Tennessee and UConn played one another in women’s basketball last week, and it was a tribute to the sport. These two programs have done more for women’s sports as a whole in this country (and thereby in a lot of the world) than just about anyone who isn’t the national soccer team. Thankfully, they don’t like each other. It’d be pretty lame if they spent the whole experience patting one another on the back.
Still, one batch of “trash talk” I saw left me disappointed. Two UConn fans spent minutes of their lives on Twitter lambasting the Lady Vols for…not being named the Vols. To which we say: Which brand is more impressive?
The thing about what Pat Summitt did at Tennessee is that she did it at Tennessee, a school so bad at sports that it has to claim four bogus national titles in football just to get itself over twenty across its entire athletic department. Pat Summitt won more than a third of Tennessee’s national championship, and eight times more than Phillip Fulmer did as head coach and athletic director combined.
Is it silly to call teams with gender-neutral nicknames the Lady (Insert Nickname Here)s? Yes. But in Tennessee’s case, it would be a step down at this point for the basketball team to start going simply by “Volunteers.” Really, the other programs at Tennessee-Knoxville should start going by Lady Volunteers. All of them. Especially the men’s basketball team. It helps to win if you adopt an identity that’s taken seriously.
NIT Bracketology: More Thoughts
We’ve already got our NIT Bracketology update for today and a rundown of that update with even more details, so I don’t know what more you freaks want, but I can’t blame you for having an insatiable hunger for NIT content. I share that hunger. We are one in this endeavor.
Anyway, the only thing I think I haven’t gone through is where each of our Ten Teams Who Could Win the NIT™ stacks up after this weekend, and whether or not we need to make a change. The ten, newly in order from likeliest to win it all to least likely to win it all, as we estimate it:Memphis: After beating Tulsa on the road yesterday, Penny Hardaway’s a troubling 17-5. Thankfully, he has three believable opportunities to grab bad losses from here, hosting all of Tulane, UCF, and Cincinnati, and he has four more beyond those that wouldn’t shock, plus the games against Houston. Memphis could play well and still go 6-5 with no good wins from here. That should be enough to get them in our field. They’re still the favorite, even if our bracketology has them projected to finish four whole seed lines above our field. Oklahoma State: The Pokes smoked Mississippi on Saturday, and defense doesn’t slump, which is good because Oklahoma State’s offense is in a permaslump. They’re aimed right at the bubble, one of our first three teams out on the high side, and they have some cushion as far as their win/loss record goes. Unlike… Oklahoma: Oklahoma whooped Alabama, which is great because Alabama might win the other tournament and Oklahoma might win the NIT and that would be quite the juxtaposition, wouldn’t you agree? (I said: WOULDN’T YOU AGREE? Thank you.) Oklahoma has work to do to stay at or above .500 overall, especially without accidentally missing the NIT, but they have unfinished business from last year and they appear to be trying to finish it. New Mexico: The Lobos remain fun, and remain very close to NIT World. I have no good grasp of where real perception is of this team, and given they’re on the very subjective bubble, that’s scary, but it could work in our favor. If they make it, they’re currently expected to be competitive. Dayton: Dayton’s looking great. They’ve played like a poop sandwich often enough that they could finish strong and still not sniff an at-large bid from those other guys, potentially putting them right in our lap. The risk? The A-10 is having a down year, so that league tournament looks winnable. These guys beat Richmond by 26 over the weekend. St. John’s: St. John’s keeps staying in our field, their problem is that they just aren’t all that good. Need them to show something soon. They could get the axe from The Ten if they lose badly enough to Seton Hall on Wednesday. UAB: Jelly Walker remains out, but UAB grabbed a surprisingly forceful win on Saturday in Houston against Rice. Leave out the part where it was against Rice and that sentence is super impressive. They’re hardly within shouting distance of our projected field (ninth team out), but they’re good enough at their best to close that gap quicker than teams around them can. Tulane: Tulane is one spot behind UAB and lacks UAB’s ceiling, but we haven’t been able to evict them from these confines yet because every time we’re about to, they win, continuing to Have a Moment. Thankfully, they play at Memphis next weekend, which should result in them either pulling Memphis back into our grasp our pushing themselves out of our faces. Gonzaga: The Zags looked kind of bad against on Saturday, struggling to put away Portland (they only led by five with ten minutes left), but they hid the game on ROOT Sports and they didn’t lose or let it come down to a final bucket, so few noticed. Tougher stretch coming up: Their next five games are all against teams in CBI territory or better. One stinker in there and they could plummet. (Gonzaga is currently projecting to finish eight whole seed lines above the NIT, but there’s a chance, dammit.) Illinois: It’s getting close to goodbye for us and the Illini, who may have weathered their own storm. If they can’t lose at home to Nebraska this week, it might be curtains, and even if they do lose that game they might need to do it again next week when Minnesota comes to town in order to be taken seriously. It’s a shame. They’re projected to go 6-5 from here and they’re still supposed to finish seven seed lines above our field.
Milk Mode: Energized
I’ve gone heavier on the chocolate milk, starting yesterday, in my latest attempt to lose a little weight. Basically, most of my preferred snacks are worse for me than chocolate milk, so subbing chocolate milk should theoretically help. I live a great life, guys.
Fargo got a little chilly today, we think. She was having trouble settling into snoozle mode earlier this afternoon. Kept lying down, wriggling a little, and standing back up to stare at me. This resulted in a lot of pets, but I think we both wanted her comfortable. So, she’s got her own blanket on the floor again. It’s supposed to be chilly all week, so this should keep up.
God bless Philadelphia for heckling Nick Bosa’s brother, Joey Bosa, effectively enough to get him to use the phrase “butt buddy” and start yelling about how much money he makes, both of which are things you do when you’re really, really rattled if you’re an NFL defensive end. God bless Philadelphia for also producing my sister-in-law, who responded to a “play nice” text directed towards her and our Kansas Citian aunt and uncle with, “When have Philadelphians ever played nice?” Even people from Philly who run veggie-centric food blogs are willing to crack some skulls. What a city.
Texas Fans: Boring
I’ve gotta say, I’m a little bummed there wasn’t a bigger reaction to Rick Barnes stomping Texas on Saturday night. I think the fanbase has quit on this team despite being the Big 12 regular season favorites right now. Relatedly, Austin is getting very into the MLS. I have conflicting emotions.
Burnley: Good Draw if They Can Get There
The Burnleys have to play a rematch with Ipswich Town next week after a scoreless draw on Saturday, but if they can advance, they’ll get to play another League One team in the FA Cup Round of 16, and I’m about it. Also, the guy from Swansea—Obafemi—is signed. It’s official. Was it official last week? I forget. It’s official now. Also evidently some Swansea fans have been pretty racist to Obafemi on his way out the door, and possibly beforehand as well. Burnley fans would never (*grabs Burnley fans by the ears*).
The Sens: Hot
The Sens swept the Leafs and Canadiens on Friday and Saturday, winning by an average score of 5.5 to 1. It was a dominant weekend, and the vibes are the best they’ve been in a while (I assume—I haven’t looked at any Sens news beyond the games). They get the Canadiens again tomorrow before heading into the All-Star Break, and while they’re still 14th in the Eastern Conference, I know little enough about hockey to be easily persuaded to believe again. There’s more than a month before the trade deadline! That’s so much time for me to blindly hope.
The menu tonight:
7:00 PM EST: Virginia @ Syracuse (ESPN)
Syracuse fans were all over the NIT Bracketology update today, so you know they’re locked in. Best team in the conference coming to the JMA Wireless Dome? This should be rowdy for at least the first ten minutes or so. (I know, that name kills me too, and not by making me laugh.)
9:00 PM EST: Iowa State @ Texas Tech (ESPN2)
Texas Tech going 11-2 outside the Big 12 and 0-18 within the Big 12 probably won’t happen, but it’d be funny if it did! The Red Raiders aren’t out of the NIT mix yet, but they need to win games they shouldn’t, which is all games, period. This is one of those games. One of the more winnable ones remaining, to be honest.
9:00 PM EST: Baylor @ Texas (ESPN)
Does freezing rain make them cancel this? Does freezing rain keep the gray-hairs out? Does freezing rain get students anticipating a day off of class tomorrow amped the hell up? Lot of ways this could go.