Everyone remembers when they found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. The stories are probably pretty similar: You were in first or second grade and you began to hear the murmurs that Kris Kringle was a phony after all.
You lie awake, hoping to get a glimpse of the jolly ‘ole guy when he drops off the presents so you can tell your friends that Santa really does exist. When you don’t hear anything on the roof, you find your way downstairs to see if he’s putting stuff under the tree.
But you don’t see Santa there. Instead, you see your parents putting presents under the tree, and you’re crushed.
For basketball fans, Saturday night was like reliving Christmas Eve. Their collective hopes and dreams were smashed as both highly-anticipated games ended up being blowouts.
Except this time, it was much worse than a mere disappointment.
When someone finds out Santa isn’t real, he at least has warning signs to see it’s coming. Saturday blindsided sports fans and made the best NCAA Tournament in recent memory into another average sporting event in the matter of six hours.
It would be like walking down the stairs hoping to find Santa only to see your parents having sex under the tree. It wasn’t just disappointing; it was also shocking.
The first 60 games of the Big Dance were exciting and heart-stopping, rallying people around a sport that many felt was dying with the emergence of the one-and-done college athlete.
Nobody thought Saturday would be any different.
All four teams had incentive to play well. Somehow, each team felt disrespected.
All four teams were entering their respective games with luck on their side. Somehow, each team won a game that included a near-buzzer-beater scenario.
And all four teams looked primed to take advantage of their time in the spotlight. Somehow, none of the Final Four participants were part of the pre-NCAA Tournament hoopla, and after flying under the radar, they hoped to grasp their time in the limelight.
But just two teams showed up on Saturday, and unfortunately for the millions viewing from their homes, they were playing in different games.
Big Baby Davis looked fatigued after jogging out for pre-game introductions. The combination of him absorbing the week-long media attention and outweighing UCLA’s starting lineup proved to be too much for him to overcome.
And George Mason seemed to be immobile on the court. After all, it’s hard to move around on a broken slipper.
So Saturday’s games proved that a perfect NCAA Tournament was in fact too good to be true.
But the truth is, the Big Dance has still been uber entertaining.
One bad day of games shouldn’t sour fans toward the rest of the Tournament, especially if the lone game remaining is the final matchup.
The two teams left are the teams playing the best right now, too, nobody can argue that.
Florida’s balance has carried it through the Tournament with relative ease. The combination of Al Horford and Joakim Noah on the inside and Lee Humphries’ lethal shooting on the outside creates a pick your poison situation for opposing teams.
UCLA holds arguably the nation’s top defense. Coach Ben Howland has this year’s Bruins playing John Wooden-like ball, and the perimeter attack of Farmar and Afflalo gives UCLA fans hopes of putting another banner on the already crowded rafters of Pauley Pavilion.
So put the disappointment of Saturday’s games behind you: tonight is the perfect night for redemption.
We all got over Santa not being real, I’m pretty sure getting re-energized for the last leg of March Madness isn’t too much to ask.