I Think I’m Gonna Be Sick

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The man with the best bracket and most points racked up among the 3 million brackets submitted to Yahoo sports made a terrible, terrible mistake.  He forgot to pick a champion.

$50,000 in prize money on the line, and he did not pick a champion.

James Kiki’s nailed some early upsets, he had seven of the Elite Eight teams correct.  He has a perfect Final Four.  He is tied with two other people for first overall, just three games away from a $50,000 grand prize.  James Kiki will not win. Here is his bracket.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Kiki told Syracuse.com.

Ready to get even more upset?

Kiki, a South Sudanese refugee who works for a nonprofit in Syracuse, says he’d never filled out a bracket in his life, and only did so because he saw he could win $50,000.

But he was challeneged by Yahoo’s somewhat unintuitive picking system.  Kiki says he forgot about his bracket—“I’ve been watching the games, but I didn’t even know what teams I picked”—but only realized how well he had done, and how he had screwed up, when he was flooded by messages from other Yahoo users telling him how stupid he was.

I think I’m gonna be sick.

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NCAA Opening Weekend 2016 Was The Best EVER

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In the poetic words of the quadrophonic-Blaupunkt philosopher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh“I want to give him the heat and announce my presence with authority!”

The opening weekend of the 2016 NCAA Tournament could not handle the “heat” or the “authority” that would be announced to us all between Thursday’s opening morning session games and the final horn of the last game on Sunday night.

From the very first tip-off, the looming quaff of embarrassment and humbling defeat filled the arenas as well as our TV sets.  It was obvious that no higher seed was safe, no chair would be left un-turned, no dog un-scratched, no cat un-ignored (cause seriously, who gives a shit about cats) and no human being unimpressed.

Capped off with the MOST INCREDIBLE COMEBACK in the history of college basketball on Sunday when UNI lost a 12 point lead to Texas A&M in the last 40 seconds which ultimately lost them the game.  This has LITERALLY never happened before:

But before we get too deep into Sunday, let’s talk about everything that lead to that culmination of cold-blooded-ness.

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Thirteen total upsets (according to seeding) occurred in the first round of the tournament, matching the most ever in tournament history.  If the 2-handed dunk by Cincinnati’s Octavius Ellis as time expired had been 1/16th of a second quicker, there would have Fourteen upsets in the first round of the tournament and cats and dogs would be living together in perfect harmony with humans as their pets as the world would be plummeting into an alternate reality (Trump’s poodle for President 2016 – Bark The Vote).

Middle Tennessee State took down Michigan State in the first round!  Michigan State was the predicted NATIONAL champion of about one-quarter of ESPN and Yahoo! brackets submitted.  Who the hell is Middle Tennessee State!?!?!?  They’re the winningest college basketball program in the state of Tennessee over the last five years…….yes, I’m serious (123-49).  That’s who the hell they are.

This year’s 10 wins by double-digit seeds is the most in NCAA tournament history (there were nine in 2001 and 2012) — this comes in the third year since the NCAA overhauled how it seeds the tournament (great work fellas) as it seeks to place teams where they naturally belong, bucking the trend of rules such as when conference teams can meet in the tourney, which often required movement of a team up or down (again, solid work guys).

Wichita State was a play-in game, but somehow after stomping Vanderbilt 70-50 they became an 11-seed and matched up with Arizona (6-seed) in the first round??  I STILL need someone smarter than me to explain that gorilla-math.  How does a play-in game become an 11-seed?  There are conference champs that are 14, 15 and 16-seeds?

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But I digress, Wichita State shouldn’t have been a play-in game.  They should have been an at-large bid and been seeded accordingly.  They proved me right by handling Arizona (over-seeded) 65-55 in the first round.  Only to meet there demise by an every-game-improving Miami Hurricane squad.  Seriously, if you don’t know about Jim Larranaga’s boys down in South beach…..you’re on notice now.  They’re the real deal, the next round will be heavyweight punch-fest with Villanova.  I’m talking drunken-hillbilly-haymaker fight that lasts a week.  Nothing but HUGE punches thrown and nobody going down (they can’t feel pain, cause drunk hillbillies are magical creatures….like Bridge-Trolls or Orcs).

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Stephen F-ing Austin.  Seriously, where the hell is this school?  No one knows, even wikipedia has a giant question mark with a half-smiley face come up when you search for Stephen F. Austin.  Yet somehow the 14-seeded Wrestle Mania fan-school beat 3-seeded West Virginia, who was EVERYONE’S “sleeper” Final Four team (ok, admittedly that was a big sub-reference for a bad and obvious joke, Wrestler: Steve Austin to University of Higher learning Sephen F. Austin, gimme a break, I don’t get paid much for this shit).

The 4th-seeded Cal got stoned and forgot to play against 13-seeded Hawaii.  Two of the four total 14-seeds won in the first round, two of the four total 12-seeds won in the first round and one of the 15-seeds won in the first round.  Ok, ok now I’m just sputtering out of control……reel it back in.

Second round action:

Notre Dame met up with Stephen F-ing Austin in round two (fight!), leading to another last minute, last second, last breath before death winning shot:

That was the only bucket of the game for Notre Dame freshman Rex Pflueger (?), who is averaging 2.5 ppg and hadn’t made a field goal in a game since the Fighting Irish’s regular season finale against NC State on March 5…….March…..(dramatic pause) Madness.

(7-seed) Wisconsin over (2-seed) Xavier made my head explode and even made Bill Murray look sadder than Chevy Chase:

The former greens-keeper turned pro, about to become the funniest meme in recent history:

FINALLY we’re to the Northern Iowa game.  Ok, here’s the set-up:  UNI won it’s previous two games with last second buzzer-beaters….read that again.  They won they’re conference tournament with a last second buzzer beater:

Then they upset (6-seed) Texas with an UNBELIEVABLE half-court shot to win it:

Goosebumps.  Straight goosebumps.  Northern Iowa has more luck than the Irish and more piss and vinegar in their veins than an Italian bare-knuckle boxer.

Fast-forward to late Sunday afternoon, Northern Iowa is now taking on (3-seed) Texas A&M.  The Panthers (awesome) are in control leading 69-57 with 44 seconds left in the game, looking like yet another giant-beater story is about to unfold.  It was at this point that UNI decided to quit playing defense or rebound the ball or even inbound the ball safely.  I’ll let the video speak for itself:

The Aggies made six field goals in the final 34 seconds of regulation, the same number they made in the entire first half.  This lead to 2 overtimes and an eventual win for A&M, what will be forgotten is the fact that UNI had the game won in the first overtime and then lost 2 of their main players to fouls.  But none of that will matter, this is now the “how to:” video example forever on how to NOT close out a game out correctly.  Northern Iowa is the Shakespearean tragedy of a basketball team over the last 2 weeks:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

  (as we all roll our eyes at the jarring amount of pretentiousness in quoting Shakespeare whilst talking college hoops)

An incredible first four days of the tournament, an UNREAL beginning to the greatest time of every year.  Just like a terrible horror flick, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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NCAA Tourney Update

At about 330pm pacific time, every college basketball bracketeer on earth collectively yelled out profanities after watching the Yale 1%ers upset the Baylor Yellow Highlighter Markers 79-75.  

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Makai Mason had a career-high 31 points, including six of Yale’s final nine points, and the No. 12 seed Bulldogs held on to upset 12th-seed Baylor.  Yale (23-6) earns its FIRST EVER NCAA Tournament victory. It comes in its first appearance since 1962.

Then, the greatest, “Popovichian” postgame answer to an ass-clown reporter’s question about rebounding:


Fast-forward to just 10 minutes ago and we have another BIG-TIME #12 over a #5 upset!  Two overtimes, a double-digit deficit overcome late in the second half, a buzzer beating three-pointer to send it into the first overtime and there you have it.  The University of Arkansas-Little Rock has taken down the Purdue Boilermakers 85-83 with Derek Fisher (UALR Alum) in attendance.

Insert your Pur-DON’T joke here.

RESULTS THUS FAR:

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St. Patty’s Day Irish Whiskey Rankings

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Two things we love on this perfect mish-mash of a highly alcoholic-cultural day with the greatest basketball day in sports history: Irish Whiskey and March Madness.

Here’s 11 great reasons to throw-up today and call in sick tomorrow:

  1. Paddy; $20, 80 proof

Paddy’s from Cork, if that sort of thing means anything to you, and it’s triple-distilled, as are most Irish whiskies. It’s very smooth and easy to drink, though a bit light on flavor, with hay and Triscuits atop a bit of nutmeg and not much else. Paddy is fine whiskey, particularly for the price, and it’s probably the strongest last-place finisher in any Drunkspin ranking. Sorry, Paddy, but we can’t all win. Or finish second-to-last.

  1. Kilbeggan, $26, 80 proof

Kilbeggan is slightly better than Paddy due to a deeper flavor profile, with some sweet corn and cinnamon notes that make it one of the more bourbon-like of the Irish whiskies in this lineup.

  1. Teeling Small Batch; $37, 92 proof

This was partially aged in used rum barrels, and it shows. I like rum, but the molasses and vanilla flavors were overpowering, without much real whiskey character underneath. It tastes objectively pleasant, though: rummy and slightly floral.

  1. 8. Jameson; $28, 80 proof

Jameson is the most popular Irish whiskey in America by a preposterous margin. It outsells second-place Bushmills by more than 10 to 1. That’s crazy, sure. But just because its market dominance isn’t justified by a strict qualitative accounting doesn’t mean Jameson sucks: This isn’t a Irish Jose Cuervo situation. Jameson smells like vanilla, candied orange peel, lemon, and pepper; it’s simple and clean but assertive enough to be worth the effort, and you should absolute accept it every time it’s offered.

  1. Bushmills; $25, 80 proof

Bushmills is from Northern Ireland. I like it because it tastes like apples, toast, cinnamon, and wet pine bark, with a light tropical hint underneath.

  1. Glendalough 7-Year Single Malt; $40, 92 proof

This is the entry-level bottling from one of the newest Irish distilleries, founded in 2011. It tastes somewhat harsh, boozier than 92 proof ought to, but I was won over by the relatively complex flavor profile featuring sweet orange, lemon, cinnamon, pear, pistachio, and wood.

  1. Powers; $32, 80 proof

Powers has a unique chocolate, cherry, and caramel flavor, along with cinnamon and a touch of clove.

  1. Tullamore D.E.W.; $28, 80 proof

So the D.E.W. represents an old distiller’s initials, which is nice, but feel free (by which I mean, feel obligated by decency) to pronounce it “Dew.” It opens with a strong, sweet vanilla and butterscotch aroma, with cherry and faint pine needle notes emerging with time. And this is weird, but hear me out: I swear I pick up a little mustard seed? Good stuff.

  1. Jameson Gold Reserve; $70, 80 proof

Of course it’s good, it costs $14 a gulp! But, price gripes aside, the caramel apple, cinnamon, vanilla bean, oak, indeterminate spice, and light toffee work very well together, and I’ll happily drink this any time someone else is buying.

  1. Tullamore Dew Trilogy 15-Year; $75, 80 proof

Another super-deluxe model, this one is a blend of whiskies aged in sherry, bourbon, and rum barrels. It tastes like butterscotch, orange blossoms, maybe even mango, definitely cashews, and smoked honey. It’s bonkers and delightful, and I would likely feel that way even if they hadn’t sent me a small sample bottle.

  1. Redbreast 12-Year; $55, 80 proof

Sweet and spicy, with vanilla, black pepper, plum, anise, and molasses. I will very rarely advocate that Drunkspin readers spend this many of their own dollars on a single bottle of liquor, especially one that’s only 80 proof, but here’s a plan: Get yourself a bottle of Redbreast and have two ounces on the 17th of every month for a year. You’ve done so many worse things with $55.

Two And A Half Minutes Of A Terrific Waste Of Time

This video is for every single person/kid/adult-when-drunk-at-a-park that has ever recreated a buzzer beater with no one watching.

We’ve all done it in our driveway at some point, “3……..2………1………the shot is up……….IT’S GOOD!  IT’S GOOD!”

Is watching a grown man at an empty park, in the rain, recreate 13 different March Madness classic buzzer beaters with actual footage edited in a waste of time?

Yes, probably.

Should you be doing something more productive today?

Yes, probably.

Will you watch this again a second time and now fall deep into the youtube pigeon-hole of classic buzzer beaters and NCAA March Madness and then cry uncontrollably as you enter the realm of “One Shining Moment” montage videos over and over again for the next hour?

Yes, definitely.

March Madness is officially here.

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March Madness – How To Get Out Of Working All Day

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Here is the official March Madness bracket, in case you don’t have time to do any googling on your own.

‘s Tournament time once again, and with three No. 1 seeds and some big names getting play started on Thursday afternoon, chances are you’ll want to watch the games while you’re away from your house or your nearest television. Fear not, as it’s easier than ever to watch every game without being near a television.

All NCAA Tournament games can be streamed online with NCAA March Madness Live. There’s also an NCAA March Madness Live app for iOSAndroidWindows 10Amazon, and Roku, so you can watch every game, even if you’re not at home or near a TV. March Madness Live has also added Chromecast support this year, so there are more ways than ever to get the game onto the TV.

It should be noted that March Madness Live requires authentication through your TV provider login. You can also check out the games through online television providers like SlingTV and Playstation Vue. Those services also require a signup, but you don’t need to go through a standard provider.

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One Shining Moment

With tears in my eyes, shivers down my spine, a lump in my throat and the greatest three minute-montage of the college basketball season, I give you……..One Shining Moment:

Good luck doing anything productive with your next 10-15 minutes.

Bill Raftery: My Favorite Kind of Guy

 

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I sat down for a quick interview with Mr. Bill Raftery before the Final Four on Saturday, I started off as just a fan of the man’s broadcasting skills and his incredibly entertaining catch-phrases and one-liners that we’ve all grown to love.  But by the end of the interview I was more than just a fan of the man’s work, I became a fan of THE MAN in general.

His energy and love for the game of basketball is definitely contagious, even as I sat in my cold, corporate-feeling, quiet office in a building Don Draper wouldn’t be caught dead in, I could feel Raftery’s big, warm, grinning smile over the phone filling me with excitement as he discussed Izzo and Michigan State’s toughness, Coach K and Duke’s chances at another championship, Coach Cal and the undefeated (at that time) Kentucky Wildcats legacy and Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky’s Wisconsin Badgers.  The Final Four was about to take flight and Bill Raftery was piloting the ship for me.

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The most abundantly clear trait I noticed while talking hoops with the legend was his ability to recall seemingly any game he’s ever been a part of instantly.  His basketball mind is as sharp as Bill Laimbeer’s elbows, but with a feathery touch and perfect release similar to Ray Allen’s jumper.

I asked Bill to name a few of his favorite NCAA tourney moments that he’d been a part of, here’s his list:

  • His first memory was the Sienna double-overtime upset over Ohio State in the 2009 NCAA tourney.  I almost became airborne when he yelled out over the phone “ONIONS!”, then followed it up with “AN ORDER OF DOUBLE ONIONS!”

  • His next memory was the George Mason overtime upset over UCONN in 2006 to reach the Final Four for the first time in the school’s history:

  • Lastly he ended with the 1985 Final Four when three teams from the BIG EAST made it, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s and rounding out the basketball-table was Memphis State:

Just to put that in perspective, Raftery just referenced 30 years of basketball off the top of his head.  I was 4 years old when The BIG EAST dominated the 1985 Final Four, Ronald Reagan was president, and Bill Raftery was calling games.

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Our conversation moved seamlessly onto my favorite stories about Raftery, the stories that Jim Nantz refers to as “The Hang”, the after-hours of the legendary broadcaster.

“You work to accomplish things in life,” Raftery says. “Nothing that would embarrass the family – but let’s say over the years, I’ve had legs.” –USA Today article

I posed these “hard-hitting” questions to see if I could dig a little deeper:

  1. What’s your drink of choice?
  2. What’s your favorite word?
  3. What’s your least favorite word?

Bill’s answers (of course he delivered JUST what I was looking for):

1.  “Lemonade

2.  “Yes, as in when someone asks Would you like another?”

3.  “No, as in after I ask a business proprietor Can I have another?”

Yet again, Mr. Raftery delivers right on cue when the pressure’s on, just like he’s been doing for 30+ years.

Bill will be dropping more classic puns and one-liners on us tonight as he will sit down with Grant Hill and Jim Nantz to cover the National Championship game for the first time in his TV career.  A long overdue opportunity for Raft, as he’s being covering the championship for CBS radio for the last 23 years.

My Final Four conclusions from the conversation with Mr. Raftery is this:

  1. Within five minutes of being on the phone with him, I was as comfortable talking about hoops with him as if I was sitting in my parents’ basement talking with my Dad and brother.
  2. He’ll never let you down, he’s always got another funny, brilliant analogy or pun ready in his holster for deployment and he has a computer for a brain when it comes to college basketball.
  3. You feel better about your day after talking with Bill, he’ll always leave ya smiling.
  4. As accomplished as he is and as great as he is at his job, he’s an even BETTER PERSON outside of the TV personality that brought us “Send it in JEROME!” and “with a little KISSSSS!”.  Bill can light up a room without ever even setting foot in it.

Thanks Bill, we’ll keep watching and listening.  Cheers to another 30 years of college hoops and the next time you’re in Los Angeles, the first round of lemonade is on me.