Culbreath: Madness? This is basketball!Written by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Let loose the dogs of postseason basketball.
The conference tournaments have begun, which means we’re only a week away from The Big Dance (and the three smaller, less significant dances). Are you catching the Madness? Symptoms range from actually seeking out coverage of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, to filling out a full 68-team bracket with your own mock selections.
You laugh, but I know a guy.
Over on Bancroft Street, it’s good news headed into the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament. The Toledo Rockets men’s basketball team will reap the benefits of their all-time winningest season by getting seeded directly into the semifinal round of the tournament. (By the way, is that considered a double-bye, because it’s in the second round of byes, or is it the triple-bye, because it bypasses 3 rounds?)
If the Rockets can post back-to-back wins in Cleveland, they’ve not only won the MAC crown, but punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1980. And while Toledo’s chances of getting an at-large if they can’t win the tournament are less than that part of a gold bar that isn’t gold (he said, ever so eloquently), it would be pretty hard to believe that they’d be passed up by one of the other tournaments. Long story short: the Rockets are going to see some postseason action.
The women’s team, however, is going to have to fight their way through. After a season that bounced back and forth all year long, they’ll likely find themselves hosting a first-round game at Savage Arena before the tournament moves to Cleveland. Does Toledo get hot and make a run? Why not: They certainly have the talent to do it. In the week leading up to the postseason, coach Tricia Cullop’s team hung very tough with Central Michigan (who long ago clinched the West Division), and annihilated Eastern Michigan. If the Rockets make a deep run in the tourney, I don’t see why they aren’t invited back to a WNIT that’s treated them well in the past.
And that’s not to mention the postseason basketball that’s going to be played at Savage Arena, no less. That’s right: Toledo will host first- and second-round action of the NCAA women’s tournament on March 22 and 24. What a chance to show off Toledo once again under the national spotlight, and see some of the nation’s top ball players play on Bob Nichols Court. Not gonna lie, that’s pretty sweet, and I hope Toledo comes out to make Savage Arena look good on national TV, even if the Midnight Blue and Gold isn’t playing.
As for the 68-team tournament they call March Madness (even though it finishes in April) — that’s another one of those quasi-national holidays were people just seem to come down with the cold, only to be spotted at a local watering hole hours later. I hope you have your gameplan and excuse already mapped out. I’m lucky: since I’m the sports director with 1370 WSPD and Toledo’s Fox Sports 1230, watching the tournament is my job, which means I get to legitimately watch it in my office, feet propped up and a bag of those really tasty pretzel bites to my right. Okay, fine, I can’t dedicate myself wholly to sloth: there is still work to be done after all. But at least I don’t have to be sneaky and hide my webstreams. I might just bring in extra TVs for the occasion. Let it never be said that this job doesn’t have any perks.
Godspeed to your brackets, and may the idiot who picked his brackets based on which mascot would beat which in a fight NOT win the office pool for a change.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director for 1370 WSPD.