Raynor Denitzio

Before getting into my predictions for the upcoming season, I think first it is necessary to qualify my basketball resume. Having a growth spurt that freakishly hit at least two years before most of my contemporaries, I was able to dominate pretty thoroughly through sixth grade. My ability to dunk on the 8-foot high hoops in gym class resulted in some inflated stats, including one absurd stretch of 30 points in 10 minutes in gym class, which ruined of many a pre-pubescent classmate’s self-confidence (being all about equal opportunity I took on all comers, girls and boys.) Sadly, in seventh grade, hormones caught up to me and, due to philosophical differences with the coach freshman year (namely his lack of agreement with my philosophy that I rule), my career ended prematurely. Reborn in intramurals, I was a part of two teams which ran the table during the regular season, only we didn’t live up to our hype and fell in the Elite Eight both years.

If you haven’t gathered from the above paragraph, I’m an idiot. That being said, I shall now break down the Big East based solely upon the relative strength of the mascots. Before you stop reading, keep in mind that this led me to win the Villanovan Staff Picks title last year. Although, to be fair, I had to resort to some Dean Smith-like tactics. Taking a lead early on in the season, I “ran the clock,” as it were, picking the same teams as the person in second place. Some call this cheap, but I say to them, don’t throw rocks at the thrown.

Before I begin, one qualifier: this is not true in all cases. It merely works in close situations, particularly games such as South Florida vs. DePaul that no one really cares about. That being said, don’t blame me if you put the rent check on Providence over UConn and wind up living underneath a SEPTA bridge.

As it says in the book of Genesis, “You shall have dominion over the fish of the sea, dominion over the birds of the Heavens, over all the Earth, over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth. Go forth children, multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it.” Not only does this explain why we eat meat, but it also provides the basis for rule number one.

Man beats animals, both in nature and in sports. We have thumbs and that’s why we win. But who among the human mascots is the strongest? The Seaton Hall Pirates can be discounted because they resemble more of the seedy-romance novel pirate than the actual boozing, murdering kind. The Friars are men of God, but outside of the Jesuits, they tend not to make good fighters. Then you have the Mountaineers from West Virginia. Although they have guns, years of inbreeding has rendered rhe weapons virtually useless in their hands, so they are out. That leaves us with Rutgers. I hold a special place in my heart for the Scarlet Knights since, if things had not gone as expected, I very well likely could have been sucking in exhaust fumes along the Raritan. Plus, 80 percent of my high school goes there. Scarlet Knights it is.

Next we have our mythical beasts: the Blue Demons and the Irish. The Demons are threatening, but being part Irish myself and having lived through many a holiday surrounded by Irish relatives, I can assure you that they are far more frightening than anything.

Then there are the Red Storm and the Orange. I have no idea what either one of these is. Besides losing points for being from Jamaica (Queens) and Syracuse, neither one is a mammal. Let’s be serious.

Next, we have the animals. Within the Big East, we have the Wildcats, Huskies, Bearcats, Hoyas, Cardinals, Golden Eagles, Panthers and Bulls. I’m going to count out the Huskies and Hoyas, because, unlike clowns and mummers, dogs just don’t illicit a sense of fear. Cardinals and Eagles are essentially a joke since birds can do little more than claw out your eyes (and rest assured, they would if they could), but having lived through numerous birds slamming into the bay windows at my house and breaking their necks I question both their intelligence and ferocity. Any animal that can be felled by a window stands no chance against animals with teeth. Next we come to the Bulls. The horns are menacing, but if hicks ride you for fun, you really aren’t that scary.

Once we eliminate the stupid and weak animals, we come to the real threats: Wildcats, Bearcats and Panthers. In one of the more disturbing things I learned during my “research” for this column, I found out that the female bearcat, otherwise known as the binturong, is a hermaphrodite. That’s not my scene, so we’ll eliminate them for now.

That brings us to our own beloved Wildcats. Again, my “research” led me to find that these things weigh between 6 and 13 pounds and are less than 2 feet long. This does not bode well for our cause.

Contrast that with the Panthers, which are much larger. Now, size does not always matter, but as much as it pains me, in one-on-one combat a Panther stomps a Wildcat. Now, we could give the Wildcat some weapons to make up for the lack of size. Maybe a gun. Or a sword. Or maybe it could ride a puma. But that’s just crazy talk. Last time I looked, they don’t have opposable digits or communications skills.

So here we go. We have the Panthers, the Scarlet Knights and the Irish. From the Syracuse-St. John’s portion, we’ll take the Orange because, in the words of Bing Crosby, they “let ’em know you mean business, but don’t leave any bruises.” Out of these four, we’ll match up the Panthers with the Scarlet Knights and the Irish with the Orange. I’m still irked that Syracuse caved into the pressure put on them by William III of England to drop the “man” from Orangeman, so they lose out to the Irish. Keeping with my “thumbs mean business” rule, the Scarlet Knights show the Panthers why they’re endangered. That leaves the Irish versus the Scarlet Knights.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what I’m on. The answer is no sleep and natural gas fumes. And with that as a qualifier, I’m taking the Irish. I’ve seen far too many awkward Thanksgivings to pick against them.