Friday, March 24, 2017

The Big 10 bows out

Actually, the name itself has long been a misnomer. The Big 10 hasn't been 10 for quite some time. They expanded to 12, and are now 14. Yet they persist in that pesky thing called tradition. A great conference from top to bottom? Probably fair enough. But not schools you want to go or send your kids to if one aspires to major in any field that requires simple addition, much less complex math. Not being able to tell the difference between 10, 12, and 14 is a bit troubling.

Nonetheless, they sent fully half (seven) of their teams to the men's NCAA hoops tourney. Very impressive. Not long ago, yours truly predicted there was a good chance that none would survive the first four days of play and make it through to the Sweet Sixteen. I was wrong. Of COURSE I was wrong. I'm ALWAYS wrong when it comes to such predictions. You don't want me rooting for your team.

But I was close. None of them made it to the Elite Eight. Down the rest of them went. Michigan had a great chance to knock off Oregon, but they choked it away in the waning seconds of the game. See ya Blue.

Purdue and the much-hyped Caleb Swanson got pummeled by Kansas. Try 32 points worth. Mr. Swanson got nuked like his namesake TV dinners.

Others had meekly bowed out earlier. No surprise there.

Finally only Wisconsin remained. Though they put up a valiant fight, the Badgers finally succumbed to the Florida Gators in overtime.

And now there are none. See ya, Big 10, 14, whatever. Not even a single representative in the Elite Eight, let alone the Final Four? For shame.

Yet some interesting match-ups definitely remain to be played. Perennial heavyweights Kentucky and North Carolina will duke it out next.

Small schools Gonzaga and Xavier square off. How can anybody root against either one of these guys? But one of them has to go tomorrow.

Mighty Kansas will take on the Oregon Ducks, in Kansas City. Doesn't seem fair. But the Ducks have surprised a lot of people along the way. Don't count them out just yet.

And Florida and South Carolina, of all teams, will lock horns for a berth in the Final Four. A #4 and #7 seed made it this far? Really?

This tournament has definitely featured its fair of surprises along the way.

In the Final Four, one half would appear to be much more formidable than the other. Oregon aside, and they're a #3 seed, not bad, one side includes UNC, Kentucky, and Kansas. Murderer's row. All but one has to fall before the championship game.

On the flip side are Gonzaga, Xavier, Florida, and South Carolina. Whoever emerges to the final game would certainly seem to have had a much less difficult road to get there.

But ya never know. Conventional wisdom, and the prognosticators at Sports Illustrated, who are, BTW, even worse than yours truly at their fearless, if foolish, futile, and follyish predictions, long ago picked the Tar Heels to win it all.

And they just might. From top to bottom, they're certainly a "complete" team, with a coach that has been there done that. Yet so are the Kentucky Wildcats, but one of them is going down in the next game.

Idle thought: Recently, KU coach John Calipari was referred to as the "best politician" in Kentucky. No doubt, he has a line of s**t a mile long, definitely a prerequisite. But dang, isn't that McConnell guy -- you know -- the top banana in the US Senate, from the bluegrass state as well? And a college basketball coach can't out-bull a heavyweight BSer like that? Wow. Scary. Maybe JC's in the wrong business. Or then again, who needs another one of those slick talking shyster types making the rules we oppressed masses have to live by? Even more scary.

But on with the show and let the best team win, or better yet, one of the little guys. How great would that be?

Meanwhile, I'm going back to watching Geno's Bambinos at UConn continue their march towards whatever marks they haven't already set. Truly an amazing program. It would be difficult to argue Auriemma and the Lady Huskies haven't become the greatest dynasty the sports world has ever known. But because they're girls, they don't get as much attention.

That's just wrong.

Where, pray tell, are all the legions of "politically correct" fanatics screaming in outrage when you really need them?

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