Michigan Won, And Celebrated With A Water Gun Fight
Sports |  Source: twitter.com

Michigan Won, And Celebrated With A Water Gun Fight

My kinda coach!

Remember the other week, when Michigan's trip to the Big Ten tournament got off to a not-so-great start? That could've been an omen for a rocky postseason for the Wolverines, right? Maybe they should've just stayed at home.

NOPE.

Michigan, a 7-seed, is through to the Sweet 16 after an impressive win over 2-seed Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday. Led by Germany export and funny-face-making big man Moe Wagner, who made 11 of 14 shots for a game-high 26 points, the Wolverines sprinted past a Louisville team many thought had definite Sweet 16 potential.

As you might imagine, all of Michigan's team was very excited about winning this game. But there probably wasn't anyone more excited than head coach John Beilein, who went to the extreme and broke out a WATER GUN to celebrate with his team.

This is a certified gangster move:

No doubt about it, Beilein spraying his players with a water gun is infinitely cooler than players popping bottles of champagne after winning championships. Look how excited he is to unleash the power of the Super Soaker! That is pure joy.

Although, if you really pressed me, I guess I would accept a Super Soaker full of champagne. That might be a pretty good compromise. In fact, now that we mention it... maybe I should give the NBA a call... and MLB... and the NHL...

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The Best of the NCAA Tournament's First Week

AKA the best week ever.

1. The Best Name: Rex Pflueger, Notre Dame
Let's start off with a lighthearted highlight from the weekend.

Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger scored two winning points with 1.4 seconds left on Sunday afternoon to vault the No. 6 seed Irish into the Sweet 16 with a win over No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin.

It was the first field goal of the afternoon for Pflueger, who waited for just the right time to play spoiler against one of the country's favorite Cinderella stories.

And, really, the highlight wasn't the put-back itself, but that we as sports fans were treated to a name that is essentially what you'd get if wrestler Lex Luger donned a bowler hat and a fake mustache and went to party in Las Vegas for a weekend.

Unfortunately, Rex doesn't look much like Lex, but the effect is still the same. Here's to you, Mr. Pflueger.

2. The Best Upset: Middle Tennessee over Michigan State
Tom Izzo's team, led by plenty of veteran leadership and NBA Draft-worthy talent, was a popular pick to win it all in a wide-open tournament. Expectations were high; and they should have been.

Then, the unknown Middle Tennessee State Lightning struck hard.

They outplayed the Spartans in the first half with laser-like shooting from deep, and remained afloat in the second half by repeatedly throwing the ball into the post and getting good looks from in close, something even the most seasoned teams stray away from as games go on and legs grow weary.

And then, of course, the Lightning polished the win off with that incredible block of Michigan State's Bryn Forbes to seal the deal.

The Vine below truly encapsulates No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee's incredible upset of the No. 2 seed Spartans on the second day of the tournament.

3. The Best Dunk: Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame
It might be recency bias, because this dunk occurred Sunday, but this is the one that sticks out the most in my mind after watching all four days of basketball.

It's especially impressive when you consider the circumstances: Late in the second half, his team leading by three and barely fending off a fiery Stephen F. Austin team, Jackson broke through the lane and extended for this incredibly athletic dunk. Naturally, the Notre Dame bench loved every second.

Plays like this one kept the Irish in range until our man Pflueger was able to cap it all off with his heroic tip-in.

4. The Best Shot: No. 11 Northern Iowa's Buzzer Beater
It was the shot heard 'round Midnight Basketball Twitter. We scurried to create GIFs and record Vines of Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson winding up from mid-court, releasing, and burying a game-winning heave to lift the No. 11 seed Panthers over No. 6 seed Texas.

It was another incredible game on the best day of this year's tournament. Both teams kept the other within reach, back and forth for 40 minutes, until Texas tied the game with just a few seconds to go. Overtime seemed inevitable.

But then, bedlam.

5. The Best Game: No. 8 St. Joe's vs. No. 9 Cincinnati
We had plenty of contenders on Friday, but this one had it all: a transcendent performance from a guy with an equally transcendent afro; a flurry of action in the final minute; a clutch-time three-pointer; and a dramatic, last-second dunk waved off.

You would imagine that matches between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in each region would be the tightest. The spots are almost toss-ups, and the teams could easily be reversed in their seedings. They should, in theory, be nearly interchangeable in quality.

On Friday, that was true. St. Joe's and Cincinnati were evenly matched, and each team impressed.

Both teams shot at least 48 percent from the field. The Hawks knocked down nine threes, while the Bearcats buried 10. Both teams hit 76 percent of their respective free throws. They were deadlocked in assists at 13 apiece; and Cincinnati grabbed just one more rebound than St. Joe's.

To put it plainly, this was an incredibly even game, played at an impossibly high level. And the Bearcats' game-tying dunk being waived off at the buzzer was the adorning orange twist on a delicious Friday evening nightcap.

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Sports |  Source: chicagotribune.com

The First Annual NCAA Tournament Sneak-Peak

Finally, the NCAA does something right.

The NCAA Selection Committee announced today that they will reveal their top 16 NCAA Tournament seeds in mid-February as sort of a Selection Sunday tease. Obviously, these seeds aren't set in stone, and teams will jump up and down during the last few weeks of conference play and eventually conference tournaments.

I know, Roy! I love the move too.

As it stands now, college basketball undoubtedly owns the sports landscape during the month of March. This February 11th reveal is an NCAA attempt to grab the sports world right after the Super Bowl, rather than waiting for conference tournaments to roll around in early March.

Sure, maybe this is "unnecessary," but what's the downside? Worst case scenario is it's a failed attempt to create more buzz around the tournament and then life goes on as if they hadn't done anything at all. Success would mean much higher ratings during the stretch run of conference play and an eventual increased interest in the Tournament itself.

At the absolute very least, the early reveal serves as an argument baseline for sports nerds (me) who love to banter about potential tournament seedings. It's no different than the College Football Playoff releasing their top-four teams every week for the last month of the season.

There's no way this goes poorly for the sport, and I for one am excited to get a sneak-peek at where the committee's head is at immediately after football comes to a close.

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NCAA Tournament Week 2: Highlights/Lowlights

And then there were four.

1. Worst lie: Mike Krzyzewski, lying about scolding Oregon's Dillon Brooks
Let's start with the biggest, dumbest, silliest part of the weekend.

In Oregon's Sweet 16 win over Duke, the Ducks' Dillon Brooks hit an unnecessary but harmless three-pointer very late in a game that had been decided in Oregon's favor.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski didn't appreciate it.

From ESPN's Myron Medcalf, Oregon's Dillon Brooks said Krzyzewski told him that he's "too good of a player to be showing off at the end."

Did you, Coach K?

"I didn't say that," Krzyzewski said after the game. "You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, 'You're a terrific player.' And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?"

Now, lying to a reporter is a bad idea. Reporters at live sporting events are generally tenacious in getting to the bottom of a hot story, especially when they're called out in front of their peers.

So this was a bad look for Coach K.

But, even worse, Krzyzewski thought he could pull one over on the internet.

If you've been on any corner of the internet in the last five years -- especially any portion of Sports Twitter -- you know that this is impossible.

There were cameras present, which means there were microphones present, which means the internet would eventually find one of those microphones, play the audio in a Vine, and spoil Krzyzewski's totally unnecessary lie.

So the coach apologized.

A couple of lessons: stop taking things so seriously, and don't lie to the Internet.

2. Best dunk of the weekend: Jake Layman of Maryland
Let's get the taste of that silly Coach K debacle out of our collective mouths with something entirely more enjoyable: Maryland's Jake Layman throwing it down (in a loss, but still.)

Sports!

3. Best comeback: Syracuse upends Virginia on Sunday
This came too late in the weekend for us to really, truly relish it, but what Syracuse did against Virginia, engineering a comeback of elephantine proportions, was nearly unfathomable.

No team had made Virginia's stingy defense look so utterly hopeless all season long. And here, with the stakes so high?

It was transcendent.

Trailing by 15 midway through the second half, Syracuse seemed effectively resigned to falling victim to the Cavaliers' armor. It would have been understandable; Tony Bennett's team was a defensive stalwart all year.

Instead, the Orange ripped off a 24-5 run that flipped the script and lifted Cuse into the Final Four.

Here, with a little help from the official March Madness Twitter, is how it happened:

To make this even more incredible, Syracuse was considered by many to be a fringe participant in this year's tournament. Experts believed they had no right taking the place of a team like Monmouth.

After all, Syracuse lost 13 games this season. It was a fair argument.

Now, Jim Boeheim and the Orange are one of four teams left standing. It's kind of incredible.

4. Worst use of a final timeout: Mike Brey against North Carolina
With just over eight minutes left in the second half of Sunday's Elite 8 matchup with North Carolina, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey used his fourth timeout.

He wanted to calm his team down, get a grasp of what they were doing offensively, and set something up.

The only problem? That was his final timeout. Of the game.

With over eight minutes to play.

Yeah.

When the Irish gave up baskets on nearly a half-dozen consecutive possessions late in the second half, Brey might have wanted to call a timeout to slow things down and get his team back on the same page.

But, of course, he couldn't. He was out of timeouts. So he stood, helpless, on the sideline, scratching his face, watching his team's chances slip away.

Oh, Mike.

5. Best Vine-able moment of the tournament: Maryland's rim-out
This is art of the highest degree, the greatest use of six seconds your eyes will ever watch.

I don't need many words here.

It was this kind of Thursday for Maryland as the Terrapins lost to Kansas.

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Sports |  Source: chicagotribune.com

Michigan Basketball Team's Plane Had A Rough Takeoff

Not a great start!

Imagine trying to get in the zone for a days-long trip, during which you'll play some of the most competitive basketball of your life for a championship... and barely even making it off the ground before something bad happens.

The University of Michigan's men's basketball team can tell you a little bit about that.

On Wednesday the team was leaving for Washington, D.C., to compete in the Big 10 conference tournament when things with the team's plane went wrong.

Yikes! Things have been pretty blustery the last 24 hours in Michigan, with gusts reaching up to 60 miles per hour in some areas, which makes for not-so-great flying conditions.

The team's Twitter account sent out this message later in the day:

Good to know everyone was safe, even if that poor plane got roughed up. I thought Chicago was the Windy City, not Ann Arbor!

Michigan kicks off its Big 10 tournament at the Verizon Center this afternoon at noon against Illinois.

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Sports |  Source: wtop.com

Being On The Tournament Bubble As A Student

The bubble is out for blood.

After their opening round ACC Tournament defeat to Pittsburgh in 2016, I had chalked my Syracuse Orange up as a one seed in the NIT. It was over, done. The dream of dancing, gone. As a freshman, I was devastated, and somberly slept-walked through the rest of Championship Week knowing (wrongly) that my school wouldn't be in the field.

Then, on Selection Sunday, the NCAA Selection Committee shocked the world and sent Syracuse dancing, despite their paltry overall resume. I was shocked, elated, confused, but mostly just excited.

If you're a at one of the best basketball colleges, or one of the mid-majors that consistently sneaks their way into the Tournament after winning its conference, going dancing doesn't mean just getting to watch your team on the biggest stage in college hoops - it means tailgating. And I'm not talking like "Oh, it's a Saturday morning in January and my team plays at noon and it's really cold, but we're half-ass tailgating because we play today!" That's a poor-man's tailgate. NCAA Tournament tailgates are like if regular season tailgates were on steroids or crack.

Final Four tailgates are PEAK college, and the only way to climb and scale that peak is to first make the tournament, which requires surviving the bubble.

The bubble is like when you study for a big exam, but then after it's over you're left with the feeling that you may have gotten a 20 or 100. You really have no gauge.

That's the bubble. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse really have no idea where they stand in the committees eyes. It's that weird state where you're waiting to hear what you got on the exam and all your classmates constantly talk about it so it just stresses you out. For Syracuse, the bracketologists are the fellow classmates, and the NCAA Selection Committee is the professor.

It's a precarious mindset. One moment, you're cautiously optimistic. "Clemson lost to Duke today, so that officially bursts their bubble! That's one team out of the way!", you might think.

But then, the next moment, boom. Vanderbilt beats Texas A&M on Thursday and Florida on Friday, taking away a spot in the field. Iowa and Illinois both lose in the Big Ten Tournament quarters, but then Kansas State goes and makes a run in the Big 12 Tournament. It's like your tournament optimism is a Disney World roller coaster.

Eventually, you're so sick and tired about worrying about other teams that you just try and ignore all the bubble mumbo jumbo and focus on what Championship Week is really for: dudes being dudes, balling out in big-time NCAA rivalries. That's what it's all about.

So, you put away your bubble concerns and just try to enjoy the hoops. This lasts all of about a half hour, as suddenly you find yourself unconsciously checking your phone to see the bubble teams' scores.

It's like when you're watching a game online that has a slight streaming delay. You try to avoid checking any other internet sources because they're likely to play spoiler and talk about the proceeding plays.

This idea sounds great on paper, but within 15 minutes of the game, you're already mindlessly checking Twitter and reading about the action that you've yet to see on your slightly delayed live-stream. Inadvertent, sure, but definitely costly.

Then, finally, after all the stressful hoops binge watching is complete and Selection Sunday rolls around, you're left sitting on your couch with your college happiness in the hands of the Committee. You watch on CBS as Greg Gumbel slowly reveals the field team-by-team.

You're yearning and praying for your team's logo to be flashed up on the screen, but as the field dwindles down, you start to lose hope. It's like at grade school recess when their were team captains for the kickball team. You stood against the wall hoping that eventually someone would pick you before you were literally the last choice. Except, generally, in kickball, everyone eventually got picked.

The NCAA Tournament is far more cutthroat than grade school kickball. They don't let everyone play. There's a chance that one of the captains just doesn't pick you, and you don't get to play.

Every year, that happens to several bubble teams. Last year, my Orange were selected and got to play kickball. Hopefully, I'm as lucky again this year. May the odds EVER, and I mean EVER, be in your favor.

The Bubble is ruthless, man.