No, not St. Patrick’s Day (although obviously also awesome), but the real start of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (play-in games do not count because no one can figure out how they are set). Editor’s Note: And why are they always in Dayton?
There is probably some mathematical skill to calculate how often the Tournament starts on St. Patty’s Day (perhaps the editor has those skills). Editor’s Note: I do not. But it’s safe to say that productivity around the world has slowed while the office pools are selected to pick the Final Four and ultimate Champion.
People are glued to the internet to see if Purdue suspends any more players, or – more importantly – if Kyrie Irving really can come back for a tourney run. People are searching for this year’s George Mason (Editor’s Note: Which could possibly be George Mason) or figuring out if this is the year all four # 1 seeds make it to the Final weekend.
I have given it a good deal of thought, and come up with this year’s longshot: Belmont. And here’s why. When I was a caddy (1963-1971) we had great games before and after loops. Two of the best players in the caddy yard were brothers John and Freddie Belmont. Now, you might consider that a stretch – but let me continue. When I was assigned a high school to student teach at my senior year at the University of Dayton, my placement was Belmont High School. I was thrilled, because that school has a legitimate claim to having “The Best High School Team Ever.”
In 1964, the Belmont “Big Red Machine” won the Ohio state championship, and their final three scores were 90-64 over Urbana in the regionals, 80-56 over Canton McKinley (#2 in the state) in the semis, and 89-60 over Cleveland East in the finals. The two stars on that team were Don May and Bill Hosket who would both later team up with Willis Reed on the 1970 World Champion New York Knicks. The sixth-man on that team (Ralph Jukkola) later started with Pistol Pete at LSU. They had to be fun to watch. Ergo, the Belmont Bruins out of the Atlantic Sun Conference are my Cinderella for this year. You may not agree with my pick, but you gotta love my “logic.” Editor’s Note: And you can’t figure out how many times the Tournament started on St. Patrick’s Day? You’re like Rain Man all of a sudden.
So, have a drink to Cinderella teams. Have a drink for #1 seeds. Because today, everyone is Irish, and today, everyone is a basketball fan.