March Madness!!!

I’m a self-admitted mega sports fan in that I follow every piece of sports news I can and gobble all of it up like the sarclacc devouring Boba Fett. As you can imagine, March and college basketball are basically the most perfect pairing for me imaginable. I try to watch lots of highlights from regular season as well as many full games so I can be somewhat knowledgeable about the quality of all the teams. I read a lot of analysis as well, and when everything is said and done… I usually still get my NCAA Tournament picks wrong.

That’s okay though, because for me it’s all about the fun of the pick. I tend to make about six or seven different brackets, a very serious one, a BYU fanboy one, another one that features a greater number of upsets, etc. Then I watch as everything I think I know about the teams gets proven wrong and chaos ensues.

Rooting for the underdog is my thing too. I don’t even care if I picked the higher seed to win the game, I am ALWAYS rooting for the 12-seed or 13-seed to knock off their opponent. A 15-seed in the Sweet Sixteen or the Elite Eight? YES PLEASE!

This year in my “serious” bracket I’ve got Florida winning the championship over Michigan. I don’t know if that’s a great pick or not, but I think it’s got about a 50/50 chance of happening right now from what I’ve seen in the first three days of tournament play. Who did you pick?

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Writing About More Than Just Books

I’ve realized a lot lately that I want to write about a lot more than just books. Sometimes the topics I want to write on are related to sports, television, movies, general opinion, or even more outlandish things. The trouble is, I never feel like I can write about those things here on 20four12. It often feels like I’ve only given myself permission to write about books because this is a book blog. As though the few dedicated readers that actually follow 20four12 would be offended if I wrote about something different on occasion.

Well, as of today I’m going to give myself permission to write about other things besides just books. I’ve taken a lot of time off from writing here lately for a variety of reasons, but now I’m ready to get back on the blogging horse so-to-speak. But, I want to write about books and other things. I’m not going to change around the navigation and make it harder to find all of the things I’ve written about books or anything, but sometimes a post or two might show up about a television show I’m enjoying, or a movie I went to see, or maybe even some significant event in sports news for all I know. I’m now giving myself the freedom to write non-book related things whenever I feel like while still having 20four12 function as a “book” blog at its core. The navigation dropdowns and so forth will all remain book-centric and the sidebar will stay almost entirely book-focused as well.

I figure if I have the avenue already established to write things for people to read then there is no reason I need to find another location to write about other things if I’m in the mood. All topics can live on this blog in a happy manner I think.

March Madness is Here!!!

I absolutely love March Madness. Obviously I’m not alone in that love as just about any sports-watching male in the country loves this time of year. As I am writing this I am currently watching my team (Brigham Young) get destroyed in the first half by Marquette. That isn’t really much of a surprise, but I’m hoping the Cougars get something going and find a way to at least make it close before the game ends.

This year I filled out something like 5 or 6 brackets, each with a different philosophy. I love doing that. It’s a ton of fun to pretend like there is going to be a ton of upsets, or that every favored team will win easily. There haven’t been any upsets yet today, but history tells us that they will come sooner or later. It think today the best chances for upsets are going to be Long Beach State over New Mexico and Virginia Commonwealth over Wichita State (they never should have been paired in the first round anyways). I know my wife is rooting for VCU, she does every year and last year she was pretty thrilled with their run to the Final Four.

My dream Final Four this year would be as follows: Wichita State, Missouri, Florida State, and San Diego State. Talk about a super awesome Final Four weekend if these teams made it.

I feel like it would be great to see four teams in the Final Four that haven’t been there before, or at the very least haven’t been there in a very long time. I think the #1 seeds this year are all prime to be upset in the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight rounds. The #2-#5 seeds are all incredibly strong this year, some of which probably deserved to be #1 or #2 seeds like Missouri and Florida State. I’m also a big fan of Vanderbilt as a sleeper after their upset of Kentucky in the SEC tournament. They could possibly steal that Final Four spot I’m hoping Florida State will have this time around.

The more realistic expectation for the Final Four probably looks like this though: Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and Marquette. That doesn’t mean I can’t dream of new blood though, does it?

Indianapolis Colts Part Ways With Peyton Manning

This news saddens me. I knew it was going to happen the moment he missed the entire regular season, but it still saddens me that it has become a reality. During the season I was rooting for the Colts to win at least four or five games so they would stay well clear of that first draft pick and Peyton would be able to return because drafting a quarterback wouldn’t make much sense given the options available this year.

Ultimately, I can’t blame either side. Manning’s injury is of a strange nature, and despite the fact that he has rehabbed quite well, the Colts can’t really pass up a talent like Andrew Luck. Especially since having them both would cost them $51 million in salary for this coming season alone. That number just isn’t going to work for any team, even without a salary cap. I’m sure that Peyton doesn’t harbor any ill feelings, and I’m sure that both sides probably wish everything had turned out differently, but ultimately football is a business and teams and players have to do what they have to do.

Now the real question is where he will wind up playing next season. For a while I was of the opinion that he would likely retire if he wasn’t brought back to the Colts roster, but after seeing the reports of his practice on Duke campus recently it seems like he is raring to go, ready to play, and has something to prove.

With that in mind, experts apparently agree that the following 8 teams are the only ones who really have a chance at landing Peyton Manning’s services for the upcoming season. They are the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers.

In my opinion, the list of legitimate contenders for Peyton Manning is a lot shorter. The Jets are an absolute circus, and while they have a lot of available talent, I don’t think Manning is going to want to have much to do with that drama. San Francisco is coming off of a 13-3 season with Alex Smith doing a pretty decent job managing the offense. I really don’t think Jim Harbaugh is going to throw all of the progress they made together away and install Manning instead.

That narrows the field to 6 so far. Cleveland is a pretty big mess. They are lacking talent in the receiving position as well as the offensive line, and I really don’t know that Manning is going to want to deal with the beating he will likely take from the defenses in that division. With that surgically repaired neck he isn’t going to want to be spending as much time on the turf as he will facing Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. Those are some monster defenses all around.

Seattle would be hard to see because of the weather. Manning has played in a dome for the past 14 years and I really don’t think he wants to play in that kind of weather. He doesn’t need to since he basically gets to pick his location.

So, now we are down to 4 possible locations: Kansas City, Washington, Arizona, and Miami. I think Washington is out because of their coach Mike Shanahan. He’s a great coach, but he loves to run the ball and Peyton loves to throw it, not to mention have almost completely control of the offensive system. He isn’t going to get that in Washington. Arizona went to a lot of effort to grab Kevin Kolb last season and they also have the surprisingly promising John Skelton as well. I don’t think they are in such dire need that they have to take the leap and chase after Manning.

That leaves us with Miami and Kansas City. Either would be a pretty decent fit in my mind, but I think if I had to pick I would go with the Miami Dolphins being his ultimate destination. The weather is basically like playing in a dome, the offense is really only in need of a quarterback to take massive leaps forward, and they have a running game, which is something Peyton had to live without for the past few seasons. Its an ideal fit, and ultimately where I think I would like to see him land.

Besides, who doesn’t want to see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning playing in the same division? Talk about epic.

Miami is where a lot of people think he’ll land, so I won’t be surprised if that’s what happens, but in the back of my mind I’m leaving myself open to some team coming out of nowhere and taking a big gamble to win big now. I’ll be watching with interest to see what he does, and I hope he does it sooner rather than later.