Monday, March 28, 2011

4 Quarters Radio: March 25 4th Quarter

The fourth-quarter curriculum for March 25:
--Medal Stand makes its triumphant return, as Los Guys ponder their favorites for NBA MVP. One host votes for the Bad Guy, and only one gives a medal to defense and rebounding. Derrick Rose's season also gets put into a proper historical perspective.
--The fellas ponder the East's top and bottom 3, wondering if the Celtics have enough gas to stay in second and if the Knicks can even hold off challengers for the #7 spot.
--Scott asks the guys which older players they might miss if the NBA goes into a lockout and forces players into retirement.
--In the Epic Fails, Mack wonders why the legal system humors idiots who sue teams over lockouts. Guess where Logan goes. Scott brings up a bullpen catcher who doubles as a clubhouse garbage disposal/stunt dummy. Mack is strangely only revolted by who the guy takes abuse from, not the abuse that he willingly takes. Go fig.

Excised music: "Eat It" by Weird Al Yankovic.

4 Quarters Radio: March 25 3rd Quarter

The third-quarter curriculum for March 25:
--The MMA Authority gets his stuff trotted out before its usual fourth-quarter hole. Bobby's impressions of UFC 128 are shared, and UFC's medical suspension policy gets briefly discussed.
--Bobby also makes picks for Fight Night 4, eagerly anticipating a fight that sounds like two spastic kids throwing bombs on XBox.
--A Twitter reply to Bobby's comment on one-legged wrestlers provokes a defense.
--The Barry Bonds perjury trial started, and Scott brings up the most salient question: how much money would each host need to stay quietly in jail for five years? The amounts seem to keep rising as the discussion continues.
--The fellas ponder whether or not beanball wars are really necessary. Mack's all in favor, until it's specified that the fight comes in spring training.
--A new segment called the MLB Injury of the Week debuts with Scott and Mack pondering which of the Phillies' injury holes are most severe. Unsurprisingly, Chase Utley figures prominently.

Excised music: "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.

4 Quarters Radio: March 25 2nd Quarter

The second-quarter curriculum for March 25:
--Scott plays some audio from an interview he conducted with MTSU softball coach Sue Nevar. Subjects include the sudden improvement of pitcher Caty Jutson, the team's penchant for getting hit by pitches, and the "18-year-old mentality" that some of her 18-year-olds need to break out of.
--MTSU football's Pro Day measurements compared favorably to anyone that got invited to the Combine, and game recognizes game.
--In Whodaman, Bobby gives love to a UFC champion taking a bite out of crime. Logan and Mack apparently have paid attention to nothing sporting in the past week, Andrew gives love to an Arizona hoop legend, and Scott gives it up to an Arizona State wrestling star who won a national championship while missing something important. Bobby pooh-poohs the accomplishment, though.

Excised music: "Would You Say Stop" by the Acid House Kings.

4 Quarters Radio: March 25 1st Quarter

The first-quarter curriculum for March 25:
--If it's March, college basketball leads off the show. Logan pretends that he's a real man, while everyone else wonders how theirs went so drastically wrong.
--Kemba Walker gets some respect for beautifully camoflaging his flop against San Diego State, while the fellas wonder exactly why the West Coast can't compete in basketball anymore.
--The Ohio State/Kentucky game gets an examination from the angle of what eventually came to look like a mismatch.
--Finally, the main event: Logan Propst tears into Mike Hamilton for the Bruce Pearl and Lame Kiffin fiascos. Seriously, you must hear this. Logan wishes no harm to people or animals, but envisions a painful, fiery death for Mike Hamilton's Shake Weight.
--Meanwhile, Scott wonders where all the good, juicy recruiting violations went.
--The fellas measure some potential candidates for the Tennessee opening, and oddly, the one who actually did get hired doesn't come up.

Excised music: "Tennessee Plates" by Joe Bonamassa w/ John Hiatt. Stick around at the end for a brief snippet of the track, and help the show out by purchasing the full download if you like it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

4 Quarters Radio: March 18 4th Quarter

The fourth-quarter curriculum for March 18:
--Mack's bracket gets examined as he runs and hides from comment. Logan draws a highly apt comparison to the insanity of repeatedly filling out brackets.
--Los Guys ponder the NFL lockout and note guys who are losing money and others finding ways to spend their time.
--Potential NFL rules changes get examined as well, and Scott admits to mishearing something that would strike him as a pretty good idea.
--Bobby makes his quick picks on UFC 128, including a roundabout reason for his choice between Shogun Rua and Jon "Bones" Jones.
--In the Epic Fails, Bobby and Mack both have their sides drawn in the NFL labor dispute. Logan is unsurprising in his choice, considering the source of his glum mood. Meanwhile, Scott drops the hammer on a WNBA player failing foreign relations.

Excised music: "Youth Knows No Pain" by Lykke Li.

4 Quarters Radio: March 18 3rd Quarter

The third-quarter curriculum for March 18:
--Mack offers advice for anyone who may have to take a Wonderlic test, as his score ultimately gets released.
--Scott offers a little information on the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, MTSU's opponent for Sunday.
--The final installment of 4QR's Big-Ass Baseball Preview shines the light on the NL and AL East. The Phillies' Wrath of God rotation and the Red Sox' Wrath of God lineup get examined most closely.

Excised music: "Yeah" by Usher, Ludacris, and Lil' Jon.

4 Quarters Radio: March 18 2nd Quarter

The second-quarter curriculum for March 18:
--Scott plays some audio of his interview with MTSU women's basketball coach Rick Insell regarding the team's NCAA Tournament bid and the article pondering whether sympathy got them there.
--The Wonderlic scores are announced, and Mack gets a taste of what he's up against for wandering into the studio after class.
--In Whodaman, it seems everyone wants to give love to Kevin Durant for pulling LeBron's punk card. Mack respects the perpetrators of an NCAA "upset," Logan salutes his Vols' lone shining light, and Scott takes it off the court to salute NBA players in a life-and-death situation.

Excised music: "Talkin' Baseball" by Terry Cashman.

4 Quarters Radio: March 18 1st Quarter

The first-quarter curriculum for March 18:
--Scott and Bobby are the only ones in at the start, and they start off with discussion of the NCAA Tournament and the relative health of their brackets.
--Logan ponders testing the limits of the FCC's Profanity Alarm when discussing the epic collapse of his Tennessee Volunteers.
--Scott springs a surprise Wonderlic test on the staff, and in Logan's state of mind, he's very not happy.
--Charlie Sheen makes a brief guest appearance, the studio gets momentarily invaded, and Bobby and Logan let the period of mourning destroy their motivation.

Excised music: "Another Like You" by Hayes Carll. Stick around at the end for a brief snippet of the track, and help the show out by purchasing the full download if you like it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry: The Final Four

(For how we got here, check yesterday's posts.)

It comes down to Ohio State, San Diego State, Pitt, and Purdue. I'll bet a bunch of you already think you know how this movie ends. Well, you probably don't. Read on.

#1 Ohio State v. #2 San Diego State: The most critical player in this game isn't Sully or Diebler or Leonard or's David Lighty. Lighty can guard anyone from point guards to power forwards, and he may get a shot at anyone in this game who has the hot hand. I have it here that he contains Kawhi Leonard, and the Aztecs' front line gets the kind of kick in the teeth that it didn't get anywhere else in this tournament. OSU by 11.

#1 Pitt v. #3 Purdue: There are no words to describe how reluctant I am to put Purdue anywhere past the Sweet 16. Over my 32 years, I've seen much better Boiler teams than this one stumble somewhere along the way. It just seems that the matchups sit up well...until we get here. There have been several games this season where guys like Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, John Hart, or some combination thereof have attempted to shoot the Boilers right out of contention. Even against bad three-point defending teams like Michigan State, Purdue's been bitten by these high-risk shots, and it seems like the kind of game where even JaJuan might try to step out to escape McGhee and Taylor's bulk. This time, the shots don't fall. Pitt by 12.

National Championship:
#1 Ohio State v. #1 Pitt: So, here you go, Big East fans. You can hang your hat on Pitt and say, "See? Our conference isn't overrated." This could be a great title game if neither side stops to say, "Whoa. We're here." OSU has three freshmen dragging them here and Pitt's been a perennial tease, so for both teams, being starstruck is a distinct possibility. Both these teams can hit threes, but they don't overly rely on them. Both are rugged on the boards. For me, the big difference is the Pitt defense. A 17.9% turnover rate places their defense 295th in the country, going against an offense whose 15.6% rate ranks sixth. If the Panthers were to harass Aaron Craft into some mistakes, this game would be a thriller, and Pitt would become a solid favorite. But, if Craft does start having problems, Thad Matta won't hesitate to let Lighty run the point to staunch the bleeding. Lighty wins Final Four MOP and... Ohio State by 5.

There it is. Yeah, I gave it to a conference rival. Sue me. The sweet consolation is that Sully won't be there next year. Sadly, neither will JaJuan and E'Twaun.

Well, time to fill 'em in. Gotta go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, Southeast Region

(See previous posts for the other three regions.)

This region could get massively wild, at least based on the seedings. Of course, there are a couple of matchups here where the seeds should likely be reversed.

First Round:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #16 UNC Asheville: Asheville commits a lot of turnovers (21.3%) and allows a lot of offensive rebounds (35.9%). Pitt could salt this one away before halftime. Pitt by 30.

#8 Butler v. #9 Old Dominion: ODU is the top offensive rebounding team in the nation. That's fortunate for them, because they're mediocre shooters. Matt Howard and Andrew Smith aren't chopped liver on the glass themselves. Butler by 6.

#5 Kansas State v. #12 Utah State: Utah State didn't have too many big-name wins this season en route to a 30-3 record. That may have also contributed to their #6 ranking in defensive eFG%. All that said, Kansas State has certainly proved they're inconsistent, losing by 14 to Oklahoma State and dropping three games by increasing margins to Colorado. K-State can fumble and shoot themselves out of this one pretty easily. Utah State by 7.

#4 Wisconsin v. #13 Belmont: Belmont's the sexy upset pick this year, and a 30-4 record is usually hard to bet against. However, it seems like their strengths play into Wisconsin's. The Bruins put a lot of people on the line (45.9% opponent FT rate), and the Badgers are the best FT% team in the country. Belmont's strong on the offensive glass, but Wisconsin's 12th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. The only times the Bruins have faced big-time competition this year have been the times they've come up short. And Bo Ryan's teams are always tough outs in March. It all adds up to... Wisconsin by 6.

#6 St. John's v. #11 Gonzaga: Gonzaga's been wildly up and down this season, but when they're on, they can score with anyone. St. John's, for all their inspirational moments this year, can't shoot from outside and have a hard time stopping others from shooting. They can force turnovers, but D.J. Kennedy's ACL tear took out their prime ballhawk. In addition, Gonzaga's been here, done this. Gonzaga by 10.

#3 BYU v. #14 Wofford: When Noah Dahlman gets the ball near the basket, he scores. When Jimmer Fredette gets the ball anywhere in a five-mile radius, he scores. Advantage Jimmer. BYU by 16.

#7 UCLA v. #10 Michigan State: One of my pet peeves is people who call a game like this an "upset." You've got UCLA, which hit three Final Fours last decade, but has struggled to find its way past the second round the last couple of seasons (or even into the tournament last season). Then, there's Michigan State, which can always find a way to slip into any opening that can get them to a Final Four. Kalin Lucas has one more big win left in him, especially if Durrell Summers is hitting his shots. If you call this an upset, you know very little about college basketball. Michigan State by 4.

#2 Florida v. #15 UC-Santa Barbara: It's not going to be a high-scoring game, but Florida's just got better players. UCSB has a hard time defending the perimeter, and between Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, and Chandler Parsons, they will have too many people to keep eyes on. Florida by 12.

Second Round:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #8 Butler: Neither team forces many turnovers, but the difference will be getting better shots. Butler's opponents get better shots than Pitt's (#152 in eFG defense v. #20), and the Panthers have some pretty good scorers. Pitt by 14.

#12 Utah State v. #4 Wisconsin: One thing we could always count on from Wisconsin was their rugged defense. This season, however, the Badgers are giving up 37.5% shooting from long range, 315th in the country. Utah State does a much better job of getting to the line than Wisconsin does (43.4% to 28% FT rate), and Tai Wesley is much more prepared to hammer away on the glass than Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil, both of whom are essentially stretch fours. Utah State by 4.

#11 Gonzaga v. #3 BYU: Gonzaga's biggest defensive weakness is defending the three-pointer (36.1%, 261st in the nation). Facing the Fighting Jimmers, that's dangerous. They do have the tremendous size advantage, though, and Robert Sacre and Elias Harris should be able to carry them through. Gonzaga by 7.

#10 Michigan State v. #2 Florida: Kalin Lucas had one more big win in him. UCLA was it. Florida's another team able to ride a size advantage over a dangerous opponent. Florida by 12.

Sweet 16:
#1 Pittsburgh v. #12 Utah State: The #6 offense v. the #8 defense. #2 in offensive rebounding v. #2 in defensive rebounding. #20 eFG defense v. #6. This has the recipe for a phenomenal game, and because there's a 12-seed involved, it will be called a monumental upset if Utah State wins. Pitt still has the size advantage of guys like Gary McGhee and Dante Taylor, though, and that's the only factor that has me taking them in this matchup. Pitt by 1.

#11 Gonzaga v. #2 Florida: Gonzaga will need to be aggressive on defense and rattle Walker and Boynton into some turnovers. Allowing Florida to run its offense (#15 in efficiency) is a difficult way to win. What the Zags do have in their favor is the fact that they can get to the free throw line (41.6%) and make the shots when they get there (75.9%, 14th nationally). I still have a hard time, though, trusting Gonzaga's perimeter defense against a team with multiple threats. Florida by 2.

#1 Pittsburgh v. #2 Florida: One thing is for certain: there will be a lot of points left at the free throw line in this game. Both teams are in the mid-200's nationally from the stripe, hovering around 67%. Brad Wanamaker is a steadier presence at the point than Erving Walker, and Ashton Gibbs can blow up any night. Much as I hate to put three top seeds in the Final Four... Pitt by 8.

So, that leaves me with a Final Four of:
Ohio State v. San Diego State
Purdue v. Pitt

Later on this morning, I'll go into those matchups and officially submit brackets.


The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, Southwest Region

(See previous posts for first two regions.)

My favorite team is in this region. So is a team that's burned me so many times that I'd almost be tempted to pick them to bomb in the first round, top seed be damned.

Luckily, I'm not that vindictive. Not quite, anyway.

First Round:
#1 Kansas v. #16 Boston University: Kansas has athletes. BU has mad bombers John Holland and Darryl Partin. Almost 40% of the Terriers' shots come from outside, and they're going to need to hit a lot of them to hang with KU. Of the four 1-16 games, this could be the closest one, and not merely because I'm dogging Kansas. Kansas by 6.

#8 UNLV v. #9 Illinois: Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale can own the paint if they're adequately motivated. UNLV can harass Demetri McCamey and Brandon Paul into turnovers and bad shots if they're motivated. Lon Kruger couldn't motivate his team against Northern Iowa last year, now can he do it against his old employer? I don't think so. Illinois by 9.

#5 Vanderbilt v. #12 Richmond: Vanderbilt's got the horses to make a very deep run in this tournament. Unfortunately, their offense has a disturbing tendency toward the boneheaded plays. They have shots blocked on 9.6% of their possessions and have the ball stolen on 10.1%, figures that both rank in the 200's nationally. The Spiders can defend the three, and if they slow down John Jenkins, Vandy will once again have a short stay in the dance. Purdue grad Kevin Stallings may start feeling some heat on his seat if he drops another one to a low seed. Richmond by 6.

#4 Louisville v. #13 Morehead State: Louisville has no one who can keep Kenneth Faried off the boards, so they'd be well-served to take him out of the game via foul trouble. That's easier said than done, though, when you're a team that jacks up 40.5% of its shots from beyond the arc. Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric will have to be locked in early, and it helps the Cards that MSU can't defend the perimeter (opponents shoot about 37% from long range). Peyton Siva has to harass Demonte Harper into some turnovers, as well. When in doubt, though, who's the best player on the court? That would be Kenny Faried. Morehead by 3.

#6 Georgetown v. #11 VCU: Tempo doesn't seem to be as big a factor as we might think, as VCU's middle of the pack in pace. What they do well is force turnovers, and if it's someone other than Chris Wright running the point for the Hoyas, or if he's still feeling effects from his hand injury, that could make the game the kind of barn-burner the analysts are expecting. It does seem, though, that VCU's an all-or-nothing team on defense, ranking in the 230's against both the two-point shot and the three. Plus, they're 320th in America in opponents' offensive rebounding rate, which will make Julian Vaughn salivate. Georgetown by 13.

#3 Purdue v. #14 St. Peter's: St. Peter's is a weak shooting team (45.9% eFG, #297) that commits a lot of turnovers (23.4%, #321). Even without the suspended Kelsey Barlow's defensive harassment, the Peacocks will struggle to produce points. Purdue by 24.

#7 Texas A&M v. #10 Florida State: If Chris Singleton was healthy, I'd be marking this one down as academic. The 'Noles are top-15 in two-point defense, three-point defense, steal rate, and block rate. A&M's not the kind of dominant scoring team that can overcome that kind of efficiency. If Singleton can't go or is limited, though, FSU loses their dominant presence on both ends of the court. The Aggies have a good front line and have won in the first round five straight years. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and make it six. A&M by 5.

#2 Notre Dame v. #15 Akron: If Akron was a better scoring team, this might be interesting. Notre Dame has a solid defense, but it's not a disruptive defense (15.9% defensive turnover rate, 337th in America). Akron's decent at defending the three, but can they slow down Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis, Carleton Scott, AND Scott Martin? Doubt it. Notre Dame by 18.

Second Round:
#1 Kansas v. #9 Illinois: The Mikes or the Morrises? Tisdale and Davis have to be in the mood to play a great game. The Morrises are always in the mood. Kansas by 14.

#12 Richmond v. #13 Morehead State: Richmond's not a great rebounding team under the best of circumstances. Facing the NCAA's all-time rebounding leader is not the best of circumstances. Morehead by 6.

#6 Georgetown v. #3 Purdue: At times, it seems like Purdue gets waaaaaaaay too in love with the three-point shot. Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, E'Twaun Moore, even JaJuan Johnson will step out and try the long ball. But Georgetown fires away from distance on 36.6% of their shots, compared to Purdue's 33%. Georgetown's not great at forcing turnovers, and that may be enough to make Moore and Johnson's lives easier. Purdue by 8.

#7 Texas A&M v. #2 Notre Dame: A&M can defend the long shot and Notre Dame gets heavily reliant on it. The Irish don't force a lot of turnovers, and even if the Aggies miss the shots, they're still 13th in the country in offensive rebounding. It all adds up to... A&M by 8.

Sweet 16: 
#1 Kansas v. #13 Morehead State: You know, I was intent on Kansas bombing out about here, but I don't think I can, no matter how much I love me some Faried. Kansas by 17.

#3 Purdue v. #7 Texas A&M: The Aggies are prone to getting stuffed (shots blocked on 12% of their possessions), which will give JaJuan Johnson something to do all day. Purdue has to make sure to keep feeding Johnson inside and not struggling to jack up unnecessary threes, or else this game will look much like the Iowa and Michigan State games, which were both defeats. Hopefully, Matt Painter and the team learned something. Purdue by 4.

#1 Kansas v. #3 Purdue: My lifelong team against the team that's burned me on too many brackets. Screw the numbers. Purdue by 1.

I so know I'm going to regret this region, but here goes.

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, West Region

(See previous post for East Region picks.)

So, in this region, we have the defending champs, a 2-seed who most casual/uninformed college hoop observers think is overrated and has been all season, a 3-seed that ran the New York City Marathon known as the Big East Tournament, and a 4 who's everyone's pick to get poleaxed in the first round.

Some of those things may actually be true. Here's my take:

First Round:
#1 Duke v. #16 Hampton: Only way Duke gets dropped is if they stay at a Hampton Inn and some chicanery ensues, like a mysterious bedbug outbreak confined to only the Duke rooms. Duke by (# of times "bitch" was said in the Fab 5 documentary times 10).

#8 Michigan v. #9 Tennessee: Bruce Pearl knew that he had the support of his university, no matter what else was swirling around him. Now he doesn't even seem to have that. Luckily, he got a perfect draw, against a Michigan team that lacks size or experience. Brian Williams and Tobias Harris can have decent games here, and if Scotty Hopson's hot, this one might run away from the maize and blue quite early. UT by 10.

#5 Arizona v. #12 Memphis: Memphis hasn't yet learned something that Tennessee has: "We're not a good three-point shooting team, so maybe we should cut down on shooting threes." Their biggest hope is to hit the defensive glass and get out in transition, but their opponents' offensive rebounding percentage ranks in the 260's nationally. Add to that the fact that Arizona does hit their shots, and this one's got blowout potential. Arizona by 14.

#4 Texas v. #13 Oakland: Oakland would be good if they could just find a quarterback. Wait, what? Oh, sorry, not the Raiders. This Oakland does have a pretty decent QB in guard Reggie Hamilton and a stud center in Keith Benson. Texas is the #1 eFG defense team in the nation, according to Pomeroy. Oakland is #3 in eFG offense. That's impressive, because it seems like the Oakland playbook either has "drop it in to Benson" or "shoot threes" on every page. Texas isn't so much a perimeter team, but here, they may have to be. Otherwise, Benson may rack a triple-double off of swatting Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson's inside attempts. Many want to write off Texas because of some nebulous "Rick Barnes factor," but the guy's been to a Final Four, two Elite Eights, and two Sweet 16's, so let's stop pretending he fell off some turnip truck. This one will be a war, but... Texas by 3.

#6 Cincinnati v. #11 Missouri: This one comes down to Missouri's offensive execution (#27 in efficiency) against Cincy's defensive execution (#16). Mizzou's not coming in on a high note, losing four of their last five and averaging only 66 points in those losses. Of course, the last time we saw the Bearcats, they were dropping a 38-point loss to Notre Dame. This game promises to be tight, and could come down to free throws. Missouri hits 73.6% of theirs, Cincy only 66.6%. So... Missouri by 2.

#3 Connecticut v. #14 Bucknell: Early in the season, UConn looked like a one-man team. But, to survive in the Big East, Kemba Walker's sidekicks had to grow up fast. Now, an overmatched Bucknell team has to sit back and observe what guys like Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, and Jeremy Lamb have learned, especially through the kiln that was the five-game Bataan Death March in MSG last week. UConn by 25.

#7 Temple v. #10 Penn State: I love Talor Battle, but he can only do so much. He's brought it against some solid competition, but it seems that the stronger the opponent, the less support Battle gets. Temple's seemingly been a strong defensive team since Jesus was a sophomore, and this season, they're in the top 25 in two-point FG defense. So, they have quite enough horses to contain the Lions. Temple by 12.

#2 San Diego State v. #15 Northern Colorado: Devon Beitzel can score in bunches (21.4 ppg this season, with percentages of .583-.904-.384 on twos, FT's, and threes), and of the other seven players in NCU's rotation, five of them stand 6'7" or 6'8". Unfortunately for them, they're running into a great defensive team with one of the most athletic front lines in the country. Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, and Billy White are hard to contain, especially with a steady point guard like D.J. Gay. Beitzel could keep this thing interesting, but the Aztecs are legit, whether you want to believe it or not. SDSU by 15.

Second Round:
#1 Duke v. #9 Tennessee: UT is a team that occasionally doesn't seem like it has its head on straight. Duke is a team that almost always seems in control. Tennessee may be able to control the glass, but can they make Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Seth Curry all miss? Not sure I like those odds. Duke by 9.

#5 Arizona v. #4 Texas: It seems like this might be a fun game, but here's the thing: these are two of the top 50 teams in America in free throw rate. They like to draw contact and get to the line. Unfortunately for Texas, the Cats are 10% better. Unlike Tristan Thompson, a 48.6% FT shooter, Derrick Williams can live on and-ones all night long (74.4% FT). Arizona by 6.

#11 Missouri v. #3 UConn: Kemba's crew is just streaky enough to make this a very high-scoring game against the running Tigers. What we have to wonder is: how much is left in their legs after that conference tournament slog? If Missouri can keep out of foul trouble (they're 240th in opponents' FT rate), I think they've got a chance to pull this one. Mizzou by 7.

#7 Temple v. #2 San Diego State: This game, however, is very unlikely to be high-scoring. These are strong defensive teams who don't get to the line, don't put opponents on the line, and aren't tremendous when they do. Temple has a surprising array of scorers, with five guys averaging over 10 points per game. They may even have the best player on the court in Lavoy Allen. But, I like Leonard and Thomas to be able to keep Allen from putting his team on his shoulders. Either way, this one can be a great game. SDSU by 3.

Sweet 16:
#1 Duke v. #5 Arizona: Derrick Williams has to contend with both Plumlee brothers and Ryan Kelly in his grill all night. Between that size and the efficiency of Nolan Smith, the Cats would have to play a perfect game and someone else would have to pick up Williams' slack. Could happen, but it's pretty unlikely. Duke by 8.

#11 Missouri v. #2 San Diego State: Who can dictate tempo? In this one, it's easy to see Missouri getting overanxious and putting themselves in foul trouble. Just like against UConn, if they don't, it could be a great game. If not... SDSU by 6.

#1 Duke v. #2 San Diego State: Duke's biggest issue is that they can get three-happy. If SD State can keep hands in the faces of Curry, Smith, and Andre Dawkins, this will be an ugly game, but that's the kind of game the Aztecs need. I see SDSU as legit, so... SDSU by 5.

That's two down. San Diego State v. Ohio State in one semifinal. Who's next?

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry, East Region (or: This Year, Mike DeCourcy is My Homeboy)

If you're wondering about the titular shout-out, I direct you here. (BTW, Kansas can still burn. Just the basketball team, not the whole state.)

For the 2011 NCAA Tournament, I'll once again be filling out several brackets, some for cash and prizes, and some not so much. (The 4QR group is here, and prizes may be offered if we get enough entries. Move fast, time is short.)

The difference this season will be that, instead of using different brackets to go either way on games I'm unsure about, in 2011, I'm going to be "Sheet of Integrity" guy.

One set of picks repeated on every bracket.

If one crashes and burns, they all crash and burn. Er go, I'll not be putting much stock in Kansas. This will be a recurring theme.

Now, some picks for the East Region and why I make them:

(Screw the Play-In Games, this is still the) First Round:
#1 Ohio State v. #16 It Doesn't Really Matter: Ohio State has got the best top-seven rotation in the country. By the end of this one, we'll be seeing some of the other guys who pretend they're part of that team. Ohio State easy.

#8 George Mason v. #9 Villanova: Mason's a chic upset pick, and I'm sick of the Big East getting rammed down our throats like Grandma's rancid Christmas fruitcake, but I have to go with Nova on this one. Neither team is tremendously deep, and the Wildcats know how to get to the line. The last 10 minutes of this one, GMU fans will be nervous as they watch a starter or two dance on the razor's edge of a fifth foul. Villanova in a close one.

#5 West Virginia v. #12 Clemson: Clemson can do two things really well, and they showed them both against UAB last night. They can force turnovers (#33 in the nation according to Pomeroy, 19 last night) and make it hard to get good shots (#23 in 2-point FG defense, held UAB to 6-24 last night). WVU is a team that can struggle with its collective shot, as they hover around the 200's nationally on both two- and three-point field goals. Mountaineers fans may not want to get the hopes too high regarding a return Final Four trip. Clemson by about 8 or 9.

#4 Kentucky v. #13 Princeton: The surprising thing about Kentucky is that, for a freshman-laden team, they don't turn the ball over nearly as much as you might expect (#9 nationally). Neither one of these teams are known for forcing a ton of turnovers, so it comes down more to who's got the horses to execute their system and stop the other team from doing so. Appropriately for the home state of Churchill Downs, Kentucky's got thoroughbreds. As long as the kids don't come in overconfident... Kentucky by 15.

#6 Xavier v. #11 Marquette: ESPN's version of an "upset": pick all higher seeds unless the lower team's from the Big East. Xavier's been getting hammered by that method. Marquette's got an interesting factor going for them in that they don't put opponents on the line too much (#28 in FT Rate). However, is that because they'd rather give up the close baskets than commit fouls that will force them to go down their shaky bench? An eFG% defense of 50.0 (#216 in America) seems to suggest just that. Xavier's star guard Tu Holloway might not be the most important guy in this game. My money's on the seven-foot center Kenny Frease. Xavier by 10.

#3 Syracuse v. #14 Indiana State: Much as I might like to see Larry Legend's alma mater make a triumphant NCAA return, the only way it happens here is if Syracuse comes in with a birthright attitude. Syracuse by large.

#7 Washington v. #10 Georgia: If you're a Bulldogs fan, pray that this game doesn't degenerate into a three-point shooting contest. Dustin Ware is the only guy who drains threes at more than 32%, but it doesn't stop Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, and Gerald Robinson (combined 63-211, 29.9%) from jackin' 'em up. Luckily for the Dawgs, they can defend the three pretty well, and Washington takes more than a third of their shots from outside. If Thompkins can keep Matthew Bryan-Amaning from cleaning up others' messes, I think UGA gets out of this one... but barely. Georgia by 2.

#2 North Carolina v. #15 LIU: More intriguing than most 2-15 games. LIU likes to get up and down (#4 in the nation in tempo) and is a great offensive rebounding team (#8), but they can be dragged down by weak free throw shooting. Their defense is strong, and if they can stay in the game and even take a lead late, UNC might struggle to shoot their way back in front. It seems like every year lately, there's a #2 that has to sweat bullets to survive, and this year, it might be the Heels. LIU still has no answer for Harrison "Who Are the Idiots Who Voted Me Preseason All-American and Put a Bullseye On My Head?" Barnes. UNC by 5.

Second Round:
#1 Ohio State v. #9 Villanova: Sully and the boys finally get a test. And yes, I actually do think it might be a test. Jay Wright would be well-served to send his guards on kamikaze runs directly into the chests of Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale for the entire first half. If those two get into foul trouble, the Buckeyes are a perimeter shooting team all the way. However, when it's Jon Diebler and William Buford raining the threes, that's not much comfort. OSU by 7.

#12 Clemson v. #4 Kentucky: Clemson can certainly force the misses, but do they have anyone to keep Josh Harrellson from cleaning up the mistakes? If the Tigers can keep Harrellson off the boards, they stand a decent chance in this game. If not, then not so much. Kentucky by 8.

#6 Xavier v. #3 Syracuse: Rick Jackson is always a pivotal figure for Syracuse, especially if he can hit the offensive glass. If Kenny Frease can keep him off, then a lot more heat falls on C.J. Fair, Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita to pull rebounds. On Xavier's end, they'll need to shoot a little better than their 33.3% from outside to spread the Orange zone out. But I think they'll do just that, and go 2-0 against the Big East in the process. Xavier by 6.

#10 Georgia v. #2 North Carolina: Travis Leslie is an amazing rebounder for standing only 6-4. However, here he has to contend with the 6-10 John Henson, the 7-0 Tyler Zeller, 6-9 Justin Knox, and 6-8 Harrison Barnes. There's just too much Tar Heel length for Georgia to contend with. UNC by 15.

Sweet 16:
#1 Ohio State v. #4 Kentucky: This game promises to be bombs away from the start. Sully's going to represent the big difference here, as UK hasn't run many offensive plays designed for Harrellson. OSU has much more of an option to work inside out, as opposed to the Cats' plans, which may have to involve much more dribble penetration. The most promising matchup in this one may be Dallas Lauderdale on Terrence Jones. Either way, this game should be fun, but I've still got the Buckeyes moving on. OSU by 6.

#6 Xavier v. #2 North Carolina: Sorry, X-fans, but the Musketeer Mystery Tour might be stopping here. Tu Holloway will get his, but like Georgia, Xavier's solid inside duo of Frease and Jamel McLean may struggle against all the big bodies and long arms in Carolina blue. By this point, I think John Henson will be putting in a strong candidacy for East Region MVP. UNC by 12.

East Final:
#1 Ohio State v. #2 North Carolina: Ohio State is like Georgia and Xavier, teams with a solid inside duo surrounded by a bigger number of big players. Problem is, there's a big difference between Frease/McLean and Sullinger/Lauderdale. Sully has the ability to go one-on-one with Tyler Zeller, and he's a dangerous man to double, as well. If UNC wins this, it'll be through John Henson coming from nowhere to swat a lot of shots and frustrate Sullinger. If Sully first looks to draw the double and kick out to his gunners, however, Carolina's got a long day on their hands. OSU by 7.

The other three regions will come later tonight. But for now, Ohio State's a dangerous contender for the title. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

4 Quarters Radio: March 11 4th Quarter

The fourth-quarter curriculum for March 11:
--CBS Sports basketball blogger Matt Norlander checks in with 4QR from the Big East Tournament. He begins by waxing rhapsodic about Kemba Walker's buzzer-beater and the Big East's final four. He's not so keen, however, on Kemba's chances of strapping the Huskies to his back and driving them to Houston.
--Matt was in the arena for Refgate, and gives his perspective of when and how the story really exploded.
--Matt has a rough time picking a potential upset victim among projected top-four regional seeds, but he finally comes up with a compelling answer.
--Duke v. UNC: who's more likely to make the Final Four? Matt provides an answer to that one, as well.
--Matt throws out rationale for why Wisconsin may be as dangerous as anyone in America.
--The words "show cause" and "Bruce Pearl" get mentioned in the same sentence, undoubtedly dismaying Logan, wherever he may be.
--In the Epic Fails, the Miami Heat once again get a great deal of attention. Drew wonders what his favorite NFL player is thinking about with his offseason plans. Scott notes that the NCAA's justice is highly selective, and also that some guys need to learn when time is up.

Excised music: "This is Why We Fight" by The Decemberists.

4 Quarters Radio: March 11 3rd Quarter

The third-quarter curriculum for March 11:
--Los Guys have comments and expectations for what should come of the Jim Tressel fiasco. All feel that the Vest skated, but for some, the axe is sharper than others.
--The fellas offer some humorous ideas over what athletes and coaches should be giving up for Lent.
--MTSU's teams get some love, with a sweep of the various teams in action and what they're accomplishing. A track runner headed to the NCAA Championships and the men's golf team winning two in a row get particular shouts.
--Crying and its acceptability in sports get dissected, thanks to the Miami Humidity, er, Heat. Grievous injuries and honoring departed relatives are listed as permissible circumstances, but beyond that, athletes are encouraged to nut up.

Excised music: "Hang With Me" by Robyn.

4 Quarters Radio: March 11 2nd Quarter

The second-quarter curriculum for March 11:
--The fellas promote the 4Q Bracket Challenge on Facebook, and we'll promote it here, too. Prizes are on offer (IF we get enough entrants), so get in.
--Everybody gets a moment to share who they're hoping their teams get in the draft. Drew calls for a surprising move by his favorite team. Mack expresses a surprising hope for the No. 10 pick. Bobby's doing some wishful thinking, hoping the Raiders will get a first-rounder he's struggling on pronouncing names, too. And Scott prays that both of his teams will hit on good linemen to keep their QB's from getting destroyed.
--After the 10-minute warning, the guys spend a moment discussing what they hope for from the NFL labor dispute. One speaker is actually against a rookie wage scale, figuring the owners should simply know better.
--In Whodaman, a couple of the boys talk about the Miami Heat, in different contexts. Drew goes collegiate with a total violation, and Scott sportingly gives love to one of his Boilermakers' prime conference rivals.

Excised music: "Bleed Out" by The Influence.

4 Quarters Radio: March 11 1st Quarter

The first-quarter curriculum for March 11:
--At the opening, Scott's alone except for his lovely wife Rachel, who's shooting video footage for Scott's class project. After a major false start, Scott is finally joined by the tardy Bobby, Andrew, and Mack.
--Once the manpower situation is settled, 4Q's Big-Ass Baseball Preview continues with looks at the NL and AL West divisions. Scott and Mack slightly differ on their thoughts for the AL, but the NL is a fairly reasonable consensus.
--The Angels' health, the Rangers' pitching, the Giants' hitting, and Don Mattingly's managerial abilities are cited as big keys to the two divisions' finishes.

Excised music: "Rum and Coca-Cola" by Wanda Jackson.

Stick around at the end for a brief snippet of the track, and help the show out by purchasing the full download if you like it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

4 Quarters Radio: March 4 1st Quarter

The first-quarter curriculum for March 4:
--After a two-week absence, 4Q's return should have been a joyous occasion, but the fellas are preoccupied in this first quarter with the death of MTSU basketball player Tina Stewart. Scott, Bobby, Logan, Drew and Mack share their thoughts and wishes for Tina's family and the MTSU athletic family, along with a great many other feelings regarding the story.

Intermission music: "Still Would Stand All Time" by Prince.

Following the music (which we've left attached for this podcast) come some messages from well-wishers at Tina's memorial vigil at Murphy Center. Thanks to Mr. Don Witherspoon, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Whiteside, Mrs. Faye Brandon, and Miss Ciana Calhoun for sharing their thoughts and grief with the community.

4 Quarters Radio: March 4 2nd Quarter

The second-quarter curriculum for March 4:
--Pardon the abrupt start as MTSU beat writer Adam Sparks joins the show to give his impressions of the Tina Stewart memorial.
--Adam then handicaps the chances of both the men's and women's basketball teams to go out and win their respective tournaments for Tina.
--Before the halftime show, Scott brings up the honor-code dismissal of BYU forward Brandon Davies and surveys his crew about how long they could survive under BYU's strict doctrines. The results may or may not be surprising.

Excised music: "When it's Raining Cats and Dogs" by PM Dawn.

4 Quarters Radio: March 4 3rd Quarter

The third-quarter curriculum for March 4:
--4 Quarters' Big-Ass Baseball Preview kicks off with discussion of the National League and American League Central divisions. The Brewers get some solid love, and the Cardinals are outed as holding the grenade. In the AL, the Twins are still expected to hang on until proven otherwise, but the White Sox adding Adam Dunn could make for a much more interesting summer on the South Side.

Intermission music: "Solace of You" by Living Colour.

4 Quarters Radio: March 4 4th Quarter

The fourth-quarter curriculum for March 4:
--With a week in the rear-view mirror since the NBA trade deadline, Los Guys have an opportunity to make halfway informed judgments on who's doing well after making their trades.
--Logan breaks in to inform us how UN-impressive Blake Griffin leaping over a car hood really was.
--Bobby finally gets to weigh in on UFC Live 3, including Diego Sanchez's new gimmick.
--Before hitting the door, the fellas check out the latest athletes hitting Dancing with the Stars and the latest survey of the most miserable sports cities. Everyone's wondering "Where's Cleveland?" Check the 4QR Facebook page for a link to the survey.

Excised music: "Break the Chain" by Lupe Fiasco.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Athletes and Death: Do They Deserve Lead Stories?

As a college student, you become very conscious of being in a sea of strangers. As a member of today's if-it-bleeds-it-leads society, you're bred to feel like anyone around you is capable of anything at any time. As a sports fan, you're bred to feel that a torn ACL is the worst thing that can happen to an athlete.

And then a story like Tina Stewart's happens.

Tina was a junior guard for Middle Tennessee State's women's basketball team, and she was murdered last night, allegedly by her freshman roommate.

The story led the news on all four Nashville TV stations, and eventually made its way to ESPN.

Even as I ponder it myself, of course the story's important to me, both as a student at MTSU and a member of the sports media. But, to those who are not interested in basketball, it may be a question of, "If she wasn't an athlete, would this be the first story I see on my 10 o'clock news?"

Maybe, maybe not. But there's no doubt that the story deserves extra traction because of who Tina Stewart was.

I make jokes on the radio all the time about athletes "pretending" to go to class. At some schools, predominantly NFL factories and places that recruit one-and-done NBA prospects, maybe that's prevalent. For the student-athletes who don't have multiple millions dangling in front of them, however, screwing around with a free education is hard to justify.

Student-athletes are supposed to be the best of us. They're the college students who have their priorities together. Between classes, homework, practices, games, travel, and workouts, they don't have too much time to get into trouble. Some manage it, anyway.

A dedicated student-athlete, however, could teach classes in time management. They can't have a part-time job. They don't usually get to play Call of Duty for six hours a night. Going out to get drunk and stupid at campus bars is difficult, both from a time standpoint and the risk of a public situation.

Our athletes are often the ones who "get it right." Priorities are in order, and when they are, results often seem effortless. Among non-athletes, a sense of envy can set in.

We know nothing about the motive that drove Tina's roommate to her tragic actions. What we do know is that a family lost a daughter, a team lost a friend, and a school lost someone that it could look up to.

People that we can look up to appear to be a rare commodity these days, so when we lose one, you're damn right it should be the lead story.