Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lots of Favorites Took a Dive in the NCAA Tournament

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

The 2013 NCAA Tournament has to go down as one of the most corrupt tournaments in history, and believe me, that's saying a lot, because the competition is so fierce. The casualty list of favorites that were required to take a dive includes Notre Dame, San Diego State, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Kansas State, New Mexico, UCLA, Georgetown, St. Louis, Ohio State, Indiana, UNLV and Michigan.

I'm including Michigan on that list because, even though they were only a No. 4 seed, they had more talent than everyone else and probably could have gone undefeated if they hadn't been required to throw so many games. No one else had five NBA prospects in the starting lineup. Plus, they were a well-coached team and played like it when the fix wasn't in.

(Editor's note: By the summer of 2016, all five starters from that 2013 Michigan team were still playing in the NBA. As of January 2017, Mitch McGary was no longer active, but Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas were still playing in the NBA.)

The second half of Michigan State's loss to Duke was also highly suspicious. If the fix hadn't been in, I seriously doubt they would have lost by 10 points after playing Duke evenly in the first half. They still might have lost, but it would have been a close, hard-fought struggle.

The most obvious fix of the season was when Michigan lost to winless (0-14) Penn State on Feb. 27 with the Big Ten championship on the line. You'd have to be pretty naive to believe that game was on the level.

After losing its first 14 games of the Big Ten season, Penn State won that game 84-78 on the strength of 10-for-20 (50 percent) shooting from 3-point range. The Nittany Lions outscored Michigan 30-15 from the 3-point line, since the Wolverines could manage to make just 5 for 20 (25 percent). The reason for the mismatch was Michigan deliberately leaving Penn State players wide open beyond the 3-point line.

The Wolverines also committed 15 turnovers, an unusually high number for a team that usually made fewer than 10 in a game. And this was against the slowest and least athletic team in the Big Ten, when a win could have meant staying in the race for the conference championship. Think about it -- it doesn't add up!

Sometimes when a team pulls off a particularly suspicious upset, such as 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast's "win" over second-seeded Georgetown, it's allowed to win its next game just to deflect some of the attention from its first crooked win. That way, clueless fans will say, "I guess those guys must be for real."

So after Florida Gulf Coast knocked off Georgetown, they upset seventh-seeded San Diego State in their next game and kept the score close against Florida before losing. See what a tough team they were? LOL! This was a team that finished 26-11 after a rugged season in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Their season opener was less than auspicious, as they got blown out 80-57 by Virginia Commonwealth, the same team that got run off the floor by Michigan in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. But they bounced back nicely with a 63-51 win over Miami, which was seeded second in the NCAA. That game was probably fixed to give the FGC program a boost in visibility -- an upset against one of the state's top programs in its second year as a Division I program.

They got blown out by Duke, St. John's and Iowa State, and then lost to Maine, Mercer, East Tennessee State, Lipscomb (twice) and Stetson. But that was before they were miraculously transformed into a juggernaut in time for the NCAA Tournament.

LOL! The gangsters involved in fixing all these games must think college basketball fans are pretty naive, and they're right, because most fans don't suspect anything suspicious is going on despite all the "upsets" that wreck the tournament every year. Don't be one of those clueless fans! Be skeptical when a game doesn't add up, and then look for the telltale signs that the fix is in.

I like to root for the underdog too, but not when the favorite is taking a dive. All those "upsets" prevented some excellent matchups from taking place this season, such as Gonzaga-Ohio State, Georgetown-Michigan, Indiana-Marquette, Indiana-Michigan in the national semifinals and lots more.

Wichita State's "miraculous" run was another example of a team getting its path cleared by the other team taking a dive. In their opener, the ninth-seeded Shockers "shocked the world" by blowing out eighth-seeded Pittsburgh. Somehow the Panthers just forgot to show up for work that day.

Funny, isn't it? You would have thought they'd be excited about playing in the tournament. Instead, they played like they just wanted to go home as soon as possible. It wasn't that big of an upset except for the margin of victory, 73-55.

That set the stage for another "miraculous" tournament run. In their next game, they knocked off top-seeded Gonzaga, which had struggled in its opener. Now fans could say, "I guess Gonzaga just wasn't as good as we thought. They were lucky to win their opener against Southern. They were ripe for an upset."

Now Wichita State had some credibility, plus they caught a "break" when Kansas State took a dive against LaSalle and Wisconsin did the same against Mississippi. That meant that instead of facing fifth-seeded Wisconsin in their next game, the 13th-seeded Explorers were matched up with 12th-seeded Ole Miss. They survived that test but couldn't stop the burgeoning powerhouse from Wichita, so the Shockers advanced to the regional finals against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes threw that game in one of the most obvious fixes of the tournament. Somehow they just couldn't be bothered to show up for work that day.

After decimating the West Regional, the Shockers couldn't very well be allowed to get blown out in the Final Four, so they were allowed to take a commanding lead in the first half before finally succumbing to Louisville in a valiant effort. See how it works?

The point I'm making here is that you need to open your mind to the possibility that most of these "upsets" are not upsets at all, they're hoaxes.

In addition to looking for all the telltale signs while you're watching the games, check the box scores and look for statistics that don't ring true. For example, when Michigan lost to Wisconsin this season in the Big Ten Tournament, they held the Badgers to 17 points in the first half. But in the second half, the Wolverines surrendered 51 points and lost 68-59.

Are we really supposed to believe that a team with five NBA prospects in the starting lineup, led by one of the best coaches in the game, could give up 51 points in the second half after holding Wisconsin to 17 points in the first half?  Leaving players wide open for easy shots is a telltale sign, and this game was a prime example because it was lost in the three-point shooting column, where Wisconsin outscored Michigan 24-9.

Nik Stauskas, rated one of the top 100 players in college basketball by ESPN, who went 6-for-6 from three-point range against Florida in the NCAA Tournament, was 1 for 8 against the Badgers. That was another sign that the fix was in.

For lots more on the game-fixing scandal, see this:

College and Professional Sports Are Crooked as a Dog's Hind Leg

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