CBB '24 - Week 3.5 Card: The Voluptuous Contours Of Success

Those who effectively run the sport have taken the voluptuous contours of unique success and flattened them out into something that for many is as unnatural as it is unappealing, like a church with carpet where people play the acoustic guitar, like a dog with no appetite.

CBB '24 - Week 3.5 Card: The Voluptuous Contours Of Success
Sad Tom. Sweet kicks, though.

The Voluptuous Contours Of Success

  • 1 - Dancing Europeans teach us about College Basketball's internal cancer, with wisdom from Jay Bilas and Mick Cronin
  • 2 - The Horns are no longer pointed in the downward position
  • 3 - Brown, Aragon, Prince, Owono emerge victorious; Hirshenson, Tone overtake top spots
  • 4 - Yeah, yeah, we put BYU-Houston on the card, relax

Only 6 of you have taken advantage of your free Referral Bonus Winnings! Bring your friends in to the 2024 Robn College Basketball Contest and get free Winnings. When your friend/s submits their first picks card, have them list your name as their referrer. And boom! You get 100 Bonus Winnings! (Offer valid until Jan. 31st at 11:59pm ET. Limit of five (5) new customer referrals per contestant. Those referred must have never played in an Onions/Robn contest before).

1. Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

There is a procession in Luxembourg in late Spring called Echternach that calls to mind the current NCAA basketball landscape.

Luxembourgers dance from one end of the eponymous town to the other, culminating at the eponymous abbey founded by 7th century Bishop and apostle Saint Willibrod.

Old Willy apparently performed several miracles for the citizens of that time, including posthumously curing their involuntary dancing to the sweet flute sounds of the wrongly convicted Saint Vitus (hence, the dancing in the modern day procession).

We at Robn have equal admiration for religious devotion and white people moving in Muppet-esque spasm (think of the muscles pulled), so we thought we'd show you actual footage of how they get down.


People still do this today. A popularized but not necessarily accurate historical account from the 18th Century noted that those who processed did so by taking three steps forward and two steps back, resulting in highly increased marching durations and general fatigue.

If something is said to be moving at an "Echternach Pace," it means it's progressing slowly.

College Basketball in 2024 is moving at an Echternach Pace, if not worse.

Something seems off, and it's not just fatigue from the pre-March Madness, dirty-snow-on-the-ground general drudgery.

The first clue, as always, came from Robners themselves. More of you than ever are engaging with these emails and signing up, but fewer of you than ever are participating.

So, we asked why. You responded in kind.

  • "There aren't really any standout teams, there's too much parity."
  • "Not into it as much this year, but will stay pay attention to the tournament."
  • "It just doesn't feel as exciting as it used to."
  • "All the good teams suck."

OK, so one reason is that the narrative is lacking and it's harder to know who to pay attention to. Outside of UConn and maybe North Carolina, the blue boods don't seem particularly blue. The brands are weakening!

Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim and Jay Wright, each national championship winning coaches, have all recently retired. Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Mark Few and others of that early-aughts dominant guard may not have a ton of time left for a game that, if it hasn't passed them by, has long passed by their preferences.

Another reason is that more talent than ever is obviating the one-and-done rule, skipping college and going straight to G-League. (2006 Wemby did a courtesy year at Texas before being drafted in the NBA. His name was Kevin Durant. 2023 Wemby wouldn't think of it - in part thanks to France's heavily NBA-aided player development system.)

OK, but what else?

A third reason is that just as college basketball has gone through these changes, the NBA has aggressively expanded its brand in the last decade, doing a remarkable job at the brainless-but-important task of "capturing the culture." The league is now a cast of marketable characters in the just-dumbed-down-enough tradition of a Marvel movie – there are heroes and villains and supervillains, and a continual blending of the players and the media itself. All of this has resulted in a major increase in NBA viewership.

College Basketball has become less a product itself and more something to be aware of solely becuase it feeds the real product above it.

All this is true. But still seems like we're missing something.

Well, the NCAA is weaker than ever and college sports has no central leadership.

Sure, but that's been the case for awhile.

Well, NIL is making it so that the programs with the wealthiest alumni can just buy the best players...

Not enough word count left to get into that hornets' nest.

Well, the transfer portal has turned from a convenient tool to maximize playing time and exposure into an absurd carousel where everyone bolts at the slightest sense of boredom.

Sure, but that's not what I'm thinking of...

Oh! That's right! Fox and ESPN just rearranged the entire college sports landscape for money, scrambling along with it many of the traditions and thought-lines that underpin the emotional pull that tugs at us to watch college sports in the first place.

Will Leitch (remember him?) called this right as the season was tipping off. Writing for the beating heart of college basketball fandom, New York Magazine, he reminded us that the answer to "what has happened to college basketball" is "college football."

"As NCAA executives and TV executives were shaking college football until every nickel fell out, it was telling how little regard they paid to anything else... and that approach has left college basketball largely in tatters, trying to figure out how to put itself back together.
If you thought Rutgers-UCLA was bizarre, you’re going to be particularly confused by California-Clemson on a Tuesday night in February."

By confused he means unappetized.

Apropos of nothing in particular (though perhaps smacked in the face with the negative consequences of the changes it was responsible for wreaking), ESPN decided this week on air to search for a "future face" of college basketball.

Lawyer, rap lyric aficionado and college hoops commentariat Dean-In-Residence Jay Bilas nominated Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd. It's an admirable selection (under-reported story: how severely Gonzaga has paid for his departure from day one).

My difficultly is not the with selection itself. It's that ESPN feels the need to manufacture a selection at all. This is like using one hand to rally people to conduct a search party for a dead body while the other hand is still holding the murder weapon.

When you (i.e. TV producers) decide you need a new face, that generally means you don't like your existing face, or worse, that you don't have one at all.

Unfortunately, you don't solve a structural problem with a new packaging.

Those who effectively run the sport have taken the voluptuous contours of unique success and flattened them out into something that for many is as unnatural as it is unappealing, like a church with carpet where people play the acoustic guitar, like a dog with no appetite.

Maybe the Mick Cronin has some advice on what the sport can do to address this painful new reality. Mick?


Well and un-condescendingly said, as always, coach.

2. orns Up, Apparently

The two major storylines for the Robn card last weekend were Baylor-Texas and Creighton-Seton Hall, and boy did both games deliver.

Texas had just suffered a humiliating (in more ways than one) loss to UCF and was facing a far better opponent on their home court in what many considered a must-win game. Despite general sentiment on the Horns being down (see what we did there), the Robn populus was all over the Longhorns, with about 80 percent of total points allocated on that game being on Texas to win.

And you all were sharp.

The game ended like this.

Not to be outdone, Creighton looked to bounce back from a grinding loss to UConn, while Seton Hall looked to prolong its unlikely stay at the top of the Big East standings.

All these teams did was go three overtimes in a bruising affair where the officials, shall we say, let them play.

Sadly, most of you who picked the game had the Pirates. But, all the OTs helped two of our more popular EXTRA markets (Baylor Scheierman to have 28 pts/rebs/asts and Kadary Richmond to have 27 pts/rebs/asts) get over the hump.

Shout out to "Downtown" Tyler Brown who vaulted into the top five in part due to a correct Scheierman pick.

Other big-time Week 3 winners included expectant-father, Alex "Ranger of the North" Aragon, Raymond "Oh, whoa, no!" Owono and Matt "More Like An Earl" Prince, who each netted 1,800 winnings.

3. Leaderboard and Graded Responses

Click on the Top Ten image below to access the full leaderboard.

Meanwhile, click on the Excel document link below to see everyone's GRADED responses from Week 3.

2024 College Basketball Contest - Master File - Google Drive

4. Cougar Gold

It's a compact one this mid-week with just five games, headlined by Houston's visit to the Marriott Center.

Houston @ BYU - This seems like it should be a game between two of the top three teams in the league standings, but their combined conference record is .500. We promise Trevin Knell will play and not mess up our expertly devised EXTRA market for him to make 9 three pointers.

Auburn @ Alabama - Tennessee just embarrassed an Alabama team looking to bounce back, while Auburn is ranked 8th despite having one top-5o win all season. Bruce Pearl O/U 17.5 wild gesticulations.

Illinois @ Northwestern - The Wildcats are making their first appearance this season on the card at home against an Illinois team that just shellacked it by 30 points, and who has Top 10 National Player Terrence Shannon Jr. back to them on loan.

Villanova @ St. John's - These Wildcats are also making their first appearance on the card, after a weird season that's featured wins over North Carolina ana Creighton, but bad losses to virtually everyone in the Big Five. St. John's just beat Nova by 10 three weeks ago.

Utah @ Washington State - This would have been a lot more compelling if Washington State, who was playing as well as any team on the west coast the last two weeks, hadn't just lost to dismal Cal, and was part of a seven-way tie in the Pac-12 win column (the most Pac-12 thing ever). Utah is potentially down two key players in Lawson Loverling and Rollie Worster.

A word before you click on the card...

The Week 3.5 Card

Week 3.5 Card - Jan. 24th
Each week, contestants are granted 1,000 in Available Free Play Points (AFPP). Contestants must allocate all 1,000 points across one or more of the following markets The submission deadline is 9am PT / Noon ET on Saturday Contestants’ goal is to generate “winnings” by making successful selections The amount of winnings generated by successful selections are determined by the amount of AFPP placed on the selection, multiplied by the multiplier at the end of each pick (e.g. if Arizona wins, an allocation of 100 points on “Arizona to win - 1.25x” would net 125 winnings, or 100 x 1.25) Official contest rules can be found here In order to enter, make sure you subscribe here