“I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough.” – Colonel Stonehill, True Grit
The Madness Finally Returns
After only six upsets in the first round, some of us were starting to wonder if this tournament had any surprises in store. Today’s games delivered in spades. There were two epic upsets, an upset that almost was, and an upset that wasn’t, then was, then wasn’t again.
- The Elephant In The Room – Ok, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. Yes, I am a Gonzaga fan. Yes, I am glad they won. No, I am not going to apologize or entertain the notion that they somehow stole the game. Yes, the blocked shot was a goaltend that should have been called and wasn’t. Yes, it was at a critical point in the game, and yes, it could have made a difference in the outcome. HOWEVER, it could be said that any play or any call in any game could have influenced the outcome had it gone differently. The fact is that there is no way to know for sure. Nevertheless, the call WAS wrong. The technical on coach Collins, however, while his reaction was understandable, was the correct call. You cannot storm on the court when the ball is live. So, one could argue that the technical hurt them just as badly as the missed call. If we want to entertain all of the hypotheticals, if they get the call right, it’s a 3 point game, but Gonzaga still has possession. If they get the call wrong, and there is no technical, it is a 5 point game, and Gonzaga still has possession. With the technical, it became a 7 point game, and Gonzaga still had possession. Sense a theme, here? Draw your own conclusions, but that game is over, and that’s that. Now, I am able to be objective enough to say that this is proving my point about the woeful deficiencies in the video review process. That play was not reviewable. Why? Because it was inconsequential? Because it wouldn’t have affected the outcome? Because it was a judgment call by the officials? Because it was uncorrectable? NONE OF THE ABOVE. It was not reviewable because there was too much time left in the game, which is the single dumbest reason not to review a call in the long and storied history of human stupidity. Either the video review should be available for the entire game or not at all. Period. Done. Over. Out. As it stands, they review nothing for 38 minutes and EVERYTHING for the last 2, making those final two minutes take about 20. It’s completely backwards.
- NO VA, As In, No Go – Guess who’s not going back to the Final Four this year. Earlier in the day I suggested via Twitter that this was a shocking upset, but it seems that you minions weren’t nearly as surprised as I was. When I checked to see who picked Wisconsin to beat Villanova, I expected it to be a handful of Badger homers and a few kids, but not so. A full 93 of you actually picked this game correctly. On the other hand, 333 minions (including yours truly) lost a Final Four team and 102 lost a national champion today. I will tell you this. Wisconsin’s style of play makes opponents want to pull out their own fingernails, and Nigel Hayes is the real deal. That East region is wide open now.
- U-G-L-Y, You Ain’t Got No Alibi – In a game that set basketball back 50 years, Florida put the wood on Virginia, holding them to just 39 points for the entire game. Wow.
- X Really Does Mark The Spot – The first round win over Maryland was a fairly easy upset to pick, but a 30-point drubbing of #3 Florida State? #11 seed Xavier is certainly in the running for this year’s Cinderella. They will have a tough test against Arizona, but frankly, Arizona looked anything but invincible against the second place team from the Truck Stop League. I really wanted that St. Mary’s upset, by the way. It might have brought me back up to relevance in the contest standings.
- The Epic Comeback That Almost Was – The best game of the night could have been the last one. After going up 19 points on Iowa State, Purdue sent its fans into heart-palpitating episodes of deja vu as they allowed the Cyclones to come roaring back. Iowa State actually led briefly, but to their credit, Purdue didn’t fold. I am not #BiggieNPOY, but I do think Purdue has a legit shot at the Final Four.
From The Bargain Bin
- Celebrity Sightings Abound – I believe at some point last year I quipped that Ashley Judd got more camera time as a fan at Kentucky games than she did in films at this point in her career. Apparently this is what Hollywood actors whose star is starting to fade do; they go to basketball games. Today’s winner of the Ok, Enough Crowd Shots Of YOU – I’d Like To Actually Watch The GAME award goes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who, if I’m not mistaken, was at the Gonzaga-Northwestern game with an aging Ted Danson. Yes, her son is on the team, but he gets no court time. As a fan of the other team, it gets a little annoying when it feels like the broadcast is rooting for the other team by constantly cutting away to mom. Sure, Northwestern has been the feel-good story of the tournament, but…GO ZAGS!
- Irrational Pet Peeves – Are there words or phrases that annoy you for no logical reason? Am I the only one who experiences this? I think I’ve discussed this before in years past in this commentary. For example, the phrase “hot mess” is one that I absolutely abhor, and I don’t know why. I could probably produce a lengthy list of others, but there’s a ubiquitous term from March Madness that aggravates this particular neurosis of mine, and that is “Elite Eight”. You’re probably wondering what could possibly be irritating or offensive about the term Elite Eight, and I’m not sure I can explain it fully, but I just find myself wishing they would either dispense with having a name for the final eight teams altogether, or call it something else. I dig “Final Four”. “Sweet Sixteen” seems normal and acceptable. But “Elite Eight” feels to me like somebody insisted that there simply MUST be a catchy name for the final 8 teams in the tournament – like a VP told some peon in the production room, “Give me a name for the last eight teams in the tournament or you’re FIRED!” It just doesn’t have the same natural flow or ring to it as Sweet Sixteen or Final Four. Elite Eight feels contrived and forced to me. What are your thoughts? “Elite Eight” – Keep it or pitch it?
Day 3 Awards
It’s time for me to close this tome and get some sleep. I’m actually writing from the comforting warmth of Orlando, Florida, where I will be playing golf with some good friends this week. But before I go, we need to hand out a few awards.
- The Riddle Me This, Batman award goes to today’s big riser in the standings, Valerie Riddle, who has climbed from 767th to 150th.
- The Remember When You Were In Third Place? aware goes to former 3rd place contestant Tyler Rubach who has since dropped to 378th.
- No one got all 8 games right today, but the Lucky 7 award goes to those contestants who got 7 out of 8 INCLUDING both upsets: Tug Taviano, Sonny Clair, Lazarus Neely, Steve Fandl, and Jason Poling.
- The I Hate This Stupid Scoring System award goes to Chantle Candy, who is tied for the best win-loss record (36-4) but is in 33rd place.
- The I’ll Check The Rules, But I Think Divine Inspiration Constitutes Cheating award goes to second place minion Lazarus “I need divine help” Neely.
- And finally, the I’m In First Because I’m a Wisconsin Homer award goes to Jerod Walker, whose pick of Wisconsin over Villanova has been key to his success so far.
That’s all for today, minions. Tomorrow the Sweet Sixteen will be complete, and then it’s on to those eight teams that come next.
The Wizard of Whiteland