NCAA Selection Sunday: A curmudgeonly take on “The Dance”

The annual “Selection Sunday” ritual of choosing teams for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is this weekend, and I am officially going on record to say I loathe describing the tournament as the “the dance” or “the big dance.” What a lame cliche. Let’s put a cap on it, so to speak.

That objection aside, it’s hard to say anything bad about the NCAA tournament. It’s a truly national event that pulls in schools and their fans from all across the map. I was traveling through San Francisco Airport earlier this week and spotted a seasonal display in one of the souvenir shops, with a Stanford shirt and cap on one side and this Cal shirt and cap on the other. (The Stanford photo came out a little fuzzy and I’m not going to post it. Sorry, Cardinal fans.)

Within 24 hours, both schools had been eliminated from the Pac-10 tournament. Stanford is in all likelihood headed to the NIT, and Cal will have to wait around nervously to see if it gets into the main event.

Having lived in California for more than 10 years, I probably should take a side in the epic rivalry between Cal and Stanford. I know many graduates of both schools, and I’ve visited both campuses often. They are both outstanding universities on just about any level on which you care to evaluate them, from academics to campus life to athletics.

Although I’m officially neutral, I must note that I was thoroughly entertained by visiting Palo Alto several years ago during football season around the time of the “Big Game.” Cal students had painted blue every other lemon on a lemon tree to give it a blue and gold look. I thought that was pretty clever.

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