Let the immoral behavior – err – madness begin
No sporting event incites more immoral behavior than the NCAA basketball tournament, which begins Thursday and Friday with 32 games.
Illegal gambling, unkept promises and bald-faced lies. That’s what March Madness is really about. From office pools to missed dental and doctor appointments to perfectly timed feigned illnesses, the NCAA brings out the worst in people.
There are at least 20 reasons why fans lose all sense of reality for the next three weeks.
1.) Dick Vitale’s original basketball shtick is confined to the studio. You won’t hear him spew such nonsense as “There goes Steve Francis in for a dipsy-do dunkaroo. Francis is a PTPer, baby.”
2.) Vitale always makes an outlandish bet against an underdog and loses. The zany basketball announcer has stood on his head before millions of viewers because he can’t keep his mouth shut. He’ll probably go out on a limb and say Duke will tear down the nets in St. Petersburg, Fla., or “I’ll take a month’s vacation during basketball season next year.”
3.) To see for yourself if North Carolina Charlotte’s Diego Guevara really does blow kisses when he drains a 3-point shot. Imagine Guevara and Dennis Rodman on the same team.
4.) Do the Florida A&M Rattlers possess the venom to beat the 46-point spread against tournament favorite Duke in the first round?
5.) Can anyone come within 10 points of the Blue Devils? Such a feat should be worth a free pass into the next round since Duke has won 29 of its 32 games by 10 or more points.
6.) To see if officials check Mount Mary’s freshman center Melvin Whitaker for a box cutter? Only kidding. This young man served two years in prison for slashing a football player’s face with box cutter while at Virginia.
7.) What will Charleston coach John Kresse say when his 28-2 club is required to play Duke in the second round. Considering Kresse and his bunch have won 25 consecutive games, including a win over North Carolina, the eighth-seeded Cougars are deserving of a better bracket.
8.) What will “Coach K” say when his Blue Devils are eliminated by Charleston in the second round? A guess: “How could the tournament committee put them in our bracket. They should have been a No. 1 seed. Maybe we should let them join the ACC next year.”
9.) How long will the Pac-10’s four entrants (Arizona, Stanford, Washington and UCLA) last? Although three of these teams have been in and out of the Associated Press Top 10 Poll this season, only Arizona seems to be playing well heading into the tournament.
10.) Which Stanford team show up. The one that convincingly won its first outright Pac-10 title in 57 years or the one that was blown out by Oregon State 59-45 on Saturday night?
11.) Which No. 16 seed – Winthrop, Texas-San Antonio, Florida A&M or Mount St. Mary’s – will provide the first upset of a top seed? Shouldn’t these teams be in the NCAA Division II tournament?
12.) Will UCLA finally revert to its unmatched tournament success and make another title run? Don’t count on it. With do-it-all guard Baron Davis ailing, the Bruins will probably be upset by Detroit Mercy, a school formerly coached by Vitale, in the first round.
13.). What’s a Golden Flash, and what does the mascot look like? Stay tuned. Hopefully Kent can dance long enough to maximize their super-hero-like nickname.
14.) The most common nickname in the 64-team field is Wildcats. NCAA pool hint: You can’t go wrong selecting Wildcats as the eventual champion since the past three tournament winners (Kentucky twice and Arizona once) share that mascot. Longshots Winthrop and Villanova are the other Wildcats on this year’s dance card.
15.) Bobby Knight has become accustomed to first-round exits. This year the George Washington Colonials will look to do the trick.
16.) At 27-4 and winners of 22 straight games, WAC champion Utah should feel slighted as the second seed in the Midwest. The Utes, last year’s runner-up, should be No. 1 or 2 seed in the West. They’ll be on a mission, just like some of their missing players from last year’s Cinderella club.
17.) With many homes now equipped with satellite dishes, viewers won’t be limited to regional telecasts and split-screen coverage. Now, maybe Americans do have more freedom than the rest of the world.
18.) Roy Williams hasn’t been able to take Kansas past the Elite Eight with championship-caliber teams recently, but is this the Jayhawks’ year since expectations are low?
19.) Were the penalties for Cal’s recruiting infractions during the Todd Bozeman era too lenient? Even though Bozeman is gone, maybe the NCAA is making amends. The Golden Bears weren’t granted a dancing invitation despite wins over tournament selections North Carolina, UCLA, Arizona and Rhode Island.
20.) Can Tayshaun Prince, who was chucking up 25- to 30-foot 3-point shots against the South Tahoe High Vikings 15 months ago, help lead Kentucky to its fourth straight appearance in the finals?
Whew, there’s so much excitement ahead of us that I better cancel my dental appointment and see if the kids will give up their Saturday morning cartoons for the rest of March.
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