Archive for November, 2010

This Day in Revisionist History

*This Day in Revisionist History: A new feature where Jake talks about something that could be cool or whatever if it happened in history.

(Editor’s note: In case you missed our historic introduction of Jake earlier today, this is a classic from Jake’s archive. Tune in next week for the current edition!)

October 18:

“Wait, was that a bear? No dude, I’m not kidding, I think I just saw a f*cking grizzly bear!”

–General Lovell Rousseau on the morning of October 18, 1867, shortly after accepting the transfer of the Alaskan territory from Russia on behalf of the United States.

Nowadays almost everyone knows Alaska has bears, but as they say: Hindsight is 20/20. Now granted, this doesn’t make sense, because 20/20 is just the de facto standard; recent studies have suggested that optimal visual acuity occurs at about 20/8. But hey, when they came up with that expression, they didn’t have the benefit of…okay, you see where I’m going with this (and that’s called foresight, which strangely enough no one measures, not even metaphorically).

In any case, William Seward certainly didn’t know that the winter wonderland he had purchased in the spring of that year was overflowing with more bears than present day New York City has people, and so it was with great confidence that he signed the treaty with Russia’s minister to the United States, Baron Edouard de Stoeckl, who had risen to prominence in Russia despite his Turkish birth after developing what many industry experts now recognize as the most approximate precursor to the toaster strudel. Continue reading

Introducing…Jake!

Recently, NPI has begun internal discussions about taking on additional staff. It’s not that John, Josh, Tim, and Pierre can’t handle the workload, but recently NPI’s revenues have gotten so excessive that we literally don’t know what to do with it all. We decided to put some of our more indigent friends and relatives on payroll, but it turns out that–according to the IRS–sometimes we have to publish them if they’re on payroll. Rather than risk tarnishing the overall quality of NPI, though, we subjected them all to a rigorous interview process. The only survivor was Jake, whose interview is included here:

An NPI Artist Rendering of Our Newest Contributor

What are your qualifications? In other words, who do you think you are?

A small bit of personal background: while this disclosure will almost certainly fuel the accusations of rampant nepotism at NPI, I attended college at the college of Duke, more accurately known as Duke University. In my free time I majored in English, delightedly consuming and artfully abusing what is indisputably the greatest language in the world. I am the defiant answer to Vampire Weekend’s insolent query: “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?”

Professionally, I’m a humorist whose style was once described simply as “abstract” by a very terse observer. I like to think I’m at least 19 times as funny as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but I write for a much narrower audience. Like most journalists, I can’t be taken seriously, but unlike most journalists I consider this my top selling point. Continue reading

Live Blogging 2 Hours of ESPN’s 24 Hours of College Basketball

You may remember that last year NPI brought you live-blog coverage of 22 of the 24-hour ESPN Season Tip-Off Marathon. So why aren’t we being as extensive this year? Chill out, we have things to do! And Tim already brought you a 2010-11 season preview, and a breakdown of the NCAA Vault. What more do you want? But we couldn’t let tonight’s Duke game go by without a live-blog, so Tim and John S will be here to break it down for you.

I wonder what Coach K is telling him...

TIM: Miami (Ohio) probably won’t win the MAC. That’s really what I take away from this game.

JOHN: Final thoughts: Duke looks pretty good, huh?

TIM: Who or what is a Todd Zafirovski?

JOHN: I was more mocking Patrick than Miles’ toughness. And how insulted must Seth Curry be to be in with these scrubs?

TIM: Easy for you to sarcastically mock. Dislocated fingers hurt A LOT, John. A LOT.

JOHN: Mike Patrick after Miles Plumlee’s dislocated finger: “He gets a pass on the two missed free throws. And anything else he wants for that matter.” Man, how entitled is Miles going to be tonight? “I demand the flesh of a virgin! I had a busted finger!”

TIM: Well, I’ve been faithful to the game we’re supposed to be watching. What I did see of the Butler-Louisville game earlier was that the Bulldogs hadn’t established an offensive flow yet. Matt Howard was in foul trouble–what else is new?–and no one beyond Shelvin Mack could do anything. It doesn’t surprise me a lot; Louisville will be a bubble team and Butler had a slowish start last season, as well. They need Howard to be closer to the player he was two years ago if they’re going to be a Final Four contender again.

JOHN: Adamantly opposed. I don’t even understand the logic. Is that supposed to be more intimidating? And how surprised are you that Butler is getting killed by Louisville? Is it possible people were too quick to dismiss Louisville this year?

TIM: I’m upset with the Duke defense, as well. The RedHawks have scored almost a point a minute this half. ALMOST A POINT A MINUTE!

You cool with the lack of a space between Red and Hawks? What’s your feeling on that? Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read on our $200 million-per-day Indian vacation…

  • Why are Publius, Rick Reilly, and Bill Simmons discussed in the same article? Find out!

Cracking the NCAA Vault: Top 10 Analogues

I recently had a conversation with a friend (who may or may not be a blog colleague), and he mentioned how much he appreciated “If you liked…” recommendations when it comes to albums. This got me thinking. I’ve already run down the Top 10 College Basketball Games of the Aughts, and I didn’t want to repeat myself in talking about them again. So why not use that list as a springboard for this one—ten games that are like the Top 10 but not quite the Top 10.

And if you like this list, we recommend reading the rest of the College Basketball Preview Palooza.

10. If you liked Duke’s Miracle Minute at Maryland, we recommend…Indiana vs. Duke, 2002 Regional Semifinal

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It’s College Basketball Season II!

Sure, right now you’re thinking football season is pretty good. You’re all like, “It’s anybody’s game in the NFL!” and “Man, that Oregon offense is awesome except for last game!” and “There’s like a 2 percent chance the BCS doesn’t screw this up!” But let’s be real here: The NFL has settled into that middle-of-the-season complacency where we make up arguments over who the best team is in the NFC and pretend like the Jaguars still have legitimate playoff hopes. College football’s best story is shrouded in scandal, and there’s a 98 percent chance the BCS does screw this up, so why get your hopes up anyway?

And that’s where college basketball comes in. I’m not going to sit here and pretend college basketball is pure—not one season after John Calipari and Bob Huggins coached with a berth to the Final Four on the line and not when two storied programs have to deal with significant eligibility issues regarding their freshmen.

No, college basketball isn’t perfect. But it’s as close as we’ve got in the modern sports world. It has a regular season that still matters, if only for a few more years until they bump the Tournament to 96. It has games like every night, and good ones at that. And it has the Tournament, which as you should be able to tell by now, I like just a little bit.

So as the 2010-2011 college basketball season gets underway, here are the eight things I’m looking forward to the most:

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Cracking the NCAA Vault: The Gallimaufry

I don’t much know how to classify these games outside of saying they’re all really good. It’s a gallimaufry of games that didn’t fit any other category but that, in their own way, stood out. They comprise nailbiting finishes, comebacks that just fell short, stunning upsets, and long replay reviews. They’re just…they’re just really good.

Florida vs. Duke, 2000 Regional Semifinal

Billy Donovan’s Gators broke Duke’s grasp on the East Regional, using their uptempo style to wear down the Blue Devils and pull away late.

Texas vs. West Virginia, 2006 Regional Semifinal Continue reading

In Search of 68, Season Preview

You all know of my efforts–foolhardy or not–to predict the 65 teams in the NCAA Tournament in the past. Well, now my job got (ostensibly) harder this season, with the move to 68 teams. But rather than lament this new hindrance, I’ve embraced it. Here, for the first time ever, I’m trying to predict all 68 before the season even starts. Bold? You bet. Accurate? No way.

EAST SOUTH MIDWEST WEST
1 Duke Michigan State Ohio State Villanova
2 Pittsburgh Kansas State Missouri Washington
3 Baylor Temple North Carolina Kansas
4 Florida Georgetown Memphis Gonzaga
5 Illinois Tennessee Syracuse Purdue
6 Virginia Tech BYU San Diego State Butler
7 Kentucky Minnesota Richmond West Virginia
8 Marquette NC State Florida State Texas
9 UNLV Texas A&M Georgia Arizona
10 UCLA Maryland Mississippi State Wisconsin
11 Xavier St. John’s Notre Dame Vanderbilt
12 Murray State v. Washington State Old Dominion Wichita State Dayton v. Clemson
13 Utah State Morehead State Wofford Ohio
14 Stephen F. Austin Coastal Carolina Western Kentucky Weber State
15 Princeton Lehigh Lipscomb UC Santa Barbara
16 Fairfield Oakland v. Jackson State Boston U. v. Morgan State Quinnipiac

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Cracking the NCAA Vault: The Best from 2010

I wrote—albeit briefly—about my love of the NCAA Vault late last season. For the uninitiated, the NCAA Vault contains every NCAA Tournament game from the Sweet 16 on played since 2000. That is 165 games in all. That is, in fact, too much for you to rationally sort through to figure out which games are worth skipping to the end, which games are worth perusing, and which merit full-blown opening-tip-to-final-buzzer immersion.

That’s why I’m here.

As part of our comprehensive college basketball preview over the next few days, I’ll be breaking down the contents of the NCAA Vault (and March Madness On Demand, which houses all 64 games from last season’s epic Tournament). Whether you’re in the mood to see a great individual performance, a team operating on all cylinders, or the moments when an eventual champion came closest to elimination, I’ve got you covered.

Sounds like gooooood watchin’.

The Five Games from the 2010 Tournament You Should Rewatch…NOW

Let’s be honest: The NCAA Tournament had hit a little bit of a late-decade rough patch before 2010. From the 2006 Final Four blowouts straight through to North Carolina’s romp through the field in 2009, there wasn’t a whole lot of memorable action (Mario Chalmers’ three and Stephen Curry, notwithstanding). Continue reading

Every Game Counts…Week 11

In my neverending quest to rail against the BCS, I am calculating week-by-week how many games this college football season really “count” (as in, influence the national title picture).

After 10 weeks, 105 of the 120 FBS teams cannot make the BCS championship (a refresher on my criteria), including up-until-recently unbeaten Utah. We can start breaking it down a little more now that we’re reducing the field.

Teams Who Can Afford a Loss:

These are teams that are undefeated in a BCS conference or who have one loss while having started the year in the Top 10 (and so can conceivably, like LSU in 2007, make the title game with two losses). I’d like to point out how lenient I’m being here. The way this season is going, Alabama and Ohio State are likely the only schools on this list that could make the title game with a loss. Furthermore, we’re getting to the point where we have to mathematically consider whether it is even conceivable for a team to make it with two losses (looking at you, Virginia Tech).

Alabama

Auburn

Nebraska

Ohio State

Oregon

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