There's No Need To Fear Indy, Underdog Is Here!by Sean Patrick Rodriguez
Well we’ve got trouble, right here in Circle City, that starts with T and it rhythms with B and that stands for Busted, as in Bracket Busters. No one, well no one who isn’t lying through their teeth, picked the George Mason Patriots along with the other three, No. 2 seed UCLA, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 3 seed Florida, as ‘their’ Final Four. Underdog and that is a big understatement, George Mason, turned out to be the ultimate bracket buster. The Patriots were not really invited to this dance but they decided to crash the party anyway.
Not since 1980 at Market Square Arena in Indy, when Louisville defeated UCLA 59-54, no number 1 seed will be playing in the Final Four at the RCA Dome. Connecticut, Villanova, Memphis and Duke, all of them number 1 seeds in this year’s tournament, failed to make it to the Hoosier capital to compete for the 2006 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. It is time to root for the underdogs. Of the four survivors, only George Mason stands tall as the true underdog in this Final Four fight.
"There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!" Shoeshine boy is coming to Indianapolis, in the humble, lovable guise of George Mason. The Patriots, from the unheralded Colonial Athletic Association conference, are the first No. 11 seed to make it to the Final Four since the 1986 LSU Tigers. George Mason booked their tickets to Indy by beating past champion Michigan State, 1979 and 2000 (at the RCA Dome) and last year’s champs North Carolina, who also won in 1957,1982,1993,2005, and this year’s heir apparent, and former champions Connecticut, 1999 and 2004.
No small achievement for an at-large pick. The Patriots were not even the Colonial Athletic Association champions. UNC Wilmington won the conference tournament and earned the automatic berth that went along with the championship. The CAA is no chump Mid-Major conference either, they sent four teams into postseason play this year. UNC Wilmington and George Mason were both picked to go to the NCAA Tournament and Old Dominion and Hofstra played in the NIT.
If all goes according to seeding this weekend, Monday number 3 seed Florida will play the number 2 seeded mighty Bruins of the University of California Los Angeles. History is on UCLA ‘s side, by virtue of their 36 NCAA appearances and 11 National Basketball Championships. Not to mention that the greatest coach in UCLA history and NCAA Basketball history, Purdue University and Martinsville, Indiana’s own John Wooden, is a local and a native. However, if this year’s tournament and this basketball crazy state have taught us anything, expect the unexpected. Fasten your seat belts and return you trays to their upright position, this could be a bumpy ride.
As the star of the Underdog Show would say, "Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it's just little 'ole me, Underdog!" Often before he could accomplish his task of saving the world and save Sweet Polly Purebred, Underdog’s power would dwindle and to regain his strength, he would eat a secret pill he kept hidden in his ring. If George Mason wants to shock the planet and finds itself in similar circumstances, maybe their ‘little pill’ could be the inspiration from the movie Hoosiers, "Let's win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here."