Sixteen thoughts about the one holiday that is truly worth celebrating: The NCAA Tournament.
Dionte Christmas' name will be the source of many bad puns. But the best name in the Tournament actually belongs to Haminn Quaintence. I can't pronounce it, but I can tell you the kid's game is directly descended from Devin Davis.
The Only Sneaker That Matters
Brand Jordan. I've seen some cool newish designs in the conference tournaments. There may be more to come. Everything else feels like we've already seen it before. Didn't used to be that way. Shame how the game has changed.
What's in a Name?
Belmont. Butler. Cornell. Davidson. Drake. Siena. Winthrop. One-word schools are the new hotness in Cinderella picks. Two of 'em will stick around for the second weekend.
St. Mary's Meet Mt. St Mary's
Yes, there are two of them. The former has all the Aussie Ex-Pats. The latter has the smallest good player in the Tournament. The former should have a chip on its shoulder after getting knocked out in its conference semis. The latter won't be able to handle the press against a long, quick team.
Up Goes Down
Arizona and Kentucky. George Mason and Gonzaga. Blue bloods. Underdogs. Which one is really which? I honestly can't say any more.
Apart from the 6 best and the 6 worst teams in the field, there isn't much distance between the other 53 programs invited to the Tournament. Which means most upsets really aren't upsets. Which diminishes the natural drama of the dance rendering it slightly less riveting than the NBA's ongoing Western Conference Play-offs. Which, FTR, started two weeks BEFORE the All-Star Break.
Eff the Selection Committee
For 2 years in a row now, they called out my Pac-10 loyalty by matching 'SC up with one of my favorite Big 12 teams. As much as I'd like to see K-State make an '88 Kansas or '04 Syracuse run...they just don't have the guards to deal with the Trojans back court.
Four Big Finales?
Kevin Beasley would be better off in the NBA. Tyler Hansborough and Kevin Love would be better off in college. Blake Griffin would look great in a Laker uniform.
The Suns desperately need Roy Hibbert or Hasheem Thabeet to fall into their lap. Hibbert would help Nash now in the way Shaq is supposed to. Thabeet would allow Amare to have the career he wants to have.
At least one Big East team is going to make a deep run. It could be Georgetown. Or UConn. Or Louisville. Or even Notre Dame. Sadly, it probably won't be Pitt.
"Let's Go Pee!"
I mean, "Let's go, Peay!" There will be no better or more entertaining cheer heard this March. Not even "Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk. KU."
Of all the 1's and 2's, Kansas is the least likely to shit the bed. UCLA is the most likely to wake up with brown sheets.
The best conferences in college basketball this year were (in this order) the Big East, the Pac 10 and the Big 12 (2a and 2b respectively). There is a very small gap between the first and second(s) spots--which only exists because the Big East has so many more teams.
The rule change concerning the way players line up for foul shots is going to come into play at some point in the story of one of this year's big upsets. Probably in the form of an offensive rebound off of a missed 1-and-1 in the closing seconds. Matter of fact, this situation might actually save Memphis from itself.
We are all going to quickly tire of people talking about how poor of a free throw shooting team Memphis is. But we're going to have to hear about it for at least 2 weekends.
Sike. I'm not giving anything away here. Just in case you're reading this and you're in a pool with me. But let's be honest, there are only 6 teams who can win 6 in a row beginning on Mar. 20: Carolina, Georgetown, Memphis, Kansas, Tennessee and UCLA. You can pick a dark horse if you like (Duke, Louisville, Michigan St, Texas, UConn or Wisconsin, for example) but you'll probably be wrong. Or maybe not. Go with your gut, kids.
Enjoy the madness!