This year's NCAA Tournament might be grounds for a class-action lawsuit. We were promised upsets, promised the emergence of a whole bunch of teams nobody's ever heard of, promised another George Mason.
They lied to us. They were sure there'd be a No. 14 seed over a 3 and pretty sure a 15 would rise up and knock off a 2. There were No. 11 seeds (hello, Winthrop!) who were supposed to be as good as anybody.
They let us down. The prognosticators and people who are paid to know better didn't. And still don't, even if they're telling you they knew it all along.
We're left with a tournament of high-seeded teams, which is fine if you're a member of the committee but lousy if you're looking for a team that'll grab your heart.
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Should we root for the Rebels? On second thought ... no.
What are you going to do, root for Ben Howland to take another mystifying timeout?
Have a family pool to see how many plays Rick Barnes can draw up that ignore Kevin Durant in the final minute? ("Look, you stand out here above the 3-point line like a decoy for the 233rd straight time while Augustin drives the lane all alone and everybody stands around watching him OK, Longhorns on three. One-two-three ")
This lack of connection is what makes being led astray hurt so much. If there was a random Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hanging around, we'd all be wearing the turquoise and green. And that's why being led astray hurts so much. We need something to believe in, some plucky group of underachievers we can latch on to and show our undying love for the next two weeks. Hey, they're probably as corrupt as the big guys, but what we don't know won't bother us.
But not having a sentimental favorite means we just have to create one.
The lowest-seeded team remaining in the field of 16 is the seventh-seeded Rebels of UNLV.
Let's see what we can do.
The Rebels are a feel-good story, right? Heart-warming nobodies from nowhere. Work with me.
Here's a good start: The coach and his son the point guard hugging after a big win over Wisconsin (I'm assuming this happened, even though I didn't see it) and the plucky little upstarts from Vegas (that doesn't really sound right) carrying the fortunes of the unheralded Mountain West Conference (OK, that works a little) onto the big stage.
So what's the story line? In this case, chances are it's not the wacky fans from back home painting their front porches black and red.
Maybe it's someone from the program's past who can elucidate the ways in which the fortunes of the school have changed with the unexpected success of the hometown team. Maybe someone like Stacey Augmon? (No, don't like it.) Larry Johnson? (Hmmm ) Tark? (Last resort.)
So maybe we're going to have to try a little harder on this one. Is there a chance we can find out what Lamar Odom thinks about the improbable UNLV run? Do you think there's any chance he used that $5,600 the booster gave him as seed money for an orphanage? That would make a good story.
And by the way, anybody seen Richie the Fixer lately? Does he still have his hot tub?
OK, so now what? Go Butler?
This Week's List
• What they don't tell you is, it's out of 50: The Kevin Durant news from Monday said his decision on whether to declare for the NBA was "50-50."
• It's kind of like what your mom used to say about your workaholic father, "Just because he doesn't pay any attention to you doesn't mean he doesn't love you": An Associated Press story from Monday began, "Owner Peter Angelos made his first appearance in years at the Baltimore Orioles' spring training camp Sunday, saying he hopes his team will end a streak of nine consecutive losing seasons."
• I don't think they give a postseason award for this category, but they should: Nobody looks worse putting up good numbers than Nevada's Nick Fazekas.
• So that somehow makes it better? Pete Rose now says he bet on his Reds team every single night.
• To recap: (1) didn't bet at all, and how could you even suggest such a thing; (2) bet a little, only sometimes, and never really meant it; (3) bet every game, sometimes twice, and rolled a round of liar's dice in the dugout with Chris Sabo after every half inning.
• This week's It Couple: Joey Porter and Levi Jones, hanging at The Palms.
• And finally, some people have a plan to end the situation in Darfur, some have a plan to end poverty in America's inner cities, some have a plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil: 49ers coach Mike Nolan has a plan to completely alter the NFL's pass interference rule by allowing the officials to decide whether the penalty is worth 15 yards or should be placed at the spot of the foul.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.