Archives for posts with tag: Shamrock Shakes

March enters like a lion and leaves like a lamb--but delivers absolute heaven in the form of McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes.  These visions of minty green goodness are not recommended if you need to lose 15 pounds by April Fool’s Day, but remain beyond awesome.  Unlike in my 20’s when I set records for Shammy consumption (60 in 1995 and 61* in 1996– so asterisked because due to the leap year there was an additional day in the sales cycle), I’ll enjoy only a few cups of minty green goodness this year.  If you venture into the world of green, get the shake minus the whip cream and cherry–two unnecessary distractions from what is the best milkshake on the planet.  Problem is, which local Golden Arches are “participating” this year? And how long will the green dye last at those locations?  Much like trying to figure out how the local college basketball teams will fare in “closing month”, it’s often a mystery how these things shake out.

 

Alma Mater Update– it’s not Double Secret Probation, but the Orange are definitely paying the price for oversight over the last decade.  As a former college dean may have once said, “Mismanaged drug testing, academic shenanigans and cash from boosters are no way to go through life, son!”.  As a proud alumnus who graduated during the program’s previous time under the hot lights of the NCAA, this is decidedly not awesome.  It’s a shame that college athletics is not as pure as the driven snow.  It’s a shame Jim Boeheim didn’t learn his lesson from the early 90’s.  It’s a shame the program will lose three scholarships a year for four years–and a shame that in addition to hearing about every loss from friends who went to other schools, now the holier than thou friends have this crap to serve up–and one has to eat it, however unpleasant.  But there’s a lesson here:  word is the NCAA feels that their 5-year probation of Syracuse will be enough of a message to North Carolina.

 

#10 Maryland (25-5, 13-4 Big Ten)– 25 wins!  That hasn’t happened in the regular season since the National Championship season of 2001-02.  Dez Wells’ double-double (20 points and 10 assists) helped the Terps top Rutgers for their 6th straight win…securing the 2nd seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.  At this time they’re slated to face the winner of Indiana/Minnesota…unless 15th place Rutgers gets hot and shocks the world two days in a row (gotta love the double-bye).  Coach Mark Turgeon deserves major consideration for Big Ten Coach of the year as he’s turned a program that was picked to finish 10th in the league into a March Madness contender.  Both ESPN and CBS have the Terrapins as a 3 seed in the East…playing Georgia State in a round of 64/virtual first round game in Pittsburgh.  Not only are Shamrock shakes in season, they’re serving them without the unnecessary whip cream and cherry.

 

Georgetown (19-9, 11-6 Big East)– last weekend they didn’t have the shakes in an 11 point loss at St. Johns;  but Tuesday the Hoyas had the minty green goodness flowing in a victory at #21 Butler.  That gives coach John Thompson III’s team a season sweep of the Bulldogs (the November game counts as a non-conference meeting) entering Saturday’s Senior Day game with Seton Hall (Hoyas beat the Pirates by 19 in February).  A victory plus a Providence loss delivers the #2 seed in the Big East Tournament (and a quarterfinal date with Seton Hall or Marquette)–a loss plus a Butler win drops the Hoyas to 4th (and a game with St. John’s).  Nine days before Selection Sunday ESPN has Georgetown as a #6 seed in the West–facing LSU in Columbus, OH, while CBS has the Hoyas 5th in the West–playing Wofford in Jacksonville.  Certain to change depending on Saturday’s showdown with Seton Hall.

 

Cruising the Commonwealth–

#2 Virginia (28-1, 16-1 ACC) bounced back from an achingly slow start at Syracuse to beat the Orange 59-47.  The best defense (50 points per game allowed) in Division I is aided by a highly efficient offense that maximizes each possession (61st in the nation in shooting percentage).  They won’t have e Justin Anderson back for the regular season finale at Louisville;  the junior’s pinkie is okay but he’s recovering from an appendectomy.  Go figure.  As the number one seed the Cavaliers will play Pitt or Clemson in the quarterfinals.  ESPN and CBS agree on the NCAA destination:  #1 Seed in the East with a first weekend stay in Charlotte, NC.  ESPN has UVa facing Charleston Southern/Sacramento State;  CBS offers up St. Francis/Bucknell.  Virginia is the one location that offers a Shamrock Shake at breakfast…and I will drive the 2+ hours to Charlottesville.

 

Virginia Tech (10-20, 2-15 ACC) can avoid the infamous 10-15 game if they beat bubble team Miami in Blacksburg Saturday.  What’s wrong with the Hokies?  An offense that’s reached 60 points once during the current six game losing streak combined with the worst rebounding team in the ACC.  Rinse and refresh for year two under Buzz Williams.  Notice from McDonald’s Corporate:  the truck delivering the dye accidentally skipped Blacksburg this winter–but try the test marketed “McTurkeyLegs”.

 

George Washington (19-11, 9-8 Atlantic 10)– there’s a reason why I’ve titled February “Moving Month”.  Pretenders become contenders and vice versa.  GW had a February to forget –a 2-5 nightmare that took the Cavaliers from a 12 seed in ESPN’s projection to not even close to being in the at-large conversation.  A win against UMass in the season finale means coach Mike Lonergan’s team will take the 6th seed in the upcoming A-10 tourney…a loss plus a St. Bonaventure victory drops the Colonials to 8th.  Can they wrangle an NIT bid somehow?  Foggy Bottom Shammy Shake sales were brisk the first week of availability–and then they misplaced the bags of the minty green dye.  Good news is they found the McRib mold.

 

George Mason (9-20, 4-13 Atlantic 10)– the Patriots 67-51 loss to George Washington means a second straight 20-loss season in Fairfax…as a three point halftime lead evaporated when the team scored just 19 points after intermission.  Saturday’s trip to VCU isn’t much more encouraging.  Regardless, GMU will finish 13th in the A-10…serving up a first round game with Fordham (a team they lost to by 12 at home).  With coach Paul Hewitt returning five of his top six players next season, better days appear to be ahead for Mason Nation.  “NO SHAMROCK SHAKES THIS YEAR.  NEXT YEAR WE PROMISE…”

 

 VCU (21-9, 11-6 Atlantic 10)– Captain Obvious chimes in that the Rams are missing Briante Weber.   While they were able to weather the loss of their two-way sparkplug in wins over George Mason and George Washington, they’ve been exposed as of late.  Three straight losses to A-10 contenders drops the Rams from the conference lead to potentially playing the first round: a loss to George Mason or a Richmond win over St. Louis means VCU gets the 5th seed.  The defeat at Davidson was tough to stomach:  down by 19 at the half, 16 turnovers on the night and 1-15 shooting from 3-point range are exactly what the Rams have been known to do to the opposition.  Can they right the ship in time to avoid a complete flameout?  Both models have the Rams an 8 seed in the South headed to Charlotte, NC.  ESPN has VCU facing Oklahoma State, CBS has Shaka Smart’s team playing Mississippi.  There’s nothing more discouraging than having the shake machine break down…

 

American (16-15, 8-10 Patriot League)– the Eagles kept their season alive with a 68-62 win at Lehigh in the Patriot League Quarterfinals, putting 45 points on the board after halftime.  Jesse Reed scores 24 points to earn AU a semifinal game with Colgate Sunday.  The Eagles scored just 43 points the last time they visited Hamilton, NY.  No Shammies this winter–but remember how good they tasted last year?

 

Howard (16-15, 10-6 MEAC)– take a bow, Bison.  You have climbed out of a decade-plus of 20-loss seasons to post your first winning conference record since 2002.  With two of the three James (Miller and Daniel) being sophomores, this appears to be more than just a one-year run.  Even if it is a one year run–what a season!  Ten league wins and a first round bye in the conference tournament.  That’s where things get interesting– as the men and women play concurrently in Norfolk, VA next week.  This means that #5 Norfolk State plays #12 Delaware State Monday with the winner facing Howard………Friday.  Then it’s potentially three games in three days.  Shamrock Shake?  What is that?  Green milkshake– you have to be kidding me.  When did that start?

March Madness grabs the fan by the throat and doesn’t let go until three weekends of thrill, chills and spills are complete…with the canned final call and Luther Vandross-voiced video montage providing the exclamation point.  The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake also takes the believers hostage for 2-3 weeks (depending on how much green dye your participating location has)…and it is one beautiful journey.  Minty Goodness along with a box of Tagalongs and a bracket?  Be still my heart.  For those who don’t know if your local McD’s offers this seasonal treat, check out “www.shamrockshake.com”.  You’ll thank me later…

Georgetown (17-13, 8-10 Big East)– the Hoyas missed a chance to finish .500 in the league while also scoring their second top five win in less than a week… turning the ball over 18 times (same amount as the earlier matchup) in a 77-59 loss to the Wildcats.  Just how good is Villanova?  This team sweeps both games from Gtown for just the second time (granted, there were some Big East years where they met just once)…had already wrapped up its second ever outright Big East Championship (1982) and tied the 2006 team (#1 seed that lost to eventual champ Florida in the Regional Finals) for second-most ever wins (the 2009 team that made the Final Four won 30).  The Hoyas find themselves on the bubble’s underbelly– projected the 4th team out by CBS and 8th team out by ESPN.  GOOD NEWS!– “bracketmatrix.com” has them as a #1 seed for the NIT.  As the 7th seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament– there’s a first round game with last place DePaul.  If you can’t beat the Blue Demons on a neutral floor– you don’t deserve to dance.  A win sets up a rematch with Creighton– a team they beat a week ago in DC.

Shamrock Shake Funfact I– started in 1970 as the “St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake”.  Thank goodness they renamed it…Shammy sounds so much better than “SPDG” or “St. Patty’s“.

Alma Mater Update–the Orange ended their final regular season in the Big East by scoring 37 points in a loss at Georgetown.  Beside myself, only a Shamrock Shake kept me from jumping on the Metro Rails as I headed home that dark day (little did I know there’d be a Final Four run).  The #11 Orange (27-4, 14-4 ACC) concluded their first winter in a new league by beating a signature-win-hungry Florida State 74-58.  Jerami Grant’s return to the lineup proved to be the band-aid that delivered the team’s first road win by more than one possession since January.  The victory gives them a 2nd seed in the ACC Tournament–in the sub-bracket of  #7 NC State, #10 Miami and #15 Virginia Tech)…and stops the slide from what one month ago was the Overall #1 seed in most bracket models ( they’re a #3 in ESPN and a #2 in CBS).   But despite a nice finish for first team All ACC forward CJ Fair (22 points and 7 rebounds)…the ugly monster called “lack of depth” (4 players saw 35+ minutes on the floor, only 7 played at all) could rear its ugly head in Greensboro.  At least for now I don’t have to answer questions from my Maryland friends like “What’s wrong with your boys?”.

Maryland (17-14, 9-9 ACC)–nothing was wrong at 2:30pm EDT in College Park…as the Terps vanquished a season of last-minute losses.  The 75-69 overtime win over then-#5 Virginia was the team’s first signature win in a year where the Terps had written their first name in cursive only to run out of ink.  Credit a defense that held the Cavaliers to 9-31 shooting after halftime.  Credit Dez Wells heating up after intermission (16 of his 18 points coming after the break).  And credit Seth Allen for being on fire to start the extra session (scoring the first 5 points in OT).  Unfortunately NC State’s win keeps the Terrapins in the 8-9 game (against Florida State) with the winner facing top seed Virginia in Friday’s quarterfinals.  The latest NIT talk has Maryland getting a #5 seed from bracketmatrix.com…and facing West Virginia in the first round (with a trip to top seed Georgetown for the winner).  Can Mark Turgeon’s team catch fire in Greensboro?

Shamrock Shake Funfact II–in 1974 Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose was in the process of getting the Ronald McDonald House (for cancer patient’s families) built…and proceeds from Shamrock Shake sales contributed to the charity getting off the ground.  Proving that Philly fans may throw snowballs at Santa, but they’re all about helping the kids and enjoying minty goodness three months later.

Cruising the Commonwealth–the Tale of Two Programs continues with the best of times being tempered somewhat at Virginia (25-6, 16-2 ACC) after the Cavaliers came up short in College Park.  Joe Harris shot under 30% or worse for the fourth time in five games…UVa was outrebounded and missed 8 free throws in the loss.  The loss may keep them from getting a #1 or #2 seed (both models have the Cavs as a #3 in the South) but it won’t alter their Greensboro schedule–as they’ll play the winner of Maryland-Florida State Friday.  By the time they do play Friday in the ACC Quarterfinals…Virginia will have suited up for just two games over a 16-day span.  Not exactly ideal if you’re trying to hit your stride.  Virginia hasn’t reached Saturday (aka the ACC Semis) or the Second Weekend (NCAA Regionals) since 1995…and this team looks poised to end that streak.  Virginia Tech (9-21, 2-16 ACC) is in the famed “10-15” First Round game Wednesday.  I’ve never been a fan of the double-bye bracket…but unless you trim the field to 12 schools that’s what you’ve got.  The Hokies lost their regular season finale 62-51 at Georgia Tech–missing 19 of their first 26 shots.  Jarell Eddie’s descent (27% shooting over his last 10 games) mirrored an offense that scraped to but even 50 points on the board.  The good news is they face Miami Wednesday–and the Hokies posted their only two league games against the Hurricanes this winter.

Shamrock Shake Funfact III–in an era when McDonald’s commercials featured such characters like “The Hamburgler” and “Mayor McCheese”…the fuzzy purple “Grimace” was the milkshake specialist.  Thus it makes perfect sense the green-furred “Uncle O’Grimacey” would become the patron saint of an ad campaign–and a hero to kids worldwide. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu6q8HzmQ7Q)

George Washington (23-7, 11-5 Atlantic 10)–the Colonials continue to be in the at-large middle class…listed by CBS as a #8 seed (in Arizona’s regional) and a #9 (in Florida’s bracket) by ESPN.  Atlantic 10 Player of the Week Maurice Creek notched 24 points and 7 rebounds in the 70-67 win at Fordham (the Rams made this one close thanks to outrebounding GW 45-28) to assure the Colonials of the #3 seed in the upcoming conference tournament–where they await the winner of UMass and Rhode Island.  They beat the Rams in January (17 points and 7 rebounds for Kevin Larsen) and lost to the Minutemen in February (shooting 37% from the field…turning the ball over 14 times and getting outrebounded by 4).  Help is on the way…in the form of second-leading scorer Kethan Savage as the guard returns after missing 12 games with a broken foot–albeit in limited minutes.

Shamrock Shake Funfact IV–the was briefly a “Shamrock Sundae” in 1980…that for some reason didn’t stick.  I’m thinking it was the lack of Uncle O’Grimacey in the marketing efforts… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOb7T1pqj08)

George Mason (11-19, 4-12) couldn’t escape the dreaded 12-13 game at the beginning of the Atlantic 10 Tournament as an 81-69 loss to Duquesne proves costly.  The Dukes hit 11 of 21 three-pointers and shot 53% for the game…as the Patriots regroup to face Fordham.  The Rams won only twice in league play–but one of those victories was against GMU as Branden Frazier scored all 22 of his points after halftime in a January 22nd 76-70 triumph.  Can Mason extend their inaugural conference campaign?

Maryland Womens Window– unfortunately the stay in Greensboro was brief for the #11 Terps (24-6,  12-4 ACC) as they couldn’t contain North Carolina during crucial stretches of a 73-70 loss to the Tar Heels despite 24 points and 11 rebounds for Alyssa Thomas.  The loss drops Maryland to a potential 4th seed (in Tennessee’s bracket with a potential second round matchup against 5th seeded Michigan State).  The good news is they’ll begin their NCAA Tournament run at Comcast Center.  The bad news is Alyssa Thomas is one year too old to benefit from a fantastic recruiting class that needs one more winter to transform freshmen Lexie Brown, Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough into major contributors that can carry a team in March.

Shamrock Shake Funfact V–the recipe now calls for whipped cream and a cherry.  Don’t be a fool…enjoy the beverage as nature intended.  When they changed to a clear cup I was at first taken aback.  There are certain things where less transparency is more…

American (19-12, 13-5 Patriot League)— the Eagles battle regular season champion Boston University Wednesday for the automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.. they torched the Terriers by 30 at Bender Arena (shooting 71%) but lost by nine in Beantown (getting outrebounded by 16 while committing 13 turnovers).  Tony Wroblicky got into foul trouble in the second game–something AU can ill afford again.  The Eagle D has carried them to the finals as they’ve held Colgate to 39% shooting and Holy Cross to 38% from the field.  A win Wednesday would cap a miraculous run for the team in coach Mike Brennan’s first season at the helm.

Howard (7-24, 5-11 MEAC) somehow emerges from a 5-way tie to claim the #8 seed.  I don’t know which tiebreaker put them over the top.  The Bison battle North Carolina A&T Tuesday– a team they beat in February by eight thanks to 23 points from James Daniel.  While Morgan State handcuffed the freshman to 4-16 shooting in a 68-66 overtime loss… that’s the only time the guard’s been held under 20 points since February 3rd.  The winner gets regular season titlist North Carolina Central in the quarterfinals…

Shamrock Shake Funfact VI–I reportedly consumed 61 Shammy Shakes in 1996…which I thought was the record (by one).  Sadly, due to the leap year there was an extra day of Shamrock Shake sales that year…that is why my ’96 total gets an asterisk (actually they list both records– there was never actually an asterisk).

March is not a month for the faint of heart.  March can be magical…and maddening in the same week.  March is where three months of hopes and dreams can be submarined by an unexplainable slump.  March is the month where bubble teams catch fire and play their way into the big dance.  March is the month where RPI and SOS…last four in and first four out come to the forefront.  March is the month where last second shots and curious coaching calls equally infuriate and excite.  March is the month where the DC area schools try to make history before their season is history.

Shamrock Shake PSA– March also means the best beverage on the planet will be available at select McDonald’s locations.  The Shamrock Shake is pure minty goodness…although lately they’ve messed with perfection by adding whip cream and a cherry.  For those who indulge… please get said shake without both.

Georgetown (23-4, 13-3) rides a tidalwave into the final weeks of the regular season.  Otto Porter, Jr. makes his case for Big East Player of the Year by dropping 33 on Syracuse… and then following up with 22 against UConn and 28 more against Rutgers.  He’s hit 50% or more of his shots in 7 of his last 9 games…and as the Hoyas zero in on the conference regular season championship and a potential #1 seed, Hoya Paranoia is in full force.  Bubble team Villanova and not as dangerous as they were 2 weeks ago Syracuse await.

Alma Mater Update– or downdate if you will.  Three straight losses have the Orange (22-7, 10-6) headed in the wrong direction… all potential #1 seed talk scrapped when SU went 4-6 after Inauguration Day (just one win over a team with a winning conference record).  The should beat last place DePaul.  Can they get things together for one final game at Georgetown?  One fears the window is now closed.

Maryland (20-9, 8-8) split its week away from College Park… slipping at Georgia Tech before winning at Wake Forest.  For all of the top ten draft projections Alex Len’s received…the Ukranian sophomore’s been held to single digit scoring in three of his last five games.  Dez Wells has become the offensive engine (19ppg last week) as of late.  When the Terps defend (holding WF to 32%FG while outrebounding the Demon Deacons by 8)…good things happen.  But can this bubble bunch beat North Carolina and then win at Virginia? 

Cruising the Commonwealth– the best of times and worst of times…for the same team.   Virginia (20-9, 10-6) upset 3rd ranked Duke Thursday evening in Charlottesville…only to follow up with a one-point loss at Boston College.  So much for rushing the court.  Virginia Tech (13-16, 4-12) can climb out of the ACC cellar with a win at Wake Forest as they’d own a season sweep of the Demon Deacons…as Erick Green’s winter of non-support hums toward its evenutal end in the ACC Tournament (the senior leads the league with 25 points a game).

George Washington (12-15, 6-8) missed another upset opportunity when they allowed a second half 10-0 run by #18 Saint Louis in their 66-58 loss to the Billikens.  Isaiah Armwood had a rough outing (2-9 shooting) as GW finds itself in 1-5 slide that drops them to 13th in the Atlantic Ten.  The Colonials visit 20-7 La Salle –a team they lost to by nine last month–Wednesdsay.

George Mason (17-13, 10-8) enters March like a roasted lamb with back to back losses against Towson and Delaware–two of the teams they were chasing in the CAA standings.  Even 16 points off the bench from Vertrail Vaughns (Gordon Gartrelle’s alleged cousin) couldn’t pull the Patriots past the Blue Hens…and now they enter one of the more amusing conference tournaments:  the CAA has 11 schools… but Old Dominion and Georgia State are both ineligible because those schools are leaving the conference while UNC-Wilmington and Towson are not participating due to academic issues.

Maryland Womens Window– the 10th ranked Terps (23-6, 14-4) were beaten by conference champ Duke at home before falling at #23 Florida State 72-71 on a last minute lane violation.  After the Terrapins bounced back to blast Wake Forest 88-61 on senior day (18 pts and 11 reb for Tianna Hawkins)…their road through the conference tournament will be as a #2 seed thanks to winning a coin-flip with North Carolina.

American (10-19, 5-9) wrapped up its regular season with an 80-72 loss at Lafayette… one where the Eagles allowed 27 points on 13 turnovers.  After a 3-1 midseason surge, AU enters the Patriot League Tournament on a four game losing streak– failing to reach 50 points in two of those defeats.  The Eagles play Army in the quarterfinals– the Black Knights swept the season series while hitting 9-17 from 3 point range in the first game and 9-18 in the second.

Howard (7-23, 4-12) with its regular season complete awaits the MEAC shuffle– the Bison could finish 10th or 11th, depending on what Coppin State does during its final two games.  It’s never nice having your fate hang in the hands of a 6-23 team.  Especially after blowing a 12 point lead against Delaware State (losing 56-53 in their regular season finale).  Shooting remains an issue:  the team hit just 34% from the field, 22% from 3 point range and 55% from the free throw line in their loss to the Hornets.