"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
The insanity is here. The annual craziness that is college basketball at its peak has arrived. The nuttiness is now posted on office bulletin boards from coast to coast. The wackiness that takes over for a few weeks has begun. The delusions of grandeur that have sports fans thinking that they know college basketball are in full bloom. Psychosis and schizophrenia would be complimentary descriptions of the mental state of most self-proclaimed experts. The absurdity and impracticality of knowing who is going to win each game and, more importantly for many, by how much according to Las Vegas dictates, touches the mountain tops of illogicality.
It all begins with the controversial selections that are always made by people that I do not believe have watched anything more than old tapes of the 1956 season. The selection committee throws darts to come up with 65 team, and they are saved by conference champions that eliminate much of the hand-picking or weeding-out per se.
As has been the case for years, it is impossible to predict the winners and that is why everyone from New York to Los Angeles is going to attempt to be Kreskin. Upsets will create mercurial repositioning and unanticipated Cinderellas will emerge every hour on the hour.
The number one seeds are Arizona, Kentucky, Texas and Oklahoma. An afternoon of beets and crawfish salads awaits the final two capped off by breakfast at Brennan's in New Orleans. However, let us view the absence of genius on the part of the selection committee, the total void where there should have been common sense. The two best teams are, heading into play this week, Arizona and Kentucky. Stands to reason when examining their records and standings in the polls from start to finish. But, they are on the same side of the bracket and could be headed to a great semi-final game, not the championship battle that most would want.
The Longhorns and Sooners come from the Big 12, the fourth straight year that two top seeds arrive from the same conference. Kansas won the regular season championship, but they are hanging around Anaheim until, possibly, March 29th or, better yet, April 5th when they could be off to New Orleans.
The selection committee never - and I mean never - fails to mystify. North Carolina-Ashville from the Big South is the only team in the tournament with a losing record. Auburn and Alabama, from the Southeastern Conference, should be home on the plantation milking Mint Juleps but they are in.
The Big 12 has almost the entire conference in the tournament - six bids but no Texas Tech or Bobby Knight, excluded for the first time since 1985. He should be in there just for the color he brings to the tournament and the ratings on the tube.
Bobby Knight will have to settle with his Texas Tech team receiving only a NIT bid.
The Big East was slighted when Boston College and Seton Hall were ignored. Both the Eagles and Pirates finished strong but did not do well in the conference tournament, about the only thing that anyone on the selection committee ever watches. Besides, BC tied Connecticut for first place in their division.
There are 34 at-large teams and one would have to hope that the committee knew more about college basketball than they do?which is about as much as you know about competing with Emeril in a cooking contest. They went after some mid-major schools like Gonzaga (West Coast Conference), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley) and Butler (Horizon). But, when all three lose in the first round, if they do, so much for being kind.
No one in the Mid-West should be able to take out Kentucky unless they bring missiles with them. Arizona will cruise in the West, not that far from home, until it runs into Duke after the Blue Devils tough it out against Kansas. Make it Duke/Kentucky in the semi-final game on April 5th. Texas is not a lock in the south but being in San Antonio will help them until they run into Maryland or Connecticut. At that point, it is a toss-up. Oklahoma could lose to a Syracuse club spurred on by a partisan crowd up in East Albany, New York; but Wake Forest is lurking in the weeds ready to disembowel the Orangemen while cutting off their route to the semis.
What does all that mean? Kentucky and Arizona (with Duke the potential upset specialist here), Texas with upsets being planned by Maryland or Connecticut and Syracuse or Wake Forest. So take out a couple of pools and hedge your bet(s).
Mix with water and everyone is a specialist. The authoritative voices on college basketball are everywhere. No, Pittsburgh will not pull the upset of the tournament and send Tubby Smith and his wildcats home in disgrace. Discount Arizona's loss to UCLA as disinterest and figure that they will blow Vermont out of the arena. By 25 or more? Probably not because of sympathy and bench clearing ineptitudes and failings.
This is not the time of the year when anyone wants to set himself up as the black belt of college basketball. The sharks are circling and the knowledgeable are out there purchasing as many darts as they can. Ouija boards are in short supply. The well-informed are about as plentiful as magnolias near the Arctic Circle.
That is why they call it Madness. If this was a court of law, commitment would be a welcome respite and pleas of insanity the only alternative open to any of you. How good is a professional opinion from an expert that watches sports day and night? You gotta be kidding!