College Basketball in Two Acts

By Jake on March 2, 2011 at 1:00p
Disclaimer: Mountain Lion may have been Mountain Housecat   Pictured: Mountain Lion after thorough submitting.

Like any upstanding denizen of the Appalachian mountains, the first thing I did to celebrate Ohio State's victory over Penn State was wrestle a Mountain Lion into submission. Manliness thus displayed, I retired to my apartment and cooked the traditional Manful Victory Meal of a veggie hot pocket (broccoli and low-fat cheddar) and pita chips. After a hour-long Power nap and a 10-minute eye-rest, I applied my Facial Cleanser of Dominance and ruminated on where, exactly, the Scarlet and Gray stand in the bigger picture. I realized three things: first, our last two games had the exact same scores, which is creepy as hell; second, Jon Diebler is a wizard; third, the last of game of the regular season is this Sunday, and it's against our newly-minted nemesis Wisconsin. Suffice to say, beating Bucky would be an ever-so-sweet coda to the regular season.

As important as that game is, the impending conclusion of the season inevitably leads to a kind of introspection. Like the lives that endlessly cycle through the Tibetan Wheel of Life, every Buckeye team is both the same as the year before and entirely new. There are agents of continuity: upperclassmen, the staff, the university and its traditions. There are agents of change: freshman, the non-conference schedule, Nike's latest attempt at "edgy" uniforms. But the most extreme expressions of this change/continuity dynamic lies in the dichotomy of the Conference schedule and the Tournament.

In the same sense that those stable elements of the program allow the Buckeyes to remain the Buckeyes, our conference opponents offer mostly familiar faces during the bulk of the season.  Their tendencies and personnel carry-over, giving our team more knowledge with which to plan but providing the same to the enemy. That's the reality we face on Sunday: a familiar opponent with familiar players, a familiar coach, and a familiar offense. We have confidence in Diebler, Sullinger, Buford, Lighty, Craft, and Lauderdale and we have confidence in Thad Matta, but the same is true of the Badger fans and their team. Throughout the long, grueling process that leads us to this final match, a certain amount of predictibility sets in. We learn who is a contender, who is a pretender, and who is Iowa (hint: it's always Iowa). It can be a very anti-climactic conclusion for many teams. Ohio State is assured of at least a tie, Iowa is assured of being terrible, and most teams know whether they're in the dance or not.

By comparison, the NCAA tournament is sheer anarchy. Sixty-five eight teams, many of whom don't even share a common opponent, face off with almost no time to prepare. Whereas the conference schedule provides stability, continuity, and predictability; the tournament schedule is a hectic maelstrom of upsets, meltdowns, cinderellas, and an ever-present sense of uncertainty. March Madness is the one thing College Basketball has that College Football simply cannot match. As exciting as the pageantry and hype surrounding the bowl games can be, it simply can't compare to the sheer insanity that is the NCAA tournament.Even more, it is the steady and predictable regular season juxtaposed with the frantic, mad March that gives the tournament it's punch. In the regular season, you don't have to give up on the championship after a couple losses, giving hope to many fans and players late into the season. Once you make it, however, the stakes rise and the intensity escalates. College Basketball is a two-act play. The regular season sets up the conflict: introducing the characters, the plot, and the villians. The tournament provides the climax. No matter what happens Sunday, I can't wait to see the conclusion.


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Maestro's picture

Must beat Wisky at home though.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

75-62 good guys.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Another Jason's picture

68 teams in the tourney now.

cronimi's picture


My hatred of TSUN is strong and based on a personal history of decades and a program history of over a century.  That said, Wiscy has grown into a strong challenger to scUM for my enmity.  They don't have what it takes to 'win it all' on a national scale (which scUM often has had when they've bested the good guys), but Wiscy too often has had our number of late.  They must be defeated -- nay, they must be shamed, ridiculed, embarrassed, and sent home in disgrace.

Do it, Buckeyes!

The_Lurker's picture

Wait...lean pockets and pita chips?

cronimi's picture

Of course!  The dinner of champions single guys. 

/has Lean Pockets in freezer


Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Nice article, Jake!  As a fellow denizen of the southern mountains, I prefer rasslin' a b'ar to a mountain lion.  Though bigger and stronger, b'ars are somewhat slower, which makes it easier for someone of my advanced age to administer a pile driver or two.  Also, I feel compelled to point out that the absence of pork fat disqualifies your meal from any association with the Appalachians.  Now, if lean pockets had lard in the crust...

Jake's picture

Well, to be honest, Boone and Asheville are to the Appalachians as Austin is to Texas. I think a vegan press-sandwich and a soy latte would be more common around here than bar-b-que.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

Jake, I'll give you Asheville for the vegan press-sammy and soy latte but not Boone.  If I have to, I can list off any number of steak houses and/or bar-b-que restaurants in the Boone/Watauga area.  For every vegan wreaking of teatree oil and flaxseed there are (at least) 2 carhartt wearing jacked up wrangler/ram/silverado driving good old boys.  Watauga county itself, a county without county wide zoning until early 2000s, has as many double wides as it does timber yards.  ASU fought for years for the "major" victory to have a windmill sit a top the mountain, which Boone residents bemoan and its mere presence has driven Boone to heavily regulate all things sustainable.  As I am sure you are acquainted with the campus/downtown area, there has long been a rift between "townies" and students. In short, Boone, Watauga, the South, it involves Pork fat/lard and I believe you are confusing ASU with Boone,...I implore you to venture off King St. up 181 or down 221, even rock 421 up the mountain towards the TN line and I believe you will find that you are anything but surrounded by Vegans.

Jake's picture

No, I know. I've been around. I would add that it's more of a 3-way split between townies, the university, and upper-middle class snowbirds. My sister actually graduated from Watauga, where the snowbird/redneck divide apparantly represented the only cliques in the school. The truth is I'm not much of a vegetarian myself, though several of my friends are, but I definitely feel more comfortable at Boone Saloon than Town Tavern, if that makes sense. 

As for driving down 421 to the TN line or 321 to Caldwell county, that's why I referenced Austin, TX. Like Austin, Boone is a college town surrounded by Tobey Keith country. Austin is more Arcade Fire and Boone is more Phish, but the concept is the same. Asheville, I guess, is somewhere in between Boone and Austin.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

Well we can agree to disagree.  Having spent significant time in Austin and Asheville and a graduate of ASU and current resident of the high country, on the spectrum of hippie progressive towns I would place Asheville at the greatest, Austin, and then Boone the least.  I will close with this...a campus (ASU) where you could stand in the mall and scream any number of racial slurs that you could conjur and you receive more cheers than jeers...its pretty southern and its pretty country

Agree to disagree.

Go bucks!

SouthernBuck's picture

Why I HATE Wisconsin:

1.  With all the talk about Wiscy possibly beating a #1 OSU for the third time this year, I wish for once, they could string together enough wins in any sport to ever be a #1.

2.  Bo Ryan is a prick. 

3.  Bret Bielema is a prick.



ih8rolltyde's picture

4. I hate Lee Evans.

5. Jay Valai is an asshole.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

Kyle's picture

6. Madison is the epicenter of pinko commie-loving liberals.

poguemahone's picture

Your avatar seems very appropriate

Peter Pete Peterson's picture

7. Bret Favre...!

Peter "Pete" Peterson

"Recruiting is like shaving, if you don't do it everyday, you look like a bum!"  -Jim Tressel


Carolina Buckeye's picture

3a. Brett Belima is a prick

3b. Brett Belima is a douche

3c. Brett Belima is a turd

3d. Brett Belima is a dick

3e. Brett Belima is...(fill in the blank)


  I have had a nasty taste in my mouth for that rim lickin ball swallowing dbag since the game where JoePa tore his acl, which happened in the 3rd.  Right before half time (within a half minute I believe), Wisconsin scored and Bilema, being the all knowing intelligent cutting edge coach that he is, found a "flaw" in the rule book and ran someone on special teams off sides 5-7 straight plays because the clock would eventually run off.

 He stood there with this shit eating grin on his face that i'll never forget, and JoePa chased the officials off the field giving them the business for Bilema's childish and pathetic move.


Ever since, that man has been dead to me

chi_town_buckeye's picture

Wry, subtly hilarious article with a well thought out point.  Comments that make me lol.  While SEC fans are busy sucker punching innocent young men on family vacations, we will win over the universe one thought or laugh at a time.

Proud to be a BUCKEYE!