Commentary: Not Everyone Infected With The Madness
There might be something wrong with me, other than the fact that every time I drink vodka I get dizzy and fall down.
For whatever reason, I’ve become immune to the delightful malady called March Madness. I can’t dig Digger, can’t tell Dayton from Creighton, can’t go all-in on all this ballin’. Not anymore.
As college basketball has slipped in stature, quality and relevance — quick, name the two best players on No.1-seed Virginia — so has its season-ending tournament. And who likes a Big Dance that promises no romance?
If you think college basketball is a great game, imagine what it would be like without the relentless timeouts, the coaches micro-managing down to the dribble and the unending festival of touch fouls.
These telecasts can be difficult just to look at, and that’s true even before the cameras point at Verne Lundquist.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d much rather watch the players play than the coaches coach or the refs ref. This is college basketball’s time, when everyone’s watching because everyone’s in a betting pool, and yet the games drag on like meetings on a Monday.
Instead of overtime, I find myself rooting for time over.
And, folks, trust me on this one: No one — not even your sibling who has promised, if necessary, to share one of his or her kidneys — cares about the mess that has become of your bracket.
Nobody else picked Mercer, either, and your tale about a bracket gone sour is just like the latest story of your travel woes. Everyone has their own story and their story is worse than yours, OK? So just accept it and be done, done as Weber State.
This is a time to guard your words closely, like you would the opposition’s top 3-point shooter, or risk being burned. Here, I’m thinking specifically of Rick Pitino, whose recent bout of madness was a version typically treated with medication — powerful, tightly regulated medication.
Pitino was upset because the selection committee matched Louisville against Manhattan — a team coached by one of his former assistants — without, you know, first double checking with Pitino to make sure it was OK.
His grumbling was notable because of its timing, most college coaches waiting until the actual tip-off before crying about the officials.
But Pitino’s rant certainly accelerated the pace of a tournament so cluttered with commercials that TBS should be put on a shot clock.
Most years, we have to wait until the end to hear One Shining Moment.
This thing barely has started and, thanks to Pitino, we’ve already been blessed with One Whining Moment.
He also complained because there was a legitimate possibility his Cardinals could lose. “This is anybody’s game,” Pitino gasped, and how dare the NCAA stage an event in which a Cinderella story might unfold! Could you imagine?
Just in case you still think there’s a chance Pitino hadn’t completely misplaced his mind, he also likened Louisville-Manhattan to Duke-North Carolina. This was strange because Pitino, as a renowned horse owner, should recognize a pile of manure when he sees one and then be able to avoid stepping in it.
This was just another example of someone blasting the NCAA for failing to do a job that is, by definition, wholly impossible. All we really want is for the governing body of college athletics to be perfect and make everyone happy, right?
The truth is the NCAA could publicly denounce the use of cocaine and someone would complain about the organization violating the rights of those student-athletes for whom marijuana is no longer enough.
But getting back to my original point, it seems that the luster has faded from March Madness, faded in the exact opposite way Mike Krzyzewski’s hair has remained oddly unchanged since, I’m guessing, junior high.
I felt this way long before the game Thursday between Wisconsin and American, a game in which the second-half score was 43-13, meaning, for the cake-walking Badgers, the final 20 minutes represented One Reclining Moment.
In reflection, the Hoyas of John Thompson were almost mythical compared to the Hoyas of John Thompson III. Steve Alford the player had the shot of a machine; Steve Alford the coach has the personality of a robot. N.C. State in the Final Four? Magic. N.C. State in the First Four? Ugh.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m alone in this thinking. Like I said, there might be something wrong with me. Although, unlike Krzyzewski today, I’m the only one affected by my “One Declining Moment.”
Of course, it’s early. There’s still time to rally, and the NCAA Tournament is all about rallying. Better start soon, though.
I’m in need of a personal Christian Laettner shot, one legendary jumper to lift my spirits to a higher place.
Otherwise, all I’m left with is this column, this One Opining Moment.