We all love to hear the stories that researchers dig up about small-conference participants in the Big Dance. But since we’ll get to hear those stories ad-nauseum over the next few weeks, I’m going to pick the bones of Championship Week and find the things I’m going to miss from the sad detritus of tournament also-rans.
Bobby Cremins’ Hair – I feel like I’ve been watching that magnificent silver coiff and that animated body language my entire college-basketball-lovin’ career. College of Charleston knocked off SoCon #2 seed Appalachian State, but couldn’t seal the deal against #1 Davidson.
Gubernatorial Incontinence – The Austin Peay Governers were upset by Eastern Kentucky, so we won’t get to hear the inspired chant “Let’s Go Peay!” ringing out on national television this year.
Dick Davey’s Cosby Sweater – Just Call Me Juice pays tribute far better than I ever could. With Santa Clara bowing out before the NCAAs, Davey retired, so we’ve missed out on a golden opportunity.
George Mason’s Larranaga – I have immense respect for Jim Larranaga’s decision to sit his best player for the first NCAA game of last year’s Final Four run after he literally busted an opponent’s balls. Coach knows wrong is wrong, and there are more important things than basketball in a young man’s formative years. Second place: that wacky mascot, Gunston.
Siena’s Mousse Diop – He has a great name, his team bio is charming and folksy, and if he had $10 million dollars, he would go back to Africa, so the racist a-hole in the cheap seats can shut up already.
The Eastern Tennessee State Buccaneers – You don’t get a lot of pirates in a landlocked state. And yet these guys buckle a swash with real panache.
The Virginia Military Institute run-n-gun – America’s future military leaders believe that a powerful offense is a strong defense. They were the highest-scoring team in the country all year long, and they gave the Winthrop Eagles a run for their money in the Big South tourney before they ran out of gas. Bonus points for being my most excellent father-in-law’s alma mater.
Of course, the Ivy League doesn’t run a conference tournament, but the team that came closest to almighty Penn in the regular season was Yale. James Jones (whose twin brother coaches Columbia) is officially the The Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954 Coach of Men’s Basketball, which gives him the longest title I’ve ever seen for a coach. I guess I’ll miss hearing announcers trip over that, or pretend they didn’t see it on the fact sheet.
More to come as the auto-bids keep rolling in.