- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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The NCAA tournament title game is finally here and, with it, sweet merciful death for your tournament bracket. As the athletes competing tonight are student-athletes, many of whom will one day work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, let’s keep the theme of this preview column educational with some ABCs.
A – Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor firefighters put out four couch fires following Michigan’s win Saturday night. More couches are likely to be publicly executed, win or lose, following the title game. As everyone knows, the first step in any spring clean is incinerating your old couches.
B – Beilein
Michigan coach John Beilein has a strange coaching background.
Beilein’s career started at Erie Community College, then he went to Nazareth College, then Division II Le Moyne, then Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and finally Michigan.
“I believe that if you can coach, you can coach,” Beilein said this week. “But there’s a perception that you got to have a pedigree. You have to come up a certain tree in order to know how to coach.”
But anyway, back to Beilein’s strange coaching background: On his Wikipedia page, there’s no section titled “Scandal” or “Controversy” or anything along those lines. And he has coached an NCAA Division I basketball team to the championship game. Very strange.
C – Crying
Fun Fact: The only time it is socially acceptable for a grown man to cry in public is during the season-ending “One Shining Moment” montage. This year it is also acceptable to vomit in public if they show Kevin Ware’s injury.
D – Dominos
Michigan is Domino's territory while Louisville is a Papa John’s town. Ooh! Quick! Before it’s too late! Someone do a bracket of the 64 cheapest pizza delivery joints!
E – Efficiency
Louisville’s defense ranks first nationally in efficiency. Michigan’s offense ranks first nationally in efficiency. This is going to be a close game that could result in overtime after overtime. Maybe we should just let the possession arrow decide the champion.
F – Four
If Michigan wins the title, they will become only the second No. 4 seed to win it all. Arizona was the first, in 1997, when the Wildcats beat Rick Pitino’s Kentucky team. That Kentucky loss was partly due to Arizona outplaying Kentucky, but mainly it was punishment of Kentucky by the basketball gods for wearing this the previous year. Those denim uniforms mean Kentucky fans can never make fun of Louisville’s current outfits. Sorry.
G – Goldencents
Rick Pitino is co-owner of a horse named Goldencents that won the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday and is headed to the Kentucky Derby. Thankfully, athlete injuries are not treated like thoroughbred injuries or the aftermath of Kevin Ware’s broken leg would have been even harder to see than the injury itself.
H – Hardaway
Louisville has a really good defense. A good way to beat a good defense is to do this to everyone. Tim Hardaway Jr. should consider doing this.
I – Intercourse
Well-well it's over and so am I...thanks for the intercourse all you bball fans.
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 7, 2013
J – Jackson
Want to watch the title game with commentary from one of the greatest basketball minds of all time? Phil Jackson live-tweeted the semifinal games.
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 6, 2013
If the game gets boring, you can always Google photos of African wildlife like Jeannie Buss.
K – Kentucky
For one night only, Kentucky blue pairs best with maize.
L – Louisville
Hoping to prevent their own couch fires, the University of Louisville went with MPSAs -- meme public service announcements -- on the school’s official Facebook page. While their intentions are good, how can cheeseburgers be cooked for cats to haz without fire?
M – Mitch McGary
The 6-foot-10 freshman has gone from bench player to possible NBA lottery pick thanks to averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament. Yeah, McGary has been really good. Yeah, it’s not a very good draft class.
N – Nineties
Remember them? If you do, this matchup between sons of 1990s NBA players and a very old-looking Rick Pitino will make you feel old. Then at one point tonight you will catch yourself yelling at the TV about the uniforms the teams are wearing and probably also how no one can make a free throw these days. You should probably just get it over with and check yourself into a retirement home, grandpa.
O – Ohio State
For one night only, Ohio State’s scarlet becomes Louisville red.
P – Possession Arrow
For those still complaining about the end of the Louisville-Wichita State game -- like me up in E -- realize that the NCAA has put the issue to bed. After the game the NCAA issued a statement that read: “In the official's judgment, a held ball occurred because two players held the ball and control could not be obtained without undue roughness.” Happy now? There could have been undue roughness, you barbarians. We’re trying to live in a civil society here and you people want young adults to rip each other apart over a basketball. You disgust me.
Q – Quotes
Even Louisville fans have to admit that the Cardinals failing to win their first national title since 1986 might be worth it to hear Rick Pitino say: “Pervis Ellison is not walking through that door, fans. Billy Thompson is not walking through that door, and Milt Wagner is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old.”
R – Relax
Come on, bird. Chill out. You should be having fun. Even when you try to relax you look stressed. You need to find a vet who is generous with the anti-anxiety medication prescriptions.
S – Siva
Peyton Siva’s college career will end in the title game. Although it may seem as though his Louisville career started in 1986, he is only a fourth-year senior. A Louisville victory would go a long way toward dispelling the notion that those named “Peyton” struggle to win big games.
T – Trey
Trey Burke’s given name is actually Alfonso Clark Burke III. But his mom called him “Trey” because he is the third Alfonso Clark Burke. Rick Pitino should tell his team this before the game. It’s easy to get intimidated by a Wooden Award-winning long-range marksman presumably named for a three-pointer. But players will gladly take on someone named Alfonso Clark Burke III.
U – UConn
Louisville has a chance to be the first school since UConn in 2004 to win men’s and women’s basketball championships in the same season -- and only the second school to do it in history. The UConn women have a chance to prevent it by beating the Cardinals in the women’s title game. The UConn men … they didn’t do too well in this year’s NCAA tournament.
V – Virginia
Louisville’s Luke Hancock is from Virginia and transferred from George Mason. He is skinny and has a beard and you probably wouldn’t think much of him if he showed up to play pickup basketball. This is a reminder to not judge a book by its cover. Also, this is a reminder that if Luke Hancock shows up to play pickup basketball at your gym, you should pick him.
W – Winner?
You know how you gave up on your bracket after the first weekend of the tournament and haven’t had the heart to check it since then? Everyone did that. You might actually be in the money. Go check. We’ll wait. Well? That bad, huh? Sorry.
X – Sign on the X
All of the giant Kevin Ware heads in the crowd are courtesy of A’mare Stoudemire’s foundation. Stoudemire’s foundation aims to improve the lives of at-risk youth, but it could definitely now expand operations to cover those afflicted with broken bones. And macrocephaly.
Y – Ypsilanti
Ypsilanti is a town with a funny name in Michigan. Yeah, these A to Z things get pretty strained around X, Y, Z.
Z – Zubaz
Are Louisville’s shorts Zubaz? Are they camouflage? Are they zubaflage? Camaz? All we know is that a Louisville win would be the first championship in history by a team wearing shorts with a Zubaz influence. What history! If Michigan has to lose, Tim Hardaway Sr. and Glenn Robinson Jr. probably want the loss to be to a team wearing the pattern of their 1990s prime.