Question: What do the NCAA tournament and flip-flops have in common?
Answer: NO HEELS!
Okay, that was a cheap shot, but I bleed Duke blue, so naturally, the NCAA Men’s tournament is one of my holy seasons. There’s a lot of commotion over this year’s picks for the Big Dance. Folks whining over Virginia Tech not getting invited; haters saying that Duke is in the easiest bracket (well, they say that every year, though we really may have gotten the best draw this year); people crying that Kansas, the number one seed overall, is in the toughest bracket—alright, so now they can prove that they deserve it. I don’t get all of the brouhaha out there, but I do have a few personal considerations as I’m filling out my bracket and calling busters that will ensure I take the whole pot home this year—no more splitsies!! Here’s my list, what’s on yours?
· Carolina—we’ve already addressed. I hope Roy Williams is enjoying a #5 seed in the NIT! I also hope Harrison Barnes is ready to be a savior next year. UNC barely escaped a hungry William and Mary last night by going on an 11-0 run with about five minutes to go and won by 8 in nostalgic Carmichael Area since last playing there in 1986.
· UConn— what was most striking about these fellas this year is that they played some of the most inconsistent basketball I’ve ever seen. It’s not that there’s a shortage of talent on this team. The problem is that they just couldn’t harness their powers effectively. It’s been well noted that Stanley Robinson can jump out of the gym and has off the charts athleticism, unfortunately he sometimes forgets basketball is played on the floor. Sometimes, Kemba Walker looks like Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi--confident, trained, skilled, stealthy and able to single handedly win ballgames. Other times he looks like Skywalker in A New Hope—an annoying kid who's slightly accident prone and doesn't quite know where he is. Furthermore, if a team is a reflection of their coach, then UConn's inconsistencies this season have been a reflection of Coach Calhoun. We all wish Coach Calhoun the best of health, but if you're gonna pull a coach K (circa 1995) do it the whole way. Coach Calhoun took time away for health reasons, then came back, told the media his team was an embarrassment, coached his team to win a few big games, then let them completely collapse…yeah, it’s exhausting. I vote the female huskies into the NCAA men’s tournament this year! I’m not sure there’s much competition in the women’s bracket for the them this year and am getting kind of bored with their complete and utter domination in women’s basketball.
· UCLA & Arizona, what happened?
· Duke— we've discussed. My bracket isn’t complete, but right now my Big 3 are in the Final Four. On Duke, I agree somewhat with ESPN’s Andy Katz, “I still say that Duke is ripe to be taken out of this tournament early, but the bracket begs me to take the Blue Devils to reach the final four.”
· Kentucky—wouldn’t it be hilarious if they won and then get it stripped from them in a couple of years for recruiting violations?! No? Haven’t we been here before with Calipari? He’s coached 2 Final Fours and they were BOTH vacated?! ALERT! Just sayin….
· Kansas—number one seed overall, but has a tough road ahead of them. Rock Chalk!
· 10 at-large non-BCS teams. More than there’s been in a long time. Could certainly pull of some upsets and bust up some brackets.
· BYU could make it to the Sweet 16 in Salt Lake City where they’d have virtual home court advantage. WSJ predicts they could make it to the Final Four as a 7 seed!
· Cornell—Holla! When did geeks learn how to ball like that?! Andy Katz has their back: “the one double-digit seed that can reach the Sweet 16 is probably No. 12 Cornell. The Big Red have the pieces in place to make this kind of run, led by 7-foot senior Jeff Foote inside and senior forward Ryan Wittman outside. Their near-miss at Kansas proved to the nation that they can be a major factor in the first weekend. It's too bad Cornell didn't get a better seed, with a formidable Kentucky team likely waiting in the Sweet 16. But it's hard to question a 12-seed when you look at Cornell's résumé."
· UTEP, Sienna and Murray St. These are noisemakers! And I am not counting them out.