Monthly Archives: March 2011


Madness Musings

The Bubble

You know, I hate to sound all Charlie Conservative with my bootstappy comments, but honestly, in a field of 68 teams, if you can’t make it into the NCAA tournament, you really didn’t deserve it. Period. Before the ridiculous expansion of teams from 64 to 68, only one of these bubble teams would have been considered. And, sorry Virginia Tech–that team is Colorado. After three wins over Kansas State (a #5-seed), a win over Texas, and playing Kansas tight, the Buffaloes deserve a spot. I’ll also give a nod to St. Mary’s (with an RPI of 46).

The team that definitely does not deserve a shot? The Hokies. Everyone on ESPN is losing their shit over Virginia Tech being left out of the discussion. Why? Because they beat Duke a couple of weeks ago. And that’s about it. People love talking about that game, while conveniently overlooking two (!) losses to Virginia, a blow-out loss to Georgia Tech. They won an ACC tournament game against Florida State. By one point. After the game-winning buzzer-beater by the Seminoles was overturned (the ball was barely on his fingertips–another tenth of a second and the Hokies are going home. Now, that’s fine–hell, Evan Turner hit a buzzer-beater against Michigan in the Big 10 tournament last year, and went on to convincingly win the Big 10 tourney. Virginia Tech? Not so much. They got to play Duke…who beat them by 14 points.

Honestly, it wouldn’t even bother me that much if it wasn’t for their coach, Terry Greenberg. When asked about this year’s (alleged) snub, he said that committee must have an “agenda” against VaTech. And this wasn’t an errant slip of the tongue. He said the word four times, including three times in the opening few sentences. Check it out:

“[I’m] just disappointed. You almost wonder if someone in that room has their own agenda and that agenda doesn’t include Virginia Tech. Just plain and simple. I totally wonder it, if someone in that room has an agenda. The explanation was so inconsistent with the result that it was almost mind-boggling.”

Here’s a scientific law that I just made up, but I’m sure it holds true:

The greater the discrepancy between the level of conspiracy and your overall importance, the crazier you sound.

So, if the President of the United States says that he is being followed and it threatens the security of the nation, then he doesn’t sound too crazy. However, if the President says he’s being followed by a little girl who’s trying to steal seven dollars from him, then he sounds like a crazy person.

Let’s go to the other end of things. If you’re the head coach of the Hokies with a questionable record and you’re complaining that there is an organized conspiracy to prevent you from being the bottom seed in the NCAA tournament, you sound like a crazy person. There’s absolutely no reason for this happening. It’s not like it’s the USC or Ohio State basketball teams arguing blowback from the NCAA sanctions violations from their football teams. It’s just the random mutterings of a sore loser. Want in? Win more than one fluke (albeit thrilling) game.

The Bracket

Everyone thinks that the way they do things is the best (call it another scientific law). But honestly, this is the best way.

When it comes to filling out your bracket, forget the traditional approach where you just count up the number of games you got right–that’s a horrible way to do things. You get no reward for making bold choices, whereas some jackass who decides to go with all four #1 seeds making the Final Four cleans up.

The best way to do it is to multiply the round by the seed and add the total together. So if you have Duke winning it all this year, you would get a total of 15 points for that selection (#1 seed x # round and add them all together). However, if you correctly pick the #13 seed advancing to the second round, you get 26 points. In other words, you’re rewarded for bold picks and successfully predicting chaos, which this is really all about.

The Tournament

I harped on this last year, and I’ll continue to do so. I understand that practically every sport determines its champion through a playoff system, and I absolutely love tournaments (practically nothing can compare with March Madness). However, let’s not pretend that the NCAA tournament–or any tournament for that matter–is flawless.

I’ll use Michigan State last year as an example. Normally, in order to make it to the Final Four, you’d have to beat some pretty great teams. In 2010, check out Michigan State’s bracket. Here are the teams (and seeds) that Michigan State (who was a 5-seed) had to beat: New Mexico State (#12), Maryland (#4), Northern Iowa (#9), and Tennessee (#6). Should Michigan State have made it that far? Doubtful. But the Northern Iowa players had the game of their lives against the #1 seed Kansas and #3 Georgetown got the shit kicked out of it by #14-seed Ohio (the Bobcats, not the Buckeyes).

Now, am I saying that the Spartans didn’t deserve their success? Of course not. Hell, they only lost to Butler (a #5 seed who was WAY better than its ranking and had a heck of a tougher road than Michigan State) by a basket, and Butler only lost to Duke by a basket in the final game.

What I am saying is that the tournament doesn’t necessarily give the best team the championship. It helps us feel better about who wins that championship, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us the best team that year. And in doing so, it negates the regular season. I hate to sound like a BCS apologist, but it truly does. My Ohio State Buckeyes lost to Wisconsin in both football and basketball this year, and the devastation I felt in October couldn’t come close to matching the modest disappointment I felt when the Badger fans rushed the basketball court last month.


House Hunters International

Some weeks I try to solve the mysteries of the world, digest what’s bothering me, or use this as a cathartic device for venting about injustices out of my control.

This is not one of those times.

My wife Claire loves to watch HG-TV, which sucks on a number of levels. Not only does it invent potential home projects (we should re-do all the cabinets in the house!) and waste valuable TV time (it’s like she doesn’t even know that Starship Troopers is on again!), but also…it’s stupid.

That said, there is one show that I actually enjoy, and that’s House Hunters International. It’s pretty straightforward: People (typically couples) look at different houses in exotic locations in the hopes of finding a vacation home to purchase. No offense to Tel-Aviv, Paris, Italy, etc., but I only watch the ones that take place in exotic, tropical locations. It’s amazing to watch.

Unfortunately, it’s still far from a perfect show, mostly because of four recurring issues that will not die. These are my House Hunter International pet peeves.

Locked In

I get that some people might like it for unique reasons that truly are important. For instance, the couple I’m watching now got married in Thailand, have family in Thailand, and visit (from England) every year. I think that’s a great reason to have a second home in Thailand. Unfortunately, this is what you typically get:

“My husband/wife and I visited Costa Rica years ago and just fell in love with it. Now we’d like to purchase a vacation home here.”

Hey, that’s terrific. But if they were to move up the coast to Nicaragua, you could get a similar place for about a third of the cost. Don’t believe me—compare Costa Rica listings with Nicaragua listings for yourself.

I am certainly trying not to suggest that Costa Rica and Nicaragua are identical countries—far from it. But, when it comes to the perspective of some couple from Wisconsin looking for a few weeks out of the year in a tropical setting…yeah, they’re basically the same. Same goes for the countless islands in the Caribbean – if you’re trying to find a secluded area with a great beach, you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single part of one country where you had spring break fifteen years ago.

Watch the Budget

Now that we’ve mentioned the money issue, let’s focus on that for a second. Occasionally you’ll get the couple on House Hunters International who is filthy rich and looking for a place for around $2 million. Those episodes are fantastic because you get to see amazing houses AND spoiled people bitch about minor details.

Unfortunately, more often than not you get the other end of the spectrum, where people have a budget of $200,000 – $250,000. This could be fine (once a couple had a budget of <$100K and were thrilled with a charming shack on the beach), but unfortunately, this is what you typically get:

“We know we don’t have a large budget, but IDEALLY we’re looking for a house close to the beach…with a pool…and three to four bedrooms…and close to the city.”

This seems reasonable, but once they actually start looking for houses, those “ideal” features become expected. And they’re shocked when they can’t find what they’re looking for. Shocking.

On the other side, sometimes you have people who are too concerned about the budget. I know that seems ridiculous—let me explain. Yesterday, I’m watching this episode in Fiji. On this particular show, the featured homebuyer is a bonafide crazy person **insert topical Charlie Sheen reference here** with ridiculously specific tastes. In it, she had a budget for $500,000 (from her parents, of course) and found her absolute dream house…for $525,000. She spent the last part of the show complaining about how worried she was about it.

Ummm…it’s $25,000 on a half-million dollar house.

1) The sellers will probably be willing to negotiate

2) If you’re so concerned about your budget that you can’t go a fraction over for a second home in Fiji, MAYBE you should either lower your budget or lower your expectations.

Party Central

This problem might stem from my lack of understanding when it comes to the upper class. Again, some couples are sensible, but this is what you typically get:

“Ooooh, this area will be great for entertaining!”

Seriously, this happens ALL THE TIME. If you watch House Hunters International, you’d think that every couple is constantly hosting extravagant dinner parties.

Obviously, this can be quaint, but it becomes a problem when it affects what kind of house these people buy. When couples start turning down houses because they “only have three bedrooms” and there wouldn’t be enough room for guests, now you’re being ridiculous. While it’s a great idea, it’s still a couple of thousand dollar roundtrip plane tickets per couple, and they would have to vacation with you every year. It’s an awful lot to ask, especially when it comes to determining the type of house you purchase.

Won’t Someone Think of the Children?!

This one happens more frequently than I would like:

“We love the house—it’s everything we’re looking for. But…I’m just not sure how safe it would be for the kids.”

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that I don’t have kids. However, even if I did, I think I would still think this has to be one of the stupidest things to consider when you’re buying a vacation home. Seriously, what the hell? I swear some of these people are just saying this because they think it makes them look like good parents. It actually makes them look like idiots.

Look, your kids are going to be there for about a month out of the year (at the most). Furthermore, those oh-so-important concerns about child safety? Yeah, they’ll be irrelevant in about three years when your kids grow up. And that decision determined what vacation home you’ll most likely own the rest of your life. Smart move.

Now, shut up and show me another picture of that beachfront property!