Tournament upsets provide reason to watch

Even when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament isn’t all that great, it’s still pretty good.
A young 10th-grader I once knew wanted to watch the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from his house. One problem: He had to go to school.
This young gentleman’s mother was against it for one parenting reason or another, and the young man was told to stow it. So he did what any young basketball fan might do. He wrote a note with his mom’s signature, excusing himself from school so he could go home and watch the tournament.
The fact that his mom was hooked into the high school system parenting network and would probably find out (he was busted later and grounded for a week or two) wasn’t a good enough deterrent — he wanted to watch the brackets unfold.
The concept and the interest in the tournament might have been a little tough to understand before this weekend. How often are there a horde of upsets? Occasionally a couple of top seeds would get knocked out before the Sweet Sixteen, but rarely many.
This year, the upsets came.
Gonzaga, a 10-seed, in the Sweet Sixteen? Sure. Can Tulsa knock off Cincinnati? I don’t see why not. And let’s not even get started on Stanford’s “game” yesterday against North Carolina.
If you’re like most college basketball fans, you probably burned your tournament predictions to exorcise the demons. It’s been a rough year for the brackets.
But at least it’s interesting.
A few month’s ago — and from time to time — I’ve heckled the new buzz word of pro sports, “parity.”
One more time for emphasis — you can join in, if you like — the St. Louis Rams, 2000 Super Bowl champs.
That doesn’t sound right.
Steve “Air” McNair is now referred to as a cagey field general? Uh oh.
While parity is a strange sight in pro sports, in college sports it can make the tournament a circus.
There’s just something about watching Tulsa or Gonzaga making their run through the tournament that’s just fun to see. Yeah, you’re never going to win the office pool now, but to hell with it. You were already in deep trouble before Seton Hall toppled Temple on Sunday.
It almost makes you look back whimsically on the first couple days of the tournament, when there were no upsets to be found.
What’s left of this year’s tournament is a wooly mess. It’s the kind of tournament that makes fans giggle. Florida over Duke? Why not? UCLA making the Final Four? It could happen.
That’s the beauty of the tournament this year.
But make sure you’re not skipping class to watch any of it — that’s the kind of thing that can get you in trouble.

Jim Schortemeyer is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]