March Madness is officially upon us. Thus begins the first week of a sport most of us ignore for the better part of the year and turn into rabid fans of basketball teams from regionally obscure colleges like Siena and Wofford.
CBS Sportsline tickers overcome the need to watch how Wal-Mart, Big Blue, and Microsoft are faring during the morning trading hours, in order to see if that number 12 seed pulled off the upset to take the lead in the office pool over Sindy who managed to blindly pick 95% of the 1st round games correctly based on school colors. High times for degenerates and college basketball fans alike, as I profess to having nothing more than a passing interest while rooting on the Gophers who before the Jan Gangelhoff story broke leaving a proud program in tatters thanks to players who couldn't bother upkeeping the one reason why they were wearing those jerseys (aside from Bobby Jackson and Lenard who did have the talent for the next level). I watched a year or two of the Dan Monson show and promptly phased out Gopher basketball as passable entertainment or worthy of fandom.
Recently Tubby Smith has brought back the "fear the barn" mystique that Williams Arena had, thus a few nights during the winter I would check in with this team to see if things were worth watching. Bad losses to sub-par opponents mixed with taking down Top 25 teams at home gave a not-ready-for-prime-time feel as hockey and watching Ocean's 13 for the 22nd time on AMC seemed more productive and entertaining. In a few days the Gophers will be riding a wave of resurgent first-half play that saw them following through (ignore that Big Ten championship game vs. THE Ohio State U) and winning games over ranked Purdue and Michigan State. Can they take a first half lead to the house against Xavier and give Team Tubby a little cred, some juice to a sport state mired in tear soaked Purple towels and wondering if the prodigal son of the Twins is staying here for the balance of his career?
We'll see this week if the trend of blistering first halves from this Gopher squad turn into a minor upset of an 11 seed taking down a 6 and watching my brackets fall before I even leave work and having to wait until the various websites offer a Sweet 16 bracelet for even more action.