Thirty-three games this week (hey, the opening round counts), so 33 reasons we love the NCAA tournament:
Thirty three pieces of evidence that Gene is a mental (and comedic) midget.
1. The leader of the free world hates the BCS but loves the playoff format of March Madness. President Barack Obama even filled out a bracket for us. (I'll give him this much: He's no homer. The prez didn't pick Washington, D.C.'s, very own American University of the Patriot League over Villanova.)
He has no connection to American. He never went there. Why is Patriot italicized? I'm hoping it isn't a Patriot Act reference. I'll assume it's not.
Watch -- he'll win the White House office pool but have to give all the cash to AIG.
2. Verne Lundquist. I could listen to Lundquist do play-by-play of U.S. tax code. He understands the game is the star, not he.
3. Screamin' Gus Johnson. The exception to the rule.
So what Gene is probably saying is that he's friends with both these guys, so the fact that their styles are so different is OK. He loves them both. Because he knows them.
4. Redemption. Banished eight long years by the NCAA for money-whipping a recruit's family, former California Bears coach Todd Bozeman is back on the sideline and back in the Big Dance. Weird how it works out.
Ain't sports beautiful? How Reillyesque. Looks like Rick is rubbing off on his ESPN colleagues. Although this is not really an uplifting story. Bozeman was definitely a grade A asshole. In addition to paying at least one player, he was also the subject of a sexual harassment complaint (filed by a student) shortly before leaving Cal.
5. Kobe and KG have won NBA championships, but they'll never know what it was like to do what MJ did -- play in (and win) an NCAA tournament.
Some current NBA stars never played in the NCAA tournament, but others from the past did. Therefore Gene is excited to watch the 2009 tournament. QED.
6. The 10 members of the selection committee probably will never admit it, but here's guessing they're sweating bullets over No. 12 seed Arizona's first-round game against No. 5 seed Utah. The committee invited the Wildcats but stiffed Saint Mary's, which on Tuesday beat Washington State by 11 points in the NIT -- the same Washington State team that beat Arizona by 16 points on Feb. 26.
Gene is very excited to see if Arizona doesn't embarrass itself. Now THAT'S a reason to watch. Also, if team A beats team B, and team B beats team C, then team C should not be in the tournament over team A. Gene will imply this to you as sublty as possible.
Patrick Mills, who would have looked good on CBS air, scored 27 points for the Gaels.
He's a sexy man! Arizona doesn't have any such players, certainly not future NBA first rounders like Jordan Hill or Chase Budinger.
8. Bruce Pearl's orange sport coat. (Because it's the Big Dance, it'd be nice to see Pearl unveil an orange tux.)
9. Rick Pitino's salute-to-the-Bee Gees white suit.
Although idiotic, at least these are literally reasons why someone might be excited about the tournament. As opposed to, say, the fact that Michael Jordan once played in one.
10. Sleeper picks.
11. Boss buttons.
You are a lazy journalist.
12. Planting yourself and your school flag in a Vegas sports book Thursday through Sunday of opening week -- just to hear the groans.
And suddenly, without warning, we've entered a Dane Cook routine.
13. Bill Raftery. "And the kissssss."
No one likes Raftery. No one.
14. The satisfying feeling that comes with knowing that Kentucky is an NCAA tournament no-show, but the coach it all but forced out -- Minnesota's Tubby Smith -- is in.
Apparently Gene and I have something in common- we both enjoy schadenfreude. Still, I'm not sure you can cite the fact that a team didn't qualify for the tournament at all as a reason you're excited to watch it. Unless that team is Duke. Take that, team everyone loves to hate! I hate you too!
15. The microscopic odds of a No. 16 seed's beating a No. 1 seed. It has never happened, which means the newest 16s -- Morehead State, Chattanooga, Radford and East Tennessee State -- are on the clock.
Lazy. So- something crazy could happen. This logic can be used to watch pretty much anything. Hey, you never know when Larry King might keel over and die while doing a broadcast. I think that's reason enough to watch his drivel.
16. Picking Kansas to advance, yet rooting for first-time Big Dance entry North Dakota State to upset the Rock Chalks.
Personally, I picked Gonzaga to get to the sweet 16, but I am FUCKING PUMPED to watch Akron take them on tonight. Totally stoked. (Insert similar logic for any of the other 20-some possible big upsets in the first round.)
17. Figuring out the over/under on how many times UNC coach Roy Williams will cry.
I bet Simmons and House could nail that line before Vegas releases it.
18. Always persuade your ball and chain to fill out a bracket. Mention how many "units" are at stake. She'll become instantly interested in the tournament (even though she doesn't know Robert Morris from Van Morrison) and, in a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, actually encourage you to watch more sports on TV.
So Gene is excited to watch the tournament because he might get permission from his "ball and chain" to do so. Oh, the thrills of marriage!
19. Pep bands, good … male cheerleaders, bad.
Because Gene is a dude, and he likes chicks! Why would he watch dudes... when he could be watching chicks? Or bands? He's totally not gay. And likes bands.
20. Picking the annual 12 versus 5 upset.
But only if his ball and chain lets him!
21. Sixty-four games of hoops heaven.
22. Crammed into a combined 11 days.
Easily the laziest, stupidest items on the list yet. Hey, you know why I enjoy watching the World Series? Between four and seven games of baseball euphoria.
23. There's the 'Cuse, as in Syracuse. But during the Madness, there's the ex-cuse, as in, "What kind of excuse am I going to use to call in sick so I can watch the tournament?"
First the ball and chain, now the boss. It never ends! Also, some words sound like other words.
Some time-honored favorites: grandmother died …
You're a bad person.
stomach virus … caught my neck in the car door.
I LEFT MY DESIRE TO DO WORK IN MY OTHER PANTS! MY DOG ATE IT!
24. It helps the economy: Snack foods, pizza and HDTV sales spike.
25. The mascot box. See how creative mascots can be in their NCAA-designated areas.
This is a great reason to watch sports- to check out things unrelated to sports.
26. To all those BCS honks who insist fans can't make travel arrangements on short notice, I'd like to remind them of the Sunday regional final, followed by the national semifinal the next Saturday. Always seems as though plenty of fans make the trip and fill up those huge indoor stadiums.
Much as I support the idea, 1) short travel arrangements for a football playoff would take place during the holidays as opposed to March and 2) putting 17,000 people in a basketball arena for the regional final is a whole lot different than putting 85,000 people in a football stadium. (His point about the national semifinals and capacity crowds is legitimate. I guess.)
27. It's a bargain: At the regional in Minneapolis, your $180 ticket is good for six games.
So as long as you have the money and time and means to travel to one of the sites, you're in great shape! Gene does (as long as his "old lady" lets him)- so why shouldn't you?
28. Here's what the tournament does to you: Before it's over, there will be a team you've never watched, coached by a guy you've never heard of, played by kids you'll never see in the NBA -- yet you'll be on your knees in front of your plasma rooting … begging like an alumnus for it to pull off the upset.
Alright, you know what, I will non-sarcastically give him this. I went pretty apeshit for George Mason back in 2006, as well as Davidson last year. So I guess this list's retardery only extends to 32 items rather than 33.
29. It's the tournament of guards.
But if it were the tournament of power forwards, no way would Gene be watching. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
30. Other than maybe when the NFL plays its two conference championships on the same day, there isn't a better sports day than the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament. Check that: Semifinal Saturday is the best day in sports.
I can't make up my mind! Help! Or what if it's the first weekend, when the sweet 16 gets finalized? Also, note the logic here: Gene is excited to watch this tournament because it has some pretty great days. And those great days are probably why he's so excited to watch it. Etc., etc.
31. Legends are made. You think Bryce Drew will ever have to buy a meal in the greater Valparaiso, Ind., area again after his buzzer-beater gave 13th-seeded Valpo the improbable win against No. 4 seed Ole Miss in 1998?
Yeah. I bet he does. BECAUSE THE ECONOMY IS BAD, REMEMBER? No, but seriously, I really don't think hitting one first round buzzer beater for an unremarkable school is a ticket for free food for life in that school's town.
Christian Laettner probably won't pay for as much as a parking meter when he visits Durham.
Slightly more plausible given that Duke is actually a basketball school and that happened late in the tournament. Still probably not happening.
32. Disturbing body painting.
33. A tradition like no other? It isn't the Masters,
Turned that one around on you, didn't he? You'll think twice before coming up with your next slogan, Masters people. "I'm lovin' it?" Fuck you, McDonalds. The only thing I'm lovin' right now is the NCAA basketball tournament.
it's net cutting and "One Shining Moment." Gets me every time.
This sums up Gene's interest in the tournament: he really likes the montage they play at the end.
Please, ESPN, I'm asking nicely. Tell this asshole to hit the bricks. Use the money you save on his salary to get Kenny Mayne (or someone else who has a sense of humor) to do more stuff.