You know it’s been a thrilling NCAA Tournament when, at 4:39 PM on the night of the national championship game, it suddenly occurs to me (while sitting in a makeup session of Evidence that runs until 7pm), “Oh, hey, there’s a game tonight, isn’t there?”
Indeed there is. It’s the Tostitos BCS Fiesta NCAA Tournament Championship Game, at 9:21 PM on CBS, between
Jim Tressel Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators. Yeah, it may feel like a rerun of January’s football championship game, but at least this time it’s being announced by Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. Oh wait, that’s not actually a good thing.
If all goes according to plan, Joakim Noah will pound his chest obnoxiously several times, Florida will become the first men’s basketball team to repeat as NCAA champs since Duke* in 1991-92, the UF band will drive numerous viewers to the bring of suicide with that damn “daaaah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-GO-GATORS” song, and Coach Donovan will celebrate by proudly holding up the championship trophy and a hefty paycheck from his new employer, the University of Kentucky.
But if we learned anything from this year’s first Florida vs. Ohio State title-game clash, it’s that the experts are always wrong. Therefore, given that the Gators are a 5-point favorite and pretty much every TV pundit is picking them to win because they’re obviously the better team in every possible way, I’m thinking the Buckeyes are going to win this one. My prediction: Ohio State 71, Florida 63. I have no rational basis for that whatsoever, but there it is.
My other prediction — and this one I’m quite confident of — is that I won’t be watching the first 39 minutes of the game, because I’m frankly much more interested in the battle of Gary Payton vs. Powers Boothe than I am in Old Man Oden vs. Ponytail Noah. Plus, I know Jack Bauer won’t get in foul trouble and have to sit out the first half of the episode. That whistle-happy referee would be on the floor nursing a bloody stump of a hand in no time. As it should be.
What about the pools? If Ohio State wins, Scott Robertson wins the 12th annual Living Room Times men’s basketball pool. If Florida wins, Arash Markazi wins, breaking the “Trojan Curse” by becoming the first USC-affiliated contestant ever to win one of my pools. Details here. Meanwhile, in Jon Schoenwetter’s third annual NDLS pool, it’s Emily Haffner vs. Charles Hedman for the title. Haffner wins if Ohio State wins; Hedman wins if Florida wins.
(Credit for the title of this post, which is of course an “Anchorman” reference, goes to the brilliantly named Bookstore Basketball team of the same appellation.)
UPDATE: You know who else sucks? Me, for picking the Buckeyes. It’s 61-47 Florida with 8:59 left. So unless Ohio State finishes the game on a 24-2 run, my 71-63 prediction isn’t going to happen. And because the Gators’ jerseys don’t say “North Carolina” on them, that’s highly unlikely.
UPDATE 2: Well, hey, the Buckeyes are making a game of it. 69-62 Florida with 4:25 left.
UPDATE 3: And just as I say that… Florida takes a 73-62 lead, and more importantly, two more minutes bleed off the clock. Gators by 11 with 2:31 left. Looks like this one’s over.
Robert Novak says Fred Thompson is for real:
In just three weeks, Fred Thompson has improbably transformed the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. It is not merely that he has come from nowhere to double digits in national polls. He is the talk of GOP political circles, because he is filling the conservative void in the Republican field. …
Sophisticated social conservative activists tell me they cannot vote for Giuliani under any conditions and have no rapport with McCain or Romney. They are coming to see Thompson as the only conservative who can be nominated. Their appreciation of him stems not from his eight years as a U.S. senator from Tennessee but his actor’s role as district attorney of Manhattan on ”Law and Order.”
Thompson’s political origin as a protege of Sen. Howard Baker, leader of the Tennessee GOP’s more liberal wing, prompted hard-line Senate conservatives to consider him a little too liberal. Actually, his lifetime Senate voting record as measured by the American Conservative Union was 86 percent. It would have been close to 100 percent except for his repeated votes supporting McCain’s campaign finance reform. None of the big-three Republicans has been so consistently conservative as Thompson on tax policy, national security and abortion.
The principal complaint about Thompson concerns his work ethic. The rap is that he does not burn the midnight oil — the identical criticism of Reagan, before and during his presidency. That carping may betray resentment that Thompson has emerged as a full-blown candidate without backbreaking campaign travel and tedious fund-raising. Thompson’s critics assert that, bored with his lucrative career as an actor, he has enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame created by a chance TV interview and will not really run. But he privately assures friends that this is for real.
If Thompson does run, it may mean no reruns of his Law & Order episodes for as long as he’s in the race.
In case you can’t tell from my headline, I’m rather skeptical of this report:
The United States will be ready to launch a missile attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities as soon as early this month, perhaps “from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m. on April 6,” according to reports in the Russian media on Saturday.
According to Russian intelligence sources, the reports said, the US has devised a plan to attack several targets in Iran, and an assault could be carried out by launching missiles from fighter jets and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted a security official as saying, “Russian intelligence has information that the US Armed Forces stationed in the Persian Gulf have nearly completed preparations for a missile strike against Iranian territory.”
The Russian Defense Ministry rejected the claims of an imminent attack as “myths.” There was no immediate response from Washington.
More plausible is this report, which says Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are preparing for a possible U.S. attack on Iran this summer:
“Their preparation is defensive ahead of war Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ They fear a war initiated by the Americans because they understand that there might be an attack against Iran over the summer, but not by Israel,” [the head of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence] Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet.
In other news, a former FBI agent is missing in Iran:
Sources tell ABC News that the missing American was a former FBI agent, although they stressed that he was now a private citizen and that his trip to Iran was on “private business” and not associated with official U.S. matters.
State spokesman Sean McCormack said that the United States had been monitoring this case for several weeks and today had sent a message to Iran through diplomatic channels for more information on his whereabouts.
State Department officials say that Iran has yet to respond with any information.
Oh, and here’s the latest on the U.K.-Iran hostage standoff:
Iranian state radio reported that all 15 British sailors and marines held captive by Iran have confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters but, in an apparent softening in the dispute, said their statements would not air because of “positive changes” from Britain.
The softer tone was apparently mirrored in London, where an official said Britain has agreed to consider discussing with Iran how to avoid future disputes over contested waters in the Persian Gulf.
Britain, however, wants an unconditional release of the crew and is not “negotiating” for their freedom, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the crisis. Iran has demanded an apology from Britain as a condition for the release of the crew, who were seized March 23.
Britain contends the sailors were in Iraqi waters, however, and has said it would not apologize. It has also criticized the airing of footage of four of the sailors confessing so far, saying the statements appeared coerced and the broadcasting of captured military personnel violated international norms.
SEATTLE - A man and a woman were shot to death Monday morning inside the University of Washington’s architecture building in what may have been a murder-suicide, university police said.
UPDATE FROM ARTICLE
University Assistant Police Chief Ray Wittmier said the female victim, a 25-year-old university employee, had a restraining order against the man who apparently shot her and then took his own life
Toni Mardirossian, Kevin Moot and Jimmy Paulino, who previously won the Region 8 championship of the National Trial Competition, competed in the national championship in Houston over the weekend… and finished third out of 14 teams!!
Well, at least somebody at this law school is highly ranked. :) Seriously, congrats to Toni, Kevin and Jimmy!
CLARIFICATION: When I say “third out of 14,” I was referring to the 14 who advanced to nationals. When you consider all the teams who participated at all stages, they were actually third out of 280 teams from 150 different law schools!
Went to the Grotto to light a candle for Kerri earlier this evening, then sat on one of the benches for a while, noticed the photogenic scene above, and snapped a picture of it. Pretty, eh? … Going to the Grotto always seems to put me in a philosophical mood, and this time was no exception. During the walk back to the car, I thought of two questions that I want to ask the Domers among my blog audience:
1) Two weeks ago, when I posted some cool pictures of “heavenly light” illuminating the inside of the Basillica, commenter 4-7 wrote an eloquent plea urging NDLS 3Ls to “breathe, breathe, breathe in Notre Dame” while we still have the chance. Apropos of that comment: what “must-see ND” sights/sounds/people/places/experiences should I, and other soon-to-be-alums, be sure to squeeze into our schedules during the course of the next 48 days? Is there a particularly serene, off-the-beaten-trail spot on campus that we should explore on some beautiful April day? An especially stellar dorm mass that we should attend? A uniquely wonderful study spot to try out? An uncommonly photogenic scene that simply must be captured on film? Anything, really, that we ought to check out while we’re still here? Keep in mind, we’re law students, so some of us rarely venture too far beyond the law school building, and thus we may not have seen certain ND sights that undergrads might consider passé. In other words, no suggestion is too obvious!
2) My second question is more detailed and, I guess, personal… and it’s geared specifically toward Notre Dame Catholics who are familiar with the priests on campus. Pretend for a moment that you are a lapsed Catholic / agnostic who wants to take the opportunity, before leaving this fine institution, to have a conversation with one of Notre Dame’s priests about — well — faith, God, the afterlife, all that sort of thing. Ideally, this priest would be the sort who can engage in a philosophical discussion about spiritual issues without getting overly dogmatic or, for lack of a better term, prosthelytizing. Really, I just want to chat, and I figure ND’s priests are smart, spiritual guys… and as long as I have unsettled thoughts swirling around in my head about faith and such, I might as well talk to one of them about it while I’m here. Anyway, whom would you choose? Is there a particular priest or priests who would be highly recommended for such a conversation? And, uh, how does one go about scheduling a random conversation with a random priest? ;) Okay, I can probably figure out that last part, mostly I just want recommendations of names…
If you want to respond by e-mail, instead of in comments, you can write to me at bloy [at] nd.edu.
[Bumped to top. -ed.]
The Observer asks…
(Hat tip: Anonymous, who asks, “Is this a prelude to a forthcoming hit piece on NDLSÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s precipitous fall from 20 to 28 in the USNWR rankings?”)
UPDATE: The article is up. Excerpt:
According to the rankings, 5.2 percent of 2005 Notre Dame Law School graduates failed to earn legal employment within nine months of graduating. Of schools ranked in the top 30, only Washington and Lee University had a worse employment rate than Notre Dame, and only four schools in the top 50 were lower than Notre Dame in the category. …
Student reaction varied, with some students attributing the drop to O’Hara’s leadership and others saying the change should be viewed as a slight fluctuation with limited insight into the future of the Law School.
“Initially I guess I was disappointed but not that surprised, and now I guess it’s just caused me to think about why it happened,” said Melissa Nunez, a third-year law student. “There’s a lot of reasons the school Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ isn’t doing its best to be a university law school.”
Nunez cited what she called a limited number of academically rigorous courses and a high number of cancelled courses as problems that have hurt students’ training and, indirectly, the rankings.
Third-year law student Derek Muller, however, said the Law School’s problems are noteworthy but not germane to the rankings.
He noted a turnover in the Law School’s admissions office for the relevant incoming class and the unusually high number of admitted students that year. Notre Dame accepted 24.4 percent of applicants in 2006.
“The numbers, I think, they reflected the class,” Muller said.
Melissa and Derek are the only people quoted. I wonder if the Observer reporter even tried to talk to any faculty members, or the dean herself?
There will be no repeat championship or unprecedented third Living Room Times pool title for Rick Boeckler. An amazing comeback by Tennessee — or another stunning North Carolina collapse, depending on how you look at it — made sure of that.
Instead, when the Lady Vols play Rutgers on Tuesday for the national title, Scott Fort and Josh Krause will go head-to-head for the championship of the 10th annual Times women’s pool. If Tennessee wins, Fort will win the pool. If the Scarlet Knights pull off the upset, Krause will be the pool champion.
Fort is a resident of Birmingham, Alabama, a former student at UAB, and an Irish Trojan blog reader since late 2005. Krause is a former Gordon College student and the fiancÃƒÂ© of pool administrator Brendan LoyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lifelong friend Diane Huffman of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Both Fort and Krause are New Jersey natives.
My biggest pet peeve with the iTunes Store has been resolved:
Apple on Thursday introduced a service on the iTunes Store called Complete My Album. The service allows users that have purchased individual songs on an album to purchase the full album at a reduced cost. …
Until now, if you purchased an individual song on iTunes and then decided to buy the whole album, you would have to pay the full price. Not only that, you would have two copies of the one song you purchased. With Complete My Album, Apple will give you a full $0.99 credit for every song you have purchased from the album.
Complete My Album offers customers up to 180 days after first purchasing individual songs from any qualifying album to purchase the rest of that album at a reduced price. However, Apple is giving users a grace period Ã¢â‚¬â€ you have until June 27, 2007 to complete any album that was ever purchased from the iTunes Store.
I don’t know what took Apple so long to institute this obviously needed service, but thank goodness they finally have. I’m with Philip Michaels: the old, flawed system has definitely “prevented me from pulling the trigger on a couple of…full album purchases where I already own a track or two,” simply because I didn’t want to feel I’ve wasted money. Now I don’t have to worry about that anymore. As Michaels says, “I think this is a great service to offer iTunes shoppers, one that fits perfectly with iTunesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mission of allowing people to sample new and undiscovered tunes while broadening their musical horizons. … IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy AppleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s added this feature, and I think it speaks well of both the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s efforts to continuously improve its offerings and the ability of Internet services to adapt to the needs of users.”
Now if only I could get my $0.99 back for my inexplicable decision to buy the Jessica Simpson version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”…
The Solomon Islands were hit by a 10-foot-high tsunami today, reportedly killing at least 8 people. It was caused by an 8.0 earthquake that rocked the nearby sea-floor at 3:39 PM EDT Sunday (7:39 AM Monday local time). A local politician told CNN, “There are quite large boats sitting in the middle of the road. Many of the houses that were on stilts are sitting on the ground. A number of the coastal communities have been completely wiped out.”
In much the same way that foul trouble ruined the much-hyped battle between Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, foul trouble has thus far ruined the showdown between two of the premier players in women’s basketball, Tennessee’s Candace Parker and North Carolina’s Ivory Latta. Latta picked up three quick fouls and spent most of the half on the bench, while Parker got a quick two and also spent much of the half bench-warming.
Asked during a live halftime interview about her team’s offensive struggles (the Lady Vols lead 22-21 in an absolutely ugly game so far) and what they need to do to improve, Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said they need to “get Candace Parker back on the floor” and stated that the early fouls were “hurting both teams.” She added pointedly, “In a game like this, the whole country wants to see the best players on the floor.” So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Coach Summitt is not overwhelmingly happy with the officiating at the moment.
In a related story, Ivory Latta has really, really big eyes. They kinda scare me.
Oh, and in the night’s earlier semifinal, Rutgers overwhelmed LSU, 59-35. You read that right, 35. (Will anyone in the women’s Final Four reach 60 points?) Anyway, the Scarlet Knights are in the title game as a #4 seed… which is the same number as the combined seeds of both men’s NCAA finalists and both men’s NIT finalists. Women’s basketball: it’s where the drama is! … The Rutgers win eliminated Daniel Port and Brian Dupuis from any chance of winning the Living Room Times women’s basketball pool. Still alive: Jennifer Elam, Scott Fort, Rick Boeckler and Josh Krause. If Tennessee wins, it’ll be Fort vs. Krause; if UNC wins, it’ll be Elam vs. Boeckler.
UPDATE: Another North Carolina collapse? Tennessee is on a 15-2 run since trailing 48-36 with 8:17 left. The Vols now lead 51-50 with 1:01 go, and they have the ball.
UPDATE 2: Wow. Tennessee finishes on a 20-2 run and wins, 56-50. Amazing comeback for the Vols. On the other side, it sucks to be a North Carolina fan this year. That’s two massive choke jobs in the course of a week.
I had a pool update all set for the North Carolina victory, with the headline “Defending champ Boeckler one win from third women’s pool title.” Instead, Boeckler and Elam are eliminated, Fort and Krause are still alive, and I have to write a new update.
I know I’m supposed to be on a light-blogging quasi-hiatus, but I have to post this nugget of major NDLS breaking news:
I’m hearing through the grapevine, from what I believe to be reliable sources, that Dean Patty O’Hara will resign before the schoolyear is over. I guess the combination of the rankings controversy and all the other criticism that’s been swirling has finally done her in.
I don’t know too much more than that at this point, but a few additional details are after the jump.
UPDATE: Okay, it’s April 2 now, so I’m removing the “jump” and changing the title. This post is, of course, a joke… APRIL FOOLS!!
For those who saw this post before I changed it: did I fool you? This one totally fooled me.
Happy April Fools Day, everybody. :)
I know when I say “blogging will be light,” I usually don’t stick to it… but I really, really need to get some serious work done today on my Electoral College paper, which is due next week (and which appears likely to be quite long, considering I’m currently on Page 11, but haven’t even finished part “I” on my outline, which has “VI” parts). So I don’t expect I’ll be blogging or commenting much today.
Just a reminder, though: the women’s Final Four is tonight, and the pool ramifications are as follows: if LSU and UNC win, it’s Daniel Port vs. Jennifer Elam. If LSU and Tennessee win, it’s Brian Dupuis vs. Scott Fort. If Rutgers and UNC win, it’s Rick Boeckler vs. Jennifer Elam. If Rutgers and Tennessee win, it’s Josh Krause vs. Scott Fort.
Oh, and for those of you who were just dying to know who won the WNIT (anyone? anyone? Bueller?)… ’twas Wyoming, by a score of 72-56 over Wisconsin in a battle of UWs. The Cowboys’ relatively easy title-game victory followed a triple-overtime semifinal win over defending champ Kansas State.
When I bitched and moaned about the total lack of underdog victories in the Sweet Sixteen (which was merely the icing on an extremely chalky cake after a first weekend almost devoid of major upsets), the common response was that I should stop whining and appreciate the beauty of an Elite Eight featuring all the “best” teams, because such a scenario would surely produce a bevy of extremely entertaining games with a high quality of play. As one commenter put it, “I’d rather see a great game between two great teams than watch a 1 seed destroy a mediocre team that played above its head for a couple of games and then ran out of steam.”
Well, six games later, how is that “great team between two great teams” theory lookin’ for ya? Because it seems to me, we’ve just watched an Elite Eight that featured exactly one genuinely exciting game — North Carolina vs. Georgetown — followed by a Final Four that produced just as much excitement as last year’s incredibly boring semifinals, namely, zero. As commenter NDLauren, who attended today’s games in Atlanta, aptly put it, “Ugh.”
Have there been great teams on the floor? Yes. Have they been paired in matchups that appeared very compelling? Yes. Have those matchups produced great games? No, which just goes to show that you can’t script sports drama. It has to happen organically, and it’s incredibly myopic to pretend that drama (or the lack thereof) in a given instance was pre-ordained by seed numbers or preceding events. A matchup that looks great on paper doesn’t guarantee a dramatic game, nor does a David vs. Goliath mismatch guarantee that drama won’t happen. (Heck, Butler has given Florida more of a game than anyone else in this tournament so far!)
Bottom line, this is the worst NCAA Tournament since I started religiously watching the NCAA Tournament in the early ’90s. Have there been some extremely dramatic, exciting games? Of course! But if you choose any 63 college-basketball games at random, at least a handful of them will inevitably be dramatic and exciting… and that’s all the more true in a “win or go home” setting, where any close, down-to-the-wire game is inherently dramatic and exciting. In other words, there are always going to be some really good games, but that doesn’t mean this has been a great NCAA Tournament. On the contrary, the total lack of truly stunning upsets, the chalk-filled nature of the later rounds, the relatively ordinary number of really exciting games (and the fact that several of them happened simultaneously, while other timeslots were totally devoid of excitement), and the general lack of drama in the Elite Eight and Final Four, have combined to make this tourney a total dud, IMHO. (Well, as compared to other NCAA Tournaments, that is. Even a “dud” of an NCAA Tournament is still the greatest sporting event of the year. But that doesn’t mean I can’t wish it was better!)
Of course, there’s one game left, and here’s hoping Florida and Ohio State go to quintuple-overtime and play the greatest game in college basketball history. Then at least we’ll have something to remember this tournament for. Otherwise, I’m afraid the fine folks at CBS might have to cut “One Shining Moment” a verse short this year, due to a lack of compelling source material.
But that’s just my opinion, and I know I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to preferring games like Butler-Southern Illinois over games like UCLA-Kansas. So, what do y’all think?
UPDATE: Looks like I’m vindicated in my belief that this tournament has totally sucked. Nearly 24 hours after I posted this, the poll results show that a whopping 40% agree that the tourney has been one of the worst in years, and another 25% think it’s been below average. Less than 15% think it’s been above average… and most of them probably go to Florida or OSU. ;)
Florida is one win away from a repeat national championship in men’s college basketball, and if they do it, Sports Illustrated writer and USC alumnus Arash Markazi will finally break the “Trojan Curse” in Living Room Times basketball pools.
But if the Ohio State hoopsters can do what the Buckeye football team was unable to do back in January, namely beat the Gators, it will mean another disappointment at the wire for a USC contestant in a Times pool — and a championship for Scott Robertson, a graduate student at the University of Utah.