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When David Slew Goliath

David Over Goliath

Please don’t tell me you actually followed my bracket. What were you thinking? What was I thinking? Well I can’t quite explain that, but I can tell you what we’ve learned.

There is nothing better than the first weekend of March Madness.

The opening round of the tournament featured ten games decided by 5 points or less and three go into overtime. St. Mary’s out of the WCC with a roster made up of mostly Australians took out #2-seed Villanova looking to make it back to the Final Four. There were buzzer beaters and great plays galore. None of that however, compared to Northern Iowa knocking of the overall top seeded Kansas Jayhawks in one of the most shocking upsets this side of Chaminade.

Wall-to-wall basketball where every possession matters only comes around once a year and reminds us all of why we watch. It’s everything College Football isn’t and while simultaneously botching that sport’s postseason, the NCAA tournament provides the single most exciting sporting event in our country.

That also ties into our next lesson…

Expanding the tournament field to 96 is stupid.

I’m not exactly breaking new ground with this one, but after watching one of the most entertaining weekends in years we were all reminded of just how perfect the opening round of 64 really is. How anyone could argue for a format that gives top seeds a bye is beyond me. What would the first round be without the chance of upsets?

If the NCAA feels it must expand (read: make more $), widen the field by 3 to 68 not the preposterous 96 number that has been bandied about. At most there are two or three teams in a given year that have a legitimate argument to be in the tournament that are left out, and even that’s more like arguing over who gets to show up late to an orgy.

By jumping to 68 you instantly make the Tuesday before the tournament starts a Play-In Day event unto itself. Instead of deciding which 16 seed will be sacrificed to the lions, what if that spot up for grabs was for a 10 or a 12 seed. We have to listen to Joe Lunardi talk about the “Last Four In” and “Last Four Out” for a week and it doesn’t mean anything in the end. Imagine if, instead of hearing Seth Greenberg complain to Dickie V about Virginia Tech not making it, he had a game against Utah St. on Tuesday to prove his team belonged. As things stand now, no one cares about the play-in game, but if you open it up and make it four games of teams fighting to make the tournament, that is something I can get behind.

Styles make fights.

For all the talk about the Big East’s struggles (Syracuse and West Virginia excepted), and the Big 12 losing Kansas before the Sweet Sixteen, any good coach will tell you it really is all about matchups. In a single-elimination tournament like this one it’s all about how you play rather than who.

Wisconsin can get away with uglying up the game against the rest of the Big 10 because they don’t run into many well-schooled teams who are as dangerous from the outside as Cornell. Louisville only managed to make the tournament on the basis of beating Syracuse twice. This is a team that lost to Charlotte and Western Carolina. Georgetown was good enough to blast Duke by double digits in front of the President, but also shaky enough to fall to lowly Rutgers. Even Northern Iowa. who pulled the ultimate glass slipper performance, lost to a Depaul team that went 1-17 in conference this year. Anyone can beat anyone else in this tournament and that’s what makes it so wonderful. That being said it just comes down to execution. Teams that do will advance, those that don’t are going home disappointed.

Again I’m not breaking any news with this one, but it seems like every year we all forget and bank on mercurial rosters with talent rather than teams that just know how to win.

Farokhmanesh is Arabic for “Gigantic Balls”.

Look it up. Or better yet ask Sherron Collins why he’ll never be able to hear that name without feeling completely inadequate and almost breaking down into tears.

Mike Wilbon and Pat Forde were on the Northern Iowa bandwagon weeks ago.

And they were right. I don’t often give Mr. “Seton Hall-Rutgers” much credit, but when you’re right, you’re right. If anybody deserves to crow about the remains of their tattered brackets it’s these two. Speaking of crow…

Jason Whitlock just makes it too easy sometimes.

This lovely piece was silly before the tournament started, and now after suffering one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history reality is laughing at him. This year’s Kansas team was very good unquestionably, but they were not the juggernaut of two years ago with Brandon Rush, Collins, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Cole Aldrich. There are no great teams this year, and trying to manufacture an air of invincibility just made him look stupid(er).

Georgetown Sucks.

Well we already knew that. You too Hopkins. Oh the tears of unfathomable sadness… yummy.

“A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!”

– Emily Dickinson

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown --
Who ponders this tremendous scene --
This whole Experiment of Green --
As if it were his own!
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