March Madness: the fine print of the Sweet 16

Post Author:

Here at IMPOSE, we're not just a bunch of cave-dwelling music snobs mainlining fledgling bands. We've got interests as far reaching as “what bands eat“, “what bands are able to put into their own words” and “what bands dicks look like“. We also know a thing or two about the sporting life, which is why we asked Jock Strap columnist Peter Cavanaugh the difficult questions that the talking heads on the television can't answer. Sure, Sir Charles transitioning into NCAA coverage is awesome, but we doubt he'll go off the cards in his first year with CBS. Don't worry, Chuck. Pete has got you covered. – Blake Gillespie

All of the #1 Seeds made it to the Sweet 16. In your expert opinion, who's most likely to take an L in this round?

Obviously, the team that we cannot name (see: 4, 6, 8) will be broken this week. Plus Syracuse. I really don’t like the way Jim Boeheim looks, and the learned man knows this is the supreme determining factor in athletic competition.

There are four Ohio teams represented in the Sweet 16. Should anyone care or are there about to be zero Ohio teams come Saturday?

Rushed logic takes the fact that four Ohio teams are in the Sweet 16 and says of course one must get through. In a vacuum, Ohio and Xavier will lose. Cincinnati is playing Ohio State, so at least Elite 8 representation is guaranteed for the state.

An interesting opportunity we have, though pea-sized and about as probable as me getting a verse on a 2 Chainz remix, is to see a championship game between Cincinnati and Xavier. A passing interest in college basketball yields an awareness of the brawl that took place between the two teams earlier in the season (and most tragically, the postgame response from several Xavier players). Framed in a cinema setting, it would be compelling, one could say in tawdry fashion the characters feel “authentic.” In the real world, however, the fight and comments produce ultimate frustration (though allow for one of those never-ending explorations of sport, masculinity, race, authority, blah blah snooze, etc). So the fledgling tournament runs from these two teams have everyone shouting out how Xavier and Cincinnati are on that salvation path, rising above their early season blemish. It’s fun to say, sure, but I’m uncertain as to how stringing together a few victories equates to a complete understanding of the futility of fighting.

What’s the point? Oh, if for some reason Indiana doesn’t make it to the championship, my pacifist roots ache for a consolation prize of Cincinnati vs. Xavier: Redux. The teams will play with passion and maturity, and through the handshake line after the game every player will embrace each other with both arms rather than just the few key players that respect one another’s game.

What team is your Dark Horse for the Final Four?

Wisconsin doesn’t really count as a Dark Horse, as they are a legitimate threat, though it would benefit my standings in the office pool if they would kindly do away with Old Man Boehiem then lose in dramatic, yet graceful fashion to Ohio State.

NC State makes the most sense, though they won’t beat Kansas. Or to say, I don’t want them to because that write-up on the Robinson kid nearly made me cry. I hate Kansas in the way that people hate most teams: absolutely no sound reasoning, but to think how great it would be to see Robinson with the national trophy in one arm and his kid sister in his other…oh man, I really have to stop reading Rick Reilly.

Let’s go with Xavier because they “got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room.” And I would love a reprise of their “motto”: zip them up.

Kentucky and Indiana are in a re-match situation. Does this wreak of a “Made For TV” match-up to you? Also, how do you see that game playing out considering the original upset was early in the season?

Of course, though the ever sentimental, I don’t mind. It’s got me channeling my inner-Rick Reilly(!); my human-interest bullshit pleasure meter reaching atmospheric levels. O Indiana, my Indiana, just a few years removed from national embarrassment and finally posting their first winning record since Tom Crean took over, this is when I casually drop in the themes of salvation, etc.

As a lark, I wanted to answer all these questions with a variation of the disgustingly safe, fence-sitting authority of the middle tier national voices. Team ‘X’ does this and this really well, so they shouldn’t have any issues. But they do have issues with that and that, which could pose a problem when they face Team ‘Y.’ It’s not that humorous, though, and it’s surely no fun.

There is no reason Kentucky shouldn’t win. The Internet has produced approximately 36,000 articles, stubs, and tweets proclaiming this year’s tournament is Kentucky’s to lose. The only time IU seems to get mentioned is when egregious reporters whine about the General refusing to say “Kentucky.” All the basic facts concerning this game are understood and have been examined ad vomitus, but who cares?

Indiana is taking this; it only makes sense. It allows for the pseudo-tragedy of a sure thing falling short and the romantic story of a fallen program coming back to exceed what’s expected.

Wisconsin is always a scary team in the upset department come March. Should Syracuse be concerned?

Yes. Syracuse should be concerned. If at any point in the tournament your team does something to remove the curtain and make us think about the inherent dangers and deplorable nature of college athletics, then yes, you should be very concerned.

Syracuse big man, Fab Melo is riding the rest of the tournament in street clothes thanks to some academic ineligibility. And now instead of thinking about how the Orange have reshaped their attack, I’m sent to my bed wallowing around trying to fight the stalemate inner argument of the role of sport in our society, it’s influence on young people, it’s detraction from the classroom.

This is not what I want to think about when watching the tournament. It’s a cell phone ringing during a play, a boom mic spotted in a film, a minor but unavoidable return to the depression of reality.

That, and also Wisconsin is a good look for winning games they “shouldn’t.”

How's your mom's bracket looking? Did you take her “mascot” advice?

Shoot, I channeled her as I filled in the spaces. An echo of her teachings over the years guiding my hand, similar to a spirit’s influence over the Ouija board. I’ve got nine out of the sixteen that remain, but only two from the Final Four. Georgetown, a team that always speaks to me emotionally – perhaps faint memories of my granny and me watching John Thompson prowl the sideline – failed me miserably. My East division is nearly flawless, but bragging on that is akin to gloating over predicting Woody Allen would win an Oscar for that lazy piece of nostalgia earlier this year. We take Indiana all the way to the Elite Eight before practicality wins out over the heart, and Michigan State is slated to win it all in a rare cooperation between childhood memories of Big Ten life and actual current competence.

Are the Tar Heels in trouble with the loss of Kendall Marshall or if he plays will he be worth having on the court? Should he play or sit out?

Yes they are in trouble. North Carolina might lose a basketball game. They might be removed from the tournament and some other team might claim the national championship and the sun might not rise and the seasons might shift to dangerous levels and famine might strike the developed nations.

What? Oh yes, the fantasy of sports and allowing us to feel engaged with something, anything while ignoring the less temporary issues. Then yes, North Carolina is in trouble in the loose sense of the word. Somehow, despite my best efforts, Roy Williams ignored my bracket and took his team past Creighton (yeah, I know, but I had my Peterson Field Guide next to me and was feeling wistful about the blue jay). Marshall should sit out against Ohio. If they play to half their potential the game should be a sleeper, and there’s nothing really heroic about playing injured against a scrub team. Save it for when Kansas destroys you next round.

Do any of the teams appear to have a coast-thru pass to the Championship game?

If Kentucky wasn’t facing Indiana, as we are now clearly aware of that outcome, then we could say the Wildcats can sleep soundly until the finals. As it stands now, though, no one really seems to have a clear cut which is of course the main draw of this tournament and what separates it – in theory, in the way we falsely romanticize college athletics – from any other American sporting tournament.

In all seriousness, Indiana probably has the best set-up. Nationally, there were no expectations at the beginning of the season for the Hoosiers. They won enough of the big games in the regular season on top of having a winning record that anything done in the post-season is strictly icing. They aren’t the lowest ranked team left, but no matter what happens against Kentucky (they will win) there will not be a negative thing said about them.

Will you watch the Championship game on mute once Jim “Masters Whisperer” Nantz replaces Gus “Cold Blooded” Johnson?

God dammit, Jim Nantz. Unless Chuck is involved, I always have the games muted. Upon moving to the city, I was gifted a friend with the incredible ability to perfectly mimic Howard Cosell’s pitch and cadence. I provide the TV and access to my vintage stock of Four Lokos, and the kid stands next to the set and puts on a show for all of us for the duration of the game.

Who will CBS invite to the Championship in order to plug a series and which commercial is causing you internal pain?

After Nickleback was voted out for the halftime show, sources sourced close to the source have said CBS is going with the safety option of Gene Keady and James Traficant. Though the genesis of the show is unknown/irrelevant, the Internet is already aflame in anticipation. It’s projected that the two men will be positioned at midcourt and just forced to stare one another’s hairpiece for approximately 15 minutes. Director of programming, Brett Ratner said it’s less avant garde and more just strictly an attempt to raise awareness that it is okay to go au naturel up top. Oh, and that damn Domino’s commercial. I’m not getting into the politics of the CEO in this space, but championing an “employee” who came up with some new bread balls? Maybe he is an actual employee; I could drop the scare quotes. That’s not the point. The point is it’s depressing. Depressing isn’t the word. There isn’t a word. How do we still celebrate food-like substances? Can we just cut that commercial down to fifteen seconds? The owner can say something like: Hey we made some balls of bread, dropped them in imitation butter and low-grade Parmesan. It’ll taste good in the way that that Justin Bieber song sounds good: low-level programming. And the female employee lacking real commitment as she says something like, “I think Darrell (or whoever) should be the CEO.” Then the CEO awkwardly laughs and says, “No.” It wasn’t even a laugh like he was playing along. He looked genuinely scared that she might be really proposing this idea.

Whatever, I can’t hate. I love the Domino’s Tracker. I will most likely have it fired up midway through the second half as the reality of Kentucky sets in and my Hoosiers are fading off into the land of “pleasantly surprising, yet strictly innocuous feel- good” lore.