Diary of NCAA Madmen – Day 1

Above: Baylor's uniforms - stressing safety when walking at night

… and so the greatest tournament in all of sport has arrived for it’s yearly interruption of all of our respective lives.  On the morning of the first day, I’m absolutely giddy.  So giddy, in fact, that I actually start using the word “giddy” regularly (not a part of my typical verbal arsenal).  Every year, I call the gigolo service and let them know that I simply won’t be available for work during the first four days of the tournament.  They understand… and promptly double my work load for the ensuing 4 months.  It’s worth it.  You can find the stats anywhere – here are a few simple items regarding the days events:

1) TODAY’S VIBE: UNDERWHELMING

I’d be lying if I said you missed greatness if you didn’t get to see the day’s offerings.  There were a few decent affairs, like VCU/Wichita State and Syracuse/UNC-Asheville (more on that in a moment).  However, most games went as planned and the upsets weren’t really that big of a deal.  No buzzer beaters.  No one-man performances that anyone will talk about.  Do you have a lot of people in your life who are lighting up your Facebook feed with comments like, “PERFECT BRACKET SO FAR!!” and things of that nature?  Well, that’s because things were so uneventful.  I did pretty well, and I feel horrible about it.

2) MOMENT OF EMOTION: SYRACUSE AND THE ZEBRAS JOIN FORCES

Without question, the only time my heart ever really got racing was when the aforementioned UNC-Asheville had a shot at pulling the seemingly-impossible upset of the #1-seed “ORANGE.”  Things stayed remarkably close, and then you had a series of questionable calls as things wound down:

  • Syracuse appeared to take more than five seconds to inbound the ball, but were granted a last-moment timeout to avoid the violation. It was close, but Hathwell told me he counted past five.  And that guy is accurate as hell.
  • The lane violation.  Alright, so this was apparently the correct call, as the likes of Seth Davis and Fran Fraschiliairllala or whatever his name is would go to Twitter to so proudly proclaim.  Fine.  The problem is that I truly don’t believe – IN MY HEART OF HEARTS – that a whistle was necessary.  Everyone was boxed out and it was going to be Bulldog ball.  Instead, the ‘Cuse got another chance.
  • Syracuse inbounded the ball in sloppy fashion, resulting in the ball clearly bouncing off of a ‘Cuse player last and going back out of bounds.  Contact was made, but it was minimal and after the play.  Syracuse was awarded the ball.  It didn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Here’s the point: Syracuse didn’t and shouldn’t need the help.  Instead, officiating got weird and we were denied what would have at least been a good shot at a great finish.  In nothing else, plays like the third should have been reviewed.  The bigger story is obviously that Syracuse looks to be in serious trouble, but damn, that could have been some history.

3) THESE ADVERTISEMENTS SUCK

Greg Anthony and his “March monotony.”  Charlie Sheen and Fiat.  Pitbull.  That car ad with the Spandau Ballet song. We weren’t even to noon, PST, and I already hated these and many more.  We’ve got WEEKS more of this.

That, in a nutshell, was Thursday.  The uneventful recap is a direct reflection of the on-court action.  The good thing about the first day is that initial enthusiasm can carry you through it, no matter what it’s like.  However, lets just hope the cosmos deliver an explosive 2nd day to balance out the mediocrity of the opening salvo.  Back for Day 2 (probably).

– Wes Lilliman

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