Sorry big shots such as Louisville, Indiana, Kansas, Duke and other household and perennial college basketball powerhouse names. You stand among the favorites to win March Madness. But you are not America's favorites. You are not my favorites. You never have been and never will be.
You are not compelling stories because you are not the small guys. If you win it all, it will be a yawn, a disappointment, a March Madness to forget.
America's favorites will be unlikely winners such as Ole' Miss, Harvard and South Dakota State. Can you imagine South Dakota State winning the national championship with star player Nick Wolters lifted on the shoulders of the school's fans? The nation will never forget that. There will be feature stories about the team, the town where the university is located, the home driveway where Wolters practiced his shot while growing up and fantasizing about winning March Madness. Our lives will be enriched learning about a part of the country almost none of us has ever been to or learned anything about. It will be a national educational journey about South Dakota. We will all be more well-rounded human beings armed with deeper knowledge and understanding of this under-publicized and out-of-the-mainstream state.
Throughout the history of this tournament, the best stories that we remember the longest are the underdogs beating the favorites such as NC State over Houston and Villanova over Georgetown in the national title games in 1983 and 1985, respectively.
Kentucky's national championship last season stirred my soul not one scintilla. It didn't arouse Joe America's sense of wonder. Monday night is championship night and I find that game to often be anti-climactic and disappointing. I often don't watch either parts or all of the game. When Duke makes the final game, I tend to avoid the scene altogether-it's too annoying. When the favorite, the national power is about to win the title, I find the whole March Madness ending a gigantic fizzle.
This tournament epitomizes what the American dream is all about, the land of opportunity where anybody can make it big, where everybody has a chance. These are the qualities of our country that are so enduring. We love the story of a Harvard whiz kid creating a colossal business in his dorm that we now know as Facebook. How he did this is the stuff of intrigue and unforgettable. How rich people become richer because they were born into big money does not impress. Likewise, how Kentucky won the national title last year was largely due to having high school Americans up and down their starting line-up, NBA players all on one team, the best overall talent. That's not interesting.
Several years ago for the first time in tournament history all four number one seeds made it to the Final Four: North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis and some other big shot school I can't recall because that Final Four meant then, and means now, nothing to me. I did not watch any of that Final Four and I'm a huge college basketball fan and watch almost all tournament games.
If may be that those were well played games in that Final Four with four talented teams. I couldn't have cared less. High-quality basketball among former McDonalds All Americans is elitism and the luck of the fortunate and super talented. I am much more interested in a good story about a team that has never won anything winning it all, rather than a super talented teams doing the same thing they've been doing for decades.
It's annoying to see the same big name schools have the confetti fall on them on Monday night. We've all seen that movie before. It's old news. This tournament is not about them and never will be. Give me a Final Four this year of Harvard versus South Dakota State. Enter delicious theater like pancakes with buttery syrup. You want to talk about a game that will get the country buzzing, that will tap into the American sense of wonderful and joy that 24 basketball players will be able to ponder what it would be like to be the most shocking national champions in the 75-year history of the tournament? One of those two would live that moment. America would gush with emotion as the winning team would all be crying on the court as they cut the nets and CBS played "One Shining Moment."
We wouldn't have to watch Coach K and his Dukies. That alone would be worth celebrating. We wouldn't have to see Kansas win again. We wouldn't have to see Michigan State win again.
I would rather see two 14 seeds play in the national final and the final score be 6 to 4 than a high-quality game between Duke and Kansas or any other perennial powers. March Madness is not about the quality of the game. It's about the story, the dream come true, the tears, the unbelievable becoming believable, the small guys ending the seasons as the big guys.