For every great office, there is an office pool come March. A test of brute strength, statistical analysis and, more than anything else, a test of pure luck. At its most, college basketball is thrilling and heartbreaking, and college basketball pools are both of those emotions taken to extremes. Here now is the 2014 Tuesdays With Horry NCAA Tournament bracket pool.
With a 68-45 drubbing of the Missouri State Bears last Saturday, the Wichita State Shockers capped off an undefeated regular season, the first since the Jameer Nelson-led St. Joe’s Hawks went 27-0 in 2004. The Shockers have lived up to their name, rising to #2 in the AP poll and sending waves throughout the country. This team is carefully constructed, with Gregg Marshall as its puzzle master, and it just might have the formula to be able to take the Missouri Valley Conference to the top of the mountain for one shining moment.
Sports are so arbitrary when you really think about it. It’s just a collection of athletes, exhibiting an arbitrary set of skills, governed by an arbitrary set of rules. You can throw a ball through a hoop? Good. You can throw it through a hoop behind this line? Even better.
It’s the arbitrary nature of sports which leave me finding them rather meaningless at times. When a man throws an oblong ball and another man catches it, the action doesn’t directly affect anything in the outside world. Wars are still fought. Diseases still kill. A ball passing through space doesn’t alter race relations or alter prejudices. It’s just an object traveling through space.
“Revenge is like serving cold cuts.” – Tony Soprano
An editor at Tuesdays with Horry reported to me a few weeks ago that University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari was spotted at a Dunkin Donuts in the Big Apple. Unless Calipari was hammering out a point-shaving deal with the Five Families (not unheard of in UK basketball history, and not above the suspicion of the editor who told me about the Cal sighting), his squad this year promises to be nearly unstoppable. The problem with UK’s team last year was that, with the exception of Kyle Wiltjer (who has since transferred to Gonzaga), the team was a mix of highly touted but underperforming freshmen. While people claim that such is always the risk with Cal’s rip-and-run, one-and-done recruiting philosophy, they fail to realize that last year was the first where Cal had to deal almost exclusively with freshmen: the three previous teams had veterans like Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller to provide some level of cohesion amid a sea of talent. No one would seriously argue that Willie Cauley-Stein is Patrick Patterson, but we’ll take the former when we have a historically talented recruiting class coming in, even without Andrew Wiggins. The SEC and the country as a whole is on notice: UK is coming for revenge, and I don’t anticipate it being pretty.