This is generally the happiest month of the year for me. Spring is right around the corner, the weather is finally getting warmer, and of course the greatest postseason in all of sports takes place. But, I've slept particularly poorly for the last six days or so and now feel the need to bring everybody down with me. So, here are ten things that about the current state of college basketball that are rubbing me the wrong way.
1. Offensive Fouls
It used to be that a guy handling the ball had to barrel full speed into a player who had been stationary for at least a half-second for an offensive foul call to be warranted. Now it seems like any contact followed by a fall that defies the laws of physics demands not only a blown whistle, but an overly animated play to the crowd.
Guy given no room to come down with the ball after catching a pass? OFFENSIVE FOUL! Point guard lightly slapping away a hand on his hip? OFFENSIVE FOUL! Weak drop step that somehow manages to send a 400-pound man flying into the base of the goal? OFFENSIVE FOUL! Talking chicken telling his own, especially disturbing version of the aristocrats joke? OFFENSIVE FOWL!
I slept a little bit.
I fear I'm hammering this one into the ground, so this will likely be the last time I mention it for a while. To clarify, I have no issue with people who are trying to get a handle on where their favorite team might end up being seeded, but it's when folks look at these brackets and start analyzing potential second and third round opponents that I get especially frustrated. People, these brackets have absolutely zero bearing on what's going to happen in Indianapolis a week from this Sunday.
But are they a good topic for discussion in the meantime? No, I don't think they are. You want a good topic for discussion, why don't you put the names of all 250 or so teams that are still eligible for postseason play into a hat, and then randomly draw to fill out your 65-team bracket. To me, that's about 15 times more interesting than analyzing the minutiae of a bracket that may or may not be slightly similar to the one we're going to see in 11 days.
By the way, I would love to play Butler in the second round.
2A. Joe Lunardi
The guy deserves all the credit in the world for thinking up this idea before anyone else, but I could live without him popping up on my television every other night. Since when did being able to read RPI and strength of schedule numbers warrant air time? Sure I can't multiply once the numbers get into double-digits, but I'm still fully capable of determining that an RPI of 37 is better than an RPI of 62 when it comes to a team's NCAA Tournament hopes.
Congrats anyway you lucky bastard.
3. CBS' Coverage
I've only watched serious coverage on the creepy eye station for two Saturdays, and I'm already tired of hearing about Jericho. The constant pimping of your own network is acceptable as long as your coverage is fantastic, and CBS proves each year that it's about as qualified to cover college basketball as Tony Danza is to translate Belarusian poetry (Tony Danza's still cool, right?).
Switching Kentucky's game in the final minute so that the nation could see the opening seconds of Duke/St. John's certainly set the precedent for what will inevitably be an infuriating three weeks. The Mega March Madness package is a must-have, primarily because CBS gets so "live look-in" happy that you'll invariably have to switch to the channel carrying the Uconn/Cornell game if you want to keep watching Xavier/Davidson. The only issue is that the additional channels won't do look-ins on the main CBS channel (32 on DirecTV), so each March CBS makes me miss about five minutes of Louisville's first and second round games.
Gus Johnson is the only thing keeping the network afloat.
4. People Hyping Louisville
This one seems a little strange, but I'm getting extremely tired of hearing people say "remember when I told you that this was a Final Four team?" Congratulations, you picked up a magazine in October, said the same thing that it and everyone on TV said, kept your mouth shut while you looked like an idiot for about two months, and are now taking credit for a relatively innocuous preseason prediction.
5. Digger Phelps' Outfit
I know I said a couple weeks back that it's ridiculous to take anything Digger says seriously, and I completely stand by that. It's why he can say things like "Stanford is going to beat Louisville," and we can all just laugh, pop in a DVD, enjoy a quiet night together, and then sleep peacefully. His consistently inaccurate predictions and observations ("Edgar Sosa has been the leader of this team all season") no longer bother me, but the tighlighter thing is still just too much. You never actually use the highlighter so we all know that this is just a gimmick, and that's fine if you're a professional wrestler, but you're not, you're being paid a significant amount of money to tell me things I don't know about college basketball. The fact that this is all preconceived - that he actually has to take time to think about it all: the shirt, the tie, the highlighter - is just, well it's just awful.
6. People Calling For Intentional Fouls
Your player is on a fast break, gets hit in the arm by a guy making a "legitimate play on the ball," and his momentum makes him take a spill that looks worse than it actually is: this is not an intentional foul. It looks bad, and you're mad because you're guy could have gotten hurt, but you don't deserve two shots and the ball.
7. The Use Of The Word "Thug" By Fan Bases
That guy on the other team with all the tattoos is not a thug. The one who bumped shoulders with your favorite player isn't either. The guy who shot a cocky smile to the crowd after making that big three-pointer? A chotch, yes, but still not a thug.
Bishop from Juice, in case you were wondering, was a thug.
8. Conference Championship Games On Selection Sunday
This is a change that should have been made yesterday. It's unfair to both the fans of bubble teams and the selection committee that these games take place just hours before the official bracket is unveiled. When a squad from a major conference that was on the outside looking in makes a major run to a conference title game, it forces the committee - which has a pretty set bracket in place by Saturday morning - to scramble.
Teams from the same conference cannot meet on the first weekend of the tournament, so when a team from a league that already has several squads going to the dance makes a run to the tournament title game, coming up with a suitable bracket quickly becomes an issue. It's the only reason that teams like Maryland in '04 and Syracuse in '06 - both of which would have missed the tournament altogether had they not made a miracle run - end up being seeded as high as fifth, and it's the only reason that Arkansas made the field of 65 a year ago.
9. The Play-In Game
Not an original complaint, but that shouldn't detract from its validity. For the eighth straight year, the tournament will not need the last at-large team that makes the field.
10. Conspiracy Theorists
ESPN does not hate your favorite team.
It feels good to rant. Feel free to use that as an explanation at work today or at home tonight, they'll all understand.