"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Friday, March 19, 2010

NCAA Men's Tournament kicks off with Boilermaker griping from yours truly

ESPN.com just described Siena as a "trendy pick", but one ultimately overtaken by Purdue's strong second half (Purdue beat Siena 72-64).

This is a common phenomenon lately, I've noticed: it's trendy to pick anyone over Purdue, even this year, when Purdue was playing with a[nother] [currently-running] record first-round win streak on the line (going into this game, they were at 11, the longest current streak, and now they're at 12, the new longest current streak). It doesn't seem to matter that we've played better in the first round than anyone else in the nation; Purdue never, ever gets the benefit of the doubt that's so easy to come by when we're talking about high-seeded teams before they get knocked out in the first round -- and I'm referring to #3 Georgetown, #4 Vanderbilt, #5 Temple, even fucking #6 Notre Dame, for crying out loud.

Those upsets were surprising -- and yet, somehow, Purdue's lack of an upset was a surprise.

Why is it so difficult to believe that a 4-seed can hold off a 13-seed -- especially when you consider that Georgetown couldn't hold off a 14-seed, and Purdue would have been seeded higher had we not blown the Big Ten Tourney?

Sure, Siena's at the top of the MAAC, but who's even heard of them (MAAC stands for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, in case you, like me, didn't intuit that)? Were they ever in the top 25 this season? At our best, we hit #3 -- in the fucking nation.

Call me crazy, but upsets are supposed to be surprising, kind of by definition. The fact that upsets have become par for the course in the men's tournament is a mark of how much basketball talent there is in this country*, but that doesn't for a second mean that it's logical to suppose they're going to happen all the time.

And, of course, no one expects them all the time.

They just expect them when Purdue is the top dog.

*The reasons behind the relative lack of upsets in the women's tournament should probably be obvious, if you have any sense of logic, but I'll spell it out for you: Tons and tons and tons of young men want to play NCAA basketball; the gross number of good players rises with sample size, and they all have to go somewhere, hence, lots of good players at lots of schools. Talent is spread out, and gaps between seeds are closer. There are not as many young women who play basketball; hence, a lower gross number of good players, which means fewer strong teams, and larger talent gaps between seeds. It's basic math, really.

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