Saturday, March 20, 2010

March Madness: Terps Carry On

My Brackets

Mock's Pool: 24 points
Work Pool: 22
Control Group: 22
Fairy Tale: 12
Out of Control Group: 10

The regional rivalry between Georgetown and Maryland really isn't much of one as the two teams rarely play each other. Apparently there was (is?) bad blood between legendary former coaches John Thompson, Jr. and Lefty Driesell back in the day so they were never too keen on scheduling games together. And so, while Maryland fans, and indeed fans of any other team in the DC area, often seem resentful of Georgetown's higher profile, I've never had any difficulty rooting for both.

While I don't have quite the same affection for the Terps that I've always had for the Hoyas, they've certainly played a vital role in the history of my sports fascination. I was just as happy for them when they won their national title as I had been for Georgetown when they won theirs, especially considering the long road to redemption that the entire Maryland athletic department had to traverse.

Len Bias died when I was 13. In the years since, I've learned that I was far from the only boy in America who was profoundly affected by that loss. I've seen its mention in at least two books that weren't even about basketball. One was a novel. I count myself among those who fully expected Bias to be the NBA's next megastar, perhaps the only player who could have been a worthy rival to Michael Jordan. That he could have been so stupid and careless with his own life and talent was crushing to me. I can honestly say that I never looked at star athletes, or celebrites in general, in quite the same way again. It certainly scared me away from ever going anywhere near cocaine. I can, at least, be grateful for that.

And so, even with the Hoyas out of the tournament, it's nice to still have a pony in the race. It was good to see Maryland take care of business against a hot but ultimately inferior Houston team. Even though Michigan State is my pick in my two most important brackets, I would not be the least bit disappointed if the Terps beat them. Maryland and Georgetown are the two teams I would most certainly forgive for busting a bracket. I'm not sure about anyone else. I don't know how I would have felt, for instance, if the Syracuse-Vermont game had been closer, especially considering that I'm in two pools stocked with UVM grads who might actually have taken a chance on that game. I'm a little relieved that I didn't have to find out. That says something in itself, doesn't it?

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