Enough with the emotional hand wringing about whether or not the Big East deserves to have eight entrants in the tournament. Let's try to analyze
what it means to 'deserve' a slot in the tournament. Do I think that all eight of the Elite Eight teams will come from the Big East? Of course not -
even though the seeding would allow for that possibility. But that isn't the real basis for putting teams in the brackets.
There is a need for 65 teams to fill out the slots and there is precisely no chance for at least 30 of them to win the tournament. (Maybe you could
make that 40?) They are there because they won a minor conference championship (Hampton/Monmouth/Winthrop) or because they played well in a late
season conference tournament, despite a disappointing season (Utah State/Xavier) and they are there to fill out early games. If you want to fill out
a bracket with Belmont, Iona, Davidson and Air Force as the Final Four, be my guest.
The selection committee bent over backwards to put the mid-major teams in this year and that has generated lots of angst among Cincinnati Bearcats’
fans and Hofstra Pride followers. Here's the deal:
I doubt that the Elite Eight will have more than one of the perennially snubbed mid-majors in there.
I seriously doubt that Cincinnati would have made the Elite Eight either. I know Hofstra would not have been there.
Therefore, can we call a moratorium on the annual screeching about snubbing the mid-majors and/or about who got jobbed by the selection committee?
Oh, by the way, didn't Hofstra used to be called the Flying Dutchmen until they changed their name to be less ethnically focused? If I am recalling
that right, maybe this is their punishment for such silliness?
I would like to point something out to the Greek chorus out there who tunes up all year long to sing a dirge about the fate of the 'Poor Mid-Majors'
who are so noble in their striving and who are thwarted by the venal selection committee members. Since the expansion of the NCAA tournament beyond
24 teams, it has been rare indeed where a 'Mid-Major' has actually gone deep in the tournament and none have actually won it all. Penn got to the
Final Four in 1979; other than that... And since this Greek chorus laments the fate of the mid-majors at the hands of the also-rans in the 'money
conferences', let me remind these tearful ones that 'also-rans' North Carolina State (ACC) and Villanova (Big East) actually came from low seeds to
win the whole tournament. So, if you want to wail about how teams that actually might have a puncher's chance to win it all but who are denied access
by the selection committee, forget the mid-majors and look at the teams who finished deep in the 'money conferences'. That is the lesson of history.
The dirges of the Greek chorus are the stuff of whimsy.
And yes, I do recall that 'Mid-Majors', Bradley and LaSalle, played in the final game in 1954. That was the first time I was allowed to stay up
beyond my bedtime to watch the game on TV. I haven't missed a final game since then.
Since I was out of the country for the better part of three weeks late in the college basketball season - and you may be sure that college basketball
is not covered at all in Kenya or Tanzania - my bracket picks this year will be highly uninformed.
UCLA and Tennessee are both seeded #2; I only saw each team play one time all year and I think the UCLA game was back in December.
I saw Air Force play one time and I thought they were miserable; I figured they had to have won their conference tournament to get in and was
surprised to see that they had 24 wins and were an at-large entrant.
I saw Texas get their doors blown off by Duke early in the year. Fortunately, I saw Texas play later on so I know they are a good team and not a
bunch of pretenders.
Here are my Elite Eight teams. Boston College will play Ohio State; UConn will play Michigan State; UCLA will play Kansas; Duke will play Texas.
Here are some possible early round upsets and game comments.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee will give Oklahoma a game; I've seen Oklahoma play lethargically - and that's being very polite about it.
Texas A&M could knock out Syracuse who ought to have some kind of emotional letdown after the Big East tournament run. And the Aggies have some very
athletic players; they’re not a bunch of stand-around goomers.
Take the UNDER in the Pitt/Kent State game.
Mike Davis is almost assuredly out as coach in Indiana; but if San Diego State beats IU in the first round, the question is whether or not he will be
fired within 4 hours of the final whistle in that game.
Alabama-Birmingham plays tough defense and Kentucky has been inconsistent all year long. Kentucky has the better pedigree by a mile, but I'm not sure
UAB isn't the better team.
In case you didn't notice, it would be possible for Illinois to play Tennessee in the Regional Final in DC. If that happened and coaches, Bruce Pearl
and Bruce Weber, both donned their orange sport coats for that game, it would look like a highway construction zone on the sidelines for that game.
Memo to Bruce and Bruce: I know these are school colors, but lose the blazers. That color looks good on highway flagmen and deer hunters;
presumably, you are neither during a basketball game.
Finally, an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
'All 72 pupils at Veena Vadini School in Singrauli, India have been taught to write simultaneously with both hands - with a different subject and
language for each hand's handiwork - Asian News International reported.
'School officials reportedly got the idea watching a sports agent talk out of both sides of his mouth.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...