Why Is This NCAA Tournament So Boring?

Illustration for article titled Why Is This NCAA Tournament So Boring?

Unless you have a dog in the race (maybe next year, Rams!), the only truly compelling part of the NCAA tournament is the upset, preferably thanks to crazy buzzer beaters. We've had some upsets, most notably Duke getting bounced by Lehigh and Norfolk State taking over the news cycle for the tournament's first days. Two 15 seeds winning in the same tournament? That is pretty wild. But they wound up getting smoked in their next games against Xavier and Florida, respectively. Two 15 seeds winning on the same day? Historic! But, history is boring without some flash.


Where are the buzzer beaters? Where are the my goodnesses? Where are the onions? Where is Gus? I was really hoping for it last night. Ohio could have made this tournament. Tie game, big defensive play by the underdog with just enough time to get off a wild, yet still very makeable shot. So close. UNC would go on to slam the door shut in overtime. Totally predictable.

The beauty of the tournament is its unpredictable nature. The seeding helps frame that into something we can understand: 15 seeds are not supposed to win, so when they do it is made more compelling by the tiny numbers next to the names. But there is something more visceral and experiential than basic math and that is the buzzer beater. When a shot goes in to win or tie the game at the very last second, no matter which team hit it, it is an intoxicating moment.

"But the games have been competitive!" Hey, that's great. I am super pumped that these games have not been blowouts and have, you know, achieved what they were intended to achieve. Good on you, selection committee. We've had fairly competitive games whose outcomes have been basically foregone conclusions by the final minute. Fouling and timeouts merely delay what is inevitable. Whatever team is up by five or six, will win by two or three, leaving no real opportunity (time) for a comeback.

I want more. I want to say "oohhh shit" with extra "o"'s and "h"'s and I want it to be purely reflex. I'm not asking for much. I'm not asking for Christian Laettner; maybe just a deep three-pointer to send the game into overtime. It doesn't even have to win the game and that team can go on to lose—I don't care, just give me the fix. Oherwise, I'll just be here, taping my eyelids to my forehead.