Kill some time at work and read this Slate takedown of Kentucky’s John Calipari. Most of these incidents won’t be a surprise to anyone that follows college basketball. Kentucky fans better enjoy the run while it lasts because he’s going to leave a shit show in his wake when he takes off in the middle of the night like a Mayflower moving truck. Oh what’s this? Memphis required to vacate its entire 2007-2008 season. Nothing to see here. Move along.
We’re almost 24 hours away from the best two days in sports. Or, we are one day away from the best 48 hours in sports. Or, we’re really close to hearing a ton of clichés about how this is the best time of the year in sports. You’ve heard it every year. It’s all the same. Don’t get me wrong, the clichés are (mostly) true, but they are not without their charm (and the special folks that perpetuate them).
So without further adieu, the Top Ten things and people about March Madness that drive me nuts:
#1: Arm-Chair Bracketologists. “I really think Cornell will pull off a win against Temple — it’s a classic 5-12 upset!” Really, how’d you come up with that one? Oh yeah, I remember, everyone said that. Pick an original upset. By the way, Cornell isn’t that good. They basically got a bunch of hype because they lost to Kansas by only five points. Know who else they lost to: the University of Pennsylvania, who finished the 2009-2010 campaign with a stellar 6-22 record. This brings me to my next point…
#2: “Cinderella.” Just because George Mason and Wichita State made it to the Elite 8 one year, doesn’t mean Northern Iowa and UTEP will do it this year. It happens once in a hundred years, and all of a sudden every no-name team can go to the Final Four. No, no they can’t.
#3: The Women’s Tournament. I’m all for Title IX and I have nothing but respect for the women’s game, but is it really a tournament if the same teams keep winning? In the last fifteen years, UConn and Tennessee have won the title eleven times. This year? The Lady Vols have a number one seed along with the Huskies, who also have a 72-game winning streak. So, yeah, that’s probably not going to change.
#4: The collective slurping of the Coaches. Seven months after his old team was forced to vacate an entire season, again, John Calipari is again the Belle of the Coaching Ball for taking Kentucky back to the tournament as a #1 seed and SEC champion. Meanwhile, Bob Huggins, who ran a program that “lacked institutional control” (and eventually lost a few scholarships), is hailed as a savior for bringing WVU back into glory. Is there any doubt that one of these programs is going to be competing on borrowed time? Personally, I think Huggins deserves sanctions just for his wardrobe choices on the sideline:
#5: Dick Vitale. For all of the usual reasons, but also because he didn’t deck Kyle Singler when he crashed into Dan Schulman. Schulman is one of the few good ones. If he gets hurt, you know who they are gonna bring back…
#6: “Snubbed” Schools. The ACC and SEC each have about 20 teams. Half of which are terrible. I’m guessing those were the teams you beat (Hi, Virginia Tech!). And yet, somehow, Florida is still in.
#7: Fans of “snubbed” schools. Even when the NCAA ruins the tournament for good and adds another 30 teams, there will still be irrational fans that are going to think they were snubbed. My advice: your team should have played better in the regular season (and close losses don’t count). Either that or schedule some tougher teams and ratchet up the RPI (Virginia Tech? You’re still here?).
#8: The early games. Even though roughly a tenth of the country is unemployed, there are only two demographics that can enjoy the 12:30 games on Days 1 & 2: college students and senior citizens. And neither of them have money. So, make the first round last three days instead of two. If the NBA bore-offs go from May until roughly November, why can’t this tournament go an extra couple of days so working folk can watch more games?
#9: “Bracketology.” While Joe Lunardi spends the entire year studying the field, some hair-dresser is going to win her pool because she picked Kansas. However, the last time she even watched a college basketball game was 13 years ago, when she and a couple friends took a road trip to KU and she got drunk off of cheap beer and jungle juice, and then hooked up with some fraternity meathead. She also knows the school is located in Lawrence, which is also the name of her first husband, who may also be in jail. All good reasons to pick a team.
#10: Conspiracy Theories. The tournament is rigged.
Enjoy the best time of the year in sports — if only because of these guys. ONIONS!!!!
As a quick aside, hi, my name is Duke. This is the first of what I hope are many posts over here at the Deuce. I was someplace before this, but I’m damn happy to be over here now. At least until the kindly purveyors of this place decide otherwise. So, keep coming back and reading. And for all you ladies out there who are interested in getting to know me a little better, this is a good start (h/t BTF).