After a week of conference championship games, Selection Sunday swept into our lives and delivered the NCAA Tournament field to us. Like kids on Christmas Eve, we waited to see what came down the chimney. We speculated, audited in our heads how our years have gone. Were we naughty or nice? What’s Santa’s track record been in the past? Does Daddy not having a job affect my odds of getting that pimp Lego Castle? You talk yourself into believing in the most beautiful possibilities. You think and hope and pray so hard that they become real. Such is human nature.
Accordingly, life is filled with disappointments. There are always more stories about vacations falling apart or an expensive restaurant being overrated or, say, your team getting ignored for the Big Dance than stories of unexpectedly perfect situations. We as sports fans accept this. We know, deep down, that our sunny predictions born of baseball’s spring training or football’s draft won’t be fulfilled. But despite this, every so often the Gods of Sport give your team a gift. Perhaps an entirely unexpected gift, a wholly undeserved gift. But a gift. And a beautiful one.
The Arizona Cardinals got one this past year – making it to the SuperBowl with a one dimensional offense and a terrible defense. The Kansas City Chiefs got one in the form of a discount Matt Cassel. And my beloved Boston College Eagles just picked one up in the form of a 7 seed in the tournament. Granted, I think BC’s unexpectedly generous seeding isn’t on the same level of “holy flying God are you lucky” as the Buzzsaw’s run into the playoffs or The Last Cassel’s new home in KC, but it hit me close to home. So I’m going to talk about it.
BC beat Duke at home and UNC on the road. We won the first game of the ACC tourney and played the Blue Devils to the final seconds in the next one. We had the resume for a 9 or 10 seed, considering we dropped ugly games to St. Louis (road) and Harvard (home, in front of me). The season proved that Boston College has the legs to either run into the Final Four or drop in the first round – in other words, they’re the perfect 9 or 10. Just high enough not to be a Cinderalla, but just low enough to fly under the radar until the Sweet Sixteen.
Then the 7 seed happened. I learned about it on a basement computer in the green room of my comedy theatre. “Wow,” I said aloud. “I think that’s a little generous.” That right there is a rarity in sports. We’re so used to disappointment, so used to our teams being disrespected, that when something so fun and unexpected happens, we have no idea what to think. How often in the history of your own sports fandom have you had a “we don’t deserve such good news” moment? You’ll probably think about thirty different “we got hosed” moments trying to come up with one.
So between now and Friday’s game against USC, I’m going to do my best to appreciate the sports equivalent of finding a $20 bill on the street. Go Eagles, YOUR tournament 7 seed!