Fat Forde shows of a great sense of humor with the drama that is March Madness, in his Best case/worst case article on ESPN where he discusses the best and worst possible outcomes for each team in the tournament, here are some good ones:
Worst Case: Playing West Virginia — their first truly big-time opponent of the season — the untested Wildcats cannot handle the heat. Wall shoots bricks — and has plenty of company. Cousins and Bledsoe get technicals for throwing elbows. Calipari throws fits and forgets to use late timeouts. Players storm off the bench when they get yelled at. The Mountaineers extend Kentucky’s longest streak without a Final Four to 12 years. Big Blue Nation suffers a communal nervous breakdown. Fans bury their heads in snow banks outside the Carrier Dome. Wall, Cousins, Patterson and Bledsoe all go pro. Pitino upsets Duke on the way to a stunning Final Four. Calipari leaves for the Nets, narrowly escaping the mob that comes to burn down his house.
East Tennessee State (16)
Best Case: Through the same extraordinary teamwork, effort, commitment and belief that carried them to a surprise Atlantic Sun title, the Buccaneers perpetrate a miracle. They actually force Kentucky coach John Calipari to his feet to call a timeout with his team trailing 6-2. Team managers sneak a snapshot of the scoreboard. It’s all downhill from there, but at least there is that One Shining Moment.
Worst Case: Cornell wipes the permasmirk right off Ryan’s face in the second round, beating the Badgers at their own game. Screens and box-outs and clean ballhandling go only so far for a team that struggles to score, so the same group that put 20 on the board in the first half against Illinois in the Big Ten tournament goes for a whopping 16 against the Big Red. Eyes bleeding, fans everywhere swear off watching the Badgers for the next 10 years. Insisting that he is the guardian of purist basketball, Ryan goes back to River Falls and Oshkosh to recruit more screeners. Meanwhile, Marquette makes the regional final.
Worst Case: [Oliver] Purnell stays on the schneid as his team blows a 15-point second-half lead to Missouri. In a collapse unsuitable for the eyes of children, Clemson misses eight of 11 free throws and turns the ball over four times in the final four minutes. Purnell himself covers his face with his orange suit coat near the end. Clemson football fans say, yes, this does look familiar. Meanwhile, South Carolina coach Darrin Horn gets another five-star commitment.
West Virginia (2)
Worst Case: With the Mountaineers locked in a close second-round game against Clemson, a controversial call goes against them late. Always restrained, West Virginia fans respond by throwing coins, whiskey flasks and small auto parts at the officials. Huggins rages like King Lear on the sideline. After five separate technical fouls, the Mountaineers lose by two. Huggins’ number of NCAA losses as the higher seed climbs to 12. The Mountaineers’ mascot is arrested in Buffalo for buying live rounds of ammunition for his rifle and going to the officials’ hotel.
Best Case: Hotel accommodations are great. Oklahoma City fans are receptive during the Wednesday open workout. The weather is warm. The Mountain Hawks get a good barbecue meal that night. All the comp sweatsuits fit. The pregame layup line is a thing of beauty. The national anthem has never sounded better.
Worst Case: Lehigh has to follow through and actually play the game against No. 1 Kansas.
Georgia Tech (10)
Worst Case: Guards dribble balls off their feet and knees, and Tech commits six turnovers on inbound passes as Oklahoma State blitzes it into the offseason. Favors gets six shots, Lawal five. Favors puts his name in the draft faster than you can say “Thaddeus Young.” Hewitt’s golden contract makes him unfireable, but he’s also unhappy enough to jump to St. John’s. Tech fans aren’t sure how to act, and wind up stewing over the fact that Hewitt left before they could kick him out. Meanwhile, Mark Fox says he’s not leaving Georgia.
Worst Case: Rick Pitino guards the inbound pass this time. Rakeem Buckles deflects an intended three-quarter court pass to Singler for the potential winning shot at the buzzer. Louisville stuns Duke 103-102 in overtime on an Edgar Sosa banker. Krzyzewski says he loves his kids but adds that he didn’t love the officiating, which whistled only 19 fouls on the Cardinals when Coach K clearly saw them commit 24. Singler and Smith both turn pro, and Carolina still has won two national titles since Duke’s last one.
Worst Case: The Boilermakers can be chapped and feel disrespected all they want, but they’re still not the same team without Hummel — and everyone who watched them score 11 points in the first half against Minnesota last week knows it. Trailing late against Siena in the first round, Hummel can’t resist trying to help from the sidelines and pokes the ball away from Saints point guard Ronald Moore with his crutch. Technical foul adds insult to injury to elimination.
Florida State (9)
Best Case: With Leonard Hamilton glaring, Solomon Alabi rejecting and Chris Singleton disrupting, defense-obsessed Seminoles stun Syracuse, beat up Butler inside and frustrate K-State to reach the school’s first Final Four since 1972. Fans stop obsessing over Jimbo Fisher’s first spring practice as head football coach just long enough to applaud. Florida loses by 30 in the first round, and Billy Donovan leaves for Oregon.
Worst Case: Defense-obsessed Seminoles forget that you need an offensive game plan, too. They score 39 points and lose to Gonzaga in the first round. Alabi and Singleton go pro. Donovan takes Gators on another long run, and Urban Meyer gets another blue-chip football commitment.
Best Case: Tim Tebow sends the team inspirational eye black. Joakim Noah cuts off his ponytail and mails it to Billy Donovan for motivation. Suddenly, Dem Gator Boys are back — shooting, slamming and snarling their way through the tournament like it’s 2006 and ’07 all over again. Or, well, they’re shooting, slamming and snarling their way to the Sweet 16 at least. When you’ve been gouging your eyeballs out with NITting needles the past two years, a run to the NCAA second weekend will do. Billy Donovan is so pleased to be back whistling and stomping on a Big Dance sideline that he reaffirms his plans to coach the Gators for the conceivable future. Meanwhile, Florida State flops in the first round, and Urban Meyer stays unretired.
Kansas State (2)
Best Case: Lincoln beards for everyone! Jacob Pullen becomes the furry face of March Madness, shooting brilliantly until Kansas State has reached its first Final Four since Tex Winter was the coach in 1964. Fellow guard Denis Clemente takes it from there, channeling Rolando Blackman 1981 by floating a baseline jump shot over Cole Aldrich at the buzzer to beat rival Kansas in the national semifinal. There’s no topping that, though, and an emotionally spent K-State is beaten by Kentucky in the title game — which is OK, winning the state title and avenging three losses to KU this season is prize enough. Pullen then announces that he’s returning for his senior season, and eternally irate Miamian Frank Martin sweetly declares himself so in love with Manhattan that he signs a lifetime contract.
Worst Case:: Burdened by the school’s highest seeding ever, cold-shooting K-State struggles past North Texas in the first round and is whacked by BYU in Round 2. Frank Martin spontaneously combusts like a Spinal Tap drummer the first time one of his big men misses a defensive assignment against the Cougars, which rather unnerves his players and leaves burn marks in front of the K-State bench. In a clueless search to replace the cooked Martin, the school panics and rehires Jim Wooldridge, operating on the premise that recycling an old coach worked in football. Kansas, of course, goes on to win another national title and lords it over Wildcats fans.