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Saturday, March 26, 2011

SportsProf's Hierarchy of Rooting

You've heard of John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" and Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs," so I figured I'd share with you how I determine to root for teams in the NCAA Tournament, in order of priority.

1. Princeton. That's easy, I went there, love the Tigers, love the Princeton basketball brand.

2. Temple. Again, pretty easy. My father went there, and the Owls have an excellent brand, too. They had one under Harry Litwack, Don Casey and John Chaney, and they continue to enjoy an excellent brand under Fran Dunphy.

3. Any other Philadelphia-area team. So, for example, I rooted for St. Joe's and Jameer Nelson when it went to the Elite Eight, and Villanova when it went to the Final Four. I'm a little lukewarm about Penn, Princeton's archrival. On the one hand, I was a huge Penn fan as a kid (both parents have degrees from there), and I respec their brand and program very much (huge Dunphy fan). That said, well, it's kind of hard to root for Penn, even if I respect the Quakers greatly.

4. Any team with a connection to where I live. That means Temple, again, as Lavoy Allen went to high school where I live, and West Virginia (ditto for Dalton Pepper). This, though, is a pretty small category, as most school districts might send one kid to a DI program in a generation, and, if that, what are the odds that the kid will get significant playing time.

5. Any team with a Princeton or Philadelphia connection. Richmond qualified doubly this year, because head coach Chris Mooney is a Princeton alum and Philadelphia native. Having both, though, didn't move Richmond ahead of, say, West Virginia. That also meant Wisconsin, whose head coach, Bo Ryan, is a Philadelphia-area native, and it also means Kansas (which I picked in my bracket), because the outstanding Morris brothers, Marcus and Markieff, are from Philadelphia.

6. Underdogs. Butler and VCU, for example. But, if Kentucky somehow were an underdog in the tournament, I confess I would find it hard to root for John Calipari, no matter how fundamentally sound his team has looked in the past couple of weeks.

7. North Carolina, because I love Dean Smith, so much so that a Carolina presence sometimes can upset the hierarchy (although it's hard to tell a close friend whose a Wake Forest alum that). Also, the sometimes fealty to Carolina would trump, say, #5, when it came to Duke, a program which I also respect, last season, because Duke's center, Brian Zoubek, is a Philadelphia-area native (and his father is friends with friends of mine).

Which means, of course, that I might be faced with a dilemma if Butler were to face North Carolina or Kansas in the NCAA final. Believe it or not, I'd probably go with the underdog, even against beloved Carolina, and most likely against Kansas, regardless of whether it was Wilt Chamberlain's school and is the Morris brothers' school. and was my pick to win it all. The reason? There's just a magnetism to underdogs that I can't escape.

Which means, of course, that my team usually will not win the national title game.

But, it would be pretty amazing if they could.

So that's my Hierarchy of Rooting.

What's yours?


Anonymous Rob G. said...

My heirarchy of rooting in the NCAA tourney is pretty simple.

1- North Carolina. I didn't go to UNC but I am part of the long tradition of NC basketball fandom. As a child, you choose a favorite team and that's your team for life. It doesn't matter if you go to that college later in life (or any college). It becomes a part of who you are. I chose UNC way back in the 1974 (I was 7 years old) and I'm still here after 34 NCAA tournament appearances. That's 4 National Championships and 30 heartbreaks.

2- Any team that plays Duke. Watching UNC and Duke go at it twice a season on ESPN doesn't begin to paint a full picture of the relationship between the two schools and the two grous of fans. I hate Duke with a passion that burns as brightly as a thousand suns. A Duke loss in the tournament is almost as satisfying as a Carolina win.

3- ECU/WCU. This one is kind of moot. I received my BA from Western Carolina and my MA from East Carolina, neither one a basketball powerhouse. Well, there was the UNC v. ECU game in the 1993 tournament that made me uneasy but the Heels won the championship so I got over it rather quickly.

4- Any team with a UNC coaching connection. This pops up from time-to-time. UNC has produced quite a few college coaches so I usually want them to do well.

Having said that, the tournament ended for me yesterday. There's always next year.

10:02 PM  

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