The Sound of Madness

gusjohnson

Hello Madness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again,
because a vision loudly creeping
left its seeds while I was sleeping,
and the aural vision that was planted in my brain
still remains
within the sound of Madness.

Last night, Fox Sports Live teased us by announcing a late-March appearance on their program of the great Gus Johnson, the Detroiter who rose to prominence as a college basketball announcer for CBS, working the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from 1996 to 2011. If you don’t recognize his name, surely you’ll recognize his voice. In short, Johnson was the genuine article, calling wild tournament games with pitch-perfect passion. None were better. None could be better. Cry while you while away your day with the Gus Johnson Soundboard.

Cry because, in 2011, Fox Sports hired Johnson away from CBS, and CBS let him leave, but CBS retained the broadcast rights to the tournament. Fox’s attempt to convert Johnson into the American voice of soccer did not work.

In Johnson’s absence, CBS appears to have tabbed Bill Raftery as Johnson’s spiritual replacement, a role for which he is ill-suited because 1) Johnson himself is irreplaceable and 2) Raftery is not a good broadcaster. That second point is an Unpopular Internet Opinion, so you have to read another paragraph on the subject.

Raftery seems ok enough in one-on-one settings away from a basketball broadcast, such as this segment on last week’s episode of Garbage Time. Get him on an NCAA tournament broadcast, though, and he is the worst. In a word: unlistenable. I’ve never heard anyone work so hard to consciously fabricate an air of spontaneous passion. Raftery is the unintentionally funny kid in high school who became self-aware, realized why people liked him and thought he was funny, and then actively tried to replicate his past affect to gain popularity, something that’s even more tortured to witness than this sentence is to read. Raftery is Tony Montana, who becomes a reckless wreck after buying too deeply into his own product. I’d rather hear Brian Collins call a tournament game than Bill Raftery.

The present situation is untenable. There can be no missions accomplished, no peace in our time without a reunification of Gus Johnson and the NCAA tournament. Messrs. Berson and Shanks: Tear Down This Wall.

And the people bowed and prayed
to the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
in the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls
and whispered in the sound of Madness.”

#FreeGusJohnson

Tom Izzo Is The Best Coach In Modern NCAA Tournament History — By Far (via FiveThirtyEight)

A No. 7 seed unseats a No. 2 in the NCAA tournament’s second round about twice every three years, but there was something about Michigan State’s upset of Virginia on Sunday that felt more routine than that. Perhaps it was the fact that the Spartans had toppled the Cavaliers just last season, but beyond that, no second-week tournament run from Michigan State qualifies as surprising at this point. As you might have heard, Izzo’s Spartans are now 13-1 all-time in the round of 32, and they’ve visited the Final Four more often (six times) than they’ve lost in the tournament’s opening weekend (five times).

Digging deeper into the numbers only solidifies Izzo’s reputation as Mr. March. A few years ago, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver wrote about how unlikely Izzo’s teams were to have consistently advanced as far as they did from the seeds at which they started — and that was at the very beginning of the five-season stretch (from 2010-present) where the Spartans advanced to four regional semifinals and one regional final. By any standard, Izzo’s teams tend to wildly exceed their expectations once the NCAA tournament commences. … Read More

(via FiveThirtyEight)

ALDLAND’s March Madness Bracket Challenge: Sweetening the Pot

On Monday, Brendan announced ALDLAND’s 2015 March Madness bracket challenge. This is our fourth year hosting an NCAA tournament contest, and our second in a row partnering with Baddeus Thaddeus Lenkiewicz. Important: there still is time for you to join. Click here to submit your picks for a chance to win limitless fame and one of the other “prizes” Brendan detailed in his post.

As an added incentive, we are bolstering the first-place prize package with a Mike & Mike Fifteenth Anniversary t-shirt from the gift basket the Mikes sent us for being such good listeners and always finishing our dinners before getting up from the table. Shirt is one-size-fits-you because they only sent us one (a Golic-ish XL).

Enter your picks here, and read about all the details here.

March Thadness is Back: Join Our Bracket Challenge Now to Win

Here we are on our thirdfourth year of the ALDLAND March Madness bracket challenge and our second year of partnering with the esteemed Baddeus Thaddeus Lenkiewicz. Who won last year? Everyone who participated, of course. Did we make good on any of the prizes we said we would offer? Maybe? Anyway, here is what we have on tap for this year.

  • 3rd Place: I will send you one of the invites I have for Google Inbox. We will mention you on the ALDLAND Podcast when it is resurrected.
  • 2nd Place: You get to come on the ALDLAND Podcast for a segment discussing Gaelic Football, so start studying up. Blog founder AD will also sign five baseball cards of your choice.
  • 1st Place: You get to come on an entire ALDLAND Podcast and we will write a post about how great you are at making a bracket. If you pay your way to Atlanta you can take in a game at Turner Field with blog founder AD and he will buy you an ice cream or a hot dog, but not both.
  • Last Place: You have to go to New York and spend an entire weekend with Bad Jeremy. If you are Jeremy, there is no penalty for finishing last, the reason for which should be obvious.

Join and enter your picks here.

A Statistical Appreciation of the Washington Generals And Harlem Globetrotters (via FiveThirtyEight)

gtRed Klotz, the founder and longtime coach of the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ perpetually feeble opponents, died at age 93 last week (I highly recommend Joe Posnanski’s remembrance). Klotz’s all-time record as a head coach of the Generals and their namesakes was something like six wins and 14,000 losses — they lost 99.96 percent of the time.

How exactly did the Generals lose so consistently? How much of it was their conceding games on purpose, as opposed to simply being really bad at basketball?

Let’s first get a sense for how good the Globetrotters were. … Read More

(via FiveThirtyEight)

ALDLAND Podcast

Coaching changes are happening everywhere these days, and by everywhere we mean in Detroit and San Francisco or Oakland or wherever the heck Golden State is. And since they are happening, ALDLAND is going to talk about them. But we haven’t forgot college hoops, as we touch on the biggest story of 2014, coming out of New Haven, CT. Come for the basketball, stay for the soccer, which is also here in this podcast too.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

ALDLAND Podcast

ALDLAND is here with a pre-tournament podcast. We might be too late to give you much advice for this year’s bracket, but there is still good information and strategies in here for next year or for when you fill out that all important NCAA hockey tournament bracket. Upsets, final four teams and whether you should wear IU pants to the bar when IU isn’t playing . . . it’s all here.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

The NCAA still wants you to believe its rules carry the force of law

This is a topic that probably deserves further extrapolation, but for now, just take a moment to remember that a violation of NCAA rules, to which most of us are not subject, is not the same thing as violating the law. This was the lesson of the Nevin Shapiro foul-up. That doesn’t mean that the NCAA doesn’t want you to think they can’t act with the force of law, though. [Note that lawyers receive bonus law points for triple negatives. – Ed.] The latest example came this afternoon:

That’s the NCAA’s official news account, and the tweet contains a link to the NCAA’s Sports Wagering Brochure, which is not a legal advice document from a lawyer or the government. Its text says that a variety of gambling-related acts may constitute violations of NCAA rules. That’s fine. So is eating too much pasta.

The brochure’s images and layout attempt to tell a different story, though:

ncaawageringshaving

Point shaving is a federal crime, and sports gambling, like just about everything else, is a regulated activity. To say that the NCAA’s brochure clearly parses people’s obligations under the law, as compared with their obligations under the NCAA’s rules is as much of an understatement as Mercer is an underdog to win the NCAA tournament. Take a look at the full brochure layout and see if you agree.

Do you think the NCAA cares that it might have caused confusion about the extent of its enforcement authority vis-a-vis state and federal law? Don’t bet on it.

ALDLAND Podcast

There’s not a lot going on in the sports world this week . . . OR IS THERE? Join your two favorite cohosts as we discuss the biggest piece of sports fiction to come out in, well, ever: “A Win for the Devils” by Jeremy Francis. We also discuss conference tournament season and share some of our picks to surprise in major and mid major tournaments across the country.

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ALDLAND Podcast

Hello ALDLAND listeners, its the ALDLAND Podcast team, and we have quite the episode for you this week. Lip service is paid to the end of the Olympics and Canada is blamed for things that are assuredly their fault. If that’s not enough, your two favorite co-hosts get deep into discussing the NCAA tournament bubble.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here: