Some things about this year's March Madness will be cooler than others.
Let's start with the uncool. Some teams in this tournament have dull names: University of Georgia, Texas, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Florida. These are ho hum names. Nothing that really jazzes, just institutional sounding, bureaucratic, you know, red tape.
Conversely, there are some cool names, ones that sort of jolt you and get you wanting to root for them to win. Those include Marquette, Mizzou, Bucknell, LIU (sounds cooler than Long Island University), UC Santa Barbara (conjures up images of a gorgeous Pacific coastline), and Oakland. Oakland makes me think of the once successful pro baseball team, the Oakland As, and I didn't know anyone ever played basketball there. That alone makes the sound of the school intriguing. And then there's Wofford. It really doesn't belong in the cool sounding list, obviously, because it sounds kind of goofy, like some name for a college in a B movie on the USA Channel. But it doesn't belong on the uncool sounding names either. Call it a March Madness naming anomaly. By the way, nothing I can think of rhymes with Wofford.
When it comes to abbreviations of names of the schools in March Madness, again some sound way cooler than others. First the uncool ones: SDSU (San Diego State), UNC (University of North Carolina), and USC (University of Southern California). None of these really get you going. On the other hand, a few do. They include UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles)-just those four letters, UCLA, conjure up images of national championship basketball trophies. ODU also sounds cool (Old Dominion University. The "U" sounds the coolest of all, for the University of Miami football team. But they didn't make the tourney nor did their basketball team.
Before you stop reading this, I want you to know I did some research yesterday, and some significant analysis, about the colors and styles of uniforms to be worn by March Madness teams. I concluded that some uniforms are cooler than others. On the Plain Jane list of dull uniforms I put Penn State; Butler (trying to be the UPS team-what can brown do for you? Give them credit for being original-no one else goes brown and white-but their unis are not eye-candy.); Michigan State; Wisconsin; and Ohio State. In all these cases you have one color plus white and nothing really going on design-wise. I know Joe Paterno likes his football team to have plain blue and white uniforms with no frills. But March Madness is not football and is about the glitz. These uniforms put me to sleep. What's needed is creative ad agency support to juice up the looks.
I have to toss a gaggle of teams into the uncool list of uniforms that have the color blue in them. Twenty of the Chosen 64 teams have blue and white or blue and gold in some shade or another. For lacking originally, they get the uncool label Duke (they also are uncool for being too successful), Kentucky, Memphis, Georgetown, Pitt, BYU, UConn, Utah State, Villanova, Penn State, Akron, Xavier, West Virginia, Northern Colorado, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Barbara and Hampton. In several of these cases they mix blue and gold or blue and silver, which is OK, but using blue in any of its shades is just not original.
Oh, and baby blue uniforms, included among the 20 I counted, fall into this category of uncool. North Carolina, Old Dominion, and Indiana State tried to get away from navy and royal and other shades of blue by going baby. But they're still uncool. The truth is UCLA also sports baby blue and gold uniforms but they're UCLA and automatically cool in all things related to college hoops. So I give them a pass but not the other baby blues except Indiana State. Larry Bird, my favorite hoops player of all time, went to Indiana State so they get a pass, too. But UNC and Old Dominion uniforms remain on the uncool list forevermore.
Although I don't view them as original and they do fall back to old reliable navy blue, I give a pass to the following teams because they wear the patriotic all-American red, white and blue colors: Richmond, Arizona and Belmont. If you going to use blue, it's only cool to use it with red and white, in my view.
Soaring to the top of the list of cool-looking uniforms is-as usual-is Marquette. This school has a history of sporting glaringly stylish basketball uniforms dating back to the 1970s and the days of Butch Ellis and Dean Memminger (cool names, by the way) and Jermone Whitehead (another cool name, by the way). That trend continues. Although Marquette's light blue and gold colors are the stuff that lots of teams will wear this Madness, the navy blue and gold checks down the sides of their shirts and pants are spectacularly cool and no other Madness team has anything that flashy.
Now for a personal note: I'm partial to purple ( I read "The Color Purple" book while in college or maybe in high school but that's not the reason). I think when using Crayola Crayons as a kid I liked to draw stuff with purpose crayons. So I feel compelled to add to this list of cool uniforms those three teams sporting purpose colors: Kansas State (nice blend with the silver), U. of Washington, and Gonzaga.
Like this short cluster of purple-clad teams, there is a short list that have the moxie to go orange. You have to respect that for being different and audacious if not necessarily pleasing to the eye. They are Texas, Tennessee, Bucknell, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Illinois and Princeton. Some of these schools, such as Bucknell, Okie State, Illinois and Princeton, blend the orange with black. Bad idea, generally, but cool for having the guts to wear something other than, say, blue.
Then there's the black and gold camp: Vandy, Missouri, Purdue, Wofford and Oakland. Had my alma mater been in this tournament, Wake Forest, they would also be in this group. But that's an aside. Black and gold uniforms are like orange and black, questionable looking but to be respected for taking a road less traveled.
There is also the small group of teams that wear maroon: Temple, Texas A & M and Florida State. There is a band these days called "Maroon 5" that has a few good tunes. So I'd say maroon is a nice color for a basketball uniform.