Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Tourney Talk, Part Uno

SeedyCardOkay, before we go any further, let’s get any last bellows out of the way.

It’s important that any lingering anxieties, wrought by the tournament selection or seeding be purged.

It’s equally sensible that any animosities that have festered be set aside, any lingering resentments toward a TV expert or two laid to rest.

With that in mind, now let ‘er rip.


Feel better? I know I do.

Alright, on a personal note, I got one more. Then I’ll move on. Honest.


Yes, though my throat’s a little sore from screaming, I do feel cleansed and ready to move forward.

* * * * *

You know how there are those sci fi, “Twilight Zone” scenarios, where the hook is that a person knows the exact day and time he/she is going to die?

Well, that’s kinda how it must feel year after year after year for guys like Joe Lunardi at 6:37 pm, + or – a minute or two, every year on Selection Sunday.

Their whole raison d’etre becomes irrelevant, once the actual brackets are revealed.

Gotta feel strange, right?

* * * * *

After watching former U of L Cardinal Kevin Ware lead tourney-bound Georgia State in scoring in the C-USA final, and former U of L Cardinal commit Rodney Purvis lead UConn in scoring in the AAC final, I couldn’t help but wonder.

Couldn’t they have helped Louisville this season? Wouldn’t be nice to have them on the roster, before flying off to Seattle?

And, where is Chane Behanan when we really could use him?

* * * * *

The major question smothering this year’s tourney, though far from choking all the life out it, thank heavens, is whether Kentucky’s championship is inevitable, a veritable fait accompli, if you will?

The Wildcats do still have to win 6 games. And, those games shall be played.

But, so dominant have they been, their chances look to be pure as Ivory Soap. You know, 99 44/100%.

What strikes me most about this Kentucky team is the aura that’s developed. Like those UCLA teams that won year after year after year, a perception of invincibility of defeat seems to permeate the mindset of the schools the Wildcats play.

The few who have come closest melted down the stretch. Most never kept it that close.

There is this premonition of Kentucky’s opponents that they can win, if they make their treys, or if they can match UK on the boards, or if this or that or the other happens. If they play their very best possible game, and 4, 5 or 6 of the Cats have an off night. If the breaks fall their way, and if they get a lucky call or two.

That ambience certainly didn’t envelop Wichita State or Indiana State. Perhaps, that early 90s UNLV squad that was looking to repeat, but was upended by Duke in the semis, had that swagger. I frankly just don’t remember.

Nor do I recall if it was a factor when IU was stomping through that heralded undefeated campaign in ’76?

The Bruins sure had it. There were any number of schools that had the Bruins by the short and curlies, but couldn’t squeeze Wooden’s guys into submission. One of which, of course, was U of L in ’75.

So, as the Cats stomp through their bracket, will teams with arguably enough firepower to beat them muster the gumption and performance to git ‘er done? Or, will they fall prey to the jerseys on the topseeded Cats?

I’ve thought that West Virginia and Maryland are two of the teams that might be able to prevail. Notre Dame? Wichita? Kansas with revenge in its heart?

Well, we’ll find out, won’t we?

* * * * *

Kudos to Western Kentucky, Oregon State, California and Michigan.

All four have been national powers, legit contendas, at one point or another in years gone by.

All four had less than exemplary campaigns, seasons with so little success, they didn’t get an invite to the NIT.

But, the quartet had enough sense to call it a season, and eschew the post-season abominations known as the College Basketball Invitational, and, what’s the other bottom feeder called, the collegeinsiders.com tourney??

Unlike college football, where an invite to the Billy Bob’s Auto Parts Catalytic Converter Bowl means a time slot on ESPN, a bag o’ swag for the players that includes spark plugs, a new set of wiper blades and a can of car wax, these things are played in anonymity.

Not only does participation hit the schools’ budgets, but there’s the loss of self esteem that comes along with it.

* * * * *

While there’s been the usual post bracket reveal caterwauling as to how the Bruins inclusion jobbed Colorado State or Temple, it seems the complaints have been fewer and less virulent than normal.

Certainly less than the annual Seth Greenburg We Got Robbed rant.

For the most part, placement seems about right.

Wichita State has a better resume than a #7 seed. Georgetown’s not a legit #4. Utah, a bit low, maybe?

But there are a lot less, howinthehelldidtheygetplacedinthatspot? seedings that jump off the bracket.

The cul de sac featuring U of L and Northern Iowa is an example.

The Cards are a spot above where they probably should be. The Panthers, a seed line too low. So, it evens out.

Even Duke, who must have photos of the selection committee members, smoking spliffs and frolicking with young farm animals, doesn’t have it much easier than the other #1 seeds. Yes, the Hoyas are way overrated as the #4 in that region, but Utah is easily the #5 with the best record.

* * * * *

What I love, and its annual affair, are the matchups we’d never see in the regular season. Contrasting styles from geographically diverse areas of the country.

Butler vs. Texas.

VCU vs. Ohio State.

North Carolina vs. Harvard.

Georgetown vs. Eastern Washington.

Oregon vs. Oklahoma State.

Iowa vs. Davidson.

San Diego State vs. St. John’s.

Those matchups and their ilk are the ones that shall get the first look in their time slots, Thursday and Friday.

And, if they are blow outs, I’ll just click to one of the other games. Because, as has been the deal for the last couple years, every game is on the telly in its entirety on one of four different networks.

* * * * *

Before I shut off the keypad on this edition of Hoopahalic’s Gazette, I must mention the game of the week in this neck of the woods this week.1

Tuesday evening at 7:00, Norris Place will be the epicenter of my b-ball universe.

The Bellarmine Knights meet conference-rival Indianapolis at Knights Hall, for a spot in the Division II Elite Eight.

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Today’s Final Four: Kentucky, Villanova, Iowa State, Arizona.

— Seedy K