As I sit here and wait to watch an afternoon full of rain delays at Mays Field on my television, I can’t help but wonder why everyone says this is the best sports week of the year. Sure, it’s nice that baseball’s back, but it’s painfully obvious that the NCAA Tournament has become a second-tier event, especially if you watched last night’s National Championship game, which made doing my taxes seem really, really tempting.
The NCAA Tournament used to be great, but now it’s almost worse than the Bowl Championship Series due to college basketball’s utter lack of talent and a terrible slate of games over the past few weeks. Times change, and time hasn’t been kind to the Tourney. Speaking of “Best Week ever,” watching the NCAA Tournament after how great it was in the ’80’s and 90’s is like watching VH-1’s Best Week Ever in its current form (with Paul F. Tompkins telling 90% of the jokes) and saying it’s as good as it used to be.
It’s the same whether you’re talking about sports or clip shows: less talent = less interesting.
Here’s the thing about “March Madness.” It’s only good for an 11-day period in March, and even then it isn’t that great unless there are plenty of upsets. The novelty of being able to watch basketball for two full weekdays makes the first round of the tourney a nice reprieve from work-related duties (for those who have jobs, anyway), and the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds provide some interest to those whose brackets are still relatively intact. But with the “chalk” winning every damn game, the first four rounds of this year’s tournament were unbelievably boring.
What is there to remember after theÃ‚Â 2009 NCAA’s? Not much besides Durrell Summers’ dunk, Tyler Hansbrough’s ever-gaping piehole or Blake Griffin’s cross-eyed stare (Shaq just tweeted that Griffin is a very handsome man, for what it’s worth). Here’s what I noticed while watching the Big Dance, which was about as exciting as one of those junior high dances where the boys and girls stand on opposite sides of the school cafeteria whispering about each other.
–Gus Johnson has been reading too many of his own press clippings. Thanks to an incredible amount of hoovering over the years from Bill Simmons and others, Johnson has been led to believe that the best way to become a top play-by-play man is to take every single available gig and act like the Sham-Wow guy every time someone gets fouled. I actually used to like Johnson, but his whole deal has gone from refreshing to incredibly irritating. Let the backlash begin!
–North Carolina won every one of their Tournament games by at least 12 points, and not one of their top five players will make an impact in the NBA. Plus, anybody who roots for the Tar Heels who didn’t go there is a mega-douche. There’s no nozzle wide enough to effectively handle someone who owns a pair of UNC basketball shorts with matching Jordans. North Carolina has become the new Duke.
–Someone needs to take Digger Phelps out behind some bar in Bristol, Connecticut and beat him with nunchucks fashioned from frozen churros for continuing to wear ties that match the highlighters he waves around in front of the camera. I don’t want Digger to get bloody — just embarrassed, a little bruised and angry that his T.J. Maxx suit and neon-pink tie is covered with cinnamon and sugar.
–I think it’s funny that some of the players wear man-capris instead of shorts, and that undershirts can run the gammut from long-sleeve to none at all. But the trend of skin-tight jerseys is beyond awful. Michigan State deserved to lose based on their spandex jerseys alone. The word “STATE” was stretched so tightly across the players’ chests that the letters almost started splitting in half. What’s next, an NCAA team getting sponsored by Affliction or Ed Hardy?
–I know I just ripped Gus Johnson for his over-exuberance, but at least he isn’t the duller than a bowl of plain shredded wheat. That award goes to Clark Kellogg, who not only says nothing worth remembering but has a voice that puts me to sleep faster than an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (not that the show was bad, but the ship’s constant humming put me to sleep faster than a Tiger Woods-free golf tournament). Jim Nantz is already a robot; would it kill CBS to pair him with Bill Raftery so horrendous title games like what we saw (or turned off early) last night can at least sound interesting?
–Are we really entering a world where the Big East is going to be the best conference in collegeÃ‚Â basketball for the next decade? The same conference that decided in the 1990’s, “Well, we can’t possibly stop playing thug-ball. Maybe we should change the rules so it takes 6 fouls to foul out even though our games are eight minutes shorter than NBA games.” Big East basketball is like watching those old Patrick Ewing Knicks teams fact Alonzo Mourning’s Heat back in the day, only with less skill. Of course, both Ewing and Mourning came from Georgetown, so there you go.
–Of course, the Pac-10 was perhaps the worst major conference in the Tournament this year, with only the supposedly awful Arizona Wildcats making it to the Sweet 16 (where they got destroyed by Louisville). With the Lakers, Sharks and USC football the only dominant teams west of the Mississippi, I’m starting to blame ESPN less and less for their rampant East Coast bias. Digger still needs a beating, though.
–At least I don’t have to see another “Spaghetti Jimmy Wins” commercial. If I ever have a son and he starts talking like Spaghetti Jimmy (“Whats in yo wawett?”), I’m buying the kid a muzzle. Call me insensitive or against all things cute, but I couldn’t stomach that Adam Sandler crapfest Big Daddy because of the baby-talk accent those twins had. Are you my weel daddy? Not until you get the hell out of here and learn how to talk normally, you baby-talking little turd.