You Have 24 Hours To Howl At the Moon, So Make It Count!

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The annual NCAA Tournament “Day of Outrage” is upon us! It’s a good 24 hour (or less) bloodletting of all things unjust, incomprehensible, and downright wrong, wrong… WRONG!

Then come Tuesday…. it’s all about… “Sooooo.. what 5-12 upset do you have in your bracket?”

This year, the Cinderella of the Snubs was Syracuse and the (soon to be) outgoing Jim Boeheim. The Orange had plenty of top-shelf wins (although none on the road) and the pedigree of being a National Championship program with a Hall of Fame coach going for them.

They also had the benefit of proving the Committee right last year, by taking their gift-wrapped 10th seed and running all the way with it to the Final Four.

Well, not this year Mr. Piggy. Sorry, bud.

As a consolation “prize”, Syracuse will open the NIT… against UNC-Greensboro. Perfect. The same sleepy Carolina burgh Boeheim dissed last week when he said holding the ACC Tournament there had… “no value, none.”

The argument for Syracuse is probably a bit weak. The argument against it, certainly stronger. Then you get into all of the stacking, matching, number crunching, and “what-about-ing” that fills 3 hour blocks of time on ESPN.

And this, THIS… is exactly what keeps the NCAA Tournament Great, with a Capital G!

Without the pain and agony, and teeth gnashing of missing the Big Dance, the joy of making it would hardly taste so sweet. Thank god we have left behind the inane theories of how easy it would be to expand this event to 96, and beyond.

That premise seems as dead as the NFL’s 18-game schedule these days, and that’s how it should be.

I still get a little¬†giddy when I see the “team-cam” celebrations of programs sitting around the television. You simply cannot stage that emotion, or fake that energy.

Even programs that have been there before, and will be there again, relish that magical moment of seeing their name up on the big board with a sea of opponents stretched out in front of them. Even though you and I have seen somebody like Wisconsin make the dance 18 years in a row, for a 19 year old kid on that team it’s new to him! And it, is, awesome.

Every year the pundits on TV seem to forget the immutable truth of this impossible task of making 68 Universities happy, and the other 279 satisfied with your reasons for rejection.

Nothing a committee produces is going to be very good, much less perfect. They say “a camel is a horse… designed by committee.”

Every year the committee adds more ingredients to the stew. When I was a young man calling games for UC Santa Barbara, it was literally two things: 20 wins, and a Top-50 RPI. If you had both, you were golden!

Now there’s more 3-letter statistical seasonings, mythical soft-evaluations like “the eye test” and the parsing of “quality wins vs. bad losses.”

And it’s fine and fun to debate, up to a point. What becomes unwatchable for me is when the most strident pundits like Jay Bilas and Doug Gottleib can’t even muster up something akin to: “Well… I understand their argument, I just disagree with their premise.”

Instead, there’s always this air of painting the committee as morons, or corrupt. All the while, I’ve never seen a Jay Bilas produce his own hand-crafted bracket just hours before the official reveal.

If he did, then at least we could nitpick HIS surely imperfect Field of 68. “Bilas has Carolina as a 3 seed! IDIOT!”

The on-line bracketologists meanwhile brag about having gotten 67 of 68 entrants correct. Never mind the fact that 32 of them were automatic bids. Doesn’t that make them at best, 35 for 36? And in reality they’re more like 5 for 6 on the universally identified “Last In/Last Out” list.

If the bracketologists could get 67 of 68 correct the day after the Super Bowl – and not 2 hours before the Selection Show – then I’d be impressed! And if the super-smart college basketball pundit class actually produced their own brackets dripping in righteousness, then I’d take their annual Sunday/Monday carping about the committee more seriously.

In the meantime, let’s all just shut up… and get ready to dance!

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The NCAA and even the NIT are great at making mundane games fairly interesting. “Hey you are a big name school who has refused to play the smaller state school in your state for the past 20 years because you have nothing to gain from it…sounds good we will match you up in the first or second round!”

  2. Good thoughts Czabe. I really think there is very little to grip about this year, yeah if you want say Illinois St should be in over USC or a 9th team (Wake Forest) from the ACC, I can go with that.

    Great seeing you down at the Big 10 Friday!

  3. I want to know who bought the 200 seats right behind the bench and failed to have 95% of them occupied.
    Can we name names?

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