I would like to thank Doug for allowing me to infect this week's blog with some temporary March Madness. Long before I was doing research on the NFL, I was a NCAA tournament junkie.
I still have the NCAA program from the 1988 Final Four, featuring Arizona, Oklahoma, and Duke. (I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the fourth team). I memorized that program, and can still to this day tell you who won the NCAA tournament in any year. In college, I once banged my head on the floor during an intramural basketball game. My teammate's reportedly asked me who won the NCAA tournament in 1950, to see if I was okay. When I mumbled "CCNY, Irwin Dambrot, Nat Holman", they told the ref that I was okay. I don't really remember it.
My particular affliction, and the cause of an unhealthy love-hate relationship with March Madness, is that I am a Missouri Tigers fan. I cried when the 1987 team with Derrick Chievous lost in the first round to Xavier as a #4 seed. I cried the next year when they lost to Rhode Island in the first round. (Yes, I cried alot as a kid). By the time the 1990 NCAA tournament rolled around, I was a sophomore in high school. I was at school, but skipped class that afternoon, snuck into the A/V room in the library with a couple of other guys, and watched the second half of the game against Northern Iowa. I can still see Maurice Newby's prayer of a shot sailing through the net.
That particular Missouri Tigers team was led by Anthony Peeler and Doug Smith (who Doug had an opportunity to see up close at the first NFL game he attended). Less than a month earlier, they were the #1 ranked team in the country. They went into a bit of slump at the end of the season, culminating in a first round Big 8 tourney loss to the #8 seed Colorado Buffaloes, which dropped them all the way down to a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament. I'll use that Missouri Tigers team to transition to the point of this post. How important is a team's finish to the regular season, and does the tournament committee properly weight the end of season performance versus the whole body of a team's performance?
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