Bradford Applin

I’m standing up as I write this. You may think it’s because I am so excited about the topic of today’s column that I can’t sit still. Perhaps I am anxiously typing away as the NCAA Tournament Championship unfolds. Maybe my chair has been seized and hidden as part of some elaborate April fool’s joke orchestrated by my roommates.

However, none of these are the case. The finale of this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament has been anti-climactic at best, and absent of the twists and turns that generated such high expectations for it. Nor do my roommates have the required initiative to steal my one piece of furniture.

I am standing because I recently returned from an approximately 27-hour trip to and from Utah. So why should you care that my surplus can no longer stand to be seated? Because somewhere between the mountain tips frosted with ice and the golden glowing greed of Las Vegas, I realized that joy cannot only be found in the destination, but often in the journey. In the van that came to be known as “The Beast,” I found meaning to my bracket that lay crumpled up in the corner, vandalized and overrun with more red ink than even the most abysmal midterm.

The whimper that was the completion of the tournament will not overshadow the fan-friendly frenzy that came before it. I present to you the best moments of this year’s college basketball tournament:

Round of 64

In a ruthless 48 hours, the field was cut in half, but only 9 of the 32 games were upsets by worst seeded teams.

In a quaint story, a little team from the Colonial Athletic Association (no, that’s not the name of a health club or insurance plan for retired people) called the George Mason Patriots upset the sixth-seeded Michigan State Spartans. They seem content with achieving their school’s first victory in NCAA tournament history. But their deal with a major ink producer specializing in a certain color ink has not yet been revealed to the public.

Round of 32

While only five of the games are upsets based on the seeds, a mid-major media frenzy generates when Bradley, George Mason (remember them?) and Wichita State all make the sweet 16. A nice story? Yes. But will these victories get top prospects flocking to the likes of the Missouri Valley Conference or the Colonial Athletic Association? No. Settle down Dick Vitale, settle down.

Sweet 16

Following the Duke and Gonzaga games, I was terribly vexed. When a friend cries unnecessarily in the future, am I to tell him to stop pulling a “Redick” or a “Morrison?”

J.J. Redick cried as Duke lost to LSU after being held to a 3-18 shooting performance, leaving coach Mike Krzyzewski with plenty of free time to film GM commercials. Adam Morrison began crying before the game against UCLA was even finished, then collapsed at mid-court. (On a side note: I find it interesting that commentators called Morrison “passionate” and “competitive” when he screamed obscenities to himself while shooting free throws, and repeatedly banged his head against a basketball. However, when he wore his heart on his sleeve when losing, he was suddenly “immature.”) Thankfully, I came to a compromise: When the crying is in self pity, it is pulling a “Redick,” as he wept while watching his draft position and salary in the NBA drop with each miss. When the crying is a complete over reaction, it’s pulling a “Morrison.” Aren’t you glad I cleared that up and expanded your pop culture vocabulary?

Meanwhile, the George Mason Patriots beat the Wichita State Shockers to advance to the sweet 16. I promise that you will never, ever, ever, read that sentence again in the history of college basketball.

Elite Eight

Tyrus Thomas of LSU proves that this was his tournament; everyone else was just playing in it. He absolutely wills LSU to the victory over Texas, scoring 21 points on 10-14 shooting, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking three shots. As a fan, not only would I want him on my NBA team right now, I can’t wait for his nickname of “T-Time” to catch on.

Not to be forgotten in this tournament was Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who (with all respect to Charles Barkley) made a solid campaign to become the next “round mound of rebound.”

In the ongoing saga of the Patriots, they repeatedly fail to close the door on the Connecticut Huskies, before finally pulling off easily the biggest upset of the tournament (with the hometown crowd). In other news, a sea of red flows from the Washington D.C. region in my bracket all the way to the final four.

Final Four

UCLA takes care of LSU and Florida reminds everyone why George Mason was an 11th seed. However, George Mason is finally eliminated, just as I was learning to like them in the same way a hostage becomes enamored with their kidnappers. Except, you know, the hostage is my bracket and the kidnapper is a college basketball team. The metaphor works; don’t question it. Moving on-

Championship

The agonizing nature of watching this game can best be summed up by an excerpt from the pre-game show, when CBS commentator Clark Kellogg gives us this gem as he attempts to sum up the versatility of Florida’s Corey Brewer by comparing his talent to a potato. “His game is as versatile as a potato, he can come baked or hashed, fried or mashed.” (What, no scalloped?) Without missing a beat, his wingman Seth Davis responds with, “He’s got to avoid being ‘french-fried’ by the UCLA defense.” And to think, such witty banter wasted on such a boring game-oh wait-

Bradford Applin is a sophomore journalism major. His television, which has been permanently fixed on CBS for the better part of a month, can now return to its normal position on ESPN. He can be reached for feedback bapplin@calpoly.edu.

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