It hasn’t really sunk in for me that in a little over 48 hours I’ll be staring at this year’s NCAA bracket. That moment every year when I become the fabled child that walks into a movie theater. Yesterday I was trying to philosophize about exactly how I sabotage myself every year, but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact problem. I just know every year I look at my Final Four and know in my heart that it won’t happen. Then, I try to go back and fix it, but it’s like the window has closed. My bracket cannot be fixed. It’s a powerful feeling. Anyway, that will all get started Sunday evening, which means we’re about to be inundated with predictions. That means, Chalk City. Pick the favorites. In my copy of the Sporting News they have 8 guys pick the winner. Six say Ohio State. The other two say Duke. Careful boys.
I’m sure I’ll be toeing the line with everyone else and littering my late rounds with the top seeds, but assuming I’m not going to win any pool, I’d like to see the thing get completely blown up this year. Butler was a good time last year. I’m a clean slate this time around. I’m ready for some team to capture my imagination. What I know for sure, though, is that it won’t be one of the top contenders. The current top-10 and why I loathe thee…
1. Ohio State. Is it just me or does Ohio State’s basketball team just feel like an extension of their football program? All the recent issues with the players and now Tressel I lump right onto the basketball squad. Don’t some of these recruiting classes look a little too good? I’m getting a Calipari feel. Also, I don’t like when “football” schools crossover. Stay in your lane.
2. Kansas. Anywhere Roy Williams has ever been is tainted. How did Wilt Chamberlain ever end up at Kansas from Philly? And, how did they not win a National Title when he was there? Standard Kansas. I can honestly say if I was old enough to really remember it, Danny Manning’s Cinderella run would have been one I wasn’t feeling, I would have been rooting for the bad guy. Who wears knee pads? I also hate Kansas fans that feel the need to tell you the origin of Rock Chalk Jayhawk every two seconds. It’s made up nonsense. No one cares.
3. Pittsburgh. Pitt is not a real abrasive team. Can I dock points for their association with Dave Wannstedt? Aside from the fact that the only Pitt fan I’ve ever really come across was an insufferable annoyance, I think I am going to have to focus on Gary McGhee here. Have you seen this project? He looks like one the old school goons John Chaney would send out there for Temple. Plus, I don’t like the whole “H” in McGhee thing. Awkward. Lastly, Pitt can’t score enough for you to really trust them. Stuff like UConn’s buzzer beater will always happen to them, and they’ll crush your bracket.
4. Notre Dame. I should probably like this Notre Dame team, because they love to shoot the three and I love to shoot the three. I am going to preemptively hate on Notre Dame because they are going to ruin your bracket. They might ruin my bracket. I could conceivably talk myself into them. I’ll be sorry. Also, Digger Phelps. And, then one more step removed, Jamie Moyer.
5. Duke. The only thing worse than Duke making a run is Duke making a run to repeat. At least it doesn’t feel inevitable. Those were the horrific years of my youth when you said, still with Laettner, really? A Duke run this year will be intolerable, because they are cast in an angelic glow by the media who will use words like, “experience, unity, leadership, discipline.” You get the idea that they love Duke so much because they don’t bring in the one and done “student athletes.” Duke makes people feel safe. Screw that.
6. North Carolina. See above for thoughts on Roy Williams. But, I must add that Williams should have stayed in Kansas where he and the team never would have won. Suddenly he leaves, gets a title and Kansas gets one too. That’s throwing off the natural order of things. The one area I would agree with a Duke Fan: North Carolina’s blue is annoying and not a good color for everyday clothing. Also, Rick Fox.
7. San Diego State. Are you kidding me? Thank god this isn’t football, because San Diego State would be Boise State, and they’d be demanding a shot at the BCS Title game. In basketball, they’ll just get stiffed on their seeding (I’m predicting a 4), and then they’ll probably lose in the first round, maybe the second. How can a team who has played two legitimate games all year and lost them both be in the top-10? Also, remember my comments about San Diego in regard to tortured sports city? No one wants their sleeper to be San Diego State, San Diego is too nice.
8. BYU. Here’s a classic. BYU ranked below San Diego State. What kind of dislike can I possibly drum up for Jimmer? Well, I’m pro-Jimmer. I can’t go back on that. My annoyance here lies in the fact that BYU sabotaged their own season and Jimmer’s chance for glory. They booted one of their best players for “making time” with a young lady. I swear that is what it actually says in the code of conduct, making time. But, seriously, wouldn’t April 8th or so been a better time to review this situation? Think of the TV viewers. Bottom line? BYU is selfish.
9. Purdue. Purdue? Purdue. Wil Perdue? Purdue reminds me a bit of the Buffalo Bills. You just shake your head a little bit and say, think about those poor bastards at Purdue. I guess they have Drew Brees going for them, but I can honestly say I haven’t watched a Purdue game since the Big Dog and Gene Keady. Purdue could set their starting five on fire and I wouldn’t be interested. It’s Purdue.
10. Texas. Um, Chris Mihm.
I know what you are thinking, this doesn’t leave me much room to find a team that has a chance to win that I don’t dislike, and you are right. That’s the beauty of the tournament, though. The shifting story lines. Something will crop up in the next week or so that I’ll find endearing and I’ll latch on my jinx wagon.