March 16, 2005
The Calm Before The Madness
I was looking over my NCAA tournament picks yesterday afternoon and realized that my bracket will either be amazingly correct or an absolute mess. I made so many weirdo, out-of-nowhere picks that there's no way for me to finish in the middle of the pack in the various pools I entered. I'll either be in dead last or I'll win the whole thing. I spelled out all of my picks here Monday, so you can check back on them throughout the tournament to see just how stupid they were. The only thing I ask is that when Utah loses to UTEP in the first round, you try not to laugh too hard at me having Andrew Bogut and company in the Elite Eight.
Speaking of laughing (how's that for a segue?), one of my favorite things each March is how guys like Dick Vitale are completely outraged when the tournament selection committee fails to pick a certain mediocre team for the final at-large spot. This year Vitale was up in arms about Notre Dame being left out of the tournament. He kept going on and on about what essentially boils down to the committee picking the 55th-best team in the country instead of the 52nd-best team in the country. And even that is giving Notre Dame far too much credit.
If there is an argument for Notre Dame deserving to be in the tournament -- and clearly at least Vitale thinks there is -- it certainly isn't a strong enough one to get incredibly worked up about. The Irish's RPI ranking (73) was just the 19th-best among non-tourney teams. Yes, 19th. This isn't like complaining about baseball's All-Star teams, when a legitimately outstanding player can be snubbed in favor of someone like Ken Harvey. No, this is the equivalent of going nuts over Ken Harvey being left off the team in favor of Travis Lee.
With all that said, there is only one thing funnier than watching Vitale get worked up about a mediocre team getting a raw deal, and that's watching a few nights later as that mediocre team loses in the first round of the NIT. Notre Dame played Holy Cross in the NIT's opening round last night, at home, and lost by five. It wasn't all that shocking since Holy Cross finished with a superior RPI ranking than Notre Dame, but that's exactly why Vitale's outrage was so laughable in the first place. Oh, and here's the kicker: Vitale has two daughters, both of whom went to Notre Dame on tennis scholarships and both of whom are married to fellow Notre Dame alums.
Here's a quote from an old Vitale ESPN.com column about the birth of his granddaughter, Sydney:
Notre Dame came into the picture early. Sydney's dad, Chris, placed an ND hat on her. She's a Golden Domer from day one; I received a phone call from Digger Phelps, who said it has already been worked out. That's right, in 2018 she'll be in South Bend.
Sydney has a mom who got two degrees at Notre Dame. Her dad went there. Her grandfather on her father's side attended Notre Dame. Her grandfather on her mother's side got an honorary degree from there. Her aunt was a double-domer, and her aunt's husband played football there.
You can be sure Sydney will hear "Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame"!
Now, there's something I could see people getting upset about. As for me, I am absolutely outraged that the mighty Minnesota Gophers, with their 10-6 record in what might be the fifth- or sixth-best conference in the country, didn't get a #1 seed. And I don't even have any daughters who went there, just me.
On a somewhat related note, one of the pools I entered is the "First Annual NCAA Tournament Bloggers Bracket" contest over at Yoco: College Basketball. For those of you who are looking forward to tomorrow afternoon (and the weeks following) as much as I am, you should definitely check out Yoco's blog. It is like one-stop shopping for everything college hoops and the man behind the blog, Yoni Cohen, is now even writing for FOXSports.com (where my fantasy baseball columns appeared very briefly last year).
Speaking of fantasy baseball columns (yet another brilliant segue), my first column of the season is up over at Rotoworld.com. I'm guessing most of you already make Rotoworld a part of your daily web surfing, but if not, go check it out.