Coaches Should Use The "Meatballs" Speech

The College Basketball Closer is written by the gang at Storming The Floor.

"And even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!"

Brothers and sisters, behold the immortal words of Bill Murray from Meatballs. Every powerhouse team in the NCAA leaves a trail strewn with small programs that can't muster the budget to compete at their level. And I'd like to think that once, just once, some enterprising coach might have busted out that speech to fire up the troops when he was down 27 to Memphis at halftime.


Whether they've heard "the speech" or not, there are a couple of teams that have never - repeat never garnered an NCAA tournament berth, despite playing for decades within the system. As of today, two of those institutionalized also-rans are in great shape for top seeds in their respective conferences, and we want to salute them.

• College of William & Mary Tribe, no bid despite 60 years in DI: After being slapped around by the NCAA for having a logo offensive to Native Americans (really? Feathers are offensive? Feathers? We talkin' about feathers!), the long-suffering Tribe are 9-3 in the CAA, good for second place behind VCU. If you're wondering why you should root for them to break the streak: they gave us Jon Stewart, Patton Oswalt, Mike Tomlin, and sportswriter Jay Busbee. Partisan site: Gheorghe: the Blog

• American University Eagles, no bid in 41 years: This D.C.-based school is just ½ game behind Lafayette in the Patriot, and could easily take the lead and the inside track to the auto-bid. AU's distinguished alumni are a bit less exciting than W&Ms. They can claim NBA reporter David Aldridge, Star Jones, Kermit Washington, and Willard Scott, should they want to. Rooting against them is Un-American.

So, good luck to these two schools, and every other university that has never had a chance to lose, and lose big, in the NCAA tournament. Because everyone should feel that special pain.

A Little Game I Call "Just the Tip" Xavier 70 - St. Louis 68. You hate to even use the word "tip-in" when Rick Majerus is on the sideline, so let me clarify that X-man Derrick Brown used his fingertips to nudge a loose ball into the hoop to conclude scoring in this paticular contest.

Ramon Gettin' Swishy Wit It. Pitt 55 - West Virginia 54. The final shot in this game was drawn up for Sam Young, but he was covered, which led to this confidence-inspiring post-game quote from his teammate Keith Benjamin: "I had no choice but to throw it to Ronald. I had no idea what the clock was. I was hoping he could get it off." Ronald Ramon apparently believes in himself, because he knocked down the winning three from the left wing. In all fairness, Ramon is shooting just 36 percent from behind the arc this season.

Panic in Pullman? UCLA 67-Washington State 59. The Cougars continue their free-fall in conference play. WSU doubled Kevin Love for much of the night, leaving Darren Collison open to score 18. Love also scored 16, so the double was pretty much ineffective.

Our fearless leader has all the news that's fit to print on the Indiana/Illinois love-fest, so let's look at the full slate of games coming up.

Games of the Weekend

Saturday

Purdue (18-5) at Wisconsin (19-3) . Both teams are 9-1 in conference, so this is big.

Georgetown (19-2) at Louisville (17-6) . The Cardinals actually have a better Big East record than a couple of nationally-ranked teams.

Marquette (16-5) at Notre Dame (17-4) . "Gody" has been an absolute beast for the Irish over the recent four-game win streak, averaging 26.7 ppg and 12.7 rebounds.

USC (15-7) at Washington State (17-5) . Mayo and company are quietly sneaking back into the tournament picture, in part because WSU is making room for them.

Sunday

Clemson (17-5) at North Carolina (19-2) . If they can pull off the upset, the Tigers will be tied for second place in the ACC.

Eric Angevine writes about college basketball every day at Storming the Floor, and contributes regularly to Chicago Sports Weekly. He can be reached at stormingthefloor@gmail.com