Denizens of The Burrow pool results: After the first two rounds Jenny Hileman is in the lead.... by A LOT!
I can barely formulate a sentence that doesn't reference basketball. Grocery shopping and dinner preparation and blog posting have all taken second place to March Madness. My heart has soared and sunk and I'm ready for a break from whistles and free throws and large young men adjusting their too-log shorts on national television.
It's the first Monday after the first weekend of competition and it's time to take stock of the situation. Some of us are happier than others.
Did anyone else notice that the printed brackets from ESPN's Tournament Challenge have a very tiny font size? Would it have been so difficult to use 12 instead of 8 and turn the whole thing to a landscape orientation? Even McDonald's recognizes that an older demographic is tuned in; have you seen this commercial?
I'm just sayin' ......
The weekend started awkwardly, nomenclature-wise. The field of 64 teams was expanded several years back to include a 65th team engaged in a play-in game with the last team chosen, the 64th ranked team in the land. That play-in game has spawned offspring and is now considered the first round of the tournament. No one told ESPN's bracketologists; those play-in games, the ostensible first round, are not included in the challenge.
Fans everywhere.... okay, fans on Douglas..... were quite confused to hear announcers referring to second round games on Thursday and Friday. Not making it out of the first round no longer has meaning. Some things should not be changed. Typical of the NCAA, though, to fix something that wasn't broken.
Little Cuter bemoans the fact that her brackets are "all Norfolk-ed up," and she is not alone. Missouri highly touted... by TBG at least...was defeated by Norfolk State in the real first round. The Norfolk kids have played together since middle school, following a pipe-line from NYC to Virginia and advanced to play Florida in the second round on Sunday. They might not have been as talented, but they were much more of a team than Missouri was that first afternoon. Plus, their dads in the stands had the most awesome headgear. I can't believe there's not a picture of the yellow and green plaid fedora and that very special ball cap lurking anywhere on the interwebs.
Number 2 seed Duke fell apart against Lehigh, and we could hear the cheers from The Ballerina's living room across the country; both her kids are Mountain Hawks. Coach K spoke of the incredible highs and terrible lows associated with the game but I'm not sure that was much solace to his players or to those of us who had his Blue Devils playing in the championship game in New Orleans.
In the sartorial department, Baylor will be inflicting these neon uniforms on our eyeballs for another round, it seems. Even the socks glow in the dark. I'm not sure whose idea it was, but they played well enough that blinding the opponent with your outfit seems to be a bit of overkill.
Did you know that Belmont has the highest SAT scores in the tournament this year? I've never given them much thought as much more than an annoyance through which my preferred team had to pass, and pass the Hoyas did only to be spanked in the second round by a feisty NC State team. There was a collective sigh from The Hilltop to The Mission as Big Cuter and his classmates watched their team go down to defeat. And there's that damn L/G appliance commercial with the cheering Georgetown fans in the opening sequence which runs after every time out, taunting the faithful. My poor boy.......
My Hoosier daughter, on the other hand, is having a very different experience. Indiana basketball has a storied tradition, and coach Tom Crean has assembled a true Indiana team. Mr. Basketball 2011, Cody Zeller, is a freshman with a future and he's surrounded by teammates who know how to play the game. They pass more than any other team in the tournament, and, for the most part, they make their free throws. With those fundamentals, and the heart they showed by sticking with VCU until they won on this gorgeous 15-footer with 12.7 seconds left in the game, they go into the Sweet 16 riding some serious momentum..... at least in this house.
UNC has so much talent that we switched over to Keira Knightley falling hopelessly in love with Mr. Darcy rather than watch Creighton try to keep up. Sometimes these games really are men against boys. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, their point guard broke his wrist in the contest. It's his non-dominant hand, though......
Ohio University played the University of South Florida in a game only an alumnus could love. There were neon shoes and over-weight parents and the surprise of seeing OU advance to the Sweet 16. This part of the schedule allowed us to make dinner and have a leisurely cocktail hour and take out the garbage and clean up the dishes. Even the most rabid fans must tend to the activities of daily living.
One of the OU players hails from University Heights, Ohio, home of TBG's high school which led us to Philip Richard's memoir of their graduating class, University School, 1972. These random connections are some of my favorite parts of the Madness.
The commercials became tedious - NAPA Auto Parts and The Three Stooges movie and several video games - and our heads were beginning to spin. It was obvious that the only people still able to maintain interest in basketball after 4 full days of games were boys ages 13-30. After watching Kansas pull ahead in the final seconds, crushing Purdue's spirit while making The Bride and The Groom, Jayhawks themselves, very very happy, we turned to the DVR for a story. There was another game finishing up, and we checked in at commercials, but, for now, we were done.
We'll be back next week with another thrilling update. For those of you who are bored to tears with sports, tune in tomorrow for a more appealing post.