Roombas, Brackets, and Pearls

>> Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament brackets were announced on Sunday, and perhaps the biggest shocker of the night came when my hometown University of Tennessee Volunteers were given the number two seed in the Washington, D.C. bracket. My dad and I had guessed they'd get a four, maybe a three seed in the tournament - and when we saw that two seed come up we lit up the phone lines. True, Tennessee has one of the highest RPI ratings - determined by the strength of your opponents - in the nation, but a two seed? This is like a hand-written invitation to proceed into the next round, because a two seed matches you with a 15 seed - in this case, mighty Winthrop, who won the Big South Conference by narrowly defeating ex-Vol head coah Buzz Peterson's Coastal Carolina by the score of 51-50. (Yes, that's a real final score.)

So of course immediately UT has become everybody's sneaky pick to be upset. We're over-rated, after all - closer to the middle of the pack than our seeding would have you think - so we're the "Goliath" that everyone thinks Winthrop or someone else can knock over.

On the flip side, if Winthrop fails to play David (or Cinderella, depending on which allegory you choose) Tennessee would then face the winner of tenth seeded Seton Hall and seventh seeded Wichita State. Could an Elite Eight match-up against the Tar Heels of North Carolina be in the offings? I'm tingly with anticipation!

No matter what Tennessee's result in the tournament, I hope the Knoxville faithful appreciate what new head coach Bruce Pearl has done for this team. With essentially the same players as last season, Pearl has turned a team that won no SEC road games and didn't even make the NIT into a number two-seeded NCAA Tournament contender. The love is back for basketball in K-town, but let's hope Pearl's early success isn't his undoing: head football coach Phil Fulmer is the winningest active college football coach in the nation, led Tennessee to its first National Championship since 1951, and yet after one losing season everyone's ready to ride him out of town on a rail. Too much success, and at the first whiff of failure the wolves start to circle.

And on a completely random note: does anyone else with a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner find themselves sitting and staring at the thing as it works its way around the room? Sort of defeats the purpose of having a robotic vacuum cleaner if you spend the time you're not vacuuming staring at the crazy thing . . .


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