As usually happens this time of year, the NCAA has decided to conduct a basketball tournament. Once again, that august body’s Selection Committee closeted themselves in a luxury hotel, not emerging until they had thoroughly screened and vetted both the potential teams and room service options. We have the Final Sixty-Five.
The NCAA Tournament will again somehow be held without participation by Virginia Tech. Well, the NCAA does have a lot of practice in how to hold them without the Hokies. Seth’s claim of ‘We’re a good team because we almost won more games’ made no more impression on the committee than it did last year, or all the other times Seth has used it. Ending up eight in a seven-bid league generally means no bid. It’s back to the NIT for Tech and Seth. Maybe this time the Hokies will make it to Seth’s beloved New York City.
With Tech not in the tournament, that perhaps means that Comcast will allow me to watch it. That would be unlike the Second Half of Friday’s Tech-Heels game. The picture went black from what WDBJ described as Comcast ‘losing’ the signal. As Comcast executives crawled around under desks and poked through closets exclaiming .’Anybody seen a signal? We had it a minute ago, it must be around here somewhere’ I expended a bit of profanity in the direction of those clowns and raced pell mell for the nearest satellite-equipped watering hole, listening along the way to ISP’s Wes Durham claiming that the referees were handing Carolina the game. Woody no doubt exclaimed, “You Elon loon” and sent young Wes to his hotel room without his supper. Considering how the game ended, I should have stayed home staring at the ‘No signal’ scrawled across my television screen in stunning high definition.
Tech had once again managed to bumble its way into the ACC Tournament needing more wins to justify inclusion. This was a repeat of last year’s scenario, with the added bonus of Tech needing more conference tournament wins since the record wasn’t as good as last year’s. It still isn’t.
After dusting fellow underachiever the Canes in the opening round, Tech found itself up against Carolina. The Tech-Heels basketball games have become the reverse of the football ones, with the team expected to win somehow finding a way to do so. Postgame bitching by the knuckle-draggers among the message board set have also become the reverse of each other. Complaints of foul officiating play by the Tech loons following Saturday’s game read exactly like those made by the Tar loons last September. How does Little Johnny find the time to juggle all of those conspiracies?
The Net can make for great hilarity and not just observing the loons bitching cherneying on message boards. For instance, there is my Inbox. For the most part, I rather enjoy the give and take that comes from e-mail, even from those who disagree with me, as often happens. For the most part, I am dealing with reasonable and intelligent people. There are, however, exceptions. There will come a time when the e-mails pass from friendly discussion into loonishness cherneying, going on and on with message after message in increasingly-belligerent tones, long after I have requested their cessation. Although it has been years since I have had to kill-file cherney somebody, when cherneyed enough, I will cherney back.
Back to other matters at hand. Carolina had entered the ACC Tournament with star point guard Ty Lawson taking the weekend off. As the good old N&O was loud in its claims that the Heels were the only team to ever have to deal with an injury, Ol’ Roy made little secret of his disdain for the annual league get-together. These were no doubt reassuring words to all of those in the hospitality industry dependent on those Carolina fans who flock to the tournament by the thousand to observe their Heels.
Ol’ Roy opined that he would just as soon quickly lose in the ACC tournament and get Ty’s toe back in a Blue Heaven whirlpool. He had bigger fish to fry, that being the tournament that begins Thursday, unless you are a fan of whoever it is playing in the play-in game for the right to provide a scrimmage for Louisville. An immediate problem cropped up for Carolina when Tech refused to cooperate. The minor detail of finding a team that could actually beat the Heels was solved the next day when Florida State took the floor. Ol’ Roy has rarely shown such enthusiasm towards a winning coach as he did while pumping the hand of Leonard Hamilton and exclaiming, “Thanks, man. We’re outta here.”
The Noles’ reward for knocking off Carolina was a meeting with the ACC’s other blueblood for the championship. Coach K takes the ACC shindig a bit more seriously than does Ol’ Roy and by mid-afternoon Duke had ended its two-year hiatus from net-clipping. The Devils won their 8th ACC championship in the last 11 years. The ACC affair is not back to being the Coach K Invitational and won’t, at least until Wojo, Chris Collins and Nate James quit whiffing on all the big men and Carolina brings back Matt. But, there sure are a lot of conference trophies piling up in the Cameron lobby.
Not counting that goofy reward for those two teams judged by the NCAA to be the absolute worst in the field, beginning Thursday the attention of the basketball world will be riveted to the NCAA Tournament for the next three weeks. It won’t be entirely bereft of participation by the Greenberg family. We will get to see the Greenberg brother who spends games actually coaching his team instead of engaging in sideline histronics. We will have to be quick because we won’t be seeing him for long, as the Highlanders open with Carolina. It shouldn’t matter much if Ol’ Roy elects to make it a Casual Thursday game by going Ty-less again.
Despite the FSU loss, the Tar Heels still managed to horn in on the #1 seed domination of the field by the Biggie E. While the Big South’s token representative should not do much more than provide token opposition, Carolina will need a healthy Lawson to make it back to their Final Four birthright. They ain’t the same team without him. If he is ready, able and rarin’ to go, the Heels should make it to Detroit.
If the tournament goes according to form, although it never does, Pitt would await the Heels. Tyler the Good vs. Blair would be interesting in a sumo wrestling kind of way. They would likely throw salt before entering the jump circle. The Panthers might be a dicey proposition to hold up their side of the deal, however. The team most built for the ‘No MRI, No Foul’ barroom brawl nature of Biggie E basketball has often experienced trouble in the NCAA’s. All it takes is one set of officials a bit more attuned to a finesse game and it is Adios, Panthers.
Around the rest of the field, John Calipari of Memphis gets to again play the ‘No Respect’ card as he continues to pine for a 17-team Even Bigger E. Jeff Capel might have an opportunity to engage again in something with which he has great familiarity, losing to Carolina, this time as a coach. Somebody from the Big 11 will attempt to justify showering that league with bids. Duke will continue to advance unless they do not, which is when they run into a team with a decent inside game and/or the Devils’ 3-point shots don’t drop.
There is always a sleeper in the field that charges out of nowhere to capture the tournament’s imagination. I proclaim this year’s to be VCU. That, of course, means the Rams will lose by 30 to UCLA.Might as well get my brackets wrecked early.