March Madness 2013: Five Predictions

| March 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Big 10 Basketball Logo in Chicago

It’s official; 68 teams with 68 dreams have filled the dance card. All the usual suspects except last year’s champs Kentucky are ready to go. Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga come in as the number one seeds. The bottom of the bracket includes Cinderella’s Liberty, Florida Gulf Coast, LIU and Middle Tennessee State hoping to capture the hearts of basketball fans everywhere by pulling off a big upset. One thing is certain; it has been a crazy year in college basketball.

In the course of a month during mid-January four different teams occupied the top spot. Number one teams dropped like flies. The once mighty ACC has only four teams in the Dance while mid-majors like the WAC and Atlantic 10 have five each. It’s almost impossible to listen to basketball pundits make their predictions without hearing “parity” and they’re right. Who woulda thunk it?

Trying to make predictions with this field? Heck, a monkey flinging poo at his bracket sheet is as likely to hit as many winners as Dick Vitale. But why should that stop us? Here are Man Cave Gadget’s five forecasts for the 2013 NCAA tourney.

5. Biggest Upset

Since 1985 when the tournament expanded from 53 to 64 teams, a 16 seed has never beaten a first seed. Every year we wait for it but it never happens. It almost happened in 1989, not once, but twice. Ask Oklahoma and Georgetown but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen this year. Last year we had a No. 15 beating a No. 2 with Norfolk State dispatching Missouri 84-82, only the 5th time that particular scenario played out. If you’re looking for a good 15-2 upset you might consider the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles over Georgetown. The Eagles beat a No. 2 seed Miami earlier in the season, a nice credential to have entering the tournament. Our biggest upset prediction is No. 14 Davidson over No. 3 Marquette. The Wildcats after starting off 9-7 enter the Dance with a 17 game winning streak. They played Duke, Gonzaga and New Mexico tough this year and have a couple of very good big men in De’Mon Brooks and Southern Conference Player of the Year Jake Cohen. Look for Davidson to advance but we wouldn’t bet the house on it.

4. Lowest Ranked Team to make it to the Sweet 16

Once again we have to look at possible upsets. Ideally we’re looking for a couple of low seeds from the same bracket with a decent chance of pulling off upsets and meeting each other in the round of 32. Look to the East Regional and No.12 California beating No. 5 UNLV and No. 13 Montana surprising No. 4 Syracuse. There’s no reason in the world why Montana should beat Syracuse. They have no Top 25 wins and Syracuse has 5, including one win over top ranked Louisville. But like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, with Syracuse you never know what you’re going to get. Look for the Grizzlies to beat Syracuse, beat California, and advance to the Sweet 16

3. The Final Four

It’s tempting to just fill in all four #1 seeds and be done with it but that’s a lazy man’s way. In case you’re wondering, since 1979 it’s happened only once when all four No. 1 seeds (Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA) made it to the Final Four. Looking back at Final Four history it turns out that on average only 1.8 No. 1 seeds make it to the Final Four. This year let’s round it up to three; parity be dammed. The cream of the crop this year is Indiana, Louisville and Kansas. Just to prove we are not lazy men let’s add No. 4 seed Kansas St. out of the West region; a team that has shown it’s able to beat just about everyone except Kansas

2. Outstanding Players of the Tournament

Just as there are no dominating teams this year there are no dominating players. That said there are many talented players who will make their mark in the tournaments. Keep an eye on these studs:

  • Creighton’s Doug McDermott is one of the best pure shooters in the country.
  • Georgetown forward Otto Porter plays great defense and is not afraid to take over when the game is on the line.
  • Kansas center Jeff Withey plays big on both ends of the court. He has title game experience from last year’s loss to Kentucky, and blocked a record 31 shots during last year’s tournament.
  • Nate Wolters, a lights out shooter from tiny South Dakota State. Could be the catalyst for a big upset of No. 4 seed Michigan.

Miami’s Shane Larkin, Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Cody Zeller of Indiana, Peyton Siva of Louisville and frosh sensation Ben McLemore of Kansas all bear watching as well but here’s the deal. In order to be the tournament’s outstanding player your team has to make it to the Final Four and more than likely, be in the championship game as well. That leaves us with:

Victor Oladipo of Indiana. His aggressive defense and Jordan style dunks make this 6’5”junior guard a prime candidate to become the tournament’s outstanding player.

1. And the Winner Is

Reputations don’t win championships. Coaches don’t win championships. Gaudy records don’t win championships. The teams with the best players hardened by a season’s worth of tough competition win championships. The actual championship game will be the semifinal matchup between the two best teams in the Dance; Kansas and Indiana. Indiana squeaks by the Jayhawks and on April 8 the Indiana Hoosiers will cut down the nets and claim the 2013 National Championship.

There you have Man Cave Gadgets predictions for NCAA’s 2013 March Madness Dance. Excuse us, we have some brackets to fill out.

Photo Credit: Chicago Man


Hoop History: Basketball’s First Public Game

| March 18, 2013 | 1 Comments

Basketball's first game

March Madness is underway so we thought it was a good time to reflect on basketballs first publicly played game. Most serious NBA fans know the first game of basket ball (two words originally) was played on January 20th, 1892, but the first public game didn’t happened until March 11, 1892. On that date in Springfield, Massachusetts 200 curious fans elbowed their way into the Armory Hill YMCA to watch.

Okay, it’s probably too early to call them fans and it’s unknown if any elbows were thrown, but Springfield Republican wrote that 200 spectators did show up and “followed the game with interest and amusement.”

Details of the game to follow but first a little background on the events leading up to that first hardwood tussle at the Y.

In 1890, a Canadian physical education instructor, James Naismith, left his position at Montreal’s McGill University for a similar job at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield. In December of 1891, his boss challenged him to devise an indoor activity to keep his unruly students occupied during the cold, New England winter. He gave him 2 weeks to do it.

Naismith began by sketching out some of the conditions the new game would have to meet. His 18 students, mostly football and rugby players, would require something vigorous to keep them excited. It had to be relatively simple, so that anyone could play, but challenging enough to keep them interested. And it had to fit within the confines of a gym measuring 30 feet by 50 feet.

Naismith thought back to his childhood and a game he and his friends used to play, called duck-on-a-rock. It was a simple game whose goal was to knock a large rock off the top of a boulder by hitting it with smaller rocks, tossed from a distance. He then recalled his days as a student at McGill, when rugby players would warm up in the gym by tossing a ball into a box. It was his aha moment. Naismith asked the school janitor, “Pop” Stebbins, to nail a couple of boxes to the balcony that surrounded the gym, but all the janitor could come up with were a couple of peach baskets. The balcony happened to hang ten feet above the gym floor, so the baskets were hung at ten feet, the official basket height that’s still with us today.

Naismith drafted 13 rules for his new, “basket ball” game. The rules called for one point for a basket. There was no dribbling as we know it today and the ball could only be advanced through passing. Running with the ball was a foul.

On Dec. 21, 1891, he posted the rules on the gymnasium wall, gave a brief explanation to his skeptical students, and basketball’s first scrimmage was ready to begin. Naismith divided his 18 students into two teams of nine, and the men began scrambling around the court, passing a soccer ball back and forth, all the while, failing miserably to put the ball in the basket. William Chase, who would become the YMCA’s Executive Secretary, scored the first, and only bucket, from about 25 feet away. Sadly, it did not count as a three, and basketball’s first game ended with a 1-0 score.

The first publicly viewed game featured the YMCA Training School students competing against the faculty. The Springfield Republican’s report appeared on page 6 of the following day’s paper under the heading “Basket Football Game.” In his original notes, following the introductory December game, Naismith wrote, “tackling the man with the ball (though a foul) was not uncommon.” Though no tackling is mentioned, it might account for the article’s unusual heading.

Though the original game was played nine to a side, only seven players to a side were mentioned. Playing two, 15-minute halves, the students trounced their mentors, 5-1. Leading all scorers, (well, there were only 3), was Edwin Ruggles, hitting four of his squad’s five baskets. Finlay MacDonald, who “did a great deal of brilliant playing,” hit the fifth.

Amos Alonzo Stagg who also coached the Springfield College Football team scored the faculty’s lone point. Stagg apparently brought his football background to the game, according to the Springfield Republican Stagg’s  “football training hampered him, and he was perpetually making fouls by shoving his opponents.”  Stagg would go on to establish his own legacy as a great innovator in both football and basketball. Among his basketball innovations Stagg is credited with introducing the idea of the 5-player team. Stagg was ultimately inducted in both the College Football and Basketball Halls of Fame.

Like any good inventor, Naismith continued to tweak his invention. He quickly realized the ladder required to retrieve the ball after a basket was unnecessary. He had a small hole cut into the bottom of the baskets so that someone could stick a pole through and poke the ball out. It later occurred to him to do away with the bottom of the basket altogether.

We don’t know whose job it was to go up and down the ladder during that first game, but we’d like to imagine it was the janitor old “Pop” Stebbins. So this year, as you fill out your tourney brackets, remember to give a silent nod to Dr. Naismith, his students, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and especially “Pop” Stebbins, for helping give life to the great game of basketball.


Five Man Cave Worthy Movie Posters

| September 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

Plenty of gun fights, explosions, battles, intense chases and sex; there are some movies that are just made for guys! These are movies we can talk about for hours while spending some quality time in the man cave with friends. Movies chicks just don’t “get” and deserve to be honored in the hallowed halls of our man cave theaters. Here are five of our favorites, what are yours?

1. “Scarface”

Scarface Movie Poster
This gangster movie written by Oliver Stone and starring Al Pacino is hardly a surprise on this list. Pacino was magnificent in a role that all guys dream about to some extent. Treating the world as your oyster and doing whatever it takes to get what you want is a fantasy many of us can relate to. The character of Tony Montana is an oft-quoted, mainstay of American Cinema. The poster is also a classic, set in half black and half white with a silhouetted Pacino. It is easily one of the most recognized movie posters of today, and a must have for any respectable man cave.

2. “Hoosiers”

Lets face it, most of us have passed our glory days of sports. If anything we’re attending our own kids sporting events and cheering them on. We no longer get write ups in the local paper, no more last second shots or hail-mary plays to run. Even if you aren’t a sports aficionado, you can identify with the classic “Hoosiers”. Those who have also needed a second chance in life appreciate the story of redemption for Coach Norman Dale, played by Gene Hackman in one of his defining roles. Those who had to overcome personal demons or tragedy but still had the courage to step onto the field of battle are no different than star player Jimmy Chitwood, whose talent can make or break the team. Hoosiers is a feel good movie of the triumph of the small guy. A movie poster of this fan favorite would represent any man cave well!

3. “Ghostbusters”

Ghostbusters movie poster
I hardly need explain why this poster belongs in any man cave. What other movie can make us laugh as hard while still spooking us. I would defy anyone to watch the library scene and not be spooked. So many classic moments in this movie, so many good performances put in by mainstay actors including Bill Murray, Dan Akroid, and legendary actor/director Harold Ramis. The white ghost with a circle and slash through him makes this a classic poster, and is among my personal favorite posters of all time. Putting this up in your man cave lets everyone know they’re here to have a good time.

4. “Braveheart”

Bravehart Movie Poster featuring Mel Gibson
What man cave would be complete without the most basic of male nature. Grabbing your friends, a weapon, and charging full speed at at another group of warriors who have done the same thing! It is the very fiber of what man cave movie posters are made of. Massive battle scenes that shape the future of the world allow us to feel the rush of combat, all the while set to engaging storytelling and fantastic scenery. Mel Gibson’s painted war face makes this poster full of the very fury he brought to the role of William Wallace. This is an absolute no brainer selection for your man cave wall decor.

5. “Anchorman”

Anchorman Movie Poster Featuring Will Ferrell
Starring Will Ferrell at the height of his popularity, this poster screams that you “Stay Classy” above all else. It remains a classic after viewing it countless times. If you want to bring an element of pure joy and release of tension, and there is nothing like laughing for a solid hour and a half to do the trick.
Photo Credit: ktylerconk