Let’s start with fashion, which is always a must at NCAA Tournament time.
Men’s basketball uniforms seemingly have returned to sanity. And I am a happy camper.
You might recall that for the last couple of decades, big and floppy was considered better than small and tight when it came to men’s hoops unis.
I’m not sure of the exact reason for this. I think it’s complex and might be related to Michael Jordan, MC Hammer, Billie Eilish and a surplus of nylon, Lycra and dazzle in the fabric warehouses of this planet.
I complained bitterly from the git-go, as I saw the billowing sails of polyester and satin replacing the snugness of yore. I’m not sure we’re ready for the near-thong-and-undershirt look of the early John Stockton and Oscar Robertson years, but at least a modern guard won’t lose a dribbled ball up the leg of his trunks, as I once saw a bloomer-clad high school player do some years ago.
Fashion that makes your job harder is a weird duck. Bless you, children. Faith restored.
• Two details from the Illinois team. Deep reserve forward Dave Griffith is from Fisher (Illinois) High School. Thus, he was a Bunny on the Bunnies team.
Deep reserve guard Tyler Underwood will turn 25 this summer. He has been in college for six years and is working on his third degree. He’s coach Brad Underwood’s son.
• It wouldn’t be Pac-12 basketball without ESPN announcer Bill Walton bringing his unique brand of smoke-enlightened insanity to broadcasts with play-by-play straight man Dave Pasch.
You’ll recall Walton as the Grateful Dead-loving Hall of Fame center who said last season during a game between Oregon and Colorado: ‘‘Great offensive rebounding here by the Buffaloes! Looks like they had some good grass at halftime.’’
He once ate a cupcake on air — with a lit candle on it. He recently told Pasch: ‘‘I have found that mushrooms can only help you.’’ Then he added: ‘‘Remember, fungus is singular; fungi is plural.’’
Some people can’t stand the guy. I find him oddly informed and delightfully unhinged, the way Charles Barkley is enjoyably off-the-wall, if semi-nuts, at times.
Walton was explaining the genesis and outflow of the Colorado River to Pasch on Saturday — during the Oregon State-Colorado game — and drifted into a conspiracy-tinted soliloquy about the NCAA Tournament selection committee. The group was as secretive and fear-inducing as a cluster of renegade generals and mad scientists controlling a doomsday machine, he implied.
‘‘The faceless, the nameless, the autonomous!’’ Walton said with horror.
‘‘Actually, we know who they are,’’ Pasch replied calmly.
Amusing stuff. Must be taken one puff at a time.
• Illinois vs. Loyola. It could happen in the second round if both teams advance.
If No. 1 seed Illinois can’t beat No. 16 seed Drexel, something’s wrong.
But there’s no guarantee No. 8 seed Loyola can get past No. 9 seed Georgia Tech, which won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. In that title game, Tech looked peskier than a horde of yellow jackets, beating Florida State 80-75 and forcing a stunning 25 turnovers.
Loyola has 6-9, 255-pound big man Cameron Krutwig, a dominant force in the Missouri Valley Conference. Against Illinois, however, he’d be dwarfed by center Kofi Cockburn, who goes 7 feet, 285.
Not sure that’s a force Loyola wants to prod.
• And where would we be if we forgot coaches and their 2021 salaries? (Remember, the players are still — and forever have been — unpaid.)
We’ve got Texas coach Shaka Smart at $3.1 million (after a $501,000 pandemic reduction), TCU coach Jamie Dixon at $3.7 million, Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams at $3.9 million and Texas Tech coach Chris Beard at $4.7 million (even after a $569,000 pandemic discount).
Yippee, Lone Star State!
Wait. Hold on. Texas Southern won the Southwest Athletic Conference, and coach Johnny Jones makes only $250,000? My goodness. Get some of that Texas oil money, son. Or git along to greener pastures.
Feeling sorry for failed Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, now at Nebraska? Don’t. Hoiberg gets $3.9 million this season. And if he’s bad enough to be let go, he’s got a $22 million buyout clause.
We won’t mention Kentucky coach John Calipari’s $8 million salary or $55 million buyout. Nope.
Finally, endlessly disgraced Rick Pitino (no salary disclosed) is back to the Big Dance with his record-tying fifth team, Iona. My, how the NCAA must love that.