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Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The March to Atlanta

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Penultimacy has arrived, my fellow hoopaholics.

Rejoice.

Can I get an Amen?

If April is the cruellest month, mixing Memory and desire (as well as breeding lilacs out of dead land), it is when three of Four shall exit the Big Peach empty handed and there shall be but One standing alone midst the bewildering detritus of the most cockamamie basketball season in memory.

Ah, but March, blessed March, it is upon us, this the most glorious 31 days of the annum, when hoop hopes spring eternal. And there are enough tilts of consequence to sate even the most addicted among us.

Polish your talismans, pull your mojos from safekeeping, set out your lucky socks.

Say Hallelujah!!!

* * * * *

Here is just how over under sideways down this college b-ball campaign has turned out.

On the second to last Saturday of the regular season, I found myself actually rooting for — Forgive me, Naismithius, Satan made me do it — Duke.

Because, at least according to my reckoning — I’ve always been a bit out of sorts when it comes to arithmetic — a Blue Devil W in Charlottesville would have assured my Louisville Cardinals of the 3 seed in the ACC tourney.

It was not to be. Life just continues getting curioser and curioser.

* * * * *

You want bizarre?

Think about this.

Providence and UCLA are still projected to be left outside the candy store, their noses pressed against the window, when those first 8 chosen teams arrive in Dayton.

But the Friars have won 4 in a row, most recently over highly regarded ‘Nova, in Philly, as well as two others also ranked, Seton Hall and Marquette. Oh yeah, they also beat surging Creighton awhile ago.

So, let’s say Ed Cooley’s gang somehow slithers into the Dance, as an 11 or 12 seed. You want your favorite school playing them in the opening round?

The Bruins, once given up for dead at 8-9, have now conquered 7 straight, including a weekend sweep of the Arizona schools. They sit atop the Pac-12 standings. Alone.

Saturday, they essentially trailed Arizona the whole game until the most hiply coifed baller in the the sport — Think Weekend as a Rasta Mon in sneakers — Tyger Campbell drained a deuce after missing his first ten shots to put the Bruins ahead for good and the upset.

So, allow me to ask again. Your school has earned a 4 or 5 seeding in the tourney. You want them to face a frothing at the mouth pack of Bruins opening tip?

I. Don’t. Think. So.

I know I don’t.

* * * * *

So, yeah, I love March, I crave March, I’ve already stocked up on enough beverages and snacks to make it through. Not that I’m OCD or anything like that.

But, the downside: Knowing that I shall have to abide these phrases oh so so many times in the weeks to come.

”17 seconds is an eternity.”

”The (Insert nickname here) don’t need a 3.”

Oh, there are plenty more. You hear what I’m saying.

But I did love when Stephen Bardo on Saturday waxed ecstatic after a Penn State fastbreak.

”Congrats Penn State. Old school. A 2 on 1 fastbreak, where the guy with the ball passed it ahead, a bounce pass, to his teammate for a layup. Is it 1967?”

Here’s some absurdity. Joe Paterno State is not only a lock to make the tourney, the Nittany Lions are a projected 4 seed.

Is nothing sacred? Like hoops ineptitude in State College?

* * * * *

Did anything else of passing interest come about in Saturday’s games?

You mean like Baylor losing to 16-13 TCU?

Or, Florida State falling to 15-13 Clemson?

Or, Sparty, after a season of swooning, all of a sudden looking like they were supposed to, battering the Terrapins in College Park?

Or Shaka Smart’s yet again mediocre Texas Longhorns beating Texas Tech in Lubbock?

That’ll be the Day.

As it was Saturday. With oh so many many more to come.

—c d kaplan