The end of February can only mean one thing.
No, not Dave Rublin's return to America, which lasts apparently til "1 March" (or, as we call it, March 1). And not the beginning of the rigorous Grapefruit League schedule.
The end of February, you see, means that March is upon us. And March for sports fans means college basketball. More specifically, March means March Madness.
AND WHO THE HELL DOESN'T LOVE MARCH MADNESS?!?!
After St. Joe's decided to actually win a big game last night against Temple, it appears as though Philly will get at least 2, quite possibly 3 teams into the NCAA Tournament, as the Atlantic 10's red- and white-clad birds of prey could be joined by the city's perpetual younger brother, Drexel. That's not to say that Drexel, a gorgeous campus located directly on top of a bunch of acres that Penn didn't want, isn't deserving of its success; it's just that they can't get any, well, Brotherly Love from its neighboring schools.
Who could forget those famous tripleheaders at the Palestra that would pit the Big 5 (and Drexel) against each other? I mean, those were the days. Drexel fans--both of them, to be exact--would campaign now and again to change it to the "City Six," but that idea was met with the same excitement as the Flyers' Billy Tibbets signing. (Yes, that was a Billy Tibbets reference).
Meanwhile, the Dragons, toiling in the perpetual city-wide obscurity once reserved for the Kixx, have reeled off 18 straight wins and are 25-5 overall. That's 7 more wins than Villanova has ALL SEASON.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty astounding.
After an improbable run to the 2009 Final Four, Villanova has absolutely plummeted. Despite the fact that neither is still prowling the pristine and pretentious Lancaster Avenue campus, the program hasn't fully recovered from the time Corey Fisher mistakenly interpreted "pick-n-roll" into "dick-n-hole" and knocked up Scottie Reynolds' girlfriend.
A 2-seed in the 2010 Tournament, the Cats held off 15-seed Robert Morris in overtime and were then dumped by St. Mary's in the second round. Last year, the Fisher-"led" Nova had an awful second half and was bounced by George Mason in the first, er, "second," round.
A complete turd in his own right, Fisher's graduation was the perfect opportunity to test the old "addition by subtraction" axiom. Well, unlike improvements in my cholesterol after the reduction in bacon consumption and our fantasy leagues after going back to 10 teams from 12, it didn't work, and Jay Wrong has seen his squad fall flat on its face this year. Okay, that's mean, because Jay Wright is still a very good coach with an impeccable wardrobe, but still. If the shoe fits...
Either way, you know what? I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
Due to their recent success and Big East affiliation, Nova has had an agonizingly high percentage of its games nationally televised this year. And let me put it blunt: they fucking suck.
They're past the point of "hey, they're young, let's see if they get better." They're not getting better. They're getting WORSE! The Cats have lost 7 of 8--the only blemish on their ineptitude being a 2-point home win over Providence--and look like they flat out don't give a shit anymore, which is why each of their losses makes me progressively more amused.
If I'm going to sit here and take pot shots at Philly teams and players--and, in case you weren't aware--then I'm going to extract a modicum of enjoyment out of the complete failures of a team I kinda sorta almost care about.
I have officially put all my eggs--well, at least those that I didn't scramble into an amazing breakfast this morning--in the Temple basket, as I genuinely see and predict at least a Sweet 16 run for the Owls, and I am confident that Drexel can scare the shit out of a 3- or 4-seed.
But as far as Nova is concerned? Well, there is certainly a Big Five in Philadelphia--hell, even resident smart and safety schools Penn and La Salle are a combined 35-22--but the "Mildcats" have been flushed out of it.