But so are all of the names for the intense and excellent round of basketball to be played today as a run-up to the Final Four in Atlanta.
We’ve been given these possibilities:
Great Eight – Rhymes, but sucks. Lacks any real charm or flavor.
Elite Eight – Semi-assonant, but doesn’t really stir the soul.
Round of Eight – OK, now you’re just not trying.
This is an extremely important round of basketball, and it deserves a good name. Most viewers think of it in relation to the Final Four, as in “the winner of this game books a ticket to Atlanta”. But that only honors the team that wins. We know from watching two weeks of high-level basketball that even the team that loses in the ocho stage has accomplished a mighty task. The game deserves to be more than an also-ran between the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four. Of course, the Final Four is only final for two teams, but I’m going to let that slide for now.
The thing is, this game already has a good name. But we’ve become so enamored of alliteration that we have let it slip into the ether. The four games to be played this weekend are Regional Championships. In essence, the NCAA tournament plays four mini-tournaments to decide who goes to the lightning round. The teams that play on the second Saturday and Sunday are playing for the championships of their region. I think that means something. Any lucky fans who still have a team on the court these two days know it’s been a hard road.
The winners of these four games are Regional Champs. The losers are Regional Runners-up. Tonight, students at four Universities will drink, light bonfires, lace trees with TP and sleep with people they’ve never seen before and never want to see again, all in celebration of a Regional Championship. As such, it deserves that kind of revelry. After the dust clears and the drunk tanks empty, we can turn the clock and start thinking about who’s in the Final Four.
So here’s to you, Mr. Regional Championship Weekend. Without you, there would be no Final Four.