Jay Meehan: Marching into the Mountains of Madness
Say it ain’t so! With all the problems in the world, you’d at least think we’d get a break from the selection committee for the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. But what are they smoking down there?
My problem isn’t that the West region number one seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs are on a collision course with Syracuse, but that, if form holds, they would meet in the second round. I just love getting all riled up over a sport I follow only by highlights on the “Arts and Letters Daily” website.
I’m assuming Syracuse gets by Baylor in the first round, of course. I just can’t see the Bears, as good as they are, successfully negotiating with the multi-headed, multi-armed Hindu deity that is the Orange zone.
There was a brief moment in time when college basketball, and sports in general, held a reserved seat on my leisure radar, but that was back when self medication also played a larger role.
Not that I totally ignored the legacy spirits of St. Patrick’s Day but by the time I returned home to my remote control and the post-nap news alert of this year’s brackets, innate orneriness had set in.
Obviously I’m hip to the fact that, in order to win it all, everyone has to play teams they would rather not, but somewhere further down the line. Certainly not Jim Boeheim’s frustrating Orange in the second round.
Syracuse’s chaos-driven zone defense loves nothing more than taking on higher seeded teams, especially when they have the crowd behind them, as they most assuredly will down in Salt Lake City at the Delta Center Energy Solutions Vivint Smart Home Identity Crisis Arena.
Actually, there should be a rather representative bunch down from Spokane, but, still, that’s only one fourth of the rabid traveling fan bases that will be giving their best impression of the British House of Commons. I heard the Marquis of Queensbury couldn’t get a ticket.
The Zags should be the favorite once the line-setters in Vegas finish their first edible but the “smart money” will come in late with a mandate to take the Orange and the points.
The “rib” is that I dig watching Syracuse reduce the team it is playing to its molecular level – just as I enjoy the much heralded Princeton-Penn version of “keep-away.”
Prior to reviewing the brackets and seeing if there might be other altercations of interest, I must admit to not having even a slight grasp on the philosophical logic of first round “play-in” match-ups. Remember, if you will, I never said I was the loftiest wedge in the bag.
I do understand how you would have a couple of 16-seeds tied for the last spot and that they would play for a seat at the big table. But a play-in for an 11-seed is pretty high on the food-chain for someone whose parents’ admission bribe to an institution of higher learning ran out after 15 minutes.
In what I’m calling my “Reverend Dirty Mertz & The Dells ‘12/5’ Upset Special,” I’m picking Pac-12 Oregon over Big Ten Wisconsin in the first round of the South Regional. Being mostly clueless, most all my picks are from the heart rather than the cognitive centers.
Hopefully, Zion Williamson of Duke can nurture both his footwear and his knee to the point where his coach is able to best utilize his grace under pressure. Too bad Isaac Newton is in another dimension and won’t be able to witness his Second Law of Motion in action, that being: “Force equals mass times acceleration.” Zion, you might say, is its poster child.
The proud Park City Rugby Football Club “Muckers” used to present an award at its annual banquet called “Give Me the Ball and Get Out of My Way.” Zion Lateef Williamson, listed at six feet seven inches tall and tipping the scales at 285 pounds, would have a full shelf of those by now.
With a seemingly unfair notion that the shortest distance between two points is non-negotiable, Zion creates a Doppler effect like John Henry racing the steam drill through the mountain.
So, get your picks in on time and talk plenty of trash along the way. I only wish “Big I” (the University of Idaho) had made it in and had Trump University on its dance card. My mates in my Bracketology group love having me on board to the extent that they could care less when I submit my picks. Hey, what’s up with that?
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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