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Counterpoint: Let’s Go Kentucky!

Yesterday, Wayniac Nation’s own Mike Dunton gave a pretty convincing argument on why you should be rooting against the Kentucky Wildcats to get to that illustrious 40-0 and win the NCAA Men’s National Championship. Well, folks, I’m hear to tell you that Dunton is stark raving mad and doesn’t know what he is talking about this time.

Let me preface this by making two things perfectly clear. I do not like Kentucky basketball. If you are new to Wayniac Nation, then you are unaware that I am a diehard Syracuse Orange fan. It is my longest sole allegiance in any sport. My disdain for Kentucky is obviously stemmed in the 1996 season. It’s also the reason why Antoine Walker is on my five most hated athletes ever list and why I never cared for Tony Delk or Ron Mercer, and especially that backstabbing Rick Pitino. Jim Boeheim gave Pitino life, and that’s how he repaid him.

I also can’t stand John Calipari. Of course, Coach Cal has become one of the lesser liked coaches, possibly in the history of the game. But my ultimate dislike does not come from the curious ways he has turned around programs like UMass and Memphis and returned Kentucky to dominance. No, my dislike on Coach Cal stems from the one turn he took in the NBA, coaching my beloved New Jersey Nets. His saving grace was that he drafted my favorite Net of all time in Kerry Kittles. He also could do very little with the team in the two and a half years while he was there, and he was supposed to be the savior coming in from UMass. So screw Coach Cal.

That being said, I am rooting for Kentucky to win it all. Why? I have been watching college basketball pretty vividly since 1986. One of the first times I was ever allowed to stay up late and watch a game (of course with a TV in my room, I use the word allowed lightly) was that stupid Keith Smart shot in the Syracuse/ Indiana debacle. I have watched religiously since then, breaking things, cursing out people, and having my stress level from my bracket busting blowing through the roof for nearly three decades. And in that time I have never seen an undefeated season. You know what, I deserve it.

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The generation before mine got to see it pretty regularly. It happened twice in the 50s, and then UCLA and John Wooden pretty much forgot how to lose a game for what, 8 years? Then, in 1976 Bobby Knight and his Hoosiers went 32-0 for the last perfect season in Men’s hoops. People also forget that that season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights entered the Final Four undefeated, which made for a pretty intense March Madness.

My generation? We got the Wichita State Shockers. Exciting Cinderella story, yes. Did anyone think they legitimately had a chance to win it all and go undefeated having to go through Louisville, Michigan, or Syracuse? Unless you went to or were currently attending Wichita State, that answer is a resounding NO.

We live in an era in where the one-and-done rule reigns supreme. I agree with Dunton on the points he made in regards to the rule and its effects on the game, and I also agree that Coach Cal is perhaps the master at figuring out how to win with a bunch of Freshman. Because of the one-and-done rule, we may never have a shot at seeing an undefeated team again. So I repeat, I deserve this.

Should the one-and-done rule change, the only way it would go would be to revert back to the original rule, allowing potential NBA draftees to skip college altogether. There is no way that the NCAA or NBA would ever be able to reach an agreement to make it longer. Should the rule change and go back to allowing high school kids to enter the NBA Draft, our chances at an undefeated season grow even slimmer. In today’s society of YouTube and social media, teams are scouting kids in middle school. LeBron James 10-year old son is basically being harassed by colleges across the nation. Bron doesn’t even know what a college is.

I don’t need to rattle you off stats. If you are filling out a bracket and don’t know who to take because you didn’t pay much attention to this year’s college basketball season, all you need to know is that Kentucky has arguably the best two teams in the nation. You also need to know that Kentucky is so good that Coach Cal doesn’t even need to… recruit kids in a curious manner.

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“Hey kid,” Coach Cal could say, “Why don’t you come to Kentucky. We are a legendary program. All I need you for is 40 games. I’ll win you a championship and then you’ll get to go make millions in the NBA by the time you’re 19. If you want to stick around for a second year, I will allow it, but I must insist that by the time you turn 20 that you are an NBA Lottery pick and agree to a million dollar contract.”

Tough sell, huh? It’s not about exposure with Kentucky. They have been a legendary program for an eternity. Ever hear of Adolph Rupp? Kenny Sky Walker? Ashley Judd? Kentucky doesn’t just put out top NBA draft picks, they sustain success in the NBA. Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, and John Wall are amongst the current NBA elite and Anthony Davis may be challenging as the best big in the game.

If you are going to take the I hate Coach Cal approach, that’s fine, but find me a top program who isn’t under the microscope for questionable recruiting practices these days. North Carolina had a rigorous college academic program they seemed to put their basketball players through in order to keep them academically eligible (and Roy Williams suffered no penalty). Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is dealing with it now (although I hope they lessen the blow during the appeal process because it seemed like an all out attack on him and not Syracuse). Like I wrote months ago about Tom Brady and Bill Belichik, everybody tries to gain an edge. Call it cheating, call it immoral, but it’s competitive nature and the more high-profiled a system is, the more aware the public is.

An undefeated season becomes even harder because of the opposite effect from the one-and-done rule. What Gonzaga started over a decade ago, has been continued by coaches like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens and continues with teams like Wichita State today.

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These teams build programs of solid basketball players that won’t dash after one year. They learn team basketball and are mostly in it for the long haul. While the Zags, Butlers, JMUs and George Masons haven’t won a title yet, they show what the advantage of a cohesive team of experience with each other can do. And on the march to the Final Fours, they often take out bigger programs. Call them Cinderella stories, call them underdogs, I call them prepared.

Some people will say college basketball has been down, but I disagree. It is “down” because the playing field is leveling out across the nation. Why do you think a No. 12 seed can seemingly always beat a No. 5 seed? It’s because the same ten schools that dominated college basketball are losing players to “smaller” programs that have shown they can win and hang with the big boys. Why go and be the number four guy in Duke when you can be the head honcho of the feel good story of the tournament? There’s your exposure.

This isn’t about the one-and-done, this isn’t about Coach Cal. This is how it’s always been at Kentucky. And once Coach Cal is gone, it’s going to be how it remains. If college basketball has proven one thing it’s that the elite programs don’t simply disappear. So put you’re hatred aside and realize that we deserve to see an undefeated season.

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March Madness: 40-No!!!

Dunton returns for a little pre-Madness rant. He doesn’t want Kentucky to win, unlike yours truly. Today, Wayniac Nation presents to you Dunton’s views on why Kentucky needs to lose. Hold on to your seats, Nation fans, you can bet your March Madness loving’ butts my counterpoint will be coming!

Wanna know why Kentucky needs to lose? Keep reading!

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A Trip Down Tobacco Road Without Dickie V.

Welcome back Dunton for his first work of 2015 (slacker). Today, as a longtime UNC fan, he looks into life moving forward without Duke enthusiast Dick Vitale behind the mike for the biggest rivalry in college basketball. It’s a new era in college hoops, and someone isn’t happy:

Dunton’s views on Dickie V ahead

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HaWWWWWWKS!!!

I haven’t hid the fact at all that, since I started Wayniac Nation a little over a year ago, I am not what you would call NBA savvy. I am usually good for two or three posts a year on the professional basketball circuit, one around All Star Break and a couple heading down the 20-week road that is also called the NBA Playoffs. Why break tradition now?

I also haven’t hid the fact that when it comes to fandom, I have no problem admitting that I am a bandwagon San Antonio Spurs fan. When my beloved New Jersey Nets split for Brooklyn, they hardly had any semblance of the team I grew up watching, often winning 20 games a year. So, I ditched them and jumped on the Spurs bandwagon, not because they win, but because they play basketball the right way. Almost as if to prove me right, after I wrote about how great a dynasty they were last season (you can read it here if you missed it), they went and took down Queen James and won another Championship.

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I used to think that the greatest coach in the history of the NBA was a three horse race between Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Enter 2015 and I no longer think it’s a race: Pops is the tops. It doesn’t have to do with the fact that he dethroned the King en route to yet another championship, and it doesn’t have to do with the fact that he recently won his 1,000 win (which he incidentally has the second highest winning percentage of anyone with 1,000 wins and the guy ahead of him had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on his rosters). No, it has to do with Coach Bud.

Read on Hawks fans!

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The Wayniac Nation Super Bowl Special

We are just days away from the biggest and best single game of the year. Whether you watch it for the commercials, or as an excuse to gamble, or because you want to see what Tom Brady and his balls, Super Sunday will have the attention of the entire nation. Of course, it has grabbed The Thread’s attention.

Last year, The Thread made their Wayniac Nation debut in the first ever Super Bowl prediction special. Nomi the Greek and Sperry (now Sperry Mason as he pursues his law degree) were right on in their Seahawks prediction, while the rest of us struggled. This year has seen the addition of three new members to The Thread. Nick the Greek is Nomi’s cousin. He lives in Detroit Lions country, but his allegiance is to the Dirty Birds. Mark.9 the Game is the youngest member of The Thread. He may, however, have the coolest job out of all of us. Jaybird does one of two things: works or reads/watches sports. At this point, I may as well make Olde Blind Dog part of The Thread, since their entire bartending staff writes for the site anyway!

Super Bowl Predictions ahead

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The Fantasy Movie Football Team: QBs

Well, folks, Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone out and made some noise yet again in the world of football. Thats for another place and another time, however. We have more important things to discuss.

Last night, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter went round by round in picking their 2015 Fantasy Pro Bowl teams. It’s a great twist on a game that has been rather ho-hum for most of its existence. Maybe we can do the same.

If you have been following Wayniac Nation from day one, you know we like to have some fun. We don’t do things the run-of-the-mill way. Whether it be comparing every horse in the Belmont Stakes to a Batman movie or picking the THE ALL-TIME FICTIONAL HOOPIDITY DOOPITY ALLY OOPITY BASKETBALL MOVIE TEAM (it’s right HERE if you forgot it), we are always trying to have fun.

What we are going to start doing today is “drafting” the All Time Over Inflated Football Movie Roster. The rules will be the same as in the basketball and baseball (if you forgot the baseball team, it’s right HERE). The players have to be fictional. They can’t be actors playing real players in a bio pic, but it can be athletes playing a made up character. Likenesses of real players make the cut, so all of the players in The Replacements (which was loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike) are in play.

What we are going to do differently this time around is put each position to a vote. Normally I would break down each character and pick, but I think it’s time for Wayniac Nation to get involved. So clear your schedule and get your Netflix ready. Today, the Nation will name the greatest fictional Quarterback in movie history!

Onward to the Quarterbacks voting!!!

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Ray Lewis Loves Tom Brady

Some of you have requested it. Most of you know I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut about it. Ray Lewis has said the dumbest thing so far in this new year.

Lewis made some noise yesterday when he made the claim that no one would know who Tom Brady was if it weren’t for the infamous Tuck Rule in that 2002 playoff blizzard against the Raiders. This was of course coming off of his Baltimore Ravens losing to the New England Patriots just four days prior. Jealous much?

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There are numerous errors in Lewis’s statement that I’m not sure where to begin. So, let’s start here:

“When we — the first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said. “There’s no such thing as a tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out, that’s a freaking fumble.”

First, there was already a tuck rule. It was created in 1999, the year before Tom Brady was drafted. Did anyone really know what it was until that Blizzard Bowl? I for one did not. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. So, what happened on that day was very good officiating. It was a referee that knew the rule book up and down and was able to make a call that was in the rule books that a majority of fans, players and coaches didn’t even know existed. That doesn’t make it wrong. That shows the problem with the NFL. I mean come on, Donovan McNabb didn’t even know the rules of overtime!

I do agree with Lewis that the tuck rule is silly, much like what happened to Dez Bryant this past Sunday and Calvin Johnson a few years back. That was a catch, and Rod Woodson forced a fumble, but according to the rules, both calls were correct. Rules are very much like laws. Just because Ray Lewis figured out a way to get around them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be followed.

Now, to say that because of the tuck rule we would never know Tom Brady is outlandish. In fact, heading into that game, everyone knew Tom Brady. He was the 6th-round draft pick that stepped in for the 0-2 New England Patriots after Drew Bledsoe, one of the best passing quarterbacks in the game was power bombed by Captain Insano. Brady would go on to lead the Pats to an 11-3 record as a mere nobody and was already the feel good story of that season. We all knew who Tom Brady was, and if he had lost that game against the Raiders, we still would.

Think about this? If Jeffrey Maier didn’t not catch that not home run by Derek Jeter, would we have not known The Captain? After all, that was his first postseason, that is what started the heroics of one of the biggest heroes in modern day baseball. It’s unthinkable. Jeter would go on to amass 3,270 more hits after that home run. He would win four more World Series after that 1996 season. May the Yankees fortunes have changed if Maier didn’t catch that home run? Perhaps, but the legend of Derek Jeter would still be the same, much like that of Brady’s.

Maybe if Lewis said the Patriots of today would not be the Patriots had they lost that game, it would resinate as a better, more sound argument. Even still, it wouldn’t have been the first dynasty to start under questionable calls, on the field or off of it. I already mentioned the Maier home run. What about the Immaculate Reception? What if money hungry Harry Freeze didn’t sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees? What if the events of January 31, 2000 were interpreted a little differently and the Ravens never had their star player in their infamous defense? I’m pretty sure the Ravens won their first Super Bowl ever the very next season.

The tuck rule also did not effect the last 13 years of Brady’s illustrious career. Brady’s early career made people wonder if he was simply part of a great system. He was nothing flashy, and certainly no one saw the quarterback in Brady that he would become. He was the face of a team that had many key cogs that would make them champions.

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That all changed in 2007. Brady became the reason the Patriots were so good. How a tuck rule in 2002 could affect the 16-0 season behind a 50 touchdown performance six years later is astonishing. Brady is forever going to be in the greatest of all time conversations, and whether or not he fumbled that ball wouldn’t change that.

The Patriots will always be in a whirl wind of controversy. This isn’t the first time their winning ways have been attacked. They haven’t won a championship since that little Spygate affair, and that has never ceased to haunt them. But if losing an 18-0 season to the lowly Giants didn’t tarnish Brady’s legacy, a peculiar rule certainly wouldn’t either.

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There were a few things we learned about Ray Lewis over his Hall of Fame career. He was one of the most gifted athletes to step on the field. He is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play the game. But he also loves the limelight for himself and his Ravens. Lewis has never steered clear of the spotlight, whether it be his on-field antics or his outspoken comments.

The Ravens, and thus Ray Lewis, lost this past Saturday in Foxboro. That means he and the Ravens will be out of the spotlight until next season, or at least until their next classy player finds themselves in the news for non-NFL affairs. What better way to get back into the limelight than being a jackass? Some players have made a career out of just that.