The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

BS BCS=RIP RPI?

While the American economy has been growing rapidly for more than 2 consecutive quarters, job growth has been slow to catch up. Many people, mostly politicians, have been blaming outsourcing for this phenomenon. I am here today to bring you good news on two fronts. First, outsourcing is not the root cause of slow job growth, and second, that this will all be fixed by next week.

A recent article in Business Week magazine looked at the root causes of unemployment and found that it is technology, and not those evil foreigners that have been causing slow job growth. Technological innovation, once only the bane of the manufacturing industry, has now spread to the service industry, which composes 80% of the total US economy. Because of advances in computers and communication, corporations have been able enhance efficiency without adding workers. A 1% increase in annual efficiency in the United States costs 1.3 million jobs. They conclude with a report from the Forrester Research Group that concludes, “of the 2.7 million jobs lost in the last three years, only 300,000 have been from outsourcing.”

University of Chicago professor Daniel Drezner posted this on his site, and believes the 300,00 number to be a high-end estimate. Many economists (note: you can’t throw a stone around the University here without hitting an economist. This makes stone throwing here very efficient.) believe that the true costs of outsourcing are closer to 1 of every 100 jobs lost, or about 27,000 a year.

Now the good news. The NCAA tourney starts on Thursday, which means that both production and efficiency will reach their yearly low as most males in the work force schedule “client meetings” and “business lunches” at their local tavern, which just happens to be connected to a satellite dish, while their lesser underlings take advantage of the companie’s high speed Internet to update scores every 15 seconds. Corporations will lose millions as their employee base suddenly seems much to low to support the desired productivity. Hiring will soar! The economy will skyrocket, and productivity will resume like magic.

This is the power of the NCAA tournament, and this is a game by game analysis of the entire first round. The NCAA this year has changed their stupid directional system of region names, in which western region games were sometimes played in Boston, Eastern in Oregon, and Midwestern games in Tierra Del Fuego. Unfortunately they have changed it to a much more stupid system in which the regions are named for the host city (Your East Rutherford Region MVP, Devin Harris!). For NCAA purposes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is now located in East Rutherford New Jersey. Anyway, we will alter the regional names for Electric Commentary purposes according to a brilliant system of naming the first thing that comes into my mind when I think about the host city.

Also, as I so often state, I know very little about college basketball, so in the event that I cannot make an informed decision, the winner will be based on the superior mascot. For instance, if the Green Wave of Tulane were to face the Crimson Tide of Alabama, the Tide would prevail, as a tide is a much stronger force than a wave. Furthermore, the Green Wave is undoubtedly given its green hue by life, algae, seaweed, and the like. The crimson or “red” tide is a very toxic microorganism capable of killing almost anything it touches, including humans. Therefore the Tide would undercut and annihilate the wave, and Alabama would win. Let’s get started…

JAYHAWK REGION

Why is this the Jayhawk region? Despite a lackluster season, Kansas was rewarded with home games in their first FOUR games as long as they keep winning. Oh, and they only lost once at home this year.

Kentucky v. Play-in winner

The play-in pits Lehigh’s Mountain Hawks against Florida A&M’s Rattlers. Hawks eat snakes, and it doesn’t really matter, because 16 seeds never win, and the slippery KY is probably the best team in the country. Last time they won it all they lost to Louisville 2 days after Christmas, suffered their last loss on Valentine’s day, won the SEC tourney in Atlanta, and won it all in San Antonio. This year they lost to Louisville 2 days after Christmas, lost their last game on Valentine’s day, and won the SEC tourney in Atlanta. The finals this year are in San Antonio. Do I have to draw you a map?

Washington v. UAB

The Huskies of Washington play in a weak Pac-10. The Blazers of UAB played an easy schedule in a tough Conference USA, and shared the conference title. Still the Huskies 11 losses are troubling in a league that should have been a cakewalk. UAB at least had to play quality up and down. Go with the slightly more tested Blazers, as this is just a contest to see whom the slippery KY destroys in the next round anyway.

Providence v. Pacific

The Friars of Providence will tangle with the Boxers of Pacific. I happen to think that one boxer could take out several friars, most of whom are pacifists. It stands to reason that a large group of Boxers will decimate the helpless friars. Go with Pacific, realizing that this is a 5/12 match-up and you know that at least one 12 will win.

Kansas v. UIC

The Flames of UIC got in by winning the Horizon League tourney over UWM, and they are a very good team. The fact of the matter is that this seeding screws them. Kansas is too high a seed and playing at home where they don’t lose. UIC is too low a seed and will have a tough time in a hostile environment. The Jayhawks in a cakewalk.

Boston College v. Utah

Poor Rick Majerus looks like he’ll never coach again, but his hospitalization seems to have galvanized a Utah team that had been mediocre until then. Boston College is a bland Big East team. They have no stars, but they’re tough. Their best player is named Craig Smith. Utah presents a tough match-up for BC, as they are big up front, and have a deadly shooter in Nick Jacobson. Take the Utes in an upset over a mediocre team from the top heavy Big East.

Georgia Tech v. Northern Iowa

All you need to know about this one is that GT recently ended Duke’s 41 game home winning streak. They’re tough as nails. Northern Iowa, on the other hand isn’t that bad. They have a balanced attack, and a pretty high RPI for a mid-major. But GT could come out of this region if KY dries up. Likely to be a blowout.

Michigan St. v. Nevada

Michigan State played perhaps the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, and it hurt them badly. They rebounded somewhat in the Big Ten, but really never gelled. They’re tough to get a read on because they are probably talented enough to make a run, but could very easily lose to a pesky and high scoring Wolfpack team. Still Tom Izzo doesn’t go down easily in tournament play, so look for the Spartans to get it together just in time, and survive a scare.

Gonzaga v. Valparaiso

The two former Cinderellas are pitted against each other in the first round. While these used to be the teams that no one wanted to play, Gonzaga has become somewhat of a powerhouse lately. But I don’t know squat about either one, so let’s see, the Zags are actually the Bulldogs, while Valpo’s moniker is the Crusaders. Surely when those knights left Europe to retake the holy lands they encountered a few dogs. While disease, travel weariness, starvation, in fighting, and, oh yes, Muslims may have stopped the crusaders, dogs almost certainly did not. Take Valpo.

SOPRANOS REGION

I don’t know where in New Jersey East Rutherford is located (East, I guess), and that’s pretty much my lasting impression.

St. Joe’s v. Liberty

This is the situation that 16 seeds have been dreaming about for years and years. They say “What we need is a mid-major conference winner to get lucky, go undefeated, and garner enough attention and whine enough to get a one seed.” Not only did that happen this year with St. Joe’s, they even lost their conference final to Xavier by 20 and STILL got a number one seed. Now St. Joe’s is acting entitled and cocky. They purportedly have the nations best back court in the form of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, but who have they beaten to prove it? An injured Gonzaga team?

A thought experiment: If St. Joe’s played all of the 6 seeds in the tourney (Wisconsin, North Carolina, Boston College, and Vanderbilt) would they beat half of them? Any of them? They are an undeserving 1 seed, taking up space that rightly belongs to Oklahoma St. or Pitt.

Liberty is not one of those crappy teams with a losing record. They finished 8-2 over their final ten games. Sooner or later a 16 seed will beat a one seed, and this is my pick for when it will happen.

Take Liberty in the greatest upset in tourney history. Give me Liberty or give me Death!

Texas Tech v. Charlotte

Charlotte, one of the many Conference USA champions, is actually very good. The Red Raiders, coached by some crazy guy who used to coach at Indiana, were very mediocre in a mediocre Big 12. Oh, by the way, said crazy guy hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his tourney record lately. Take the 49ers, and laugh maniacally when Bobby gets bounced.

Florida v. Manhattan

The Gators are fierce predators with strong jaws, sharp teeth, and big appetites. A Jasper or “an opaque variety of reddish, brown, green or yellow quartz used as an ornamental stone” is, in esseence, a rock. Rock may beat scissors, but not Gators. Take Florida.

Wake Forest v. Virginia Commonwealth

The Demon Deacons, whose mascot looks a little too much like John Lithgow in “Footloose,” take on the Rams. I’m not sure what a Demon Deacon is. My best guess is a deacon who has been possessed by a demon, or one who uses his powers improperly. Either way, they probably have no problem sacrificing a ram. Take Wake.

Wisconsin v. Richmond

My Alma Mater takes on the pesky Spiders, who boast a great defense, especially by guard Tony Dobbins who will be draped on Devin Harris all game. This is a tough draw for the Badgers who are seeded much too low (I think a three seed for sure, and debatably a two seed was in order) but at least they are in Milwaukee where they will have home court. Mike Wilkinson and Zach Morley will need big games, but what will probably allow Wisconsin to win is THEIR defense, which isn’t too shabby. Richmond is a bit offensively challenged, and may not get over 50 in this game. Take the Badgers at home.

Pitt v. UCF

Pitt, along with Wisconsin and OK St. were really screwed, and UCF is going to have to pay for it. Pitt has one seed talent, and should have been a two for sure. UCF is the Golden Knights. Gold is heavy and malleable, offering little protection and creating an easy target for the hungry Tigers.

Memphis v. South Carolina

Tigers is the most common nickname in college athletics, held by at least 44 teams. This has created an oversupply of tigers, making them extra mean. The Gamecocks are capable only of defeating other chickens. They may as well show up inside a bucket. Memphis in a blowout.

Oklahoma St. v. East Washington

Oklahoma St. is mad, and the Eagles of EW won’t last more than 5 minutes with these gun totin’ Cowboys. The easiest pick in the tourney.

RAY LEWIS REGION

These teams need to knock off a few opponents, just like Ray did one fateful Atlanta night…

Duke v. Alabama St.

Duke may not be the unbeatable force they once were, but there is no way the Devils are within 20 points of the Hornets, who have an RPI of 230. Duke in a laugher.

Seton Hall v. Arizona

Remember the top heavy Big East? Well here is one of its overrated lesser teams, the Pirates of Seton Hall. Arizona had a bad year, and played in the Pac-10, but Arizona is always prepared thanks to Lude. Not even Johnny Depp will save these Pirates. Take the Wildcats.

Illinois v. Murray St.

The state of Murray was added to the union 6 years ago to replace the perennially underachieving North Dakota. OK, so that’s not true (yet) but what is true is that the Illini looked really really really bad in the Big 10 tourney, they should not be seeded ahead of Wisconsin (by the way, what is with the selection committee talking down to the Big 10 and Big 12? They can’t wait for the games to finish? What is that? Two of the most prominent conferences in the country getting a talking too by a commission who’s job it is too sit in a room and talk about college basketball and construct the bracket for like 5 hours. Do they not realize the NCAA gets a cut of tourney revenues from those conference championship games? Could they not come up with a few different scenarios in advance so that when the games ended they could just plug the winner in one slot and the loser in another? What a bunch of lazy jerks.) and Murray State’s best player is named Cuthbert Victor, and you have to root for a guy who’s gone through as much as he has. Except news is now in that Murray State’s second leading scorer, Kelvin Brown has been suspended. So take the Illini

Cinci v. East Tennessee St.

Cinci is one of the Conference USA Champions, and actually won the tourney as well. But ETS is a scary 13 seed. 9-1 over their last 10 games, a 61 RPI, and 27-5 overall. They’re no pushover. If a 13 is going to upset a 4, it will be here. Plus Bearcats don’t really exist. I’m starting my own team and calling it the Pigeonfish. Take Cinci, but be weary. Don’t have them going too far, just in case.

North Carolina v. Air Force

Air Force, picked to finish last in its conference, made the NCAA by instituting the Princeton offense, which works great if…
a. You’re not very good and
b. You’re opponent is.
North Carolina may have the best starting five in America, but they’re sloppy, which plays right into the hands of Air Force. But Carolina is too good in the end. It’ll be close, but no cigar for the Air Force.

Texas v. Princeton

The Tigers, not surprisingly, play the Princeton offense, but, like Air Force, face a far superior team. Close as always, but not quite enough for the eggheads of the Ivy League.

Xavier v. Lousiville

Xavier was responsible for thrashing St. Joe’s in the Atlantic 10 tourney. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, on the other hand, haven’t been the same since the coach had to make a trip to the hospital earlier in the year. They were the 6th team in from Conference USA and Reece Gaines has moved on to greener pastures. The Musketeers shoot down the helpless Cardinals.

Mississippi St. v. Monmouth

Bulldogs v. Hawks. Hawks in some parts of the world are so large that they can pick up sheep for small periods of time. However, these Hawks are from New Jersey, and New Jersey isn’t really the best environment for the development of gigantic Hawks. The Bulldogs maul the Hawks.

DECREPIDLY OLD REGION

When the fans get angry in Phoenix, they throw their teeth at you. Actually, I guess they do that in Tennessee too.

Stanford v. Texas-San Antonio

The Cardinal is not intimidated by the lowly Roadrunner. Especially since the Cardinal in this case is a tree. Stanford is fantastic. They were undefeated for most of the season, they have experience, and they will route the Roadrunners.

Alabama v. Southern Illinois

The Salukis are still tough, even after losing coach Bruce Weber to the Illini. Bama played the second toughest schedule in the nation, which partially explains their lackluster record. But if they lose to good teams, what makes anyone think that they can beat the Salukis? Take Southern Illinois.

Syracuse v. BYU

Last years champs have mellowed out since ‘Melo is out and playing for Denver. They’re not the team they used to be, but they are still tournament tested and will get by the mormons, er, Cougars of BYU. I don’t know what an orangeman is (and neither does my spell check) but if a man could take a Cougar, and Orangeman could probably take 2 or 3.

Maryland v. UTEP

I really dislike Maryland. A lot. I saw them play several times this year and not once did I see them look good, except against Wisconsin. Now I know they won their tourney, which is impressive, but 19-11 with a LOSING conference record gets you a 4 seed these days? Gary Williams team is young and makes a ton of mistakes. They are overseeded here, and although I know nothing about UTEP other than that Tim Hardaway used to go there, I’ll pick them over this overrated ACC team.

Vandy v. Western Michigan

Commodores v. Broncos. A Commodore is a Naval officer ranking above a captain but underneath a Rear Admiral. Is also a now obsolete computer, but their mascot indicates the former, not the latter. A bronco is no match for a trained naval officer, and Vandy will tame that horse.

NC State v. Louisiana Lafayette

What happens when a wolf pack encounters some Ragin’ Cajuns? My experience with Cajun folk indicates to me that the wolf pack in question would dine a fine Creole dinner that night with a nice bourbon style marinade. NC State beat Lafayette (The French dialect that is Cajun or Creole has no past tense).

DePaul v. Dayton

The Blue Demons take on the Flyers (formerly the Flying Dutchmen). Dayton is a solid team to be sure. DePaul was one of the Conference USA co-champs along with almost everyone else in the conference, but played a relatively easy schedule and could be vulnerable as an upset here. They finished hot, so they area tough team to read. Take the Flyers, but this is basically a pick’em game.

And finally,

UConn v. Vermont

I'll bet you thought Vermont didn't even have schools. The Huskies take on the Catamounts. Catamounts are European wildcats, the name is shortened from “catamountain.” So this is a dog v. cat battle. With Emeka Okafor back in the lineup, UConn is almost unbeatable. They probably could make a good case for a one seed as well, having won the Big East tourney. Vermont suffers the same fate as their governor, Howard Dean. A humiliating double digit first round loss.

And there you have it. If you use any of this for gambling purposes, you deserve to lose all of your money.

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT FOOTBALL

TO got his wish and will become an Eagle, via a pseudo trade. Also, David Boston was traded by the Chargers to the Dolphins for former Wisconsin star Jamar Fletcher. This means that the two heaviest receivers in the NFL were traded 3 times in the off season. Less is more boys.

Good luck in your brackets everyone.

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