A Column of Enchantment: I am Miserable So You Will Be Too

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 19th, 2015

A Column of Enchantment has been a fun and weird thing since it debuted a few months ago on Rush the Court. When Randy and I discussed the idea of it — a barely about college basketball college basketball column — he got what I was trying to pitch. The basic premise of it was that there were no real actual premise or structure to it. That being said, I have often relied upon the touching of three major topics after I meet you with the opening paragraph. In that particular structure we have compared Kentucky to Lobsters battling Unicorns, talked about Christian Slater being awesome and often talked about my man-crush on Fred Hoiberg. Other times I don’t even actually cover college basketball. I’ll talk about Dancing With The Stars and mask the absurdity of doing so by adding a few college hoops figures to the cast. Then there’s the time I wrote a fictional Steve Lavin story and, well, people seemed to enjoy it. Basically, the easiest way to describe this column: utter poop-show of sometimes awesomeness.

Much like this North Florida band member Wednesday evening, this week's Column of Enchantment is going through sort of a crisis. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Much like this North Florida band member Wednesday evening, this week’s Column of Enchantment is going through sort of a crisis. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

All in all, A Column of Enchantment has been about fun, bad jokes, even worse analogies, often not talking about college basketball and mostly the idea that it is okay to not be a college basketball writer who takes himself too seriously. There are enough of those types of college basketbloggers in the world — not to mention those who are void of personality or seem to have no earthly idea what they are talking about. There are good ones too. That is certainly worth mentioning. In my less than humble opinion I think that the college basketball media world is packed with the best group of any of the groups of sports writing out there. Regardless, I just wanted A Column of Enchantment to help break up your day as well as mine, bring a smile to the dozen of you guys who read (and enjoy) this and even poke fun at myself.

Yet here I am. A miserable fellow. Things have been tough on your good ole pal Joe lately. That’s not something you care to hear about, I know — and honestly, I really don’t give a fudge. Other sports writers scribble their thoughts for money, fame, validation or other tangible reasons. I put mine on the laptop because I like feeling creative and it has always been a way to relieve stress. Even if it means I don’t add anything extra to the discourse that is the sport. That’s probably not fair — and is a certainly a horrible way to go writing about sports — but that’s my style. If you are like some of the people who have somehow found my email address (when I didn’t have it publicly listed) and decided to email me to tell me you like my stuff but think I am a bit too kooky, you can go to the other site where I write on the topic of college hoops more seriously. But for now you’re here at RTC, reading A Column of Enchantment, so you are going to listen me whine a bit. Stop reading now if you don’t want to deal with it. With that being said, though, I’ll still try to manage to hurl in some bad jokes for you too because I’m most certainly a man of the people.

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March Madness is here. Like, for real here. It is my favorite time of the year and probably yours too. I mean, there’s nothing like a little unpaid labor making millions upon millions of dollars for universities who do everything in their power to keep those without it from having some. Those unpaid laborers are also playing some single-game elimination hoops for our entertainment. Since we have long ago been able to compartmentalize those facts, which has allowed us to enjoy said Tournament without guilt, we should all be incredibly happy. Expect, um, I am not.

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A Column of Enchantment: Madness is Here and it’s Enchanting

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 12th, 2015

Did you guys notice that the insides of our skulls, otherwise known as our craniums, are acting weird? Don’t panic. This isn’t a new disease or anything. It has been going on for a bit over a week, seems to only come along during this part of the calendar year, and it inevitably results in people who had a lighter diagnosis of this same illness when the college basketball season was young now having a full-blown case of the Madness. Nevertheless, you are sick. You have the sickies. It is like a combination of SARS and a urinary tract infection. Luckily for you, though, there are cures. Multiple fixes of this gosh slam abomination of mild-altering yucks. All you need to do is watch the basketball on the picture-box or, for you hip kids, stream games on your laptop or mobile cellular and non-cellular devices. Man, it’s the future! Doc Brown would be so proud.

Are you ready?

Are You Ready?

However, some of you people are so far from help that there is no cure. You have spent your entire October until now just watching men hit other men because of a football or something and using any time that is not related to violence watching your relationship with your lover significantly crumble under the watchful eyes of Robert Kirkman. I mean, the new Walking Dead spin-off will certainly not help your marriage. Well, unless you and your loved one use it as a preparatory tool for the impending zombie invasion — and trust me, it is near.

Wait. Time out. Something about basketball and disease. Oh, yeah, that’s right. You’re going to die. Not like right now or anything, but pretty soon in the grand scheme of things. I don’t know how old you are because I lack the ability to see you through my laptop (or do I?). Let’s just say for the sake of round numbers you are 20. That means, unless tragedy strikes you early, you have a good 50 to 70 years left on this planet. That’s unless the FDA approves my patent pending drink called “drink,” which will allow you to live until you are 450 years old (we just started the testing on unicorns phase and I must say that they haven’t died yet). Dying is not fun. I don’t know from experience, but not a single dead person has come to me, tweeted at me or emailed me to tell me otherwise. I guess there is a small chance that being dead is so much fun that they are too busy giving Jesus H. Christ the business to be readily available for some hot takes on Twitter. Really, who knows. Not me. Certainly not you because you are not me. Only the dead people and their god(s) know. And you know what? F-them for not sharing the details. Read the rest of this entry »

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Circle of March: Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2015

Welcome to the fourth annual Circle of March.

If you’ve been around with us for a while, you already know the premise behind this series; and if you’re not familiar with it, thanks for checking in! What we try to do with this series is to celebrate that March is now here and it’s time for postseason basketball to envelop our bodies and souls for the next five weeks until the sport crowns a new champion. As of today — the first Monday of Championship Fortnight — 333 of the nation’s 351 Division I men’s programs are eligible to win the 2015 National Championship. Those schools can be found somewhere on the below circle. Eighteen other schools are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament because they have low APR scores, are on a self-imposed probation, or are still transitioning into Division I. We have already removed those names and wish each of them the best of luck in making it onto the CoM in future seasons. Because we want every eligible team to get at least one day of run on the Circle, though, we have chosen not to formally remove any of the other already-eliminated schools until Tuesday’s Vol. II edition ahead of the start of conference tournament games. Bubble teams also won’t be removed until they’re officially disregarded by the NCAA Selection Committee in two weeks. It just seems nicer this way.

In previous years you might recall we added a game component to Volume I of the CoM (scroll through the last three Circles of March here). This year’s version is no different and so we’ve once again added a crossword puzzle element to it. See if you can locate the 10 names of coaches and players hidden within the Circle likely to make some noise in March (note: make sure to click on the image for a larger and clearer view). The first 15 people who tweet at us (@rushthecourt) or e-mail us (rushthecourt@yahoo.com) with the 10 correct hidden words will receive a free RTC t-shirt. For a bonus challenge, there are also four groupings of schools surreptitiously clustered in areas of the CoM that refer to the following: 1) the unbeaten national champions; 2) the schools currently riding a streak of two or more consecutive automatic bids; 3) the national champions with 10 or more losses; 4) the __________ (see if you can figure out the fourth cluster — it relates to NCAA Tournament appearances and Final Fours). Have fun!

Here is the 2015 Circle of March. Welcome to March Madness.

2015_CircleofMarch_1

Maybe next year for this group.

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Where 2014-15 Happens: Reason #27 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2014

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2014-15 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight rather than 30 days from now. Over the next month you’ll get one reason per day until we reach the new season on November 14. We’ve captured what we believe were the 30 most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. For all of this year’s released posts, click here

#27 – Where AND ONE!! Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-122012-13 and 2013-14 preseasons.

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Experiencing March Madness, Vegas Style

Posted by Sean Moran on March 27th, 2014

RTC_tourneycoverage

RTC correspondent Sean Moran spent the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend in Las Vegas taking in all of the action on the Strip.

Memphis’ Michael Dixon Jr. steps to the line for two shots with 0.3 seconds on the clock for the Memphis Tigers. The crowd rises in unison. Screams of “MISS IT” are yelled out by one half of the crowd. The other half mutters and prays “please, please just hit the first one.” As the first of two free throws rips through the net, a loud roar erupts, dancing and hugging ensue. At the same time a look of despair appears from the fans hoping for a miss. A game-winner, you might ask? No, just a meaningless free throw that actually meant a whole lot to the fans gathered in Vegas.

March Madness in Vegas where fans hang on every play

The beauty of March Madness in Las Vegas is that the games are always interesting. Sure, the first four days were absolutely insane for the general fan too, with upsets, buzzer-beaters, and overtimes, but add in some gambling and you have March Madness on steroids. The casinos on the Strip open their betting windows early for the rush of college basketball fans streaming in from all over the country. Along with the standing room only sportsbooks, the casinos also offer stadium seating in their oversized auditoriums with big screen projectors to show every game. Fans are cheering, yelling, screaming, cursing, and pleading from 9:00 AM through the final buzzer 12 hours later that night. With overpriced light beers and food galore, everyone tends to get more rowdy as the day wears on.

Thursday started with an upset of Dayton over Ohio State and ended with a bang. Despite the early tip times on the West Coast it was almost impossible to find a seat in the Treasure Island auditorium. The day culminated with three scintillating overtime games in successive fashion along with a Cameron Ridley buzzer-beater for Texas. On day 2 the crowd turned quickly for the underdog right off the bat. Just like Florida Gulf Coast a year ago, the Atlantic Sun conference champion was not backing down against a high-level opponent. Mercer came in as a juicy 13-point underdog, and despite a three-point barrage from Duke, the Bears never backed down. Bold bettors were rewarded with an 8:1 payout on their bet as a few lucky winners cashed a sweet MoneyLine ticket. Even blowouts that the average fan turned away from turned into nail-biting affairs. If you took the “over” in the Baylor-Nebraska game you looked pretty much dead in the water with a 29-16 halftime score. Thanks to 18 fouls from Nebraska and a combined 99 points in the second half, the “over” backers were left shaking their heads in disbelief as the 74-60 final somehow made it past the 130.5 total.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.18.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 18th, 2014

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March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

South Region

West Region

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.17.14 Edition

Posted by Griffin Wong on March 17th, 2014

RTC_tourneycoverage

March Madness is finally upon us, and we here at RTC are here to make everything a little bit easier for you. From the First Four until One Shining Moment, we’ll be dropping daily tidbits of knowledge regarding the teams in each region.

South Region

West Region

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Circle of March, Vol. V

Posted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2014

With four days of Championship Fortnight now behind us, we have breached the magical 300-team mark. As of this morning, some 298 teams are unofficially still alive for the 2014 national championship, represented below on the Circle of March. Nine tournaments are in varying stages of progress at this point, with the CAA and SoCon tipping off today. Yesterday we removed only 11 teams from the CoM, but with nearly every league finishing up its regular season this weekend and a number of tourneys picking up fast and furiously, we’ll get below 200 in no time. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not remove teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., as of today, six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

circlemarch_3_6 Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.06.14)

  • Monmouth
  • East Tennessee State
  • Tennessee Tech
  • Drake
  • Fairfield
  • USC Upstate
  • Portland
  • Bradley
  • Southeast Missouri State
  • Marist
  • Santa Clara
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Circle of March, Vol. III

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2014

Day two of Championship Fortnight resulted in seven eliminations spread between the Atlantic Sun and Horizon League tournaments. It was a particularly rough night for Florida schools, with three of the state’s 14 D-I programs — Stetson, Jacksonville, and North Florida — finishing off their seasons in the A-Sun. Luckily for the Sunshine State, league favorite and America’s darling, Florida Gulf Coast, easily defeated Stetson to keep its hopes alive for another turn in the spotlight. We’re now down to 323 active schools on the Circle of March. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not remove teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

There’s much more to come tonight, with the Patriot League picking back up and the Big South, OVC and NEC all tipping things off.

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.04.14)

  • Detroit
  • Illinois-Chicago
  • Youngstown State
  • Stetson
  • North Florida
  • Lipscomb
  • Jacksonville
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Circle of March, Vol. II

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2014

March Madness is officially under way. With the Patriot League’s opening round tipping off last night at campus sites in Baltimore, Maryland, and Hamilton, New York, eliminations have begun. The first two teams to survive and advance in the PL were Lafayette and Colgate, meaning that Navy and Loyola (MD) are the Circle of March’s first on-court casualties of the year. A handful of other schools that were not invited to the conference tournaments got their one-day in the CoM sun and were also removed. The entire group of 11 eliminated teams is listed below the Circle. We’re down to 330 active schools. Note: In order to respect the integrity of the regular season, we will not be removing teams until their schedules are finished regardless of their current status (i.e., six Ivy League teams cannot win the conference’s automatic bid).

Thanks also to everyone who played yesterday’s Circle of March crossword puzzle game. Many of you got at least 10 of the words, and a very few of you got the entire set of 15 (several found other words or just made some up). Here were the hidden words: court, rush, march, champion, upset, bubble, madness, cinderella, dunk, lucky shot, stars, final four, bracket, pool, swish. We’ll be contacting those who were among the winning group very soon. Thanks for playing!

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.03.14)

  • NJIT
  • Northern Kentucky
  • Kennesaw State
  • LIU Brooklyn
  • Sacred Heart
  • Jacksonville State
  • Tennessee State
  • Austin Peay
  • Tennessee-Martin
  • Loyola (MD)
  • Navy
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Circle of March, Vol. I

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2014

In this, our third annual Circle of March, we’re going to spend the next five weeks until post-championship Tuesday counting down and eliminating the entirety of Division I basketball until we get to a single, solitary name. The Patriot League Tournament gets under way this evening, and a total of 12 other conference tourneys will tip off this week after that. According to the NCAA, 11 of this season’s 351 Division I schools are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament because of APR scores or because they’re still transitioning up. We have removed those names from the CoM and wish them the best of luck in future seasons — the other 340 schools are represented in the CoM’s inaugural 2014 edition. Because we want every eligible team to get at least one day of run on the Circle, though, we have chosen not to formally remove any of the other already-eliminated schools until Tuesday. Bubble teams also won’t be removed until they’re officially disregarded by the NCAA Selection Committee in two weeks. It just seems nicer this way.

Last year you might recall we added a bit of a game component to the debut CoM. This year’s version is no different, but instead of asking readers to find like groupings of school logos, we’ve added a crossword puzzle element to this one. See if you can locate at least 10 of the NCAA Tournament-related words hidden within the Circle (note: make sure to click on the image for a larger and clearer view). The first 15 people who tweet at us (@rushthecourt) or e-mail us (rushthecourt@yahoo.com) with 10 or more of the correct hidden words will receive a free RTC t-shirt. We’ll also give a t-shirt prize to every 10th person who gets that many right after that. For the first person who identifies all of the hidden words, we’ll have a grand prize. Please, everyone, feel free to SHARE AWAY!

Here is 2014 Circle of March. Welcome to March Madness.

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Teams Eliminated From National Title Contention (03.03.14)

  • Abilene Christian (D-I transition)
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff (APR)
  • FIU (APR)
  • Grambling State (APR)
  • Grand Canyon (D-I transition)
  • Incarnate Word (D-I transition)
  • Mississippi Valley State (APR)
  • Nebraska-Omaha (D-I transition)
  • New Orleans (APR)
  • Southern (APR)
  • UMass-Lowell (D-I transition)
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Considering Florida: Is NBA Talent Necessary to Advance in the NCAA Tournament?

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 20th, 2013

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

Florida is one of the most debatable teams in the NCAA Tournament. UF should have walked away with the SEC crown on Sunday, but the Gators lost a double-digit lead to the Ole Miss Rebels. And again, UF was on the wrong side of another endgame situation with two crucial missed free throws by guard Scottie Wilbekin. Some believe the Gators have the talent and efficiency to make it to the Final Four, but others think they could find themselves in another close battle where the lack of a go-to guy leaves Billy Donovan’s squad looking for an answer. As Americans fill out their brackets, the debate over Florida begins.

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won't translate to the pro game.  (US Presswire)

Erik Murphy is an efficient college player, but that success probably won’t translate to the pro game. (US Presswire)

During the SEC podblast last week (a fun 30 minutes of SEC Tournament debate if you haven’t checked it out yet), podblast co-host Randy gave us his gut feeling that Florida will experience an early NCAA Tournament exit (his prediction was that the Gators would leave prior to the Sweet Sixteen). In his commentary, he mentioned the lack of an NBA player in the Gators’ regular rotation, begging the question, have Final Four teams in the last five years had a presence of future NBA talent on the roster? Could some teams experience a situation where the sum is greater than the parts or is NBA level talent ultimately necessary to make it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament?

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