1. Syracuse vs. 5. Butler
Original Pick: Syracuse over Vanderbilt
What I’ve Learned: Syracuse continues to be the best team in country when it plays well, making me continue to regret my decision to pick Kansas to win it all. With that said, this team has been thin all year, and they are even thinner without Arinze Onuaku.
I’ve been dead wrong, though, on Butler—the only 5-seed I picked to lose in the first round. Ever since a somewhat slow start, people who were high on the Bulldogs before the season—like Tim!—have let them fly under the radar, ignoring the fact that the last time this team lost was before Christmas. Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward are a dynamic pairing, and I can see them giving the Orange a serious run. In the end, though, I’ll go with favorite.
The Pick: Syracuse
I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m 36-12 in this NCAA Tournament; last time I checked that’s 75 percent. That means you can take three of these four picks to the bank. Which one doesn’t come through? Well, that’s the beauty of the Tournament, isn’t it?
1. Syracuse vs. 5. Butler
Original: Syracuse over Butler
What I’ve Learned: The Orange are just fine without Arinze Onuaku, and the Bulldogs continue to survive with Matt Howard in foul trouble. Howard has been in foul trouble in just about every big-time game Butler has played all season, and the Bulldogs responded on Saturday by going small and matching Murray State’s athleticism. The problem is, they can’t afford to go small against Syracuse, even if the Orange don’t have Onuaku. Howard needs to stay on the floor and be a presence inside; it wasn’t too long ago he was Horizon Player of the Year and the standard for old-fashioned, interior fundamentals—a mantle usurped last weekend by Omar Samhan. In order for Butler to win, Howard needs to demand attention on the block, Gordon Hayward needs to announce his presence on a national stage with a 20-10 kind of game, and Shelvin Mack and Co. have to shoot lights-out from the perimeter. I can see two of those things happening, but not all three.
The Pick: Syracuse Continue reading
“Better to play with me than against me.”
“I believe I’m gonna get him to eat those words.”
–Boston Rob and Russell
Last night’s episode of Survivor felt all along like a kind of contrivance. With the Villains winning four of five challenges, we had only seen them once at Tribal Council, when they suspenselessly voted off the curmudgeonly Randy way back in the third episode. In the intervening weeks, we’ve been treated to glimpses of the burgeoning rivalry between Boston Rob and Russell—one that, ideally, would be a defining arc of the season. Unfortunately, as long as the Villains kept winning, Rob and Russell’s tete-a-tete would remain latent.
In order to change that, the producers resorted to one of their two main contriving tricks: ordering that both tribes go to Tribal Council.* It didn’t matter who won immunity; in fact, immunity was individualized within each tribe. We were finally going to get to see the tussle between Rob and Russell.**
*The other trick is switching up the tribes, which would seem to take some of the meaning out of this season.
**See what I did there? Continue reading