|[a] Tournament pause RF|
|[b] Real sweet (sixteen) RF|
*Yes, yes. I understand that the field now has sixty-eight teams on "Selection Sunday." By the time the tournament begins in earnest on Thursday, however, there are sixty-four. I get it.
Sweet sixteen. I will editorialize briefly that I really dislike this stupid and inanely cross-gendered phrasing. It has at least four or five layers of fairly profound inanity that you can figure out for yourself—because I find even thinking about it annoying...except for the rich relationship between culture and alliteration. That is something I find fascinating. The words "sweet sixteen" flow out of the English speaker in a way that enhances rhythmicality even as it contributes nothing significant to understanding. That it is a term most often associated with a kind of patriarchal festival with highly questionable gender leanings seems not to matter in the face of syllabic fluency.
|[c] Another measure RF|
Remember a few days ago when I mentioned that major universities with (seemingly) much better things to do are quite obsessed with the number of times that they are selected for the NCAA tournament? They keep records of these sorts of things and tell them to young recruits in the living rooms of America's 6'8" youth. Well, the South Dakota States and Harvards of the basketball world keep track of the number of times they've been selected for the tournament. Much more storied programs keep track of another number—the times its team has competed in the round of sixteen, in other words, the number of times a team has won its first two tournament games.
If the first paragraph of the article you're reading mentions that it is the tenth trip to the Sweet Sixteen in seventeen years, or that your program has been to more Sweet Sixteens than any other program since 2000, well, you are not Montana, Lehigh, or Norfolk State. You are Ohio State, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, or Syracuse. You have an excellent basketball program, and you assume that you will "make the field" most years. The real test is advancing to the third round, when only you and fifteen other teams are left. After that, (almost) anything can happen. I'll save for another day the kinds of schools that measure success in terms of Final Fours and national championships. Let's keep thinking about the winnowing process that leads to four square(d).
|[d] Recruiting structure and history RF|
A little reflection should make that pretty easy to understand. A very real bottom line hovers over the Sweet Sixteen. Teams that make one are "in the conversation" in a manner that almost never comes to lesser-known programs (such as Ohio University or Xavier). Even well-known programs gain a kind of cultural capital that can be seen in the endless recruiting cycles that hover in the background of college basketball life. All of these things are "cultural." You will notice that I have not said—not once—that these things are "merely cultural" or "sidelights" or in any way less important than bottom lines. They are all wrapped together, and the careful analyst will be unable to see where bottom lines begin and culture ends. I will have much to say about those matters in the coming weeks.
|[e] Sweet RF|
East Region South Region
#1 Syracuse #1 Kentucky
#2 Ohio State #3 Baylor
#4 Wisconsin #4 Indiana
#6 Cincinnati #10 Xavier
Midwest Region West Region
#1 North Carolina #1 Michigan State
#2 Kansas #3 Marquette
#11 North Carolina State #4 Louisville
|[f] Patriarchal alliteration RF|