Traditionally, one of the first two days of the NCAA Tournament is crazy and the other is dull. Yesterday was the dull day. Only two lower seeded teams won, one of which was actually favored and the other was playing perennial choking dog Maryland, so does either even count? There were only like two exciting finishes all day. Overall, it wasn’t the best March Madness day I’ve ever seen. Mostly because absolutely nothing went my way.
Obviously Minnesota lost. I declared them my team before the brackets came out, and they laid down against Middle Tennessee State. They got screwed by their seeding. They weren’t a five seed. They should have been a 7 seed and got a nice matchup with a 10 seed. That’s when you can take teams by surprise and build some momentum. Tough to win when you’re the team everyone is mad at for being seeded too high. It put a huge bullseye on their backs to go with the bullseye that was already there when I picked them. The signs were clearly there for an early exit. If I had less fortitude and commitment, I probably would have changed my pick after the bracket came out. But I didn’t, so now I need to pick up the pieces and move on. I don’t even know who to root for now. My other team UVM lost (I really thought they were gonna do it, but they just died in the second half). My other other team Oregon doesn’t have much of a chance to go deep without Chris Boucher. My other other other team Dunk City is out, too. I guess Gonzaga because they’re playing Northwestern next? Seton Hall since I think they’re the last team with a pirate mascot left? I think I have to wait until someone captures my attention before I commit. I don’t want to be hurt like this again.
The second, and you could argue worse, bad thing that happened was Northwestern winning. Not only winning, but snatching victory from the clenched jaws of defeat because of a brain fart from Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis (who everyone will forget had a good game before inexplicably fouling while up one with 10 seconds left). The following show of excess can only be described as predictable. Hey did you know this was Northwestern’s first tournament appearance and first win? I didn’t! You knew the myriad of media members who just now decided to go over-the-top with their devotion to their alma mater would act like they just won the championship, but the actual players did, too! It was the craziest scene I’ve ever witnessed. You’d think the Wildcats just beat the Cavs in a 7-game series for the NBA title. I mean, look at this:
— Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk) March 16, 2017
At some level, I get it. I’m not a total curmudgeon. This is their first tournament after almost 80 years of never making it. And Doug Collins’ son is the coach. But, come on, man. It was a FIRST ROUND GAME. AGAINST VANDERBILT! Not Kentucky, not North Carolina, but famed basketball power Vanderbilt. And he’s bawling. And it’s not like he’s the only one, either. He at least has the excuse that his son is the coach. What about the Mike Wilbons, Mike Greenbergs, and Darren Rovells of the world that already act like attending Northwestern makes them vastly superior to us normals, but now have the trump card of one (1) tournament win (as a higher seed) they can throw out now? It’s sickening. I can only pray that Gonzaga wins tomorrow, but I’m not feeling good about it. Literally all the pressure is on Gonzaga: they’re the number one seed with a history of choking vs an upstart with nothing to lose (it’s Northwestern’s first tournament appearance, if you hadn’t heard). Northwestern making the second weekend and subjecting America to another week of their alumni jerking off to themselves in everyone’s face was already a worst-case scenario. If they beat a number one seed to do it? Now we’re talking about Armageddon. Imagine a group of people with a combination of the arrogance of Patriots fans and the look-at-me-my-team-finally-won-let-me-make-it-all-about-myself euphoria of Cubs fans. Then add in the academic smugness that naturally comes from attending one of America’s most prestigious universities. Then put every single one of those people on TV every day for the next month. Doesn’t that sound great? Doesn’t that sound like a team you can rally behind? Gonzaga has to win. They just have to. And that’s why I’m worried. Obviously the committee rigged it for Northwestern since they all have so many friends in the media and gave them the only one seed they could beat. Gonzaga is so obviously going to lose I might not even watch it. I might not watch the rest of the tournament since I’m sure Northwestern will somehow make the Final Four. Call me a hypocrite if you want since I’m a noted Patriots hype man and have recently written about my own alma mater, but at least my team’s have won something in the last 100 years. All those people have is a diploma from probably the best journalism school in the country and cushy TV jobs. So, the way I look at it, I come out of this the winner, anyway.