It started last Tuesday and it hasn’t let up since. There were games every day through Sunday and it all starts over again Thursday. It’s the greatest spectacle in sports.
The Super Bowl lasts one day. It’s a great day but still it’s only one day. We don’t really get into the World Series until the sixth or seventh game – same with the NBA Finals. BCS Championship? Sure, it’s riveting but every year after the title game the arguments begin about who the real champion is. When there is no playoff system in place that tends to happen.
That’s what makes March Madness so special. It’s one and done but everybody gets a shot. It’s two weeks of memories that will last a lifetime. Without March Madness we would have never heard of Valparaiso or Ball State. Some school named Cleveland State once had its day in the sun and a few years ago it was George Mason. Penn, yeah Penn, once made it to the Final Four. It gives hope to the little guy.
Everybody loves March Madness. Well everybody except Bob Thorpe. Bob is a good guy. He’s a Dodger fan, roots for the Lakers, pays his taxes and is generally a law abiding citizen. But he doesn’t like March Madness.
“I don’t know. I just don’t like college basketball,” Thorpe said the other day sounding a bit confused.
Bob will come around one day. It might take a year or two, but eventually he’ll see the light. Either that or I’ll have to send Big Tony over to straighten him out.
This year another one of “those” schools has crashed the sweet sixteen party. To reach the round of 16 you have to win two games. Well Virginia Commonwealth has had to win three. The Rams were so convinced they wouldn’t get into the dance that they didn’t bother to get together to watch the selection show. But with the field expanded to 68, VCU slipped into the “first four” and has since knocked off USC, Georgetown and Purdue to put them into the elite status.
It’s the first time in history that the school has advanced this far. No March Madness and there is no Virginia Commonwealth – at least not to anybody living outside of Richmond, Virginia.
Speaking of Richmond, the other school in Richmond, Va. is in the sweet sixteen as well. Seeded number 12, the Spiders, (don’t you love the nicknames) beat Vanderbilt and Morehead State to reach the round of 16. Morehead State wore Cinderella’s slipper in the first round by beating Louisville sending Cardinal Coach Rick Pitino to the announcers’ chair.
San Diego State isn’t a Cinderella seeded number two, but it was cool to see the Aztecs win their first two NCAA tournament games ever to get to the round of 16.
Locally UCLA fared a little better than the Trojans with a first round win over Michigan State. But for the third time in the last six years the Bruins were eliminated by Florida. The bad news is that the Gators ate up UCLA again; the good news is that with only one key player, (Tyler Honeycutt), possibly leaving, the Bruins are set up for a big year in 2012.
Josh Smith has the potential to be the best center in the nation.
Every year names emerge that we talk about for years. This year it’s BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes. Kemba Walker of Connecticut was a household name already but his NBA stock has risen with his play in the tournament.
As usual, with the stakes so high, there have been a number of disputed calls. The most controversial being the fouls called against Butler and then Pittsburgh in the last two seconds of their second round matchup – a game in which Butler ultimately won.
Say what you will about the referees, but they got this one right.
Both calls were the correct calls. They were stupid fouls by the players but correct calls by the officials. Even Bob Thorpe would agree with that.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.