March Madness is upon us once again – the most exciting time of year for college basketball fans! Our very own Villanova Wildcats have finished a record-setting regular season and are poised for a potentially wonderful run in the tournament, coming out of the East as a #2 Seed. Every Nova fan will be cheering on the Cats as they take on DeVry University Thursday night.
For most fans, however, understanding who to root for in the tournament beyond their favorite team can be kind of confusing, and leaves many people flummoxed with endless burning questions – Should you root for rivals in your own conference so that your conference looks stronger as a whole? Is it okay to root for a rival if it helps to clear an easier path to victory for your team in the tournament? Which teams are never okay to cheer for? What state is Milwaukee in again? When will Mike’s Hard Lemonade bring back their limited edition chocolate cherry flavor?
As you can see, it gets out of control pretty quickly. Luckily for all the Villanova fans out there, I’ve taken the time to scrutinize the teams in the NCAA Tournament from the New Big East, Old Big East, and those that have other associations with Villanova to let everyone know which other teams can be cheered for or hated on from a Nova fan’s perspective. My process is pretty scientific, so I’ll understand if some of you try to start calling me "The Nate Silver of VUHoops" after reading this.
THE BIG EAST
- Have the greatest chance (along with Villanova) of proving the strength of the new Big East Conference in the NCAA Tournament (+3)
- Gives the nation a great example of the benefits extended father-son bonding (+1)
- Doug McDermott comes off as a totally stand-up dude every time he’s on camera (+1)
- Beat Villanova. Badly. Twice. (-2)
- Encourages nepotism (what other WALK-ON gets the minutes that Doug sees??? smh) (-1)
- Doug McDermott comes off as the kind of guy who watches My Little Pony naked in the dark every time he’s off camera (-1)
With this face.
Total: +1. Begrudgingly root for them. Those 2 losses still sting, but the Big East needs them.
- Original Big East school and fellow Catholic 7 partner. After watching ESPN’s Requiem for the Big East, I’m more convinced than ever that that commands some respect. (+2)
- Denied Creighton the Big East Tournament Title (+1)
- Haven’t beat Villanova this year (+1)
- Bryce Cotton is a joy to watch play as long as he’s not facing your team (+1)
- I once went to a Villanova-PC game at the Dunk and a drunk Providence fan threw a cup of beer at me and I’m still pretty upset about that I mean c’mon man chill out a little and also that’s like a $8 beer why are you throwing that? (-1)
Police ID sketch of the overpriced assault weapon
Total: +4. Root for them. Providence has never really been one of Villanova’s fiercest Big East Rivals, and it would be great to see a team that trucked through the middle of the Big East this season make a splash in the Big Dance.
- Once again, another team to help prove that the New Big East has depth and can hang with some of the larger conferences (+2)
- Denied St. Joe's (PA) their perfect season back in 2004 (+2)
- Hasn’t beat Villanova this year (+1)
- 2 players with Rec Specs. C’mon, Lasik that shit, bros. (-2)
Total: +3. Root for them. They are our brothers in a new conference now and have done nothing this season to deserve our ire. A decent showing from them in the tournament would look really good for the Big East. Plus, if you watch a Xavier game with your contacts out/rec specs off, Matt Stainbrook kind of looks like Jason Segel, so there’s that, which is fun I guess.
- LOL JK
- They’re in the NIT LOL
THE OLD BIG EAST
- There are none
- Ruined the greatest college basketball conference in the country just to get a little more money from their shitty football team. Certain things are unforgivable. (-1000)
- Jim Boeheim is whiny (-5)
- Beat Villanova this year (-1)
- Super annoying fans (-5)
Total: -1011. Root with all your heart against them and sabotage them if, for whatever reason, you have an opportunity to do so. I never liked Cuse or their fans when they were our rivals in the Big East, and I sure don’t like them now that they’ve destroyed one of my favorite things about college basketball.
- There are none.
- Also ruined the greatest college basketball conference in the country just to get a little more money from their shitty football team (-1000)
- Villanova needs to remain the best college basketball team in the state of Pennsylvania. Actually, strike "college" from that last sentence with the way the Sixers have been playing this season (-5)
Total: -1005. Pitt is pretty much the same as Syracuse, except I picture them more like Cuse’s little toady who just did whatever they said, followed them down to the ACC, and showed zero loyalty to the conference that gave them so much.
This is how I picture it all in my mind
- Credit where credit is due, Rick Pitino was a huge advocate of the Big East during conference realignment and really wanted the conference to stay together even after Cuse and Pitt left (+1)
- Still ultimately decided to join the ACC after moonlighting in the American conference for this season (-10)
- Rick Pitino is still the worst (-5)
- They won last year. No one wants a repeat. (-5)
Total: -19. There’s nothing fun about rooting for Louisville. Plain and simple.
Plus Louisville is always pulling the "Make you accidentally watch the most devastating thing you’ve ever seen on live TV" trick, which can really ruin your afternoon.
- Unlike most of the other football schools, Cincinnati stayed true to the Big East when conference alignment tore it apart. "Well that’s because they’re not good enough to be wooed away by the ACC or any other conference". Thanks, Captain Obvious. But I prefer to think of them as loyal, so they get a point for that. (+1)
- This is what a "Bearcat" is, and it’s adorable. (+2)
- Co-competitor in the East bracket, but if Villanova faces them, it means that Virginia AND Michigan State have already been eliminated. Not a bad deal. (-1)
Total: +2. Meh, go ahead and root for ‘em. I’ve got no really strong feelings toward Cincinnati either way. They were never one of our biggest rivals in the old Big East, and if they make a run it means that the road to the Final Four might be a little bit easier for Villanova.
- Like Cincinnati, UConn was left behind by everyone else in the Big East, including the Catholic 7. I’m pretty sure the majority of UConn fans would be in favor of ditching their horrible football team if it meant they would be able to play in the Big East again. (+1)
- Play St. Joe’s (PA) in the first round, so we definitely want them to win that game (+1)
- Longtime Big East rival. Respect point. (+1)
- No more Jim Calhoun (+1)
- Potentially play Villanova in the second round. So there’s no rooting for them after the round of 64. (-3)
Total: +1. Root for them to beat St. Joe’s (PA), BUT THAT’S IT
BIAS ALERT: I was a UConn fan growing up before I turned to the light and found salvation at Villanova. Here’s me in the T-shirt for their 1999 National Championship.
Arizona/Kentucky/Kansas State/Weber State/Any other "Wildcats" team
- Excellent taste in mascot name (+5)
- VILLANOVA MUST BE THE TOP WILDCATS IN THE NATION! (-20)
Total: -15. Is it petty to root against teams just because they have the same name as us? Probably, but I take sports mascots pretty seriously. One time I taunted a Providence fan about how stupid of a name the "Friars" was long enough for him to break down and chuck a beer at me. Luckily, half those teams will be gone after the first round since Arizona is matched up with Weber State and Kentucky and K State are facing off.
St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks
- Blah blah blah some bullshit about the Big 5 or basketball tradition in Philadelphia or brotherly love (+1)
- THEY ARE ST. JOE’S AND THEY SHOULD NEVER BE HAPPY. IF THEY SOMEHOW BEAT UCONN WE MUST STRIKE THEM DOWN WITH THE FORCE OF A THOUSAND EXPLODING SUNS. (-10000)
Total: (-9999). The only thing worse than not making it to the Sweet 16 is not making it to the Sweet 16 because of St. Joe’s.
Agree or disagree with my tournament rooting guidelines? Let me know @TheSheaQuinn