If there was one single way I would describe Championship Week it’s probably this:
Remember in the movie Field of Dreams when Ray Kinsella is having a catch with his dad and out of nowhere the dad says “Is this Heaven?” and replies, “It’s Iowa.”
And how does his dad reply? By saying, "I could've sworn it was Heaven."
Well for sports fans, that’s essentially “Championship Week”: The closest thing we have to Heaven here on Earth. Well, except for Iowa, apparently.
That’s right, it’s Championship Week bayyyyyyyyyyyyyyybeeeeeee, that magical time of year when hopes are crushed, dreams are realized and you all of a sudden find yourself rooting for schools you’ve never heard of and are pretty sure were created within the last two weeks, just to try and compete for an NCAA Tournament berth. Not to mention the whole “college basketball on your TV from the time you wake up Tuesday until the time you go to bed on Sunday night” ain’t a bad deal either.
That is also why for the second straight year I’ve decided to bring back my “50 Random Thoughts on Championship Week” column.
For those of you who have never read a “50 Random Thoughts” column, well, first off, shame on you. But really, all you need to know about the 50 Random Thoughts column is that well, they are 50 of the most totally random thoughts you’ll read this week, or any other week for that matter. Which means that if you’re looking for heavy-hitting analysis, well crap, call Jay Bilas. If you want insight that can’t be found anywhere else, hit Seth Davis on Twitter. If you want witty banter, ring up Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg in ESPN’s studios.
But, if you want bad jokes, only a handful of which pertain to actual basketball, well this is the spot for you.
Either way, here are my 50 Random Thoughts on Championship Week 2013. And as always, I encourage you to share yours below as well.
In no particular order…
1. A friendly PSA to all the degenerate gamblers out there: Remember, the last three winners of the Big East Tournament (West Virginia in 2010; UConn in 2011 and Louisville in 2012) have advanced to the Final Four. Feel free to thank me for that when you’re adding a new addition to your house next summer.
2. Another friendly PSA: The last three winners of the Summit League definitely have NOT made the Final Four. You know, just in case you were wondering.
3. Any player who has the same haircut as my 11-year-old nephew is cool in my book. Doug McDermott is one of those players.
4. I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but shoot, I’m going to say it anyway: I enjoyed Julius Mays’ daughter’s performance on Senior Night at Kentucky about as much as I’ve enjoyed anything Ryan Harrow has done all season. Throw rotten tomatoes at me if you want, but boy do I feel better getting that off my chest.
5. Confession: I’ve followed Jamaal Franklin’s career at San Diego State pretty closely these last few years, yet I still have no idea why he wears long sleeves during games. It’s a question which will likely plague historians for centuries to come.
6. No disrespect intended, but “seeing Ryan Kelly for three straight days in HD” may be the thing I’m looking forward to least during Championship Week.
Ok, I guess disrespect was intended. But it doesn’t change the point of the statement.
7. Quick question: Is this the 43rd straight year that Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are playing for the WCC title or the 44th straight year? I can never remember.
8. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy watching NC State per se, but I have to ask: Is it weird that every time I’m done watching them I feel the need to take a cold shower and re-evaluate everything I’ve ever done in my life?
9. Quick question: If an important Championship Week game is played on the NBC Sports Network, but no one gets the NBC Sports Network on their cable package, did that game really happen?
10. Speaking of cable packages, 2013 marks the first year that the Big Ten Network is offered in my area. And with the way that conference has shaken out this season, I’m totally ok with that.
11. Otto Porter: Great player… even better name. I mean seriously, can we ever have too many “Otto’s” in our lives?
12. Speaking of Georgetown, while I was in Vegas last week, I can neither confirm, nor deny that I may have put down a significant wager on the Hoyas to win the 2013 NCAA Tournament. What I can confirm however, is that if Georgetown does somehow take down the title, I fully plan on spending the next six months on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.
13. One final Georgetown thought: If you didn’t get choked up watching John Thompson Sr. get choked up when the Hoyas beat Syracuse on Saturday, well, you’re doing it all wrong. Honestly, is there anything better than fatherly pride? I say not.
14. You know what? I’m totally comfortable admitting that “Vander Blue” is a significantly cooler name than “Aaron Torres.”
15. The phrase “The terrorists won” was the first thing that immediately came to mind when I saw the bright red uniforms Louisville wore this past Saturday against Notre Dame.
16. On the same subject, after watching Michigan play in those neon yellow uniforms for 40 minutes on Sunday, I’m pretty sure I need at least two Lasik surgeries and a possible retina replacement. I can only pray that the Wolverines leave them home for this week’s Big Ten tourney.
17. Speaking of which, if the ending of the Indiana-Michigan game wasn’t the most “Woah, we’re definitely in March” moment of the past 10 days, well crap, I’m not totally sure what is.
18. One final thought on Hoosiers-Wolverines and that’s this: “Tom Crean vs. that random Michigan assistant” has replaced Syracuse-UConn, North Carolina-Duke and Jim Boeheim vs. the national media as my favorite rivalry in college basketball.
20. Championship Week Guarantee No. 1: Jimmy Dykes will reference his “jet” at least 25 times in the next six days.
21. Championship Week Guarantee No. 2: You will throw your remote at the television right around the 18th time Jimmy Dykes’ references that same jet.
22. It’s time to hand out postseason hardware, and today, here at Aaron Torres Sports I’m proud to give out the “Guy I’d least want to see walking towards me in a dark alley award to”… Florida power forward Patric Young!!!
Good times! Well, unless you’re a fellow SEC power forward.
23. Speaking of hardware, the award for “The most overly dramatic reaction to a buzzer-beater that basically turned into the equivalent of an eighth grade girl winning a beauty pageant” goes to… Bryce Drew, for his back-flop following Valparaiso’s win Saturday against Green Bay (if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch for Drew in the background of the video below).
It was totally awesome, and made me like Drew about 600 percent more than I already did.
24. Back to Florida, where I’ve got to ask: Is anyone else sad that the “Undersized gunners who the other team just prays will shoot 20 times a game” era is officially coming to an end with Kenny Boynton’s graduation this year?
Speaking of which, can we all give a moment of silence for Erving Walker’s basketball career, which I’m pretty sure ended the second he walked off Florida’s campus last season.
25. If you’ve ever listened to me about one thing, take my advice on this: You’re going to want to watch the Mountain West Tournament this week. Mix in a couple of insanely rabid fan-bases, with some really good basketball teams and Vegas, and well crap, what more could you ask for? If we could only get Bill Walton involved somehow, it’d be literal hoops perfection.
26. I don’t mean to get all sentimental here, but there isn’t a single thing I’ve ever witnessed as a sports fan that is sadder than the break-up of the Big East. There also isn’t a single better event I’ve ever attended in person than the Big East Tournament. I’ll write about it later this week, but seeing that tournament go is a literal sports tragedy.
27. And while we’re on the subject, there isn’t a single sadder thing about the final Big East Tournament than the simple fact that UConn won’t be involved.
Yes, I’m a Huskies fan. But with the way they owned the Garden in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, not having them in New York is like not having North Carolina in Greensboro for the final ACC Tournament or something. It’s just awful.
Now, bad to the bad jokes, where I’ve got to say…
28. “Hey, what time is Notre Dame playing today? I definitely don’t want to miss their game,” is something that no one has ever said, pretty much ever.
29. Random thought (wait, aren’t all these random thoughts?), but I’m pretty sure that Skylar McBee’s goatee could get him put on the sex offender registry in at least 46 states. Maybe 47.
30. Confession time: After 30 games of the season, I still can’t tell you a single damn thing about the Oregon Ducks. Mainly because I’ve never seen them play.
31. I’m not saying Shane Larkin is the single coolest player in college basketball. What I am saying is that if he swiped my girlfriend from me at a bar, I’m not even sure I’d be mad about it.
32. I would make a joke about Kelly Olynk’s hair, but I feel like all the good ones have already been taken : (
33. Tonight, a 30-year-old, first-year head coach named Jamion Christian will try to coach Mt. St. Mary’s into the NCAA Tournament. As a soon-to-be 28-year-old sitting in a coffee writing this article, I can’t tell you how depressed that makes me feel.
34. To every college basketball fan under the age of 25 who enjoys watching VCU play their fast-paced, full-court pressing “havoc” style, please note that back when I was a kid, EVERYONE played that way. Arkansas, UConn, Kentucky, Georgetown, you name it. And while I hate to admit it, college basketball was a better sport because of it.
35. Only time will tell whether UCLA wins the Pac-12 Tournament or not, but in the meantime, can’t we all agree that nobody in college basketball has a cooler goatee/hair combination than Bruins’ guard Kyle Anderson?
36. Or that no one has a cooler beard in college basketball than Shabazz Muhammad?
Because if we can’t agree on those two things, what can we agree upon?
37. Is anyone else a little weirded out that we’re talking about Boise State basketball at this time of year, instead of Boise State spring football? As a matter of fact, isn’t weird to be talking about Boise State basketball over pretty much anything?
38. I have two questions, and two questions only regarding Kentucky basketball: When did assistant coach Orlando Antigua shave his goatee? And did he do it for good luck purposes? Because if he did, I’m terrified to know what he’ll shave next if Kentucky wins the SEC Tournament title.
39. I’m so over Jack Cooley. That is all.
40. Any game Kevin Harlan is broadcasting is 11 percent better simply because he’s calling it. And that’s all I have to say about Kevin Harlan.
41. Any game Dan Dakich is broadcasting is 19 percent better simply because he’s calling it. By the way, my single favorite random moment of this season is still when Mike Tirico called Dakich “A total idiot” (in the best way possible) during the Michigan-Michigan State game a few weeks back.
42. Staying on the subject of good and bad announcing, did anyone else notice Jim Nantz repeatedly butcher Victor Oladipo’s name on Sunday? I have nothing but respect for Nantz, but if he can’t get the name of the potential National Player of the Year right, the dude shouldn’t be calling college basketball games. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
43. To me, the Cincinnati Bearcats are a lot like the TV show “Mike & Molly.” Not only do I not enjoy watching them, frankly, I’m not sure how anyone else does either.
44. I’m not quite sure whether Vegas- which is hosting three separate conference tournaments this week (the WCC, the Mountain West, Pac-12)- is the new “Mecca of College Basketball” or not. But what I am sure of is that there were literal fist-fights at ESPN, Yahoo and CBS over who got to be in town this week to “cover” those tournaments.
(And yes, I’m using the term “cover” loosely)
45. Heading into the ACC Tournament I’m totally torn on what to expect. I can’t decide whether North Carolina will get their ass beat by 20 against Duke in the semifinals, or whether it’ll be closer to 25 points. Too tough to tell at this point, I suppose.
46. I can’t lie: Other than the fact that Bruce Weber is their head coach, I don’t know a single damn thing about Kansas State. That also means that I fully expect the Wildcats to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament this year, then gradually get worse over the next six or seven years, before Weber loses control of the team and gets unceremoniously fired sometime during the 2021 season.
47. Just a hunch, but I just can’t see Auburn winning the SEC Tournament this year. Or Mississippi State for that matter, either.
48. Travis Releford… buckets!!!!!
And to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
49. Confession: I hate Duke more than anyone or anything in college basketball. But how can you not at least respect Seth Curry after what he did at North Carolina on Saturday night?
50. All I’m saying is, any week that ends with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith joining Doug Gottlieb and Greg Anthony to talk college hoops is totally cool by me. Let the games begin!
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