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Ballsy: Our Idiot’s Guide To The Big Dance

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By CJ Aquilino
March 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm



I don’t know much about college basketball. Check that, I don’t know anything. So maybe I’m not qualified to talk about wins against the RPI top-50 or Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. 

Maybe Jared Sullinger’s overall number one pick prospects are a little outside of my reach (I just Googled him). But those of you who have read this before (hi mom!!) know this has never stopped me in the past — and goshdarnit I won’t let it stop me now. Here goes literally nothing:

There’s no crying in college basketball: You know who I don’t care about? Big schools that didn’t get in. Bummer, Colorado. Not all that upset that you beat K-State 3 times (first– because K-State isn’t all that good, and second, because Jacob Pullen’s beard trumps your program’s existence). If you’re a big school and didn’t get in, my level of interest in you was zero at the beginning of the season, peaked at “mostly don’t give a shit” when you won a game in your conference tournament, and now has settled itself back into “they have a basketball program?” The only thing we may remember at the end of all this is that VA Tech’s coach Bics his head and claimed conspiracy. There’s something almost too awesome about that.

And despite Coach Greenberg’s dabbling with the drug Charlie Sheen, he is at least gettin’ at something. The committee doesn’t have a beef with Virginia Tech in particular (Greenberg is crazy), but they do appear to have beefs with second-tier major-conference programs (Greenberg is right). And I am 100% in favor of that beef. It’s absolutely a non-minder (sick of the phrase “no-brainer”) to chock the tournament up with as many mid-majors/potential Cinderellas as possible. It just makes for an overall more exciting and entertaining event.  And plus, it gives an opportunity for one undeserving white guy to get drafted in the NBA Lottery every year (see: Hayward, Gordon; Morrison, Adam; and soon-to-be Fredette, Jimmer). The NCAA Tournament is funner and better (I didn’t make up one of those words) with as many mid-majors as are rationally acceptable to invite. So what if the home of Beamerball gets snubbed. If UAB doesn’t get their poop pushed in, they’ve immediately justified their existence as an at-large. And as the team with the least-obvious connection between their location and the name everyone generally refers to them as. Is that the University of Abilene? Albuquerque? Albania?

Biggie Smalls (East): The East has got an interesting combination of been-there-before programs and straight-up talent. This is probably the region with the most former-top-10 teams, though I didn’t take the time to actually check that out.

Game To Potentially Watch That May Not Actually Happen: Kentucky vs. Ohio State. With 80% of the 2011 NBA lottery picks on the floor at once.

Regional Pick: Ohio State.

(In a side note about the Big East Tournament, which was absolutely the impetus that re-spiked my interest in College hoops, a roommate of mine celebrated the heroic 5-win-in-5-night run by his alma mater UConn/Kemba & The Boys by humping the air and repeating the phrase “this is me…happy” over and over again. Another roommate Huskie alum pretended to re-create that whole Rick Pitino restaurant sex scene on our coffee table for most of the finals game. I can’t tell if this is why I like college basketball so much in March (these kids actually care), or why I don’t like college basketball more (these kids care wayyy too much). But I can tell that this is why I don’t like either of my roommates as people.)

Big Breast To Tha West: It feels like the bottom half of this bracket has been signed over to Kemba Walker already, but the top half should be a battle. I could absolutely see the Dukies, Texas and/or Arizona playing in the regional final with K-Dubbs & The Baby-Faced Assasins.

Game To Potentially Watch That May Not Actually Happen: Duke vs. UConn.  In my opinion, the nation’s best team versus the nation’s best player. Also, a battle between two coaches with potentially the most-annoying voices in college basketball. Game on.

Regional Pick: Duke

Southie (Southeast): Is it my blatant New York bias that makes me think that the Johnnies could beat any team in this bracket? It absolutely is. I’m also not as high on Pitt ever since Gary McGhee’s recent ankle amputation. (I totally am the first to make a McGhee-ankle joke right?! Guys?! Guys?! Hellooo?!!!)

Game to Potentially Watch That May Not Actually Happen: St. John’s vs. BYU. The big city boys v. whatever the hell it is they have in Utah. Brandon Davies just phoned in his pick from his girlfriend’s room at the Millennial Hilton: he’s taking the Johnnies.

Regional Pick: Florida

Southwest (No Cool Nickname): The Southwest looks primed for Kansas to literally run train on the entire bracket. Okay, probably not literally. Now that they’re healthy and suspension-free, I’m not sure if there’s a sub-1 seed (other than maybe Texas) that has the talent to beat ‘em. We shall see.

Game to Potentially Watch That May Not Actually Happen: Georgetown vs. Notre Dame. Just because any inter-conference game played after the 2nd round is just plain old awesome.

Regional Pick: Kansas

Brackets?! We talkin’ about brackets?! Brackets?! Brackets: In filling out brackets, there are two schools that are best suited for success. The first school is comprised of the experts: guys (just guys) who watch film, know players names and are familiar with the contrasting strengths and styles that will converge with each and every tournament game. The second school is comprised of folks who were previously unfamiliar that basketball is played on the collegiate level (last year my grandma won our family pool… that prima donna). The rest of us are screwed. So please know that if you’re winning your pool by Elite 8 time and don’t have an entrance badge into the ESPN War Room, you literally know the same amount about basketball as my grandmother. Congratulations.

Supplemental story: A girl in my office pool last year picked Purdue for a number of games (despite losing Robbie Hummel — poor guy) because she enjoys chicken. Unfair. I’m less upset that I had them getting bounced in the first round, and more upset that it came off that it’s possible she likes chicken more than I do. For this reason, there should be a short explanation section on the back of every bracket, with each selection reviewed thoroughly by a committee. And yes, I will gladly head up that committee. And no, I will not take a pay cut. (Puts in two-week notice at his crappy office job) (Is now currently unemployed).

My overall deficiency at picking these things has almost gotten to the point that it clouds what these brackets really are all about: just another opportunity to gamble. So if you have some friends, and apparently if you enjoy chicken, do work.

The Official Pick: Ohio State over Kansas in a close/awesome national title game. Enjoy the madness.

CJ Aquilino is a guy who likes basketball more than any out-of-shape young white man should. He currently has two years left of NCAA eligibility. Got a question? Email him: Ballsyblog@gmail.com

Follow CJ on Twitter @TheBigCDilly. Read his full HyperVocal archive here.

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