February 2007

Basketball picksFebruary 22, 2007

October, 1995 – I was a wide-eyed college freshman at a small private university in Kansas. My first time away from home and I was eager to experience all there was to offer. Although our school was tiny, with little over 800 students, we were very close to Lawrence and the University of Kansas. Colorado isn’t exactly what you would call a basketball state, so you can imagine how eager I was to join my Zeta Chi brothers on a trip to Allen Field House for the Jayhawks first practice. I didn’t know at the time that the first practice of the season is less about basketball and more about college unity and celebration in a practice called “Midnight Madness.”
I was blown away.

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Sports picksFebruary 16, 2007

During pre-race inspections for the Daytona 500, Michael Waltrip’s car failed.On closer inspection, a clear foreign substance was discovered in the car’s intake manifold. It was later revealed that the substance was an illegal fuel booster designed to add more oxygen to the fuel’s mixture thus generating more horsepower – a steroid for cars.

Waltrip denied knowing about the illegal substance that had been placed in his car and as a result Waltrip’s crew chief was suspended indefinitely and a $100,000 fine levied on Waltrip Racing – the largest such penalty in NASCAR. But that is simply not enough.

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Sports picksFebruary 12, 2007

By now everyone has heard and everyone is talking.

Former NBA player John Amaechi has revealed the he is a gay man, becoming the first current or retired NBA player to admit to being homosexual.

This revelation thrust the issue of homosexuality in sports out into the open. The admittance sparked questions and emotions from NBA players, coaches and fans.

But does sexual orientation really matter in the testosterone-fueled world of professional sports? After all, we are in 2007.

Most athletes and coaches have said “no,” it doesn’t matter. Current NBA players have said that as long as that player is putting up numbers and helping to contribute to wins, sexual orientation wouldn’t make a difference in how that player is treated.

Although their intentions are good I find the statement hard to believe.

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Sports picksFebruary 5, 2007

Monday is my favorite day of the week.

During the NFL season there is nothing better than pouring over all of the details, stats and minutiae churned out of Sunday’s action. I like drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper on Monday mornings. I like to point at the sports page while complaining to my wife that these guys “don’t know what they’re talking about,” over a clumsy mouthful of toast (and although she won’t admit it, she appreciates my expertise).

I especially like when the mail arrives on Mondays because that is when I get my weekly Sports Illustrated in all its glossy non-computer screen glory.

Now I am one of these guys that reads the magazine from back-to-front. I like to start with Rick Reilly’s column and work my way forward. A quick reverse thumb-through on my way in from the mailbox sets up my reading strategy. But one of the greatest features of the magazine isn’t contained within the glossy pages – it is the magazine’s cover. There isn’t anything particularly unique about the cover it is usually just an action shot of an athlete from the heat of competition.

Within the framework of the cover photo is an ever-developing storyline that exists just beneath the surface, a story line that no athlete wants to be a part of. A storyline with so much influence and power that the magazine once ran a cover shot stating “The cover shot no one wants to pose for.” Complete with black cat.

Yes folks – the dreaded SI jinx.

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Basketball picksFebruary 1, 2007


Wunderdog’s 2007 NCAA Tournament Preview
Bracket Predictions and Recommendations

Get free March Madness Picks here.

Each year millions participate in filling out brackets for the NCAA tournament. Many have their own ideas, and many seek help from outside sources. This page will help you with guidelines for filling out your March Madness / Final Four brackets. Final Four

Where to Start: The “Power Six” and the Final Four

Going back to 1997 when the last of the six major college basketball conferences was born (the Big 12), 90% of all Final Four teams were from one of these six conferences. The “Power Six” as we call it consists of the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, and the SEC.

Two of the teams “other conference” teams that made it to the Final Four since 1997 (Marquette in 2003 and Louisville in 2005) are now part of the Power Six Conferences.

Taking that into consideration, 95% of the Final Four teams are now part of the Power Six. Empowered with that information, our suggestion is to fill your brackets out starting with the Final Four (utilizing teams from the Power Six of course) and working backwards.

The average total of all the seeds in the Final Four is 11. That means when you total up the seed of each Final Four participant, your total should probably be very close to 11. There is an average of 1.7 number 1 seeds that make the Final Four each year. A number 1 seed will win the tournament a little less than half the time. Either a number 2 or number 3 seed will win it 30-40% of the time. Now onto the individual seed match-ups, and where the upsets are likely to occur…

Bracketology by the Numbers

Everyone knows that the tournament starts with 65 teams, but few people have probably done the math to figure out how many possible brackets could be created without duplication. We have done such math work (as I am sure you are interested) and found this number to be 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 possible brackets.

That being said, the 65 vs. 64 game is always played first, so the number of remaining possible brackets decreases to 9,223,372,036,775,808. If you are in one of those “win an ungodly amount of money by picking a perfect bracket” contests, good luck – you’ll NEVER do that. Moving on, here we try to provide some information to narrow down to fewer choices to help you select the best possible bracket to win your pool.

Round One
Matchups #1 vs. #16 and #2 vs. #15: How bold do you want to be?
To start with, finalize your #1 seeds to the next round. There has never been a 16 seed that has won since the bracket moved to 64 teams in 1985. The 15 seeds are just 4-80 since 1985 which means you are pretty safe putting the #2 seeds through.

Matchups: #3 vs. #14 and #4 vs. #13: 90% is pretty darn big!
Moving on past the #1 and #2 seeds, you now have two possible directions in which to move. One way to go is to pick a few upsets with the best chance of turning Cinderella and hope they pan out. Or you pick every upset so you are able to brag to your friends that you selected the upsets in the early rounds and let them laugh at you when you have no one left come the Final 4 (where the points add up). We believe that it is best to have a few teams in mind and not to go over-board on upsets. For this reason, as long as it doesn’t conflict with your Final Four predictions, we recommend you fill in the #3 and #4 seeds to win their games. The reason for this is that the #1, #2, #3 and #4 seeds have totaled 301 wins and just 35 losses (that means these teams have won about 90% of the time) since 1985. As we have said, there is a good chance one of these teams will lose in the first round but since that is so hard to predict, the odds are in your favor to have them all move on after the first round. By moving all these teams to the next round, the possible number of brackets drops all the way down to just 140,737,425,855,328. This is clearly a high number but significantly lower than the original number we started with.

Matchups: #5 vs. #12, #6 vs. #11, #7 vs. #10 and #8 vs #9: Upset territory!
These pairings are the hardest to call. The most upsets come within these ranges and here’s where your bracket is made or broken. The #5 vs. #12 has historically provided some of the greatest and most consistent upsets in the tournament. The #5 seeds have gone just 11-9 vs the #12 seeds in the past 5 years of the bracket. These numbers show that a #12 seed should be moving on (at least one). But don’t go crazy this year with your #12 seed upsets.

The 7-10 and 8-9 match ups are pretty much toss ups any way you look at them. Since 1985, $7 seeds have won about 60% of the time and $8 seeds have won about 45% of the time. That being said, it will take more than just picking a “higher seed” to overcome the average fan selecting their bracket winners.

Middle Rounds
The second round is where less upsets are seen. Coming soon.


Final Four and National Championship
For my exact thoughts on the bracket, my Final Four picks and my National Championship pick, you can order my filled-out bracket in March here.

Good luck in your brackets!

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