Midwest Swing: Title Game Edition

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Midwest swing

By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS- Signs inside, outside and all over downtown Indy read “the road ends here.” Indeed it did, my four venue, three city college basketball tour ended on this night. As did the championship aspirations of the 64th and final team. I literally teared up as Duke cut down the nets and hoisted the championship trophy because for me, the “Midwest Swing” that began nearly a month ago in Indy, ends in Indy. I came full circle in the “circle city.”

-I tried not to like Coach K. because I’m so vehemently at odds with his politics, and even more at odds with the way he politicizes Team USA basketball. But every time I’ve talked to him in person, he’s quite charming! And I love telling my UNC fan friends this, because they HATE that. And the North Carolina Tar Heels are MY LEAST FAVORITE team in all of sports. So…saying something nice about Duke to them is like pouring holy water and throwing garlic on Dracula.

-Remember, the Coach K./Duke infomercial that aired incessantly during March madness a few years ago? “I’m not just a basketball coach, I’m a leader who happens to coach basketball.” (Meant to be uttered in his nasally Squidward from “Spongebob Squarepants” sounding voice.) Everytime I read a Kryzsewki quote in my head I do my Squidward voice. My nieces and nephews love when I do my Squidward impersonation.vitale duke

-Favorite shirt seen around Indy: a Michigan State shirt stating “go green” with both a Spartans logo and a recycling symbol on it. Close second: all the random people sporting colors of their teams that were eliminated from the tourney weeks ago. Big ups to you Syracuse and Illinois fans!

-Next year I‘m armed and dangerous with a multitude of puns for Durrell Summers!  Knowing every song about the summer ever written, I’ll be an unstoppable force in 2011

-Favorite city on this tour: Milwaukee, probably because I had close friends there, and it was also where the nicest people I met on the entire trip happened to be.

-Least favorite city on this tour: St. Louis, LOVED every second of every game I covered, I cherished every moment I spent working inside the Edward Jones Dome. But my leisure time there? Comparing Stl. To cities like New York, Chicago, London, Toronto, Paris, Florence etc. is like comparing lyrics to PussyCat Dolls songs to Shakespeare’s finest works. The gateway city was an important and influential destination once: back when riverboats where a primary mode of transportation and hosting a World’s Fair meant your city had juice.dickie v poster

-The trip wouldn’t be complete without meeting (twice) the unofficial Czar of March Madness, Dick Vitale. I’m no fan of Dickie V.’s schtick but I understand the power of his brand and his personality. The night before the title game, to quote my all–time favorite band Blur…“I met him in a crowded room, where people go to drink away their gloom. He sat me down and so began, the story of a charmless man.” Dickie V. was doing a book signing in an invite-only party at Blu, and I (sort of against my will) ended up with a free signed poster of him. Which I might put on Ebay, the picture is funny though.

-Thumbs down to: my winter sinus flareup right before Milwaukee, having to deal with viruses and malware on The Sports Bank while I’m constantly away, and the NCAA with their lovely, must-be-purchased internet connections which were often spotty and a thorn in my side on this whole trip.

-Thumbs up to: My Michigan State Spartans for being one non-foul call away from reaching the national title game despite: the loss of Kalin Lucas, their best and most important player, the best three-point shooter Chris Allen being a shell of himself due to foot arches and Delvon “more heart than Hallmark on Valentine’s day” having to play the entire tournament on a torn meniscus.

dick vitale

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