Daily Archives: March 14, 2010

My first thoughts on the Madness bracket. And our pop culture hits a new point

This was a strange job done by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Usually, I yell and scream about teams they left out, and some awful teams that they put in.

But this year, with the exception of Florida not being deserving (9-9 in a bad SEC, and they still got in) and Illinois or Va. Tech getting unfairly snubbed, I thought they did very well with picking the field of 65.

But man, the seeding of the teams was horrendous. Beyond horrendous. Truly, mind-blowingly bad. Before I get to the things I like about the brackets, and some early upset picks (can’t give you my Final Four yet, that takes a few days of stewing), here are the most puzzling seeding choices:

— I love Duke more than anyone, but they should’ve been a 2. And West Virginia should’ve been a 1 seed.

— Temple at 5, and Cornell at 12, were both woefully underseeded. Both should’ve been a few spots higher

— Gonzaga is way too good to be an 8 seed. And Notre Dame isn’t worthy of a 6 seed. And you’re telling me Michigan State is only a 5?

— Finally, the committee totally went against its own rules. Sometimes it gave teams who finished strong an advantage (like Ohio State getting a 2). Other times it ignored the end of the season (slumping Villanova got a 2).

And they gave Kansas, the No.1 overall seed, the toughest bracket. The top team is supposed to get the easiest bracket, but Duke, the No.3 overall seed, has the easiest road.

OK, now some good things. I love a few of the 4-13 games for upset possibilities. I can totally see Siena beating Purdue, and Murray State knocking off Vanderbilt. The potential is there for some great 2nd-round games, like Michigan State-Maryland, and Duke-Louisville, and Syracuse-Gonzaga.

As for Duke, I absolutely cannot complain. The only team that truly scares me in their bracket is Baylor, a really good team. Villanova’s slumping big-time, Purdue won’t survive Round 1,and Texas A &M is up and down. As worried as I am about some of Duke’s weaknesses that showed in their ACC Tournament win (Jon Scheyer’s exhausted, nobody on the team is shooting well), I think this is the best possible draw to the Final Four I could’ve hoped for.

Three more days until Thursday. Move, calendar, move!

**So you ever watch something on television and think, “Future generations are really going to be frightened about what we found entertaining?”

Well, I had one of those moments Sunday night. I watched the new NBC show “Minute to Win It.”

I feel this might be the dumbest thing we’ve ever put on the air, and this is coming from a guy who sat through two whole episodes of that Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie “Simple Life” show.

If you were fortunate enough to miss it, here’s a quick recap: It’s a game show, hosted by the super-enthusiastic Guy Fieri. They pick a contestant well in advance, and have them learn and practice 10 mind-numbingly bizarre tasks. Then, on stage in front of an audience, the contestant has to repeat those tasks and do them successfully in one minute.

Some of the tasks on the show I saw Sunday? A man had to pick 150 tissues out of a box, one by one, using only one hand. The same man having to bounce a ping-pong ball off three plates, one at a time, and into a fishbowl.

And still the same man, in perhaps my most jaw-dropping moment of the show, having a pedometer stuck on his forehead, must do 125 head-nods in 60 seconds.

If the contestant can complete 10 of these challenges, they win $1 million.

Seriously, this is a sad, sad moment for our culture. I mean come on, pulling tissues out of a box is entertainment? Picking up paper bags with you teeth, like the woman below?

I don’t weep for the future. I weep for the present, that crap like this is put on network TV. And this is coming from a guy who loves game shows!

Somewhere, Wink Martindale watched this and wept silently into his Metamucil.

My Holy Day has arrived. And my latest brilliant book idea (that no one’s thought of)

Oh, today is such a glorious, glorious day.

Catholics have Easter. Jews have Yom Kippur.

College basketball fans have Selection Sunday. It is our holy day. A day that kicks off the most wonderful, exciting, thrilling sports event in all of the land.

You can have your Super Bowl, your Masters, your Daytona 500, or your World Series. All of those sporting events are great, no argument here.

But give me the NCAA Tournament every day and twice on Sunday, because it’s better than all of ’em. Nothing tops the excitement of the NCAAs. Sixty-four teams, all with a chance. Sixty-four teams, all thinking they can be the Cinderella, and be like George Mason of 2006, or LSU of 1986, or the ultimate miracle team, Villanova 1985.

Give me Keith Smart hitting the championship winner in 1987 for Indiana, or Bryce Drew sinking a crazy 3-pointer for Valparaiso over Mississippi State. Give me driving layups by nobodies from Hampton U. over Iowa State, and give me Danny Manning, carrying Kansas on his back in 1988, all the way to a national title.

Today, the madness truly begins. The word brackets will be uttered so often in the next three weeks, you’ll never want to hear it again. Today the field of 65 (including the play-in game, which is a truly stupid thing the NCAA started a few years ago) is announced, and I’ll be on the edge of my seat, with a pen and paper in hand as Greg Gumbel announces the four regional brackets.

(Why, you may ask, in this age of the Internet, do I still write down the brackets? My wife asks the same thing every year. I do it because I like to look at and study the bracket immediately, during the commercials CBS takes to draw this thing out. Yes, I’m crazy, but I don’t want to wait until the whole thing is revealed to look at it).

I can’t wait to see if Duke gets the No.1 seed it deserves. I can’t wait to see where Siena and Murray State, two teams I’m dying to pick in upsets this year, get placed. And I can’t wait until, a few days from now, all my prognostications go up in smoke as at least one of my Final Four teams is eliminated on the opening weekend.

This is utopia. This is heaven on Earth. This is the NCAA Tournament, and I love it so.

(And yes, of course I’m putting Duke’s last national championship in 2001 up there as my “One Shining Moment” of the day. I’m trying for a good omen here.)

So one day last week my wife comes home and tells me about one of her kids vomiting all over the school nurse, and her floor, after falling ill.

This comes after a few years of hearing stories about kids who almost made it to the nurse’s office when about to hurl, or about kids who said they were fine only, well, they weren’t fine.

And then a lightbulb went off in my head: Wouldn’t it be wildly entertaining to read a book written by an elementary school nurse? Think about it: These wonderful souls, who minister to the little ones, see all kinds of excitement: Lice, kids with fever, kids throwing up, kids fainting. I mean, it’s like a carnival in there!

I swear there’s a bestseller just waiting to be penned. School nurses, I’m here for you if you need a ghostwriter.