Best of Post

Egor:

  • http://sites.psu.edu/egorivanov/2014/03/06/travel-guide-to-ukraine/

I think this was one of your better posts because you were able to talk about Ukraine very extensively due to your family connections there. I also think Ukraine is a interesting place to know about, due to its current turmoil. Due to your personal connections there, it seemed like you put a lot of heart into the post.

  • http://sites.psu.edu/egorivanov/2014/04/03/travel-guide-to-prague/

I also liked this post. You wrote it well and I knew very little about Prague, so it was very insightful for me in the long run. I learned a lot of things that I did not know before and definitely want to visit these places now.

Emily:

  • http://sites.psu.edu/emilysawkwardcorner3/2014/04/02/i-forgot-where-we-were/

I really enjoyed this post. You put a lot of emotion into it and I could really connect to it because I have been in that situation before. In my opinion it was your best writing of the entire semester. It went much deeper than just telling a story.

  • http://sites.psu.edu/emilysawkwardcorner3/2014/03/05/risky-business/

I enjoyed this post a lot as well. It really made me laugh, just envisioning a dude in a hot dog suit.

Jenny:

  • http://sites.psu.edu/collegescene/2014/03/05/colorado-state-university/

I really enjoyed this post because it introduced me to a school and a type of school I had never really been exposed to. I had looked at all kinds of schools when I was looking for schools but this was not one of them. I also really enjoyed your writing in this post.

  • http://sites.psu.edu/collegescene/2014/03/31/university-of-michigan/

I also really enjoyed this because my friend goes to Michigan and he always over exaggerates about the social life there and your writing really helped to simplify it. It was precise and very detailed.

Myself:

  • http://sites.psu.edu/rclgrv/2014/03/06/the-magic-of-march/

I really enjoy this post because I don’t really think many people understand what March really is to college basketball. Most people think its a month to make brackets and bet on who is going to win a tournament, where as this posts helps to encompass the magic of what march really is.

  • http://sites.psu.edu/rclgrv/2014/02/21/the-big-5/

I really enjoy this post as well because it ultimately summarizes one of the best books made about sports history. It also introduces people to the Big Five, which is something like nothing else in the world. I enjoyed the heart I was able to put into the post because I have lived with the Big Five and know what its like, and I was able to share that in a blog post.

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What if…?

This post I am going to go in another direction and try something I’ve never really done. I enjoy doing it in my head, but I’ve never written about it. This post was spurred from ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Requiem for the Big East.” (I highly recommend watching this if you ever have a free hour or two. It is really informative and really well made. You can find it on Youtube).

Time for a history lesson. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Northeast had little to no basketball talent. Games were never nationally televised, and outside of the Northeast, no one knew much about any of the teams from the Northeast. Basketball was focused on schools in the power conferences, which at the time were the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, and the Pac 10. No one in the Northeast associated with a conference (excluding the Ivy League). They were all a part of the ECAC, which was ultimately a clusterf**k of schools, not included in the NCAA ranging from powerhouses like Syracuse, to low level schools like Iona and Niagara. (Even Penn State was included in this). Three schools from this grouping would make the tournament out of 38 total teams. Outside of winning the ECAC tournament, you barely had a chance to make the NCAA tournament. Then in 1977, the NCAA created a rule mandating that to be eligible for post season play, you had to play every team in your conference. This all but sealed ECAC schools fate.

However, in 1979, Providence Friars head coach Dave Gavitt, organized the top schools in the ECAC together and created a conference, known as the Big East. He recruited Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Syracuse. And in 1979, the Big East was created. In 1980, Villanova joined the conference. For the rest of the 1980s, they wanted to expand. In 1982, the Big East was still looking to add big name schools in the basketball realm. Penn State on the other hand was looking to create a conference of their own, for football. (The football landscape at this time was the same, there were many independents, but no set conferences in the east). Joe Paterno was at the fore front of this push. The Big East was afraid that Penn State would take Syracuse and Boston College based on their football prowess. That would have killed the Big East, so they offered Penn State a spot. Penn State needed six votes to get in, they only got five. They did not fit the bill of a Big East school, so instead the University of Pittsburgh was taken into the Big East. You know how the narrative went for Penn State after that. After much hesitation, we were added to the Big Ten (something that was almost unheard of). We weren’t “Big Ten” material. That put us on the path we are at today. Big East football programs did not have the same luck. Only one of the teams that was in the Big East before conference realignment finished with a record more than two games over .500.

What if Penn State had gotten that extra vote? I see of two things that could have happened. With Penn State pushing for a football conference, and the lack of that desire in the Big East, our football could have fizzled out, with basketball taking precedent, making for a much different landscape of Penn State today. It would be the Bryce Jordan center sold out instead of Beaver Stadium. We could have been a team like UCONN (who, after the Big East split last year, took basketball over football, and won a national championship.) If that had taken place, we would have had a 3-9 football and been stuck in the abysmal American Athletic Conference. Or, during realignment, we could have been picked up by the Big Ten, and slowly but surely got back to the point we were at in the 8os.

But at the same time, the football mentality could have won out in the Big East. We could have pushed the schools that remained independent for years to follow to join the Big East. Those schools included Notre Dame, Miami, and Rutgers, among others. Adding these teams would have ushered in a new era for the Big East, and as a result, I don’t think the Big East would have stayed together. It would have started a huge wave of conference realignment long before the realignment period in the late 2000s. The basketball schools in the conference would have remained with basketball and the football schools would have begun a power conference in football. Another power conference on top of the six already, with Miami and Notre Dame would have been fantastic to watch. We could be on top of the rankings (ignoring the circumstances currently at hand).

I apologize if this does not make that much sense. For people who don’t know too much about conference realignment and college sports as a whole, it would be a lot harder to follow. But it is very interesting to think about a Penn State without football. It’s almost hard to imagine that. But we were one vote away from becoming a basketball school.

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Why I hate John Calipari and by association, Kentucky

I have been saving this post for a while. I was going to write about it earlier in the tournament, but I did not want to take away from the tournament itself, so I figured I’d hold off on posting it until now.

For some background (you don’t need much to understand this post), the NBA (the professional basketball league in America) has a rule for high school basketball players that says you need to play one year of college basketball you can enter the NBA. As a result, basketball players are forced to go to college for a year before they can declare for the NBA draft. On paper, this is a really good idea. High school players are not ready for the NBA. They need time to develop into themselves and as 18 year old’s they are in no way able to compete with the grown men of the NBA. However, onto the real post.

John Calipari is ruining college basketball. He only recruits players known as “one and done’s” Just look at his starting roster this year:

C: Dakari Johnson Freshman

PF: Julius Randle Freshman

SF: James Young Freshman

SG: Aaron Harrison Freshman

SG: Andrew Harrison Freshman

This usually isn’t a bad thing. At any other program, a year like this would mean this season was a rebuilding year. In four years, these freshman would all be developed and barring serious injury, the team could compete for a championship. At Kentucky, they had the talent to not only make the tournament, but to also make the national championship game.

It is the same cycle each year. They have freshman come in, play for a year, and then they leave for the NBA. Then the next year, the same thing happens. This is not good for the sport and it is really not good for the player. These players are coming in for a year, just knowing they will run to the NBA at the end of the season. I’ll get to how this is affecting the sport later, for now I want to focus on the players themselves. They go to college for a year, a place where they are supposed to be “student-athletes,” just to leave after a year. That may be the biggest contradiction to the term “student-athlete.” You can’t tell me those kids actually go to class. If you watch the press conferences after the games, half of them can barely speak like a competent adult. I guarantee all of the Kentucky players who know they are entering the draft next year aren’t even going to class now. It’s not like they have to. They don’t need to pass. They are dropping out anyway. But then, once their basketball career ends, what do they have? An eighth of a college degree and maybe some money left over to live. If they are lucky. Ending the one and done policy will help these so called “student-athletes” because as of now, they are just athletes. I can’t call them students while keeping a straight face. Make them stay three years like the NFL makes the players do. I understand this is more of a policy for the NBA to fix, but the NCAA should have a say in it, if they actually care about their “student-athletes” like they say they do.

Not only is the one and done hurting the players, but it is also hurting the sport as a whole. The one and done rule is making it so no team has a clear stranglehold on college basketball like there used to be. When players wanted to stay in school, there were dynasties (a la John Wooden). Teams would be perennially good and it would be hard to beat them. Now a team could go from top of the country to losing in the first round of the NIT the next year (I’m looking at you Kentucky). Now mid- majors are emerging as the top teams in the sport due to their senior leadership. That’s why older teams always find ways to succeed in college basketball (look at UCONN this year, they have 3 seniors). And why upsets are much more common now than they ever were.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I love upsets. I love watching Duke fall to Mercer, or Dayton running all the way to the Elite Eight, or UCONN winning it all as a seven seed, but it doesn’t mean as much any more. In today’s world, upsets are expected. No team is supposed to stay at the top of a ranking for a whole season. Some mid-major beating a power school back in the eighties and nineties meant something. Now, we look at it and say wow, who is next.

This was more of a rant than a blog post, so I apologize if it is hard to read, but this is something I really think the NCAA needs to address. It is seriously detrimental to the sport and the players. I’m not sure the solution to the problem, but any true college basketball fan needs to think long and hard before the go cheering for the next team of freshman that steps out on the court.

By the way, I’d like to congratulate the University of Connecticut Huskies on their National Championship. My congratulations also go out to Minnesota, who won the NIT, Siena, who won the College Basketball Invitational, and Murray State, who won the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

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Civic Issues Post 5

Most of the environmental news over the past few weeks has been incredibly disheartening. According to the United Nations, time is running out to stop global warming, marine life is still being severely affected by the residual effects from the Gulf oil spill, and recent readings have shown that carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Oh, and if your wondering why they are having so much difficulty finding the MH 370 plane in the Indian Ocean, it’s because they are full of trash.

However, entangled in all of this bad news, there has actually been some good things going on. China plans to close more than 1000 of its coal mines in an effort to get coal use down to only 65 percent of Chinese energy production. Also, the United States has cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 4.4 percent through the use of wind power. All of these things are significant, however I have yet to even mention the two huge developments that have come out in recent days. The first involves the Japanese and their whaling policies. The other has to do with China, and their over consumption of shark fin soup.

A few weeks ago, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japanese whaling was illegal. This decision was made because the ICJ decided that Japanese whaling expeditions were for the commercial sale of whale meat, and not for research as the government claimed. This decision was met by much skepticism, as many people did not think the Japanese would follow the ruling. However, they did. A few days ago, the Japanese called back their Antarctic whaling fleet and cancelled their whale hunt for the first in 25 years. Part of this stems from the ruling by the International Court of Justice, however a major source of this decision came from the declining taste in whale meat by the Japanese market.

This is a huge environmental win for a variety of reasons. Even though Japanese whaling operations are not a huge environmental threat (much less of a threat than the cast of Whale Wars would like you to think), Japan ending the whale hunt opens the door for other mass animal hunts to be ended. Locally, it also may help to end the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. (If you do not know about this, I recommend watching The Cove. It provides interesting insight to a serious issue most people do not know about.) Another hunt with much more serious environmental concerns is the hunting of sharks.

However, there is good news for people fighting to protect sharks. Sharks are in serious danger due to the Chinese desire for shark fin soup. When sharks are hunted for shark fin soup, they are caught, their fins are ripped off, and they are thrown back in the ocean to die. This is a huge waste of resources, all for an ingredient that does not even add flavor to the soup! It only changes the texture of the soup. The other ingredients are responsible for the taste. And the Chinese only like eating it because they believe it is a sign of wealth. In recent years, the Chinese government has taken steps to prevent the trade of shark fins (surprisingly, they aren’t the most environmentally inclined), to help protect sharks and the environment as a whole. These actions have helped drop the imports of shark fins from Hong Kong to China by 95 percent. That is huge. Granted, a lot of this drop has been covered by the black market trade of shark fins from Vietnam, however it is steps in the right direction.

Many people do not care about this because they do not like sharks because they believe they are dangerous and they could hurt them. However, this is not the case. Sharks rarely attack humans. But because one or two attacks happen each year, people enjoy the slaughter of sharks. This is a terrible attitude to have though. Just look at the graphic below, we kill an absurd number of sharks each year, and no one bats an eye.Shark-Attack-Stop-Finning-Infographic_01Sharks are a keystone species in almost every ecosystem they are a part of. Without a keystone species, an ecosystem will fall apart and eventually will collapse completely. That means most of the oceans ecosystems will be devastated which will cripple the world. I do not think anything will ever be done to stop the Chinese before it is too late, but I hope that sooner or later this catches on and the Chinese stop. The ocean is ours to protect, not to destroy.

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The Final Four

March has finally come and gone. The excitement of the first two weekends are behind us. The clock has struck midnight for most of the Cinderella’s of the tournament. However, two remain. The University of Connecticut and University of Kentucky (seventh and eighth seeds respectively) both remain in the Final Four with Wisconsin (a two seed) and Florida (the top seed in the tournament) filling out the other two spots.

The Final Four is always surrounded with drama. Much of the conversation over the past week has been about the match ups and predictions that college basketball “experts” have been making. These are great, I mean what else are sports programs going to talk about. Baseball has barely started and no one cares about the NHL and NBA until playoff time anyway. However, many of these conversations go too far. Some of the discussions they have been holding range from the pro potential of many of these players to the critiques of the one and done system. The problem is not that these are bad talking points, because they are not. They are not the conversation to be having the week leading up to the most important weekend of the season for the sport. That’s not what the Final Four is. The Final Four is about the now.

I’d like to know as much as the next guy whether or not Shabazz Napier has the potential to succeed in the NBA. Knowing how many of Kentucky’s starting five will make the NBA is great. But that’s not what the Final Four is about. People use the Final Four to look to the future instead of valuing what they have right in front of them. Its as if when someone doesn’t make it to the NBA their college career was a waste. This isn’t the case though. Look at Billy Donavon (the head coach of the University of Florida). He didn’t even have a cup of coffee in the NBA, but he lead the Providence Friars on one of the greatest runs in NCAA tournament history with his three point shooting. Did that not count just because he didn’t succeed in the NBA? No, that run is still heralded as one of the greatest in tournament history.

As fans, we have to take off our blinders and look at what is happening right in front of us. Who cares if Shabazz Napier will succeed in the NBA? He just led his UCONN Huskies on an improbable run to the Final Four with some of the best games of his career. Kentucky needs to recruit a new starting five next season? Who cares? I get to watch them work their magic for at least two more games. Stop fretting the small things that matter in the future and just enjoy the basketball for once.

It may seem like my blog is a broken record, talking about and critiquing most things wrong that I believe are wrong with college basketball. I only do this because unfortunately, most of what I write about is occurring, and in my opinion is ruining the spirit of the sport. I could talk about the games that happened each week, talking about how each team did and what I think would happen. Unfortunately, I feel like that would get old, and most of you would not understand it. I write about these things because I think they are more interesting to the non-basketball person and that some of the things I say might be able to influence you guys to watch the sport as often as I do.

 

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Civic Issue Post 4

In this week’s post, I am going to highlight Monsanto and some of the controversy surrounding it. Monsanto is an international, billion dollar corporation that focuses on agriculture. It has revolutionized agriculture in the United States with new technologies and research. These innovations have greatly increased productivity of the United States and have helped the country as a whole. However, many of these ideas and innovations that were supposed to be revolutionary, are not as great as they seem on the surface.

One of these innovations was the development and research into genetically modified crops (GMOs). Genetically modified crops are plants, such as corn or soy, that have altered DNA structures to allow them to flourish in adverse conditions or to provide additional nutritional benefits. They take DNA from different plants or animals and put it into the desired organism to produce a desired result. For example, Vietnam used to have a huge eye problems. Many people in their population would develop cataracts once they got older. Researchers had no idea how or why this was occurring. After studying the situation for a while, they realized the problem was a lack of vitamin A in the population’s diet. To combat this, a genetically modified rice was created that had extra vitamin A in it to help counter the cataract problem. The results are still yet to be seen, but researchers think it will be promising. Another idea researchers proposed was to create corn that could survive in drought-stricken conditions. This corn could be used in places like Africa where drought and food shortage are common problems. In theory, genetically modified crops seem to be revolutionary and incredibly beneficial. However, there are many problems associated with them. These problems are also being perpetuated by Monsanto and their business practices.

Very little research has been put into genetically modified plants and their effects on consumers and the environment as a whole. My focus is not going to be on the human side of genetically modified crops though. There is too much debate, and you can not really be sure what is true and what is false. One side says genetically modified crops cause cancer and other health problems. The other side says they are perfectly healthy. However, ignoring the health effects, and looking entirely at the effects these have on the environment, there is much less debate. There is a strong theory in the scientific community that says genetically modified crops are what is perpetuating colony collapse disorder in honey bee colonies. There is also research suggesting that genetically modified crops are damaging the biosphere by decreasing biodiversity. You can see this in bananas. The bananas you buy from the store are genetically modified bananas. They are not the original banana fruit. The original banana fruit was being threatened by disease, so they created this type of banana that was resistant to that disease. Now the only bananas you see are these bananas. However, the same problem is happening, except now the bananas are dying much faster than they were before because they are all genetically the same. A disease is wiping out of all these bananas and there is nothing we can do about it.

Another problem with Monsanto and their policies surrounding genetically modified crops is that they patent the genetically modified seeds they create. To purchase these seeds, you need to sign an agreement with Monsanto limiting what you can do with it. If you violate it, they will find you, and they will sue you. They sue for everything to protect their name. Because of this, you need their permission to perform research on the seeds they create. You can see the issue with this. Independent labs can not perform research now, only labs that are paid for by Monsanto can research their seeds. Now, they may do unbiased, good research, but when a company who wants to stay in business is providing money for your research, it makes you question the results of the research. Part of the problem with Monsanto is the amount of money they have. They can easily lobby congress, and if they have to, they can even buy elections. They have found ways into positions of power, which is perpetuating Monsanto’s abuse of the system.

I obviously could not touch on everything surrounding this complex issue. What I wrote is a very abbreviated summary of the problems associated with Monsanto, but I hope it opened your eyes to something you may have not already considered. With this post, I am not trying to advocate against genetically modified crops. I think they could be great for the Earth, but you have to weigh the costs of them. The European Union and many other countries banned the use of genetically modified crops. These all came from the unknowns associated with genetically modified crops. Before we push this issue any farther, the Monsanto problem needs to be addressed to allow for a fair assessment of the situation at hand. Nothing will change until the influence Monsanto has on the government in the United States can be addressed.

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Phew!

I apologize for not being clear in my post last week. I hope I can clear some things up here. The physical structure of the tournament looks like this:

2014-bracket

(If you click on the picture, it will display bigger)

 

Since 2011, the NCAA has been allowing 68 teams into the tournament (before 2011, the tournament consisted of 65 teams). There are two ways to earn bids into this tournament. The first way is to earn an “automatic bid” by winning your conference tournament. The second way is to be selected by the NCAA selection committee as an “at-large” bid. Each year, there are 32 “automatic bids” and 38 “at-large” bids. Once these 68 teams have been selected, they are ranked by the selection committee 1 through 68. The lowest four “at-large” bids and the lowest four “automatic” bids are forced to play in the First Four to earn a spot on the main bracket (as seen in the picture. The First Four games are listed above the bracket.) After selecting these teams, the selection committee uses the rankings to put each team into a region comprised of 16 teams. After the First Four, in the first round of the tournament the 1 seed in each region plays the 16 seed, the 2 seed plays the 15 seed, and s0 on. These can be seen in the picture. The focus of my post last week was on the First Four.

Teams from the First Four have been very successful in the tournament. A sixteen seed tht played in the First Four has yet to beat a number one seed in the tournament (since the expansion to 64 teams, no sixteen seed has beaten a number one seed, so this is not surprising), however, the “at-large” teams have been successful. In 2011 (the first year of the First Four), VCU was selected for the First Four. After winning their game in the First Four, they made it all the way to the Final Four. In 2012, South Florida won the First Four game and made it to the second round in the tournament. Last year, LaSalle won the First Four game and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament. This year Tennessee has made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen (they play Friday night to see if they can advance to the next round).

There has been much success from the at-large teams who made the First Four. The automatic qualifiers have no had the same success, but they are two different situations. I hope this makes a little more sense. I apologize if it doesn’t, it’s hard for me to explain this to non-basketball people.

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Now onto my post for this week! I was going to write about something else this week, but I am going to save that idea for when the tournament is over. All I can say about this past weekend is phew! I don’t think I have ever been more mentally drained from a weekend of basketball in my entire life. Each game has been a nail biter (and unfortunately for me, the majority of teams I wanted to win, lost).

Every single game has been exciting (barring the round of 32 games from Sunday night) and the games for this week look even better! There have been plenty of upsets, close games, and surprises. Dayton and Stanford are in the Sweet Sixteen. Duke lost again in the first round to 14 seed Mercer. Tennessee has marched from the First Four to the Sweet Sixteen. UCONN upset their old Big East rivals Villanova in a thriller on Saturday night. Number one seed, Wichita State, lost to Kentucky in one of the best tournament games I have ever seen (If I can find a a replay of it online, I’ll post it. It is definitely worth the watch if you have time. Here are some highlights for the meantime)

And this weekend’s games look just as exciting. San Diego State gets a rematch against Arizona to get revenge for an early season loss. Kentucky and Louisville match up in the battle for the Blue Grass state in one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. Dayton plays Stanford in a match up of Cinderellas. UCONN heads back to Madison Square for a match up against Iowa State. And these are only half of the games! You guys will be reading this on Friday, so you won’t see the Thursday games, but if you have time, I’d definitely watch some of these games. They look to be exciting and by the end of the weekend, we will have our Final Four!

 

 

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It’s Here

Finally. Buffett offered his billion. The conference tournaments were as exiting as ever. Selection Sunday yielded the same heartache and controversy as it does every year. But finally, the madness is here and is in full swing. With this post, I’m not going to talk about who got snubbed from the tournament. I’m not going to splurge my bracket predictions for you guys because frankly, I do not like them, but again, that’s for a different post. I’m also not going to talk about all of the upsets that occurred over the past few days.

As I mentioned in a previous post, college basketball is like no other sport. Once the regular season ends, every team gets another chance to make and win the NCAA tournament. For most teams that means winning your conference tournament. The old motto is “win and you’re in”. However, with the expansion of the NCAA tournament to 68 teams, this hasn’t been the case. Yes, all 32 conference winners are selected for the field of 68. But each year, four teams that have won their conference are selected to play in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. (On top of that, four other “at-large” teams are selected to play in the First Four as well)

The First Four (also considered the “first round”) was created when the NCAA expanded the field to 68 teams. It shouldn’t be considered a round though. The Round of 64 will always be the first round (until the NCAA decides to expand the field even more). The First Four is a set of play-in games to see who can earn another the final four spots in the NCAA tournament. And relegating conference tournament champions to these games is ruining the integrity of the tournament. Look at this years tournament. I bet most of you didn’t even know the NCAA tournament began on Tuesday. And if you did, I can guarantee you could not tell me who played in the 16 vs. 16 games that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. I bet you don’t even know what channel truTV is. And even if you could name the winners, there’s no way you could tell me who lost without looking at the bracket you have in your hand. But I’ll guarantee you know who Coastal Carolina or Weber State is. Texas Southern and Mount St. Mary’s never got the chance to experience the tournament. They didn’t get the chance to beat a one seed like the other 16 seeds get to do. They get to go home and watch it from their couch. Even the winners of these play-in games get shafted. Albany did not get to practice on a real court from the time their game ended Tuesday night to the time they took the floor against Florida yesterday. They had to make a basketball court in the ballroom of their hotel with trashcans and duct tape. A conference tournament champion doesn’t deserve that.

For most people, nothing seems wrong with this situation. Two teams that are slightly below average knocking one or the other out of the tournament. It keeps the tournament exciting and the talent level high. That may be true. But it is not the NCAA tournament. This post is not against the First Four. I like the First Four. I even like the idea of expanding the tournament further. But the First Four should not have any conference tournament winners. The First Four should feature the last eight teams off of the bubble and selected into the tournament. It would increase the quality of the play-in games and it would make them traditional play in games. Following this strategy would also make the regular season and who you play in the regular season much more important.

Think about it, this year the match-ups in the First Four would have been the two games that already occurred NC State vs. Xavier and Tennessee vs. Iowa. The other two games would have been the last four teams that got into the the tournament before the four already listed. These teams would have included BYU, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Dayton. Now this was a really rough guesstimate of who the teams could be and depending on how the committee is feeling these could be changed.

Unfortunately, this is all speculation and wishful thinking on my part. The NCAA would never change this. The tournament is no longer about the spirit of the tournament. The tournament is about money. Having two 16 v. 16 play in games will make the most money in the long run. Hopefully the NCAA will see the err in their ways before all of the play-in games become conference champions playing one another, but I don’t think they will.

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The Keystone Pipeline

There has been much debate recently about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. If you don’t know, the Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed plan to extend the already existing Keystone oil pipeline that goes from Canada to Oklahoma. This extension would take the current pipeline and extend it all the way through to the Gulf Coast of Texas.  The Keystone XL Pipeline plan would also create another branch of oil pipeline that would start in Alberta and end in Kansas. This pipeline would also pass through the oil rich fields in Montana and North Dakota. It has not been approved yet by the Obama administration, but it is believed to soon be passed. There are many positives and negatives associated with the Keystone Pipeline expansion.

There are many benefits to the Keystone XL Pipeline. It would create many short term construction jobs and would help to lower the cost of oil in the United States. Many jobs would also be created to help maintain and repair the pipeline. It would also lower the United States dependance on foreign oil. Economically, this plan is feasible and it makes sense. It will help to boost the economy by lowering gas prices and decreasing unemployment. Environmentally, we would be getting less oil from overseas, so less fossil fuels would be emitted into the atmosphere during their production.

However, there are many negative towards expanding the Keystone Pipeline. Approving the expansion would solidify the United States dependance on fossil fuels that will one day run out. The plan is putting money into something unsustainable when the money could be put into researching sustainable energies. This hurts the United States both environmentally and economically. Supporting the plan does help the economy in the short term. It creates the jobs to create and maintain the pipeline. However, in the long term, all of the economic growth will be wasted because the Keystone Pipeline will no longer be feasible. The construction jobs to create the pipeline are gone the second construction is completed. Once the oil becomes too expensive to drill, the pipeline will no longer be needed, and those jobs will be lost. Economically, in the long term, it does not make sense. Supporting the Pipeline also hurts the environment. By supporting the pipeline, the government is encouraging the use of fossil fuels. This will increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, worsening the effects of global warming. The drilling of oil is very damaging to the environment because many greenhouse gases are released into the environment. Point source pollution is a major problem at oil drilling sites and along the pipeline. There are also many other issues with oil drilling, however I would go on forever listing them.

The Keystone Pipeline XL decision is more than just an environmental and economical decision. It has ramifications that will last for years longer than any politician’s term and will determine what direction the United States will head in the coming years. Approving the plan means the United States is committing itself to the use and abuse of nonrenewable fossil fuels. Declining the plan shows the world that the United States is willing to invest and look for greener technologies and energies. There are many short term benefits to approving the plan, but it hurts the United States in the long term. Decisions like these have plagued the United States in recent years. Politicians are more likely to do what gets them reelected (meaning creates much more benefit in the short term) than look to what effects these things will have in the long run. In order for us to advance as a country, we have to stop looking at the short term benefits of certain things. We, as citizens, influence politicians to do what is best in the short term because we like to see results. If we don’t see results, we get rid of the politicians who failed to give us results. If we as a country, start to look at the long term results of political actions, politicians can stop looking at what is best in the short term and focus on the long term. They would be less worried about getting the short term results in order to get themselves reelected. Many people argue that it is the politicians at fault. To an extent, it is. However, a lot of the fault lies in us as citizens, and we need to look in a mirror before anything can change.

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The Magic of March

Before I get into this post, I am going to provide some insight into the structure of the post season of college basketball, because I imagine most of you do not know it. All 350-some college basketball teams are divided into conferences. Beginning in January, after three months of playing teams from other conferences, you begin conference play where you only play teams from your conference. At the end of each conference season, there are conference tournaments, where (in most cases) all of the teams in a conference begin a playoff tournament of sorts to see who earns an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which is a 68 team tournament that determines the national champion for that season. In the first two weeks of March, 32 automatic bids will be given out, 31 to each of the conference champions and 1 to the Ivy League regular season champion (the Ivy League does not have a tournament). The other 36 bids to the tournament are given to the teams that did not win their conference but are most deserving of these spots. Once all 68 teams are selected on Selection Sunday (the third Sunday in March), they play in the March Madness tournament that all of you are probably familiar with. Now into the real post:

March is a magical month for college basketball. For people on the outside of the sport, March doesn’t mean much. However, for the true college basketball fans, March is a month of Christmases every single day. This week (the first week of March), many of the 32 Division I basketball conferences begin their conference tournaments. The Patriot League was the first conference to begin tournament play, as their tournament began Monday night. For most of these teams, winning their conference tournament is the only way they can continue playing, even though the regular season is over. Winning a conference tournament means an automatic bid to March Madness. It means one more game for the seniors who won’t be on the team the next year. Winning is a way to delay the inevitable end to the college basketball season. These are the exact reasons why March has played host to some of the most unforgettable moments in all of college basketball’s history.

College basketball is unique. It is the only sport in the country that allows every single team a chance to play in the post season. This means every single team in the country theoretically has a chance to win the national championship at the beginning of March. A bad season could be erased if you make a run in your conference tournament. The games played in March are unpredictable. Things happen in March that are unfathomable to imagine before they actually happen. In 2009, Syracuse played UCONN in a six overtime game in the Big East Conference Tournament. Six overtime. Rarely do you see games reaching double overtime, let alone six! Just look at some of the crazy finishes from yesterday’s games! March evokes emotions in players like nothing else can. For 347 teams, their season will end in a loss (there are four postseason tournaments, that’s a post for a later day however). Four teams however, will enjoy the sweet taste of victory. They will be able to climb the ladder to cut down the nets and to hoist the championship trophy. The dream of being one of those players cutting down the net is what makes March special. This dream creates the most exciting games ever played and is why I love March. The first round of the Ohio Valley Tournament may seem like it has no effect on anything in the grand scheme of things, but nothing beats watching two teams playing with all of their heart to the final buzzer.

 

Next week, I am going to try and put together a video blog. Hopefully it will work out, as I will have all break to work on it. If you are ever bored and just sitting around over break, there is always college basketball on! This is a great time to start watching the sport, it’ll get you hooked I promise.

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