Talk about a weekend of Madness! (With apologies to the ’80s band, I’m talking hoops and health care. Although “Our House” *is* the ringtone on my phone.)
Even if Butler’s appearance in the Sweet 16 isn’t too much of a surprise, how they got there is pretty impressive. Upstart Murray State gave them a handful, but the Bulldogs fought through it and are halfway toward the exciting 50-block trip to the Final Four.
And who thought Purdue would be the Indiana surprise in the Round of 16? Talk about gutting out a win! Even though having two teams advance makes for a logistical nightmare for the sports department and coverage on the web is increased, it’s cool to have local teams still going after it. And technically, as we speak, IUPUI is alive and well in the CBI, tied in overtime with Princeton. Update on that before this post is over.
Everyone’s talking Kansas, of course, and I’m just about as guilty as anyone for getting on that train. It’s odd, because as they announced KU as the top seed of the tournament on Selection Sunday, I thought “Don’t pick Kansas. They always flame out. DON’T pick Kansas.”
So I picked Kansas. On several brackets.
In the flurry of mostly-for-bragging-rights brackets I picked this year, I think five of six end up with the Jayhawks on top. Fortunately, in the WTHR Bracket Challenge, I’m the only “expert” on our staff to NOT have KU as my champion. But watch out, Kentucky. My jinxability knows no bounds.
Kansas is bracket death. To steal a sports cliche, “You have to make them beat you.” They either win the title, or seem to flame out dramatically. Why would we think this year would be any different.
Thankfully, with the pool hopes destroyed, I can root unabashedly for the slew of mid-majors left in the tournament. Butler, St. Mary’s, Cornell and, of course, bracket-killer Northern Iowa. Speaking of, how…um.. “extremely bold” is Ali Farokhmanesh? And who thought “Farokhmanesh” would become a household name in just 36 hours?
Game-winning three? He’ll take it. Game-sealing three with no one around and 30 seconds to kill on the shot clock? He’ll take that, too. Need to buy a vowel? Ali’s on it for ya.
Seriously. This guy has probably collected more phone numbers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa than a census worker this week. Butler and Purdue have uphill climbs in the regional semifinals, both facing #1 seeds, but Farokhmanesh has shown that seeds aren’t nothing but a number. As for the Panthers’ matchup, they meet Michigan State, so unless you’re a Spartan or one of those Big Ten fans that think “wins are good for the conference,” it’s pretty easy to root for Ali to continue to shock the world.
So then, after a weekend of nail-biting hoops action, we turned our attention to CSPAN and a historical vote on health care.
(BTW, IUPUI lost in double overtime to Princeton tonight.)
I don’t know enough about the bill, the pros, the cons, or which states are getting ponies out of the deal, but I know one thing: That 7th grade Civics class taught me nothing. I had absolutely no clue what was going on during any part of the “process,’ except that it was taking so long. I’m just glad Jimmy Stewart never showed up with his copy of the Constitution.
In the end, it all worked out nicely from a TV standpoint, though. The vote came in just before the 11pm news, giving us fresh news for the Nightbeat. True “breaking news,” if you will.
One of those weekends where you just exhale at the end and race home to your pillow.