Friday, November 12, 2004

Friday Football Picks

Last week against the spread: 2-1
Pick of the week: 1-0
Last week straight up: 3-2

YTD against the spread: 12-3 (.800)
YTD Pick of the week: 4-1 (.800)
YTD straight up: 15-9 (.625)

I finished 2-1 against the spread for the third stright week. My only blemish was picking the Spartans against Ohio State. Their backup QB had started the season by losing a home game to Rutgers so I should have known better. But he played okay against Michigan. At least until losing a 17 point lead in the final 6 minutes.

So let's recap:

he lost at home to Rutgers. Ok.
blew 17 point lead to Michigan. Ok
put money on him against Ohio State. Huh?

Okay in retrospect it looks dumb. But like our President, I won't dwell on my past mistakes, I'll just move on to my next one.

Look for Wisconsin (-8) to blow the Spartans out this week. It will be a shame if an undefeated Wisconsin team doesn't make it to the national championship game. A USC/Wisconsin match up would be great. Unfortunately, if it happens, it won't be in the Rose Bowl.

Without a doubt, the Badgers are head and shoulders above the rest of the Big Ten and there is no way the Spartans can hang with them. This is my pick of the week.

One funny note, my wife saw the headline "Big Red Menace" in the Sunday Trib and thought they were insulting the Badgers (she's an alum). I had to let her know the headline was actually a compliment, although I do understand how someone who spent four years of her life in Madison may find the headline "Big Red Menace" threatening.

My only other pick is Northwestern (+13.5) over Michigan in Ann Arbor. I don't think the Wildcats will win but they should keep it close.

Straight up: Iowa over Minnesota, Purdue over OSU, Indiana over Penn St. I'm tempted to pick Indiana with the spread (they're 3 point home underdogs). But it's hard enough just picking them to win. I'm not ready to put money on 'em.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Friday Big Ten Picks

Last week against the spread: 2-1
Pick of the week: 0-1
Last week straight up: 2-3

YTD against the spread: 10-2
YTD Pick of the week: 3-1
YTD straight up: 12-7

I try never to pick against home teams that are over ten point underdogs. That's really the only rule I try to follow when I pick against the spread. But last week I not only picked Iowa (-11) over Illinois in Champaign, I made it my pick of the week. It ended it being my only loss against the spread as I finished 2-1 for the second week in a row. The football gods were in an especially foul mood as the Illini ended up beating the spread by scoring a touchdown with under a minute left. Final score 23-13.

This week I see three more games that have nice spreads. The first is Wisconsin (-6.5) over Minnesota in Madison. Minnesota has proven they can score but have not proven they can win on the road. They have lost on the road to Michigan, MSU and Indiana (yikes!). I have hard time imagining them staying close to the Badgers coming off a bye week.

I'll also take Nortwestern (+3.5) over Penn State. How in the world is Penn State the favorite? This team is about to hit bottom. This is my pick of the week.

I'll also take Michigan State over Ohio State in East Lansing. Ohio State beats two bad teams at home and all of the sudden they can hang with a good team on the road? I don't think so. Take the Spartans (-1.5), even with the loss of Stanton at QB.

The rest straight-up: Illinois over Indiana, Purdue over Iowa.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Night Coverage

Now I know people don't stop by this site for media criticism. In fact, not many people stop by this site period. But since I was up late watching the results last night I thought I would offer my take on the coverage, from best to worst:

1. NBC News. This is our household's regular news source (as my wife has a crush on both Brokaw & Russert) so I think familiarity is the main reason I found their coverage thebest of all the networks. Their take on on events is usually pretty predictable but the coverage still manages not to be boring. And NBC News seems to have a heads up on the competition when it comes to graphics. The scrolls at the bottom were easy to read and I liked that they had a box on the right side of the screen that continually updated the national vote.

2 MSNBC News. MSNBC comes with much of the same features as the network broadcast including the same viewer friendly graphics. I'm also a big fan of Chris Matthews. I'm not sure why, as I disagree with him on most issues. But I find him sincere and enjoy the guests he brings to his roundtable.

Last night I was particularly impressed by Joe Scarborough. I haven't been a big fan of his but he is starting to grow on me. I thought he dominated the roundtable discussions last night and pretty much set the tone for an expected Bush victory before it was the CW. As for Ron Reagan, he doesn't have a clue, but is useful as comic relief.

3. Fox News. I used to be a big fan of Special Report with Brit Hume but can no longer stay up past 11pm to watch it. He is definitely sympathetic to the conservative point of view but only looks "right wing" when compared to other news organizations.

Fox did a good job with the scroll and graphics, coming in only a notch below those of NBC. Like MSNBC, I always enjoy the roundtable guests on Fox. Last night they included Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams. I do sometimes feel sorry for Juan Williams, as he is the lone liberal voice on the set. Of course, he doesn't help matters by saying so many stupid things.

They also had Michael Barone giving tremendous insight into where the votes were coming from in each state which enabled him to shed some light on the unrealistic claims of a late surge carrying Ohio for Kerry.

4. CNN. There was a huge difference in quality between the top 3 and bottom 3. I'll give CNN spot 4 just ahead of ABC. The graphics on CNN were just miserable. The bottom scroll had the candidate names in what I would call a normal size font next to some large sized percentage numbers. It was just a mess. By midnight I was too tired to figure out what the hell they were showing down there. Also, I didn't really find the the TV sets showing the results from each state all that helpful. I'm actually surpised how poorly CNN does with these type of events.

Also, they get demerits for not calling Ohio for Bush even after 99% of the vote was counted.

5. ABC. Pretty bad. I thought there was a lack of expert opinion on the broadcast. As for their graphics, they would often just show states as too close to call and without raw vote totals. This is just plain stupid as the raw vote totals do tell much of the story.

6. CBS. I only watched about 5 minutes of CBS but it was easily the worst I saw. Just bad graphics and a lack of seriousness. But I guess that's only because I find Dan Rather funny. Also, the five minutes I watched had local elections scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Like I care who won the Will County state's attorney race. Whatever.