Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010-2011 College Basketball Preview (Part I)

Many of you have asked me how I feel about my beloved Vikings deciding to waive Randy Moss last week after trading for him a month earlier, so I thought I’d address it real quick. The truth is that I’m actually not that upset that Moss isn’t a Viking anymore, but I am upset that the Vikings front office (read: Brad Childress) ultimately threw away a draft pick because they couldn’t foresee Moss being a headache. This is like asking The Villain to be on your pick-up basketball team and then getting upset when he never passes you the ball. Or like letting The Villain borrow your car “for ten minutes” during your sophomore year at Ohio State and getting pissed when he returns it to you six hours later with less than a quarter tank of gas and a funky smell coming from the back seat. Sure it sucks that Moss was kind of a doucher, but ultimately it’s the Vikings’ fault for putting so much trust in him. That, more than anything else, is what is so frustrating. This whole ordeal is just another example of how other than murder, pedophilia, and rape, nothing in this world upsets me more than Brad Childress’ decision making, which is ironic because Childress looks like a guy who commits all three of those crimes on a regular basis. But enough about a mediocre NFL team. Let’s talk college basketball.

If you know anything about me or my blog, you know that there are three things in the world of sports that my life revolves around – college basketball, FIFA, and professional wrestling. And if the handfuls of emails I regularly get from the Trillion Man March are any indication, most of you also care about at least two of those three things. So, keeping this in mind and acknowledging that college basketball officially started this week, I’ve decided to team up with Keller to get you pumped for the season by bringing you what will surely be both the best and most irrelevant college basketball preview you will ever read.

For the preview, Keller and I intertwined our three favorite things about sports by likening different aspects of college basketball to aspects of both FIFA and professional wrestling. Keller knows more about wrestling than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, so he will be handling the wrestling section of the preview (warning – he wrote a ton). And since every time we play FIFA I beat Keller like he’s my ex-wife, I’ll be handling the FIFA section of the preview. Obviously, now that I’m writing college basketball pieces for ESPN and I’m therefore considered a college basketball expert, I’ll also be handing the basketball section. Finally, because the entire preview is longer than the list of people who wanted me to make a Greg Oden penis joke right here, I’ve decided to break it up into a bunch of parts and post a new part every couple of days (I would post a new one every day, but I can already anticipate Keller not getting his sections done).

With all of that being said, here is Part I of your 2010-2011 Club Trillion College Basketball Preview. Boom baby.

GUY THAT’S BEEN AROUND FOREVER
This category is pretty self explanatory, but I’ll explain it a little bit anyway. These are the guys who you see either playing, wrestling, or on FIFA and think to yourself, “Wait, he’s still playing/wrestling? How old is that guy?” You know, guys like…

FIFA: David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

Beckham is kinda like the Brett Favre of soccer. Not only has he been playing seemingly forever, but he also has an immaculate stubble beard and there are pictures of his junk all over the internet (although, his junk is unfortunately covered by whatever underwear he is endorsing for that particular photo shoot – damn). Plus, the video game version of Beckham is also much better than the real version of him, just like Favre and his video game likeness. What’s more, Beckham and Favre both married women who are about one year older than them. In fact, the only difference I can see between these two is that Beckham didn’t cost the Vikings their first trip to the Super Bowl in my lifetime by throwing an inexcusable interception to Tracy Porter late in the NFC Championship. Not yet, anyway.

Pro Wrestling: Ric Flair (The Nature Boy)

As a man who currently has a 15-year unbeaten streak in Mercy, and who’s been shaving since the 7th grade, I’ve been conditioned never to cry under any circumstances. That being said, I stood helpless as my eyes welled up with tears while I watched Monday Night Raw on March 31, 2008. The night before, Ric Flair had lost his retirement match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXIV, and this night’s Raw was dedicated as a farewell show to the Nature Boy, honoring his multiple-decade career. Prior to this moment, I think the last time that I cried was during a 5th grade AAU basketball game, where an opponent who was no less than 12 inches shorter than me bit me in the stomach as I dribbled up the court. After yelling at the top of my high-pitched 5th grade lungs “HE BIT ME!!!”, the combination of rage, shock, and pain led to me sobbing on the bench for the entire 3rd quarter before re-entering the game and fouling the kid in retribution.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that watching the Four Horseman reuniting in the ring for the first time in 20 years caused the waterworks to start up. The sound of the greatest entrance music in wrestling history combined with the visual of Ric Flair sobbing in the ring was too much for me. This was the perfect send-off for arguably the greatest wrestler in history. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Flair wouldn't spend his final years toiling away in second rate promotions tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. Flair would be different. That is, until Flair would un-retire to toil away in a second rate promotion, tarnishing his legacy for a few more paydays. My tears were for nothing now.

When you're a stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing son of a gun, you tend to acquire expensive tastes and multiple wives. Flair lived a lavish lifestyle (hell, even his famous robes cost upwards of $5,000 apiece) and let throngs of women ride Space Mountain (his awesome euphemism for sex). By giving out season passes to Space Mountain to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different women, and continuing his free-spending ways to go along with those divorces, Flair essentially went broke after his retirement and was forced to come back. He signed a contract with TNA a year after his retirement ceremony, and sadly continues to wrestle to this day.

It's truly a shame it ended up this way too, because there have been multiple points in Flair's career where he could have retired on top besides the post-Wrestlemania ceremony. There was the time he went crazy, stripped off his clothes in the middle of the ring, and started elbow dropping his suit jacket. Or after his match with Sting on the final episode of WCW Monday Night Nitro. Or every time he talked sh*t to a fan by calling them "fat boy" or telling them that their mother rode Space Mountain and that they'd ride it later that night. Or when Will Ferrell paid homage to him as Ashley Schaeffer. Through the years there were plenty of perfect times for Ric Flair to go out like the Nature Boy truly should have, and not have to languish in 2010 wrestling in TNA, looking like a droopier-breasted Randy the Ram while every fan who cheered for him during his heyday looked on embarrassed (I say looked on in the loosest sense of the word, because TNA sucks and nobody actually watches it). Much like the Nature Boy never has learned to stop going to the top rope (at this point I would link you to a montage of Flair getting slammed from the top rope, but for some stupid reason there is no video of it on YouTube, despite Flair never once landing a top rope move in any match I’ve seen even though he tries every time), he's never learned it's time to hang up his boots.

College Basketball: David Lighty (Ohio State)

The official Ohio State basketball website says that Dave Lighty is a 5th year senior this year, but this is also the same website that once said that The Villain’s hobbies include reading and playing golf, so forgive me for being a little skeptical. I’m fully convinced that he has somehow been in the program for at least ten years. This is mostly because Dave joined the Ohio State basketball team before I did, yet I played four full seasons with the team and graduated, and Dave is still going to play one more year. Those of you who have followed Big Ten basketball for awhile surely agree that Dave has been playing for the Buckeyes forever, but if for some reason you don’t, consider this: Dave was college teammates with Greg Oden and Greg Oden is at least 82-years-old. You do the math.

BEST GUY IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
This category is also self explanatory, but I won’t insult your intelligence like I did with the last one and explain it to you. Let’s just get to it.

FIFA: Kaka (Real Madrid)
(Note: I know Kaka has an accent mark somewhere in his name, but last time I checked, this is America and we don’t use accent marks in America. You can either love it or leave it.)

Diehard soccer fans who follow real soccer being played by real people would tell you that Kaka is one of the best players in the world, which is something you would most likely respond to by saying that you “don’t give a s*** because soccer is gay.” The FIFA version of him is every bit as good as the real version, as Kaka would easily be the best player on just about every other team than the one he’s actually on. Unfortunately for him, he will have to settle with his role as sidekick because he’s teammates with Cristiano Ronaldo, who is without question the greatest player on a sports video game since Jeremy Roenick on NHL ‘94 (more on Ronaldo later on in the preview).

Other than being the best sidekick on FIFA, I think Kaka is the most versatile player on the game as well. His default position is in the midfield, but I’ve literally played (and dominated) with him at every position except goalie. I’ve also discovered that he’s a master of finishing rebounds that come from Ronaldo rocketing shots off the goalie’s nuts. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but I swear if there was an attribute for “being in the right place at the right time to score the goal and get all the credit, even though your teammate did all the hard work,” Kaka’s rating in that particular attribute would be at least a 96.

Pro Wrestling: Scott Hall (Razor Ramon)

On paper, Scott Hall had it all: legit size, loads of charisma, awesome shirts that make you consider spending $200 to get on eBay, a finishing move that you could easily break someone’s neck with, the list goes on. The only thing he never had was a world title. For someone with arguably the greatest stubble beard of all-time and the ability to make a full denim outfit look cool, you’d think that Hall would have spent the better part of the 90s as the heavyweight champion. But due to unfortunate timing and his inability to not get drunk and party six nights a week, Hall would settle down into a role as the quintessential second banana.

As Razor Ramon in the (then) WWF, Hall would consistently earn cheers like a main-eventer, despite the fact his only push to the main event scene came when the Ultimate Warrior did what the Ultimate Warrior did best (besides being insane and gay-bashing, which for him are mutually exclusive) and left the company without any advance notice, leaving Razor Ramon as an emergency replacement to lose to Bret Hart. Instead, Hall spent much of his time in the Intercontinental title scene, having matches that remain legendary to this day. He stole the show against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X by defending his Intercontinental title in the very first ladder match, which both males and females will excitedly remember as “the match where you got to see HBK’s bare ass.” The Intercontinental title would be the peak of Hall’s run in the WWF, excluding the time he made a couple of young kids’ dreams come true on the Jerry Springer Show. In ’96, Hall signed with WCW and continued his career living a real-life version of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” albeit he was a bridesmaid with some pretty awesome chest hair.

Despite being the first member of the New World Order to invade WCW’s shows, Hall was quickly pushed down the pecking order due to Hollywood Hogan’s heel turn and his own failure to power bomb announcers through the stage. For the second time in as many companies, Hall would win the second highest title (this time the WCW United States title), but never make it to the top. At first, Hall was stuck behind legendary WCW title moments like Hollywood Hogan and Sting’s feud that culminated at Starrcade 97 (a pay-per-view I’ll never forget, because for the first time in my life I convinced my mom to let me order a pay-per-view, only to have the signal be scrambled and the show ruined. Scrambled Spice channel I could deal with, scrambled Starrcade I could not.) and Goldberg’s 173 match win streak. Eventually though, Hall’s actions behind the scenes started costing him opportunities. His excessive drinking began spiraling out of control, with Hall even performing in the ring under the influence. At this point, you would have been more likely to find an attractive girl with a shrine to Jerry Orbach than a WCW executive who would ever have faith in Scott Hall being a main eventer. He would never again get past the midcard. Instead of trying to get Hall help, the brain trust at WCW decided to exploit Hall’s problems by incorporating them into an angle, as the last few memorable moments of Hall’s time in WCW revolved around him pretending to be drunk in the ring. While he never made it to the top in either company, Scott Hall is arguably the greatest wrestler ever in a supporting role.

(Note: I choose to ignore Hall’s time after WCW, because I refuse to believe that he would end up looking like he did)

hallbeforeafter_thumb2
Suddenly the stubblebeard isn’t as cool as it used to be

College Basketball: Nolan Smith (Duke)

It is a well-documented fact that Duke sucks. Since they’ve won a ton of national championships, I obviously don’t mean this in a “Duke isn’t good at basketball” way, but more of a “Duke fans are insufferable and the white guys on the team who slap the floor on defense make me lose all hope in humanity” kind of way. Duke fans think that people hate them because we are jealous and secretly want to be just like them, which is the same ass-backwards philosophy that made LeBron say, “They boo you because they like the way you play basketball.” No. We boo Duke/Duke fans/LeBron because they act like entitled pricks and think that the game of basketball couldn’t exist without them. Why is it that there are college basketball programs all over the country that have historically had more success than Duke, yet Duke is really the only team that is the bane of America’s collective existence? The answer is simple – because Duke sucks.

But despite the hatred we all have for Duke, there’s no denying that they historically are always a juggernaut, they have one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and they are probably the favorites to win back-to-back titles again this year. Now that Scheyer Face has graduated, Kyle Singler is the undisputed leader and best player on the team, but Nolan Smith is a senior NBA prospect in his own right who will be the Blue Devils’ leading scorer on many occasions this year. Like Kaka and Scott Hall, Smith is good enough to be the star on pretty much any other team, but he still embraces his role and knows that Duke wouldn’t be nearly as good without him. So, if you get the chance to watch him play this year, be prepared to be impressed with his skills. And if you do appreciate the way he plays, please remember to have the common courtesy to boo him as loudly as you possibly can. It’s the least you could do.

EVENT THAT’S A WASTE OF TIME
This category was developed in protest to the absurd number of tournaments and events that are held in the world of sports every year. The truth is that nobody cares about the non-BCS bowls (except when the MudDogs won the Bourbon Bowl), the non-majors in golf and tennis (or even the majors in golf and tennis), or any race of any kind that isn’t the Daytona 500 or Indy 500. These things are meant to wet our whistle while we’re waiting on the important tournaments, but in reality they pretty much just get in the way.

FIFA: FA Cup (England)

Wikipedia tells me that the FA Cup has been around since 1871 and is the oldest soccer competition in the world, which would be impressive except “nobody gives a s*** because soccer is gay.” In reality, this tournament is probably a very big deal to people in England, not so much because it’s really old and has a lot of history but more because England sucks in the World Cup and this tournament at least guarantees English people that a team from England will win the thing. All that’s fine and well, but I’m not concerned with real soccer. I only care about virtual soccer and on FIFA, this tournament does nothing but get in my way.

When I play manager mode on FIFA, I play with Manchester United, only because the Premier League is the only competitive league and I kinda like Wayne Rooney’s game (I also like his soccer game). My only goal on manager mode is to win the Champions League or whatever they call it on the game. I have no interest in anything else. The only reason I even play regular season games is to finish in the top of the league so I can qualify for next season’s Champions League. At no point in time have I ever cared about winning the FA Cup, which is why I used to simulate those games. The only problem with this is that FIFA would sometimes screw me when I simulated the FA Cup games and I would get upset by a scrub team in the first round. When this would happen, my coach’s rating or whatever would plummet, I’d get fired, and I’d be stuck managing an MLS team the following season. Therefore, I have no choice but to play these FA Cup games and win some tournament that I literally could not care any less about.

Pro Wrestling: Women’s Wrestling (WWE)

Quick: can anybody name their favorite women's wrestling match of all time? I've been a fan of pro wrestling in some capacity since 1990, and I can still only remember four things about women wrestlers – that Alundra Blayze showed up on WCW Nitro and threw away the WWF women's title on live TV in a move that seemed extreme before the nWo showed up, that Mae Young gave birth to a hand, that Chyna has some not-so-womanly bodily features that the world saw in her sex tape with X-Pac (as has previously been mentioned in this blog before...Google at your own risk), and that I first learned how to clear my internet history to hide the Playboy pictures of Sable I had looked up. After scanning through my Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam anthologies, not a single women’s match listed on the cards brought back a memory, and I'm the same guy who can still tell you the home phone number of a girl I had a crush on in the 9th grade, despite never having the balls to actually call her. Even a Google search to help jog my brain instead produced results that were split between fetish female wrestling porn and sites completely dedicated to moments where a female wrestler's top came undone and their breasts were exposed on live TV.

And that's what seems to be missing on Vince McMahon and other people who run wrestling companies. The only time a male fan is going to watch a women's wrestling match is in the hopes that a boob pops out during a suplex. The unfortunate reality is that there is no amount of technical proficiency that can take place in a women's match that will make it compare to a men's match. Many women’s matches are filled with hair tosses and kicks when the fans want to see finishers like this, much like many WNBA games are filled with set shots and missed lay-ups when the fans want to see, well, men's basketball (I'm only slamming the WNBA because they can't slam things themselves!!!). And since, according to a site that I cannot even think about linking to because of the content, there have not been that many nipple slips in women's matches, that they're even happening at all is a waste of time.

College B-ball: Cancun Challenge (Preseason Tourney)
Note: The teams playing in this year’s Cancun Challenge are LaSalle, Missouri, Providence, Wyoming, Morgan State, North Florida, Prairie View A&M, and Western Illinois.

I can’t tell if these “preseason” tourneys (by the way, calling them preseason tournaments is both deceiving and dumb – kinda like calling this a college basketball preview although the season has actually already started) have been going on for awhile and I just recently started noticing how many there are or if they are a relatively new fad in college basketball. My guess is that the success of the Maui Invitational gave the higher-ups the idea to create more of these things than any one person could possibly keep track of. Either way, I’m pretty confident that when it comes to preseason college basketball tournaments, the Cancun Challenge is the cream of the crap.

Cancun is one of the few places in Mexico that Americans can visit right now without being 100% sure that they will die (there’s only an 85% chance you’ll die), so the Cancun Challenge was probably created as a way to give these college athletes an opportunity to experience a different culture for a few days. Unfortunately, the organizers of the tournament failed to realize that the Cancun Challenge is really nothing more than a cocktease to the players. As cool as a free trip to Cancun seems, it’s not like these guys are going to be sipping margaritas and sexing senoritas the whole trip. For the most part, all of their time will be spent either practicing, playing, or falling asleep in film sessions, which means their trip to Cancun would essentially be the same as a team trip to Detroit in the middle of January.

As for the fans who are crazy enough to travel to the tournament, it’s a similar story. They pay ridiculous amounts of money for a vacation to Cancun, only to get down there and realize that their vacation is being ruined by subpar basketball games that are being played in a hotel ballroom (yes, the games really are played in a hotel ballroom). Throw in the fact that absolutely zero neutral college basketball fans are going to pay attention to games like North Florida vs. Prairie View A&M and Wyoming vs. Western Illinois, and it’s easy to see why this will be the biggest waste of time event in college basketball this year. __________________________________________________

Because it’s Movember and nothing else matters more in my life right now than growing my mustache, I’ve decided to substitute the awesome basketball YouTube video at the end of the blog posts this month for a little history lesson that I will be calling “Great Mustaches In American History.”

Today’s Great Mustache In American History is brought to you by Teddy Roosevelt.

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Teddy Roosevelt is without a doubt the most badass president (and quite possibly human being) in the history of America. I could honestly write 10,000 words about how awesome this man is, but I’ll just provide you with three bullet points that tell you all you need to know about the guy.

  • In 1912, former-president Roosevelt was the target of an assassination attempt and was shot in the chest shortly before he was scheduled to give a speech in Milwaukee. Instead of being rushed to the hospital like everyone suggested, Roosevelt kicked common sense in the balls and proceeded to give his 90 minute speech as planned. He even opened the speech by telling the crowd, “I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” After he gave the speech, Roosevelt finally went to the hospital, but the bullet was never removed and he lived with it in his chest for the rest of his life. What a badass.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. Try wrapping your mind around that for a second. The only possible explanation I can think of for this is that he was such a badass that people decided to play nice because they were so terrified of what he was capable of.
  • Roosevelt eventually died of a heart attack while sleeping when he was 60-years-old. The US vice president at the time, Thomas Marshall, had this to say about his death: “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.” Let it be known that I want that exact quote put on my headstone when I die, even if I don’t die in my sleep and even though my last name isn’t Roosevelt. If it weren’t for Nathan Hale, that would be the greatest quote in American history (by the way, I’m not going to explain the Nathan Hale reference to those of you who don’t know his quote – that’s something that should be common knowledge for anyone who loves their country).

Proud To Be An American But Even Prouder To Be A Buckeye,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder