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March 20, 2011

The Cougar Lounge - The Man Who Swore Up And Down




"We have embarrassed ourselves this weekend."

- Wazzu baseball head coach Donnie Marbut after the Cougars lost three straight to Fresno State in Fresno.




"I don't know what John was doing…he could have let the ball go out of bounds and it would have been our game."

- North Carolina head coach Roy Williams after John Henson inexplicably tried to catch a ball going out of bounds that gave Washington one last shot at winning, however, the Huskies missed their final shot and lost.




"To continue on in this event, you have to be good. We're good. We know we're good, but you also have to have a bit of good fortune."

- San Diego State men's hoop head coach Steve Fisher, explaining the basic premise behind the Big Dance and why his Aztecs are still in it after beating Temple to advance to the Sweet 16.




"Just don't show 'Speed 2' after the game again."

- TBS television commentator and former college and NBA star Charles Barkley complaining about TBS' movie selection shown the previous night after the tournament's last televised game of the evening [Barkley did not think highly of Speed 2].









Somebody has to deliver the eulogy for the Washington Huskies and Gonzaga Bulldogs losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament and the Lounge cannot do it because it would not be very heartfelt. But we are sure there will be plenty platitudes to go around, enough to pave a road with all the, ahem, "material" - and this is a material world, after all - so all the clientele can rest easy tonight knowing they will be off the hook with such a chore. All we know is that when Monday arrives, somebody from the state of Washington will still be playing post-season basketball and it will not be the Washington Huskies nor will it be the Gonzaga Bulldogs

Now the Lounge must turn to more important matters - such as tournament brackets - and, unlike last year, 2011 has been a good year for the Lounge. The first round produced 24 correct picks - a near-unprecedented amount in modern Lounge history [the Lounge once had 26 correct picks back in the day]. How that translates into Sweet 16 numbers remains to be seen by the end of the day today, but we like where we are sitting. The Lounge attributes this success to clean living, good whiskey and an uncanny ability to spend dozens of hours poring over statistics to determine miniscule bits of information that may prove to a point or two differential in covering a spread or winning a game. Unless the game in question involves Butler - then it is all about heart.



So far, after two rounds of play, there are at least four main conclusions that has a consensus of agreement in the Lounge: the officiating is either one of two things - horrible or horribly inconsistent; the Big East was not all it was cracked up to be; San Diego State is the real deal and former Wazzu athletic director Jim Sterk is now in his second Sweet 16 in the last five years; the television coverage is, as expected, much better when there are no cutaways in mid-game nor any omissions of coverage of any game.

As for the Pac-10, the conference that was much-maligned as having a weak year, has represented themselves fairly well since the NCAA selection committee gave them four teams for the Big Dance. Three of the four teams won their first games and although UCLA did all they could to just about give their first round game to Michigan State - which would have been embarrassing - there was no embarrassing conference loss.

All the March Madness news this week overshadowed the fact that prairie dogs were being blown up in Colorado with something called the Rodenator - a device with a propane mixture that explodes the burrows of the prairie dogs and also happens to have the unintended - or perhaps intended - side effect of lighting the critters on fire.

But March Madness and bombing rodents aside, there is still one tiny matter left unaccounted for this week and the crack Lounge research staff has been on the job to nail it down. The results are in and yes, New York is the city where most people live who like to drink vodka. Chicago is second and the Lounge is hardly surprised that two of the country's biggest cities are all about the vodka However, we do see Denver at eighth on the list and have sent the research staff to determine if there is a correlation between that and the Rodenator.

"Well, that was nice. I think I'll take that to the bank," says Old Bean, about the Wazzu men's hoop team's win over Long Beach State in the first round of the NIT last week.

Although some people consider the NIT to be the "consolation prize" tournament, the Lounge is not in that category. The National Invitation Tournament used to be the big tournament back in the day and even though it does not enjoy the same stature today as it did back then, there is still prestige in going to the tourney. After that, the games are played on campus with the schools keeping the majority of the money generated and every team wants to win every game it plays no matter what tournament it is in and that guarantees a good, competitive game. Finally, the most obvious benefit is that the team gets to play longer and when there is a scenario where a team is still playing in late March, well, for teams that did not make the Big Dance - that is exactly what they will need to increase their chances to make the Big Dance next year. Wazzu got a nice, albeit relatively easy, win over a demoralized Long Beach State team that had little motivation. That will not be the case with incoming Oklahoma State, who beat Harvard at home and will be remembered in Pullman for putting an enormous 81-29 beating on one of former head coach Dick Bennett's early developmental Cougar squads when he was rebuilding the program.

"What happened?" asks Miss Beverly Hills about the Wazzu baseball team's self-destruction in Fresno that resulted in some ugly series-losing games.

Well, it is all about the opponent, Miss BH. Let the Lounge put it this way - Fresno State is no Utah Valley [who Wazzu waxed in a three-game series before traveling down to Fresno]. The Bulldogs came into this match-up with a healthy RPI and while the Cougars were coming off the sweep of the Utah Valley series, they had not established any consistency and that reared its ugly head in the first three games of the series - all losses - against the Bulldogs. Now the Cougars will have to re-group because Pac-10 play is scheduled to begin on Friday against California and if the Cougars want to return to the NCAA tournament this year, there can be no more messing around.

We have heard of Bracketology - as everyone has who has ever filled out a bracket during March Madness [we conservatively estimate that to be three-fourths of the United States population] but we had never heard of Bracketography and we were intrigued - and then relieved - because their predictions were no better than the Lounge's. Bracketography's championship game of Kansas and Ohio State is the same as that of the Lounge and 97% of the USA, but there are some significant differences [Belmont in the Sweet 16?] along the way that lead one to believe that there were no special beans available to Bracketography predictors' at the time of predicting.

Finally, the Lounge Scientists decided to look into the base element of March Madness - winning the financial reward that comes with predicting the best bracket - and found a somewhat stunning result. It appears that financial risk-taking has been linked to males with low levels of testosterone in a recent study. In the study, 298 male subjects were given choices between known financial rewards and riskier, less likely financial rewards and those with low testosterone levels mostly chose to gamble on the big payout.

"It's legitimate to ask if biology is going to have an effect," says Lounge Scientist #64, Dario Mastripieri, a scientist at the University of Chicago who, reportedly, likes San Diego State to win it all.

The Lounge's Big Dance bracket is now preparing to orbit the Supermoon with a possibility of 12 correct picks in the Sweet 16.




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