Bracketology Is It Now A College Course And Elective ? Other Such Idiosyncrasies Of The Sporting Weekend …………..
Well the stage has been set for the commencement of College Basketballs men’s national championship. And I believe it is the one time of the year when we can all be in agreement as to how things have worked out . Or can we ? We have the ’31 teams’ that have made their way in by winning their respective conference championships and ’34 at large’ invitees to the ‘big dance’ . Never let it be said that the system is perfect but it’s a hell of a lot better than the asinine system that’s prescribed to figure out who the national champion is determined to be within the BCS FBS Division One college football. So many bowls and not one of them really based on merit , other than the popularity and the fact that a bunch of number crunchers make it appear to be all equitable. The fact that there’s a great deal of connivance with the networks also plays a part in it all. But at the end of the day we’re led to believe that this the best that the major conferences who preside over the BCS has to offer.
With a play in game to be decided as to who the 64th and final team will be , to played on the Thursday. The tournament kicks off good and proper as of then. The four number one seeds for the various regions Midwest , South , East and West , are Kansas , Duke , Kentucky and Syracuse . Though some aren’t entirely with the fact that Duke is a number one seed and question that fact. But it is, what it is. And for the four coaches in question this is when their programs will come under intense scrutiny and the spotlight of the fans nationwide. For Bill Self of Kansas, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke , Jon Calipari of Kentucky and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse , this will be the pressure which they and their teams will be judged by as to how they’ll fare. Each of the four are highly respected coaches within college basketball and have groomed players at the college level that’ve gone on to become stars within the NBA . But for now it’s not about what the players aspire to at the next level but creating a legacy here at the college level which will leave and indelible mark for them and their programs.
Now far be it for me to suggest that I fully comprehend the idiosyncrasies of ‘bracketology’. But to my mind the teams that are in , are there on their own merits. If they can’t play, then they will be found out. It’s as plain and simple as that ! There are no do-overs and you can’t cry over spilled milk, should you fall at the first hurdle. You came to play and by damn it , you had better play. Or you’ll end up completely embarrassing yourself .
The four regional competitions will be a one and done knockout competition . And there are those who view Kansas’ region as being the most difficult of them all. And there’s every reason to believe that will be the case because of the number of top tiered teams assigned to the region. And Kansas will kick off its march on Thursday (9:30 pm EST) against Lehigh (22-10) . And in that Midwest Regional there are the stalwarts such as Michigan State (24-8) , Maryland (23-8), Tennessee (25-8) , Ohio State (27-7) and Georgetown (23-10) . If you don’t consider any of those teams capable of upsetting the applecart , then please feel free to lay all of your money on Kansas.
In the West , Jim Boeheim’s Orangemen have the privilege of taking on Vermont (25-9) . The sixteenth seed within the region and perhaps hoping to create the tournament’s first major upset by taking down Syracuse. It could well happen but I think that the Orangemen should overpower their opponent and come away with an easy victory. As to the other teams within the region that are of importance by way of their basketball tradition and pedigree. We will see the two time national champions, Florida (21-12) , Kansas State (26-7) , Pittsburgh (24-8) , Minnesota (21-13) , Vanderbilt (24-8) , Gonzaga (26-6) and Butler (28-4) . But if there’s a team to be feared within the region . Then ‘my pick’ would be Tubby Smith’s Golden Gophers of Minnesota. Tubby can flat out coach, his team is playing with a great deal of confidence at present and they seem to be on a mission. The scary thought is, that they’ve not really got to raise the level of their game all that much to be on an equal footing with some of the teams though to be the favorites within the region.
In the East, it’s all about Kentucky and John Calipari’s team. Will this be the team that earns the coach his first national title ? Or will he come up short once again ? If they play up to their full potential , then I fully expect them to make the ‘Final Four’ . And then from thereon in , it’s let the chips fall where they may. However, they will have to go through the likes of Texas (24-9) , Wofford (26-8) , Marquette (22-11) , Temple (29-5) and W Virgina (27-6). No mean feat but they (Wildcats) are capable of doing it and making their way through. But if there’s a team that could derail their ambitions , then it could well be Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers. Playing on emotion alone and with Huggins’ guile , anything is possible.
In the South, Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils led by Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler will be looking to land the legendary coach his fourth national championship. What hasn’t there been already said about the program that Mike Krzyzewski has established and put on the map ? Alongside John Wooden , Adolph Rupp , Dean Smith and Bob Knight . He may well be one of the most revered and respected coaches in men’s college basketball history. That asides, this isn’t merely about Duke but essentially whether or not they can overcome the obstacles placed in front of them ? They’ve had far easier paths in the past and have come up short. And then they’ve also pulled through and won it all when they weren’t exactly favored to. Of the quartet of number one seeds, their task in some circles is being viewed as the easiest region to come through unscathed. I’d like to think that’s the case ! But then again , who knows ?
Within the region, Duke kicks off its tournament schedule against the play in winner of the game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff (17-15) and Winthrop (19-13). Lambs to the slaughter against Duke ? Well , that’s what awaits the winner . The rest of the region in terms of competitive presence as I view it , is rounded out by the likes of Louisville (20-12) , Notre Dame (23-11) , Villanova (24-7) , Purdue (27-5) and Utah State (27-7) .
Now while I’m a wholehearted Dukie’s fan through and through. I know not to expect too much from them , from time to time. As good as they can be , there’s always the chance that they can end up disappointing you. It’s like you’re out on a blind date with a really hot chic’ and you know if you play your cards right you’re going to get somethin’. But at the last, moment she disappoints and tells you that she’s got to go home because she has an appointment. Either that , for some reason the date went horribly wrong because somehow you might’ve done something wrong ? Or in effect she just wasn’t all that into you. Well that’s the feeling I get when I wholeheartedly throw my support at times behind Duke. I feel jilted ! This time around I’m hoping to feel some euphoria with the Blue Devils. If they play up to their capabilities , hang tough on defense and they could very well land that unprecedented four national title for Mike Krzyzewski. But those are just my thoughts on the scenario I envisage. It could very well be that they simply don’t pan out the way I may well have thought.
March Madness as it has come to be defined may well be the best sporting event on the North American continent by far ! There are those who feel that the one off event of the Superbowl far exceeds it in terms of excitement and suspense. And that may well be the case . But where else can you spend the better part of the month planning , discussing , debating, wagering , even arguing the merits of your brackets and whether or not your teams will prevail ? In the Superbowl, it’s about the two teams , the event itself and who in the end, ends up winning. To me the college basketball has it beat hands down and by a wide enough margin !
I’m no bracketologist and I’ve never claimed to be one. I leave that for all the guys in the know and let them prescribe to the logic it supposedly all entails. For me the games aren’t played on paper but on the field of competition. And that’s what I’m looking forward to , through the remainder of the month and through to Final Four and the championship game , itself , in early April. How about yourselves ?
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………..
Curtis Mayfield ………”Move On Up”. Was there a better song that epitomized the seventies for the period ?