My favorite part of March Madness is the occasional commercial sponsored by the NCAA featuring a montage of student athletes telling us they’ll be going pro in something other than their sport. It’s a token message and it is cute, but of course every other commercial and image seen during the tournament serves to only further the distance between the schools that say basketball can be used to acquire an education and basketball is the end goal where you will be showered with money and ladies and everything else of temporal worth.
But that’s of no real concern for anyone. It’s understood. And who wants the curtain removed as our country’s biggest and most entertaining tournament gets started?
I had considered calling up my mother up to have her guide me through this year’s bracket. Obviously, the chance of making correct picks is roughly the same for the average fan versus the unaware.We trick ourselves into thinking that obsessive concern for statistics, tendencies, apparel influence – players and coaches alike, and outlier theories gives us a leg up, but we know it's really fruitless.There would be the hope of humor though, having assistance from my mother – the New Yorker turned reluctant Hoosier. We can assume she’d channel her hometown nostalgia and take LIU-Brooklyn over Michigan State in the first round. And maybe going with St. Bonaventure for similar geographic pride, plus it’s a much more pleasing to say – Saint Bonaventure – than Florida State University. There are studies, because there are always studies, which say women prefer wine with animals as logos. I don’t know if this is true or simply odd folkloric gender categorizing, but at least putting the wine study to the brackets we could have my mom taking the Kentucky Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, and the Kansas Jayhawks for three of the four to the Final Four. We would have to argue about the East division, but I’ll give her UNC-Asheville because even though that Times article filled me with guilt, bulldogs are really fucking cute.
The beauty of this particular tournament, which we are all aware of, is that UNC-Asheville is a ludicrous pick to make it to the Final Four and at the same time a perfectly sane pick because…because they are a sixteen seed and their mascot is a cute bulldog. My hometown Butler University made it to the championship game two years in a row for no real reason other than that college basketball is filled with mostly people that are not yet old enough to drink and like youth in any facility have the ability to surprise or infinitely disappoint at random. One can chalk it up to the ‘one and done’ trend featured at programs like Kentucky – when it’s a revolving door of superstar talent how can a team attain chemistry? (Jump to pros and we compare the first and second seasons of the Miami Heat to show the difference in cooperation) Surely, I looked to that phenomenon when the Hoosiers shocked Calipari and company. But the fact of the matter is you have a court filled with boys, nearly children half of whom are coddled to exhaustion and the other half are talked of as exemplary students, hard workers.
So we leave you with this: the Hoosiers will do something amazing or something predictable; North Carolina will burn out early; Tom Izzo is Michigan State’s coach and that can’t be ignored; Cincinatti somehow beat Syracuse with those horrible uniforms and that might mean something but probably doesn’t.