Monday, March 19, 2007


Another NCAA tournament weekend has come and gone, and it was enjoyable, even if it was not completely earth-shattering. In the first round, besides VCU upsetting Duke, Winthrop knocking off Notre Dame, and ignoring the 8/9 games, all the games went to chalk. This almost never happens, and it made for a pretty dull set of games. Usually you have a 12, 13, or 14 seed prevail: this year not one surprise Cinderella in the bunch. The second round had a few games go to OT, but I didn't really feel that excited about any of them, and there wasn't a single buzzer beater.

But what's not surprising is that my bracket picks are garbage. I took chances on George Washington, Holy Cross, Old Dominion, Gonzaga, Arkansas, Creighton, Texas Tech, and Albany and they let me down. Come to think of it, why did I choose eight teams with a 10 or worse seeding? I really don't know what I was smoking, but I really thought that this was a wide open field with no real favorites. I tend to overthink my picks, and then think some more and go back and change it a bit. But this year's was the topper, as I decided at the last minute that Vanderbilt and Tennessee were crap (despite saying earlier that the latter could surprise), that Maryland was a legit Final Four team because Darryl Strawberry's kid is on it, that Butler completely stinks, and that Boston College was going to lose because I didn't like the way coach Al Skinner looks. Even Kansas and Memphis look competent, and the PAC-10 teams truly kicked my ass. And fuck you Gonzaga! (And let's not talk about Villanova, who didn't even show up. Mike Nardi, who was hurt and shouldn't have played that second half, we hardly knew ye. "Moving without the basketball" will take on a new meaning, as he moves back into his parents' house this May.)

Good lord, I stink.

Yes, I can still win the pot if Texas A&M gets the title (I still have NC and Pitt alive for my final 4), but I really don't see that happening. Basically, it comes down to this: I will not be running a bracket pool for 2008, and probably won't even fill out a sheet. It's embarrassing to organize this thing every year and be soundly thrashed. Instead, I'm going to focus on just enjoying NCAA Friday, during which my only worries are drinking, eating, and watching basketball. Just a few notes:

As far as sports viewing goes, Nyack is a complete and fucking utter waste of time. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, judging by the large gay population, but it's unbelievable. On Thursday night it was simply unfathomable that Black Bear Saloon and their "26 flat screens" was showing ESPN figure skating on 5 TVs and ESPN News on several others, instead of ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SPORTING EVENTS OF THE YEAR. They were on notice, now they're dead to me.

On the other hand, The Sports Page Pub in White Plains "gets it". They have all the games in HD, and know when they're on. And while the place is nothing to look at from the outside, it has a nice big room with countless TVs to choose from. Plus, it's filled with sports fans and just has a great atmosphere. We had dinner at James Joyce, but they just could not compare, as they were in full "calm before the St. Pat's storm" mode.

The Page even had a bunch of Villanova alumni gather in a back room with a big non-HD big screen to watch the game, which led to this awkward exchange with one of them:

Alumni: So do we have anyone else here who went to Villanova?
Me: Uhm, I did.
Alumni: I graduated in 1984.
Me: Oh. I graduated in 1992.
Alumni: Oh.

He quickly turned around before I got to introduce myself. Yes, it turns out that it's true: most Villanova alums are stuck-up snobs. Whatever. I quickly sauntered back into the main room to watch the games with the real fans, most of them rooting for Holy Cross (the owner's son apparently went there). I didn't find this out until now, but most of them were fans of senior point guard Torey Thomas from White Plains. Regardless of the respective fan support, both Catholic schools bit the dust. I guess God hates basketball.

I'm still surprised at how many "sports fans" have no idea that the tournament is NOT ON ESPN. It's been on CBS for years! People seem to think that if it's a sporting event, it's on ESPN; conversely, if it's not on ESPN, then it's not a sport. Apparently, the brainwashing is working.

CBS's HD coverage was fine, considering the sheer breadth of this tournament there weren't any major foul ups. As long as they weren't switching around too much and doing that weird "live look-in" thing where the entire screen had a huge frame around it (bad choice). I did notice that the picture was a bit muddy at times, and although it wasn't good as "looking through a window", it was not as bad as looking like it was "underwater" (like some complained); it was somewhere in between. However, what is with the microphones on the rims? Do we have to hear a loud rattling sound with every basket? Jeepers.

I just want to announce: I've never found Tracy Morgan funny. Not even remotely. I haven't seen a funny SNL skit, interview, or standup performance of his . . . and now he's doing DiGiorno's commercials. Uh huh. I just don't get the allure, and that 30 Rock show where he does a parody of himself is also NOT funny.

Once last thing: thanks to the New York DOT for not plowing I-287 all the way from White Plains to Nyack, even though it was snowing/sleeting in the area for 15 hours straight. It was atrocious, and I'm really wondering where the hell my tax money is actually going. We even passed 12 plow trucks in WP and NOT ONE OF THEM HAD THE PLOW ON THE GROUND; I hope they got paid OT for that. Although if they'd actually done their job, Vertullo would not have been able to make a snow angel in the middle of Church Street. So that was worth it.

All in all, another enjoyable NCAA Friday. (Let's just forget about the brackets.)

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