The Madness Does Not Disappoint

Posted in College Sports on March 21st, 2015 by Ian Paregol

bracket-torn[1] March 21, 2015 – The most exciting 36 hours in college sports ended with a bang as the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament concluded late last night with the 11th seed, Dayton knocking out Providence in a final coup d’ grace bracket buster.  The flurry of upsets that began on Thursday afternoon with with 3 one-point victories by UAB, Georgia State and UCLA served notice yet again to both fans and bettors that on any given day the prohibitive favorites can fall to an ambitious buzzsaw and dreams of playing on a Sweet 16 weekend can end early.  Hope you enjoyed your stay, ISU, VCU and SMU; please pick up the play-at-home game on your way out of the arena.

On Friday, higher seeds prevailed in 15 of the 16 matchups but even in a tournament where only 5 lower seeds emerged victorious in the 32 first round games, there is only 1 entry out the 11.57 million entries on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge that picked all 32 contests correctly.  1!  There are 38 entries that had 31 of the 32 teams picked correctly;  that’s .000328% of all ESPN’s brackets.   So when Iowa State and Baylor fell before you left the office on Thursday and you tore your office pool bracket sheet to shreds, feel some solace that you were not alone.  In fact, you might want to pull that baby out of the trashcan and tape that it back together.  As long as you didn’t have the Cyclones or Bears advancing too far, you may be still in line for a payday, because on the whole, favorites did much better than they have in recent years.  The chalk still talks going into the weekend games.

And speaking of a payout, I will leave you with this report from Vegas… Kentucky was 1:500 to beat Hampton and some schlub bet $600 on Kentucky.  The spoils of his wager… $1.20.

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The Other Shuffle at the Top

Posted in College Sports on November 20th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

November 20, 2011 –  November continues to be a month for shakeups.  And we aren’t just talking about the insane horserace for the Republican nomination.  This afternoon, the BCS Rankings will be released for Week 13 and as the college football season wanes, one thing is quite clear:  the SEC continues to reign supreme.  LSU will retain its #1 ranking, Alabama will move back to #2 and Arkansas will find itself in the #3 slot.  Two weeks ago after the LSU-Bama field goal-fest, The Bench Jockeys projected that LSU would face the Crimson Tide again for the National Championship. With this weekend’s Top 10 bloodletting, only 1 team stands in the way of that rematch – Arkansas – which will LSU for the SEC Championship.  If Arkansas can pull off the upset, LSU, Bama and Arkansas will each have 1 loss (LSU to Ark; Ark to Alabama, and Alabama to LSU).  In that case, who gets the nod for the National Championship?  We know one thing: the talk of a Playoff System will be plentiful.  Also of interest, the only other undefeated college team, Houston, may finally crack the Top 10.

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Hurricanes Become the New Eye of the College Football Storm

Posted in College Sports, Sport/Pol Crossover on August 28th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

To say it has been a tumultuous offseason for college football would be an understatement.  Former booster Nevin Shapiro’s allegations of impropriety at the University of Miami make Jim Tressel’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” transgressions at Ohio State – which came to light earlier this spring – look rather pedestrian.  The Ponzi-scheming jail-bird, Shapiro, maintains that he has provided millions of dollars’ worth of financial benefits to at least 72 University of Miami student-athletes for nine years beginning in 2002.  The accusations against the Hurricanes come just one year after the University of Southern California Trojans were required to forfeit an entire year’s games, lost 30 football scholarships beginning in 2010, were forced to vacate its 2005 BCS National Championship and sustained a two year post season ban (2010 & 2010) as a consequence of illegal benefits lavished upon star tailback, Reggie Bush back in 2004.  If even 10% of what Shapiro says is true, Miami is in line to face stiffer penalties than USC.   However, the bottom line for the “Canes Nation is: will the NCAA Committee on Infractions determine that the actions of the university rise to the level of a willful violation and justify the recommendation the “death penalty” for The U?  It surely does not appear that University President, Donna Shalala can dodge exposure in light of the bowling alley photo that has surfaced of her, Shapiro and a check, so perhaps she needs to take one for the team so Miami’s football program can avoid being the new poster child for rules’ violations. Read more »

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Bring Mid-Majors, Ads and Money

Posted in College Sports on April 2nd, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Although I typically root for the underdog, I can’t help but feel that VCU’s appearance in this year’s Final Four is rather ill-timed as it relates to the future of The Tournament.  Shaka Smart’s team is gritty and as one of the last four teams invited to the field of 68, they have shown what a streaky, mid-major team can do to a bracket during March Madness.  But VCU’s “Cinderella” status is not a result of expansion; rather, it is a consequence of the selection committees’ myopic vision that major conferences are deserving of an inordinate number of invitations to the dance.  Schools like Butler and VCU are pushed down the totem pole to 8 and 11 seeds and are deemed “upstarts” instead of recognized as legitimate programs capable of beating the squads from the major conferences like the Big East, Big Ten and SEC.   

So why did the Big East rack up 16% of the 2011 bids?   Read more »

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Opening Day for The Bench Jockeys

Posted in Our Mission, Sport/Pol Crossover on March 28th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

It just seemed appropriate that The Bench Jockeys initiated their Blog to coincide with the start of the 2011 MLB Season.  Although there is nothing like debating AL and NL Pennant chances for the upcoming baseball season and analyzing the strengths, but more likely, the weaknesses of current and former ML players, starting this Blog at this time offers The Bench Jockeys the opportunity to assess the potential play-off scenarios in the National Hockey League, as well as the contenders and the pretenders for the Green Jacket, which is  just around the corner on April 7th.  The NBA is just absolute garbage, so you won’t see much from us about that steaming pile, but you will be able to read about the Final Four and VCU’s improbable run.  (We don’t hate basketball, we just hate the NBA.)  Conflicts, oddities and head-shaking actions within NASCAR, soccer, tennis, even the much-maligned PBA, will be served up with cheeky commentary and exploration.

But it’s not just about sports here at The Bench Jockeys, oh no.  We have opinions about any number of subjects.  And along with the sports banter, we intend to mix in a fair share of analysis about the national political scene, potential domestic and global crises, and of course, we fully intend to heckle leaders deserving of derision.  We hope that you will come along for the ride and participate in the discourse.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice it in the pic above, Barack Obama is a lefty.  Now, there’s a big surprise.

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Conceded Putz Poll Update

Posted in College Sports, Conceded Putz on March 26th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Before you take sides on clear voting favorites Gadhafi and Goodell, The Sporting News is reporting that “it appears that beleaguered Ohio State coach Jim Tressel forwarded e-mails about his players committing NCAA violations despite saying his concerns about the confidentiality of a federal investigation led him to keep the information from his superiors, the Columbus Dispatch reported Friday.

The revelation destroys Tressel’s defense that he didn’t inform Ohio State officials of the e-mails implicating the players because he didn’t want to endanger the federal investigation. Tressel is the subject of an NCAA investigation into whether he committed violations by not telling his bosses about his players’ issues.”

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Maybe the ACC is “not dead yet”

Posted in College Sports, The Quick Hook on March 21st, 2011 by Ian Paregol

The ACC has 3 teams remaining in the Sweet 16 from its original 4 entries (Duke, UNC, Florida State, and Clemson).  Meanwhile, the media bandwagon’s newly crowned Belles of the Ball – the Big East – on the other hand, have been absymal with 9 of its 11 teams knocked out by the end of the 3rd round.  The only remaining Big East teams are UConn and Marquette – which will need to exhume coaching legend Al McGuire  and his 1977 National Championship mojo to beat the Tar Heels on March 25th.

This is an example of a perfect subject for our category called, The Quick Hook.  We get in, we make our point and we get out.  Just like Czechoslovakia (or Wisconsin).

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A Little about “4th and Long”

Posted in 4th and Long, College Sports, Our Mission, Sport/Pol Crossover on March 20th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

Content falling within the 4th and Long category will typically concern matters where little hope exists for a successful outcome.   All references to Jimmy Chitwood and “Hooisers” aside, a pre-game analysis of the recent Hampton-Duke game, in which super-frosh, Kyrie Irving, was slated to return to the line-up is a perfect example of a 4th and Long post.  No way, no how, was the Hampton Pirates squad going to keep defending NCAA Tourney Champ Duke from advancing to third round action.  Granted, ocassionally the Davids slay the Goliaths in the NCAAs, but Hampton was in for a long day at the 2:03-mark of the first half down 7- zip in what was essentially a home game for the Blue Devils.

It’s not that different in Libya for Muammar Gadhafi.  Although he is in a dangerous 4th and Long situation, he is not bringing out his punter to kick the ball back to the Benghazi Runnin’ Rebels.  The result should be about the same as in the Hampton-Duke game, a shellacking.

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