Dear Basketball Gods,
I know I do not speak to you often, for I imagine that you are engaged in any number of fierce cloudtop pickup games. But I must ask you to pause for a moment and make this single heartfelt plea:
Please let Butler win the national title this weekend.
I am not a Butler alum, nor am I from Indiana. I have no regional bias for Butler in any way. All I know is this: If Butler wins the whole NCAA tournament, it will be awesome. If someone else wins it all, it will suck.
We Americans are conditioned to always root for the underdog, particularly during March Madness. If you aren’t from Kansas or didn’t have money on Kansas, were you rooting for them to beat Northern Iowa? No, you were not. Only horrible people would do something like that. The popularity of sports is driven by its potential for unpredictability. We like seeing teams that aren’t supposed to win, win. I know I do, largely because it makes me feel like I could totally accomplish something similar, which I realize is hilariously misguided.
Yet, the NCAA tournament has a stubborn habit of letting underdogs go only so far. Once George Mason reached the Final Four a few years ago, they just soundly thrashed by eventual champion Florida. This is annoying. The most memorable underdog champion in tournament history is the 1985 Villanova squad. Villanova is a Big East school. That’s not good enough. The last mid-major conference team to win a national title was UNLV. That sooooo doesn’t count. I want to see one of these so-called Cinderellas finally put their foot on the throats of the big conference schools, win it all, and deliver a giant eff you to the fantastically annoying oligarchy that is the NCAA.
Furthermore, I hate the idea that any of the other three teams could end up winning the title. Duke is Duke. No one wants to see all these upsets take place just so Duke can win the title. And while the folks of West Virginia are very nice, and their state is quite beautiful, the fact is that Bob Huggins is impossible to root for, and not just because he frequently rocks a mock turtleneck.
Which brings us to Michigan State. I admire Tom Izzo’s stunning March track record (six Final Fours in 12 years), and there’s little else hatable about the Spartans. Except this: If I have to hear one more story about how a winning team in Michigan (much less one located 90 minutes from Detroit) is somehow saving that economically depressed state, I will not be pleased. No one says, “Oh, hey! MSU won the title! Maybe I should buy a house in Detroit and pay $10,000 over the asking price!” And the only way to prevent that sort of media-inspired “we love a good story!” story is for Michgan State to get thrashed.
No, not only is Butler is sole underdog left in all this, but they are by far the most likable team left. It’s hugely annoying when the team you think karmically SHOULD win it all does not end up doing so. And so, Basketball Gods, whoever you are, I beg you today to not let this merely be a “happy to be here moment” for the Bulldogs. They’re good, and they have the home crowd.
Let ‘em take the cheese.