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Follow the Bouncing Ball

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It is that time of the year. And, it is not called "March Madness" without reason. Think of it, 129 schools competing in all the tournaments which are about to get underway, 65 of which are in the "big one." As with the football bowls at season's end, it will not be long before conference playoffs are a thing of the past or just a warm-up and everyone will be invited to "the big dance" where it will be, as with those playoffs, one and done,

Look at it this way, teams that never should have been invited in the first place will be sent home after the first game is played. Is there a chance for a major upset? Will snow fall in Las Vegas any time soon? Sure, it is possible. Unlikely is a more apt description. Winning a conference tournament is the criteria, but that does not make for the truly most deserving teams around. It just means that the conference is represented.

Tell me I am wrong, but will Cal State Northridge and its 17-13 record best Memphis? How about Cornell, representing the Ivy League, going up against Missouri, or Chattanooga measuring up with Connecticut? Even a chapel at the various arenas will not help. Is it an honor to be there, a treat for the team? Sure, like candy without a meal to follow. Can East Tennessee State really get into a physical match-up against Pittsburgh? Best bet there is to have 911 on call. How about American taking on Villanova in Philadelphia? They will learn the real meaning of crowd noise and partisanship.

Not much chance of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils losing in the first round.
Binghamton is playing Duke. Why? A letter of regret for not being able to make it would be more welcomed by everyone. but it just might be worth a trip if they can get over to Graceland. Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, and Morgan State is not going to corral that or put it into some bottle to place in any trophy case that they might possess. Syracuse is no longer tired and they are revved up to take on what will likely be Arizona State. The Orange will not be squeezed by the likes of Stephen F. Austin.

And then there is North Carolina. The Tar Heels will be going up against Radford. You read that correctly...Radford. This could make Friday the 13th seem like a comedy...the movie, not the date.

Robert Morris against Michigan State. Quick, where is Robert Morris, what is the name of their conference and do you know the school's nickname? All household items. OK, stop looking, they are The Colonials and Robert Morris was one of the people that funded the American Revolution. There will not, however, be any revolt on the hardwoods when they meet the Spartans.

Louisville will take on the winner of the Alabama State/Morehead State contest but that one is like duking it out to determine who dives into the shark infested waters from the 90-foot cliff.

Once you have studied your bracket, tonight, tomorrow, the next day and deposited your $5, $10 or more into the hands of the person responsible for collecting, recording and posting, just remember that it all boils down to the Final Four and the winner. The rest is simply for crowing rights around the office, nothing more.

The Big East has three of the four No. 1 seeds so there is a message being sent. Physical, school-yard ball is back in vogue. Run 'n gun works. The outsider is, of course, North Carolina, and ACC entries are teams to watch just as closely...Duke, Wake Forest, Florida State, Maryland, Boston College, and Clemson are all capable of winning when they are supposed to lose, according to what the stats and odds-makers say.

The pundits on TV will continue to theorize why this team or that one should win or lose and, in many cases, be wrong. No apologies forthcoming and few recollections of what they said or who they chose. Just more hypothecating the day after. Not much complaining about which schools were left out because past years have proven that venting does not change a thing and the selection committee has volumes of reasons why they chose this or that team and not another. You would have more luck speaking to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and greater likelihood of an acceptable response.

Lots of cheering, and just as many disappointments are on the agenda in the weeks ahead. Do I think anyone can settle on the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four right now? You gotta be kidding!