Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys debate the last two weeks of the NCAA Tournament and conclude that it should not be effed with.
MIKE WALSH: Do you guys smell that?
No, it’s not the smell of thousands of the Rock, Chalk faithful burning their brackets … their tears keep putting out the flames. It kind of smells like … chili, with a dash of victory. Can you smell it or is there a stench of defeat draped over you like a full court press? That’s right, kids, my Ohio State Buckeyes may be out, too, but at least they outlasted your sorry Temple and Maryland picks who couldn’t couldn’t even survive the first weekend. But don’t feel bad, boys, it was one of the craziest opening weekends since the Jersey Shore kids hit the Seaside boardwalk for the first time. Oh yeah, that’s a celebratory Jersey Shore reference … I’ve earned it.
At least Steve still has West Virginia to root against. Coach K and the Evil Empire took the stink I was sending Baylor’s way and sent the Bears packing. And Dave, well, Kansas is toast so I guess you’re out of luck, too, buddy. There’s always next year. I suppose you can just sit back and enjoy the Madness as it unfolds. And there’s been plenty to go around so far.
My favorite moment of this year’s tournament, hands down, was in the waning seconds of Northern Iowa’s improbable upset over top-seeded Kansas. Panthers guard Ali Farokhmanesh’s transition three-ball in the last minute of regulation took Blue-Ribbon-at-the-State-Fair-sized onions to even heave up. It was one of the shots where the entire coaching staff yells, “No, no, no, YES!” And here’s the thing, he HAD to take that shot. In any other game, it would have been the kind of shot that gets you sent to the end of the bench – after the freshman manager … but against the top overall seed, you have to go for the kill. If he didn’t make that shot, it just felt like the Jayhawks would find some way to pull it out. But Northern Iowa had nothing to lose and they played like it. It was a shot that Farokhmanesh will be able to brag to his coworkers about when he’s working at some marketing firm next year, because let’s be serious, that’s most likely where he ends up unless he ends up lighting up a pro league in Azerbaijan. Even so, it was a shot of a lifetime and made my tournament. Do you think any other desk jockeys have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated?
The way this tournament has been going, I’m going to need an oxygen mask for the Final Four. I wonder if basketball induced conditions are covered by this new health care reform? I’ll have to look into that.
So what do you guys think? What have your favorite moments been so far? What are you looking forward to this weekend? Is Butler raising a banner? And, most importantly, when can I expect my chili?
DAVE ZEITLIN: Congratulations, Mike. Your Buckeyes were just a little bit less sucky than my Terps and Steve’s Owls (though if Maryland decided to play a little defense in the final seconds, they’d be in the Final Four now instead of Michigan State.) But in reality we are all winners. Forget our friendly wagers and our brackets; the truth is this tournament is for all fans of upsets and mid-majors. And if you don’t like those things, you should be forced to watch only Coach K seminars entitled “How To Be Succesful On and Off the Court” throughout the month of March. (Do those exist? I’m betting they do.)