Excellent news: the disappearing comments mystery has been solved! You have may not have been up on this whole controversy, but it's over, and that's a big relief to me.
For the past two weeks, comments on this blog have been vanishing into thin air with little or no explanation. Some of them were quick, innocent comments, but some were not. In fact, this exact sequence played out quite a bit:
1. Someone posts a comment either mildly or vehemently disagreeing with my stance on Mormonism/sportswriting/stall ball.
2. The comment gets deleted without explanation.
3. Original person posts something of this nature: LOOKS LIKE WE KNOW WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOU ARE, CENSORING COMMENTS BECAUSE YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT! I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! WELL GUESS WHAT? YOU'RE NOT WORTH IT, GOOD LUCK FAILING AT LIFE BECAUSE OF YOUR THIN SKIN!
4. I explain in response that I never delete comments unless they're profoundly racist or homophobic (and 100% of those comments come from one of my two teenage brothers), and ask rhetorically why I'd delete their one comment in particular while leaving a bunch of other critical comments.
5. The person responds with mild or extreme cynicism and tries to post the comment again. Sometimes it doesn't work, which leads to a sort of existential, helpless fury that culminates in them assaulting a postal worker later that week.
Well guess what? I'm exonerated, because this little enigma has unraveled into logic. Blogger, in its continuing effort to become a worse hosting service, suddenly decided to put a spam filter on all comments. Not a horrible idea, but it should come as no surprise that the implementation was a massive failure. Last night, when I learned about it, I checked my spam folder and saw over 20 comments. Exactly zero of them were spam. Here's an example of a comment from yesterday's post that blogger re-directed to oblivion:
I agree with the commenter above that said the Kyrie/Nolan dynamic seemed off once we went into the stall. Either one of them could have broke down the zone with dribble penetration, split the double teams and gotten to the hoop/found the open man. It seemed to me that neither was quite sure who should start the offense.
Also, I wish we would start playing a little faster throughout the game. Nolan is practically unstoppable when he gets the ball in the open floor (not to mention Kyrie who we all know when healthy was a one-man fast break).
SPAMMER! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SELL, KRISTEN?!
Anyway, the one redeeming quality about the spam folder is that I can still find and publish the old comments. So everything that's been held up is now posted in the proper place. From now on, I'll check the folder at least once per day. If you find that your comment disappeared, either re-post it or just wait, and it'll go up.
Second order of business: Ladies and gents, we have a...
The season-long numbers guessing game reached its culmination with the loss at the Dean Dome, and the results have finally been tallied.
And the winner is: Carrie! That's right: the unwavering stalwart of SCSD, two-time pick sixer, and overall gaming aficionado has taken the cake, the podium, and the prize. Well done, Carrie. This song goes out to you.
Alright, let's get to talking some basketball.
SEINFELD VOICE: What's the deallll...with the BIG EAST? I mean...come on! What's with these guys? 11 teams in the tournament, and only two in the Sweet Sixteen? Sorry, folks, but that's the saddest fucking story I've ever heard, and I used to huff gasoline and shoot rats at a garbage dump for a nickel a carcass. Come on!
Crap, I lost the Seinfeld tone there at the end. But you get the point. Why, for the second year in a row, did the conference that nobody will shut up about take a nosedive in March?
My pal and commenter Sean had a theory in Saturday's post:
My opinion is that, contrary to popular belief, the Big East as a whole is never actually good. They have one or two really good teams like any other conference and then mediocre teams and bad teams. However, the difference is the big east usually has 6 (this year only 5) TERRIBLE teams that provide about 8 free wins for all of the rest of the teams in the conference. The mediocre teams manage to go .500 against the other mediocre teams and the elite teams lose a couple. What you're left with is 11 teams that have 13 joke non-conference wins and 8 joke in-conference wins. I could be completely wrong on this one, but the Big East should never get more than half of their teams in the tournament.
I like this theory, because it feeds into my annoyance with the Big East hype. Forrest, later in the comments, delved into some conspiracy theory:
The Big East gets the hype of being the "Best Conference" for one simple reason: they are huge. If you tell the people from that conference how amazing they are, they are more likely to watch games. More viewers, better ratings, more money. Plus the Big East doesn't have built in draws like a lot of the other conferences. No one gets excited about U Conn playing Syracuse the same way they do for Duke v. UNC, Michigan v. OSU, or Kansas v. Texas/OU/Kansas State. So you need this "Best Conference" crap a lot more in the Big East than in the other big conferences.
Maybe I am just overly cynical though.
Don't apologize for speaking truth to power, brotha!
There are two more theories that I know of. The first is one I've espoused in this space, which is that a physical brand of basketball develops in that conference over the course of the season. When they come to the tourney, the referees call things more closely and Big East teams are thrown off their game. They become more vulnerable to an upset because they have to learn a new way.
Certain games support this idea, like Georgetown-VCU, when the victors attempted roughly 80 foul shots. Other games do not. But maybe there's some merit. And the last idea I've heard was best expressed by my pal Brian: the teams beat up on each other all year, and don't have as much left in the tank come March. It stands to reason, but the argument against it is that the conference still usually manages to sneak one team into the Final Four. Why aren't they tired and beat up too?
So we've got four theories so far. Does the Big East's March failure owe itself to all of them? Are there other reasons we haven't gone into yet? What's the story here? Sound off if you've got thoughts on the matter.
Hell yes, Florida State! I was about the 10 millionth person to post some variation of this tweet before their game against Notre Dame:
If Florida State upsets Notre Dame, the ACC will have 3 teams in the Sweet 16 while the Big East has 2. #OverratedConference
I was rooting for the Noles from a place of ACC pride. Forget the Big East for a second; all year, it's been annoying to hear how bad the ACC was. People refused to recognize that Florida St.'s defense was exceptional, and that Duke's loss in Tallahassee was not a "bad" one. Now they're learning, believe me. The Notre Dame offensive juggernaut looked feckless and lost Sunday night, and it had everything to do with the beautiful, sprawling, synchronized arachnid that is the FSU defense. I knew these guys were "tourney-dangerous" from like way back in January, and I should have had the balls to pick them over Notre Dame. Reading my rationale now, I want to get bang my head against a wall:
Even at their defensive best, the Noles don't have nearly enough firepower to contend with Notre Dame.
Yes they do, idiot; THEY BEAT DUKE. Of course they have enough f'ing firepower for an overrated Big East team. GAH.
Anyway, that FSU-VCU Sweet 16 game is going to be fascinating. As my friend Nick put it yesterday, an immovable object (Noles defense) will be meeting an unstoppable force (VCU's offense). And we'll have a chance to see exactly how elite that defense is, because VCU steamrolled Purdue, another great defensive team. I'm psyched.
I was thinking back to Sunday, before the Duke game, and how much I wanted Carolina to lose. I was transported to the usual state of aggravation by Tyler Zeller, the flop king of the mid-Atlantic. But it occurred to me today that the hatred was too much. It's not healthy, and it's not right. So I thought I'd extend an olive branch to UNC fans. I know most of you are devout Christians, and with Easter coming up I figured it'd be nice if you had some kind of UNC-themed Christmas card to send to your families and loved ones. In the interest of making peace in the rivalry, I decided to make something for you. Please accept my gift with grace in your hearts.
And just to show I'm objective, a follow-up piece to yesterday's post...
I will see you all tomorrow.