Sunday, March 22, 2009


Round #2 of the NCAA tournament was defined by dramatic potential and predictable results. Grasshopper's old Kung Fu koan proved true: Expect the Unexpected. Everything went just as expected. When it was all said and done, no miracles announced the first two days of Spring. All the major favorites won their games and advanced, with varying degrees of difficulty. But all the tenacious, lovable underdogs went down this year. No Cinderellas in the Sweet Sixteen. No Western Kentucky, no Cleveland State, no return to glory from Michigan, no movie-in-the-making with Siena's starting five. The closest thing to a surprise was underrated, media darling Arizona making the Sweet Sixteen as a #12. Ach-well.

But it was an enjoyable, occasionally thrilling tease. I watched North Carolina beat LSU from Barney's Beanery, a West Hollywood legend where it's impossible to tell the die-hards from TV stars in shades and officially licensed apparel. The game was touch and go for many nervous moments. Honestly, Tarheel fans are plenty used to the constant low grade anxiety of tournament month, and in a way we thrive on it. But you can always tell early when a team looks likes it's about to put you through the ringer: Utah in '98, Weber State in '01, Penn State in '03, Air Force in'04, Villanova in '05, George Mason in '06. LSU looked, for a brief moment, to be that brand of team. But we ground it out with two long runs near the end of each half and pulled away comfortably before it got too scary. Who knows what Gonzaga will bring, who got a scare of their own, winning in the last second by two over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers?
Along the way, I discovered a new cure for nerves called Shoot the Root. Claimed to have originated either in Long Beach or Australia (then brought to the LBC by an Aussie barkeep) its your basic boilermaker, with a shot of Root Beer Schnapps dropped into half a pint of lager. It tastes just like a Dr. Pepper and is immediately effervescent, refreshing and relaxing. I recommend one before the game and at halftime. Next weekend awaits, with new peculiar challenges and adventures. A post to follow from Joshua Tree, where we ponder the Sweet Sixteen in balmy, languorous climes...

No comments: