Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Arrives: The Big Dance Is On

So here I sit on an absolutely gorgeous early spring day contemplating all manner of things. The Mitt won Wyoming, but tanked in Kansas. Tomorrow Alabama and Mississippi loom large and could put a dent in his lead. His people say only an act of God will prevent him from winning the nomination. They maybe right, but then Rick Santorum believes he is God's man in this race, so who really knows.

What I do know as I watch the pear blossoms fall and the tree next to the patio begin to bud out is that right now I could give a rat's ass about politics, crime, fascists, fools, and homicidal beasts. What I care about right now is the NCAA men's basketball brackets that I just printed.

Yes, it is that time. The NCAA basketball tournament is the single greatest spectacle in sport anywhere on the planet. All the other tournaments and playoffs pale in comparison. Oh sure there is that BCS single game championship in football, but unless your school is involved the interest in it is only passing and possibly academic. The Super Bowl? Not even the ads were that good this year. The NCAA basketball tournament involves a staggering 72 teams. They come from every corner of the country. Well, with the exception of  the state of Oklahoma this year. There are power houses, imposter's, and Cinderellas. There are the knowns and the unknowns and there is only one thing certain. Of the 72 teams entered, 71 will end their seasons with a loss.

It is one and done. None of this 3 out of 5, or best of 7 namby pamby stuff. Have one off game, throw one errant pass, toss up one too many bricks from the free throw line and you go home. The only places more unforgiving are the African veldt and the deep blue seas. It is eat or be eaten. The lame and infirm are stalked, dragged down and become the evening's meal. By the end of the first four days just the swiftest and most skillful predators will be left.

Every expert, fan, casual fan, and absolute novice will be picking teams in the next couple of days. Vast sums of money will be at risk. Entire work forces will go AWOL this Thursday and Friday when the real action starts. Sports bars will be jammed as their big screens hum with one game right after the other.

I usually go with the favorites. My one hard rule, which is always pick Villanova in the first round, is moot this year. Nova didn't even make it in. There is always the urge to grab onto some mid major, or outsider and run with them. Yes, nothing is more satisfying than watching some gang of out casts take down a big boy and witness everyone elses brackets going up in flames. Of course it is a risky business. The big boys are big for a reason. Xavier might be an exotic pick, but even if they do handle Notre Dame they will more than likely run into Duke the very next game. Although in the back of my mind are the sad memories of more than one edition of Dukies ruining an entire region for me. No, Duke cannot be trusted, ever. Believe in them and they'll choke at the worst of times. Bet against them and they appear to have five NBA players on the floor. Kansas is the same way. Bill Self's teams have made magnificent runs and then some years collapse in their first game to some bunch whose members aren't even good enough to play fraternity intra mural ball in Lawrence.

That is why no one is really good at filling out brackets. Too many teams, too many variables, too many once in a million years match ups that go the wrong way. That is why it is fun. It is the grandest of escapes and no one loves escapism like Americans do.

So let me alone the rest of the afternoon. I must allow the sun to warm my face as I ponder the outcome of the Gonzaga-West Virginia contest among others. You see fun is a serious business and it should never be left to amateurs. It takes complete concentration. The effort must be maximum.

And just remember this, Krzyzewski, you little weasel. If  Duke screws me again I will personally  paint Cameron Arena the colors of the team that did them in.


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