Here’s what you won’t be reading today at Wide World of Stuff: A several-hundred word rant on the incredibly disappointing and sucky Duke men’s basketball team, which for the 2nd time in three years got bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by a vastly less-heralded team.
You won’t be reading that because since the game happened Friday afternoon, I’ve had more than 48 hours to stew about it, rant about it to my friends, and basically process it through my sports digestive system.
Instead, I want to talk about some of the other incredible stuff that’s happened in the first few days of March Madness, the greatest event in sports:
— Like the North Dakota State upset over Oklahoma on Friday night, which led to this awesome dancing from players and coach…
And the dancing from that Mercer kid I know I’m already sick of, Kevin Canavari, who played six minutes in their win over Duke but hey, kid’s entitled to celebrate:
— One of the constant themes of just about every upset, or blown lead (I’m looking at you, N.C. State): Missed free throws. It’s the easiest shot in the game, the one where no one guards you, yet every year at crunch time players miss ’em. Crazy.
— Not shocking that Duke or Kansas lost early, because they were led by freshmen and sophomores. That’s why Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, and North Dakota State’s wins weren’t shockers; those teams have been playing together for years, not months. They know each other’s games so well.
— I know a lot of people don’t like Charles Barkley as an announcer, and I don’t like him sometimes, too. But he is damn funny.
— Dear CBS: We don’t need to see a little boy in the stands crying over Kansas about to lose, SEVEN times in the last few minutes of the Stanford upset over the Jayhawks. I mean, OK, show the kid once for the human drama, but to keep going back to it is cruel.
— I know that No. 15 Eastern Kentucky didn’t end up beating Kansas, and No. 16 Coastal Carolina lost their steam and fell to No. 1 seed Virginia, but those moments, where the underdog is winning in the second half and their bench is going crazy and the crowd starts to believe this really can happen? Best part of the Tournament, every year.
— Best team I saw over the first four days: Wisconsin. Second-best? Florida.
— Finally, I can’t tell you how infuriating I found that Chris Webber/Burger King commercial, though not as infuriating as any Michigan fan surely did. Chris Webber, if you don’t know, was a major star at UM in the early 1990s, leading the Wolverines to two nat’l title game appearances. You won’t find any of those wins Webber led Michigan to in the NCAA record books, because thanks to Webber taking cash and benefits from agents, all those wins were wiped out.
Michigan was also put on probation thanks to Webber, and the sanctions set the program back years.
And now here he is in 2014, 20 years later, wearing a maize and blue Michigan jersey in a Burger King commercial, making money for himself off his association with Michigan basketball! The chutzpah, the gall, the whatever, of Webber to do that is mind-boggling.
**Next up today, you may have heard that Fred Phelps, leader of the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church and one of the most odious human beings who ever lived, died last week.
Rachel Maddow beautifully dissects the “positive” legacy of Phelps. This piece is so worth your time, to reaffirm that so much hate, can breed so much love and compassion:
**And finally, Jimmy Fallon and Billy Joel team up for an awesome musical duet, doing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” thanks to a cool iPad app called Looper.
Seems like Fallon can get his musical guests to do anything.