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The Trickle - March Madness

March 18, 2009 - Brian Ferry

March Madness - an apt term. Millions of people like me who have not the first clue about college basketball pay perfectly good money to test their luck against each other. Why would I pick UConn to win? Why would I pick UNC to lose in the round of eight when I have rooted for them (insofar as I root for anyone that is not Penn State) for years? I think it's because I figure the payment is much like my contribution to the Powerball fund. I'm not going to win, but someone will get the benefit of my playing. Why would I, a Penn State and Big Ten fan, have just about all Big Ten teams out after three rounds? That one's easier. I generally pick teams from my conference to go a long way. That hasn't worked out well for me in the recent past. So, I pick against them. If Big Ten teams win, I win because I like them. If they lose, I win because I picked against them. The problem arises when I pick against Duke, UCLA, USC, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, etc. and they win. I lose both ways. For years I have vowed to pick either teams I like so I can doubly root for them, or teams I don't like, so I have a win/lose-win/lose situation. I've never actually done it. Back to Penn State. Am I upset that the Nittany Lions, who had an excellent year, were left out of the tournament? Nope. I suspect they had a chance to win one game in the NCAA tournament, probably not a great chance. In the NIT, they can aim to make a run deep into the tournament. I'm a little wishy-washy this way (in some cases, I'm a believer in playing against the best possible teams because you learn more from them), but, at the moment, I'd rather see PSU win good games against appropriate opponents than get pounded by much better teams on a much bigger stage. I'm not certain, but a very high finish in the NIT should attract some good (not TOP) recruits. An early exit from the NCAA might have been memorable for the current players, but I think it would not be too memorable in the minds of potential recruits. The top recruits will go elsewhere anyway. Good recruits might build Dear Old State up to the point where they can make it deep into the NIT, into the middle of the Big Ten rankings, and maybe to the second round of the NCAA on a regular basis. THAT will lead to some interest from top recruits. Do I think Penn State is on the brink of locking in top recruits and making the Sweet Sixteen? No. That's madness.


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