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Rooting for the Cinderella Butler Bulldogs, I guess

I guess I’m rooting for Butler. I guess.

I don’t want to paint myself as an anti-Cinderella elitist. Anti-Cinderella this time of year is like anti-presents around Christmas. Anti-turkey around Thanksgiving. Anti-chocolate bunnies….

You get the point.

As the very Cinderella Butler Bulldogs — having just dispatched of the very, very Cinderella VCU Rams — get ready to play UConn Monday for the national title; it is clear. America is in their corner.

And why not?

They were this (finger and thumb held about a centimeter apart) close to upsetting the Dukies last year. It would be a thrill to see the little guy get his.

It’s certainly fitting in a tournament like this that an eight seed would win it all. Brackets have been shredded from coast to coast. Half the office pools out there didn’t even need to wait to see who won this weekend to crown a champion. An event that is often defined by upsets has been redefined by this year’s model.

And maybe that’s why I’m not as down with the ‘dogs as I should be. Too many upsets have left me wondering about the quality of what I’m watching.

My Sports Interactive co-host Paul Calvisi believes that Cinderella’s are like mom and pop eateries and the elite programs are the chain restaurants. Why would you ever choose to eat at a chain restaurant when you could choose a little hole-in-the-wall type joint?


I prefer to think of Cinderella’s as chocolate cake. Good every now and then…maybe even a little more often than that. For me, this tournament has been chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and dessert. Not enough moderation. Way too many upsets and too many Cinderella’s. Get me a meal with some substance.

I like my upsets and my Cinderella’s to last a round or two….three tops. By then, I would rather see the elite teams with the elite talent square off in two-men-enter-one-man-leaves type of game. Which is when it occurs to me; that’s the problem. There are no elite teams. They don’t exist anymore. The talent level in college basketball has become so watered down from all the one-and-done kids who bolt for the NBA.

A few years ago it was George Mason in the Final Four. Last year Butler nearly pulled the ultimate doozy and might again this year. VCU went from the First Four to the Final Four. It’s terrific drama but is it terrific basketball? Some of the play in this year’s tournament has been an undisciplined mess.

In some ways, it leaves me longing for the NBA Playoffs (can’t believe I just wrote that). There are no flukes. A bad night, a bad half, doesn’t spell doom. The best team, the one with the most talent, wins and there is no shortage of opportunity to prove you are that team.

But I’ll root for Butler. After last year it would be nice to see them win it all.