Monday, March 14, 2016


It's finally time for the NCAA basketball tournament. There are 68 teams in the tourny and perhaps another 30 who believe that they should be in it. There will also be a number of coaches who are upset with their seedings and/or the regional they were assigned. I'm not going to try and evaluate the teams since ESPN has already interviewed every "expert" in the country to do just that and they all have their picks. Joe Lunardi, ESPN's resident bracket genius, was unforgiving in his analysis of the official NCAA bracket. "But the committee’s performance is slipping, year over year, and it’s also my job to point that out when necessary. Put aside my three misses for a moment, and what you have is a selection and bracketing process that appears to have gone off the rails." Of course. If it isn't the way Joe picks it. it can't be right.  But, it all boils down to the same thing: there are 68 teams with a chance.
No, I'll do what I do best - make fun of the nicknames.

Naturally with a field this big, there will be duplications.  Do you like the Wildcats? You have your choice of four of them. There are three Bears here - Bears, Golden Bears and the Bearcats.  There's a couple of Trojans and a couple of Panthers. There's even a couple of Pirates. The good news is, if your team loses, you can easily switch over to a team with the same nickname. You can probably make the Final Four just rooting for the Bulldogs - there are five of them.

As Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang" sit-com will tell you, teams try to pick nicknames that will intimidate their opponents. This is generally true, but some teams didn't get the memo. How many opponents will be intimidated by these mascots and nicknames?
Friars -- Unless it's Friar Tuck, these people are known pacifists. Sorry, I'm not afraid.
Mocs -- Run this name thru Google and you get - Shoes. The price might scare you, but that's all.
Jackrabbits, Roadrunners -- Just the opposite. You'll scare them but they'll be gone before you can enjoy it.
Terrapin -- This is a turtle. Even if you're afraid to get bitten, you certainly ought to be able to get away from a turtle. No threat here.

It seems that some teams are advocating careers and not animals. You might want to pick your college by these nicknames:
Want to go into politics? Then the Austin Peay Governors is the place for you.
Like the outdoors? Try the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Maybe the Texas A & M Aggies. or the Wichita State Shockers, a shocker being a "harvester of wheat." (Had to look that one up)
Is aviation your dream? The Dayton Flyers are waiting for you.
If you like working with your hands, I'd suggest the Purdue Boilermakers but it's not a very big field.

The NCAA, in it's infinite wisdom (there's a sentence I never thought I'd write), seeds the teams according to apparent strength, always the weakest team against the strongest. What fun is that? Here's some matchups that would be a great interest, based solely on nicknames.
Holy Cross Crusaders vs. the Farleigh Dickinson Knights. This is an even matchup.

Middle Tenn. State Blue Raiders vs Texas Tech Red Raiders  This is a rivalry made in heaven.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Iona Gaels (Look it up. I'm not doing all the work)
Baylor Bears vs California Golden Bears Let's settle this once and for all.
Iowa State Golden Cyclones vs the Miami Hurricanes  Played in Chicago, the Windy City (sorry)
Southern Cal Trojans vs the Michigan St. Spartans  Greek mythology lives again.
Finally, a special round robin Mini-tournament between UNC Ashville, Fresno State, Yale, Gonzaga and Butler, with only the winner keeping the nickname Bulldogs.

Last but not least, those nicknames which aren't...well, funny.
The Orange
The Blue Devils
The Sooners (rather then the Laters -- okay, maybe a little funny)
The Hoosiers
The Utes
The Tar Heels

Pick your teams, stock the beer and chicken wings, veg out on the couch and have a fun three weeks.
I'm going with North Carolina.

"I don't know how they did it. I'm just watching the game, same as you."  -- Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach in another of his now legendary interviews.
"So I wasn’t paying close attention to the NCAA Tournament  brackets. What seed did the Philadelphia 76ers get."  -- Janice Hough

"Maria Sharapova failed a doping test at the Australian Open. You don’t need to be a nun to ask: How do you solve a problem like Maria’s?"  -- RJ Currie
"The Savannah Bananas have just become the 16th team in the Coastal Plain League, which apparently ran out of good nicknames about three teams ago."  -- Brad Dickson
"Some of these teams appeared exhausted. Michigan State 64, Maryland 61, Saturday afternoon on CBS, stood out and stood to reason. Michigan State had played the night before, Maryland late the previous afternoon. The game often appeared to be played by zombies, arms dangled at their sides, poor timing and focus."  -- Phil Mushnick


No comments: