March Madness: The greatest thing ever when you’re winning!

by March 28, 2008

By Sam Rubenstein

Ignoring the slamonline bracket, where I am curiously in 7th place although two of my Final Four teams are already eliminated… there is another pool I’m in where things could not have gone better for me last night. Sure, it would have been nice if both UNC and UCLA bit it, so everything would have been thrown to chaos. UCLA nearly obliged.

The big games were the other two though. First it was Xavier blowing a huge lead to West Virginia. I had picked Xavier to get to the Elite 8 because, get this, I have a memory of them always unexpectedly beating Cincinnati and their coach Bob Huggins. When Joe Alexander hit a quick turnaround in the post to tie the game in regulation AND draw the foul, I was angry. I may have screamed out some curse words at an innocent college kid – the same kid who was everybody’s best friend after beating Duke just yesterday (figuratively). I guess it was a smart move to curse him out though, cause he missed the free throw. Huge! Xavier’s final possession as broadcasted by me, not Bill Raftery: “Ok, push it up! What are you doing! What! Come on! Go! Shoot it! Ahhhhh! That’s your shot?!? You’re dead to me!” I think I need a clipboard.

Xavier predictably fell behind with all the momentum going the other way in OT, but then everyone on West Virgina, including Alexander fouled out. The musketeers came back – there was an amazing play when there were two seconds left on the shot clock with Xavier inbounding from the sideline after a ball was swatted out of bounds. B.J. Raymond was wide open on the opposite side of the floor, the pass came, he nailed the shot. There was joy in Rubensteinville.

I celebrated with a veggie burger, don’t judge me.

The second game featured the most important team in the tourney for me – Louisville. I’m not sure what my thought process was, but I took them to go all the way to the title game where they lose to Memphis. (I know, I know… free throws. This could all be MOOT as they say.) Before long, there was an 18-1 run by Louisville, a thing of beauty. Rick Pitino, you genius! Bruce Pearl you lovable party animal! I remember thinking to myself “I know it’s a game of runs, weathering the storms, waiting for your shots to start falling, but Tennessee is already scared taking turnaround fadeaways and hoping they go in. I got this!” Bruce Pearl took a timeout, and right on cue the Vols started hitting shots, Louisville got complacent, and before long it was a close game.

Crunch time was rough… I may have blacked out… the good news is that Louisville was victorious! Now they get to face UNC, a team that has won all three of their games by 20 points or more and has probably the most dominant player in the NCAA on their side, not to mention the bluest of the blue chippers, and they’re playing the game pretty much in Dean Smith’s living room.

Saturday 9 P.M. – I NEED THIS.


I’m sure I am jinxing myself by taking so much pride in how good my bracket looks while everyone else in the world likes to be all self-depreciative with the “Woe is me” stuff. I want to remember the feeling of having a bracket that is not shredded with utmost viciousness.

p.s. don’t blow it tonight Memphis.