To Those of You Who Hate the Sports Posts: Just read the highlighted portions below. That should be enough to make you sound well-informed if you are asked to participate in a conversation about the college basketball tournament. If even that is too much for you, come on back tomorrow for a non-sports experience.
*****Once again, perforations notwithstanding, I offer my services as Sportscaster for the Uninterested. I promise that this post will allow you to participate in any conversation which touches on the start of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) men's basketball tournament, usually referred to as March Madness.
After the first night, I was leading the family pool by 25 percentage points. Big Cuter is in London instead of on the phone with us his Hoyas play a lackluster first half in their first game..... taking place in the second round. Were he available, I am certain that I could tell you where I stand on this, the second night .... though technically the third night.... of the tournament.
Why the confusion, you ask? Never satisfied with leaving well enough alone, bowing to pressure, reflecting the everybody gets to participate ethos of youth sports, the NCAA has added a play-in round. Huh? Quickly: they've added 8 teams and ranked them 11th and pitted them one against the other in the middle of the week, without much fanfare or promotion.
I could rant on and on about the foolishness of tampering with something that works, but the new, less snarky, more in love with the world me who has emerged since January 8th frowns on kvetching about nonsense. As Seret taught me, It is what it is. Smile, and move on.
It is, after all, the NCAA, not exactly known for transparency or understandable actions. I smile, thinking about the fact that I am here to not-kvetch about it. Let's move on.
The play-in round, involving only 8 teams, is now The First Round. Up until this year, getting past the first round or, conversely, not making it past the first round, had real meaning. Now, it's just weird. The first time all 64 teams play, the former first round, is now The Second Round.
Sure, and Spring Training is the first season and the 162 games which begin in April is the post season. What that makes the playoffs and the World Series is beyond me.
But I digress.
There have been some fine moments. Princeton played Kentucky to a 1 point difference, losing at the very end of the game. The Tigers' coach choked up at the post game press conference, overcome with the wonder of it all. Pac-10 Player of the Year, the University of Arizona's own Derrick Williams, blocked a shot in the last few tenths of a second of the last minute of the game and the Wildcats held onto their 2 point lead. Tucson is agog.
Big Cuter's Hoyas left their game back in D.C. and Virginia Commonwealth trounced them soundly. Sigh. There are fans in Louisville who are stunned that their guys are one-and-done. Richmond will be playing Morehead State in one of the more unlikely 2nd (3rd if you're willing to go along with the NCAA) round pairings in tournament history. A number 12 seed playing a number 13 seed; it makes you stop and wonder about the rankings themselves.
If you feel the need for more water-cooler-fodder, try these:
- There are some great names, like Jimmer Fredette and Momo Jones.
- The Butler/Pittsburgh game took 15 minutes to play the last 1 second of game-time. Were they kids making kid mistakes or was it referees interfering with the outcome of the game? Is a foul a foul no matter what the clock says?
- Duke can be counted upon to keep its cool til the very end. Coach K is Coach K, year after year.
- There are some interesting young coaches out there, young men with fierce eyes and stern visages and not much screaming and throwing of chairs. Not quite John Wooden, certainly not Bobby Knight.
- Yes, BYU cut one of its star players for admitting that he was having sex with his girlfriend. A team full of virgins is in the Sweet 16. Seriously.