NCAA Tournament is Over: Pros and Cons

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The NCAA College basketball tournament is over.  March Madness has now segued into April Actually-Pretty-Calm-Ness.  With my bracket looking like Nagasaki after the A-Bomb hit, and my eyes still burning from watching what turned out to be one of the lamest Championship games in recent memory, I decided today to sit back and reflect on what I’ll miss. . .and what I won’t miss about the NCAA Tourney coming to a close.

I’ll Miss the Insane Upsets

The NCAA tournament this year was rife with wild upsets, deep runs into the tournament by unlikely squads and a whole lot of puns involving the name Shaka Smart.  Smart, the coach of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, lead his team on one of the more improbable runs the tournament has seen by any squad not named George Mason.

Many pundits were critical of the Rams even making the tournament and they found themselves being panned as one of the weakest teams to make the cut.  But, like the okay-looking guy that hangs around the girl of his dreams in those terrible tweenage-angst movies, they kept fighting, seized every opportunity, and hung around long enough to make the final four.

March Madness is unique in that it provides us all with a glimpse into the human psyche.  We like surprises.  We like people and teams that aren’t particularly famous or rich, or in this case highly ranked, to show that with enough belief in oneself and enough effort good things can happen.  That’s what I’ll miss about March Madness.

I’ll Miss Being Inundated with Basketball Talk

I’ll miss having the tournament dominate the sports world.  I’ll miss turning on the TV and flipping between four good basketball games at once while desperately trying to remember if I picked Morehead State to upset Louisville (I didn’t), and attempting to come up with some kind of mathematical formula to scientifically prove that John Calipari is a bigger sleazebag than a used car salesman (I couldn’t).

Now, although I’m personally NBA-obsessed, baseball is here and I’ll have to listen to talk about teams I don’t care about wearing pants that are too tight.  Great.

I’ll Miss the Raw Emotion of College Sports

The unfiltered, unadulterated joy and pain of the NCAA tournament is something that has stuck with me through the years.  As an athlete I could readily identify with the hollowed out anguish, the carving up of your dreams before your very eyes, that can occur during a particularly big loss and as a now-washed-up-former-athlete I can still find myself cheering wildly as I see some 19-year-olds throwing their arms to the sky and rocketing emotionally towards the upper firmament.

College sports gives us the passion in a way that can sometimes seem lacking when athletes at the pro level get paid win or lose.  I’ll miss that sensation of purity that comes along with the NCAA tourney.

I Won’t Miss Bob Knight

I like a good deal of the college basketball commentators and commend CBS for bringing in the most fun basketball analysts around, the crew from TNT’s NBA coverage featuring Charles Barkley among others.  However, as the March Madness hype builds and crescendos into the tournament I grew a little tired of two analysts in particular.

A surly, ego-maniacal dictator in his coaching days Knight has merely morphed into the disenfranchised old codger on ESPN.  He doesn’t bring much to broadcasts or pre and post game specials.  His “color” commentary is as riveting as C-Span and as bland as chewing on a stick of chalk.

Cashing in on his name and his pedigree, having won 3 NCAA titles, Knight has somehow fooled the executives at ESPN into hiring him as a sometime color commentator for games.  In reality the only color he brings to the set is the iridescent skin tone of his face, which fluctuates from “Bill Clinton red” to “creepy-homeless-guy-who-drinks-mouthwash fuchsia” to “Snookie orange” and back again. 

While Knight’s coaching prowess is certainly not in question, his ability to bring anything worthwhile to a broadcast surely is.  His drab, morose pining for the “good old days of college basketball” sound like the commentary for the DVD extras of “Grumpier Old Men.”

I Won’t Miss Dick Vitale, Either

I know it’s pretty tired to harp on Dicky V, and he’s as much a fixture on March Madness as there is, but by the end of the college season I can’t take his grating, insane voice.  It’s like he’s pistol-whipping my ears.  By the end of March Madness I simply want for Vitale to head back to his retirement community in Boca Raton or crawl back under his rock in Mike Krzyzewski’s backyard where he can wait, looking more like Gollum every year, for Duke’s first game so he can come screaming back.  And I do mean screaming.

I Won’t Miss the Word “Cinderella”

This one’s fairly self-explanatory.  Every thirty seconds during the tournament we are subjected to hearing grown men reference a child’s tale over and over again.  At a certain point, we’re going to need to find a new cliché to utilize for teams.  I’d even settle for the tired-ass “David and Goliath” references. 

Personally, I think we’re under-using “Rocky III” references in our culture today.  (*Author’s note: “Rocky III” reference count in Burnpoetry postings has now reached 2,816)

In Summation

The NCAA Tournament is amazing.  Do I have a few gripes?  Of course I do.  I always have to try to get in my pitch for the prestigious “Hater of the Year Award.”  But the simple fact of the matter is that the tourney’s good moments, breath-taking emotion, and raw excitement far outweigh any negatives that even I could think of. 


  1. Sue Tolles says:

    . It was funny to watch everyone’s brackets crumble. To hear many question VCU….Who??? The raw emotions of college sports is what draws me. I am glad basketball is over.

  2. madhat says:

    I appreciate that you still hold onto the dream – with enough belief and enough effort…

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