes, my wife and I (and now you) know who the REAL March Madness expert is in the Shanoff family.

-- D.S.

(P.S.: I just found out that my mom is tied for 2nd place among nearly 90 participants in HER office bracket contest. Seriously: WTF? I'm the wrong "Shanoff" to write about college hoops, obviously.)

Monday 03/24 A.M. Quickie:
16, Curry, Nova, WKU, WVU, Duke, More!

Today's Names to Know in today's Sporting News column:

Stephen Curry, Coach K, Kevin Love, Courtney Lee, Scottie Reynolds, Joe Alexander, Drew Lavender, DJ Augustine, Brook Lopez, Drew Neitzel, Joey Dorsey, Bruce Pearl, Rick Pitino, Wazzu and More!

Why my bracket is busted...
Why Stephen Curry is the Sweet 16 MOP...
Why Western Kentucky was kinda screwed...
Why Villanova is my gut-buster...
Why UNC needed a challenge...
Why UCLA, Memphis and Tennessee were glad they got one...
Why Duke is built to lose in the Tournament...
Why Tiger's streak is over...
Why Miguel Cabrera is worth it...
Why Speedo is loving life...
Why Dirk isn't...
And more... after the jump!

Bonus Posts today: THREE of them! (1) Daily Quickie Readers Tournament Challenge update! (2) Would you rather be Duke or Villanova? (3) MLB Season-Opening Book Club.

In case you missed it this past weekend:
Best game of the Tournament? Watching Duke lose.
Villanova's win may be my Worst. Loss. Ever.

My bracket sucks. Nothing sucks worse than putting your misjudgment in the Wall Street Journal for everyone to see. I'm like the Bear Stearns guy in charge of mortgage investments.

-- D.S.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

On to the Sweet 16!

Davidson screwed me even more than I was screwed before, but I can't possibly begrudge their presence in the Sweet 16. Villanova, either. Some great stories in that 16. More tomorrow.

(By the way, while my own bracket in the Daily Quickie Readers pool is mired at not quite the 50th percentile, Mrs. Quickie's bracket is currently 8th... overall... out of 695... more on THAT Monday.)

-- D.S.

Villanova Fulfills the Shanoff Prophecy

So as good as I felt yesterday about Duke losing (as predicted), I feel freaking awful about Villanova winning and making it to the Sweet 16... as predicted.

But I will get -- and should get -- no credit for that prediction, made during my initial "gut" reaction picks when the bracket first came out -- the basis for 95 percent of my picks.

I got freaked that I was riding the last at-large team into the tournament. I was won over by some fancy number-crunching that supported Clemson. And I changed the pick.

I changed the pick from right to wrong, correct to incorrect -- twice as brutal, because I changed them from going to the Sweet 16 (winning two games) to losing in Round 1 (winning none).

It is a cautionary tale -- a lesson for next year. As much as anything, a symbol of my utterly pedestrian predictive performance in this year's pool brackets: Right to wrong.

Again: As amazing as I felt yesterday about West Virginia beating Duke, I feel lousy about missing on Villanova going to the Sweet 16...

...Buoyed only by the thought that the last (at-large) team into the Tourney has outperformed 48 other teams (including nearly two dozen "at-large" teams) to reach the Sweet 16.

-- D.S.