January 09, 2008

I find it ironic that while every college basketball season ends with the playing of One Shining Moment, nobody pays any attention to the "music" as the season progresses.

In transitioning from college football to basketball, you'll notice that the tune has changed from one of parity throughout the game to one of dominance by some of the country's most historic programs. And with no BCS to worry about, this season is already feeling more We Are the Champions than Pop Goes the Weasel.

So, with that said, let me offer a sneak peak at a few songs featured on this college basketball season's soundtrack...

While the Blue Devils will challenge for the ACC title against in-state rival North Carolina, the fact remains that they had an enormous size disadvantage even before Brian Zoubek, their lone player taller than 6-foot-8, broke his foot. Now that Zoubek's on the shelf indefinitely, the Dukies will almost certainly be a vertically challenged team -- comparatively speaking, anyway -- with no legitimate post player.

Other considerations:White and Nerdy -- Weird Al Yankovic; Over My Head -- The Fray

Tell the average fan that Tony Bennett is coaching in Pullman and you're likely to get a perplexed look followed by "I thought he was in San Francisco?" Well, not this Tony. Likewise and despite being fourth in the latest AP Poll, the Cougars are just as anonymous a squad, playing bruising defense and solid team basketball to earn their ranking.

Other considerations:Where Is The Love -- Black Eyed Peas; Hard Knock Life -- Jay-Z

Whatever doesn't kill you can only make you stronger; and as both Brandon Rush and Sherrin Collins have recovered from knee and foot injuries, respectively, you can't help but admire the Jayhawks' depth, which is certain to serve them well in the NCAA Tournament. That is, until they learn that I picked them in the Final Four for the fifth straight year and inevitably tank my bracket.

Other considerations:Tubthumping - Chumbawumba; Sugar, We're Going Down -- Fall Out Boy

For the record, I still have no idea what this song is supposed to mean. And I'll be the first to admit that it's not the most creative option here. But it's quite fitting -- you just can't overemphasize what freshman Derrick Rose has done for the Tigers only a few months into his first collegiate season.

Other considerations:Every Rose Has Its Thorn -- Poison; Run It! -- Chris Brown

As is the case with most elite teams, and especially those in the ACC, it is imperative that a squad remain focused -- and the Tar Heels have the talent to go unbeaten if they can do just that. Should Carolina finish with a perfect regular season, there's no doubt that Wayne Ellington's buzzer beater against Clemson will be regarded as the defining moment -- the "wake up call," if you will -- that put the Tar Heel season back on track.

Other considerations:Too Legit to Quit -- MC Hammer; The Great Escape -- Boys Like Girls

There's a soon-to-be-released Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman movie entitled The Bucket List in which two guys run off with a wish list of things to accomplish before they die. You know, I'm starting to wonder if Bobby Knight has a similar checklist pertaining to in-game blow-ups and post-game press conferences. It never fails -- the man is as crazy as he is genius.

The thing that gets me about Knight's histrionics is how he constantly adds elements of difficulty to better his previous performances, kind of the way an ice skater spins off a toe loop before attempting a quadruple axel. It was the same deal in the glorious days of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater when you could rely on "multipliers" to rack up monster point totals after grinding around all the railings in a mall and then soaring your way, through some wild combination of moves, into the rafters and beyond.

My theory is that Knight is such a competitive person that he's trying to better himself in every possible way. He's at the point now in his accomplished career where he's literally inventing new games for himself to win, and I'm guessing that was his thinking when he brought his 21-month old grandson to the stage with him after his 899th career victory. Sure, he's had run-ins with the media before ... but throw a kid into the mix and that's gotta be like, what, at least three times the bonus points?

Welcome back to the Quick Slants Trivia Game, where you can correctly answer a reasonably challenging question for little or no reward. Today's test involves NCAA Tournament winning percentages...

Which Division I college basketball program has the lowest tournament winning percentage of teams that have won AT LEAST one tournament game? Answer in a bit ...

Congratulations to the LSU Tigers for their second championship in the BCS era of college football. Here are 10 random thoughts after watching Monday's game:

1. Had Monday night's BCS Title been shown on ESPN, it would've easily been the game of the century, complete with weeks of build-up, a catchy slogan, and a 120-hour countdown clock to keep you on edge. Instead, Monday's game was as forgettable beforehand as afterwards, and I needed to be re-reminded that it was even taking place. And yes, I've covered college football all season.

2. What was the Vegas money line on "Ted Ginn Jr. will wear a spool of Mardi Gras beads to the BCS Title Game" and why didn't I bet it heavily? Was there ever any doubt?

3. The standard issue "we played a bad game" excuse that Ohio State fans have sent me in defense of the Buckeye loss to Florida last season has now expired. Thank you.

4. Forget Tim Tebow. Beanie Wells is my Heisman frontrunner for 2008.

5. Five years ago, the only love Terminator character Sarah Connor received was on the Arnold Schwarzenegger prank calling board (try it out if you haven't already.) Now she's getting her own series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles?!? This can't miss! Will it be running back-to-back with the previously unaired episodes of Vanished?

6. For the love of God, please find a smaller helmet for that nerdy kicker in the Allstate commercials.

7. If you still believe the Big Ten is as competitive a conference as the SEC, you should seek psychiatric counsel.

8. Photographers must've realized early in Urban Meyer's life that the phrase "smile for the camera" would have no effect on him.

9. In order to keep a straight face during that painfully awkward interview with JaMarcus Russell and Troy Smith, Chris Myers must've had enough Paxil swimming in him to kill a horse. Seriously, that's the only possible explanation. It was the perfect storm of ridiculous interviews: a credible reporter, a seemingly angry Smith, JaMarcus and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and an uncomfortable exchange between all three.

10. This would've been the perfect year for a playoff.

Let's give a big round of applause to Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee, who quietly gave his unbiased opinion last month about having a playoff system in college football by saying, "they'll have to wrench a playoff system out of my cold, dead hand." Who is this guy, Greg Focker on an airplane?

Thankfully, Mr. Gee was on hand in New Orleans to provide additional comments on the topic. "It's a messy system and my only contention is that that is fine," Gee said. "I enjoy a messy system because I believe it's in the spirit of what intercollegiate athletics is all about. ... It's not just about winning and losing."

Riiight, and the Russians loved Chernobyl because it raised nuclear energy awareness ...

Riddle me this, Mr. President: If it's not just about winning and losing, why are academic standards so lenient for athletes?

1. Better video game? Guitar Hero III / Rock Band

2. More endearing basketball name? Kevin Love / Derrick Rose

3. More useful invention? Pajamas with feet / The Clapper

4. More likely to run the table? North Carolina / Memphis

5. Bigger sports pet peeve? Tangled field goal nets / Foul trouble

6. More anonymous unbeaten? Vanderbilt / Washington State

7. Better dance move? "The Fishing Pole" / "The Robot"

8. Bigger basketball sleeper? Syracuse / Arkansas

9. Bolder movie athlete? Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez (The Sandlot) / Fulton Reed (The Mighty Ducks)

10. Better postseason setup? College basketball / College football

I'd love to get behind the new American Gladiators -- I really would. But Sunday's premiere was as underwhelming as those Jennifer Love Hewitt bikini photos. Seriously, what have they done to the precious show from my childhood?!? It's possible that Hulk Hogan does a worse job playing Mike Adamle -- the original host -- than he did playing Shep Ramsey in Suburban Commando, and that's saying something. They also made the whole show feel like a contrived version of Battle Bots with dark music and, yes, technology. Plus, the modern gladiators have nothing on the legends of yesteryear. Nothing. New school "Justice" got nothin' on old school "Malibu."

The lowest NCAA Tournament winning percentage of any team that has won at least one tournament game belongs to Murray State (.071), which has posted a lackluster 1-13 mark during March Madness. Still looking for a stumper? What well-known coach did the Racers upset for their lone win? Hmmm ...

Ty Hildenbrandt writes Campus Quick Slants every Wednesday. E-mail him at tyhildenbrandt@gmail.com with your comments, questions and random observations.

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