Thursday, March 15, 2007

The final four of hate

I'm not going to even submit brackets this year. Previous results have only led to self-doubt and humiliation.

And, let's face it, it's a complete crap shoot. Even the most serious college basketball fan hasn't seen at least a dozen of the teams play.

But it's still the most exciting two weeks in all of sports, and I'm still going to have to pick what teams I'm going to be pulling for.

Maybe another George Mason will come along to capture my allegiance but, short of that, I think this year I'm just going to root for the teams whose success will piss off the most college basketball fans.

I'm going to do this because I find most college basketball fans to be bratty, annoying and possibly dangerous. I think the problem is most of these fans start rooting for their favorite college team when they attended that college. But there is a natural imbalance to this. You are cheering people who should be your equals, yet they are not returning the favor by cheering you when you attend (or don't attend) Econ 101. To compensate for this, the college students gets in the habit of making themselves "part of the team." Thus the chanting, the head-to-toe-gear, and the arson -- all things we could do without.

That in mind, here's who I'll be pulling for:

West region:

While I'd like to see Kentucky reach the regional finals here -- because it would mean the rabid Kentucky faithful will have to deal with the hated Tubby Smith for at least a couple more years -- any discussion of college basketball and pissing people off starts and ends with Duke. Why? Well, it gets back to the status unbalance between students and student-athletes. Compared to the other big-time programs, the Dukies are closer racially and socio-economically to the typical college student, making this unbalance hard to deny. When this year's weak Duke team makes its surprise run to the Final Four, every Mike Krzyzewski smirk and every awkward McRoberts/Scheyer high-five will trigger self-loathing nationwide in the 35 and under set.

East region:

If those "who would you vote for" polls are correct, Mormons are the most reviled group of people in America. I don't believe this is the case, but Mormons -- who number about five million -- are maybe the only minority a substantial segment of Americans feel free in to dis in a poll. That's why I'll be pulling for BYU -- which I'm going to assume is a team full of Mormons -- to reach the Final Four. Nothing like a "cultish" religion full of magical gold plates, back screens, three-point shots and well-scrubbed lilly-whiteness to piss off the average college basketball fan.

South region:

I'm for Texas Tech here. Besides a misinterpreted slap, and an incident at a Whole Foods salad bar, Bobby Knight has been unusually well-behaved since arriving in Lubbock. While some mellow with age, Knight seems like the kind of guy who would use old age as an excuse to go the other way. A deep run into the tourney will embolden The General to act his true self. He will either bite one of his players or urinate on a referee. Even if those antics end up entertaining the typical college basketball fan, the breathless condemnation and outrage that will come out of the bastion of morality that is sports journalism will more than make up for it.

Midwest region:

It isn't noticed (or maybe it is noticed) how similar Florida is to Duke. It doesn't have that same school-you-can't-get-into thing going, but Coach Billy Donovan is just as much of a smug, self-righteous, ref-working shill that Krzyzewski is, and he recruits exactly the same type of players Coach K does. Then there's Jokaim Noah, who's wacky-dance-dress-wearing-sideline-slap-fights-with-cheerleaders-and-opposing-coaches antics are even beginning to piss me off. The more Noah plays, the further he falls from the number spot in the draft that he would have had if he came out last year. Yet he'll probably end up back for his senior season. He's just that rich. Take that class of '07 job applicants.

So I have Duke, BYU, Texas Tech and Florida in the Final Four. In the extraordinarily unlikely event this comes to be, I will decide on who I will be pulling for to win it all based on what team has elicited the most angrily thrown beer cans, conspiratorial rants about referees, and hateful Youtube videos.

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