Written by Andrew Ottoson Thursday, 13 March 2008 02:47
We've officially hit March Madness. It's never official until CBS puts the darkhorse flavor of the month on TV screens nationwide and completely overhypes a decent team’s chances in the NCAA tournament.
I’ve been counting on the Missouri Valley Conference champion to let me pencil in a few easy wins on my bracket in recent years. But not this year.
I’d normally say it’s pretty reasonable to expect a relatively unknown conference champion to knock the stuffing out of the third- or-fourth place team out of the ACC every year. But not this year.
In a normal year, the MVC tournament champ gets no love from the national media and ends up seeded near the bottom of the bracket. Because the tournament champ is usually a team other than the regular-season champ, the regular-season champ also ends up getting seeded two or three places too low.
In 2006, Wichita State was a No. 7 at-large bid. As a result, the Shockers ended up facing Seton Hall—who finished something like seventh in the Big East—and the Pirates never stood a chance.
That same year, MVC “champ” Southern Illinois actually finished behind the Shockers in the regular season standings but won the tournament and ended up with a No. 11 seed. They ran into West Virginia—remember Kevin Pittsnogle?—and never stood a chance.
But what happens when a team out of the Valley, like this season’s Drake squad, ends up being both the tournament champion and the holder of the best regular season record in the conference?
Your guess is as good as mine.
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Here’s my best guess: All of us sports fans who watched Saturday’s game or the win over Butler love Drake as a darkhorse right now even though they won’t win more than two games in the NCAA tournament.
So in a month, we’ll all hate Drake—or, more likely, we’ll react with apathy and indifference toward college hoops until next winter. Unless we’re all too busy being apathetic and indifferent toward professional baseball.
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All of this Drake business is foretold in the annals of “Seinfeld”—specificially in that one episode where everybody chips in for the big-screen to give to the Drake and the Drakette, but then turns on the Drake when the couple breaks up.
The sports world is already running a risk for something strange to happen on account of the conditions brought about by the combination of pro-Drake hype, to the point that we’re one inevitable and ironic coincidence away from forming a rupture in the space-time continuum.
A day is coming when practically everyone with a bracket and a pencil will unanimously nominate the same tournament darkhorse, causing a swirling portal vortex to open.
Next thing you know, Jake Gyllenhaal will be waking up 28 days ago and, in a fortuitous coincidence, the story will play out pretty much just like “Donnie Darko,” but with two big differences.
In “Donnie Darko,” Jake Gyllenhaal goes a little bit crazy because he narrowly avoided being squished by a jet engine, whereas in real life, a fair number of non-Gyllenhaals will go a little bit crazy because they all somehow wrecked their basketball brackets the exact same way.
The second major difference is, a month later, Jake Gyllenhaal will still be alive and kicking and working on “Untitled Moon Project” because he's got no interest in the “resolving a time-travel paradox” field of study.
And because Jake Gyllenhaal won’t be coming around to set things right, everybody who picked Drake to win more than two games will still be muttering obscenities under their breath come April.