Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Musings on March Madness

March Madness is here – three weeks of bracketmania which disrupt office productivity and cost a University of Washington football coach his job. March Madness - Three billion dollars in bets, enough for a down payment on Sequestration, and three times what the NCAA reaps from the tournament. The student athletes earn nothing. March madness where 64/68 teams compete to be the nation’s best in a year when no team wanted to be Number 1, especially Kentucky the returning national champion which did not even get into the tournament this year. Gonzaga ended the regular season ranked first in the nation, but only because it was the last team standing. Indiana, Duke, Louisville, and Michigan all tasted the sweet waters of numero uno and shot a brick. Indeed, Michigan celebrated its first taste on top since the Middle Ages by going 6-6 in its last 12 games. It’s quite capable of losing to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the first round or presumably VCC in the second round. Win one, Lose one, not “We On” is the team’s new motto. Michigan may suffer the infamous Sports Illustrated Jinx since SI named the sophomore guard the Player of the Year earlier today. Perhaps a Jesuit University will win the national title in the Year of the Jesuit. Gonzaga is seeded first in the NCAA’s with Creighton, Georgetown, Marquette, and St. Louis in the tournament. How can you root against Zags, Hoyas, or Billikens? Will Pope Francis come to the finals if it matches two Jesuit schools? Georgetown, Loyola of Chicago, Marquette, and USF have won the title in the past. Perhaps 2013 will be the Year of the Big Conference, nee the Big Ten, but since 10 doesn’t equal 11, 12 or 14, it just goes as Big. The Big Conference was widely regarded this year as the best basketball conference with its top seven teams in the NCAA’s having beat up on each other in internecine games. The Big Conference has been disappointing in the NCAA’s in recent years, just like the football bowl games. Michigan State won in 2000 and Michigan in 1989. Indiana and Wisconsin were 3-3 in their most recent games and Michigan State 3-4. Minnesota lost 11 of the past16 games. The Big’s Magnificent 7 are not entering the Big Dance on a roll. Whatever happened to the ACC or Big East? The Big East has 8 teams in the Big Dance, its Last Tango. This is the end of the Big East as the seven Catholic basketball schools form a new conference having purchased the Big East Title. The new Big East Conference includes the eastern states of Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. Maryland, a stalwart of the ACC, is taking the money to defect to the Big Conference, which needs a football patsy to replace the now competitive Northwestern. The Wildcats celebrated their record of never being invited to the NCAA’s by firing their coach. Will UCLA advance to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 to save Coach Ben Howland’s job? Probably not! Both the Athletic Department and the Business Office want him gone. Pauley Pavilion with a capacity of 13,800 cost $5 million to build in 1965, but $136 million to remodel and upgrade in 2012. The UCLA Bruins only had 5 home games with over 10,000 in attendance this past season. Howland’s buyout is $2.3 million. Do the math. How far short will one and done come this year? The four top seeds are Gonzaga, Louisville, Indiana, and Kansas from the Heartland. The odds are that none will cut down the nets in Atlanta. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Louisville wins this year after Kentucky won last year? Who will be the Cinderella this year? Who will be this year’s George Mason, Butler, VCU, or Gonzaga? Will Boise State do to basketball what it did to football? Who knows? Parity makes every team equal this year. Someone has to win though. Harvard is once again in the NCAA’s. Will it drop the H Bomb this year on an opposing team? Forget season records, average margin of victory, conference strength and strength of schedule, rebounding record, three point shooting, or the assist/turnover ratio, the decisive factor will be which team can consistently make free throws. The winner of the Office Pool will come from the Secretary Pool. She will know absolutely nothing about basketball. Either that or use the dartboard

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