Volume 92, Issue 85

Wednesday, March 10, 1999


Championships have silver lining

CFL eyes set on pair of Mustangs

Post-Jordan era under way for NBA

Indoor hockey team snowballed

Madness makes promises tough to keep

The Road to the Final Four

Madness makes promises tough to keep

When the 64 teams were selected for this year's version of March Madness, I made myself a few promises.

I promised I would not write a column on how the Duke Blue Devils are going to dominate the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, which tips off tomorrow.

I promised myself not to fall into the trap of every other sports columnist, picking the top ranked club to simply obliterate the rest of the competition.

I promised to look past Duke's 32-1 record and 27 game winning streak.

I promised myself not to say how the brilliance of head coach Mike Krzyzewski will lead Duke to their third title in the 90s.

I promised not to hark back on the glory days of Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and Grant Hill and say this club, which is bigger and stronger, may possibly be better.

I promised not to say that with William Avery and senior guard Trajan Langdon in the back-court Duke has the best one-two guard punch in the biz.

I promised myself not to boast about Shane Battier, one of America's top defenders.

I promised myself to not say that last weekend's 96-73 win over North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game was simply a tune-up for more 20 point victories.

I promised not to say how no one in the world can stop centre Elton Brand, who is about to dominate the tournament the same way the six-foot-eight 270 pound giant, with hands 10 inches long, dominated competition during the regular season.

I promised not to mention how the East Division will simply roll over for the Blue Devils' path and how no other team has an easier road to the Final Four. I also promised not to say how they don't even need the easy road.

I promised myself to forget about history which says no 16th seed has beaten a No. 1 since the tourney expanded to a 64-team bracket.

I promised to see the strengths in Duke's first opponent, Florida A&M (12-18), the unofficial 64th selection, even though there aren't any.

I promised myself that I would comment on the strengths of the other top teams. I swore I would hype the athletic talent of Connecticut's Richard Hamilton, last year's Big East Conference player of the year, even though he won't be enough. Or Stanford, who are bigger than last year's team who made it to the Final Four, but are too slow.

I promised myself to keep an open mind as upsets do happen in the sudden death style tournament, which each year makes heroes out of nobodies. Even though this is clearly not going to happen to the Blue Devils.

I promised not to say that come March 29 in St. Petersburg the twine would be snipped away by a group of jubilant Dukies.

I promised not to write about any of this since it's simply redundant. Everybody has already said it and I'm tired of seeing it.

I even promised myself not to pick them first in my NCAA pool.

Some promises are just too hard to keep.

John Intini can be reached at gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

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Copyright The Gazette 1999