Game 39: Wisconsin Badgers

Back in August, while the rest of the country, in an effort to combat BFS (Baseball Fatigue Syndrome), immersed itself in Alabama football and mock fantasy football drafts, John Calipari took his Kentucky Wildcats to the Bahamas for six exhibition games against foreign national and pro teams. The trip, which the NCAA allows once every four years, was meant to build chemistry among yet another group of fresh-faced Wildcats. No one expected them to win more than a game or two; they were playing against grown men. 

But. 

No one told the Twins. Word never made it to Karl-Anthony Towns. And if Tyler Ulis knew, he sure as hell didn't tell anybody. Because Kentucky won five games against one defeat, a game the Cats controlled for 38 minutes. And when the final buzzer sounded, there was nothing left to doubt. The Wildcats hadn't come to the Bahamas to get beachy. They'd come to send a message: we're here to kick ass and drink coconut juice; and we're all out of coconut juice. 

Eight months later, that loss to the Dominican National Team, coached by former Kentucky assistant and current South Florida head coach, Orlando Antigua, remains the only blemish on Kentucky's record as it heads into Saturday's game against a Wisconsin team that wants nothing more than to prove last year's loss to Kentucky was a glitch in the Matrix. 

If you listen to Wisconsin fans, and former players like Ben Brust, Kentucky has no idea what's waiting for them when they take the floor against the Badgers in Indianapolis. Indeed, the more games Kentucky won and the discussion began shifting from "When will Kentucky to lose?" to "Will Kentucky lose?" to "How to beat Kentucky," most pundits pointed to Wisconsin as the team best-suited to do it. 

Why?

Lots of reasons. Lots of legitimate basketball reasons even. But what it mostly boils down to, I believe, is that Wisconsin lost a close game to Kentucky last year, and it's easy to attribute Aaron Harrison's heroics to Lady Luck, thereby anointing this Wisconsin team, which basically returns everyone, as Kentucky Kryptonite, is a no-brainer. 

There's a problem, though.

This ain't your momma's Kentucky team. Well, I mean, it is. But it's not last year's Kentucky team. Not even a little. Forget about who came back and who left and who's new. I'm talking about the sum, man, not the parts. Think about it like this. Remember the SAT? You remember. It was so boring. But they did something, they did one of these:

UK 2014 Defense : UK 2015 Defense :: St. Stephen 5/6 Grade Girls Volleyball : Seal Team Six. 

Kentucky's new pieces, which replaced the "old" pieces, combined with the already-there pieces, have assembled into the most formidable Sicilian Defense since that computer played Bobby Fischer. 

Look, here's my point. The majority of America's opinion on this matchup has, I think, been shaped by the outcome of last year's game even though we know both empirically and anecdotally that last year's game has next to zero bearing on how tonight's game will unfold. The tournament itself is impossible to translate from game to game, much less from year to year. Wisconsin almost lost to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen. Then they thumped Arizona, who is demonstrably much better than Oregon. Kentucky is without Alex Poythress, whose athleticism left the Badges a little wide-eyed last year.

So.

I have no idea what matchups will/will not work in either team's favor tonight--I'm a football guy, and my basketball X/O acumen is limited. What I do know is that Kentucky is much better than they were last year, and Wisconsin, as good as they are, doesn't scare me. Notre Dame scared me because they had quick guards, and everyone on their team could shoot it (still, I admit, I didn't fear Notre Dame nearly enough). Wisconsin plays six guys--seven, tops--and they can't run with Kentucky.

Bottom line: If Kentucky comes out and plays at its mean, they'll win by 8 or more. If they play below the mean, Wisconsin, depending on just how far below Kentucky dips, will win a close one. If Kentucky plays above its mean, the Cats win by double digits. If Devin Booker gets hot and Kentucky is hitting shots, well...

Why You Shouldn't Root for Kentucky

Remember when Cal first came to UK, and everybody was like, "Oh, you better get ready for all the thugs"? You remember (especially you, Louisville Fan). That first year, most people's pointed finger of judgment was aimed at DeMarcus Cousins. He was "lazy" and "stubborn" and "angry." Put him together with John Wa11 and Eric Bledsoe and basically, according to Louisville Fan/Pat Forde (redundant)/National Media Guy, Kentucky was selling out its program, letting in anyone no matter how low their character or how checkered their past (another fallacy for another day). 

I hate to admit it, but you guys were right. As soon as they stepped foot on campus, these "thugs" (which is sofa king racially motivated BTW) started terrorizing everyone they met. Need proof? Here's proof. Watch me now:

That poor baby. Jesus Christ. How could they? 

It doesn't stop there, either. Over the years, John Calipari's Mercenaries have been terrorizing Kentuckians in every setting: schools, children's hospitals, shopping malls--you name it, if it's a place with sentient bipeds, one of John Calipari's non-student-athletes will be there to hurl rocks at it, call it names and laugh as he walks away twisting his mustache and throwing his ill-gotten payment money into the air because more's coming. 

Thankfully, the world knows the truth about Calipari. Don't believe me? Google "John Calipari Sleazy" and be greeted by 11,300 results. Thank god the Fourth Estate has a sports wing to get the word out about Cal and the horror that follows him everywhere he goes. Everyone from Slate to SB Nation (vomit) to Jay Mariotti(!) have rushed to the front of the Internet to let you know that John Calipari is the Sleaziest Coach in a Sleazy Game (penned by Charles P. Pierce, who just wrote this Kentucky piece about history and how the pressure is getting to Kentucky and he starts with a long quote by Mark Twain because, evidently, Charles didn't think it was pretentious enough to include his middle initial in the byline, jam the word "protean" in the first sentence along with slippery, and then go on to describe both words in the next sentence anyway. And the one after that. And the one after that. And then end the paragraph with a different description of the same descriptions). 

Thank god for that guy, right? Thank you, Charles P. Pierce. Without your article, I might've been blindsided by the types of players Cal brings to campus, the way he conducts his business, and just what exactly his guys are getting up to when no one's around. 

Take Marcus Lee, for instance. This son-of-a-bitch, you know what he did? He heard about a kid who got sick, then suffered a bout of depression and couldn't will himself to get out of bed. I don't know about you, but the black cloud has turned its eyes on me a time or two, and this Marcus Lee, this kid John Freaking Calipari brought to Lexington, he wrote the kid a letter, encouraging him, sharing his experience and his secret, faith over fear

From the child's (Noah) stepmother: 

"I cried as I read the letter," Kim Bennett wrote to Calipari. She'd phoned her stepson and shared Lee's words to him. "When I finished, he was as high as a kite. He couldn't believe Marcus would write him. He immediately got out of bed. The next night, he was on the sidelines cheering and encouraging his soccer team. … It's amazing what a few kind words can do."

Well, you can imagine the ire this news drew from Coach Cal, who immediately questioned why Marcus Lee would engage in such an activity: 

"Why didn't you tell us you were doing these things?" Lee remembers Calipari asking him. "And my first reply was, 'What do you mean?' I thought it was just a natural thing to help people, and I didn't think it was a big thing to tell anybody."

A natural thing to help people? Oh, please. 

Right, Charles P. Pierce? Right, Albert Whatsyourname from Deadspin who confuses "nuanced" with "rudderless?"

Well, you may be saying to yourself that's just one example of a Cal guy not fitting the narrative. But nope. Nerlens Noel befriended a 7-year-old leukemia patient and took him to the Derby.  Willie Cauley-Stein took a 4-year-old girl with cerebal palsy on a spaghetti date because, and get this, he saw her share her adoration for him in a Facebook video. Nobody asked him to do it, he just did it.

While the rest of us, including yours truly, sit around all day like (NSFW): 

These kids are getting out and actually doing the good deeds. They're doing the things we pat ourselves on the back for just thinking about doing. 

I wonder where the hell they get it because it sure as hell isn't from John Calipari. That smug, sleazy, selfish jerk would never deign to giving his time and effort to help someone else. He only cares about himself. He's proven it by being such a cheater who cheats all the cheating time because he only cares about winning and his own self-interest and promotion, as I outlined here

Whatever you do this weekend, do not root for the Kentucky Wildcats. They're no good for college basketball. In fact, they're killing it. 

Psychoanalysis: Wisconsin Badgers

A few years ago I saw this documentary about the inner workings of the human mind, and ever since I've been a student of not only human behavior, but also the neuroscience behind it. I don't have time to explain everything to you here (mastering human psychology alone can take several TED Talks), but I will use my expertise to assess the mindset of the Wisconsin Badgers leading up to their Saturday Night Showdown with Kentucky. Let's get started. 

First, you will need some background. The documentary I saw, Inception, starred Tom Hardy and co-starred Robin from the latest Batman movie, Alfred from the latest Batman movie, Dr. Crane from the latest Batman movie, Marion Cotillard from the latest Batman movie, Juno from Juno and The Wolf of Wall Street as Guy. It featured the second to Last Samurai and former Cleveland Indians catcher Jake Taylor. In the documentary, the main characters, led by Tom Hardy, who played Bane in the latest Batman movie, miniaturize themselves and go inside the minds of people to learn their business tactics as well as engage in gunplay. It's a complicated process requiring at least one alarm clock, some dynamite and the ability to drive a van off the Kennedy Bridge. For now, because you're so uneducated about the precision of the science, I'll skip ahead a few steps. 

You didn't pick up on all the nuances in between, but I've just miniaturized myself, and I'm now ready to enter the mind of the Wisconsin Badgers. 


VIDEO OF WISCONSIN PRESS CONFERENCE REMOVED FOR YOUR EAR MERCY BECAUSE IT AUTOPLAYED AND WHOA. LOUD.


Well, that's curious. They're only interested in "suckoffs." Well, they are in college, and I mean, let's be honest, who isn't--am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Still, I can't help but be curious what would've been made about this "suckoff" thing had it been said by a Kentucky player (it's a totally innocent thing, part of a video game, according to KSR). Anyway.

Also interesting: they seem really loose, like that time I *STOP READING, MOM* smoked all that (redacted: medicinal) in college with (redacted: anonymity) and (redacted: anonymity) and watched Family Ties for five hours without speaking or moving. Sha-la-la-laaaaa. #college

Well, I guess the game is a few days away, and it would be counterproductive to be hyperfocused on it now. Good for them, then, I say. They seem to be handling it the right way: loose, confident, enjoying the moment. 

Now, through another series of events far too complicated to explain here, I'm going to "inceptahop" over to a former player's brain. Ben Brust, who now plays professional basketball for Not the NBA, was on last year's Wisconsin team which suffered that heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in the Final Four. What's he thinking, I wonder? 

Oh, wow. He seems pretty bitter, huh, like maybe he should watch some Family Ties? That's a really confident position to take, especially for someone who, I don't know, probably hasn't watched a ton of Kentucky games this year. I suppose, though, it could've been a thing where he was swept up in the emotion, and he's just trying to fire up his team by declaring victory ahead of time. That should really ease the pressure for the Wisconsin players. If they already know they're going to win, they can just sit back and relax and play--oh, now I get it! No wonder those Badgers are so squirrely up on stage; they already know they're going to win! 

But wait, doesn't Kentucky have a say in this? Hang on, let me root around inside Ben's brain a little more. 

Oh, here we go. 

Well, I guess Kentucky fans did have a say. But, I have to tell you, Ben is doing the smart thing. He's going to reply to every single one. This makes sense because he already knows his alma mater (or, well, to be safe, I'd better say "former team." Bo Ryan's graduation rates make Jim Calhoun blush; plus, and I'm sorry, Ben, but you did just kind of jam an apostrophe into Final Four's). 

Well, damn, that's a bummer. I was really hoping Kentucky was going to win, but I can (unfortunately) report to you here, live from the Wisconsin Brain, that they already know they're going to win. Not us. 

Sorry, guys. Maybe next year. 

When Dilettantes Attack. Again.

Another day, another screamer. Today's shade is brought to you by Albert Burneko, and he's angry (yes, I realize the hypocrisy of my calling someone else angry). As far as I can tell, the premise for Burneko's Deadspin piece is something like: Cal is just a user who doesn't care about his players and only does this for the money under the guise of being a good guy so that he can get more players and he twists the ends of his secret mustache.

Or nah.

To be honest, I'm not a hundred percent sure what Burneko's thesis is because the article reads like it was written by someone who got into a really good MFA program thanks to flowery prose and that special brand of angst reserved only for the writerly (vomit), but then kinda faded out because all the purple prose in the world won't get  you published when your stories are bereft of content--or, in this case, direction. 

Burneko's rudderless piece, then,  I think, can actually be summed up like this: he accuses Calipari of cheating, but then he says the NCAA is so corrupt that the cheating is kind of subversive, but in a cool '60s kinda way, but then maybe it's not because Cal's just as self-serving and here's Alex Poythress to prove it. Which is fine except he constructs his whole position around a straw man argument against Calipari, which I'll outline below.

You can read the entire piece here, but I'd like to address some of the specifics below. Let's get started. 

Albert begins the relevant section of the piece by admonishing the NCAA as "little more than a racketeering outfit with cooler highlight footage." Okay, so far so good, Albert. We're all with you there. 

He goes on to say that it's cool, then, that Cal "scoffs at its warped rules and transparently self-serving morality" right? 

This is where Albert and I part ways. Read his next paragraph for yourself: 

The first thing to do is to parse Calipari's NCAA rules violations from his actual sins; they're two different and only indirectly related things. As for the rules violations: basically, in his stops at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Memphis, Calipari-run basketball programs, probably acting under his direction, arranged or permitted or allowed via intentional or unintentional inattention prohibited benefits for recruits and players. The specifics differ—Derrick Rose got a shady SAT result swept under the rug, Marcus Camby got laid, and so on—but, yeah, broadly, Calipari's players were getting and doing shit the NCAA says they're not allowed to get or do. Pretty much nobody disputes that.

Albert. You, sir, you--certainly know how to put together several words which convey an idea. That was--wow. "...Calipari-run basketball programs, probably under his direction, arranged or permitted or allowed via intentional or unintentional inattention prohibited benefits for recruits and players."

What a dazzling sentence--and that was only half of it! First, and this is my favorite thing in your entire piece, you throw in--as a parenthetical--that "probably under his direction." Allow me to translate, dear readers: that means that our man Albert has absolutely zero idea what happened at UMass or Memphis. He is as informed about those situations as casual college basketball fans. He is much less informed than Kentucky basketball fans. 

The string of words you put together next, Albert, this is where Deadspin is getting their money's worth: "...arranged or permitted or allowed (synonym of permitted) via intentional or unintentional inattention..."

Well, wait a quick second, Albert. You just said, "probably under his direction," which would be diametrically opposed to even the possibility of the Camby/Rose situation being the result of "unintentional inattention." My directing you to eat (redacted: vulgar) is a wholly different thing than my not paying attention while you snuck off to eat all that (redacted: vulgar). So, Albert, not only are you talking about of both sides of your mouth, you're still saying nothing. Also, for the record, pretty much nobody disputed there were WMDs in Iraq 12 years ago. Pretty much everybody was wrong. 

And if that weren't enough, Albert then ties another cement boot to his credibility by saying: 

Even if you pretend to believe Calipari's denials of his own personal involvement in the rules violations at UMass and Memphis (and, c'mon, almost certainly at Kentucky, too), he's still offering players a more honest arrangement than they'll get at Krzyzewski's Character-Building Academy.

Almost certainly? Who are you, Ricki Lake? So, if I don't take your parenthetical "probably" and your "c'mon, almost certainly" as gospel, I'm, what, pretending? The burden of proof is on the accuser. So, stop being lazy because, Albert:

Let's move on. Albert takes a circuitous route to what I believe is his premise, his smoking gun which proves Cal's <negative trait assignment> because he never really settles on what exactly it is he's accusing Cal of being other than "bad--maybe."  He's talking about the injury suffered by Alex Poythress.

From the lips of Albert Banerko (or something):

It's important to remember that Poythress already had essentially lost millions of dollars by this point, both in the damage done to his draft stock and in the wages he missed out on by delaying his professional career by a year. If he hoped to restore his reputation with a strong junior season, that's understandable, but the decision backfired horribly. In a practice this past December, Poythress tore his ACL on an uncontested layup, ending his season. Alex Poythress is fucked now.

I'm sorry, would you mind clarifying that, Albert?

Returning to Kentucky for another year would be ludicrous; Calipari will wear a burlap potato sack on the sideline of a nationally televised game before he will hold back a one-and-done freshman star to carve out meaningful minutes for a senior with a jacked-up leg. But also, Poythress's odds of being drafted anywhere in the first round—or at all—in 2015 essentially now don't exist. While John Calipari is leading the undefeated Wildcats through the tournament, Alex Poythress is rehabbing his knee and hoping for a long-shot camp invite from some NBA team over the summer so that he won't have to move overseas to play basketball. Poythress took John Calipari's honest deal of his own free will—but, when he didn't play it exactly right, when he didn't cash out at the precise right moment, they reverted to the familiar roles: a young guy who got fucked by his participation in the college athletics scam, and a middle-aged millionaire who got his money anyway. If you're looking for a Robin Hood, keep looking.

Jesus Christ, Albert, take a walk outside or something. Get some fresh air. Let's take this point by point (leaving aside your Zuckerburg algorithm that has figured out how much money Alex has "lost"). Exactly what are you basing this on, the idea that Cal would rather wear a burlap sack on television than he would play a senior "with a jacked up leg" over a freshman? Look, whether Alex stays or leaves, there is no one on earth, Calipari least of all, who won't welcome him back to Lexington for another year. He's beloved. And as  you correctly point out in your piece, the dude can hoop.

Next. You say "Alex Poythress is rehabbing his knee and hoping for a long-shot camp invite from some NBA team over the summer so that he won't have to move overseas to play basketball." 

Albert, you're arguing with yourself. As I just stated, Alex will be more than welcome back in Lexington, but I'm curious as to the nature of your source that Alex is hoping for a long-shot camp invite. Because otherwise, you're just guessing--or, as I'd put it, lying; additionally, Alex Poythress has spent the last three years in Kentucky. He worked out for all the NBA scouts before the season started--you remember, the one John Calipari put together. Even if he hadn't, do you think there's an NBA GM who hasn't seen Alex play, who doesn't know what he's capable of?

You're taking your vitriol for the NCAA (which we all share) out on Calipari, and, frankly, you sound uninformed doing it. I know that this is supposed to be a "nuanced" deconstruction of the hypocrisy of the NCAA through the lens of its treatment of Calipari while simultaneously examining the reputation of Calipari, which on the surface seems unfair, but once you "dug into it" you "conclude" that they're both hypocritical. I get that. But, like so many of Deadspin's pieces, it's all fur coat and no knickers, and I don't care for the arrogant, self-indulgent way you characterize a man who has done more good for the world just since he's been at Kentucky than most of us ever will. 

I'm done now, and as far as my readers go, pretty much nobody will dispute my stopping here. 

When Dilettantes Attack or (The word "classless" has lost all meaning)

After last night's massively emotional game, fans of all stripes took to Twitter to blast Calipari for not climbing atop the backboards at the Quicken Loans Arena and screaming, "NOTRE DAME DID GOOD, Y'ALL!." Most of these Catholics (I'm a Catholic, too, so just don't) chose to lean on the same crutch word: "classless."

Stop it. 

I don't specifically remember what Cal said after the game, but I'll admit I did notice that he made a point to say his team played poorly and Notre Dame played very well. I know that in this day and age, that's not what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to say, "Well, first, give <LOSING TEAM> credit. They played so <EFFUSIVE PRAISE>. 

I also admit that I do think it's graceful to acknowledge the other team's effort after any win, but especially a close one. Which Cal did. He just didn't do it on the court right after the game--the game which probably took another year off his life (I know it took at least that much off mine). The problem I think most people had was, when asked by (on court interview guy, Lewis Johnson, I think), if this was his team's biggest test, he said "Well, no we have had other tests, but this is another test, but we have a will to win." 

GASP! What do you want him to do, lie? Just because you didn't watch the Ole Miss, TAMU or LSU games doesn't mean they didn't happen. Sure, I was more nervous about this game than I was those games because this is the tournament, but I don't think Kentucky was pushed further than those games (Ole Miss went to OT in Rupp, TAMU went to double OT, and LSU had no business losing that game; the difference was they flinched when Kentucky didn't). And consider: this was immediately after the game. His resting heart rate was probably at about 150. Mine was, and I was sitting in a chair from tip to buzzer. 

What these trolls fail to recognize is that in the ceremony after the game Cal praised Notre Dame for a "great game and a terrific season. And then, in the actual post game press conference said, "And give Notre Dame credit, they came right after us, they were not afraid, they were confident." 

But Internet be all: 

Yes, Reggie, seriously because see the LSU/Ole Miss/TAMU sentence above. Reggie, a columnist for the News-Sentinel (South Bend maybe? I dunno, what's a newspaper) would go on to acknowledge that Cal was more gracious in his speech "after the adrenaline wore off" yet doesn't apologize for judging Cal's kneejerk reaction to the game with one of his own. #irony

Meet John Deery. John is interested in cars, sports, golfing (at least we agree that golf isn't a sport) and the "uni panthers," which I assume is a sports team that sportses somewhere in the northern portion of one of the "I" states (please be Idaho). John wants his followers to know that Calipari is classless and cheats and has no class. #redundant 

When confronted by Kentucky fans, John doubled down:

He's "dying" because do we know about UMass and Memphis (three question marks)? Yes, John. We're pretty well-versed. We're Kentucky fans, perhaps you've heard of us. What we know, what you don't, is that Cal was never accused by the NCAA in the Camby-agent thing, but UMass did have to suffer consequences. What we also know is that Cal was never found to have had any involvement in the Derrick Rose-SAT situation; additionally, not one single school in America, including the "uni panthers" would've turned away Derrick Rose. What we also also know is that Cal still considers both of these men to be his "sons" because, believe it or not, basketball isn't the only (or one at all) measure of one's "class." So, the question, John, really, is do you know about UMass and Memphis? Shhh, don't answer, it's rhetorical. Good night, sweet prince. 

Denny hosts "The Sports Den" in Jacksonville, Florida. That's sports talk radio. He's got opinions. He throws out #hottakes. He takes phone calls about the Jaguars defense. Denny characterized Calipari's post game interview as "typical." Denny must watch a ton of college basketball; I mean, he does host a sports show in Jacksonville. So, I'm sure he's ready to back up his comments. 

Is that what you "simply" said, Denny? Cuz nah. You said it was "classless yet typical." One too many hot takes, huh? Oh man, the Sports Den is gonna be so choice tomorrow!

Listen, guys, stop calling people names on Twitter. I'm serious. Just make your case, you don't have to be a dick about it even if Denny is redefining the word "opinion." That wasn't an opinion, Dennis, that was an accusation, and a baseless one. 

Tony's bio was empty, but he looks pretty old and he's wearing a tie, so I didn't know what to think. Then I looked at a few of his tweets and found this: 

Jesus Christ, Tony, you're basically quoting John Calipari. Also, remind me to talk to you later about tapping that space bar when starting a new sentence, how to handle your friend, the comma, and when to use capital letters. 

Let's finish up with my favorite. Do you know about this lady, this Pam Shriver? I know about her because I really like tennis. Yeah, I know, but I do. I always have. So, I see Pam Shriver on TV (ESPN no less) roughly 6-8 times per year (the Grand Slams and some of the other bigger events). 

This woman has a job as a broadcaster, and I think she's actually pretty good at it when she's talking about "Serena's forehand" or "Maria's serve" or "Caroline's defense" (in tennis, the best players go by one name, usually their first name or a nick, like Djoker or Rafa). But do us a favor, Pam. Blow it out your blowhole on this one, okay? You didn't even go to Notre Dame. In fact, you claimed them as your "new favorite" team at halftime. So, just don't. 

I'll say this about Ms. Shriver. At least she stayed away from the "classless" vortex. 

In closing, let me just offer that I'm tired of that word being used as a catchall. Whether it's washing the feet of Bahamian kids or raising over a million dollars for Haiti relief, John Calipari is anything but classless. This is a guy who truly cares about his players and puts his money and his time where his mouth is when it comes to helping others. I don't care what you think about him as a basketball coach, but can we just stop it with this "classless" nonsense and save it for when it's actually appropriate (like when Louisville hires a coach). #classyending

Read more opinions of classy Twitter users here

Hallelujah. Holy shit. Tylenol, anyone?

That's a banner. We only hang them for making it to this point and beyond, and once again John Calipari has led us to the edge of the Promised Land. I'll be honest, down the stretch I was already preparing myself for a solid six weeks of hating all the things. I should have known better because where I'm a pantywaist who folds like a cheap tent under pressure, this Kentucky teams eats that anxiety and defecates victory, the way the Alchemist in that book The Alchemist alchemies lead into gold, but different. Plus, he has a falcon. And could turn himself into the wind. You should really read that book.

Let's talk about what we just watched. 

POWERKAT

Karl-Anthony Towns was so POWERKAT tonight, and Notre Dame had no answer for him. Think about it like this: when you're fighting el Toro Bravo (a Spanish Fighting Bull), he possesses every single physical advantage except one--the ability to pick up a sword. Which is why he loses. Well, Notre Dame had no sword, and the POWERKAT was free to charge, which he did, scoring 25 points and pulling down 5 rebounds. After the game Cal said POWERKAT wasn't playing the best defense in the world (paraphrasing), but when he's the only guy scoring, how do you take him out? Answer: you don't grab a bull by the horns because that's dumb. 

AARON F. HARRISON

Aaron Harrison...

Jesus Michael Christ, this guy ain't afraid of nothin. I was weeping openly (inwardly) at this point, and he's just like 

Future Wife <3

Future Wife <3

And then when he made it he was all:

(Kids, that's Michael Keaton; he's the best Batman)

DEVIN'S TIME IS STILL COMING

Ah goddammit, we lost Devin again. After teasing us against West Virginia, Booker was again an absentee guard against Notre Dame. Seriously, Devin, I'm sofa king ready for you to figure this thing out, and I sofa king believe that you will. Indy will be your stage. You are going to light that place up like a polyester couch  on State Street. 

CLOSE, BUT THIS AIN'T HORSESHOES

My hat is off to Notre Dame, a university for which I do not particularly care. They came in with no intention of just jacking up threes and praying to Touchdown Jesus. Instead, the Fighting Irish played tough, physical, smart basketball and had Kentucky on its heels for a large portion of the game. Zach Auguste didn't back down from our bigs. Jerian Grant is the real deal. The guy that looks like King Joffrey and plays like Kelly Tripucka excelled at both. Put Notre Dame on the other side of the bracket and they're going to Indy. 

/RECAP

Golf is on SportsCenter now, and I just want to know who gives a shit about a golf tournament tonight. He or she is not someone I'd really care to know. This one moron is digging all in the bunker for his golf ball and I'm just like maybe you don't hit it in there, jackass, but like how Anthony Hopkins says it in Legends of the Fall. He says it like "Jackiss." 

It's on to face Wisconsin, who I guarantee will bring the shit out of it Saturday night in Indianapolis. This is one they've had circled, which is part of the reason I think they've been anointed as Kentucky's Kryptonite. The other part of the reason is that they're really, really good. Like, legitimately a dangerous team. My mom feels pretty confident about it, though, and her bracket is better than mine, so I'll take comfort there. 

See you tomorrow, you filthy animals. Celebrate tonight, for another banner shall be hung. The only thing left is the writing (story of my life). 

How to Beat Kentucky: Notre Dame Edition

Despite my laying out exactly how to beat Kentucky the other night (Wednesday), it seems it came too late for Bob Huggins and Moutaineers, which, I know, right? They had already declared victory, so I'm just as shocked as you are. Anyway, Notre Dame is a different team, so I've taken the liberty of drafting a new plan for Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish, complete with a new roster. Hear me now. 

 

General Zod, Head Coach

This guy, you know, he took on Superman and almost won. And then when that didn't work he laid low for a few years and waited for the Superman reboot...to fail, but then, when they rebooted it again, yeah, he came back--as Michael F. Shannon (Kentuckian). So, I just want you to know, this guy knows a little bit about perseverance and reinvention and, perhaps most importantly, how to take on human-type beings who can fly, which is a pretty accurate description of this Kentucky team. So good luck tonight playing without a cape, Kentucky fans. 

 

M1 Abams Tank, Point Guard

Notre Dame lives and dies by the three, but this isn't the St. Agnes 7/8 Grade A League where you can just pass the ball around the perimeter for seven minutes until the kids at the top of the 2-3 zone get bored and then heave the intermediate ball toward the rim. Notre Dame wants to take you off the dribble, penetrate, draw a double and kick out for three. You probably don't have the tanking experience I have (we have a club, it's a thing, we're called the Tinker Tanker Soldier Guys), but I want you to know that the most surefire way to make a group of five guys get the hell out of the way is to drive an Abrams tank at them. 

Bad news, Kentucky fans. ND point guard Demetrius Jackson is on record as saying he's never read Power K...just like an Abrams Tank. Shit. 

 

B-2 Spirit Bomber, Shooting Guard

The best way to make sure you've covered your target area is through a technique called "carpet bombing," which I invented back in 1988 while on the Bozo Show. Man, that clown had no freaking idea what to do. I was on the sixth bucket, and he handed me the ping pong ball. I looked at him and was like nah, I got this, Bozo, you clown. From my neon Oakley windbreaker I withdrew a bag of ping pong balls, ripped it open, and I made that place rain. By the time the balls stopped falling, that GD sixth bucket had more ping pong balls than a Chinese Table Tennis tournament (where I'd assume they keep a lot of ping pong balls on hand), and I was like "Thanks for the cash and prizes, you filthy animal." Hate to be the bearer of bad news, Cats fans, but B-2 Bombers (Now with stealth!) can fly over an area, smother it with napalm, and be back for dinner before you...well, I guess you'd be departed, like the departed in that movie, The Departed, starring The Wolf of Wall Street, Ben Affleck's best friend, President Jeb Bartlett, Jenny McCarthy's brother-in-law, the guy who played Joker in The Shining and Vera Farmiga as Woman. Notre Dame shot 75% or something against Wichita State Thursday--yes, the Wichita State team that nearly beat Kentucky last year and was going to beat them this year to return the "you're not undefeated" favor, but Notre Dame beat them. They beat the team that was going to beat Kentucky. So you can only imagine how bad this beatdown will be for a Kentucky team that was already scheduled to lose.

 

What's that, a Donruss?

What's that, a Donruss?

Kelly Tripucka, Shooting Guard #2

The last time Notre Dame made it to the Elite Eight, they wore those socks and those shorts and Kelly Tripucka, named Kelly Tripucka, was walking around doing two things: wearing low-tops and kicking ass, and, buddy, he don't need no more low-tops. Well, Steve Vasturia, Notre Dame sharpshooter, has been compared by Notre Dame basketball fans from South Bend to just west of South Bend, to Kelly Tripucka, who was also named as one of the 30 best Charlotte Hornets of all-time. That's a pro team, and everyone agrees, Kentucky couldn't really beat a pro team. Sorry, Cats, but the run ends here. 

 

Basket of Puppies, Power Forward

Despite the narrative that these Kentucky players are mercenaries who only go to school for a semester and a half and don't care about the team and basically forget about the community--what's a community--these guys don't give a flippin dern about no community, they're actually really good students, great teammates and awesome guys. Marcus Lee and Willie Cauley-Stein have been going out of their way to spend time with sick children. 

Well. 

Uh oh.

Because what are these amazing human beings going to do when a Sherman Tank comes rolling toward this basket of puppies? You guessed it, they're going to save those puppies. This plays right into Notre Dame's hands because once they're out of way the basket will be wide open for Notre Dame to score "two-pointers" or, even worse for Kentucky, "three-pointers." Too bad. So sad. Kentucky loses. 

 

Luck, Center

What's the most universal symbol for good fortune and luck? Right. A rabbit's foot. But the four-leaf clover is right up there with it. Like, top 4 at worst. Know what one of Notre Dame's logos is? Yeah, a four-leaf clover. Well, no, it's a shamrock, but, dude they're the same plant (or something, I don't know, who am I, Neville Longbottom [who was really good at herbology, what are you, not a Harry Potter fan?]). So, it's just like, you're SOL, Cats fans because clearly fortune will favor the Irish, especially only 13 (the luckiest number) days after St. Patrick's Day. 

Well, this season has been fun. Try not to be to upset when it ends tonight, Cats fans. 37-1 is a wonderful record, a real doozy. Better luck next year. 

How to Beat Kentucky: West Virginia Edition

You've seen all the shows, listened to all the sports talk radio (vomit), and by now you're pretty well-versed on how everyone thinks Kentucky can be beaten. Well, I've been watching this team all year, and I think I've come up with the right mix of ingredients to bake a Kentucky upset. Check out the roster.

SUN TZU, HEAD COACH

This guy wrote the actual book on winning wars. Among my favorite Tzuisms is "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt." West Virginia has spent this week doing exactly that. They've kept their mouths shut, they've revealed nothing, and you can bet that once the ball is tipped they'll be the picture of ruthless efficiency, falling like thunderbolts all over the court because they're obviously focused. Like the Samurai, the Mountaineers are approaching this game with honor, courage and shoulder pads. 

 

LIEUTENANT DANIEL TAYLOR, POINT GUARD

The best point guards are extensions of their coaches, which is why you hear them referred to as "floor generals." Really, they're lieutenants, responsible for executing strategy, and Lieutenant Dan, in case you didn't know, comes from a great military tradition. Somebody in his family had fought--and died--in every single American war. Don't believe me? Watch his highlight reel below. Pay special attention to the end, whereupon one private, mere minutes after meeting Lt. Dan, says, "I sure hope I don't let him down." 

Juwan Staten evokes similar loyalty and dedication from his West Virginia team. While he was out of the lineup late in the regular season, they just kept losing, racking up eight total losses this year. Watch out, Cats. 

PRIVATE JACKSON, SHOOTING GUARD

With all due respect to American Sniper/hero Chris Kyle, Private Nofirstname Jackson is best equipped to play Kentucky. First off, look at that gun, a Remington 1903A4. It's basically a pistol with a kaleidoscope glued to the top. You had to be able to max bench a minimum of 225 lbs. x 12 just to reload it after each shot. Combine Sun Tzu's strategy and tactics, Lt. Dan's ability to execute the vision and Private Jackson's ability to snipe, and you're getting really close to "He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious." Plus, when you're playing Kentucky, it probably helps if you pray before each shot #dontcostnothin. See this now:

So, I don't know if you know this, but West Virginia has made over 31% of its three-pointers this year. That's over three out of every ten they take, and anyone who knows anything about baseball knows what an amazing batting average that is. Sorry, Cats, there isn't much you can do about this. (POWER ASIDE: Notice who the captain is? That's right, it's that young private. Thanks to Lt. Dan's tutelage, that fresh-faced soldier went from being a private in the Vietnam War to a Captain in WWII. You probably don't know a lot about military rankings and the history of America, but that's an unprecedented rate of promotion). 

MICHAEL JORDAN, SMALL FORWARD

You know about this guy? He used to play when we were kids. The old people, like, in their thirties, say he's better than Lebron (lulz). I'm just putting him on this team because doesn't that quote just scream "SUN TZU?" He's all about preparation and knowing thyself. West Virginia certainly knows thyselves. Freshman guard Daxter Miles declared victory yesterday, and it was Sun Tzu himself who said "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." This guy gets it. Hashtag: #shitwerescrewed

HULK, POWER FORWARD

I'm sure you read the brilliant piece by USA Today columnist/thinker Nancy Armour, wherein she declared Kentucky to be beatable #hottake. All a team had to do, she announced, was to take the Cincinnati game plan and put it in the hands of a better team, like the Atlanta Falcons. Well, for real, she's been called, by people who've read her, the Sun Tzu of her generation, and to help her realize this vision, I can't think of anyone better than Hulk. West Virginia has a guy with broad shoulders and goggles (and hello, when Hulk is Dr. Bruce Banner, he wears goggles, like, half the time, so I mean). Too bad so sad, Kentucky. You've been Armour-Tzued. 

 

THE TOWER OF BARAD-DUR, CENTER

According to The Official Rules of Basket Ball, by Tom Crean, a "goal" must be no higher nor lower than ten feet above the surface court-of-play. Opinions differ as to the actual height of the Tower of Barad-dur. According to my neighbor, Tommy St. Randy, Tolkien, in "The Road to Isengard," wrote that "between the horns of Orthanc was a narrow space, where a man might stand five hundred feet above the plain." Tommy notes though, that the Tower of Orthanc, home of Saruman, had to have been smaller than mightier Tower of Barad-dur, capital of Mordor and home of Sauron. Tommy goes on to say that if one were to scale up Peter Jackson's movie model of the tower, it would be about 5000 feet high. For comparison, the Sears Tower peaks at a lowly 1421 feet. Either way, I've done some quick math on this, and 5000 feet is more than ten feet. So, good luck scoring on Kevin Noreen (who has inflammable red/orange hair, not unlike the flaming eye of Sauron atop the Tower of Barad-dur) and the zero other players West Virginia has over 6-10, Kentucky. 

It's been a great season, Cats fans, and I hope you've enjoyed it because the recipe to beat us is now out in the open for everyone to copy. Better luck next year. 

Contribute Meow

Remember when you were in college and you got sofa king baked and watched Super Troopers, like, nine times in a row? Know how you still say "The snozberries tastes like snozberries?" or "It smells like sex in here" when you walk into a room where two of your friends are or, and this one's my personal favorite, "Glamour pet." 

It's time to give back. The Broken Lizard guys have started an Indiegogo campaign to fund the long anticipated, begged for, pleaded for, masturbated-for-truckers for sequel to the original Super Troopers, titled Super Troopers 2: Super Dooper Troopers*. 

At the time of this writing, they have already raised nearly $700,000, which sounds like a lot, but it's not even half (or a tenth) of what they'll need to put together the kind of sequel befitting of the original. 

So, go donate, even if it's just five dollars, but in the words of Lisa McDowell, heiress to the McDowell's burger empire of Queens, NYC (and I bet there are a couple in Zamunda now), "We're happy to get the kind of money that jingles, but we'd rather get the kind that folds." 

Let me close with this. Outside of Todd Phillips and Judd Apatow (who has kinda sucked hard recently), there are so few funny people left making movies. So, watch this below and tell me you don't wanna donate (and then watch me break vous fuckin' lip). 

Sounds like a rom-com. Classic. 

*Nah, I made that part up