March Madness True Life: I’m A Bracket Snob

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FGCU Hoops

Another year, another horrific bracket. As upset after upset was going on, I had a few thoughts.

First: “Crap. My bracket is toast.”

Then: “Well this is cool I guess. Give these smaller schools some shine.”

Then I had an unexpected thought: “I actually wanted to see some of the better known schools battle it out for the championship.”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed rooting for the underdogs in the moment. And I thought this girl actually did a decent Nicki Minaj impression on Dunk City. But my overarching thoughts coming out of this weekend’s NCAA tournament games is that somewhere along the way, I became a Bracket Snob. That’s actually troubling for me.

I, like a lot of people, have hated on the NCAA and the BCS for years. Among other reasons, both seem like Good Ole Boy clubs where the “haves” in the NCAA conspire against the “have-nots.” It sucks to see an undefeated Boise State team shut out of the college football title game because of their schedule. In the past, they have beaten whoever was in front of them, and at this point, many bigger schools refuse to put them on the schedule. What more can they do? The BCS, whether intended or not, became a system designed to keep the power (and money) in the hands of the few.

SW Philly Floater

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy March Madness. More teams get a shot to play for the title. What they do with that opportunity is on them. It’s the ultimate meritocracy, and much more equitable than a computer-generated title match up that’s rigged for the more prestigious schools.

That said, I’m a little disappointed in myself for how I felt while sifting through the wreckage that is my bracket. Though after thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I know why I feel this way.

I spend most of the season watching the “high-major” college teams play on television. I get a chance to learn about many of these players, and become a fan of their teams as I become more familiar with them. I had no idea before the season that Otto Porter was good, and now I want him to be drafted by my Detroit Pistons. I didn’t know Marshall Henderson was a crazy person, but he was fun to watch because of his passion and flair in big moments. Now that both are out of the tournament at the hands of teams I don’t know at all, some of my excitement to watch the rest of the games is diminished.

That unfamiliarity is probably the biggest reason I may have to accept my fate as a Bracket Snob. It’s just not as fun to watch guys you don’t know. Sadly, my job, life, and fiancé’s insistence on only watching reality TV means I won’t have enough time to get familiar with Wichita State’s roster over the course of the season. There are worse fates in the world, but this one definitely has me down. My favorite event in sports is a little less cool.

Do I stand alone as a newly minted Bracket Snob? Have all the upsets made you a little less interested? Are you into the Wichita State/LaSalle match up as much as Michigan State/Duke?

Let me know in the comments below!

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  • The Ghost

    Not related to the topic, but I want to address this:

    "In the past, they have beaten whoever was in front of them, and at this point, many bigger schools refuse to put them on the schedule."

    Not entirely true since BSU has refused to schedule some teams because for whatever reason they're unwilling to do a home-and-home (this happened recently with Nebraska). Moving on to the topic at hand…

    I'd rather see the major teams play, not because I "know" them more, but ultimately because I want competitive games. I love upsets as much as the next guy, but it's going to suck when Florida Gulf Coast ends up getting blown out someone that's way better than they are; they're going to draw a team that can exceed their athleticism (unlike SDSU) and exploit their style of play (unlike Georgetown — don't even get me started how they, of all teams, got destroyed by backcuts all game long), and College Lob City ain't gonna cut it. Although I'd be remiss to not give FGCU credit and acknowledge that even without all the dunking, those boys can pass like nobody's business.

    I grew up in the DC area, and while I'm not a fan, one of my fondest March Madness moments was George Mason's run in 2006 because of how crazy it was, but ultimately it led to an easy win for Florida in the Final Four, which is when we all want to see the highest quality of basketball. On one hand, it's amazing when Norfolk State can take down Missouri, or when Lehigh can best Duke, or when Northwestern State can knock down the buzzer beater against Iowa. On the other hand, it sucks when these teams are losing by 30 in the next round.

    I don't mind the WSUs of the tournament because there are some legit programs that just don't get a whole lot of exposure and can win games without getting a particularly extraordinary/unsustainable player or team performance (Wichita State was a victim of that George Mason buzzsaw in the S16 IIRC). VCU and Butler also fall into this category of solid mid-major programs that have consistently shown the ability to hang with better opponents (although they get lots of exposure now, and deservedly so).

    • Joe Sargent

      Hadn't heard about the Boise St/Nebraska thing. That's interesting. Are they still joining the Big East? Maybe they feel they didn't have to cater as much to different teams.

      I moved to Richmond the season after VCU's Final Four run. Went to the first home game to see them lift the banner. The atmosphere at those games is amazing now. Wish I had been there just a little earlier to see it all unfold a la George Mason.

      I think, overall, we agree just for slightly different reasons. I don't like watching guys I don't know, you don't like watching blow outs. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to to some degree, lol.

      • The Ghost

        - Yes, we do agree but for different reasons lol.

        - Boise State, as well as San Diego State, opted to remain in the Mountain West.

        - My family is from Richmond and they said it was incredible. Streets blocked off after each win and such so people could celebrate. I tried to convince my parents (both VCU alums) to just go to the Final Four because honestly, they're VCU and when's that ish ever gonna happen again? Although there's always the possibility since it doesn't seem like Shaka is in a hurry to leave. I think it's cool that he and Brad Stevens have thus far resisted the overtures of more prestigious programs, and I hope both continue to do so.

  • jdoubleu

    Sometimes the lesser known Cinderellas do play the majors and the games are on 1 of the ESPNs, but don't watch because we know it's gonna be a wash. For example, I was doing a little research and FGCU played Miami, Duke, and VCU in the regular season.They actually beat Miami, for what it's worth. However, nobody (myself included) watched those games and the media didn't push them because the school was deemed as an extremely weak competitor. It's become part of the narrative that the Cinderellas usually come from conferences that we don't expect much from athletically. The teams have 0 to lose so they come out playing their best basketball. At the very least, it makes you want to check out some of their games next season to see if it was just a flash in the pan or if they're actually a good team.

    I'm happy to see 3 FL teams in the S16. I have to root for the THE U by default though. I'm more of a player snob. With work, I have to watch a lot of YT and film on certain players. And sometimes there's guys playing for small teams that are just as good as guys that play for the majors (I mean who knew where Davidson was located before Steph Curry?). Brackets are always mad stressful because we just don't get to see the wealth of talent in the NCAA until Champ Week/March Madness.

    • Larry

      " For example, I was doing a little research and FGCU played Miami, Duke, and VCU in the regular season."

      They also played Iowa State…and save the Miami game they got crushed in all the other games. To be fair I'm going to go out on a limb and say the games were played on the road, lol.

      Oh, and I'm almost positive most people still don't know where Davidson is…they just know Steph Curry played for them, lol.

    • Joe Sargent

      I went with Miami in my bracket as well. Shane Larkin is no Trey Burke (I'm a Michigan fan after all), but he's a lot of fun to watch. And they have grown men on that squad. Kadji is like 25.

      I agree that smaller teams can play with nothing to lose and come with their best game. I just wonder why the bigger teams wouldn't in a 'one and done' situation. Like, at that point, neither team has anything to lose. I do think more upsets than not happen becuase the favorite looks past/underestimates their opponent.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, we say we want something then when it happens; Meh. We been crying for the Boise States and TCUs of the world, they get a bowl game no one pays attention. We love Cinderella’s, we love David vs Goliath, but then we end up with David vs David (Wichita/LaSalle) umm no thanks.

    Oh and I’m so on the FGCU bandwagon, Florida really isn’t as good as they are being made out to be.

    • Larry

      "Florida really isn't as good as they are being made out to be. "

      I'm not sure how good people are making them out to be, but being a 3 seed and handily beating their first two opponents I'd say they are who we thought they were (No Dennis Green).

      Would I be surprised if FGCU beat the Gators? Not really…both teams are playing good ball. Do I think FGCU is a better basketball team then Florida? No. But the saying goes 'you only need to be better on that day'

    • Joe Sargent

      Bitter pill to swallow, becuase I have caped up for a Boise State/TCU/etc in the past. But I'm not excited about LaSalle/WSU AT. ALL.

      I said before the tourney that I wouldn't be surprised if Florida was in the Final Four or went out in the first round. Ready for anything against Dunk City.

  • Larry

    "“I actually wanted to see some of the better known schools battle it out for the championship.” "

    This is the sentiment of the majority of people, whether they want to admit it or not. Everyone always talks about how they love a good underdog/Cinderella story in the tournament….until the 2nd weekend. There's a reason when double digit teams make it far in the tournament their ratings for the games tend to dip.

    Now the real basketball enthusiast will watch regardless…but the "lay" fans whom aren't overly familiary with the Wichita State/LaSalle powerhouse programs are probably gonna pass on watching. Majority of folks want to see the heavyweights go at it, like Joe was saying. Sure the underdog is a great story, but do we really want to experience UCONN vs. Butler again??? That was brutal. lol.

    • Joe Sargent

      Maybe I'm becoming less of a diehard college basketball fan. I'm still all in on the NBA, but I have no time for LaSalle/WSU (as noted above). I think that could be for a couple reasons:

      - I'm old now and have old guy stuff to do. Don't have as much time to get familiar with as many schools.
      - LaSalle/WSU looks worse next to Michigan State/Duke, Michigan/Kansas, and IU/Syracuse
      - I've just been in denial and have felt this way all along, lol.
      - I'm scarred by UCONN/Butler. That was a damn Brick Fest. *pukes*

  • A Wynn

    Is it nice to see 2 lower ranked schools play each other? Yes, cuz it has a chance of being a good game. Do the end results matter? No, cuz the winner would face nothing but power houses from here on out. Unless the NCAA did to Wichita State and LaSalle the same thing they did to Oregon…#UnderRanked

    • Joe Sargent

      I'll be sure to ask you who won LaSalle versus Witchita State. You may be the only one watching. To that point, you seem to be saying 'who cares since they will lose anyway' which is fine. Except we could put a game we'd want to watch in that place.

      Why waste a game when we all feel the winner has no shot to advance?

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