●Genuine underdogs aren’t allowed to grow into favorites
Larranaga coached George Mason, okay? George Mason was “Hoosiers” come to life in 2006, led by their cornball Coach L, who was Norman Dale without issues. But now he’s the coach of the team with a legitimate chance to win it all. He’s got dump truck-big power forwards. His team is ineligible to be that good. Same goes for Gonzaga. You can’t just be this trend-setting mid-major underdog, paving the way for all the Butlers, George Masons and VCUs, and then become the No. 1 team in the nation.
It’s like the Little Engines That Could morphed into the Death Star, or Rudy going to the Pro Bowl. The rule is, you don’t get to sling the stone at the Philistine in one tournament and be Goliath in the next. It messes too much with our narratives and labels that you are supposed to embrace your entire lives and careers. You also can’t win if you are . . .
●Second banana on your own campus
Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Florida and now Kansas State won’t cut down the nets — primarily because they will be hurt by lack of support at their Sweet 16 sites. Their fans will not show because the second week of spring football at their respective schools always proves to be more attractive than hoops. (Yeah, I know Florida won back-to-back in 2006 and 2007; the Butler Priciples are recent inventions.)
Another reason Michigan and North Carolina won’t win:
●Your dad and distant cousin can’t have a better career than you
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson Jr. and James Michael McAdoo won’t win it for their teams, just like Marcus and Michael Jeffrey Jordan couldn’t lift the University of Central Florida or Illinois to unseen heights. The only guy to break the hex is Sean May at North Carolina, and he had a pretty good supporting cast.
And finally, your team won’t win because:
●They’re simply not good enough
North Carolina A&T, Southern, Akron, South Dakota State, everybody out west and, really, anyone lower than a No. 8 seed, because it’s never been done in the 64-team or current play-in-game format.
That pares down the bracket to North Carolina State, Missouri, Syracuse, Marquette, Memphis, Pittsburgh — all of which will get knocked out the opening weekend because they can — and my Final Four: Indiana, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Michigan State.
Yes, Tom Izzo will definitely get Sparty to the Final Four because he’s due. He usually goes every other year, six now since 1999, and hasn’t been to one since all the way back in 2010. It doesn’t matter how bad his roster is; Izzo could take Florida Gulf Coast to the Elite Eight, okay.
Georgetown beats up Indiana on one side of the bracket, something like 55-53, while Gonzaga loses a crusher to Michigan State in a battle of brawn vs. skill. And your champion, the one team that won’t extract your soul:
Michigan State beats the Hoyas, when Otto Porter Jr. misses from 20 feet away at the buzzer.
Hey, there are no homers here. But there is oh, so much heartbreak.
For more by Mike Wise, go to www.washingtonpost.com/wise.