DENVER — It sounded slightly like a filibuster on Sunday when Larry Krystkowiak was asked if he felt good about where his Utah basketball team is.
“Again, you know, the comments kind of keep — am I happy where I am?” he haltingly began.
Then he surged off, fast breaking through his answer. “It’s like, that’s taking all these things into account that we’ve already done. My brain isn’t really wired that way right now. It doesn’t have anything to do with what we have done, it’s what we’re going to try to do now. So I can’t say I’m comfortable with where we are. I’m kind of on edge, ready to practice. I’ve always been a firm believer …”
Stop right there. That’s as close to a filibuster as it needs to get. College basketball and politics are already entwined, anyway. What, besides politicking, motivated Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade to say she was “shocked” by the NCAA selection committee’s omission of St. Bonaventure? What, besides politics, caused Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli to label the Bonnies’ snub “a disgrace”?
It all sounds like the kind of callouts politicians routinely make. Donald Trump demands that Ted Cruz apologize for anti-Trump ads; John McCain supporters want an apology for Trump’s “war hero” comments; Hillary Clinton wants apologies for pretty much everything.
So fill out your brackets, turn on the TV, and don’t forget to vote, because the similarities between basketball and politics are everywhere. For instance …
A humongous field: There are 68 teams invited to the NCAA tournament, which is only slightly more than the number of Republican candidates this year.
Embarrassing discrepancies: Hillary Clinton can’t really explain Benghazi and the selection committee can’t really explain Tulsa. But both clearly involved poor judgment.
One and done: Just like politics, in basketball you get one chance to make history, then potentially wait years for another.
Attacking the opponent’s vulnerabilities: Republicans are blasting Bernie Sanders’ socialist roots and Clinton’s perceived dishonesty. Democrats are ripping Republican stances on guns, immigration and same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, Fresno State should take advantage of Utah’s poor 3-point defense (291st in the country). Trouble is, FSU is only 194th in 3-point shooting. Utah being 135th in turnovers is sure to be a focal point.
Bragging: Trump boasts about his money, leadership and everything else. Likewise, every team that made the tournament brags about its bracket-worthiness.
Unauthorized leaks: Clinton put thousands of classified emails on her private server for unauthorized parties to see. Similarly, someone leaked the NCAA brackets a half-hour early, for the Twitter universe to see.
Overly rosy expectations: Weber State and CSU-Bakersfield think they have a chance at the brass ring. So do Marco Rubio and John Kasich.
Indifference to criticism: President Obama and Trump couldn’t care less what critics think. Neither could John Calipari.
Platitudes: Politicians say they are concerned about the voice of the people. College basketball coaches say they are concerned about academics.
Kingmakers: Politicians have their establishments. Basketball has its power conferences.
Disrespect: Trump calls Rubio “Little Marco.” The search committee considers Saint Mary’s “Little Saint Mary’s.”
Questionable behavior: Louisville allegedly had recruiting parties that looked like strip clubs. Bill Clinton acted like the White House was a strip club.
Talking heads: Politics have Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh. Basketball has Charles Barkley, Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith and Dick Vitale.
Big movers: Politics have traditional big delegate states like Texas, New York and California. The NCAA tournament has big delegate states like Texas, New York and California.
Mass blaming: Clinton blames Trump for violence at his rallies. Trump blames Clinton and Sanders for the same thing. And everyone blames the search committee for giving Duke a No. 4 seed.
Outsiders: Politics has The Donald. The NCAA tournament has Yale.
Doomsday predictions: Liberals are saying Trump represents the end of civilization. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi says the selection process has “gone off the rails.”
Maybe we should just vote on the NCAA champion.
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