April Madness: Lots of upsets in first few rounds

Street Talk April Madness: Lots of upsets in first few rounds

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In case you missed the introduction to “April Madness: Ozzie’s greatest late-round picks and undrafted signings,” click here.

Before I get into Boh’s and my selections, we’d like to point out a few things we took into consideration when picking winners:

1. The Recent Success Bias – guys who have performed really well within the past year or two may trigger an exaggerated opinion of their career as a whole.

2. The Super Bowl Run Hero Bias – this really only applies to a few guys, but basically we didn’t want to over-value an otherwise mediocre career because of contributions to a Super Bowl run when matching up with a guy who was better than mediocre for his tenure with the Ravens.

3. The Post-Ravens Success Bias – as noted in part 1 of April Madness, we will not be deciding matchups with a player’s entire career in mind – only their time as a Raven.

4. The Humor Factor – it’s a thing, deal with it.  Guys who have a certain degree of humor attached to themselves will get by in boring matchups.

Here are write-ups of close matchups with the winner in bold.

Round of 64 Outcomes

The Tony Banks Region

2. Gino Gradkowski vs. 15 Lional Dalton

Straight out of upset city, in our version of Florida Gulf Coast taking down Georgetown comes one big man taking down another.  We have every bit of confidence that Gino’s going to be a stud, but his small sample size of play isn’t enough to take down Dalton.

3. Edgerton Hartwell vs. 14. Josh Bynes

Josh, we appreciate you making the final tackle in the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t enough.  You represented the Special Teams LB conference well.

The Stoney Case Region

4. Le’Ron McClain vs. 13. Marques Douglas

Conventional wisdom says McClain’s performance as a blocker and flashes of glory as a running back are enough to get him through to the next round.  Making the cut for the Pro Bowl two years in a row seems to send the argument home.  But Marques Douglas is a beast.  He was near the top in the league for years in tackles for loss, and his career “Approximate Value” (AV) with the Ravens is 21 per Pro-Football-Reference.com.  McClain’s is a mere 12.

6. David Reed vs. 11. Morgan Cox

Cox gets it for making a (small) contribution to every game he shows up in.  No other reason.

Boh’s take: “Played to a scoreless tie, the game was called due to darkness.  All of Dundalk was enraged they even had to be subjected to paying for this on their strip of tickets.  No one from this matchup deserves to advance.”

The Eric Zeier Region

2. Tandon Doss vs. 15. Edgar Jones

Yet another 2 seed falls at the hands of a 15 seed.  It’s like 2012 all over again when history was made with Duke and Missouri – both 2 seeds – went down in round 1.  But this isn’t the most impressive win on the part of Edgar Jones.  We basically just awarded him the right to enter the next round as a thank you for the laughs we enjoyed whenever the number 84 was seen checking in on D.  Cheers to converting to TE and still getting more reps on defense, Edgar.  As seen by your success in KC, it’s where you belong (but we wish you’d kept the TE number).

Boh’s take: In your best Jim Nantz voice, “Rush specialist #84 Edgar Jones entering the game.

7. Troy Smith vs. 10. Derek Anderson

In what has already been billed as the “Well, at least I wasn’t drafted as high as Boller” Failed Quarterback Bowl, Troy “Yeah, I won the Heisman” Smith takes down Derek “Yeah, I made a Pro Bowl” Anderson.

Boh’s take: “Troy Smith’s tonsils – the true Super Bowl 47 MVP.  Imagine if he hadn’t gotten sick and gone down in training camp Joe’s rookie year…”

Which of these personal accolades does Joe Flacco not have?  That’s right C) all of the above. 

The Scott Mitchell Region

4. Jared Gaither vs. 13. Mike Flynn

It’s like watching a team that you know is about to get slapped with NCAA sanctions for making up their players’ SAT scores lose to the small conference team who made the tourney for the first time after a midseason run prompted by their AD saying the program was going to be cut for budgetary reasons after the season.  The feel good story of an undrafted guy who worked his way into a starting job for eight years trumps the dude who has fake-back-injury-ed his way off of two NFL teams.

Boh’s take: “Just like a bunch of farm boys from the Ohio Valley Conference beating an SEC team with the Princeton Offense, Flynn upsets Gaither.  This was made easier by the fact that Gaither bowed out early in the 4th quarter with a mystery back injury.”

5. Jermaine Lewis vs. 12. Ma’ake Kemoeatu

Probably the matchup that Boh and I were most bummed about having to pick a winner.

Boh’s take: Both guys deserve to move on, but we watched in horror as Kemo pulled a 4-year starter stud in his senior season who misses 2 free throws at the end of the game to lose.

 

Round of 32 Outcomes

 

The Tony Banks Region 

5. Dawan Landry vs. 13. Dannell Ellerbe

Boh’s take: Tough matchup early on, as both really should be in the Sweet 16.  Ellerbe had a great 2012 season, but Landry has more consistent stats over his tenure in Baltimore.  Landry just barely nudges Ellerbe.

7. Tony Pashos vs. 15. Lional Dalton

Dalton edges Pashos out despite having a lower AV (8 versus 10) thanks to Pashos essentially being a one-and-a-half season wonder.  But the Humor Factor also came into play.  Dalton is spending his retirement as a co-owner of Xtensions Xpress, a hair salon that specializes in “hair enhancements” made of “virgin hair.”

The Stoney Case Region

8. Adalius Thomas vs. 16. Justin Tucker

Tough loss here for Tucker.  If only this tournament were for who we’d rather bro out with.  Even though he’s only had one year in the league, what a year it was with highlights like the game-winner against New England in Week 3 (thereby proving his status as the anti-Cundiff) and the OT winner after the Mile High Miracle.

Boh’s take: Tucker’s future as the feature back in the Sam Koch spread offense is bright.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2CXsd9hYA0

12. Will Demps vs. 13. Marques Douglas

They have an almost identical AV for their respective tenures with the Ravens (Demps – 22, Douglas 21).  But on a per season basis, Demps’ AV topped out at 7 while Douglas registered a 9 two seasons in a row.  He was also a hugely underrated member of the d-lines that never gave up 100-yard rushers.

2. Dennis Pitta vs. 10 Chester Taylor

Here the above-mentioned Recent Success & Super Bowl Hero Biases come into play big time.  With another season like last year’s under his belt, Pitta wins this easily, but as of right now the dude has only one stud year under his belt.  Take a look at his stats from his first two seasons.  During that time, he averaged only 20.5 catches for 203 yards and 1.5 TD’s per year – not even close to his production in his third year.  One great year just isn’t enough to beat out the three solid years Chester had catching balls out of the backfield and backing up Jamal.

The Eric Zeier Region

12. Jameel McClain vs. 13. Bart Scott

The battle of middle linebackers past and present.  Just like the case of Pitta above, more successful years may help Jameel edge Bart out in the long run.

7. Troy Smith vs. 15. Edgar Jones

Humor Factor trumps again…in case you missed it earlier…

Boh’s take: In your best Jim Nantz voice, “Rush specialist #84 Edgar Jones entering the game.”

The Scott Mitchell Region

1. Dave Zastudil vs. 9. Sam Koch

The Punter Bowl!!!  Truly an epic matchup.  Koch hasn’t missed a game in his seven years with the team, and last year he set career highs in yards per punt and total punt yards.  Zastudil’s highest yards per punt average as a Raven was 43.5, which looks more like Koch’s career low 43.0 during his rookie season.  Koch also has some sweet successful fakes in his career:

Successful TD

Showing off that arm strength

But we really gave Koch the win because of his budding techno career:

2. Jason Brown vs. 10. Chad Williams

Jason Brown had three years as a starting o-lineman.  Chad Williams returned a pick for a touchdown each of his first three years in the league.  The respective returns were 98, 52, and 94 yards long.  Enough said.

Chad’s 98-yard interception return for a TD during his rookie season.

 Sweet 16 Outcomes

The Tony Banks Region

1. Brandon Stokley vs. 5. Dawan Landry

This is sure to look like a controversial pick.  Let’s start with a comment from a reader on article one of this series: “Definitely don’t see Stokely making moves, never caught more than 24 passes in a season aka same Ravens career high as Clarence Moore.”

Thanks for pointing out what most of us forget, John.  Aside from his epic Super Bowl TD catch, Stokley didn’t exactly tear it up in Baltimore.  The Post-Ravens Success Bias definitely comes into play, as all of Stokley’s best years have happened after leaving the Ravens.  He only averaged 15 catches a year in purple and black – yes, not even one per game.  That’s just not enough to beat Dawan Landry, the feature back of the Ed Reed triple option offense:

The Stoney Case Region

10. Chester Taylor vs. 14. Priest Holmes

Both backs played for the Ravens for 4 years.  Leaving out his Chiefs glory, Priest wins this one because he beat out Chester in every single running category for their respective careers in Baltimore.

Boh’s take: The “We liked Jamal better” Bowl

The Eric Zeier Region

1. Jarret Johnson vs. 13. Bart Scott

Tough pick.  Two studs of the Rex Ryan Era.  JJ was a big contributor for six of his nine seasons with the birds, Bart only four of seven.  JJ’s streak of 129 consecutive games played also caught our eye, as did Bart’s 9.5 sack ’06 campaign.  In the end, consistency and longevity won out over one really dominant year.

The Scott Mitchell Region

10. Chad Williams vs. 14. Bennie Anderson

Boh’s take: Chad Williams…38% of the time he touches the ball he scores.

Stay tuned for the Final Four!

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About David Hallman

David Hallman is the self-proclaimed Purple Prophet. After years of mediocre predictions coming true, he told his parents his greatest prophecy on the drive to the airport to leave for Thailand in July 2012: “The only year I live overseas, the Orioles will make the playoffs, and the Ravens will win the Super Bowl.” We all know how that story ended: sleepless nights watching games thanks to the time difference and an office of foreign co-workers who refused to talk to him the day after he called out “sick” to watch the Super Bowl. He graduated from Calvert Hall in ’08 and Towson University in ’12 with a degree in English.

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