Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Somewhat Subdued March Madness

By TwinsWin83

HOLY CRAP IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN SPORTS FANS!!!!!!!!! You know, the time of year when every sportscaster in North America freaks out and mentions every night for about a month how this is their favorite time of the sports year. I mean common,' you’ve got the high school tournaments, which include basketball, hockey and wrestling. On top of that the NBA and NHL seasons are finally winding down and the playoff push is on. Not to mention the biggest reason for all the hoopla, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is about to start.

So is this really the best time of the sports year? I should be freaking out along with the rest of them if I knew what was good for me as a sports fan, right? Then why is March 31st the only real date I have circled on my calendar this month? Well, I’ll tell you why.

The High School Tournaments in Minnesota are fun to watch but predictable. In hockey a private school is going to win the big school class tournament and probably the small one as well, unless some tiny town from up north that we’ve barely heard of can pull one out. Solution: Create a whole new class system for hockey, one class for public schools and one for private. I know a lot of people will disagree with this system but hear me out. After each tournament the private school winner and the public school winner could play each other in one final state title game. That would be cool and maybe it would do away with all the people that have been complaing for the past 15 years about the tourney spliting into two classes.

In basketball the winner of the big school class will more than likely be a giant school like Hopkins or Tartan from the northern part of the cities that I not only don’t care about but generally dislike because of their size. Class 3A might be interesting every other year but the other two classes usualy involve teams with too many towns hyphenated together to understand. So that means there are four classes in Minnesota High School Basketball, and more specifically four state champions. That’s too many. The tournament should be broken down into two classes and have an opening-round field of 16 teams in each class. That would not only make the tournament more competitive but also more interesting to watch.

As for wrestling….I have no idea. I guess maybe they could shut down Apple Valley High School and then it would be wide-open for everyone else.

When it comes to the NHL and NBA I’m not really sure how this is a great time of year for its fans unless the team you cheer for is in the midst of the playoff chase. In Minnesota we have a bit of both worlds as our NBA team is just starting to climb out the dark hole they’ve been in all season but are still light years removed from the playoff picture. The Wild are in the middle of a ridiculously close race for not only the playoffs but also the teams’ first division title. With nine games to go in the regular season I guess you could say March is a ‘crazy’ time for them and their fans, but it’s not quite ‘mad’ because lets face it, aside from Canadians, Minnesotans and very select few on the east coast, no one really cares about NHL hockey. Which in itself is entirely too bad and an entirely seperate article topic.

Now we come to the real culprit for the overuse of the phrase ‘March Madness,’ the NCAA basketball tournament. I will admit that the opening round of this thing can be fun to watch with so many games crammed into two nights, but aside from maybe a couple first and second round upsets this thing tends to follow a general pattern after that. I know right now your thinking, “Well, what about George Mason dude,” but hold on a minute.

George Mason was a complete aberration and it’s not like they won the national title, they just made it to the Final Four. Even though there tend to be a couple upsets in the first round or two, the Cinderella’s are quickly weeded out after that and the powerhouses take over as the same 8-10 programs find themselves playing for the title year in and year out. That is why I'm cheering for Memphis this year, because look at the other number one seeds, Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina. Same old, same old. My other qualm with this tournament is that I never even finish in the top half of any tourney pool I enter. You would think with as much insight as I have into the general workings of this thing that I would fair better, but you would be wrong.

Probably the other reason I think I’m not hip to the whole March Madness thing is that the Major League season doesn’t typically begin until April. But thanks to an odd calendar year and Bud’s plan to have MLB open in a different foreign country each year, the 2008 season will begin in March. So, I guess for at least one year I can say….HOLY CRAP IT’S MARCH, MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR!!!


tfrezac2002 said...

I am certainly in the minority, but I hate the whole march madness business. The NBA and NHL play off push is at full charge right now, but big deal. The NBA is stale and all together unwatchable, and the NHL is still in such shambles from the lock-out that many markets can't even watch their home team on TV. As far as the NCAA tournament, there is nothing I despise more than people who have no idea what they are talking about, spewing statistics to justify their first round picks. I don't know who's going to win the Butler v. Southern Alabama, you don't either! Unless your name is Andy Katz your just plain guessing! Stop trying to sound so damn smart.
I love the high school tournaments. I only have one problem with them, that is that the MSHSL wants to get too many people to the big show. 6 classes in Football, 4 in basketball, 3 in wrestling. With the possible exception of wrestling, where the majority of matches are against non-conferance opponents and inter class matches are more common than in other sports. No one can honestly say at the end of the year who the real state champion is. If they keep the class system, the top 2 or 3 teams in each class should have another tournament to decide the real deal.
The only thing getting me up in the morning these days is opening day being that much closer.

haasertime said...

the NCAA tournament is really cool, if you're into that sort of thing. I grew out of it about two years after the gophs got to the final four. (did i imagine that? cuz i can't find it in any of the record books) I don't do pools anymore because I couldn't name one single non-gopher in all of college basketball. If i'm going to gamble my money on something, i'd at least like to think that I am educated about the thing.

I;ve never been into the high school hockey tournament. and I've never thought it was 'special'

and i'm from Minnesota! born and raised! oh my god! but the TV says i should fall all overmyself tuning into watch the greatest high school tournament in the land. guess what? i dont care that much. i just don't. and you're not going to get me to change.

and i agree with the last part of your article. March is good. Because of baseball. The Gopher classic. Baseball on the radio and sometimes TV. Fantasy baseball drafts. small college baseball at the dome. roster cuts. and the countdown to opening day.

Holmer said...

After attending the Minnesota State High School Wrestling tournament this year, I realized that I have been to 14 of them consecutively. In saying this, I have two problems with the set up...

1. Too many state champions

2. Apple Valley

As you know, there are three classes and two tournaments in one weekend. The individual and team tournaments alternate admissions tickets from session to session (morning session: A, AA, AAA indiviuals. Afternoon A, AA, AAA teams). There are usually four sessions a day.
As for the problem, there are 14 weight classes multiplied by 3. Having 42 individual "State Champions", and a team from each of those classes claiming a state title of their own. It is almost more common than an all-conference award.

Apple Valley had 12 participants in the individual tournament as well as bringing their entire team in search of their 10th team title in 11 years. They breezed through the team tournament posting blow-outs in every round(Big surprise).
From 103 to 135lbs spanning 6 weight classes, they had a wrestler making a bid for a state championship on saturday's final stage. None of this is what causes my dislike for the dynasty that is Apple Valley. Out of those six finalist, none of them started their schooling in the Apple Valley school district. They have tranfers from Bloomington, South Dakota, Iowa, and New Jersey. I can't blame them for wanting to be the best, and raising the level of wrestling for the entire state, but it just seems a little cheap.

bizmarkie507 said...

Sorry Phil if you ever read this, but I really hate prep schools. Prep Schools are the number one reason why I care more about Male Figure Skating then High School Athletics.

soup said...

This is a good post.

I thought I was the only one that was no longer excited about the NCAA tourny. Every year I would fill my bracket out right after it was announced. This year I haven't filled it out yet, and I don't know if I will. I have no idea why this transformation has happened.

I am a transplant to Minnesota, so I don't know/care a ton about its high school sports. A couple of observations:

I think the love for the high school hockey tourny is really cool. It is something you will not find in any other state. With that being said...I wouldn't ever care to watch it.

Homer, I agree that Apple Valley is super cheap with all of those transfers. Who did they get from South Dakota?

I care about exibition professional baseball more than any of these other sports.

TwinsWin83 said...

Tony, I think you summerized my article in about 10000 less words. MSHSL does have to many classes in all of the major sports. Baseball does seem to be a good fit with three classes but that is only because every high school in the state has a baseball program, so that might be a good number for football to use as well as maybe basketball because they will never drop from 4 classes all the way down to 2.

I think in having so many classes in all the sports makes winning a state title that much less meaningful. In baseball it really meant something to us in Northfield to make it to the State Tournament our senior year because we were a small town in the big school class (3A) and we had to make it past the 15 other teams in our section, all of whom were bigger schools than us (most of whom were much much bigger...i.e. lakeville, eagan, and the Rochester schools).

With the way things are set up in most sports teams only have to win 3 games to make it to state (considering the typical 8 teams per section). That takes away a lot of the meaning behind getting there in the first place.

Soup..you are right about how most people outside of MN dont seem to feel the same way about the high school hockey tourney here but it is a pretty cool event. Last year ESPN the Magazine listed 100 things every sports fan must do before they die and one of the items on the list was to see a Minnesota State High school hockey game live.

Also on the list was to catch a small town Minnesota amateur baseball game.

haasertime said...

I don't think the lovefest for the High School Hockey tournament is that cool for just one reason: they overblow it. It's fucking annoying.

what they say about it is just not true. If you listened to them, you would think everyone in the state of Minnesota can't live without the tourney. The extreme popularity of it is concocted by the media. Sure, its big and fun and important - but not to everyone.

Holmer said...

Freshman, three time State Champion Destin Maculley.

Anonymous said...

mike your just mad cause you cant skate, or do anything athletic for that matter. dont hate on something just because you cant do it.

haasertime said...

well i probably would like hockey if i played it. thats obvious. but you logic is way off - i like lots of things that i can't do well:

facemelting guitar solos
getting busy with women