Monday, April 4, 2011

"What Are You, Made Of Stone?"

MotherBlog was educated as a registered nurse who also had a bachelor's degree in political science. It was a fitting double, as they reflected her great compassion for others and love of all things political.

As an aside, TigerBlog inherited one of those two qualities.

Anyway, going back as far as TB can remember, election nights have always been supremely interesting, especially in Presidential years. Of course, most of the Presidential elections that TB has been old enough to follow have been foregone conclusions, though there was at least one - the 2000 one - that sort of went down the wire and way beyond.

The 1984 election was the biggest blowout of them all, as Ronald Reagan won 49 states against Walter Mondale, who carried only his home state of Minnesota. As TB recalls, MotherBlog was friendly with Mondale's daughter Eleanor and knew the former Vice President through her, though MB 1) would have voted for Mondale anyway and 2) would never, ever, ever have voted for Reagan, something that TB would have continued to do long after Reagan was no longer in politics.

TigerBlog thought back to the Reagan-Mondale election and the 49 states to one margin when he considered tonight's NCAA Division I men's basketball game.

There are 49 states were people are rooting for Butler and only one rooting for Connecticut.

How could anyone who didn't go to UConn be rooting for the Huskies? No offense to them, but rooting for UConn would be like, as Bill Simmons once said, "rooting for the house in black jack."

Or, put another way, it also made TB think back to a story his old friend and Florida State alum Brian Linky told about an FSU-Florida game that he was at. When the Seminoles scored a late touchdown to take the lead, Linky was celebrating with the rest of the students when a rather large - to Linky, everyone is large - security guard came by and said "please clear the aisle." Linky, at least according to him, replied this way: "What are you, made of stone?"

So yes, to root for UConn over Butler with no allegiance to the school would probably require that one be made of stone.

TigerBlog watched the semifinal games the other night and rooted for both Butler and VCU in the first game, because it was impossible to root against either.

And in the second game? He wanted to root for VCU in that one as well, but sadly he couldn't. Instead, he was left with the choice between two of the elite names in college basketball, and he really wasn't interested in either one.

TB had a discussion last week about why the Butler-VCU semifinal was on first, when it was clear that that was the game more people were interested in. The other opinion was that the UConn-Kentucky would draw a much bigger audience, but when that game was, it just looked like every other game that's been on since November, whereas the Butler-VCU game had a freshness to it.

In the end, like most Princeton fans, TB rooted for Kentucky, because that's the team that knocked Princeton out in the first round.

Back in 1989, when Princeton lost to Georgetown in the famous near-miss, Georgetown reached the regional final before losing to Duke. In fact, Kentucky became the third team to defeat Princeton in the NCAA tournament and reach the Final Four since TB started covering the team, following Arkansas in 1990 and Mississippi State in 1996.

As with this time, TB rooted for those teams to keep winning. The theory, of course, is that it makes Princeton look better, especially after playing Arkansas and Kentucky so close.

The same applied to Georgetown in the women's tournament this year, and, as an aside, there can't be too many people unhappy that UConn's women lost to Notre Dame last night.

Rooting interests can be weird. Everybody has his or her favorite teams, but when those teams aren't playing, it's amazing that the mind usually picks out a team to root for or against. This is true even if before the event, there was no clear choice. The mind will provide.

It's also interesting how rooting interests can change.

Back in the 1980s, TB didn't like Georgetown, because the Hoyas were the big bullies. Then, when John Thompson III went from Princeton to Georgetown, everything changed immediately, and the Hoyas became TB's favorite college basketball team other than Princeton.

The same phenomenon, essentially, led to the metamorphosis of the same person to be TB's all-time least favorite college player and all-time favorite NBA player. Any guesses?

Right, Patrick Ewing.

So who knows? Maybe the UConn players are all great kids and the Butler kids are all mean to their mothers and boy scouts. Who cares?

Tonight, like the rest of the country, TB is rooting hard for the Bulldogs.

Before the game, it's a landslide. After? Who knows.

TB is saying Butler 71-66.

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