It was an absolutely wonderful first four days of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, wasn't it? Even our fellow Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Minnesota Golden Gophers and the like had to concede that it was all pretty fun.
Not me. I entered the tournament just trying to move on from the disastrous Illinois Fighting Illini basketball season with three arrests and nineteen losses and I just wanted to be done with basketball. Many headlines would be made, none about Illinois. Kendrick Nunn came to the rescue, providing an Illinois basketball headline on the first day of the tournament. How lovely.
All I can do now is try to pretend basketball doesn't exist until I get some positive news...but of course this is the biggest basketball event of the year, so that's impossible. Thus, I'd have to suck it up and pull for my conference bretheren.
Nope. Not happening. The incredible bitterness of my own Illinois being left out of the tournament for a third straight year, with no clear hope in sight, would not end up fueling "conference pride." In other words, I was delighted to find out that Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans were in fact merely mortal. I had them going to the finals, and I have no good reason to have any ill will towards Michigan State. However, they have a highly successful football and basketball program, and my school does not, and I like those two things. Therefore,
Yes, this response is just as petulant, childish and unlikable as Anakin Skywalker. Yes, it's also just about as poorly written and directed. Yes, I would love some cheese with this whine.
In theory, the teams that thumped my hapless Illini doing well would reflect a more positive image of how good they actually were independent of their record. In practice, however, with a fourth arrest in a year with 19 losses gaining buzz on social media during the NCAA tournament, no magical Purdue run could have redeemed Illinois. Knowing this, I came away from Thursday's Purdue dicktrip feeling pretty much like this:
I guess Bronson Koenig hit a buzzer beater against some guy named Xavier, so Wisconsin can continue to generally defile basketball against Notre Dame. I want you to have already lost, but Notre Dame is despicable. Not only was Digger Phelps once a thing, but Notre Dame got to not only have Demetrius Jackson instead of us but also got to take him to Champaign to ruin Lou Henson night. I think I speak for everyone here when I throw up just before saying to you:
Good job, Michigan, on allowing Notre Dame to get through to face a 14 seed. Remember that time Devin Gardner threw a pick six against Notre Dame that didn't even make it out of his own end zone? Good. Keep remembering it, because you deserve to relive it.
Then there's those God Damn Blue Teams. Four of them. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina. They've combined for six of the last 10 championships and roughly 50% of the current NBA roster makeup. Three points about them:
1. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all.
2. There's still three of the God Damn Blue Teams left. God Damn Them.
3. I commend the Indiana Hoosiers, their incredibly weird coach and Yogi Ferrell, who was almost certainly spawned from Gary Coleman once wishing there could be a non-midget version of himself.
Tom Crean did everyone a favor by bouncing ol' Johnny Calipers from the tournament, but Roy Williams' UNC Tar Heels, who somehow have yet to face any disciplinary action over the massive academic fraud IN THE WILLIAMS ERA, loom ahead.
Hey, at least the NCAA got SMU before things got out of hand. You know, before academic fraud helped them win the 2005 and 2009 NCAA championships.
Maryland, despite being a 5 seed, has a real chance to win the tournament. This is because they're part of The Club. Membership in The Club is a strong predictor of ability to win the tournament these days. Each of the last 9 (and 11 of the last 12) championship teams were from a program that had already won a national championship in the past. As members of The Club, you're a little less prone to upsets and can sometimes win the championship as an 8 seed. Are you Butler? You're not in the club, and that buzzer beater isn't going in. Are you Illinois? Sean May won't be called for a foul in that title game, because you're not in the club.
Go Maryland, and destroy Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. Marvel at the unbelievably receded hairline of Perry Ellis, and ask yourself "hasn't this guy been on the team for like 10 years?"
This is a stupid rant, and virtually everything in this NCAA tournament either pisses me off or makes me bitter. Some outcomes just produce fewer of those feelings than others. Yes, I should get over it. Yes, I do know that other programs have had it worse than this. Yes, I am emotionally three years old and I'm throwing a tantrum because I didn't get my way.
However, I can't hear you over the sound of Iowa being terrible.