March Monotony

Barry Rothbard

As much as it pains me to say, the 2009 NCAA tournament has lacked the luster that we come to expect from March Madness. In fact, it has been the weakest of weak sauces. Sitting down and watching most of these games has been like going to your favorite restaurant, ordering your favorite dish and getting it undercooked and overpriced. With very few exceptions (Siena-OSU, Gonzaga-Western Kentucky), there have been no buzzer beaters and no exceptional endings. There was no Cinderella. There was no mid-major player who stood out (although Ryan Rossiter of Siena is my new favorite player and should be yours too). There was only a glimmer of March Madness magic and there has been way too much Doug Gottlieb (the former Oklahoma State point guard who is now ESPN’s “expert” on college hoops). So I am going to block out last weekend’s NCAA Tournament from my mind. I am going to pretend like Doug Gottlieb is not on ESPN every time I turn it on, and I am going to instead think about George Mason, Tyus Edney, Jimmy V, and all of the magical moments and images that have come to define, promote and glorify March Madness. I am going to look forward to the next two weekends, because it can only get better. And with every 1-3 seed around, and 16 very good teams left, all of the games should be exciting, entertaining and tight. Hopefully, we will get to hear Gus Johnson (CBS’ overzealous play-by-play guy) screaming at the end of the game instead of staring at an empty stadium witnessing a 20-point blowout. With this in mind, I will look forward to the potential highlights we may witness in the next two weeks. Here are the difficult questions that can and will be answered soon enough:

1. Who’s bracket will win? Samuel Jackson’s or Dwyane Wade’s? The suspense is simply devouring me. Every day I wake up, and I wonder, I wonder and I wonder. Will Flash take down my boy Jules Winnfield? Only time will tell. Thank God.

2. Will A.J. Price (the infamous laptop thief of UConn) steal anything in Glendale? If I was a Boilermaker or a Tiger, I would guard my MacBook Pro with my life. Thankfully, the championship is in Detroit, Michigan, where there is nothing worth stealing. So if A.J. makes it there, no one will have to pay the price.

3. What will Tyler Hansborough do when UNC inevitably pulls a New England Patriots circa Super Bowl XLII? Will he go ballistic? Will he go with the Adam Morrison and drop to the floor in tears after Gonzaga drops them this weekend? Will he break up with Roy Williams? I’m hoping Tyler fouls out with about four points, two rebounds, and three turnovers, goes undrafted and then simply fades into Bolivia. You can do it Tyler. Just like the last three years. You can do it.

4. Speaking of Gonzaga, will Josh Heytvelt rekindle his love affair with magical mushrooms? Will he be hallucinating too badly against UNC that my upset pick will not come to fruition? Or will he simply skip the game to get another tattoo, possibly of Jerry Garcia’s face? OR will he skip the rest of the tournament to follow Phish around on their tour? Hopefully, Josh can find his inner strength and avoid the temptations that he may face in Memphis, Tennessee this weekend. Just say no Josh. Just say no.

5. Will John Calipari and Jim Calhoun channel their inner Tyler Durdens in Glendale? Their rift, which stems from Calhoun’s refusal to play Calipari’s UMass teams in the 90s, is well documented. Carnage could fill the court this weekend if Calhoun whips out his big guns and calls Calipari “Johnny Clam Chowder” (Calhoun’s nickname for Calipari) to his face. And will any of the UConn players actually care/have Calhoun’s back? Doubt that. Highly.

6. Will Greg Paulus see the court? Paulus’ story is perhaps one of the most bizarre and saddest for an athlete who never dealt with tragedy. Most college basketball players improve over time. Paulus went from being recruited by Notre Dame to play quarterback to starting on an ACC Championship team as a freshman to becoming the Blue Devils’ Mark Madsen. It’s truly miraculous that he was able to accomplish this transition, from Bobby Hurley to Madsen, in such a short period of time. Hopefully Duke will be down by 30 points and Paulus gets to end his career where he started it — on the court.

7. Will Hermione Granger fly from Hogwarts to attend her boyfriend’s game (Ron Weasley lookalike Chase Buddinger) against Louisville this weekend? Will they bump brooms if the No. 12 seed Arizona Wildcats upend the Cardinals? We can only pray.

8. What will Jim Boeheim’s wife (Google the ex-Cuse cheerleader) wear this weekend? Will the CBS cameras show more of her or Jim?

9. Who will apply more hair spray: Jay Wright, Johnny Clam Chowder or Rick Pitino. I’m going to go with the chowder man, but we’ll see.

10. Will Barack Obama’s bracket beat Doug Gottlieb’s? If so, will the recession end? If not, will Doug Gottlieb become Obama’s chief advisor? The nation can only hope so.

Hopefully, these questions will be answered in the coming weeks. Hopefully, March will once again become Mad. Hopefully, my pick of Louisville to win it all will come to fruition and salvages my otherwise dreadful bracket. Hopefully, the coming games will be filled with suspense. If not, at least March gave us Siena and Ryan Rossiter. So I guess it’s worth watching to see what happens next. Or what doesn’t.