By the

March 15, 2001

So I’m sitting in Psychology this week, beside such luminaries as Minta Lucci and little Bennett, when it occurs to me that I should begin paying attention and stop doodling pictures of a Terrapin on my notebook sheets. So I slowly tune back in, visions of Steve Blake leaping over fences gradually dissolving into images of dogs salivating at the sound of a tone.

And then the teacher starts talking about memory ? and God knows my memory is shot, I had a bad phase somewhere around 1997. So he’s yapping on and on about memory, and short-term and long-term, and encoding and all this nonsense ? the visions are coming back, this time of Jason Williams teeing up a nice 3-ball, of Casey Jacobsen slicing and dicing the lane, of Gilbert Arenas skying through the air for the alley ? quickly followed by the oop.

Then the prof drops it. Flashbulb memories. Random little incidents that stick with us forever. Such as, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” which for me becomes “Where were you when Bill Buckner became a New York hero?” So I started thinking about what memories I will always have: maybe getting hitched, givin up the ol’ v-card, my first hit in little league. Then I realized something. I never played little league, I was fat and slow. And also, almost all my flashbulb memories are from the NCAA Tournaments of my youth.

By the time you’re reading this, the NCAA Tournament has probably begun. The next 48 hours of your life are going to be the most scintillating, powerful, hoot-hollerin, camel-riding, cigar-puffing, Pitino-bashing, towel-chewing, bad sweater-wearing hours of your life. The 48 hours that it takes for 64 teams to become 32, featuring two days of wall-to-wall basketball, is the greatest experience of a young man’s life.

You’re sitting there, chilling on the couch. Maybe you’ve got a Bud Light in the palm, and if you’re one of us chosen few (Witmer), maybe you’ve got a lady on your arm. You’re watching some 3 seed play a 14 seed, and frankly, the game sucks. You’re wondering why CBS isn’t switching to another contest somewhere in the nation, and you’re figuring, eh, I guess there ain’t no other good games.

But then they put the scores on the bottom of the screen, and Hampton is beating Arizona by 3 with a minute to play. You stand up, spilling the beer and angering your loved one, screaming for Sean McManus’ carcass. If you don’t know who Sean McManus is, like 99.8 percent of America, you probably just utter an expletive followed by “CBS.”

You run to the computer for the “Gamecast.” It doesn’t surprise you that Arizona is down, they drop games in the tourney with the frequency of a bust at Rhino’s. In fact, one of the my fondest memories was the good ‘ol desert dwellers taking one up da posterior from number 15 Santa Clara way back in 1991.

As I sat astride my father’s knee, I began to realize how awesome the NCAA Tournament was. Anything can happen, at any minute, and without fail, CBS will miss covering the good game for a 30-point rout where Battier is benched with 15 to play.

Wait a minute, why was I sitting on my father’s knee when I was 12? All this said, you’re probably wondering, as a faithful reader of my work (I wonder if even Hopkins got to this paragraph), who my picks are. Well, I’ll address that momentarily. First, I would like to abuse my role as a respected (ha) Voice columnist and encourage all of you to enter my NCAA Tournament pool, which as of press time stands at roughly 200 dollars for the winner. Just look for me around and slap me a five-dollar pound and a little sheet of paper known as “a bracket.” You, like NAS, can rule the world.

Who do I like? The fact is, I like the tournament. I like the desperation threes. I like the court-long bombs. I like the razzle dazzle. Yes, yes, at this time of year I even like Dickie Vitale. I like the PTPers. I like the most excitement you can pack into 48 hours.

As for teams, Hampton all the way, baby. Hampton all the way.

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