A saucy female perspective on sports pop-culture

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It’s been several days since my last post. I deeply apologize. You see, I was in mourning, mourning the loss of my beloved bracket. Perhaps it’s my own fault. It was me who wrote that posting a few weeks ago laughing at the thought of a No. 1 seed loosing in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Sure, it was a funny thought, a fabulous daydream, and a tragic foreshadowing - look who’s crying now. The aftermath of last week’s losses sent people’s brackets into a tail-spin and ultimately an untimely death. My office pool is done, just like most pools because who would have ever taken George Mason to the Final Four? Well, according to Sports Illustrated, 1,854 out of 3 million entries in an ESPN sponsored bracket pool did pick GM to go the distance. Of those entries, 284 people have George Mason winning the title. Now let’s be honest, you know those 284 people have to either be alumni of the school, or multiple entries by the players’ families. (You can bet someone’s mom must have entered at least five times…my mom would if it were me on that court.) It also makes you wonder…what were the other 1,570 people thinking? This is the team that lost to Hofstra, twice! I am convinced they got their “Georges” wrong. I mean, in this year’s tournament we had George Washington, Georgetown, and George Mason. According to Russell Peasant, one of four people in the ESPN pool to pick all four Final Four contestants, that’s exactly what happened to him. He intended to pick George Washington to go to the Final Four but accidentally picked George Mason. Hey, at least he’s honest and chalks it up to dumb luck.

I don’t think anyone expected to loose all the No. 1’s before the Final Four. Of the No. 1’s, I had a feeling UConn would not make it. All of their games had been such nail-biters and come so close to the final buzzer. Duke was an obvious pick to choke, evident because they didn’t have the charisma to win the championship. I’m fairly indifferent on ‘Nova, but I thought Memphis had lots of potential. I like the small fry schools, they always stand such a good chance of spitting in the eye of any Goliath. I had a gut instinct about Memphis, predicting they’d fare the best among the targeted No. 1’s. I know, I had UConn to win, but that was before really watching the teams play. I also thought Gonzaga would last a little longer, but who would have thought they’d blow a 17 point lead to UCLA? 1980 was the last time a Final Four was set with no No. 1 seed in the lineup. For that matter, the last time a No. 11 seed even made it to the Final Four was in 1986. What we have witnessed is somewhat historic. It also begs another question…were the No. 1’s overrated or where the small fries underrated?

Being No. 1 is tough. You are wearing this gigantic target because should you loose, it’s not just the loss that hurts, it’s the upset factor. Your pride is stomped on because you lost, but you lost to someone who was considered to be inferior. It’s like watching a girl take on a guy. You cheer for the girl because what hope does she have of defeating a guy? But then again, you love to bask in the embarrassment of some guy getting his ass kicked by a chick. Being the big cheese, the top dog, the No. 1 seed is the perfect set up for disappointment. With all this said, and all our No. 1’s now losers, what made them No. 1 anyhow? George Mason, a small commuter school in the DC suburbs easily showed Michigan State, UNC and UConn that they didn’t need a huge student population, a cushy endowment, or a premiere collegiate athletic department to earn a ticket to the big dance. George Mason, the cranky Cinderella, is what makes this tournament so fabulous. Although I hated watching my bracket disintegrate, I loved watching this team win. I can’t say I’m nearly as excited about LSU, Florida, or UCLA. Would I like to see George Mason take it all? Of course…this is the stuff that writes Disney movies and creates classic moments. The human interest story of “the little engine that could” begins to steam roll the competition and will build momentum for this school. (It will also lead to an increase in applications to the school for next fall, just watch!) George Mason has already won because they proved themselves worthy and took it to any opponent who challenged them. They never backed down, they showed courage under fire and persisted. I can’t say Duke came out saying “Dammit it, we’re the best and we’re going all the way!” No, I’d say most of the No. 1’s took their number for granted. As a No. 1, you feel a sense of entitlement, like you are owed a place in the final. When you’re the underdog you have nothing to loose by going balls to the walls. As a No. 1 you have it all to lose and if you don’t protect your turf, you’re bound to see it conquered by that lowly seed who’s waiting to rain on your parade. Seeding causes some teams to be overrated and others to be underrated, but the true test comes on the court when each team gets a chance to prove its ability and worth. George Mason proved they belong, regardless of a No. 11 seed, and the No. 1’s proved it takes more than clout if you want to survive.


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