Season Opening Malenga! LiveBlog

I decided to not post anything last night as the Bills craptastic performance against the Browns took up most of my attention. Instead, I decided to focus on today's ESPN college basketball marathon.

Unfortunately, since I have a real job I wasn't able to watch much of the games ESPN scheduled for what I'm going to call non-traditional basketball hours. I was certainly stunned to see Idaho State and Hawai'i in overtime when I woke up at around 6 this morning. Originally, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, but the fact that I had to go to the office and either Florida or Syracuse wasn't on the television convinced me otherwise.

The most interesting thing I have seen on the limited amount of coverage I've been able to watch: ex-NBAer David Wesley, fulfilling a promise to his mother that he'd finish his degree, is a student manager for Baylor. He wanted to get into coaching and that was the only spot Scott Drew had available.

In terms of what I plan to accomplish tonight, in between commenting on what I see during the games I'm watching, I'll sprinkle in my thoughts and picks for the year. Maybe there will even be a few surprises, particularly considering the big news on the BCS front today.

Richmond at Syracuse is going to be my main focus for the early part of the evening, and that starts in a few.

5:58 - Pete Newell is the melancholy Happy Trails on PTI tonight. If you have the chance, check out Bob Knight's comments about Newell on one of the four-letter's internet outlets. Cal hosts San Francisco tonight, in what should be a very emotional evening for the two of the schools Newell coached (the third being Michigan State).

6:03 - I've set the over/under on 1991 references at 10 for tonight. We're at one.

6:06 - That's two. I definitely would take the over.

6:10 - This game is part of the CBE Classic, which is run by the Gazelle Group, who also runs the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York. Gazelle got freaked out by Kentucky losing to Gardner-Webb in the CVC last year, which kept the Wildcats from making the trip to New York. So, now they're converting all of their tournaments to events where the four major programs advance to the final site. The mid-majors travel to the major sites and (presumably) lose, then play other mid-majors at satellite sites afterward. In other words, it's a complete joke. It's even more of a joke when you look at the number of Division II schools Gazelle booked for this year's events.

6:11 - John Edwards tells me there were actually 3 references before the opening tip. That brings us to 4, I think. It's hard to count and write at the same time.

6:15 - My Big East pick this year. It's really difficult to pick just one team because the league is so strong. It's possible that 9 or 10 teams make the field of 65, which would best the Big East's own record of 8. Remember folks, that after the automatic bids are taken into consideration, all teams are treated as independents in the selection process. My pick to win the conference is Connecticut, by a hair. However, I think their inexperience is going to cost them in March. Louisville will be the team that gets the furthest in the Big Dance. They'll get to the Final Four. (That's team #1 if you're keeping track.)

6:17 - Sure the election was two weeks ago, but if you need a voting fix, it's Interactive Tuesday on ESPN. It's nice to hear the words "early returns" again.

6:18 - Richmond needs to dump the red letters on the navy jersey...impossible to read. They remind me of the orange Syracuse jerseys with all navy letters and numbers. Blech.

6:20 - My sleeper team of the year is, shockingly, Syracuse. Six starters back and improved depth compared to last year. Sure there's no Donte' Greene, but it's a case of addition by subtraction. It may not show in the standings, but the Orange should make it to the tournament and do some damage.
(And yes, I know I'm biased. Sue me.)

6:21 - And that's five, with accompanying video, and reference to the Navy upset. Ugh.

6:23 - Am I the only one out there who's more excited about Davidson at Oklahoma than UK-UNC? Anyone? Bueller?

6:25 - Good to see Eric Devendorf is back in 2007 form. (rolls eyes)

6:26 - I'm half-Canadian and that's the first time I've ever heard a player referred to as being All-Canada in basketball. The Orange have two Canadians on the roster (Andy Rautins and Kris Joseph); however, both went to high school in the U.S.

6:27 - I know it's an early tip, but this crowd is looking like a football one at the Dome. Folks, Gerg isn't there. (And my misspelling is intentional.)

6:29 - Thank you Volkswagen for creeping me out. If Volvo made an ad like that, I'd arrange for my car to meet an unfortunate "accident."

6:30 - Please ESPN. We don't need red89hawk calling up college hoops broadcasts.

6:34 - No, no...this is college basketball, not football. Rankings at any time of the year mean nothing. The only ranking that matters comes out mid-March.

6:35 - That's 6. The 12-year old version of me is not happy right now. It was no fun being a Bills or Orange fan in the first quarter of 1991...especially when you lived in Florida.

6:38 - David Gonzalvez is Jimmy Baron-esque.

6:40 - It's not halftime yet...so I'm not worried...for the moment.

6:45 - Great effort from Harris to grab the board, terrible offensive possession, and Spiders get another three.

6:46 - 38-31 at halftime. Not a good half at all. Maybe SU needs to start playing A-10 teams on the road.

And now I'll take a break from hoops for a few minutes to talk about the new deal ESPN struck for BCS rights today.

We aren't getting a college football playoff without governmental intervention. The powers that be overseeing college football have proven that they don't care what the fans think, and they have no interest in the best interest of their sport. With the nation's economy in shambles and travel costs constantly rising, do they really think that the current bowl system is going to be economically effective in the future? ESPN, who already owns quite a few bowl games already and televises almost all of them, also now has a heavy interest in keeping the current system intact. Probably the most condescending thing I've heard on the topic today was the comments of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe in an article by Dennis Dodd on CBSSports.com, "The simple solution is easy to state. We're not in charge of a professional league where we have the entertainment value to consider. That should be fully considered. This isn't something you should make a rash decision about."

You can read ACC Commissioner John Swofford's similar comments in the same article. It's simply unfathomable that such close-minded people are involved in any aspect of higher education.

I would certainly say that the possibility of Congress becoming involved is pretty high, even with all of the major issues we have in this country at the moment. (Has this stopped Congress before? Do steroid hearings, boxing, and the NFL Network ring any bells?) The fact that the national championship game (as it is) will be moving onto cable television in the very near future will undoubtedly lead to opportunistic politicians taking up the TV issue on behalf of their cable and satellite-less constituents. Add into the equation the fact the President-Elect is on record as being vehemently in favor of a playoff, and something is going to happen.

It really doesn't require too many more games to crown an undisputed national champion in college football, and it doesn't even have to take student-athletes away from the classroom for an extensive amount of time. (Why aren't you all so worried about those FCS student-athletes who go through up to a four-game playoff process after 12 regular season games?) Play your four regular BCS bowls. Then create two new semifinal bowls, then play that already existing national championship game. Put in your six BCS conference champs, then have a committee select two at-large teams and seed the field. Let the other teams play in bowl games, so conferences continue to have that revenue stream. Stop being so bloody hypocritical about the whole process.

Now back to basketball.

7:07 - Not only is this game not in HD, but we have this annoying scroll at the top of the screen that makes my TV feel like a chat room. And yes, I realize I'm liveblogging. But at least, you can close your browser when you get tired of me.

7:10 - Big Devendorf 3 and a turnover. Momentum shift?

7:12 - Timeout Spiders. Eric Devendorf would be "on fire" if he was playing in NBA JAM right now.

7:13 - Am I in favor of the new three-point line? Um, no. See Saturday's post.

7:14 - I see Georgia finally pulled a win out against Eastern Michigan. I guess they only play well when dealing with severe weather.

7:17 - Easy there, Arinze. We don't want another backboard going down.

7:26 - Sloppy, sloppy Orange...letting them back in it.

7:29 - Both teams about to hit the bonus. These last 10 minutes are going to take an eternity at this rate.

7:35 - It would be nice to get some production out of someone other than Devendorf or Flynn tonight.

7:37 - St. John's, on the road for the NIT, is down 12-7 to BC early on.

7:40 - [Master of the Obvious]An injured Jonny Flynn would be bad for SU.[/Master of the Obvious]

7:41 - I'd like to nominate Arinze Onuwaku for the College Slam Dunk contest when he's eligible for it.

7:43 - If you want to know what a frontal lobotomy feels like, just read some of the scrolling comments on the top of the screen.

7:45 - Yet another 1991 reference. That's what? 515 now?

7:46 - Johnnies hanging in there. 16-14 with about 13 minutes left.

7:49 - I bet Richmond wishes they were at the other end of the court right now. Can't seem to hit the three at this end.

7:50 - Just as I say that...they get a 3. This is still a contest.

7:54 - No more shot clock violations, please. Four points is far too close for comfort. The hoop and the harm for Flynn helps though.

7:57 - On a station I can't get, at halftime, Purdue 40, Loyola Chicago 14. Ouch!

7:58 - No ESPN, it's not Navy 30, St. Francis (NY) 29 Final. It's halftime in Annapolis.

8:00 - 76-71 Final. Need to work on some free throws. Now onto Kansas City!

8:01 - On Big Ten Network, Indiana 46, IUPUI (or ooeey-pooey) 44 with 12 minutes to go in the 2nd half.

8:03 - Big Ten pick time. I'm going with Purdue's experience to win the league. But mark Michigan State down as Final Four team #2. Even though guard play is crucial in the tournament and the Boilers have loads of it, the Spartans balance will be a bigger help in March. Plus, they'll be motivated to get to Detroit.

8:10 - Ron Hunter: Jon Miller called. He wants his dress shirt back.

8:15 - On Fox College Sports, Western Michigan is 23-21 down at home to Detroit. The Broncos just got swept out of the Charleston Classic, a trip that culminated with a loss to transitional SIU-Edwardsville.

8:16 - 7:07 left in Bloomington, the Jaguars are down only 1 to the Hoosiers. IU led by 11 at halftime.

8:19 - At halftime in Chestnut Hill, BC 43, St. John's 40

8:24 - Ah, the ESPN Bio-Blast. Why does it remind me of what we used to say when someone got sick on one of the rides at the Magic Kingdom? It's that famous Disney corporate synergy displaying itself yet again.

8:31 - IUPUI shooting better than 70% in the second half. Yikes! 58-57 Hoosiers with a little more than 2 minutes left.

8:36 - Jaguars get a turnover and immediately call timeout. Still a one-point IU lead with 27 seconds left.

8:38 - IUPUI didn't need a three, yet that's what they end up shooting...and missing. 1.2 ticks left and it looks like IU will survive.

8:39 - 60-57 Final. IUPUI had a beef for a foul on the final, blocked shot.

8:43 - I know BC isn't a top-flight ACC program right now, but St. John's is doing a great job of hanging in there.

8:50 - Johnnies now ahead by a bucket. If this keeps up, they may start gaining confidence that may provide a must-needed boost to Norm Roberts' club come the Big East schedule.

8:55 - When I am king, Subway will not be allowed to advertise any of its products as "great."

9:01 - Kentucky @ UNC seems like one of those December Saturday CBS games. The best thing about those matchups this year...no Billy Packer!

9:04 - Malik Boothe of St. John's just clattered into the ESPN broadcast position courtside at the Conte Forum. Sean McDonough is still woozy.

9:11 - And my preseason ACC pick is off to a flying start. No, not BC. North Carolina is up 11-2 early on UK. The ACC this year can be broken into four tiers: UNC, then Duke, then Miami, Wake, and maybe Va. Tech (though not if they play like they did against Mt. St. Mary's last night), with everyone else serving as tier four. You could argue the bottom 8 teams in the league will be as muddled as the entire ACC is in football this year. UNC is my third Final Four team.

9:13 - And the wheels may be coming off for the Johnnies. 64-57 BC with about five minutes left.

9:22 - 25-6 UNC 8:30 in. Yeah, I'm not picking UK to win the SEC. But who? I think it comes down to Florida and Tennessee. The Vols lost a lot of talent, while the Gators don't have much inside. I think Florida's frosh post players will step up and deliver the conference title. (But remember, I'm biased.) No Final Four team for the SEC this year.

9:28 - BC up 13 now. The first NIT semi will feature the Eagles and Purdue.

9:37 - That may be the nickname of the year right there. Bryant Barr, the "White Lobster" for Davidson.

9:39 - Looks like Western Michigan will win a game finally, as they're up 11 on Detroit late.

9:43 - Davidson did get out to a 7-2 lead on OU, but the Sooners have gone on a 9-0 run since then. It's going to be a long night for the Wildcats if they don't start hitting some threes soon.

9:46 - There's the Stephen Curry we've been waiting to see.

9:50 - Don't foul the jump shooter...especially when it's Curry.

9:53 - UNC up 41-25 at halftime. 17 Kentucky turnovers in the first half. No comment.

10:04 - If you're watching UK-UNC, you really need to flip over to Davidson-Oklahoma. Just far more exciting and competitive.

10:08 - Curry already with 3 fouls...not really a great call on the offensive foul there.

10:15 - Interesting non-BCS battle just started out West. San Diego up 10-4 on Nevada early at the Slim Gym.

10:21 - Since the non-BCS schools are holding my attention at the moment, it's time to go out on a limb and predict who will do the best outside of the major conferences. In what I like to call tier 2, the FBS football schools and Gonzaga (since the Bulldogs are a league of their own now), I think GU will do the best. Memphis is just a hair behind the Bulldogs, since they lost so much after their heartbreaking National Championship loss last season. Among the tier 3 schools (the ones without big time football), Davidson will do the best. A win tonight would be nice, but they have enough opportunities this year to get a name win if they don't. Watch out for Creighton out of the Missouri Valley, as they'll be back in the tournament when all is said and done.

10:25 - Good job by Davidson in keeping it close while Curry is on the bench. 38-34 OU at halftime.

Since it's getting closer and closer to bedtime, I'm going to wrap things up pretty soon, but not before I give my Big 12 and Pac-10 picks, along with my last Final Four and National Championship pick.

10:35 - In the Big 12, the South Division teams will dominate this year, just like in football. Much like Memphis, Kansas lost too much to remain at that high of a level, even though I think they will make the field of 65. Texas lost D.J. Augustin and little else. A.J. Abrams' decision to stay in school makes the Longhorns the favorites. The Griffin brothers are showing tonight why Oklahoma will be a close second. Baylor and A&M will also be competitive nationally.

10:36 - Kentucky is keeping this semi-respectable. It's pretty much been a 15 or 16-point deficit for the entire 2nd half.

10:40 - In the Pac-10, UCLA is my pick. I think they'll weather the loss of Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Russell Westbrook to the NBA and make the Final Four yet again. Ben Howland is a very good coach, even if his style of play drives me nuts. I think the biggest story to watch in the Pac-10 is how Arizona plays without Lute Olson on the sideline. They have the talent to make the tournament, but it's going to be very close. Tonight's NIT regional final against UAB is a pretty big game for the Wildcats, especially since UAB could be set to finally challenge Memphis in Conference USA.

10:42 - So my Final Four is North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, and UCLA. My very early final pick is UNC over Louisville. The Heels have just too much talent this year.

And that will wrap up my first live blog of the year. I don't think I'll be doing too many, as I'll be on the road many Saturdays this season. I'm sure I'll have some final thoughts on the last two NIT regional finals when I blog again, which will probably be on Thursday night. Tomorrow night, I'm headed to the Smith Center in Washington to check out Binghamton and George Washington.

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