Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sure, you had George Mason. Right.

So did virtually everyone get eliminated from their NCAA tournament pool yesterday? Or did your chances to win suddenly receive a fresh infusion of hope?

Is there anyone who didn't have either UConn or Duke in their Final Four? The many of us who did surely had one of those teams winning the tournament. But the more daring of you out there didn't. Maybe you picked Gonzaga. Or Villanova. Boston College? Texas?

Of course, some of you are still alive in your pool. Some of you had UCLA, Florida, or LSU (I definitely underestimated the SEC) in your Final Four, a few had them in the championship game, and a handful maybe even had one of those schools winning the whole thing.

Me, I'm hanging on by the hairs on a UCLA Bruin's chinny-chin-chin. They're the only one of my Final Four left, and I had them losing in the title game to UConn. So I guess I'm still standing.

(Back in high school, I used to have a UCLA hat. I'd wear it around the house to scare my parents into thinking that's where I wanted to go to college. And apparently, it caused some whispers. My dad once pulled me aside and said my grandma asked him if we could really afford to send me there. I still laugh about that. Unfortunately, I ruined the hat beyond all recognition in a softball game played on a rainy, humid day, so I won't have it to wear for some bandwagon rooting on Saturday.)

But raise your hand if you picked George Mason. Maybe you picked them to upset Michigan State in the first round. Maybe - maybe - you had them over North Carolina to get to the Sweet 16. And that's where most of these runs end. But it's appropriate that a mid-major made it to the Final Four this year. It had to happen this way, right? After the flak the NCAA took from guys like Billy Packer for letting too many of these schools in, one of them had to rise up and show us that it's a new world in college basketball.

Four people picked this Final Four correctly in ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge. My hat's tipped to them. I'm still shaking my head and rubbing my eyes. And not just because hearing the name George Mason still makes me think of Raymond Burr in a courtroom.

I watched the games. I saw the highlights. I've read the game recaps. And I'm looking at my bracket right now. I'm still having trouble comprehending this. But even those of us who didn't watch much college basketball until the NCAA Tournament (guilty as charged) could see that this day was coming.

Before the tournament started, I wondered if I really wanted to see the rise of the mid-major. Yes, the early-round upsets are fun to watch - even more so, when you've picked them in your bracket. After that glow wears off, however, the ensuing match-up isn't quite as appealing as watching the favorites play each other. That's how I felt, anyway.

But not anymore. This has been fun as hell to watch. It might be the most fun I've ever had, besides the times a team I rooted for (Michigan, usually) made it to the Final Four or national championship. And I'm actually sad it's ending next week.

▪▪ While comparing George Mason's victory to Chaminade's upset of Virginia in the 1982 preseason, the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon asks if this was the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history.

▪▪ ESPN.com's Andy Katz recaps the Patriots' amazing tournament run.

▪▪ Yoni Cohen poses the question of whether or not the NCAA Tournament truly determines the nation's best team.

▪▪ Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn says the "Chalk Era," the days of picking a favorite and sitting back to watch that team win the national title, is over.



  • At March 27, 2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous kevin said…

    I posted some info on George Mason you all might find interesting, if you want to stop by.

  • At March 27, 2006 10:58 PM, Blogger twins15 said…

    I was hoping to have the Yahoo pool wrapped up... but now I face a dilemma. The only way I can lose it is if UCLA beats LSU, you win. But UCLA is my favorite team so obviously I'm rooting for them. But if they win it will be a little bittersweet!

    Go Bruins!!

    My bracket got crunched this weekend though. I had Texas, UCLA, UConn, and Nova in the Final Four, so I was looking good coming into Saturday. And then it all fell apart.


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