By Andrew Phelps
Tournament time, our favorite season of the year, unless of course you lose to Robert Morris or turn down an invite to the College Basketball Invitational. But I am not here to point fingers or revel in others' misery. Louisville is one of the few defending champions in recent memory that enters postseason play with a more than reasonable chance to earn back to back championships. That's something to be excited about.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, I believe in the honesty and fairness of our leaders and committees (plus, we all know aliens sunk the Titanic and Fidel Castro and Lyndon Johnson shot Kennedy). I will not further such absurdities, but it is impossible to overlook the embarrassing agenda this year's selection committee clearly had in place throughout the process of filling out the 68 team tournament field.
Agenda item number one: Eliminate as many teams as possible that have been to recent Final Fours or that have been recent champions. The evidence for this? Look no further than the Midwest and South regions. Three of last year's Final Four teams are in the Midwest, as well as the last two national champions. In the South, Syracuse has been give the toughest path to the Elite 8 and then would most likely meet number one overall Florida. Odds and statistics are therefore heavily in favor of a completely new Final Four in 2014, as well as a champion outside of the commonwealth.
I also have a hard time believing there wasn't an agenda in place when you look at the paths laid out for teams such as Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin. Never has such a cakewalk been put in place for teams to reach the Elite 8. Each time I go to fill out a bracket, I cannot wait to eliminate Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Villanova, and Creighton, but after seeing the matchups it's almost impossible to get rid of any of them before the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. Bah Humbug.
Agenda item number two: Pretend the new Big East is the same conference as the old Big East and ignore the obvious fact that its best teams left for the ACC and American. With three teams in one region, a snub to ranked SMU, and the greatest injustice in the 36 years of tournament seeding, the selection committee clearly equated the American conference to something you would find in a porta-potty.
Not only was the American stomped on, but the committee rewarded the current Big East members with great seeds and matchups for beating absolutely no one and losing to absolutely horrendous teams. However, how can we be surprised? When one committee member was asked about the process he proudly admitted he didn't watch one basketball game all season...Bah Humbug
All right, enough about what grinds my gears, let's discuss what matters.
Louisville possesses one of the best and most consistent tournament coaches in the game, and he's pissed. Louisville has a guard that is the best player this program has seen since Darrell Griffith, and he's been undervalued, disrespected, and ignored his whole life, why change that recipe for success now? Louisville returns the Most Outstanding Player from the 2013 final four and his middle name is Still-Doubting-Me. Louisville enlists the angriest player in the field, the only forward each and every rim is bone rattling terrified of, and the selection committee just made him angrier; don't make him angry, TrezlSmash.
Momma always said to look on the sunny side of life, so I will close with rays of hope. I actually like Louisville's path to the Sweet 16. We are and should be better than Manhattan, Saint Louis/Xavier/NC State. Rick Pitino is 11-0 in the Sweet 16 with an average margin of victory close to 20 points. The elite game will be in Indianapolis giving Louisville a massive home court advantage, and just like that, in a blink of an eye, the Cardinals punch their ticket to Dallas.
Louisville is my team, the Cardinals are our team, and the Birds are the best team. Humility and a team first attitude has fueled the Cardinal resurgence and the dawning of a Louisville dynasty. People everywhere have undervalued, disrespected and doubted this special group of kids for the better part of their athletic lifetimes. The Cardinals will earn their way to title number four in a manner never before seen. I will see you in Indianapolis, and I will hug you in Dallas, and we will remember this team as the best that never should have been for the rest of our lives.
All Hail UofL !!