My friend Adrian, a basketball coach in hoops-crazy Indiana, posted his NCAA bracket on Facebook, and while it had the potential of making him look like a basketball genius – and he is not – it also looked like a patchwork quilt: Things were crossed out everywhere.
He challenged his friends to put theirs on Facebook as well. I declined, because, well, my bracket looked worse than his did. I guess it all proved one point: “March Madness” is a title well earned.
For it is “madness” of the insane sort to expect to have a clean bracket after the first weekend of the tournament. To have a clean bracket is to have cheated. It’s just impossible to predict outcomes in games where one defensive stop, where one player getting hotter than a Vegas summer, where one mistake … where one bad coach’s decision can turn a win into elimination.
“One-and-done” is a wonderful thought when it references what happens on the basketball court, and what happened there over the past four days is enough to drive a man to a bottle of Jack Daniels.
But if he had sampled too much of the spirits, he’d been in a haze that would ruin his appreciation of what unfolded on the court. He would have missed the night LSU butchered more free throws than a bunch of 9-year-olds. The Tigers had a win in their grasp, but one player, one miss, one defensive stop they needed to make against North Carolina State and didn’t sent ’em back to Baton Rouge, returning there at the hands of BeeJay Anya’s soft, last-second leaner.
A 66-65 loss? No, an outright, hysterical collapse!
Were that the lone shocking outcome, perhaps brackets would look prettier – even mine. But who could have seen N.C. State also knocking off Villanova?
A No. 1 seed done.
But how the ball will bounce from now until the Final Four teams have been decided remains as mysterious as Bigfoot. Overtime wins (Ohio State-VCU game); controversial referee’s calls (UCLA-SMU game); and Troy Caupain’s tying layup at the end of regulation that sent Cincinnati on to a cliché-of-an-ending win in OT over Purdue.
And you wonder aloud why your bracket looks like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
You can sit back and exhale now. You have four days to catch your breath, to think about and argue with your boys how the heck Michigan State, Utah, UCLA, UAB or Wichita State remains alive.
Oh, and you can also wonder aloud how mad you were in this one-and-done world NOT to pick No. 1 Kentucky, the personification of one-and-done, to win it all.
That’ll be what my boy Adrian will be thinking soon, ‘cause he has Wisconsin and Duke in the finals.
In March, he’s gone mad for real. Or have I?
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