Sean Beckwith: Getting back to brackets
After a long journey, we’re here. No, not the one-year mark of COVID. March Madness is back! Tall white guys making bad facial hair decisions, upsets from unlikely (yet likely) teams, that feeling five minutes into a game knowing this team is going to crater your bracket and, most importantly, bathing in an onslaught of hoops from 10 a.m. until you can no longer tolerate Tag Team’s ice cream anthem.
I can’t believe you thought this was going to be a “COVID, one year later” column. Celebrating the one-year anniversary of a pandemic is like celebrating the time you dropped out of grad school or when your girlfriend left you for a Costa Rican surf instructor. Why in the world would you want to celebrate that? Let’s keep it moving, file away the important stuff, remember the lessons we learned and curse vehemently at the mention of COVID.
This is going to be rapid fire because I’ve been too worried about the Western Conference standings and Dame Time to follow or watch any college basketball other than really the first four official days of the tourney.
Pac 12, pretty good
The way I pick my bracket is a combination of extreme bias and baseline knowledge of pro prospects. For example, as a Nebraska fan, I had Colorado, Iowa, Creighton, Wisconsin and Oklahoma all losing in the first round. The Buffs* stomped Georgetown in the opening round, and Iowa, a 2 seed, got pistol whipped by Oregon in the second round. (The Creighton, Wisconsin and Oklahoma examples don’t pertain to the Pac 12; I just wanted to reiterate how much I hate those programs.)
I blindly picked whoever the winner of the play-in game between UCLA and Michigan State to go far because, like my thoughts on Kansas, Georgetown, North Carolina and a couple of other thoroughbreds, might as well ride them even in a down year. I also had Tennessee going far because my girlfriend went there and it’s actually fun having a team to root for in the dance. (Nebraska has never won a tournament game, and since Rutgers prevailed in their opening game, Nebraska is now the lone power five school without a tourney win.)
That said, Oregon State and USC put the Vols and Jayhawks out to pasture like Javier Bardem with a captive bolt pistol. Now, a quarter of the Sweet 16 is from the West Coast.
I’m not really qualified to critique Black people’s hairstyles because that’s a whole different universe. The only thing I know is no one really thought Elfried Payton’s weird, floppy front bang thing worked. However, I do have some knowledge about these “ironic” facial hair decisions a few of my white brethren are rocking.
Gonzaga’s white guys are like the intramural team made up of cross-country runners. So far, they’ve made everyone in the tournament look like wheezing stoners while wearing samurai headbands and sporting their best Steve Prefontaine looks.
What I imagine is even more maddening for opponents than getting ran by the Prefon-team is getting systematically dismantled by Loyola Chicago’s Cameron Krutwig, who I can only describe as a lovably thicc, balding man-baby whose dirty ’stache is probably properly seasoned because the graceful center is not only talented but also generous.
That sinking feeling
College sports are wildly unpredictable unless you need an underwhelming high seed to make a comeback after trailing most of the game. Even if a high seed sneaks by in the first round, you kind of know that next time they try to mess around like this, they’re getting blown out or upset. *Cough* Kansas *Cough*
Michigan played like a 1 seed in the first round, so it wasn’t surprising when they were able to hold off LSU. Florida tried their best to gag the Virginia Tech game, then turned around and lost to an albeit ultra-confident 15 seed. However, after watching both teams’ first round games, that 15 beating that 7 felt sort of inevitable.
In the future, the selection committee needs to give teams that make VCU/Wichita State-type runs — i.e. Loyola Chicago — respect in general but especially coming off of previous tournament success.
Please rotate commercials
I know “Whoop there it is” was a classic back in the day; I had Jock Jams just like everyone else, but I’ve reached a breaking point. Geico has like 75 different versions of that commercial yet none of those are available? They have to know we’ve watched this f—ing ad since football season but let’s air it 45 times a day during the return of March Madness.
If someone started a GoFundMe to pay Tag Team to retire, I got $50 on it. Put them, along with the Can You Hear Me Now Guy and JG Wentworth, in an Elon Musk rocket ship and hope for the worst.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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