What a bracing hoopaholic morning I had here at the beginning of the most wonderful week of the year.
The best four days in sports are just days away. Hours away actually, if you include the hors d'oeuvres that are those first four play in games in Dayton. And I do include them, because the appetizers simply whet the appetite for the grande 84 hour, 48 tilt buffet to come, commencing Thursday noon.
(Let's hope they've filmed enough commercials with Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Charles Barkley so we don't get tired of them.)
So, with my coffee this A.M., as is my wont, I opened the laptop and went to the b-ball sites to dive into the ocean of info available, ostensibly to help one fill out his bracket. (Which I haven't done actually in several years, but might this time around for some odd reason not having anything to do with any sense I might win one.) Or, make a wager or deux.
The first thing I came upon was a reality check reminder, yet another memorandum of the absolute certainty of my most fervent adage of the season . . .
. . . You only play whom you play.
One of the sites counted down the top 10 moments in NCAA tourney history. With video.
Right off the bat, #10 on the list was one of the most excruciating. I'll just leave it at this: U.S. Reed.
So, fans, I -- firm with the memories of Morehead State and California and Creighton and SMU and other not so stellar tourney moments -- will yet again advise: You only play whom you play.
Looking ahead to a match with Michigan or Okie State is not wise for any Cardinal fan.
Still reeling from the image of that midcourt heartbreaker, I got a text from Badger Billy, wondering if I'd bought my NCAA laden issue of USA Today yet? I advised that research on papyrus is so ancien régime, that the dub dub dub is packed with more complete, more comprehensive info.
He then started braying about the seeding of his alma mater Wisconsin.
To which I said, "I'll send you a quarter, call someone who cares." (Somebody should use that line in a song.)
* * * * *
More than a few U of L fans were relieved but surprised that the Cardinals "stayed" on the #2 line. I was not one of them, surprised that is. I was surely relieved.
The metrics that the selection committee uses all love the Cards. Top 5 RPI. And BPI. And SOS. KenPom #6.
So, even if the Cards haven't exactly been dazzling on the eye test lately, their numbers boded well.
Plus they caught a break, at least it seems to me, when they were placed in Kansas's region instead of Villanova's, which they should have since they were the lowest ranked #2.
Then, of course, of course, I found myself breaking my own rule. I looked longingly at the #7/#10 matchup in the East -- South Carolina vs. Marquette -- and thought I'd rather play the Gamecocks or Warriors/Golden Eagles in Round II than the Wolverines or Cowboys.
Then I admonished myself with a slap up the side of my head: We only play Jacksonville State.
Besides it could be worse. Dayton or Wichita State could be on the path to Weekend #2.
There I go again. It's one of the bad traits of hoopaholics. Looking ahead.
* * * * *
I am more optimistic about the Cards than I was after the Duke L in the ACC tourney. (Though I daresay not as optimistic . . . yet . . . as Sir Charles or Clark Kellogg, who have U of L traveling to Phoenix at the end of the month.)
The Blue Devils are on a hum. If I filled out a bracket today, I'd probably pick them to win it.
I look at the Evil Empire with disgust. And with admiration. Sure, they got enough McD's All Americans to flip burgers all three shifts at every Golden Arches on Tobacco Road. And their coach looks like a weasel. But he gets them to play. And it's difficult, for me anyway, not to appreciate it.
I'm less pessimistic because of the loss because U of L played them better than anybody last week. Sometimes you make it across the tracks, sometimes you get hit by the train.
That's what happened.
I'd settle for a rubber match with them right now.
Daggone it, Seedy, you only play Jacksonville State.
* * * * *
There's always lists this week, before the games begin, naming the big winners and losers.
I'll tell you who the biggest winners are, hands down.
Ticket scalpers in Indy.
The games are not in the Dome. Though if the NCAA had any sense -- which we all know it does not -- they would move the subregional to Lucas Oil.
Because they've invited Louisville. And Kentucky. And Michigan. And Dayton, which is close. And Wichita, also not far away.
* * * * *
Anyhow, New Orleans and Mt. St. Mary's tip it off Tuesday evening.
Put on your dancing shoes.
Let's get this party started.
-- Seedy K