Now I know I hate you. "Only the NCAA Tournament matters?" Your [sic] the worst kind of Virginia fan. Really, your [sic] a non-fan. Do yourself and you're [sic] readers a favor and take some time to smell the roses. Were in the middle of an all-time great season, Just enjoy it! Maybe you wont have so much anxiety about UVA sports. Better yet, just go kill yourself so this stupid blog can just go away.
~Anonymous Commenter, via Wahooze's "Give a Yell" anonymous feedback form
Okay, okay, okay... yikes. Wow, yikes, ouch, and thanks for commenting... I guess? I probably could have done without the invitation to commit suicide, but you know, thanks for commenting.
A few things...
|I like this one, because, Cavalier.|
4) Thanks for reading, thanks for taking the time to comment, thanks for inspiring this post, and go fuck yourself. (Or go fuck you'reself, whichever one you understand, you fucking cretin.)
5) Now that that's out of the way, let me do a little bit of defense on my claim that only the NCAA Tournament matters.
ONLY THE NCAA TOURNAMENT MATTERS!
Imagine, if you will, that Virginia beats Louisville, then wins three in Greensboro to take home the ACC Tournament Championship, lands that exclusive 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament... and then becomes the first-ever 1-seed to fall victim to a 16-seed upset, as some shitbag mid-major like Idaho, North Florida, or Seattle U gets hot from behind the arc in Dayton and carries it over into the first round game against us. Think anyone would remember our impressive 29-1 regular season? Think anyone will care about our ACC regular season title? Think anyone would give a crap about the ACC Tournament championship? Nope, we'd just be a laughingstock, the butt of every joke, and the Myron Medcalfs and Seth Davises and Jay Bilases of the world would suck down their sweet, sweet vindication as they circle-jerk themselves to blissful nirvana.
Deep down, I think every college basketball fan knows that eventually a 16 will beat a 1.
Deep down, I think every Hoofan [who has been a Hoofan for longer than a decade] knows that when that 16-over-1 upset occurs, it will most definitely be Virginia as the losing 1-seed.
This is what I call the Virginia Fan Condition. Similar in every way to Beaten Dog Syndrome. First cousin to Murphy's Law. Some Hoofans know it as "Rule 2(b)." Brendan from From Old Virginia says, "We can't have nice things." It's all true. Sad, but true.
It would be very Virginia of us to go 33-1, and then lose that first game in the Tournament. And, sorry, I wouldn't be able to celebrate the 33-1, because I'd be too focused on the 0-1 Tourney showing and the fucking historic upset.
Okay, so that's absolutely the worst case scenario. And realistically, this team is too good, too tough, too gritty, too resilient, too confident, and too talented to fall victim to said shitbag 16-seed.
But what if we end up tangling with a red-hot 8- or 9-seed like Georgia or Oregon and lose in the round of 32? Would we be able to celebrate a great season then? I know I wouldn't be able to. And the Medcalfian Mob would be there to dance on our graves, circle-jerk and all.
|YOU are what's wrong with college basketball.|
So, in my eyes, there is hyper-intense pressure to advance through the first weekend of the Tourney, and make it to the Sweet Sixteen. I find that kind of pressure more nerve-wracking than fun. Did you enjoy watching us survive against Coastal Carolina last year? I know I didn't. It was more relief than euphoria. The Memphis beatdown was fun, but only because the game was in hand from start to finish, so no nerves. I need our first two games in the 2015 NCAAT to be like 2014's Memphis game in order to be able to relax and enjoy the first weekend of the Big Dance.
Once we're in the Sweet Sixteen, I feel like there's still pressure... this time to improve on last season's run and to prove all of the haters wrong. I'd HATE to see us coast through Sacramento State and Ole Miss, only to go belly-up against a 4/5-seed like Baylor, Utah, Arkansas... or [much worse] one of the vogue mid-majors like Wichita State, Butler, or Northern Iowa. Ugh.
|Paul Jesperson cannot get the last laugh.|
The burden of expectations, they are indeed a real bitch.
So I guess what I'm saying is that anything less than the Elite Eight would be a bitter disappointment; an unfit end to an awesome season.
But even in the Elite Eight, a soul crushing defeat could await. I would not be able to stomach a loss to Gonzaga. Or to [anti-UVA poster child] Iowa State. Or to some lower-seeded upstart who gets hot like UConn and Kentucky did last season.
I don't want to say "Final Four or bust," because it's damn hard to make it to the Final Four, and I'd be mostly okay if we end up succumbing after a hard-fought game against Wisconsin or Arizona in the Elite Eight, similar to how we ended up succumbing to Michigan State last year.
But look, I'm just being honest here. You can't start 28-1, put together the best start in school history, and then be free and clear of Tournament expectations. A loss at any point before the Elite Eight would devastate our fragile fanbase. I am keenly and consciously aware of that fact, even while a majority of Hoofans want to stick their heads in the sand about it and hide their fear among false bravado.
Bottom line? I'm excited about March, because I'm always excited about March. I'm doubly excited, because for the first time in my lifetime (or at least since 1995), I have a dog in the fight, a real, bonafide, legit national championship contender. But because of that, I am triply nervous. I guess you could call it fear. You're only scared when you have something to lose, right?
I'm not used to this shit.
FINAL FOUR OR BUST!
|That's right, Indy or bust. Anything short of that... isn't good enough.|
THAT BEING SAID, potential silver linings of an earlier-than-we-should-lose loss:
-- Maybe it helps Justin Anderson to decide to return for his senior season, on the quest for vindication.
-- Maybe it helps the whole team find another gear they didn't know they had, in the engine of motivation for the 2015-16 season.
-- Maybe it keeps the potential copycat programs at bay for another season.
-- Maybe it keeps the potential Tony Bennett (and Ritchie McKay and Jason Williford) suitors at arm's length for another season.
-- Maybe it sets the stage for the best possible story, when we win the 2016 national championship.
Nope, screw all of that. I want an extended Tournament run, and I want it this season. Hoofans NEED it, this season. We deserve it, this season.
Best of all, we have a team that can, should, and will deliver that extended Tournament run. Just don't blame me for watching it unfold with my hands behind my eyes, terrified. This dog has just been beaten too many times, is all.