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The Butler Beats the Old Dominion to a Metaphorical Pulp!

March Madness is not self-explanatory. To assist our coverage, a mother and son discuss over instant-message how college basketball works.

Katie Turner

Pasha: Can you help me make my college basketball picks?

Sue: What? You have to be joking!

Pasha: I think I know stuff and never do well. I figure a fresh mind, with no biases, might help. I emailed you my bracket.

Sue: OK, I just looked at it, and my mind scuzzed over!

Pasha: The teams are seeded where 1 = the best; 16 = the worst. 1 plays 16, 2 plays 15, 3 plays 14, and so on. That’s the first round, then the winners advance and play one another. Following?

Sue: No, not following. Is it like the football pools grandpa used to do?

Round One

Sue: Hey, if you have time, look up some fascinating Aida clips: 1) “Cheap Flights” and b) “Dogging”—hilarious!

Pasha: Later, sure. Now: do you think any one-seeds will lose in the first round?

Sue: YES!!! All of them.

Pasha: No #1 seed has EVER lost to a #16 seed in the history of the tournament. Yet, for some reason, this year all of them will?

Sue: I’ve no idea even what that means!

Pasha: The probability of this happening is roughly the same as Ohio State asking you to suit up and play point guard for them.

Sue: OK, no, not all of them—just one.

Pasha: Which one? Ohio State Aggies, Kansas Jayhawks, Pittsburgh Panthers, or Duke Blue Devils.

Sue: Go for Aggies—reminds me of Auntie Aggie! Remind me to tell you about her some day.

Pasha: Ohio State is the #1 ranked team in the entire country, but you’re picking them to lose.

Sue: Good for them! I’m ranked highly as a mother by all who know me, but think I did no more than an average job.

Pasha: The second seeded schools play 15 seeds. I think only like four times in history has a #2 lost to a #15.

Sue: I really don’t have a clue what you are talking about

Pasha: Ok, let’s just go with all the #2s winning then.

Sue: I think you’d have more fun watching those clips I mentioned!

Pasha: What about the 3 seeds? Will any lose among Syracuse, UConn, BYU, or Purdue?

Sue: I choose Perdue, from the French “to lose.”

Pasha: Good one. What are some schools you’d like to see win?

Is that what they call them, “seeds?” Interesting the—uh hum—sexual connotation.Sue: Depends on your perspective! Winning & losing are such relative terms in the bigger Game of Life…

Pasha: But this is just basketball.

Sue: Ann Arbor.

Pasha: Michigan?

Sue: OK.

Pasha: Ann Arbor is a town.

Sue: I know but they have a university.

Pasha: Fine. Who else?

Sue: MIT.

Pasha: They don’t have a team in the tournament.

Sue: UCLA—they have a team, right?

Pasha: You already picked them to lose.

Sue: If you know what is 7 is not a good pick & I have NO CLUE, why are you not doing this yourself? Then at least you may have an outside chance of (is it called?) winning.

Pasha: 7?

Sue: Sorry that should be an &, not a 7.

Pasha: No, that’s fine, I’ll pick all the 7 seeds.

Sue: Is that what they call them, “seeds?” Interesting the—uh hum—sexual connotation.

Pasha: No! There’s none! There’s no sexual connotation AT ALL.

Sue: Or gardening.

Pasha: Mother, please try.

Sue: Funny, I was just thinking sweet pea seeds along the back fence would be worth a try this summer.

Pasha: Unhelpful.

Sue: BUT TRUE!

Pasha:

Pasha: When they’re seeded low, Gonzaga usually upsets—do you think they will beat St John’s?

Sue: What does “upsets” mean? Wins?

Pasha: Yeah, if a lower seed beats a higher seed. Often a 12 upsets a 5, too—will it be Clemson, Memphis, Utah State, or Richmond?

Sue: Richmond—as in Corrie!

Pasha: Do you mean Corey Richmond, my friend?

Sue: The same good man.

Pasha: OK, so Richmond is going to win?

Sue: HE WILL!

Pasha: It’s—never mind.

Sue: How often do you do this? Every week?

Pasha: No, once a year. Every March.

Sue: Is it free?

Pasha: Making picks is free. Generally pools pay out if you make the most accurate picks.

Sue: How much do we win?

Pasha: It’s all about the money with you.

Sue: You did not answer my question.

Pasha: Butler vs. Old Dominion?

Sue: All sounds very colonial to me & being a daughter of the Empire (SHAME!!) I don’t want to be seen as partial… Can they tie?

Pasha: Pick one.

Sue: NO!!! YOU PICK ONE!!!

Pasha: I already picked Gonzaga because you wouldn’t.

Sue: Actually I have changed my mind. Let’s have the butler beating the old dominion to a metaphorical PULP!

Pasha: Right.

Marquette makes me think of puppets, i.e., marionettes—go for them.Sue: How long does this normally take?

Pasha: What, picking teams or the tournament?

Sue: No I meant how long does it take you to pick teams when not encumbered by your mother.

Pasha: Probably longer, to be honest. Belmont or Wisconsin—Belmont’s a small Christian school in Nashville.

Sue: Will they send me to hell if I say the other one? When you do these things normally is this how you make decisions or do you look at a… form? Sorry if that’s the wrong term but I am thinking of Great Aunt Marian when she had “a little flutter on the horses”—DAILY!!!!

Pasha: Wildcats or Tigers?

Sue: Wildcats.

Pasha: Xavier or Marquette?

Sue: Marquette makes me think of puppets, i.e., marionettes—go for them.

Pasha: UNLV or Illinois—that’s University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Wait, why would puppets be good at basketball?

Sue: I have to “use the facilities.” Excuse me for two minutes.

Pasha: OK.

Sue: I’m back. But was just wondering during the break when we win do I get a “cut?”

Pasha: 50-50.

Sue: OK!

Pasha: UNLV or Illinois?

Sue: What does UNLV stand for?

Pasha: University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Sue: WHAT?

Pasha: Why is that so shocking?

Sue: I sense you are getting inpatient.

Pasha: No, no, I appreciate it.

Sue: Illinois, but for once I have no idea why that might be—just intuition!

Pasha: Louisville v. Morehead State?

Sue: If I had a name like Morehead I would change it, so I choose them out of sympathy.

Pasha: OK.

Round Two

Sue: WHAT???!!! There is more—go on you are “pulling my leg!”

Pasha: West Virginia (5) vs. Kentucky (4)?

Sue: WV.

Pasha: Marquette (11) vs. Syracuse (3)?

Is Kansas the same as Jayhawks? I was going to choose them because I like the double birdy thing going on with the name.Sue: We already did Marquette! Are you trying to trick me? I know you all have doubts about my memory.

Pasha: No, they won, so they advance and play again. “Won,” I mean, according to you.

Sue: Oh, OK… Syracuse—I always liked the sound of that name. Maybe I should have called one of my offspring that.

Pasha: I’m picking UNC because I don’t trust you not to. Temple (7) vs San Diego State (2)?

Sue: Continuing on a religious theme: Temple.

Pasha: Any time religion is involved, should I just go with that option?

Sue: You could if that suits you. But be careful.

Pasha: Notre Dame wins it all then?

Sue: OK.

Pasha: What about Brigham Young? Wait, what about Belmont? They’re Christian but a 13 seed.

Sue: They don’t sound religious so go with the other one if that makes more sense.

Pasha: Jayhawks vs Fighting Illini? Kansas is a #1, Illinois a 9 seed.

Sue: Is Kansas the same as Jayhawks? I was going to choose them because I like the double birdy thing going on with the name.

Pasha: OK.

Sue: Have you seen any robins yet?

Pasha: No.

Pasha: Do you still feel sorry for Morehead State or do you think they’ll lose to Richmond?

Sue: I just finished the most delicious fruity shake.

Pasha: Great.

Sue: Morehead—I just can’t get over the unfortunate name! But it sounds as though you favor the other team.

Pasha: If you think your pity will help them triumph, then go for it.

Sue: MOREHEAD!!!! (Poor things! You should write to the league & suggest a change of name.) Conversely one could argue how a team with a moniker like that would ever stand a chance.

Pasha: So they lose?

Sue: They well could…

Pasha: OK.

Sweet Sixteen / Elite Eight

Sue: WHAT!!!!!! If I do another round do you promise to watch those two clips I recommended.

Pasha: It’ll be fast, then I’ll watch your clips.

Sue: How many more rounds are there?

Pasha: Just two more, but it’ll be fast, then I’ll watch your clips. Syracuse Orangemen (3) vs. North Carolina Tarheels (2) .

Sue: What is a “tarheel?”

Pasha: No idea.

Sue: Tarheels then.

Pasha: Any reason?

Sue: To remind me to look it up.

Pasha: OK. Should I stick with Temple? You liked them earlier. They play Cincinnati, according to your picks.

Sue: Tarheel is not in my dictionary. Yes go with Temple. Wow this is very intense.

Pasha: Wikipedia says: “The exact etymology of the nickname is unknown, but most experts believe its roots come from the fact that tar, pitch and turpentine created from the vast pine forests were one of North Carolina’s most important exports early in the state’s history.”

Sue: Did you make that up because if you did it was clever though it makes sense I guess.

Pasha: Florida Gators (2) vs. Brigham Young Cougars (3). BYU is Christian—not only that, Latter Day Saints!

Sue: Hey, PM, this is the longest “conversation” we’ve had in years BUT you still have not asked how I am so I will tell you—much better, thanks.

Pasha: I asked on the phone, on your machine. You’re right though, sorry. Nice to hear you’re doing better.

Sue: I did not get that message. When did you leave it?

Pasha: Earlier? Florida Gators (2) vs. Brigham Young Cougars (3)?

Sue: Gators. Hey the sun is just coming out.

Pasha: Nice! It’s stopped raining here.

Sue: Good.

Pasha: Kansas State or Pittsburgh. K-state, sorry. Pitt’s a #1 seed.

Sue: And the “Form” is???

Pasha: What does “form” mean? Seed?

Sue: OK—seed. I’m back to thinking horses. Sounds like it “should” be Pittsburgh.

Pasha: Georgetown (6) vs. Notre Dame (2)—Hoyas vs. Fighting Irish.

Sue: Fighting Irish without a doubt! Go Georgetown!

Pasha: Wait, those are different teams. Georgetown Hoyas.

Sue: Oh?

Pasha: So Notre Dame then?

Sue: OK.

Pasha: We’re almost at the Final Four! Kansas (1) vs. Richmond (12)?

Sue: I’m just going to the b’room—again!!!

Pasha: OK.

Final Four

Pasha: Here are your Final Four picks.

Sue: Down to the dramatic wire.

Pasha: West Virginia Mountaineers (5) vs. North Carolina Tarheels (2). Arizona Wildcats (5) vs. Temple Owls (7). Florida Gators (2) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (1). Kansas Jayhawks (1) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2).

Sue: Mountaineers given you explained the meaning of Tarheel

Pasha: Bold! I like it.

Sue: Owls given the bird theme though if my choices are really ridiculous you can modify.

Pasha: OK, then what about Gators vs. Jayhawks (this is the FINAL FOUR now!)

Sue: Gators, Jayhawks… I am sad to say—maybe Gators? But then again birds outfly crocodiles… BUT once a croc has a bird in its clutches, i.e., jaws, it’s game over. No, I think I should still go with the birds.

Pasha: Jayhawks?

Sue: YES.

Pasha: OK, what about Owls vs. Mountaineers?

Sue: OWLS.

Pasha: OK.

Sue: Why so many birds?

Pasha: So, this is your national final: Temple Owls vs. Kansas Jayhawks.

Sue: YES.

Pasha: Now, reason this one out, who takes it?

Sue: Is this played in daytime or night time?

Pasha: The final? Night, nine p.m. I think.

Sue: How light would it be?

Pasha: Dark. it’s April 4 in Houston.

Sue: So if it were light I’d have to go with Jayhawks but because it will be dark the owls have a fighting chance—they don’t come out at night!—let’s go with the Owls.

Pasha: The 7th seed, Temple Owls, National Champion?

Sue: I mean they don’t come out during the day.

Pasha: Not so much. Sometimes. Definitely more nocturnal.

Sue: Is this hilarious or what? Do you ever interview your friends on specific topics like this?

Pasha: Oh, you have to guess the score. What do you think the score will be of the final game?

Sue: SCORE???? I don’t understand!

Pasha: Guess the score. Temple wins, but what’s the score?

Sue: Give me a range.

Pasha: No. Just guess.

Sue: PLEASE.

Pasha: No range.

Sue: 50 to 49.

Pasha: OK!

Sue: Hey, how come Temple wins?

Pasha: What? What do you mean? You picked them. Why don’t you understand that the team you picked to win is the winner—this is just the winner of your guesses, right? Not the actual winner.

Sue: I have no idea what you are talking about. I can’t believe that people (presumably) spend time on this!!! Now you have to watch those clips.

The author would like it noted that by Friday morning, March 18, 2011, he is winning his pool handily, and his mother is 15 for 16.

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Pasha Malla is the author of four books. He is also the head of TMN’s informal panel of film critics. He lives in Toronto. More by Pasha Malla