2016 NCAA Tournament: Beat writers hand out superlatives

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Favorite first-round game? Most likely team to be a sleeper? Final Four MVP? Our beat writers pick those categories and more as they dish out superlatives for the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Here they are.Sam Blum’s superlativesFavorite first-round game: Baylor (5) vs. Yale (12)Yale might be a 12 seed, but it’s getting a game (and possibly two) in Providence, not more than a stone’s throw from its home in New Haven, Connecticut. Shrouded in drama of its recently expelled teammate, the Bulldogs are one of the nation’s most efficient teams, and are playing a Baylor program with a penchant for early NCAA Tournament exits. The Bears have lost four-of-six games while the Bulldogs just won 13-of-14 in Ivy League play.High seed most likely to lose first weekend: Oregon (1)AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThis has less to do with Oregon and more to do with a red-hot St. Joseph’s team that I think will take care of business in a big way in the Round of 32. The Ducks have had a great season in an underrated Pac 12 conference, but my gut tells me they won’t move onto the second weekend. Oregon is a high-powered offensive team, but they let teams score from behind the arc too much and struggle on the defensive glass.Sleeper team: Seton Hall (6)Seton Hall might not be the sleeper team after beating Xavier twice in two straight meetings and then becoming the Big East champion over Villanova. Head coach Kevin Willard was likely on the cusp of getting fired if he didn’t put together a good season, and boy did he answer the bell. The Pirates are one of the hottest teams in the country, and if they can maneuver their way past a tough Gonzaga team, they can make some serious noise in this Tournament.Final Four: Maryland (5, South region), Texas A&M (3, West region), West Virginia (3, East region), Virginia (1, Midwest region)Maryland is probably one of the most dangerous five seeds that I can remember in the NCAA Tournament, and it’s almost certainly a product of a brutal Big 10 schedule. But the number next to its name doesn’t begin to explain how dangerous the team is. Texas A&M survived a lull in the middle of its season and got back on track to win the SEC regular season title. Danuel House is the best player on the court in most games. The Mountaineers competed with, and won games against the best teams in the best conference, including a win over Oklahoma less than a week ago. And Virginia is one of the strongest defensive teams in the field, and that’s my pick to click come March.National Champion: Virginia over MarylandThe Cavaliers are a deep team with a bona fide star in Malcolm Brogdon. Per kenpom.com, they were in the Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and didn’t have any egregious losses during the entire season. That’s evidence that this team doesn’t often wilt or get upset. And that will lead to a six-game winning streak starting later this week. This is a program that’s been steadily improving for years, and it will actually show the fruits of its labor in this Tournament.Final Four MVP: Anthony GillThe big man will be a big part of Virginia’s rise in the NCAA Tournament. He shoots the ball at a near 56-percent clip. He’s scored fewer than 10 points in just four games this season, and is an excellent scoring complement to Brogdon — in large part because he gets to the line and slows down the game. Of course, Brogdon could be UVA’s best player, or London Perrantes, or Gill. It’s impossible to tell. That’s what makes this team so good.Daily Orange File Photo Published on March 15, 2016 at 12:34 pm Matt Schneidman’s superlativesFavorite first-round game: Kentucky (4) vs. Stony Brook (13)The Seawolves have no chance of winning, but that’s not why this is my favorite first-round game. It’s a team making its first appearance in the Big Dance with one of the best big men in the country in Jameel Warney. Kentucky’s weakness is its frontcourt so don’t be surprised if Warney gives the Wildcats a scare early, and maybe even into the second half. Kentucky will win by double digits, but it’ll be fun to see Steve Pikiell and his best player enjoy the spotlight and fare decently against a nationally renowned name.High seed most likely to lose first weekend: Iowa State (4)Iona guard A.J. English is one of the more electrifying players in the country, averaging 22.4 points, 6.2 assists and five rebounds per game. The Gaels are also tied for 10th in the country in 3-pointers made per game and have three players shooting over 35 percent from long range. Look for the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference champions to get hot and upset an Iowa State team that is an offensive powerhouse itself, but also allows almost 75 points per game.Sleeper team: Wisconsin (7) – After longtime head coach Bo Ryan retired early in the season, Greg Gard took the reigns of a Badgers team that won 11 of their last 14 games. That included wins against Michigan State (2 seed), Indiana (4 seed), Maryland (5 seed) and Iowa (7 seed) down the stretch in arguably the nation’s deepest conference. I have Wisconsin beating Pittsburgh (10 seed), Xavier (2 seed) and West Virginia (3 seed), as it makes a run to the East regional final courtesy of big men Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ. The frontcourt pair averages 28.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, along with point guard Bronson Koenig chipping in a cool 13.4 points per game and a near-40-percent mark from deep.Final Four: Kansas (1, South), Texas A&M (3, West), Kentucky (4, East), Virginia (1, Midwest)The Jayhawks are the No. 1 overall seed for a reason and they have a perfect inside-outside blend of Wayne Selden and Devonte’ Graham on the perimeter and senior Perry Ellis down low. The Aggies are led by Jalen Jones, Danuel House and the scrappy Alex Caruso, with Tyler Davis manning the inside for a team that can outrebound anybody. Kentucky, well, is Kentucky and has arguably the best backcourt in the country in Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. And Virginia is one of the best defensive teams in the country, with a scary offense that’s not flashy, but balanced and efficient.National Champion: Kansas over VirginiaThe Jayhawks won 30 games this season and its 12th consecutive Big 12 regular season conference title. In other words, it’s really, really hard to beat Bill Self and Co. The last time the Jayhawks won a national title was in 2008, when Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer against a Derrick Rose-led Memphis team to force overtime before KU won in the extra period. This year, the Jayhawks boast similar guard play with Graham, Selden and Frank Mason and showed throughout its run in arguably the country’s best conference that it’s the nation’s best team, and that supremacy will continue into April.Final Four MVP: Wayne SeldenThe junior averages over 13 points per game, shoots over 40 percent from deep and over 47 percent from the field. In the Big 12 tournament semifinals against Baylor, Selden threw down a posterizing dunk that even made his uncle famous for an outrageous celebration in the stands. Then in the Big 12 Title game against West Virginia, Selden hit 8-of-13 shots for 21 points. Look for him to be a model of efficiency in the Final Four and lead Kansas straight through from top seed to national champion, crafting his own fame in the process.center_img Comments Jesse Dougherty’s superlativesFavorite first-round game: Kentucky (4) vs. Stony Brook (13)This was instantly tabbed as a widely anticipated game, mostly because Stony Brook forward Jameel Warney scored 43 points in his team’s America East championship win over Vermont on Saturday. That was the farthest thing from a fluke, as Warney averages 19.8 points a game and has scored in double-figures in all of the Seawolves contests this season. He’ll be a big test for Kentucky’s frontcourt, as the Wildcats are led by its NBA-bound backcourt pairing of sophomore Tyler Ulis and freshman Jamal Murray.High seed most likely to lose first weekend: Villanova (2)I know this is the trendy pick, but until Villanova proves that its out of its multi-year tournament slump there’s no reason to believe that the Wildcats can string together two wins in one weekend. Yes, this Wildcats team reached its first No. 1 ranking in program history this season. Yes, some of its key pieces from last season — Ryan Arcidiacano, Daniel Ochefu, Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Phil Booth — are one year older with Tournament experience. No, I don’t think either of those factors will make this year any different than Nova’s spotty recent Tournament past.Sleeper team: Maryland (5)You don’t usually think of a No. 5 seed as a “sleeper” team, but I have the Terrapins advancing to the Final Four through the toughest of the bracket’s four regions. The key for UMD is the depth in which it can score, with Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and Diamond Stone “leading the way,” but players like Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter Jr. and even Jared Nickens are capable of playing off that first trio while also creating their own shots. Aside from Maryland, I have 10th-seeded Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16, 11th-seeded Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 and 12th-seeded Chattanooga upsetting fifth-seeded Indiana in the Round of 64.Final Four: Maryland (5, South region), Oklahoma (2, West region), North Carolina (1, East region), Michigan State (2, Midwest region)As stated above, Maryland makes it through the gauntlet that is the South region, Oklahoma gets through Big 12 foe Texas (6 seed) and Duke (4 seed) to get to Houston, North Carolina is the only No. 1 seed to advance to the Final Four and Michigan State, which undoubtedly should have been a No. 1 seed, proves as much. March is about big-time players and there is a common thread between these teams. Star power. Maryland has Melo Trimble. Oklahoma has Buddy Hield. North Carolina has Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson. Michigan State has Denzel Valentine. Book it.National Champion: North Carolina over OklahomaThe best team from the country’s best conference — or at least most top-heavy conference — also proves to be the country’s best team in the end. The Tar Heels can beat teams in so many ways, and showed in its ACC tournament championship win over Virginia (No. 1 seed in the Midwest region) that it can win a scrappy game decided by defense. Now mix in that with an elite offense that heats up at the right time, and you get Roy Williams’ third title with the Tar Heels.Final Four MVP: Marcus PaigeIt’s so easy, and so logical, for teams to focus on the paint when facing UNC. Brice Johnson, Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks are just so tough inside, and swingman Justin Jackson doesn’t make things any easier with his ability to create off the dribble and score in the mid-post. But all of that attention takes some off the Tar Heels most savvy player in Marcus Paige, even if Paige hasn’t had a “Marcus Paige-level” season. That’ll all change under the bright lights of the senior guard’s final tournament, and it will be hard to avoid feeling that the 6-foot-1 lefty earned every bit of glory he’s about to capture.Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communicationslast_img read more

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MovieBob Reviews IRON FIST Season 1

first_imgStay on target The Cinematic Sex of Marvel’s Netflix UniverseMarvel’s Axed Netflix Shows Could Be Revived by Disney Well, it’s finally happened – The Marvel Cinematic/Television/Streaming Universe has finally produced an installment that simply outright sucks. Not in the Iron Man 2 “Aw, that wasn’t as good as the first one” sense, or a Thor: The Dark World “Well hey, at least Loki is still fun” sense or even a third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Wow, this got boring fast” sense – Iron Fist is a legitimate full-on piece of shit. It is, without exaggeration, one of the worst TV shows I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch; and I watched CSI: Cyber. Even in the superhero pantheon, it would stand out: Perhaps not as bad as Batman V Superman, but absolutely on the failure level of Steel, Catwoman or Suicide Squad.Now let’s make something clear: Iron Fist is a bad show from the skin all the way down to the core, and it still would’ve been a bad show no matter who they got to play Danny Rand. There’s a lot of controversy over that point because the original 70s comics incarnation of Iron Fist was one of those Orientalist appropriation narratives (think Remo Williams. Or for that matter, Doctor Strange) largely grounded in a fantasy version of Asian kung-fu mysticism where the hero is a white American who turns out to be “better” at being Asian than the Asians. That sort of thing “sticks out” a lot more these days, and many have opined that changing up the casting might make that less uncomfortable. But make no mistake: Even if making Danny not look exactly like an “enlightened” poseur who wandered over from a froyo stand might make it slightly less cringeworthy when he starts in about “Respecting the DOJO!” or lecturing strangers with Buddhist aphorisms… well, everything else would still be bad.Amusingly, the main reason that Danny Rand being a White kid who inherits the mystical protector mantle of K’un-Lun (for the uninitiated: Shangri-La, basically) was ever remotely important was that it made him an outsider in the world he was tasked to protect. But here, stymied by Marvel TV’s famous cheapness – so tightly-budgeted that they usually can’t afford to have both stuntmen and interior lighting in the same scene. We spend almost no time in K’un-Lun other than some quickie flashbacks, and none of it gives us any actual sense of the place (we see a matte shot exterior, a single generic room, and a random forest stream) that whole thread of the character is completely nonexistent.Also not showing up: The Iron Fist costume (a predecessor wears it, briefly, in a hazy flashback), the dragon, pretty much all of the weird mystical kung-fu business that might actually have been worth making a 13 episode TV show about. And don’t expect them to be “saving” any of that potentially-cool material for another season: The final episode manages to end on the biggest raised middle-finger “fuck you!” to audience optimism I may have ever seen on a mainstream TV show – and not in a good way.Instead, Iron Fist starts up with Danny coming back to New York after having been presumed dead for 15 years and spends the majority of its runtime on an incredibly tedious storyline about trying to regain control of his family company. This requires a bevy of supporting characters and a ridiculously convoluted conspiracy narrative that is simply impossible to care about. It ultimately adds nothing of value to the story outside of a rambling subplot about David Wenham faking his death with zombie-magic that (amazingly!) could’ve been excised with almost no effect on the rest of it whatsoever.And yet somehow, all that remains slightly more watchable than when things switch over to Danny’s apparent “real” nemesis: The Hand; who are somehow just as uninteresting here as they were in the last season of Daredevil. That Marvel Netflix has actually managed to make the words “Magical Ninja Death-Cult” the single most boring thing in their entire universe is so incredible I’m almost impressed.Not that it’s possible to care about anything when the entire show is constructed around a series of “reveals” that aren’t worth revealing. Now, look – having a villain whose identity and goals are a mystery is intriguing. Having a hero, we don’t know the whole story of can be even more intriguing. Starting out a show with next to no indication of what it’s actually about or who anyone actually is can be fun… for a little while. But IRON FIST tries to do all three in the same show, so there’s never anything to care about or a fixed point to center on until the fucking season is almost over – and even then, not ONE of these mysteries is compelling enough to have kept a secret.And no, the fight scenes do not make up for it. There’s one sequence that rises above being merely passable, and even then it’s just an extended reference – an opportunity for the filmmakers to demonstrate that they’ve seen the Drunken Master movies. Otherwise, this is the first of the Marvel Netflix shows to have utterly dull action and be almost completely devoid of a signature style: Daredevil was lurid and edgy, Jessica Jones had a noir feel happening, Luke Cage went for an easygoing retro hip-hop angle, etc. Iron Fist? At best, it has the same basic aesthetic as the non-Japanese footage of an average Power Rangers episode.The supporting cast is all similarly adrift: Jessica Henwick has real screen presence, but they’ve handed her a disastrously written version of Colleen Wing who really does feel like she’s only on hand to be a love-interest… at least until they detonate her agency completely with the same basic moronic twist that ruined Elektra in Daredevil (seriously – they’ve done this twice now!). The sole bright spot is seeing Rosario Dawson come back as Claire Temple, and while she’s terrific it’s embarrassing watching the series bend its plot into pretzels to keep her involved: “Hey! Hey, guys! Claire’s back! We listened! We know you all love Claire! Here! Have some super-obvious foreshadowing that maybe she’ll be even MORE involved later!”But the main problem is Danny himself. One can understand how they decided that the “gritty realism” version of Iron Fist would essentially be “that bro you know” who does one-semester backpacking across Asia, comes home thinking he’s a guru and won’t shut up about his Yoga regimen… but I can’t for the life of me imagine why they thought anyone would like such a character. Even if the “optics” of an obnoxious fratboy whose entire arc is about trying to reclaim his various entitlements doesn’t utterly repel you, the character himself will: He’s annoying, glib, snarky, bratty and the show doesn’t seem to realize that none of it is endearing. Nevermind the fact that Finn Jones has no discernible charisma in part and the script can’t keep straight whether he’s naïve, secretive, traumatized or slick from scene to scene.Iron ‘Fish’ the show is the worst thing the Marvel Universe experiment has ever unleashed, but more distressingly Iron Fist the character is easily the least engaging, most unlikable character in their entire superhero menagerie thus far. What’s especially depressing is that it really feels like this character and all the still coyly unexplained Hand bullshit that didn’t work here (or in Daredevil) is going to end up as the main build for The Defenders. That is just not a foundation you’re going build anything worthwhile on.last_img read more

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