Sweep-the-SwampCast! April 12, 2019

It’s finally here! The Masters is now underway and will conclude this weekend (weather permitting). Most of your favorite golf names are in the hunt for the famed Green Jacket, too.

In today’s podcast-only version of the show, we’ll discuss the start of the NBA playoffs; a better idea for the NBA’s draft lottery system (“Your wish is granted”!); tip our sports cap to a couple of retiring NBA legends; take a final look at the NCAA Men’s basketball championship game and how officiating and those bothersome instant replays really need an overhaul (“Your wish is granted…again!”); and entice you to spend your weekend watching The Masters!

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Sweep-the-SwampCast! April 5, 2019

It’s Final Four weekend for both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments! We’ll give you a preview of both events, talk about the best 3-point shooter in college basketball (hint – SHE made 77 out of 100 shots on Thursday night to win), and chat about LSU, Texas, Texas A&M hoops, too. Plus, we’ll talk about the AAF, the NFL, and this Sunday’s WRESTLEMANIA!

Oh, yeeaah! Dig it!?

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Your Final Four Investment Portfolio

Busted?  I meant “Bracket Busted”, of course!

If you’re like me, you may have only one team (Michigan State, in my case) remaining in your NCAA Men’s Final Four bracket for this coming weekend.  If you have two or more teams left in this group of four teams, then you should be looking forward to your new nickname at the office next week, Champ!

Though the four “Elite Eight” games from last weekend were probably the best collection of weekend college basketball I have seen in a long time, the majority of us are now left with a perplexing thought for the official “Final Four” games on Saturday. 

Who are these four teams, and which one(s) should I now pull for?

A great question, and, as you figured, your SwampSwami has a unique way to help you through the process.

I think you should choose your favorite of the Final Four squads (Texas Tech, Virginia, Michigan State, and Auburn) in the same manner as you prefer to build your personal investment choices! 

Are you an ultra-conservative investor?  Is your style more of a defensive investor who likes cash, short-term securities, and bonds and generally stays away from risky stocks and long shots?  You may be the type of person whose gut thinks that the next market crash is just around the corner, right?

Virginia should be your choice!    

Yes, Virginia, you are the lonely #1 seeded team remaining.  Virginia’s stockholders remain (understandably) a wee bit skeptical after being a #1 seed last year and losing in the first round (a dubious distinction) to #16-seeded commuter school from Baltimore (UMBC). 

With a head coach (Tony Bennett) who shares a name with one of America’s favorite singers, the Cavaliers are trying to go from “Rags to Riches” and redeem their fans’ high expectations this season with a national championship trophy.

Virginia is your “defensive” choice (#1 in the country, in fact).  It took an overtime game with Gonzaga (80-75) for Virginia to give up 70 or more points in the year 2019 to a team not named Duke!

Offensively, the Cavs aren’t exactly the team to pick if you want to get rich quick.  They rank a paltry #215 in the NCAA in team offense.  The Cavs philosophy is to play smart, play defense, and play to win. 

Is your investing style a little less conservative but still patient?   Do you prefer a little higher mix of stocks and bonds and find yourself attracted to “Balanced” mutual funds and a few blue chip stocks with good dividends?

Texas Tech is the team for you! 

Defense, you ask?  The Red Raiders are button-downed type of basketball team who will defend your “cash” for the full forty minute game and, if needed, into overtime.  They’ll keep the game close with a slowdown pace and have not given up more than 69 points to an opponent in four NCAA tournament games.   They are a solid #4 in the nation in defense this season. 

Alas, like Virginia, your team’s offensive returns will probably be a little below average, too.  The Red Raiders’ offense can be, at times, a little boring and don’t offer the highest yields.  Texas Tech’s offense is rated #159 in the land in points scored.

However, T-Tech’s offense features a solid international “investment” that has provided great dividends for the team the entire season.  Italy’s Davide Moretti is the team’s second leading scorer at about 12 points per game.  Shooting guard Jarrett Culver (19 points per game) is from the city of Lubbock and has scored in double digits all but one game this season.  Culver’s stock is rising (as in NBA) in the Texas Tech portfolio.

Maybe you prefer a little more risk and return in your portfolio, but you want a seasoned manager

I present to you – Michigan State!

The Spartans are your blue-chip dividend team with an experienced manager in Coach Tom Izzo. 

Want balance in your team?  Michigan State ranks 48th in team offense and 35th in team defense.  On most days, the Spartans will give you a great effort on the defensive end and just enough offense to win consistently. 

Did I say “win”?

Michigan State won the Big Ten regular season and then the Big Ten tournament.  This squad figured it deserved a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Surprisingly, Michigan State received a #2 seed instead.  They were also placed in the same bracket as #1 overall seed, Duke, which equated the team being the WORST #2 seed and eighth best team in the field entering the tournament. 

Sparty has been playing with a huge blue-chip on their shoulder in this tournament.  Ask the Duke Blue Devils.  The #1 overall seed was just sent home by Michigan State on Sunday afternoon.

This is the team to pick if you like seeing a team whose players are not focused on playing in the NBA and plays with the toughness of their Hall-of-Fame coach. 

Finally, do you feel LUCKY?  Well, do ya???

Then, your team is the Auburn Tigers!   

Auburn has been on a bull run (12 wins in a row) like no other team remaining in the Final Four.  In addition to having the greatest on-set cheerleader for national telecasts in former Tiger, Charles Barkley, this Auburn team has been your high yielding portfolio that just keeps on returning dividends for its long-suffering supporters. 

The investment portfolio includes pearls, too.   Shooting three-point shots to win games can be risky, but Auburn’s coach, Bruce Pearl, provides an inspirational lift every game for his merry band of long-distance scorers.

Auburn’s defense hasn’t been pretty (107th in the nation) as their primary objective is to simply outscore and wear down the other team.  However, Aubie surprised many as they dispatched an SEC blue-blood rival, Kentucky, with a gritty win on Sunday.  They won without the team’s third-leading scorer (Chuma Okeke) who is out for the season with a knee injury.

In sum, any of these four teams has a reasonable chance to win it all.  Of the remaining teams, only Michigan State (Magic Johnson’s 1979 team and Izzo’s first winner in 2000) has won a national championship in men’s basketball. 

There is no clear-cut favorite remaining in this weekend’s Final Four. 

So, pick a team which suits your personal investing style, and have fun with this year’s Final Four!

Sweep-the-SwampCast! March 29, 2019

If you’re over 50 (yes, I am ancient!), you probably remember a country music-oriented comedy television show called “Hee Haw!“? Every week, the cast performed a variation of a funny song called “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me!“.

That little ditty sums up my NCAA men’s and women’s basketball brackets! Poof! Gone for another year!

In today’s weekly audio podcast, I’ll discuss the sad state of my college basketball picks, talk about the New Orleans Saints’ rule change “victory” at the NFL owners’ meeting this week, the latest problems for the fledgling AAF league, XFL owner, Vince McMahon, cashes out 3 million shares of WWE stock to fund his new venture, Arizona Cardinals’ coach Cliff Kingsbury’s “Cell Phone Breaks” for NFL players, and the jersey retirement ceremony for Miami Heat basketball player, Chris Bosh.

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The Sweet 16 of March Madness!

No offense to your brackets, but, for me, this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been a bit of a dud for those of us always pull for a few big surprises. 

Sure, the Oregon Ducks have been on a massive roll through the Pac-12 tournament and the first two games of the NCAA tournament. 

Sorry, Oregon.  Your Pac-12 conference Ducks are just not the same type of feel-good small school story as last year’s Loyola-Chicago Ramblers team and their now-99 year old good luck charm, Sister Jean

This year’s final 16 teams are pretty much the expected teams among the big boys of basketball.  There are some good stories, but the sports journalists will have to work a bit harder this year.

Heading into Thursday and Friday night’s games, we have all four #1 seeds left, all four of the #2 seeds remaining, and all four of the #3 seeds still in the tourney? 

Yawn. 

All of the top 12 teams are standing this year after two games!  Add two #4 seeds (Florida State and Virginia Tech), a #5 seed (Auburn) and #12 Oregon, and there’s this year’s Sweet 16. 

However, did you know that Sister Jean’s Loyola-Chicago Ramblers had won the National Championship back in 1963? 

Did you also know that Loyola-Chicago has one more National Championship in their basketball trophy case than this year’s #1 seeds Virginia and Gonzaga, #2 seed Tennessee, #3 seeds LSU, Purdue, Texas Tech, and the University of Houston, #4 seeded Virginia Tech, and #5 Auburn?

So, despite the blue bloods like Kentucky (8 national titles), North Carolina (6), Duke (5), Michigan State (2), and others like Michigan and Oregon with one trophy each, there are ten other extremely hungry teams in the remaining field of 16 who still have the chance to win their first men’s basketball championship.

The good news about this weekend’s basketball schedule is that ANYONE left in this field could still win it all. 

The two “worst” remaining teams (#12 seed Oregon and #5 seed Auburn) both won their conference tournaments to get into the field and are playing a frenetic style of basketball with full-court pressure, sharpshooting three-point bombs, and are scoring points at pinball wizard speed. 

What about LSU, you ask?  Can you imagine the “holier-than-thou” national media screaming about a team which suspended its coach (Will Wade) who won’t even talk to his bosses about a reported wire-tapping of a possible payoff to the family of one of their current players? 

LSU was already playing hard as they dedicated this season to honor one of their players (20-year old Wayde Sims) who was shot and killed in Baton Rouge back in September.  His father (Wayne Sims) had played on the LSU basketball team in the 1980’s for Coach Dale Brown.

This year’s Tigers’ team has nothing to lose at this point.  They have plenty of talent but need to play their best games now if they want to advance. 

If the allegations about Coach Will Wade turn out to be true, LSU’s team should be be approaching each game as if it may be the last NCAA tournament game of their college careers.  The NCAA would likely place LSU on a lengthy suspension from post-season play if the worst is confirmed.

Gonzaga would be a great story, too!  Coach Mark Few has taken this small university in Spokane, Washington to national prominence in the past two decades.

The Zags have made the NCAA basketball tournament for 21 consecutive seasons!  They appeared in the national championship game two years ago but lost to North Carolina.

Gonzaga’s overall NCAA tournament record is now 33-21 and now equates to 61% winning percentage.   By contrast, the Duke Blue Devils lead this year’s field with a combined men’s tournament record of 111-36 (75.5%) followed by North Carolina, which sports a 123-45 tournament record (73%). 

So, your statistical best chances to win it all remain with Duke and North Carolina in a potential finals match-up this year.

I feel hopeful that at least one or two “spoiler” teams will emerge from the pack by the end of this weekend to prevent the Final Four from becoming the second-ever match-up of four #1 seeds in history.     

It isn’t called “March Madness” for nothing! 

Sweep-the-SwampCast! March 23, 2019

With the NCAA Men’s and Women’s March Madness Basketball tournaments now underway, ol’ SwampSwami is doing his best to catch as many games as possible!

On today’s weekly podcast, we’ll discuss both the men’s and women’s tournaments and admire the heroics of the NBA Houston Rockets’ guard, James Harden. We’ll also review the latest from the Association of American Football (AAF) and analyze some potential rule changes which may be coming in the NFL. Finally, we’ll tip our sports cap to retiring baseball legend, Ichiro Suzuki!

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SwampSwami’s Women’s NCAA Winner will be…

After a brief consultation with my daughter-in-law in Maryland, your SwampSwami has stuck his proverbial neck out and will take a shot at selecting the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament!

On the other hand, SwampSwami’s picks are usually a guarantee to jinx the annually annointed squad, too! 🙁

Though my common sense says “Pick Baylor or UConn”, SwampSwami predicts that the winning team for the Women’s tournament will be MARYLAND! Go Terps – make me proud!

SwampSwami picks MARYLAND to win the Women’s hoops tourney in 2019!

Have fun with your brackets, and enjoy the basketball!

NCAA “BracketKnowledgey”!

It’s nearly time for ol’ SwampSwami to reveal his picks for the 2019 NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Basketball Tournament

For a guy who played organized basketball from fifth grade through 12th grade and then recreationally until age 37, it saddens me to say that I have NEVER won a single NCAA basketball bracket selection contest.  EVER!

I am convinced that knowing too much can work against you.  It’s what I call the “Wile E. Coyote” effect. 

Wile E’s Acme NCAA Picks – Serving up 40 consecutive years of busted brackets!

Lord knows I’ve tried to modify my basketball feelings over the years.  I’ve tried to pick teams based on their nicknames, their team colors, and the team playing closest to each venue. 

None of them have worked yet.

What I’m trying to say is that you would be wise to forge your own path to victory! 

That said, I offer you some unique insights on completing your 2019 NCAA men’s basketball brackets:

  1. If you’re betting on team colors, 2019 is the Year of Blue.  All four of the #1 seeds in this year’s tournament have blue as their primary color (Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, and Gonzaga).  “Roses are red, these teams are blue, if you think they’ll all win, I’ve got some bad news for you!”  Actually, it did happen just once in 2008.
  2. If you prefer to select teams with animal nicknames, this is the Year of the Cats.  There are ten cat teams out of the field of 64.  That’s 15.6% of the teams.  There are four Wildcats (Kansas State, Villanova, Kentucky and Abilene Christian), two Tigers (LSU and Auburn), a Cougar (Houston), a Catamount/puma (Vermont), one Bearcat (Cincinnati) and one Panther (Georgia State) in this year’s field.   Your All-Cat Final Four would involve LSU (East-#3 seed), Vermont (West – #13 seed), Kansas State (South – #4 seed), and Kentucky (Midwest – #2 seed).  It could be Hissss-tory!
  3. If you’re more of a dog lover, there are eight of them.  This year’s kennel (I mean, field) has four Bulldogs (Mississippi State, Yale, Gonzaga, and Gardner-Webb), two Huskies (Washington and Northeastern), one Terrier (Wofford) and one Blue tick Coonhound (Tennessee’s Smokey).   Your All-Dog Final Four would best served by selecting Mississippi State (East – #5 seed), Gonzaga (West – #1 seed), Tennessee (South – #2 seed), and Wofford (Midwest – #7 seed). 
  4. If you like some variety in your animal nicknamed teams, try this quartet:  Maryland Terrapins/turtles (East – #6 seed), the Michigan Wolverines (West – #2 seed), the UC-Irvine Anteaters (South – #13 seed), and the Kansas Jayhawks (Midwest – #4 seed). 
  5. OK – let’s say you just don’t like the thought of schools’ using animals for mascots!  Here is a group of potential winners for you!  Take the Duke Blue Devils (East – #1 seed), the Texas Tech Red Raiders (West – #3 seed), the Virginia Cavaliers (South – #1 seed), and North Carolina’s Tar Heels (Midwest – #1 seed). 
  6. Amaze your friends with this tidbit of knowledge.  Did you know that TWO teams have the nickname “Gaels”?  That’s right.  St. Mary’s (South – #11 seed) and Iona (Midwest – #16 seed).  Sadly, the two Gaelic teams may not hang around for long, though. 
  7. Want more tidbits of almost useless information?  Do you know what the fight song for the Murray State (Kentucky) Racers (West – #12 seed) is?  “The Old Grey Mare”.  I kid you not!  https://goracers.com/documents/2010/6/24/Fight%20Song%20part%20II%20cut.mp3?id=7
  8. Another?  What is the nickname for the St. Louis University (East – #13 seed)?  The Billikens.  Bonus – What is a Billiken?  The school website says it was the name of a charm doll circa 1911. 
  9. Final chance – what city and state is Gardner-Webb University (Midwest – #16 seed) located?  Answer:  Boiling Springs, North Carolina in the western part of the state! 

Have fun with your NCAA basketball selections!  I will post mine prior to the start of the tournament for your amusement.

My slogan is Serving up forty consecutive years of busted brackets!

Loyola-Chicago, Sister Jean, and their San Antonio Mission

Cinderella has officially arrived at the big dance!  The #11 seed from the South region of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament has crashed the party of basketball’s blue bloods and will bring their ever-growing legion of fans from around the nation and the world into San Antonio next Saturday for the Final Four.

The Ramblers of Loyola University-Chicago are going to the big dance for the first time since 1963.

A week prior to the start of this year’s March Madness, your ever-observant SwampSwami successfully (for once!) deemed Loyola-Chicago as his sleeper pick in this year’s field.  Moral – it’s better to be lucky than good, because I also picked Virginia to win it all (oops).

https://swampswami.com/march-madness-lord-ive-become-a-ramblers-fan/

What I wasn’t aware of at the time of the prior article was the secret weapon of Loyola-Chicago, Sister Jean.  By now, everyone knows that this 98-year old basketball-happy nun offers-up a prayer for the team before every game.

When asked after an earlier win about how she motivates the Loyola team prior to tip-off, the team’s inspirational beacon said, “I told them that we were going to win, that we could do it & that God would be on our side.”

I seem to recall a couple of Chicago-based musicians whose mantra was that they, too, were on a mission from God.  Jake and Elwood (aka The Blues Brothers) didn’t do anything the orthodox way.  But they really had that positive Chicago swagger and, wow, could they dance!

This Saturday, the University of Michigan (winners of the West Region) will stand between America’s college basketball darlings and their chance to play for the 2018 national championship.

Hey, Michigan.  Did you know that the city which is home to this year’s Final Four, San Antonio, is also known for their five historic Spanish missions (including The Alamo)?

Beware, Wolverines.

Your Chicago-based opponent is rambling into town on yet another mission!

 

 

Go, Go, Gadget Boilermaker Engineers!

Purdue University is one of the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen remaining teams after last weekend’s first two tumultuous rounds of play in the annual college basketball championships known as March Madness.

After watching their senior star 7’2″ center Isaac Haas go down with a fractured right elbow in the first round of the tournament, the 30-6 Boilermakers’ chances of reaching the Final Four took a gigantic (pun intended) hit.  The painful injury to the big man’s elbow also means that Haas’ chances of suiting up again for his beloved Boilermakers have all but vanished, too.

The doctors have advised Haas, who is the team’s second-leading scorer at nearly 15 points/game, that his collegiate playing career is over as he requires a season-ending surgery.

The Purdue training staff also told the big man that he has likely played his final game for the old gold and black.

If only someone could just design a specially-fitted protective elbow brace which would also meet the NCAA’s strict guidelines, then the Boilermakers big man could possibly contribute a few points, rebounds and blocked shots on the court for his team.  Unfortunately, such a device is not commercially available.

Never say never to the Boilermaker faithful, though.  Where there’s a will (to win the school’s first national championship in men’s basketball), there’s a way.

Enter the ever-resourceful, never-say “can’t” Purdue Mechanical Engineering department!

The university’s renowned engineering students have put their minds on designing a specially-made elbow brace to allow their big man a chance to play again Friday night against Texas Tech.

When your school hasn’t advanced past this round in the NCAA tournament in 18 years and hungers to win its first-ever national title, motivation is not a problem in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Purdue head coach, Matt Painter, is hopeful but seems less optimistic than his fanatical engineering team.

The Boilermakers’ injured center, Isaac Haas, would love to get another chance and is keeping his spirits up regardless of the outcome.

“I’m gonna give everything I got, whether that be cheering on the bench or going out and playing two minutes,” Haas said. “I give my heart to these guys and I know they’ll do the same for me.”

Don’t give up, Isaac!  Your Mission Impossible team of mechanical engineers may have a March Madness surprise in store for you soon, big fella.

Go, Go, Gadget – elbow brace!