THE JON ROTHSTEIN ALMANAC: 2016-2017

THE JON ROTHSTEIN ALMANAC: 2016-2017

Jon Rothstein is my favorite person.

No one cares as much about anything as Jon Rothstein cares about college basketball. He has watched more basketball this week than I have watched in my life. He knows more about the NEC than anyone with a national byline should ever know, and it’s very cool. Some of his takes are bad (THE GRADUATE TRANSFER APOCALYPSE) but some of them are, actually, very good. I respect the hell out of him.

Also, he’s bad at Twitter.

For the uninitiated, Jon Rothstein will tweet the same metaphor about a team/coach/program/player roughly a billion times. I’ve gone over in my head why exactly this is true. I hope that at this point he is self parodying. More likely, he’s just so sold on these metaphors being good that he thinks that tweeting them for the 800th time is actually good. I can relate because my online brand consists of roughly two jokes just repurposed for different scenarios and it’s fun.

Rodger Sherman wrote about ROTHSTEINISMS™ last year, focusing on basically 5 tropes: “So much ___ in ___,” “Death, taxes, ___,” “This is March,” “Where the unexpected becomes the ordinary,” and a Shakespeare quote.

These are but the tip of the iceberg.

Odds are, if Jon Rothstein has tweeted something, he’s tweeted it many times before. Consider this piece to be edition one of the almanac of Rothstein. 2016 saw the birth of many wonderful Rothsteinisms and the reemergence of many more. I won’t be including every instance of every ROTHSTEINISM™ because the internet does not have the storage space to hold that much data.

Lord help us all.

“Stay hungry, stay humble.”

Jon Rothstein begins every day Online by tweeting this quote. It is the OG ROTHSTEINISM™ and should be respected as such.

This is the first time Rothstein ever tweeted the now famous phrase. However, it wouldn’t become a daily phrase until June of that year.

For the better part of 4 years now, Jon Rothstein has tweeted out the same quote virtually every day. The dedication is remarkable.

FIRST USED: January, 2012
TIMES USED: Incalculable, at least 1,000
STATUS: Active

“The door is open for Elijah”

I do not know who Elijah is. I found this trope by accident. It’s true that Rothstein uses the phrase “the door is open” really frequently but so does everyone else. For some reason though, in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the door was specifically open for “Elijah.” Apparently, this is a reference to Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson while combining it with a Cup of Elijah reference. A deep cut, and a good one.

FIRST USED: March, 2012
TIMES USED: 3
CURRENT STATUS: Retired

“Everything comes to he who hustles while he waits”

After his daily “stay hungry, stay humble,” Rothstein tweets an inspirational quote. One of his favorites, is this one from Thomas Edison.

FIRST USED: November, 2010
TIMES USED: 65.
CURRENT STATUS: Active

“This is only _____”

This is one that has only made the lexicon once the more familiar “This is March” was popularized and spread across the internet. College basketball is a wild sport, not just in March, and thus, Jon Rothstein has changed his go-to phrase to fit with the times.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“College basketball NEVER disappoints”

It might be a hair early to call this a ROTHSTEINISM™, but I’m willing to pull the trigger on it. Two uses, including the all caps “NEVER,” within the last few weeks including a high engagement tweet makes me think we’re going to see this a lot more. It’s in beta testing for now.

FIRST USED: December, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Omaha. Somewhere in Middle America.”

Another 2016 ROTHSTEINISM™. Creighton is in Omaha. Which, in case you were unaware, is somewhere in Middle America.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 6
STATUS: Active

“Virginia Basketball. A Thing of Beauty.”

This is the biggest lie ever propagated. Virginia basketball is ugly as sin and scoring 50 points and winning should not ever be normalized. But, hey, if watching paint dry is your thing…

FIRST USED: February, 2015
TIMES USED: 31
STATUS: Active

“Palpable Buzz”

There’s a case to be made for including “Palpable buzz” on the Rothstein Mt. Rushmore, right next to “This is March” and “Death, Taxes.” It’s been used for five years with alarming frequency. This is also one of the phrases that is probably being self-parodied at this point.

FIRST USED: December, 2011
TIMES USED: 189
STATUS: Active

“Chris Mack: Stone Cold”

Stone Cold Steven Austin apparently has nothing on Chris Mack, who is stone cold.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“This is college basketball folks.”

A variant off the “This is March” theme, but different enough to deserve its own spot. Folks,,.

FIRST USED: November, 2015
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“Villanova is like a Fortune 500 Company. It runs itself.”

I’m not sure how true this is, but I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth Holmes could run IBM into the ground in, like, 7 months.

FIRST USED: November, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Change is the law of life.”

Another “Quote of the Day” special, with one exception.

FIRST USED: December, 2014
TIMES USED: 18
STATUS: Active

“There are many ways of going forward…”

QOTD addition.

FIRST USED: August, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“The epitome of brutality”

Lose a game where you paid a team to come and take you on? Buddy.

FIRST USED: October, 2015
TIMES USED: 34
STATUS: Active

“Greg Gard: Silent Assassin”

My favorite assassins are the ones who scream into their phone and wear a suit of metal armor.

FIRST USED: February, 2016
TIMES USED: 16
STATUS: Active

“More life altering than a 10-day trip to Europe.”

Jon really likes VCU home games.

FIRST USED: February, 2016
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“Fills mortar between bricks”

In development this season. Stay tuned.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Blame nobody. Expect nothing. Do something.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: November, 2014
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

Angel Delgado is actually Jerry Seinfeld

Double-doubles are like residual checks.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“No other words are needed”

See above.

FIRST USED: December, 2014
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“Victory is in the struggle.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: September, 2011
TIMES USED: 94
STATUS: Active

Gary Clark is a problem

It’s a compliment.

FIRST USED: January, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Never miss the opportunity to say nothing.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: February, 2013
TIMES USED: 59
STATUS: Active

“West Virginia basketball. Tougher than a long weekend at your in-laws.”

#PRESSVIRGINIA

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

Deveptively old.

I really don’t get this one.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

Jon is a big Frank Ocean Guy.

FIRST USED: September, 2015
TIMES USED: 11
STATUS: Active

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2015
TIMES USED: 11
STATUS: Active

The Butler Way.

Looking at the new pithy Butler-ism.

FIRST USED: December, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Lonzo Ball is like the The Godfather Epic.”

You forget a third of it ever happened?

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: August, 2014
TIMES USED: 21
STATUS: Active

“And here we go.”

[Very Heath Ledger Joker voice]

FIRST USED: February, 2010
TIMES USED: 75
STATUS: Active

“The brighter the lights, the darker the shadows.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 14
STATUS: Active

Appointment Television

Lots of teams have earned the distinction.

FIRST USED: February, 2015
TIMES USED: 18
STATUS: Active

“If people are going out of their way to tell you what you’re doing wrong then you’re doing a lot of things right.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 12
STATUS: Active

“I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.”

QOTD and probably the most ironic thing ever tweeted.

FIRST USED: August, 2016
TIMES USED: 5
STATUS: Active

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2015
TIMES USED: 22
STATUS: Active

“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: July, 2016
TIMES USED: 7
STATUS: Active

“The epitome of efficiency”

Much like the epitome of brutality, but good.

FIRST USED: January, 2014
TIMES USED: 14
STATUS: Active

“The will to win is useless without the will to prepare to win.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2012
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Leopards don’t change their spots.”

This one might be unfair, but I’m not really sure Rothstein ever uses the phrase quite right.

FIRST USED: February, 2011
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“Work ethic eliminates fear.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: October, 2015
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“Without struggle, there is no progress.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: May, 2013
TIMES USED: 33
STATUS: Active

“TSA Precheck. Life altering.”

Can confirm.

FIRST USED: July, 2014
TIMES USED: 33
STATUS: Active

Bryant McIntosh = Aaron Craft

Two pass first, white point guards. First time I’ve heard that comparison.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Emptying the chamber in to Georgia Tech

I’m not sure what it is, but Jon Rothstein is not nice to Georgia Tech. All preseason he was singing the praises of all the teams he saw and then did this to Georgia Tech.

It wasn’t the end of it. Even the nice things he says have more than a tinge of backhanded-ness to them.

Keep an eye on it.

FIRST USED: October, 2016
TIMES USED: 2? 3? Hard to say.
STATUS: Dormant?

“Arduous” tasks/slates

The default “this team has a tough schedule” descriptor.

FIRST USED: October, 2012
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

Brent Stover is not on Twitter.

FYI.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: May, 2015
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: September, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“No words.”

Pretty much.

FIRST USED: June, 2014
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

Noted Stock Broker Jon Rothstein

In all seriousness, his hit rate is really good.

FIRST USED: December, 2012
TIMES USED: 31
STATUS: Active

Mr. Intangibles

A new man has taken the crown.

FIRST USED: June, 2013
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Flat out studs.

Featuring some guys.

FIRST USED: February, 2011
TIMES USED: 6
STATUS: Active

“Whatever “it” is, he has.”

Still feel like this is missing a word.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 5
STATUS: Active

“More focused than Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.”

Rothstein was ready to go all in on this one but then Rhode Island went and got hurt/bad.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: Retired

Don’t bet against Mike Brey.

Otherwise you’ll get your head kicked in.

FIRST USED: July, 2016
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Summon Colonel Jessup

IT’S A CODE RED

FIRST USED: January, 2011
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“The dogs bark, but the caravan marches on.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2014
TIMES USED: 68
STATUS: Active

Your favorite team/coach is a Rubik’s Cube

The reasons why change.

FIRST USED: August, 2013
TIMES USED: 10
STATUS: Active

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”

QOTD.

FIST USED: March, 2015
TIMES USED: 7
STATUS: Active

NCAA Tournament Preview: Bad Poetry Edition

By now, there have been hundreds of previews written about this year’s NCAA Tournament. Most of them try to give the reader some new information or hype up some sleeper upset pick. This preview is different. I will be previewing each region in the form of absolutely awful Shakespearean sonnets (without iambic pentameter, sorry). This should be fun! And painful! I’m sure the Vogons will appreciate this effort.

South

Kansas is the cream of this group, as you see

But UConn, Mark Turgeon and Cal all loom

The Jayhawks will have to play Austin Peay

Good mid-season form, Iowa hopes to resume

Could the Rainbow Warriors triumph early?

Maybe the Shockers could pull off a run…

Will South Dakota State prove to be surly?

Or will Miami at last get some recognition?

Villanova is the two-seed, but they tend to flop

But could this be the year it all comes together?

‘Zona’s offense will be tough to stop,

Colorado’s draw is tougher than leather

Or will Buffalo, Temple, or UNC Asheville devise,

A miraculous plan that will leave us surprised…

West

“Oregon is overrated”, so some pundits say,

But they crushed the Pac-12 without breaking a sweat

Holy Cross and Bill Carmody have had some great days,

But on the Crusaders and Southern, no one will bet

It’s Shaka Smart vs. Wes Washpun in OKC

While Shaka’s old squad faces Oregon State

St. Joe’s will hope to knock off Cincinnati

UNC Wilmington plays a team that many will hate

Buddy’s a dangerous two seed, so you’ve heard

He could face the Aggies, or Green Bay, perhaps?

Baylor plays Yale, don’t sleep on the nerds!

There could be two Texas showdowns, barring a mishap

This region is fun and should be wide-open

But good luck trying to pick who will win

East

There are many good teams in this region of doom,

No. 1 UNC, will play FGCU

But although Calipari has flustered and fumed,

Kentucky’s a 4 and might face Yogi’s crew

That is, if both teams can escape the first round,

Chattanooga and Stony Brook have something to prove

On the other side, maybe Xavier will resound

Weber State is not good, but Wisconsin has moved,

From disappointment to seven seed, thanks to Nigel Hayes

SF Austin and West Virginia play super-fast,

Michigan should end all the Tulsa malaise,

Pittsburgh is average, I’m not sure they will last

USC plays Providence in the eight versus nine

Ben Bentil’s a monster, but points are a grind…

Midwest

Virginia and Michigan State, it’s set in stone!

Not so fast, there’s still a few roadblocks,

Utah and Purdue are two tall unknowns,

And I kinda like Arkansas Little-Rock

Hampton, sixteen, will play UVA, one

Texas Tech/Butler will be a fun contest

It’s been a while since ‘Cuse last won,

But Boeheim is in, though it’s caused some unrest

Isaiah Whitehead and Seton Hall are mighty exciting

Iona could challenge Iowa State if the Gaels play their best,

But Wiltjer’s Bulldogs can also be biting,

Fresno State somehow won the Mountain West

But seriously, there’s one way I think this region will end

Either Brogdon or Valentine, who will the Midwest send?

 

Wow, that was hard to write.

Don’t forget to check out the RTFM scoring system!

 

 

 

 

Making Bracket Pools Great Again – The RTFM Scoring System

Making Bracket Pools Great Again – The RTFM Scoring System

There is a tremendous flaw in the standard scoring settings for March Madness brackets. We all know that system well. It’s the classic 1-2-4-8-16-32 model that ESPN and most other sites use for their bracket competitions.

Yeah, that system is BORING (for serious college basketball fans)!

The standard scoring model has all the wrong incentives for an exciting March Madness experience. If you have a sweet mid-major that you think is going to pull an upset over a top-five seed, it makes no sense to pick that upset to win because it’s worth the same amount as the No. 1 seed beating a No. 16. Mathematically, you’re much better off picking chalk and hoping for the best. And it goes beyond the first round as well. Picking an upset in the later rounds is even dumber by ESPN’s scoring system.

Think about it, taking a non No. 1 or No. 2 seed to make the Final Four is logical suicide in the standard pool. And picking a champion from the ranks of No. 6 or higher? Forget about it! Picking the correct champion is worth 32 points! You can’t pass that up by picking a Cinderella to make it all the way. It’s just not practical. Unfortunately, the odds are you are going to pick the wrong one, but you have to do it. And so most people end up taking No. 1 seeds and watch as the random people who pick based on coin flips win. It’s really freakin’ boring to watch. Picking low-seeded teams like Butler and VCU to make deep runs is pointless! Where’s the fun? Where’s the Madness? It’s March, for goodness’ sake!

Me and my friend Ross have developed the solution to all the stupidity surrounding the standard scoring model. I call it the RTFM Scoring system, short for Ross-Tristan Fibonacci Multiplier. We’re using it in our bracket competition for the second year running. This scoring system has everything you need to make your March Madness actually mad:

The Premise:

Each round value has been changed. Instead of the classic system, we changed the scoring to a 2-3-5-8-13-21 model, based on the Fibonacci sequence. This makes the championship worth 10.5 times more than the first round, rather than the ridiculous 32 times that the standard model gives you. While it is still a sizable bonus, it’s not enough to completely break the game.

Next, every time you pick an game, the number of points you get is multiplied by the number of the seed you picked in that round. For example, if the 12th seed wins then 24 points would be credited. If the 3rd seed wins, you get 6 points, and so forth. You see, it makes the games that are actually harder to predict (the 8/9 matchups, the 7/10 matchups) worth more than the games that are comparatively easy. It also balloons the value of picking a major upset run, as the number of potential points you can get can be astronomical. Now you don’t have to worry about not picking Arkansas Little Rock to beat Purdue because of the value. You get properly compensated for every correct pick you make. You also get compensated for exploiting the idiocy of the Selection Committee’s seeding, and don’t we all love exploiting the idiocy of the Selection Committee?

Now, you may be thinking, “There’s a major flaw in the system! If you don’t have a big time upset, then you’re totally screwed! You just pushed the scoring the other way.” Not exactly. Because the rounds are still worth increasingly more, picking a 1 seed to the go to the Sweet 16 is still effective. Secondly, a person picking an upset is taking a risk correspondent to the points the person receives. If Little Rock does not beat Purdue, that’s 10 points you missed out right there.

Besides, if you are scared because you’ll fall behind in the First Round, that’s not the case. The multiplier continues into the later rounds, which means if you correctly pick a 2 seed into the Final Four, you still get 26 points, or roughly the equivalent of a 13 seed beating a 4. Statistically, there is about a 27.71 percent chance a given No. 2 seed makes the Final Four. KenPom gives No. 13 seed Iona a 25 percent chance of defeating No.4 Iowa State in the First Round. That’s just about even. The RTFM is excellent at trying to equalize the risk across all rounds of the tournament.

The chances of a No. 1 seed making the Elite 8 should be worth about as much as picking a No. 4 seed to defeat a No. 13 seed in the First Round. Both outcomes are quite likely, so it only makes sense that they are worth similar point values. It’s not completely perfect mathematically, but it does a much better job than the standard scoring system, which does not even bother to equalize the value of risk.

Benefits of the RTFM Scoring System

  • It rewards actual knowledge about college basketball because making smart picks are adequately rewarded.
  • It offers a variety of different strategies and methods to achieve victory. For example, last year, the winner bet on Tom Izzo’s Michigan State to march through the bracket as a No. 7 seed. The second place finisher picked Duke to be the Champion and a bunch of well-placed first-round upsets.
  • The scoring system can still produce really tight scores. Last year, the first place finisher ran away with it because he picked 3/4 Final Four teams and the champion, but he deserved to win by a lot because he had the best picks. However, the next 5 finishers were all within 30 points (basically 1 Sweet 16 pick) of each other. Because March Madness is so random, it is likely that even if you hit on 1 or 2 of the upsets you like, your opponents are also likely to get the rewards on another part of the bracket.
  • You can decide how much you are willing to risk. Basically, you decide how many points you’re willing to get. It adds a whole new level of strategy to the game. Sure, you can go all-out with a crazy upset bracket and have a huge number of projected points, but when 80-90 percent of those picks fail, you’ll be right back with the rational people.
  • Bracket Busted in the First Round? Not so fast. If you still have a miracle upset pick that can make the Elite 8, like Butler, for example, that means you can still win! The RTFM keeps everyone invested for much longer than the traditional scoring system.

Drawbacks of the RTFM Scoring System

  • It actually takes some simple math to calculate scores in real-time. OH NO! SIMPLE MATH! Whatever are we going to do? Oh wait, the computer does it for you after the game ends. Never mind.
  • The math isn’t completely perfect. Picking a 1 seed to make the Final Four is not totally matched up probabilistically with its equivalent, an 8/9 game. Sorry. I’m not going into decimals. Also, because certain seeds have had a statistically unsustainable likelihood to make the next few rounds (No. 9 seeds, for example), the historical data does not totally match up. Sorry. If you did a Monte Carlo simulation and then gave me the decimal weights that would probably be perfect, but that’s too complicated.
  • You may get your heart broken. Especially if your treasured upset pick gets beaten by  a buzzer-beating three-pointer from a No. 4 seed.
  • Picking the winner and the Final Four still has a ton of importance. Maybe you consider that a good thing. If you pick a 2 seed to win, that person gets 42 points, which still worth a lot. The benefit increases if you pick a 3 or a 4 to win.

This bracket is only available on CBS because that is the only major site that allows this much customization. If you want to try it out for free, click on the group link here. The password is march.

 

 

 

 

Big Ten Tournament Preview (The Finale)

Big Ten Tournament Preview (The Finale)

Author’s note: In case you haven’t been following this blog (probably a good decision) or seen the Twitter jokes (also a good decision), I have been writing a story featuring me, some Northwestern sports reporters, and the spectre of Tom Crean for the past two months. It’s essentially “sports-noir”, a genre of fiction I invented ten minutes ago in order to explain it to you properly.

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3

Without further ado, and before I jump the shark and get bored of this, here is the final installment of my basketball previews.


Tuesday, February 23 – 8:42 p.m. – Ann Arbor, Michigan

As soon as I walked out of the building to meet the agents of C.R.E.A.N., they stuffed me into the trunk of a black Hyundai Sonata and drove away.

I wasn’t surprised. I was a liability at this point. Why would anyone bother to deal with me while I had no leverage or support? What an idiot I was, thinking they’d just hand over the Inside NU staff because I said so. I didn’t even have the money they asked for. Now they had me, the ledger with the proof of their existence, and my compatriots. At least I knew it was all real now.

We pulled in at a rest stop after about an hour and they took me out of the trunk. There were two agents, both white and wearing typical secret service stuff. Suit, hat, tie, sunglasses, etc. One was about three inches taller than the other. I went to the restroom. Then I was taken to the back seat of the car.

“You know, this is really coming full circle. This whole godforsaken adventure started when I trusted your people. Now it’s happened again. Full circle. Round, like a basketball…” I was cut off.

“What the hell are you even talking about?” the taller agent said. “Are you trying to make a joke? If so, that’s a terrible joke.”

“Look, I’m just trying to compartmentalize my situation into a complex metaphor.”

“But it’s not even a metaphor! It’s a simile! And it’s really, really stupid.” the agent replied.

“Whatever.”

“Look kid, you’re clearly a complete dumbass if you thought your friends were actually in Ann Arbor. Do you wanna know where you’re headed? We’re headed to Indianapolis. And you’re gonna be stuck there with the rest of your friends until we figure out what to do with you.”

Wednesday, February 24 – 10:00 a.m. – Indianapolis, Indiana

I was dropped off at a Motel 6 about 25 minutes away from Indianapolis. The agents of C.R.E.A.N. stormed into the hotel and deposited me in my own room on the third floor.

motel-6-indianapolis.jpg

“Don’t you even think about leaving this room. We can’t actually imprison you jokers, but this is probably not much better. Nobody leaves this Motel 6. Nobody even walks outside the lobby. We will seriously injure you if you attempt to escape,” the shorter agent said.

They left, and I was left with my Motel 6 room. It was surprisingly new. The walls looked freshly painted, there was fake hardwood flooring, and the bathrooms were nice. The towel rack looked very futuristic. If this was my prison cell, I could get used to it. Then I heard some unintelligible shouting from the room next to me. Of course, the walls were thinner than the Knicks’ bench. After about two minutes, I walked outside and banged on the door.

Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell answered. Half the staff of Inside NU was lying around the room playing FIFA. Apparently C.R.E.A.N. was nice enough to get them an Xbox. There were snacks strewn all over the floor, cans of Sprite Zero and Diet Coke on the windowsill, and laptops with Inside NU stickers lying on the desk.

“Oh, hi Tristan. How’d you get here?” Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell said.

“I was locked in a frickin trunk of a Hyundai Sonata for the last 10 hours.”

“Oh, that sucks. Why were you in the trunk?”

“Because the C.R.E.A.N. people kidnapped me while I was trying to ransom you guys out of danger!”

“We’re not really in danger. They, uh, got us an XBox and we’ve watched all the Northwestern games on TV. It’s been a good bonding experience. We can’t message anybody, but we’ve been writing articles on the site.”

“I see.”

“They’re keeping us in Indianapolis until the Big Ten Tournament rolls around and then we’ll be released. They don’t want us poking around anymore. I guess you’re just stuck with us too. We’re getting together a Big Ten women’s bracket pool, you in?” Henry said.

“How have you been keeping up with classes?” I replied.

“As you know, my philosophy is that classes are highly overrated. We’re actually in the midst of an intense FIFA Tournament. I’m playing in the next round, so if you’ll excuse me…”

I suppose this wasn’t so bad. The Motel 6 was hardly the nicest place in the world, but at least they were doing a good job of limiting offensive waterboarding. At this point, I was done dealing with C.R.E.A.N. They wanted us out of the way for some strange reason, and I was fine with that. It wasn’t over yet, though. I was sure of that.

“They deliver Chick-Fil-A if you ask!” Ian McCafferty shouted. “Also, I hate Dexter Fowler.”

Wednesday, March 2 – 3:00 a.m. – Motel 6 Indy

And so we waited. In a movie, this would be the part with a dissolve to show the passage of time. But there wasn’t a dissolve in real life. Outside of downtown, Indianapolis is fairly miserable. I tried to break the boredom by exploring the local area but gave up pretty quickly. I played hours of FIFA. I wrote several articles about the women’s basketball team. I slept. The Motel 6 was not a prison, but it was also not a luxury confinement suite. Spending a week there was bad enough, but the other staff members had been there for weeks. But there wasn’t anything I could do. I was out of ideas.

I lay awake in my slightly uncomfortable Motel 6 bed when there was a huge crash outside. I quickly opened the curtains.

“Holy crap, this cannot be happening,” I muttered.

It saw Eddie Jordan screaming orders from the front seat of his Hummer. I saw the WNUR staff and two writers from the Daily Northwestern sprinting into the building. They had just smashed through the front entrance of the Motel 6. I opened my window.

 

Jordanx-large.jpg“I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS THE GAS PEDAL!” Eddie Jordan shouted.

The escape crew rushed through the vestibule and quickly climbed up the stairs.

“All of you, get up, we’re going to Bankers Life Fieldhouse! It’s the last safe place!” Ben Goren shouted.


 

The Inside NU staff spent 20 minutes getting on proper reporting attire. Only assholes with laptops cover a sporting event without respectable clothing.

The Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament was starting, and clearly the tendrils of C.R.E.A.N. had not infected women’s basketball. In Bankers Life, as long as we had our credentials, we were members of the press and C.R.E.A.N. couldn’t come after us. At least, that’s what Eddie Jordan explained at the McDonald’s we stopped at on the way.

“Look guys, I’ve been seeing things in the Big Ten and across college basketball for years. C.R.E.A.N. is real. What they want to do is destroy college basketball as we know it. All of the good power conference teams want to merge into one 32-team “Super League”. The NCAA Tournament will die, relegated to a pitiful scrap between mid-major sadsacks. The NCAA will just become an NBA farm system. C.R.E.A.N. wants to restore equanimity by destroying everything we hold dear about this sport.”

“Coach Jordan, loved your work with the Nets, but shouldn’t you be coaching the Rutgers men’s team right now?” asked Josh Burton.

Eddie Jordan stared at him with a confused look…

“Alright, here’s the deal guys, that pink sheet of paper you saw is the disguised provisional list for C.R.E.A.N.’s plan. Thad Motta and Ohio State are obviously in, so that’s why agents were meeting with him to get the list. Harbaugh plans to turn Michigan into a football-only school complete with an altar to worship at his khaki-clad ankles, so Ann Arbor was a complete ruse. Indiana is the last remaining safe place. Here, among the mid-major darlings like Butler and Valpo, we can be assured C.R.E.A.N. won’t risk anything here,” said Goren.

“But what about Tom Crean? He’s in Bloomington!” I asked.

“Actually, my good friend Tom Crean is one of the biggest opponents of C.R.E.A.N.. The names are just a coincidence,” Eddie Jordan said.

“Alright Coach Jordan, why do you need us?” Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell asked.

“You guys have to break the story! Even though Indiana is tough for C.R.E.A.N. to operate, they’re putting together the final plans for the Superleague during the Big Ten Tournament. They want to be on hand to quash any uproar in the Midwest,” Eddie Jordan said.

“I’m going to take a guess and say Rutgers is not invited into this new ‘Superleague’?” Josh Burton remarked.

Eddie Jordan ignored him entirely.

We had to stop the Hummer to find some gas in Indianapolis. The first gas station was condemned for hazardous waste. The second did not take Eddie Jordan’s credit card. We ended up trying six different gas stations until Eddie Jordan got fed up and stole a can of gas from the seventh gas station.

“Hey, I bet that’s more steals than Rutgers has had all year!” Josh Burton remarked.

Eddie Jordan seethed.


 

Wednesday, March 2 – 10:00 a.m. – Bankers Life Fieldhouse

“Alright, everybody have their credentials? Anyone who has a press pass here should be on our side, as far as I can tell,” Jason Dorow said. “And we just have to hope Northwestern keeps winning games, because otherwise some of us can’t justify staying the Marriott.”

“The Marriott is way out of our price range Jason,” Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell said. “I’d probably book us a room at the Motel 6. Or the Bates Motel.”

We all walked into Bankers Life and took our seats. We took up an entire press table. The WNUR guys started on the radio call for the first game of the day, Northwestern vs. Wisconsin.

The game was close. Northwestern was down by 10 points in the third quarter. But Nia Coffey led Northwestern to a huge comeback. Wisconsin lost the game 74-70 in overtime and Northwestern was staying another day. So were we, apparently. We stayed to watch Illinois/Penn State. The arena cleared out after the games were over.

I went to the bathroom again and as I was walking out, I noticed a woman with her credential on backwards. It appeared that no one was checking whether that person was really supposed to be in the media area. Clearly, this was a great injustice. I asked her to turn the credential around.

“No,” she replied, clearly a bit startled by my question.

“I just need to–”

She punched me in the face and immediately started signaling to members of the crowd and other media members with backwards credentials. The surprise punch knocked me over, and as I got up I realized we’d been betrayed.

“Alright, that’s quite enough. Did you really think Eddie Jordan was going to come up with a competent plan…?” said a voice on the PA speaker. “Breaking you out of the Motel 6 was ingenious, I suppose, but taking you to Bankers Life was just a terrible idea. We all know the press can’t be trusted anymore. Just look at the latest Gallup Poll!”

The Northwestern sports media was quickly apprehended. Austin Miller had been watching Brazilian soccer at the time and forgot to resist. Michael Stern attempted to talk his way out of capture by referencing college baseball players. Josh Burton and Max Gelman tried to take out one of the agents with an illegal takeout slide.

“Whatever you do to me, just remember this, SCREW DEXTER FOWLER!” McCafferty shouted.

“That sentence you said on the speaker was written very poorly!” Cole Paxton shouted while was handcuffed by a random guy in neon tights and a Pacers jersey.

“If you send us back to the Motel 6, we better get Chick-Fil-A at the very least!” Will Ragatz screamed uselessly.

I quickly got up and started running for the exit. And then I saw. The boss of C.R.E.A.N. was coming in to inspect the damage.

Evil Coach K

It was Mike Krzyzewski. Of course, I should have known all along.

“Look, kids, this is ridiculous. You’ve been meddling in my plans for too long. It’s time to go home. If not, we’ll be forced to remove all of you from the premises. Including you Eddie Jordan, shouldn’t you be coaching your basketball team?”

“How could you do this to college basketball? I thought the only grade you need is K!” I pleaded.

“Son, I’m getting old. I want to go out a winner, like Peyton Manning or Jahlil. If I can’t coach in college basketball anymore, than no one can. I AM THE SPORT! DUKE IS THE SPORT! YOU CANNOT STAND IN MY WAY! This year’s tournament has been rigged so that this ragtag Duke team will win back-to-back titles and cement my legacy as the greatest coach of all time. Don’t you love a good underdog story?”

“You…you’re not the f***ing underdogs…” I replied.

“Yes, perhaps your point is correct, but I know you happen to support some underdogs. Ah yes, the Northwestern Wildcats. A miserable program that marvels at getting to the NIT. I would say you’re underdogs, but I think that word suggests you have a chance. You’re under…kittens. Yes, underkittens. But how would you like if Northwestern made the tournament for the first time? Sure, you’d have to win the Big Ten Tournament, but that can be arranged. You’d get to watch your entire school celebrate. You’d get to go to a basketball school for once in your miserable sports lives.”

“It’s not worth it.”

“And you can all go home. Yes, I will offer that as my consolation prize. Forget all of this happened. Forget about the Committee. Forget about everything. Just enjoy the sweet bliss that will come over all of you once Chris Collins and Alex Olah are celebrating their school’s first-ever tournament bid.

Of course, it will be the last tournament, but that is no matter to you, surely.”

“Not like that!” Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell shouted. “That’s not what sports are about!”

“Childish talk. Sports are about money, Inside NU’s Henry Bushnell. It has taken me a long time to see that, but I had to embrace the NBA-ready talent at some point. All of this nonsense is a sham. In fact, in the Superleague, perhaps we can give a minimum wage stipend for our poor players too. Better than what the pissant NCAA gives anyone.

Anyhow, that is my offer. Go home, Northwestern makes the tournament, happily ever after…or you all face the consequences. We’ll even let Bill Carmody and Holy Cross make it too, if you want to be sentimental. Tristan Jung, since you started this whole mess, do you accept the offer?”

Coach K offered his hand to finish the deal. I didn’t know what to do. I had to accept. I reached out my hand…

Coach K slumped over and shouted in pain. Someone had tasered him from the side.

“Who the f*** just tasered me? ARRGHHH”

It was Joe McKeown. Northwestern women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown. He just shot Coach K. Oh my gosh.

McKeown walked over and stood over Coach K. He said nothing.

The C.R.E.A.N. agents lining the walls started taking out guns.

“Had to use the stunner, you know. Too much respect for the guy,” McKeown said. “Anyway, you know kid, I had a friend at Texas A&M who had a great defense he called HTM. Won a couple national championships, you know.”

I looked around and saw the glint of loaded firearms.

“Uh, Coach, is this really the time?” I replied.

“You know what HTM stands for?” he muttered.

“No, Coach McKeown, I do not.”

“Hope they miss.”

the end

 

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Photo Source: USA Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statement from prospective coaching candidate Tristan Jung

As you may have heard, Greg Gard was just named head coach of Wisconsin.

I regret that UW-Madison did not accept me for this position, but I appreciate that the school opened up the application process. I will definitely be continuing my search for a head coaching job in the NCAA.

In the meantime, I will be improving my basketball skills, such as learning how to shoot properly and figuring out how to run a zone defense. I will also continue to run daily in order to bolster my ability to yell at referees. Gotta have that lung capacity.

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I’m sure the decision not to hire me was really difficult.

My application to be the coach of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team

So it turns out Wisconsin is taking open applications to be the new men’s basketball head coach. Obviously there is a 99 percent chance the Badgers rehire Greg Gard, but I figured that 1 percent was worth a shot at a $300,000 annual salary (not including benefits).

I have just finished my application to be the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is very serious and I am excited to be applying for this opportunity to lead the program in a gravitational direction.

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Basketball PDF

 

 

FP College Basketball Column – February 26th: Wichita State Musings

FP College Basketball Column – February 26th: Wichita State Musings

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, and I really should try to write some more college basketball stuff as the end of the season looms. This article will mostly a breakdown of Wichita State, a team that is currently 8th in the nation on KenPom despite 7 losses and a very weak conference. Wichita State is not even ranked in the AP Top 25 right now, and it’s worth trying to figure out why. Although this is Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet’s last chance at a deep tournament run, the team has gone completely under the radar.

1. Wichita State has bad losses and no good wins.

This, by and large, is mostly true. The Shockers’ best win was an early season victory against Utah at home, which is a decent result, but not exactly an A-list victory. Meanwhile, Wichita State lost three straight to USC, Tulsa, Alabama and Iowa in non-conference play when star player Fred VanVleet was out with an injury.

Wichita’s State’s other three losses are to Seton Hall on the road in overtime, which is okay, and Illinois State and Northern Iowa, which does not bode well. As a result, even if Wichita State wins the Missouri Valley Conference (and it would be stunning if they do not), the Shockers are unlikely to get anything better than a 7 or 8 seed (Joe Lunardi currently has them as an No. 8 seed).

Both of Wichita State’s uncharacteristic conference losses were tough losses that Wichita State could rue later on, especially if they somehow get upset in the MVC Tournament. I’ll touch on those two defeats more later on, but those were both low-scoring grindfests in which Wichita State fell just short. Other than those losses, Wichita State has blown through conference play in recent weeks, as usual. Barring a repeat of last year’s stunning loss to Illinois State, Wichita State will probably not lose again for the rest of the season, which means the Shockers will submit a 26-7 record at the end of the season.

Again, that most likely leaves Wichita State with a tough matchup against a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. However, if I were the coach of the high seed in question (Bill Self and Roy Williams, I’m looking at you both), I would be absolutely terrified of playing Wichita State in the Second Round. Remember, this is the team that knocked off Kansas in the Second Round last year as a No. 10 seed. Wichita State is capable of beating any team in the country, and teams should try their best to avoid playing the Shockers if possible.

Wichita State is a very good basketball team and, in my opinion, a major cut above power conference teams like Michigan, LSU, Florida and Syracuse. Putting them as an No. 7 or No. 8 may be reasonable, but the Shockers will be an immensely popular Second Round upset pick, especially with a matchup against Maryland or Iowa, two Big Ten teams that have looked very shaky of late.

2. Wichita State’s Offense is Streaky

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At times, Wichita State’s offense has turned in some absolutely awful performances.Wichita State scored just 50 points at home against Northern Iowa and lost despite only allowing 15 points for the entire second half. That’s not ideal. Sure, the Shockers have had no trouble carving up bad defensive teams like Loyola Chicago and Missouri State, but they have yet to show they can consistently score against quality teams.

Wichita State was 16th in offensive efficiency on KenPom last season. This year, they are 58th. Interestingly, the team has almost the exact same eFG% as last season, but the improvement of offense across college basketball means that Wichita State has fallen 50+ places in that stat in 2016. Fred VanVleet has watched his two-point percentage fall from 46.1 percent in 2015 to 38.3 percent this year.

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Luckily, Ron Baker has continued to be amazing, so the offense hasn’t been that awful when VanVleet is off. Baker has scored double figures in all of its last seven games, including the two defeats, and he has been more impressive than VanVleet in terms of consistency. Without Darius Carter, the Shockers’ offensive rebounding percentage has dropped slightly, and the team often relies on VanVleet and Baker to power the entire offense. Markis McDuffie chips in when he can, but Shaq Morris is a weakness at center offensively and the team just hasn’t been as efficient.

But when it’s working, Wichita State can score points effectively. If VanVleet gets going with Baker and McDuffie chipping in, Wichita State will be tough to beat, especially because of its incredible defense.

3. Wichita State’s Defense is Unreal

Wichita state is holding opposing teams to under 0.9 points per possession. That’s second-best in the country, and basically all you need to know about the Shockers’ defense. Having an offense that rarely turns the ball over helps, but Wichita State’s lockdown man defense has flummoxed opposing teams all season. If Wichita State loses, it probably won’t be because the defense has stopped functioning.

Shaq Morris may not be a fantastic offensive center, but him and Anton Grady have protected the rim effectively. Wichita State is able to field 7 above-average defenders on its squad, which makes beating its defense extremely difficult. Gregg Marshall has obviously advised his players to foul whenever possible, leaving Wichita State near the bottom of the country in terms of defensive free throw rate. Thus, Wichita State forces steals on 11.4 percent of opposing possessions. This has basically shut down the paint for most teams in the MVC, as repetitive fouling and tight defense has made driving on the Shockers rather difficult from halfcourt sets.

Of course, this should all be qualified by the fact Wichita State has been playing poor opposition for the last two months. Teams with better talent like Iowa and Seton Hall were able to burn Wichita State early in the season. But teams like, Indiana State, for example, could not get anything by penetrating to the basket and was forced to shoot 26 threes. It will be interesting to see how Wichita State’s defense holds up against guards who actually can take contact, protect the ball and score at the basket like Tyler Ulis or Grayson Allen, two possible matchups for Wichita State depending on how things go. I have a feeling that Wichita State can hold because VanVleet and Baker are so individually good on defense, but that remains to be seen.

If Wichita State wins the MVC Tournament, they will make the tournament. And I really hope the Shockers do win the tournament, because they’re a bubble team otherwise and I really, really want to see them in the NCAA Tournament, for narrative purposes more than anything. In a year that has seen an absurd number of surprises, it’s only right that the VanVleet, Baker and the Shockers get their shot at unexpected glory.

“Brevity is the soul of wit” Power Rankings

12. Iowa – Peaked too early, perhaps?

11. Indiana – They look solid and are in pole position to win the Big Ten. That road will go through Iowa on the road and Maryland at home, however.

10. Wisconsin – Won 9 of its last 10, with only loss coming to Michigan State on the road. They also beat Michigan State at home to start this run.

9. Duke – …I’m sorry for writing off Duke that early…I knew this would happen.

8. Kentucky – Not sure if this is where they should be, yet here they are.

7. Louisville – Well, they’re fighting bravely.

6. Virginia

5. Oklahoma – That second half demolition at Morgantown shows this team is still extremely dangerous. As if we needed reminding (we kinda did though!).

4. Michigan State – Currently No. 1 in KenPom, but not No. 1 in my heart.

2B. Xavier – Can’t separate the two Big East teams right now. Both are very, very good.

2A. Villanova – Can’t wait to get disappointed in the tournament at some point, sadly. 1. Kansas – I guess they’re No. 1 by default. Now they’ll probably drop one of their three remaining games against Top 40 teams because that’s just how this season has been going.

  1. Kansas