March Madness Ramblings

I missed the game of the season between Wichita State and Kentucky, but I will offer this analysis anyway. The game pitted a seasoned, battle-tested and undefeated mid major returning to the Big Dance from a final four appearance a year ago, against Blue-blooded Kentucky’s thus far underwhelming crop of aspiring one and done’s. In short, an epic clash of contemporary college basketball ideology. Although Kentucky advanced, the enduring quality of the game was a victory not for either ideology, but for the game of basketball as a whole. That said, I fear Wichita State’s fantastic season will be lost to history, and that is genuinely unfortunate.

It was a joy to see Ohio State and Syracuse fall in the first weekend, but I remain somewhat torn about the fall of Duke. I think much of my disdain for Ohio State stems from football and in particular the injustice of the long ago Miami/Ohio State title-tilt marred by the horrible knee injury to Willis McGahee and the horseshit pass interference call against the Canes. From that moment, Ohio State has been the annoying embodiment of Midwestern virtue wrapped in hypocrisy and the stench of a thousand farts. Syracuse is effective, but brutal to watch. Jim Boeheim is a well-respected coach, but has offered little to the profession of coaching or the related craft of leadership, which brings the mixed emotions of Duke suffering it’s second embarrassing exit in three seasons. Coach K is the man who restored dignity and good results to USA basketball, and who’s West Point-born conceptions of leadership have infiltrated my psyche while he has become a complex, Saintly, dark overlord of basketball. He is greatness at both extremes making his success and failure unsettling.

Kansas and Stanford was a terrible basketball game. Both teams looked inept, and should be eliminated from the tournament.

I love Kevin Ollie and Shabazz Napier. Kevin Ollie is intense, and he fights his guts out to perpetuate the tradition of Connecticut basketball in what a clearly difficult times with the implosion of the Big East. I would love to play for a guy like that. Napier is the tournament’s Hero Baller. He will not be enough to win a title, but he is damn entertaining.

It kills me that UConn has to play Iowa State, and one of these team’s will lose. On the upside, one of them is assured a chance to play a regional final. The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg, is another coach that I absolutely love. He has full connection with his players, his school and the community at large. He is in the process of building something special.

This has to have been the most anonymous season in the history of North Carolina basketball. They were inconsistently mediocre, but the range on that band with never threatened title contention or full meltdown. It was almost fitting the Teardrop Roy meekly capitulated at midcourt after a bizarre clock issue at the end of his game. I am excited to see Joel Berry on that team next year though.

I have spent more time in the past week debating the coaching merits of Jamie Dixon than at any point in my life, and he is now home….again.

Florida, Arizona, and Louisville all looked fairly formidable on the first weekend, while Baylor and Tennessee were surprisingly robust.

My final note is this, please refrain from talking about the amount of upsets during the course of a\the tournament. It happens every year, seldom more so than in any other year, and you come off like a total rube when you overstate the obvious unpredictability of March Madness.

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