Archive for the ‘contest’ Category

The last DVD goes out the door

Amidst all the excitement of MSU’s tournament run, I haven’t been posting updates on our NCAA Tournament contest.  Here are the final standings, courtesy of the incomparable SpartanDan:

1. Seer 151
2. DP99 137
3. Alex 122
4. Mark in Chicago 113
5. Chris 112 (tiebreaker: 74 possessions)
6. rook34 112 (68)
7. SpartanDan 110
8. gbbound 107
9. Jackson22 106
10. TMadison25 104
11. dougieb 103
12. spartanproducer 102
13. Tommy 99 (70)
14. Ground Zero East Lansing 99 (68)
15. kj 92
16. EB 91
17. wife of a spartan 89
18. Mark in DC 88
19. Sparty in Badgerland 87
20. Kurt 86
21. Otto 82
22. msufan23 78

Best possible score: MSU (14), Siena (9), USC (10), Dayton (11), Arizona (24), Cleveland St. (13), Missouri (9), Purdue (10), Texas A&M (9), Maryland (10), Villanova (13), Wisconsin (12), UNC (15), Michigan (10), WKU (12) plus any one of Xavier, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, or LSU (8 each) for a total of 189.

Seer already won a DVD, so we’ll award this one to DP99.  Congratulations to both of you.  DP, send me your mailing address so I can send the DVD to you.


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Pick your 16

First: Congratulations to Zack for winning the BTT bracket contest.  Zack was one of two entrants to correctly name Purdue as the champion (Chris was the other).  Send me your mailing address and I’ll mail you your DVD, Sir.  Also, thanks to SpartanDan for serving as official score keeper.

I have one more DVD to give out, so we’ll do an NCAA Tournament contest, too.  Like last year, though, we’ll mix things up.  Any schmuck can fill out a bracket by picking the higher seed in almost every game.  This blog’s readers deserve a more intellectually-demanding competition.

Here are the rules:

  • Each entrant picks a list of 16 teams from the 65-team NCAA bracket.
  • For each game a team on your list wins, you receive points equal to the team’s seed.  Example: If you pick an 8 seed and they win 2 games before losing in the third round, you get 16 points.  This creates an incentive to look for lower-seeded teams likely to pull upsets.
  • There are bonuses of (a) 1 point for making the Final Four, (b) 3 points for making the championship game, and (c) 5 points for winning the national championship.  So picking a 1 seed who wins the national championship would be worth 15 points (6 points for their 6 wins plus 9 points for the three bonuses).  This keeps the top seeds in play as potential picks.  [Note: Bonus amounts are tweaked from last year.]

Entries must be posted in the comments section of this blog post by noon on Thursday.  Just list your 16 teams in any order.  The tie-breaker is the number of possessions in the championship game (as determined by StatSheet).

Here’s the official bracket.  Get those mental gears turning.

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The BTT bracket is now set.  Why wait to make predictions about a bunch of teams you know almost nothing about (Robert Morris? Stephen F. Austin?  Binghamton?) when you can make predictions right now about the 11 teams you’ve been watching nonstop for the past 10 weeks?

Same rules as last year:

To submit an entry in the contest, post a comment to this blog post.  Include your pick for the winner of each of the 10 games of the tournament.  Scoring will be as follows:

  • Round 1 winners (3): 1 point each
  • Semi-finalists (4): 2 points each
  • Finalists (2): 4 points each
  • Champion (1): 8 points
  • Total points available: 27

In keeping with the tempo-free statistics bent of this blog, the tie-breaker will be the number of possessions in the final game of the tournament.  The official data source for that number will be StatSheet.  For the less statistically-inclined, go ahead and pick a random number between 55 and 75.

Here’s an example of a contest entry, based on the assumption of the higher seed winning each game:

  • Game 1: Minnesota
  • Game 2: Michigan
  • Game 3: Penn State
  • Game 4: MSU
  • Game 5: Wisconsin
  • Game 6: Illinois
  • Game 7: Purdue
  • Game 8: MSU
  • Game 9: Illinois
  • Game 10: MSU
  • Tie-breaker: XX possessions

(Feel free to drop the “Game” on each line to save time, but please include the numbers.)

Legal boilerplate:

  • All entries must be received by noon on Thursday (before the tip-off of Game 1) to be valid.
  • In the case of a tie between one or more contestants in both contest points and the number of possessions in the final, the winner will be determined by coin-flip or other random mechanism determined by the Spartans Weblog.
  • The prize for the contest winner consists of one The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball DVD.
  • The Spartans Weblog is the final authority regarding interpretation of the contest rules and determination of the winner.

This year’s Big Ten Tournament looks to be the most competitive to date, with 8-9 teams in the running for an NCAA tournament bid.  That should make the bracket prognosticating all that much more challenging.

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Passing on the freebies


Running this blog hasn’t done a lot for my pocketbook. But it has created some small perks–like getting a few freebies in the mail.  A couple weeks ago, I received several copies of the new DVD, The Greatest Stories of Michigan State Basketball (affiliate link), which is being released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the 1979 National Championship.

I finally found the time to sit down and watch it this afternoon, and it was an enjoyable experience.  As you’d expect, the largest amount of time is spent on the two national championship teams.  But there are also segments on the Johnny Green, Scott Skiles, Shawn Respert, and Steve Smith teams–as well as the 2005 Final Four team.

The DVD (which is narrated by an oddly sedate Gus Johnson) doesn’t break a lot of new ground in terms of providing background facts that most die-hard MSU fans haven’t already heard or read.  But it does string together great video footage from the last three decades, much of which I hadn’t seen previously.

I think the content of the DVD previously ran as a BTN special, so some of you may have already seen it.  There’s also a selection of special features, most notably a video shot in 1979 of Magic Johnson and Greg Kelser playing a game of HORSE and footage of Magic’s press conference to announce his college selection.

I’ve got three more copies of the DVD to give out.  I’m going to save two of them for our Big Ten and NCAA Tournament contests.  I’ll give the remaining copy out now.  Here’s the contest: Predict the MSU player who will lead the team in scoring tomorrow afternoon, as well as the number of points that player will score. (Any ties will be broken by coin flip.)  Post your best guess in the comments.

P.S. I also recently received an advanced copy of Seth Davis’ new book, When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball (aff link).  I’m about a third of the way through.  The verdict so far: Fabulous.  Very well researched.  Engaging writing style.  I’ll post a complete review when I’m done.

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And the winner is . . .

. . . Nick, whose Mat Ishbia Day story captured the hearts of Spartans Weblog readers everywhere (after first capturing the heart of Mrs. Spartans Weblog).  Nick’s “Best Day as a Spartan Story” took home 19 of the 43 votes cast by readers.

Congratulations to Nick on winning a free copy of College Basketball Prospectus 2008-09.  And thanks to all of you who participated in the contest.

A few basketball links:

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Thanks to all of you who took the time to share about your best day as a Spartan.  It was a fun way to learn a little bit more about each other.

Now we get down to brass tacks.  There’s a data-saturated tome at stake.

Mrs. Spartans Weblog has dutifully made her selections as to the best of the entries.  As originally stated, these selections were made according to ill-defined and entirely subjective criteria.  Any complaints should be directed to mrsspartansweblog@gmail.com.*

*Not a real e-mail address

Below are the three finalists, followed by a poll for you, the Spartans Weblog faithful, to determine the winner.  Voting will close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.  Choose wisely.

G0EL Pete:

There’s no doubt about my best day as a Spartan; it was the day of the Elite Eight MSU-Kentucky game. I remember yelling at the refs, telling them that Pat Sparks’ foot was on the line as he shot the three at the end of the regulation. I remember cheering as Abezuike (spelling?) was late on his shot at the end of OT. I remember holding my breath as Alan Anderson shot his free throws towards the end of the second OT to seal the Final Four.

Most of all, my favorite moment is running down Oakhill into downtown EL. I was in a mass of people screaming “FINAL FOUR! FINAL FOUR!” at the top of my lungs at the corner of Charles and Albert. There must of been at least hundreds of students on Albert, screaming GO GREEN! GO WHITE! chants at the top of their lungs from one side of the street to the other. I walked down to Cedar Village, there were just as many people there cheering. Exchange students were calling back home, trying to explain what was going on. Most of all though, the crowd as a whole did not misbehave. Tear gas didn’t need to be shot into the masses. Sure, the loss against North Carolina six days after hurt, but nothing could take away from the sheer exuberance in East Lansing that day. That, more so than my first day on campus, and even more so than my graduation, was my favorite day as a Spartan, because for one day, we weren’t 44,000 students with over 100 majors. We were all Spartans, one, high-fiving and patting each other on the back as we celebrated a victory few thought we could achieve.


I think one of my best days as a Spartan would have to be the MSU-PSU football game last year.

To set this up, you have to understand that my four years as an undergrad corresponded to the John L. nosedive that culminated in a rather forgettable 2006 campaign. 2007 held the promise of a fresh start. Close losses to Iowa and NU seemed to indicate that the team was, yet again, one year away from breaking through. But a offensive explosion at Purdue brought the Spartans to six wins and a shot at bowl eligibility against the Nittany Lions. A trip back to East Lansing and tickets to the Penn State game seemed like a chance to see redemption.

It was freezing cold. MSU trailed 24-7 in the third quarter. The Penn State fans in front of us were having a blast, and I was contemplating the long drive home. I had done something wrong, it was never in the cards, will I ever be happy?, at least we have Izzo’s squad to numb the pain, etc. etc. Same old Spartans.

Then Hoyer, Davis, Caulcrick, and Thomas decided enough was enough and the offense awoke. The crowd became electric, and the cheers of GO GREEN GO WHITE had never seemed louder. Penn State tacked on another TD, but the Spartans were determined to have the final say. “Down by 17″ became “up by 4.” The Penn State fans in front of us who had been mumbling that “it’d be just like Sparty to blow this” quietly found their way to the aisle. My arm was sore from violently pumping it in the air and clapping to the fight song. My voice was shot from yelling and cheering. When the clock finally hit zeroes, I couldn’t stop smiling. A comeback victory! Bowl eligibility! Vindication for years of support!

It was glorious. Amidst the celebration in the stands, a lone figure knelt on the block S at midfield under the stadium lights, giving thanks for what had just transpired. The display of determination, teamwork, emotion, joy, and a final act of humility combined to make it my best day as a Spartan.


This moment is a bit unconventional, and perhaps it wasn’t my best day as a Spartan in all respects, but it is the moment that still symbolizes all that is right with the Izzo program in my mind.

After three consecutive final four teams, the 2000-01 Spartan team was inexperienced and undermanned. The team had graduated five seniors the year before and sent Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph to the NBA as well. There was only one senior on that 2000-01 team–Mat Ishbia. The backcourt was Marcus Taylor and the freshmen (and many of us will remember the painful Northwestern game that MSU lost with Taylor out with a concussion). Adam Wolfe suffered that nasty career-ending injury at the beginning of the Big Ten season too. That MSU team was thin and the season was a long struggle. (That season marked the end of the 53-game home win streak too.)

So fast-forward to senior day–which was for that one year called ‘Mat Ishbia Day’. The Spartans were 18-10 going into that game. They were facing Iowa; they had lost to Iowa earlier (the same game that they lost Wolfe, in fact). And to my admittedly untrained eye, MSU was no lock for the NCAA tournament. They might lose to Iowa, lose in the BTT, and finish 18-12 and visit the NIT. (As it turned out, 19-11 earned them a 10 seed in the NCAAs.)

I had wondered for a few days whether Mat Ishbia would get to start on Senior Day. Certainly he deserved his moment in the spotlight–how many practices had he fought the starters for rebounds, played man defense, mimicked some opponent’s offensive moves? He’d helped to make those Final Four teams what they were.

But there was the matter of winning the game and getting back to the NCAAs.

No matter. Ishbia started. About two minutes into the game by my recollection, Izzo scripted a play for Ishbia and the walk-on made a 3-pointer–the only 3-pointer he would ever shoot when the outcome of the game was actually in doubt while he wore the MSU uniform. But hardly the only *meaningful* 3-pointer he’d ever shot in the green and white. He’d been shooting those in practice for four years, making his team a little bit better with every one.

MSU won the game handily. What was so great about that day for me, though, was the recognition that this was the kind of program that Izzo was building in East Lansing. This was a program that didn’t have to trade in classiness when it came time to win. Mat Ishbia had earned the right to be on the court as a winner in his own right, and the team as a whole would elevate its play to make sure that it happened.

I enjoyed Spartan basketball long before that day. I reveled in the victories, the national championship. I have some great memories from the years before that (and the years since). But that was the day I fell in love with this program.

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This blog tends to be built around a lot of numbers and analytical whatnot.  But, at the heart of it, I’m just a fan.  And, I think, that’s what draws people like us together: a devotion to a cause, be it something as irrational as five guys in green tank tops playing a game against five guys in tank tops of a different hue.

So I thought it’d be fun to temporarily set aside the statistical mumbojumbo and share our greatest experiences as Spartans with each other by answering the following question:

What was your best day as a Spartan?

I’ve copied this idea from Bilfer at the Detroit Tigers Weblog (who is my personal blogging Jedi master).  Earlier this year, he asked his readers, “What was your best day in baseball?,” lifting that line from the fabulous book, The Soul of Baseball, by Joe Posnanski.  The book centers around Negro League great Buck O’Neil who made a habit of asking people he met that question, reflecting his unrelentingly upbeat attitude toward life.

I’ve adapted the question for our purposes.  The topic of your response can be about an MSU basketball game, an MSU football game, an intramural soccer game on Munn Field*, or, really, any experience that involves (1) you and (2) that school that’s known to all, Michigan State University.  It can be something you experienced in person or a moment of Spartan stupendousness you took in from your living room sofa.  It can be short and sweet; it can be a novella; it’s all good.

*I chose this example since I once scored a goal with my head, well my face really, in an intramural soccer game on Munn Field.

The main goals here are to (1) reminisce about great Spartan moments of the past and (2) learn a little a bit about each other.  But to add some incentive, we’ll make this a bit of a contest.  From the responses received, the best 3-4 entries will be selected by the independent accounting firm of Mrs. Spartans Weblog and Sons according to ill-defined and entirely subjective criteria.  Those finalists will have their entries posted on the front page of the blog and a poll of the Spartans Weblog faithful will determine the contest winner.  Said winner will receive a free copy of College Basketball Prospectus 2008-09.

Post your entry in the comments section below.  If, for some reason, you’d prefer to e-mail it to me, that’s OK, but the entry will then only appear on the site if it’s selected as a finalist.  To be eligible for the prize, entries must be received by noon next Tuesday, October 21.

To get us started, here’s my best day as a Spartan:

My wife and I were season basketball holders for four years as students at MSU.  As it happens, the only year we had seats in the lower bowl at Breslin was the 1999-2000 season.  Fortuitous timing, to say the least.

Of all the great moments at Breslin that year, the greatest, of course, was the win against Michigan to close out the regular season.  31 points for Charlie Bell, 20 assists for Mateen Cleaves, a whopping 4 minutes of PT for my wife’s favorite player, Mat Ishbia, and a 51-point blowout of our in-state rival.

After the game ended, we flooded out onto the court with the rest of the students for the Big Ten championship ceremony and comments by Mateen.  Those comments started with “Whaaaat’s Up?” and ended with a guarantee: “We WILL win the National Championship.”  The rest, as they say, is history.

I have a photo I bought at SBS of the scene on the floor of Breslin as the word “Whaaaat” is leaving Mateen’s mouth.  You can just make out the back of my head among the sea of students on the floor.  It’s a great memento of a day of pure Spartan joy.

Now, what was YOUR best day as a Spartan?

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