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All Things Basketball

'It's the most wonderful time of the year!'

Just be grateful you can't hear me sing. The tournament is here and all is right with the world, even if my brackets are toast already.

We did have a couple upsets. Most notably Bucknell becoming the first Patriot League representative to ever win a tournament game. Time for some horn-tooting. I picked the Bison. I know, I read the book 'Last Amateurs' by John Feinstein which detailed a season in the Patriot League and pointed out that no Patriot League team has ever won in the dance, and I remember secretly rooting for the Patriot League teams ever since and seeing them always lose, and this year when it came time to make the picks I took Bucknell, thinking 'what the hell am I doing.' I guessed right. Elsewhere Vermont took out one of my Sweet 16 teams, Syracuse, UAB won again, and UW-Millwaukee beat Alabama, but who didn't have that? Another major upset was ODU coach Blaine Taylor keeping the fake 'stach from falling off for a full 40 minutes. I mean geez, that thing was hideous. It was also nice seeing Del. State picking Duke apart for a half. They lost because they didn't have the athletes to finish it off and they couldn't do a thing to stop Duke's offense, but their strategy of having four guys get out of the way while the ball handler blows past the D seemed effective. Too bad not one coach who faces Duke from here on out will use that. One thing hurting my picks was taking Creighton as a Sweet 16. Way to get back on D with 5 seconds left in a tie guy fellas. Meanwhile Southern Illinois beat St Mary's. I usually root for the mid-major, but who exactly is the mid-major here? Oh right, no one, both the WCC and the MVC are major conferences now. The WAC is a mid-major, but no one cares, because folks just can't take your conference seriously if it stretches through six time zones. Oh, and how exactly do you pronounce Fairleigh Dickinson? Is that a long A or a short A? Ah who cares, it's Illy heading to round two.

Let's talk about the ads. Diet Coke has an ad with a very hot blond on roller skates and some crappy song. Look, I know the music sucks, she's not really a blond, and I would never drink Diet Coke, but she is hot. Meanwhile there's some ad mentioning former Duke Blue Devil Greg Koubek which claims he 'lead Duke to four consecutive Final Fours culminating in the 1991 National Championship.' Aren't we stretching it a bit saying Koubek 'lead' those teams? I would say Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley lead those Duke teams with significant contributions from Grant and Tommy Hill. I think Koubek was more or less along for the ride. Then there's Cingualar, airing these ads where a snotty tech guy rips on his friend's cell phone. This guy reminds me of Justin. Of course in previous years we've had those ads which run highlights of previous tournaments. I want those ads back. Can CBS just agree to air great endings in tourny history every hour on the hour. They can start with Valpo-Ole Miss '98 before moving on to UCLA-Mizzou '95, UCLA-Princeton '96, Michigan-Illinois '89, and Indiana-'Cuse '87.

Meanwhile I also picked up the Hoosiers DVD Tuesday. I had it on VHS but it's worth it for the deleted scenes (like the one which explains how Buddy got back on the team) and the 1954 Indiana state title game between Milan and Muncie Central. The last play of the game is exactly as depicted in the movie, with Bobby Plump starting near midcourt, then dribbling to the top of the key and pulling up to hit the game winner. This evidently was his specialty. After setting a fast pace early (Milan was up 14-11 after 1) things kind of slow down. At one point Milan goes about a minute and a half without shooting. They aren't really stalling. They keep moving the ball and trying to work for an open shot, which is still entertaining basketball. Compare that to the Saginaw Buena Vista-Reese district title game I went to a couple weeks ago, where BV held the ball for the last two minutes of regulation, then missed a buzzer beater, then in overtime won the tip and held the ball for four more minutes. They did this in overtimes 2, 3, 4, and 5 before they finally hit. Now THAT was boring basketball. People were actually booing a 5 OT game.


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