All of which is my way of saying that I'm a Georgetown fan. This year, for the seventh time in the last eight years, the Hoyas won't be in the NCAA tournament. I don't know how much longer I can carry on the rivalry without Georgetown making the dance—I'm running out of ways to mock the bionic Boeheim and his perennially successful teams. There he is now, walking courtside with a cane. I hear it's made out of Rony Seikaly's femur.—Felix Gillette
University of Cincinnati, Conference USA, No. 7 in Austin Region Outlaw basketball programs exist because outlawry pays. Once a school gets known for off-court monkeyshines and low academic standards, that reputation becomes a recruiting tool. Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV teams set the standard: At one time or another, various Runnin' Rebels soaked in a hot tub with a notorious gambler, bought cocaine in full view of a local news team, and got free airfare on planes chartered by casinos. They also played exciting, freewheeling basketball, went to four Final Fours, and won a national championship.
Red-faced and leather-lunged Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has the recruit-the-delinquents routine down. The Bearcats' police blotter is filthy with domestic violence arrests and the graduation rates are indistinguishable from zero. All that's missing is the fun, the talent, and the victories in March.
While Tarkanian always loaded up on flashy scorers, Huggins has a thing for surly big men. Perhaps because Cincinnati is in Cincinnati, the Bearcats play a grindingly ugly game, with teams built around muscle-bound power forwards with bad attitudes and even worse shooting touch. Huggins' formula produces teams poised between junior college and the CBA. Against quality opposition, their offensive ineptitude always does them in. The Bearcats are the wankstas of the NCAA, would-be thugs who crumple under pressure.
Since 1996, Cincinnati has made it past the second round just once. If Nick Van Exel is the finest citizen your program has ever produced, you can't settle for edging out Tulane for the Conference USA regular-season title. When the Bearcats join the Big East next year, there won't be any more weak teams to push around. Losing in the tournament will be a thing of the past. You can't lose if you don't make it in the first place.—Josh Levin
Stanford University, Pacific-10 Conference, No. 8 in Austin Region
Why, yes, I did know that Tiger Woods went to Stanford. Yes, and John Elway, too.
Forty-seven Olympic medals from 1990 to 2002? And 71 team championships since 1980? And 14 Nobel Prize winners? You really are good at counting.
What's that? Did you mention your SAT scores? Yes, you did. Several times. Why am I smiling? It's just so cute how much you like to talk about them.
No, I haven't seen you play this year. Sorry.
No, no, don't tell me. Let me guess. You have a white guy with very important hair? Is he named "Casey" again? And how many "Academic All-Americans" do you have?
It's going to be so hard for you on Sunday, won't it? When Duke beats you? That must really hurt—like when your frat brother stole your girlfriend? Fifty weeks a year, you tell yourselves you're the only great school with great sports—and then the Blue Devils show up. Yes, I know you won an NCAA title—just like Duke. But wasn't yours in 1942?—David Plotz