Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Opening Weekend of March Madness Was Incredible

Welcome to the 53rd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I’m still trying to catch my breath after that incredible weekend of basketball. ‘Round these parts the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament produces a wealth of material. Let’s get into it.

 Teams like North Dakota State make the NCAA tournament's opening weekend just the best thing in sports. (via James Snook-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Teams like North Dakota State make the NCAA tournament’s opening weekend the best thing in sports. (via James Snook-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

The best day on the sports calendar is not Super Bowl Sunday. It’s not baseball’s Opening Day. It’s not all of the bowl games on New Year’s Day. There is one correct answer to this debate. The best day on the sports calendar is, without a doubt, the Thursday when the NCAA Tournament tips-off and March Madness begins. The Friday of this weekend is almost as good, but Thursday gets the nod because on Thursday you know that you get to do this again and again and again for four straight days.

And this year’s NCAA Tourney Thursday might have been the best NCAA Tourney Thursday ever. Four of the 16 games went to overtime, which has never happened before. Four of the twelve regulation games were decided at the buzzer or in the final minute. So literally half of the games on Thursday came down to the final seconds. Three double-digit seeds won. Three more choked away a would-be victory. Colorado was embarrassed. (More on that later.)

It was a glorious, unbelievable day. Let’s recap.

The first game tipped off at 10:15 between Dayton and Ohio State, two schools that would make up an intense and interesting intrastate rivalry, except the Buckeyes refuse to play Dayton in the regular season. First game of the day, solid storylines, why not go down to the wire? Ohio State senior Aaron Craft, seemingly in his 8th season and a guy people love to hate in a J.J..Reddick/Jimmer Fridette/Tim Tebow kind of way, drills perhaps the biggest shot of his career to put the Buckeyes up one. Then he gets beat on defense (his main asset) at the buzzer. His remarkable career is over. The Flyers move on. I lose a billion dollars. The Madness has arrived.

After Wisconsin wins by 40 and CU loses by a couple, Harvard and Cincinnati are locked in a back and forth game. In the final minute, Cincinnati’s best player, probable All-American Sean Kilpatrick, dribbles the ball off his leg for a crucial turnover and the nerds dramatically pull off a major upset for the second straight year.

Next, Syracuse, Oregon, Florida, and Michigan State all take care of business in what I guess could be described as a bit of a lull as the day turns to evening.

Connecticut and Saint Josephs go to overtime in an edge-of-your-seater. Michigan handles Wofford. Then Saint Louis and North Carolina State get weird. Fifth-seeded SLU is down by 14 points with five minutes remaining. But they come back and send another game to overtime. The Bilikens somehow score 18 points in the final 2:22 of regulation, which is absurd. Saint Louis fouls NC State relentlessly because neither team can make a damn free throw. The final few minutes of regulation and overtime seem to take an hour and half. The game had absolutely zero flow. It was painful to watch. Yet because this is March Madness, it’s also somehow beautiful. Neither team would quit. The passion is worn heavy on the faces of all these kids who just don’t want their season to end. The aesthetics of the game are horrible, but also awesome.

Right after that one ends, the nation flips over to North Dakota State vs. Oklahoma. By this time, we’ve watched eleven basketball games and could maybe use a breather. Nope. Some kid named Lawrence Alexander drills a three with eleven seconds left to send this game into overtime too. In the closing seconds of overtime some freshman named Carlin Dupree who is a 58 percent free throw shooter and hasn’t played a single minute all night comes in and calmly knocks down the two biggest free throws in the history of the Bison program. HOW DO YOU NOT LOVE THIS STUFF?!

Okay, now we get to catch our breath right? Nope. Flip over to Arizona State vs. Texas. In the final seconds Texas throws up an awful brick of a three-point attempt. The rebound lands at their center’s feet and he picks it up and tosses in the game winner as the buzzer sounds.

I somehow refrain from literally ripping my bracket into shreds.

That stretch of games was the most relentlessly exciting and compelling college basketball you will ever see. But we’re still not done.

Villanova takes care of business. Now it’s Louisville vs. Manhattan. I come to the realization that nobody knows what a Jasper is. Louisville, picked by many to go to the Final Four and beyond, looks like it might go down to a 13-seed. It’s now approaching 11 p.m. We’ve been watching basketball for more than 12 hours. Just when you think the Cardinals are actually going down, Luke Hancock calmly knocks down a couple threes in the final 1:19 and they survive.

There’s one game still going on, San Diego State vs. New Mexico State. New Mexico State has a 7′ 5″ giant, so that’s interesting. It looks like the Aztecs will comfortably put this one away. They go up five with a minute to go. It’s now 11:30 p.m. and there has been nonstop basketball for more than 13 hours. I have to wake up for work in less than seven hours. I turn off my TV because APPARENTLY I HAVE LEARNED NOTHING. While brushing my teeth, I get a text. I giddily run out to my TV and see NMSU score five points in 16 seconds to send, fittingly, the last game of the day to overtime. SDSU pulls it out. America finally goes to bed.

The first of 16 more games on Friday tips off in less than eleven hours.

There’s absolutely nothing like the opening weekend of March Madness. And make no mistake, whatever comes along in 2014, nothing in the sports world will touch March 20th.

On to the fun stuff…

We’ll start with the most notable GIF of the week. This is what you do when you are a 14-seed and you beat Duke in the NCAA tournament on Friday morning.

Look how into it number 10 is!

Fred Hoiberg also decided to dance, but his style is a little different.

After that little scene The Mayor texted his daughter to apologize. She took a screenshot and posted it to Twitter. Pretty great stuff.

 

Sean Miller of Arizona and Archie Miller of Dayton are the first pair of brothers to coach in the same Sweet 16. They look and talk exactly alike. Apparently this confused Greg Gumble of CBS, which led to this tremendous, cringe-inducing interaction.

The Kansas vs. Stanford game on Sunday morning was entertaining, but the biggest star was undoubtedly this nutjob.

via @sbnationgif

I just realized that getting drunk and playing the damn cowbell court side at the NCAA Tournament while your team pulls off an upset to advance to the Sweet 16 sounds like the most fun thing… like, ever.

The other star was this poor tyke, who was shown approximately 94 times by CBS in the game’s final couple minutes.

via @bubbaprog

Some stuff happened on the basketball courts, too! I picked Arizona to win the title. I still feel pretty good about that. I’ve had the opportunity to watch them a number of times this season and have always come away impressed. They’re composed, deep, athletic, talented, balanced, well-coached and defensively sound. Did I mention athletic? No duo in the nation can match the athleticism of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon. Here’s a little evidence of that from Sunday night.

via @mshamburger1

Here’s the stone-cold, brass onions play from Deandre Kane of Iowa State in the closing seconds that sent North Carolina home. (And led to Hoiberg’s dance above).

via @sbnationgif

I also need to say a few words about the best game of the weekend. The best day of the weekend was Thursday, but the best game came on Sunday afternoon, when 35-0 Wichita State took on preseason #1 and immensely talented Kentucky. Prior to tip-off, some people were calling it the greatest round of 32 matchup ever. It more than lived up to the hype.

Kentucky narrowly pulled off the upset when Fred Van Vleet’s buzzer beating attempt rimmed out. It was just a blast to watch. Kentucky, the blue-blood program with the perhaps the most tradition and largest fan base in all of college basketball trying to upset a one-seed from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Both teams played at a very high level throughout the game. Both teams have great defenses, but neither offense could really be stopped. The Shockers’ Cleanthony Early had perhaps the best performance of the tournament in the losing effort. Look at this freaking dunk!

via Deadspin

When the game finally ended– and everyone was hoping for overtime– you got the feeling that the winner should bypass the next three rounds and move on to the national championship. It truly felt like a Final Four game on the tournament’s fourth day.

Here’s Van Vleet’s attempt at the buzzer. I would have liked to see Early get a touch, but Van Vleet is the MVC’s Player of the Year and his sick crossover actually produced a great look. It just didn’t fall.

via @cjzero

via @cjzero

Maybe I’m just getting caught up in the excitement but I thought it was one of the best basketball games I have ever watched. March Madness is just the best. Have I mentioned that yet?

Tweet(s) of the week: The weekend was full of incredible basketball. But let’s go back to Thursday morning for a moment. You didn’t actually think I would forget about what happened in the Colorado vs. Pittsburgh game did you? If you don’t know better, I’m a pretty big Colorado State backer and am therefore not a very large fan of Colorado.

When I give my thoughts on this blog, I really do try to be objective. Sometimes I have some fun with some good, old-fashioned internet trolling, but for the most part I just call it like I see it. Also, I realize it’s a pretty bad look to make fun of a rival school’s performance in the NCAA tournament when your school just went through a rebuilding year and got zero consideration for an invite… to the CBI.

That said, Colorado’s performance on Thursday was so laughably horrible that we should all probably make fun of them. Have at it, internet.

In the game referenced in that last tweet, Michigan won by 30 and was the 8-seed. This means Colorado just had the WORST PERFORMANCE EVER from an 8-seed. Historically awfu! They had a good year, but damn, it did not end well.

No need for studs or douches this week because of so much awesomeness. Instead I’ll give you some fairly random predictions for the Sweet Sixteen.

  • Arizona will hold San Diego State under 55 points and win comfortably.
  • Louisville will squeak by Kentucky in another classic. Russ Smith will get his crap together and hit a Russdiculous shot late.
  • Michigan State vs. Virginia will go to overtime, but Tom Izzo isTom Izzo so Sparty wins.
  • Baylor will be too athletic for Wisconsin and pull off the upset.
  • Florida vs. UCLA will be entertaining as hell. Gators win.

Based on the accuracy of my bracket, we can legitimately expect none of these things to happen.

In non-sports news, some guy who is probably not creepy at all is wandering around Wal-Marts in North Carolina tricking women into letting him suck their toes.

I also really enjoyed this “Best Name Bracket” from the people over at Deadspin. Not sure I can see Dr. Loki Skylizard getting upset, but Curvaceous Bass and Shamus Beaglehole are no slouches in this competition.

And finally, I could have made this post exclusively about the NCAA Tourney, but when you come across a GIF of a mascot bear catching a baseball in his giant mouth, you share that shit immediately.

via @corkgaines

I think this one is headed for the GIF hall of fame.

***

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. Year Two is off and running. See ya next week for my Rockies preview, which will actually have to come a day after Opening Day.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.

Advertisements

Thoughts on This Blog of Mine (1 Year Anniversary Edition)

wooo. yeah. horray. fireworks. (via gizmodo.com)

Welcome to the 52nd edition and One Year Anniversary(!) of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we have a slightly new layout and an updated header. (Bonus points to whomever can name all 18 faces; shouldn’t be all that hard.). Anyway, I can’t help but reminisce about starting this thing up one year ago when I burst onto the scene and set the internet ablaze with my first post telling you why the Colorado State Rams deserved a better tournament seed. (Update: I’m still pissed about that one.) Since that week I’ve gone 52-52, which is definitely a surprise to even me.

But I want to start by thanking the folks that read these posts every single week. It actually does mean a lot to me. Oftentimes I wonder what is the point of this thing. It’s become clear that it won’t be landing me some sort of dream job any time soon.

But that’s okay.

Because every now and then somebody randomly tells me how much they liked a certain post or I see some online discussion between people I don’t know. And that’s a pretty cool feeling.

There’s also the fact that I tend to really enjoy coming up with new posts each week. It’s a challenge, but it gives me an outlet to be funny or sad or insightful or show off some research skills or writing skills or just my immense knowledge of sports. Or just show you a guy throwing a raccoon like a boss, or a sweet GIF of some idiot falling down, which is also very important.

It’s been an interesting and enjoyable experience to see what works and what doesn’t. What people like to talk about. How I can capture the attention of an audience.

I  certainly think the biggest asset for a writer or blogger is regular practice and repetition. When reading through some of the first Tuesdays, and comparing them with some posts that I have done recently, it’s remarkable how much cleaner, sharper, crisper, and better my writing has become. So I suppose that’s a plus as well.

Anyway, I hope to keep churning these things out once a week for the foreseeable future. I’ve enjoyed this blog over the past 52 weeks. I hope you have as well.

Please note: I have quite a bit to say about the NCAA Tournament and my thoughts on people who fill out more than one bracket, but I am apparently sick as hell* (which never happens) and might not be able to get too much accomplished tonight (Monday). That sucks for the big one-year anniversary post. Such is life.

*Do you think a severe fever and very sore throat could be the cause of my friends throwing my shirtless, sleeping and very drunk body into the snow at 4 a.m. on a very could night in Blackhawk during a bachelor party on Friday? Thanks, a$$****s. The one guy who takes the party to the next level is always the one who gets inappropriately punished. As the internet would say, SMH.

Stud(s) of the week:

The handful of people that make it a point to log on and read this every single week. There may not be a ton of you, but I know there’s a certain group that checks out every single post. Y’all are the best.

(I’m pretty studly as well for knocking out 52 in a row. Toot toot!)

Douche of the week:

Multiple bracket guy. For the love of God people. This is an epidemic that needs to stop. (I hope to expand on this before this publishes.)

Tweet(s) of the week:

Okay. Got it. Thanks, Earv. Insightful stuff.

This is actually from March 6th (more than a week ago), but I love to witness Earv displaying comical incompetence as a basketball analyst.

Must-read/watch link of the week:

Greg Doyle on Buzz Williams’ foundation for challenged children and their families. Do yourself a favor and click here. It might get a little dusty.

Speaking of getting a little dusty, listen to Wofford senior Aerris Smith after his team punched a ticket to the big dance. He surprised everyone by announcing he would be unable to play in the tournament. One of the more moving interviews I’ve ever heard:

`

I showed you a nasty Josh Adams dunk last week. Here he is again with a double pump under the Mountain West’s best shot-blocker, causing Doug Gotlieb and friends to go crazy. White boy can freaking sky.

I can’t decide which one’s better. Also, if you’re on top of your Colorado sports, you know that that is the same kid who beat the buzzer to WIN STATE for Chaparral in 2012. (That incredible video is here.)

The San Diego State color guy went a little berserk  during the closing seconds of a dramatic Mountain West Championship. Only, it didn’t have anything to do with the game. This is awesome.

UN-BELIEVABLE. UN-BELIEVABLE. MORONS!

And finally,

I know. I know the Broncos might have just “won free agency.” Props to John Elway. He remains a stone-cold baller. I like the signings. But I just don’t care about free agency that much. I’d rather win a Super Bowl than “win free agency.” One is not necessarily related to the other.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Again, a heartfelt thank you for reading these over the past year. Apologies for not having more for you today. See ya next week. Here’s to 52 more…

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.

Some Thoughts on Champ Bailey

Welcome to the 51st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we’re mourning a sad day in my career as a sports fan. Big post this week, starting with some free-flowing, meandering thoughts on the Champ Bailey situation. Get to it.

One of the all-time greats, Bailey’s days in Denver are done. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

So this sucks.

I remember when the Broncos traded Clinton Portis, my favorite Bronco, for a cornerback on the Redskins. I didn’t like the trade at the time because I was a sophomore in high school and all high school sophomores are stupid. Anyway, I didn’t understand why my favorite team would trade a running back in his prime for a defensive back.

It didn’t take me long to come around.

Now, my all-time favorite athlete not named Helton has been shown the door against his will in an awfully depressing manner.

The best defensive player in franchise history will not retire as a Bronco. He will never win a Super Bowl in Denver.

Perhaps this situation bums me out so damn much because watching my favorite athletes retire or leave town hits close to home with the post-college quarter-life crises I’ve been in for a few years.  If Champ Bailey and Todd Helton are considered old and unwanted, what does that mean for me? Sometimes I absolutely do not want the status quo to change. Having #24 shut down half of a football field was a staple in my life that I’m just not ready to give up, as natural as the Colorado sunshine or a night out with friends.

I really can’t understate how much I respect Champ Bailey and admire his career.

I mentioned Todd Helton earlier. There’s no debating who my favorite athlete ever is. (Read my Helton post here.) Bailey is a close second on my all-time list.

I know a lot of Bailey/Bronco fans don’t give a damn about Helton, but there are similarities in their careers that I’ve always noticed. Like Helton, Bailey didn’t do much talking but let his game speak for itself. Like Helton, Bailey’s career has been criminally underrated on a national level. Like Helton, Bailey’s quiet demeanor should not be confused for a lack of competitive fire. He might not say it, but I can guarantee you that not winning a Super Bowl in Denver kills Champ.

And that just sucks.

Also, it’s important that you people bury the Champ-Hasn’t-Been-Good-For-The-Past-Few-Years Narrative. This outlook is lazy. It’s garbage. It’s untrue. And it’s not fair to Champ.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. I pulled the following quote out of Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column from January 14 2013, two days after Champ got burned in the Broncos’ shocking loss to the Ravens. King used the in-depth analytics from the guys over at Pro Football Focus. Turns out Champ was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL all throughout 2013, (something I’ve been screaming at anti-Champers while banging on tables for a over a year now):

Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by  ProFootballFocus.com, I’ll look at one important matchup or individual  performance metric from one of the weekend games. Reports PFF.com czar Neil  Hornsby on the divisional round:

“The most surprising note of a great weekend of football? Denver cornerback Champ Bailey played his worst game in five years and really hurt the Broncos Saturday in their 38-35 loss to Baltimore… What led Denver coaches to believe that this was going to be a viable option?

“On the evidence of a full season of play. Bailey had gone one-on-one with  the best receiver of nearly every team Denver had faced. And, until Saturday it had worked every time. Bailey had a superb season. We voted him our 2nd Team All-Pro corner (an honor that was replicated in the AP All-Pro team released on Saturday) because he stood out on tape and this was reflected in the numbers too.

“In terms of giving up first downs/touchdowns per coverage snap he was ranked fourth overall among corners, and of those above him, no one was given the same coverage responsibilities he had. On balls that traveled over 20 yards in the air he allowed only three to be completed all year, with none of these going for touchdowns. Covering the likes of Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, A.J. Green,  Roddy White and Brandon Lloyd, Bailey gave up only 17 completions of more than 10 yards and a single touchdown all year.

Then there was the small matter of how great a job he did in Week 15 against the same Ravens team; allowing only three passes to be completed on 46 coverage snaps, for 26 yards…

“This wasn’t a risky gamble. It was made on the back of a whole season of evidence of him performing a similar role and doing it very well. Nothing is  ever guaranteed in football.”

But for some reason fans get bored with greatness and need to find reasons to bash and disrespect Bailey, and the Champ-Hasn’t-Been-Good-For-The-Past-Few-Years Narrative was born, albeit without logic or reason.

Bailey, always the true professional, finally made it to his first Super Bowl this year. Things went downhill from there. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Of course, the information above pertained to the year prior to the most recent season. This year Champ was hurt and never really recovered. He wasn’t himself. I thought he played very well in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. But then he didn’t look good in the Super Bowl.

But who did? (The answer is nobody.)

Maybe I’m looking through orange colored glasses (see what I did there?) and am being unreasonably optimistic, but I’d be willing to chalk up Champ’s rough 2013 to a nagging injury that he couldn’t shake. If Champ can get healthy, I would not be the least bit surprised to see him come back and play at a high level like he did in 2012.

Also, I’m not a fan of the way the Broncos handled this situation. Bailey’s salary was too high, I’m not debating that. But it sounds like Champ was willing to restructure his contract or take a pay cut and the Broncos were flat out not interested. Just get the hell out Champ. You’re done. Oh hey, thanks for the ten years though that was cool. Oh and don’t worry, we’ll  tweet out some tribute photo galleries, so it’s all good right?

The NFL is a business, blahblahblah. I get that. This whole situation just seems unnecessarily cold-blooded. I suppose I’m a little biased in this instance, but whatever.

Anyway, this is probably the defining moment of Champ’s career in Denver, and it’s awesome.

`

As wonderful as that moment was, when I look back at Champ’s days as a Bronco, I think I’ll remember the week-in, week-out excellence more than anything. Without hyperbole, I can say that for several years, Champ was, hands-down, the best football player on the field every single week.

I’ve never seen a cornerback that defended the run like Champ. He was the best cover corner in the game, but he was also the best tackler on the Broncos.

I remember Champ used to track the number of balls his receivers caught on him for a whole season. After an All-Pro year, Champ would lament that that number wasn’t zero. That’s a serious indication of greatness.

So here’s to Champ Bailey, who was just a pleasure to watch and root for over the course of ten seasons in Denver.

For my generation of Broncos fans, there will never be another Champ Bailey.

Thanks for the memories, Champ.

Off to the weekly departments, with a focus on the awesome end to the college basketball regular season (It’s March!)…

Stud(s) of the week:

We have three studs this week starting with CU coach Tad Boyle. I had some fairly unkind things to say about the CU program a few weeks ago. The Buffs went 1-1 on their Bay Area road trip last week, but the win at Stanford was probably all they needed to punch a ticket to the big dance. When Dinwiddie went down earlier in the year I thought the Buffs’ tournament hopes went down with it. I was wrong. They recovered nicely. And now I have to begrudgingly give them credit. Tad Boyle can really coach.

Stud number two is Nebraska coach Tim Miles. The former Colorado State head man got a huge win over Wisconsin on Sunday that should lock up the Huskers’ bid. I knew first hand that Miles could coach, but turning around a program like Nebraska in a conference like the Big 10 in only two years is just remarkable. Incredibly impressive job from Miles, who was named the B1G Coach of the Year yesterday. This other moment that came out of Lincoln on Sunday was also pretty awesome/studly:

`

Stud number three is Creighton senior Doug McDermott. Douggie McBuckets broke the 3,000 point mark with a career high 45 points on Senior Night in his last game in Omaha. It was an very special moment for one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. Only eight players have ever scored 3,000, and McBuckets is on pace to finish fourth all-time. This dude’s whole career has been wildly underrated. And I don’t give a damn what he does in the NBA; that should have no impact on his college legacy.

`

Douche of the week:

This was just weird:

`

Tweet(s) of the week:

Wichita State finished 34-0. This doesn’t need to turn into a debate about whether they deserve a 1-seed or what their record would be in a different conference. Just appreciate how rare it is to go undefeated. Quite an accomplishment.

Photo of the week:

AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Cheryl Evans

(AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Cheryl Evans)

That’s Hank, the former stray dog that the Brewers have officially adopted and made their team pet. Pretty heartwarming story.

 Some other videos of note from the week:

Wyoming beat CSU on Saturday and… damn.

`

In other Mountain West news

`

This is the definition of hard freaking core.

(story here.)

And finally, I don’t give the Avalanche nearly enough love on here. (I’ve been meaning to devote a post to them for a while, promise!) They have the Coach of the Year and the Rookie of the Year and a new music video thing that’s getting quite a bit of internet love.

`

Give them an “A” for effort, although I’m not sure I really see the connection or understand the point. Still pretty cool though.

***

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week for the One Year Anniversary of your favorite blog.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.

Should the Nuggets Tank?

Welcome to the 50th (!) edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the sports calendar is slowly heating up along with the weather. I’m breaking down a hot topic in the Denver sports world this week. Off we go…

The Nuggets are going nowhere. I think it’s time to start thinking about their next draft pick. (via USATSI)

The Denver Nuggets are bad. They won’t be making the playoffs for the first time in ten years. After last night’s (fairly dramatic) loss to the Timberwolves, the Nugs are ten games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Danilo Gallinari will end up missing the entire season. The human puzzle that is JaVale McGee was not solved this year. Ty Lawson has been out for the past nine games. (He returned last night.) They have a first-year coach and new general manager. Andre Miller– who once appeared to be a true professional– yelled at the coach and pouted like a child and got suspended and traded. All this has led to an incredibly uninteresting and down year for the Nuggets, with each game providing nothing to play for.

Unless they lose.

With each loss that sends the Nuggets tumbling towards the bottom of the NBA standings, the chances of Denver ending up with a higher draft pick increase. This puts the team, and their fans, in a very interesting predicament.

The Andre Miller vs. Brian Shaw saga was a black eye on an otherwise uneventful season for the Nuggets. (Bart Young/Getty Images)

The Andre Miller vs. Brian Shaw saga was a black eye on an otherwise uneventful season for the Nuggets. (Bart Young/Getty Images)

Tanking is complicated and there are a few important things to remember with all of this.

First, keep in mind the NBA has a draft lottery, which was originally implemented to prevent teams from tanking. With this system the team with the worst record does not necessarily get the number one overall pick, the 2nd worst team doesn’t necessarily get the number two pick, and so on. It all depends on those damn ping-pong balls.

Second, the Nuggets have the rights to the Knicks’ top pick if it is more favorable than their own. So if the Knicks finish with a bad record, get a lucky bounce, and end up with a better draft pick, the Nuggets will pick in that slot. And Carmelo and the Knicks are pretty damn bad. The Nuggets are currently 25-33. The Knicks are 21-40. Neither team is making the playoffs, so the “more favorable” pick will be determined after the Draft Lottery. This means that even if the Knicks finish with a worse record, the Nuggets still benefit by losing games. Each loss for each team means more ping-pong balls in the spinny clear cylinder thing for the Nuggets.

Third, this year’s draft class figures to be remarkably deep. The crop of freshman in the NCAA is loaded with NBA-level talent. If the Nuggets or Knicks are bad enough and the ping-pong balls bounce in the right direction, Denver could have the opportunity to draft an impact player that is easily better than any of their draft picks since Anthony in 2003. Names like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Julius Randal, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Tyler Ennis, and presumably some foreigners I’ve never heard of, represent hope for the Nuggets.

It’s also very important to note that the NBA is different from other leagues when it comes to building a championship-level team. There are only twelve active guys on a roster and five guys on the floor at one time, so having a superstar is imperative. Without a superstar, the best situation you can hope for is being the post-Carmelo Nuggets. Good, but not good enough.

Andrew Wiggins or any number of his NCAA cohorts could do wonders for the Nuggets franchise.(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Andrew Wiggins or any number of his NCAA cohorts could do wonders for the Nuggets franchise.(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Additionally, in the NBA the superstars dictate where they want to play more than any other league. This leads to superstars leaving for bigger billboards and more lucrative shoe contracts in larger markets.

They don’t want to play in Denver.

So there’s only one way for a team like Denver to contend for a championship:  Draft a superstar and win before his rookie contract expires or hope your superstar is a different guy in a unique situation that is cool with sticking around. (Think Duncan in San Antonio or Durant in Oklahoma City.)

So, with all that in mind, I say…. Tank Away, Nugs! Tank Away.

This whole concept is a weird one.

From the perspective of the players it doesn’t make sense. You think Wilson Chandler really wants to compete with Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle for playing time next year? Hell no, he doesn’t. So it’s kind of silly to think the players will go out there hoping for a higher draft pick, especially in the NBA where playing time is in such high demand.

From the perspective of the fan it only kind of makes sense. You’re supposed to sit there literally rooting against your favorite team? Hoping for Lawson turnovers? And horrible defense from Faried? Even if you understand the reasoning behind the tanking process, that just feels… dirty.

So here’s my outlook:  I watch the Nuggets (follow is probably a better term; that team can be awfully hard to watch) and I don’t necessarily root for them to lose. I look for progress from young players and hope to see Lawson looking healthy again and that kind of thing. But then when they inevitably lose, I shrug and maybe do a mini fist-pump.

The Nuggets aren’t contenders because they don’t have good enough players. Look what Nathan McKinnon is doing for the Avalanche. Or what we are hoping Jon Gray will do for the Rockies. Teams need good players to succeed. The easiest way to acquire good players, especially in the NBA, double especially in Denver, is through the draft.

The ineptitude of the Nuggets, combined with the ineptitude of the Knicks combined with the structure of the NBA combined with the talent in this draft class make for a golden opportunity for the Nuggets.

They can’t afford to waste it by winning games.

Tank away, Nuggets. Tank away.

And to remind you of the kind of players the Nuggets currently have, here’s Jan Vesley, your newest Nugget, faking out… nobody. Or a ghost or something.

Jan-Vesely-pump-fake-brick-A

Via The Big Lead

Bro. There is nobody standing in front of you. Why are you jab-stepping?

Moving on to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

Time is a flat circle… or, something.

This week’s stud is Nic Pizzolatto (not pictured above, that’s Matthew McConaughey, stupid), creator and writer of the best TV show currently on the air. The season finale of True Detective (HBO) airs Sunday night and figures to be a doozey. The gripping/creepy/dark/fascinating crime/mystery/detective/cop show is starting to produce as much internet chatter as the final season of Braking Bad generated a few months ago. Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey put together performances that are just about the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV. McConaughey is almost certain to add an Emmy to his new Oscar, which is pretty impressive to pull off in the same year. You should probably figure out a way to watch this show.

Here’s a little preview of the season finale.

`

(If you’re a fan of the show, you should really be reading the weekly reviews done by both Alan Sepinwall and Molly Lambert. They’re great.)

Douche of the week:

K.C. Ross-Miller is the New Mexico State player that hurled the basketball at a Utah Valley player as time was expiring Thursday night. Coincidentally, the UVU fans were rushing the court at the time and the combination led to an ugly fan-player brawl.

`

Interestingly enough, I spoke about the rules of court-rushing last week. My take is that there are no more rules for rushing the court. The importance of the game or prestige of the program no longer matters. Anyone who wants to rush the court can do so whenever they want.  After the scene shown above, many in the college basketball world are arguing that court rushing should be banned. For everyone. All the time.

I’d be fine with that too.

Sure there will always be an element of danger like we just saw, but to me the whole thing is just tired and trivial, played out and pointless. The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to believe we should just be done with the whole mess. The only casualty will be drunk kids missing out on their chance to get on SportsCenter.

Anyway, the guy that threw that ball is probably a pretty huge douche.

Tweet(s) of the week: I don’t care who you are or what you believe, this (since deleted) tweet from Texas State Senator Dan Patrick (not the sports TV guy) with a pretty crucial freudian slip is just funny.

I should also probably include this tweet because it’s been retweeted like 5 times more than any other tweet ever. Like 3 million retweets. The previous “record” was 780,00 or something. Unreal. We live in a strange world, don’t we?

What to watch the next seven days:

  • This category is still being dominated by college basketball… CU plays at Stanford tomorrow night at 7 on ESPN2. Their tournament stock is falling, but they’re still in most projected brackets after their past two losses. That will change if they don’t win at least one game this week. They play Saturday at Cal to finish the regular season.
  • There is a handful of really good college basketball games on Saturday. The best might be when #21 New Mexico visits #10 San Diego State on Saturday for a de facto Regular Season Mountain West Championship Game (assuming both teams win tomorrow night). Should be awesome. 8:05 on CBS Sports.
  • Also worth watching is Duke vs. UNC, SMU vs. Memphis, and UConn vs. Louisville.
  • The Avs are still worth watching. They are in Chicago in a very interesting game tonight at 6. Then at Detroit on Thursday. I’m pretty excited for the upcoming stretch run for the Avalanche.
  • Monitoring the Nuggets’ “Tank-O-Meter” will be interesting from here on out.

Picture of the week:

One of the coolest pictures of the year came from an Indians’ Spring Training game this week. Via @mlb

And finally, here is a truly awful commercial featuring Tom Izzo dancing (I guess?) on a ladder:

`

***

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @MitchDHahn.