I apologize denizens. I have been remiss. For those of you who rely on The Burrow for water cooler chatter on sports, I have let you down. We traveled and I was ill and Arizona lost and it just never seemed to happen, did it? I apologize, again and again.
But, reading this (as the 20 or so of you who do so) on the day it's posted, you have time to make your feelings known. You can participate, with little or no memorization required.
Start out with "My bracket was busted two rounds ago." Everyone else will nod in understanding. After the round of 64* there was only one perfect bracket out of the 11.6 million or so entered on espn.com. You don't have to reveal that you picked Iowa State to go to the Final Four (as did someone I love)... you don't have to reveal anything at all. Just look stricken and shake your head.
I've been doing it for two weeks now.
*64 was the number of teams in the tournament when I began paying attention, in the late 1970's. In the last few years, there have been play-in games. The winner of these contests between teams on the bubble (almost but not quite qualified...maybe) was granted admission to the round of 64... what used to be called The First Round.... as the lowest seed, a 16.
This year, a play-in team went in as an 11 seed... and continued to play quite well. Are you confused already? If that's too much, hang on to this: They may call it the Round of 64 or The Second Round, but I still think of it as The First Round.
You'll demonstrate historical knowledge and your sports chops at the same time.
Everyone, from pundits to players, thought that Kentucky would be in the final game. They were undefeated. They had 9 McDonalds All Americans on their team. They are, collectively, taller than any NBA team. Players eschewed the draft last year to come back and win a national championship. John Calipari, their coach, was just elected to the NBA Hall of Fame
Unfortunately for Ashley Judd and the rest of the fans from the bluegrass state, Wisconsin whipped their butts the same way they punished Arizona. Th Badgersy don't make a lot of mistakes. They shoot well. They box out and play tenacious defense and, did I mention that they shoot well?
"They shot 78.9% against Arizona in the second half ," will garner sage nods; the Badgers made more than 3/4 of the baskets they attempted.last week in the Elite 8 (another nickname I despise). As a Wildcats fan, I was cringing. As an admirer of the game, it was amazing.
Some final thoughts:
The Duke Blue Devils are once again in the final game. Coach K has been there, done that.
Wisconsin has never won a national championship. Their coach just missed election to the Hall of Fame.
There will be good coaching and precise execution.
It will be basketball as it should be: a North Carolina team versus the Big 10.
Of course, the Big 10, the nation's oldest Dvision 1 conference in the United States, now has 14 member schools. That's another water cooler tidbit that is sure to evoke smiles, and can be used when all else fails.
A little bit of snark goes a long way sometimes.