In lieu of common sense and because I don’t drink the way I used to, Imma dish yet again on the world of college basketball. Or more specifically, “March Madness”. For those of you unfamiliar with the college basketball tournament, congratulations! It means you have a life.
For the rest of the population, this month long carnival validates our belief in the underdog. It’s a time when fans can rejoice in the accomplishments of student athletes while paying homage to sacred programs run by coaches who value teaching above wins and losses . . . okay, that’s not it at all. Nope, March Madness is when fans blow their vacation money on schools they never heard of. It’s also a convenient excuse to drink too much beer and eat too many hot wings . . and call off work.
In spite of the much hyped moniker, there’s precious little madness to it all. It’s a tournament that involves sixty-four teams, although by now it might be sixty-eight . . or a hundred . . rest assured it’s a shitload of teams. They all have one thing in common, they’re all unpaid amateurs . . tall, lanky pups who’ve been seeded based on the opinions of a committee made up of . . you guessed it, NCAA suits. But it doesn’t matter what the suits say because these are kids we’re talking about here. And if the star player for a “prohibitive favorite” ends up getting dumped by his high school sweetheart? Well, you can use your bracket for toilet paper.
Tournament seedings are based on qualifiers such as conference strength, conference records, ranked vs unranked teams and other important sounding bullshit. But it’s all conjecture. You’re better off wagering a thousand bucks that you’ll run into your doctor in a grocery store checkout today than pluck it down on a group of young men who have little idea what their lives are going to look like next month.
The selling point of “Madness” is that there are upsets aplenty, but a quick look at three of the most talked about finals upsets tells a different story.
1983- North Carolina State defeats Houston: The late Jim Valvano was every bit the crooked recruiter as Houston, he was simply more charming.
1985- Villanova defeats Georgetown: Villanova is a big time basketball program, always has been. No upset there.
1991- Duke defeats UNLV: This was considered an upset because Duke’s roster was full of kids who went to class.
A couple years back, a sixteen seed (the lowest a bracket has to offer) beat the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers. But to go and call it a “monumental upset” is to conveniently forget that Bob Barker is older than the combined age of the Virginia roster. So there’s that.
Which brings us to this year’s darlings of the dance, the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs. They are now two wins shy of the title game, and it’s a tilt I would tune in to watch. Not because I believe they’re a mortal lock, but rather, because I know it’s never that easy when you’re talking about kids. Hell, the 2007 New England Patriots were a bunch of grown ass men with rings on their resumes and they got their asses handed to them in a one game winner take all contest.
Of course, there’s still time for some club to knock off the Bulldogs before they get there. After which
paid shills journalists and broadcasters will exclaim that “Cinderella” crashed the dance, even if it’s just not true. And what’s even dumber is that these talking pinheads can’t shut up long enough to let the games just be. To let the kids just . . be kids. In all their bluster, they miss the point of it all. Entirely.
The only thing that really has to be true is the chance.