Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, That Escalated Quickly...

Sunday mornings after a big Saturday night are never fun. Mornings after St. Patrick's day can be ugly. And when St. Patrick's Day is a Saturday? Urgh. The only advantage to my adventures on Saturday was that I passed out at about 1am or so. This meant that when I rolled over at 10am Sunday morning, throat sore from screaming "BAM!" at every big 3 point basket, I was pleasantly surprised at the time, while being reaosnably rested.

Being conscious at a decent hour allowed me to safely enter one of my favourite tournaments, the 11:30am Stars Million qualifier. I jumped into that, and was halfway through navigating the field when the first game of the day, Tennessee/Virginia, kicked off. I still held hopes that my Magic Bracket (aka The Artist Formerly Known as the Perfect Bracket) would recover from the two game slide it had taken late on Saturday. With Tennessee down by 10 with 4:30 left in the first half, I thought it was over. But Bruce Pearl's men would not be denied, despite their penchant for the following play: dribble into a triple-team, leave your feet, and then attempt a bad pass.

As previously mentioned, my "WTF?!" pick for the Elite Eight was Winthrop - which meant their stoush with Oregon could make or break my bracket, especially given that a majority of people who had Oregon making this game would have them progressing to the Sixteen. I had been worried about this matchup ever since it seemed it would come to fruition, but when Winthrop skipped out to a six point lead I dared to dream.

Looking back, my mistake was probably going to the store at that point. I had decided that I was going to play the Stars Million, and thus needed supplies. Though I had indeed managed sleep the night before, I was still far from firing on all cylinders.

I can only imagine what the girl at the counter thought as she rang up the following items for me:
  • 4 bottles of Vitamin Water (large, "Revive" flavour)
  • 3 cans of Red Bull (large)
  • 1 pint of frozen yogurt (Vanilla and Raspberry swirl)
  • 12 pack of beer (Yuengling)
I think the only way that shopping list could have been improved is if I added a pack of cigarettes.

Once I got home I noted that Oregon had taken the upper hand, and as I watched in consternation the game slipped further and further away. I tried to put it out of my mind as I chugged a Red Bull, sipped on my Revive, and opened my first beer of the day.

Besides cracking Aces early with K2s, I didn't have a lot happening in the Stars Million. This was only the second time I had played it (the other being last week), and once again I noticed that it was extremely tight early. I tried to loosen up a little (hence the K2s), and managed to pick up some chips - right until I had a tricky hand just before the break which resulted in a return to my starting stack.

I continued my card-dead ways in the second hour, and then just before the next break I ran into trouble in back-to-back hands. In the first I misplayed AKo against a big stack, and in the very next hand I pushed over the top of the same big stack pre-flop with my stellar holding of 77. The big stack thought, and thought, and then called with A7s. 7 on the flop. A on the turn. Guess what the river was? That meant I busted in about the same place as last week - halfway through the field, just before the second break. I was disappointed, but happier with my play - I had been extremely card-dead all tournament (for the record here were my notable cards in those two hours: 77, AQo, AKo, 77 wheeeeeeeeee) and had only stayed afloat by stealing blinds mercilessly.

I was less happy when I noticed that Texas was getting beaten. Badly. As someone who had watched a lot of Kevin Durant over the season, including him almost single-handedly beating Kansas in the Big 12 final the week before, I was in shock. My Magic Bracket was all of a sudden full of holes; it seemed it had run out of Pixie Dust.

It was at about that time that I made an Executive Decision, and I made a call to All-Star. Basketball and poker were done for the weekend... it was time to go see "300".

I just hoped the Spartans wouldn't go 0-2 for the weekend.

* * * * * * * *

For those people wondering how my brackets currently look, here they are:

I'm sitting in equal 8th in the Deadspin pool, but given that someone only missed one second round game, I'm dubious that I can fully recover. I do see that my cunningly named "Take 4" bracket may have some potential - but even that is torpedoed unless UNLV beats Florida.

* * * * * * * *

Oh, and for those of you who haven't seen "300" (and let's face it, judging by their box office numbers you already have, probably multiple times), I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you want to get your nerd on, I'd also recommend checking out the Wikipedia article about the battle in question: Battle of Thermopylae on Wikipedia. It seems almost impossible for someone to write about it, or make a movie about it, and have it suck.

And people wonder why I wanted to study History at University.

* * * * * * * *

One final thing: lost in all the March Madness was Australia routing the Netherlands handily in the cricket World Cup. Bet you didn't know the Dutch played cricket. This sets up the first real challenge for Australia, when we play South Africa next Saturday. Between my Aussie Rules footy and the basketball I'm not sure if I'll be able to get somewhere to see it, but you never know...

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