No matter how the NCAA designates the Tuesday/Wednesday tournament docket – “first four” or “first round” or “opening games” – the outcomes affect not the contest bracket, and therefore will always carry the label of “play-in.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah…I remember VCU, but final bracket submissions are not due until Thursday morning, and that’s a darn good thing, as I’m sure the news out of ‘Cuse would have drained many a pool before the water was even warm.
Syracuse’s tumult has finally found its way onto the playing surface.
While Bernie Fine (and Mrs. Fine), the subsequent defamations suits, the allegations of a decade of ineligible hoopster play as a result of drug suspensions never enforced, were all off-court distractions…and arguably on-court motivations, the latest storm cloud to descend upon campus is unloading its contents squarely on the hardwood. And I’m not sure it can be dried out in time for Saturday, March 31st.
Syracuse starting center, Fab Melo, is ineligible for the tourney. The absence of the Big East Defensive Player of the Year in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone is…well, I don’t have to put words to the void that creates. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who immediately revisited my East quadrant.
While I genuinely couldn’t care less about the fate of Jim Boeheim and his squad, this does add a large measure of uncertainty to what was already a hesitant bracket entry for me. I was banking on the Orange to deliver not only a Final 4, but the second title to Jimmy B, and a second chapter to all things Syracuse and “Melo.”
But my selfish concern is massive opportunity for Big Red. This could not have worked out any better for Wisconsin. The winner of Bucky/Vandy in round 2 (or whatever they’re calling it), has got a great shot at New Orleans.