By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Who is playing in the Final Four this weekend? Answer now! No cheating!
You’re uhhing and umming right now. That’s okay, because so was I when I last thought about it. I try to remember, it takes a few seconds, then I attempt to burn Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, and Ohio State into my brain, and then I forget a day later. You’re probably the same way.
There’s a reason for that—you, like me, are not really interested in this tournament.
I’m not speaking to the rabid alumni, those who feel that a school, which outside of donating to its annual appeal cares not for them, and its athletes who largely won’t graduate, justify their existence. I’m not speaking to the townies who are too stupid to attend the school they root for. I’m not speaking to the ever-present gambling element (though they don’t care in the way fans do).
You and I—the others—we are feeling that ennui over this tournament. We were all giddy with our pristine brackets two weeks ago. We did our annual Google search of what the odds of picking a perfect bracket are, which is about the-number-of-Cromartie-children-to-1, and we momentarily thought how we could beat those odds (“Hey, my cousin got struck by lightning seventeen times while making love to an Elvis impersonator. It could happen.”)
Then our brackets were mesh by the first Saturday. We held on to a sliver of hope that we wouldn’t lose another game the rest of the weekend, and come Monday we were cursing the chick at the office who was leading the pool based on picking teams with guys that shared her boyfriend’s name.
That’s when we slowly began to realize we were bored with it all.
People want Cinderellas, of which this tournament has none—a 1, two 2s, and a 4 in the Final Four is not exactly a David-over-Goliath scenario. Personally, I’m for having the best teams play to see who is the best of all. The tournament doesn’t allow for that. It’s constant Irish Carbombs back-to-back-to-back with your buddies at your school’s crappy bar, and the wheat and chaff are separated by who vomits on themselves first until one last guy hasn’t passed out or been forcibly removed.
Give me that aged liquor that I can sip while talking to a classy woman without a butterfly tattoo or a name ending in “i.” That is a seven-game series. That is the truth right there.
But people need their fuzzy Disney moments in sports for some reason. This tournament, instead, has boring M. Night Shyamalan all over it—waiting… waiting uncomfortably… waiting annoyed… oh, a surprise that wasn’t really a surprise, and I want that portion of my life back! Hooray.
And even as someone who desires chalk and lots of it in college basketball, even chalk bores me once I have no chance of winning the office pool. I’m on record in feeling that NCAA hoops are an inferior product because they just are.
Don’t get me wrong—I’ll watch the games on Saturday because, well, they’re just there. I won’t ignore them out of spite. But come Monday there will be two top-notch teams with well-known coaches squaring off.
It might be John Calipari who runs a transparently cloudy juggernaut and won’t apologize for it (nor should he have to). Maybe Rick Pitino instead, looking like a Latino mob boss from the 1950s and likely running a program like one. One of them will take on Bill Self, hated by much of Illinois for in 2003 doing exactly what anyone else would do (and getting a better opportunity to run a dirty program like all the other big boys), or Thad Matta, who seems like a genuinely nice guy (who likely runs a dirty program).
Yeah, the game of guys who “try harder” and “want it more” and “play the game the right way” (which is usually code for “not being black and/or rich”) is corrupt and flawed, despite pretending it’s just like those not-dumb-jocks that are a non-factor for the NCAA’s fiscal bottom line in its self-aggrandizing commercials.
It will end the way it was sort of supposed to. Probably Kentucky as champ. Maybe not. The star players will declare for the draft, and people will get mad at them for trying to get paid (legally) for doing something that already makes other people gobs of money off of them doing it. Just. Like. Every. Other. Year.
And then you and I can get ready for real basketball. I invite the NBA haters to do so as well.
And… wait, who is playing again this weekend?
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.