Greetings, my lovely family!
It is with alacrity that I cordially invite you to join me in a turn about the ballroom floor. A sojourn of serpentine steps in simple but sophisticated symmetry to the subtle but sultry strains of a string symphony under the steady skills of a seasoned supervisor. It is commonly known as the Big Dance, of course, but you you may call it the Hippest Hoops Hootenanny in the Whole Hemisphere!
I hope this note fines you all healthy and hail and free from the effects of the Nor’easter known as …
Here in Williamsburg, Stella brought a lot of wind and rain and much colder temperatures, but we dodged the snow that points north and west suffered. It was winter’s (hopefully) last gasp and I for one am eagerly awaiting warmer temperatures and sunnier days, also known as Mojito weather.
As in past years, the first games of the NCAA tournament coincide with Sunshine Week for me in my professional-in-name-only capacity. I celebrated by teaching a class on Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act at William and Mary and then coming home, taking some cold medicine and sleeping for three hours. The cold brought me a cold, you see, which also meant that I couldn’t taste the donuts, apple fritters, scallops, steak, chocolate cake, Twinkie cake, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and a few other choice morsels ordered up by Dell for his double-digit birthday on March 13, also the day Robert and Christine celebrate their entries into this world. But by God I did try to taste all of the above. I tried.
The Cat Commissioners (Jinx in the East, Brook in the Midwest, River in the South, Julep in the West) have been as busy as Kellyanne Conway on a Sunday talk show after a Saturday morning Twitter storm from her boss coming up with this year’s picks for the tournament. They did some devisions doubling up to arrive at 32 participants, with each participant getting two teams. One group consists of the Littlest Generation: Simon, Revi, Cora and Rowan. They may be tiny, but we all know they are tough and not to be trifled with.
Another team consists of the Grandest Generation: the lovely ladies Dot, Gwynn and Lee. They, of course, have better things to do with their time than to read my rantings, but with their powerful picks, we will probably hear a lot more from them.
The final team is made up of what I like to call the Defectors. Northerners. Yankees, if you will. Daniel, Honor and Katie. They’re wonderful people, y’all, and we love them dearly, but bless their hearts, livin’ like they do north of the Mason Dixon line. Why, I declare, it’s enough to give me the vapors. Where are my smelling salts.
We’re international again this year, too, since Dottie is off gallivanting in Gaulle country. Oui, oui, mon ami, je m’appelle Dottie Lee.
And now, stateside, may I present this year’s picks for the Rhyne-Blyth-Patterson-Mostly-Annual-Am-I-The-Only-One-In-This-Country-Who-Hasn’t-Spoken-To-A-Russian-Ambassador NCAA Basketball Extravaganza!!
|beth||Kent State 14-s||Michigan 7-mw|
|carl||Kansas 1-mw||Nevada 12-mw|
|caroline||Florida State 3-w||Winthrop 13-s|
|christine||Troy 15-e||Notre Dame 5-w|
|claire||Vanderbilt 9-w||Arkansas 8-s|
|dan||Creighton 6-mw||Arizona 2-w|
|daniel, honor, katie||VCU 10-w||New Mexico State 14-e|
|dell||Minnesota 5-s||Miami 8-mw|
|dottie||Northwestern 8-w||East Tennessee State 13-e|
|dub||West Virginia 4-w||Purdue 4-mw|
|elaine||UNC-Wilmington 12-e||Maryland 6-w|
|elizabeth||Villanova 1-e||UCLA 3-s|
|ellie||Florida 4-e||Princeton 12-w|
|gordon||Dayton 7-s||South Carolina 7-e|
|dot, gwynn, lee||Michigan State 9-mw||Kentucky 2-s|
|jim||Iona 14-mw||SMU 6-e|
|joe||Cincinnati 6-s||NC Central/UC Davis 16-mw|
|karen||Louisville 2-mw||South Dakota State 16-w|
|kiran||Oregon 3-mw||St. Mary’s 7-w|
|libby||Duke 2-e||Vermont 13-mw|
|martie||Butler 4-s||Jacksonville State 15-mw|
|megan||Wisconsin 8-e||Marquette 10-e|
|mike p||Xavier 11-w||Bucknell 13-mw|
|mike b||Providence/USC 11-e||Virginia 5-e|
|pierce||Middle Tennessee 12-s||North Dakota 15-w|
|rebecca||Kansas State 11-s||Tennessee Southern 16-s|
|rhyne||Wichita State 10-s||Seton Hall 9-s|
|rivers||Iowa State 5-mw||UNC 1-s|
|robert||Gonzaga 1-w||Northern Kentucky 15-s|
|sarah||Florida Gulf Coast 14-w||Mount St. Mary’s 16-e|
|simon, revi, cora, rowan||Rhode Island 11-mw||Virginia Tech 9-e|
|susan||Oklahoma State 10-mw||Baylor 3-e|
First, and most obviously, what has Robert and family been mixing in their morning coffee because they are rocking the picks! Robert, Rivers and Elizabeth have three of the four #1 picks. This is fresh off Susan winning the whole tournament last year! She passed her Villanova gene on to Elizabeth this year, with Robert picking up Gonzaga and Rivers carrying the Tarheels to rep the ACC since his beloved Demon Deacons duffed it in the play-in game.
Carl holds the last #1 pick with Kansas. Daughter Sarah, however, was not so fortunate as she has one of the #16 AND a #14 pick, and nor was husband Joe, who also has a #16. Karen and Rebecca round out the bottom feeders (heh heh, Rebecca … rounded … bottom … heh heh).
The best overall seed total goes to Elizabeth (4), followed closely by Rivers (6), with Dan and Dub (8) nipping at their heels. Sarah(30), Rebecca (27) and Pierce (27) are bringing up the rear (Rebecca … rear … heh heh — Hey! This isn’t shade, it’s a Rhyne family trait!).
This year we welcome back in to the tournament Mike P.’s favorite Hokies, and Gordon was so excited to be at University of Vermont this year that he persuaded his Catamounts (without a fine set o’ whiskers, that Cat amounts to nothing) to join the fray. Libby is the only one, however, who holds her own alma mater’s fate in her hands: she has the #2 seed Duke.
I am the Queen of Cheese with my two Wisconsin-based picks, the U and Marquette. Kiran’s got Ducks and Gaels, just to prove how whacked people in the West are. Dell has the snowbird duo of Minnesota and Miami. Martie’s sporting fighting dogs and chickens (Butler and Jacksonville State). Pierce is sporting Blue Raiders (Middle Tennessee) and Fighting Hawks (North Dakota). Fighting hawks? Because Hawks aren’t legit killing machines unless they’re also fighting?
Husband and wife will be tangling when Elaine’s UNC-Wilmington takes on Mike B.’s Virginia. Father and son will battle when Kiran’s St. Mary’s takes Revi and the Littlest Generation’s VCU.
The fight for Florida (Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast) will be taken on by Caroline and Sarah, while the Kentucky clash (Kentucky and Northern Kentucky) will be waged by the Grandest Generation and Robert.
As of this writing, two play-in games had not been decided, but I’ll be back with a roundup of rounds. For now, may your days be filled with basketballs bouncing your way.