There has been a proliferation of so-called "live blogs" of early-round NCAA tourney games over the past few years, as bloggers fill the content needs of work-bound office drones. These things started out at true blogs like Deadspin, but have since metastasized to sites as mainstream as the New York Times and Sportsline, the website of the network that broadcasts the games.
We admit to being slightly baffled by this phenomenon, partly because the Grey Lady is somehow involved, but mostly because every NCAA first round is exactly the same. They might feel different because your office pool picks do better or worse than usual, but both the substantive outcomes of the games and the coverage of those games are, taken as a whole, the same every year.
So, live-blogging is both slightly passe and not particularly useful. Since we here at the GRBG always keep our eyes on the future, we've decided to up the ante by pre-live-blogging the first session of this year's dance. This approach promises to provide information every bit as useful and timely as the live blogs, with the added bonus of giving everyone a way to waste time at work a day early. Without further adieu:
Noon: A montage of: (1) Rollie Massimino being hugged; (2) Jim Valvano trying and failing to find someone to hug; (3) Bryce Drew hitting a hook-and-lateral three; (4) some coach getting hugged from behind while kicking his legs in the air; and (5) last year's champions cutting down the nets leads into the pre-game show. During the show, Greg Gumbel mentions that this season's tournament is one of the most wide-open in years, and Clark Kellogg stares into the wrong camera while saying the words "shoot," "spurt," "length," and "inside" in quick succession without drawing an FCC fine.
12:30 p.m.: The first set of games (Xavier-Georgia, Portland State-Kansas, and Temple-Michigan State) tip off. Live bloggers note that there is only one good team, and probably zero good matchups, in this set. Gumbel demurs, calling the upcoming slate of games "intriguing."
12:40 p.m.: In an attempt to counteract Kansas's superior quickness, Portland State comes out in a base 2-3 zone, though one that incorporates matchup principles on pick-and-roll switches. Over the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass of Tullamore Dew, Bill Raftery proclaims that Portland State has come out "inamanaman!"
1:05 p.m.: Xavier lead over Georgia is 8. Tally of announcer mentions of the tornado in Atlanta during the SEC tournament is 5.
1:20 p.m.: The first field goal is made in the Michigan State-Temple game.
1:30 p.m.: CBS cameraman comes through with a three-second upskirt shot of a Georgia cheerleader. New York Times live blogger for the Xavier-Georgia game writes a 350-word paean to said shot. Maureen Dowd asks for and receives equal space for a rebuttal in the op-ed section. Xavier lead over Georgia is 8.
1:35 p.m.: Portland State goes on an 8-0 run. Many adorably scruffy white dudes jump up and down on the Portland bench. Raftery notes that "Pesky Portland is hanging around!" He does not note that the score is still 39-23 Kansas.
1:43 p.m.: A steal and fastbreak dunk by Dionte Christmas gives Temple an 8-7 lead over the Spartans with 4:12 to go in the first half. The decibel level of Gus Johnson's call of the dunk causes the overhead scoreboard to begin swaying dangerously, necessitating a 13-minute break in play.
1:47 p.m.: All three games are simultaneously in commercial, with yet another iteration of a Chevy ad with the Mellancamp song being played. Blog commenters across the land note that Bill Simmons is openly weeping.
1:50 p.m.: Halftime, which consists entirely of plugs for the upcoming slate of games and CBS promotional ads which for some reason feature the cast of How I Met Your Mother passing around a basketball.
1:55 p.m.: Kansas comes out to start the second half on a 15-1 run, opening the lead to 61-30. During the PSU timeout, 2000 people note that Bill James has declared this lead 81% safe.
2:02 p.m.: Promo features Jim Nantz smugging on about "A tradition unlike any other.....the Masters, on CBS Sports."
2:10 p.m.: CBS cuts away from Kansas game and goes to Xavier-Georgia game. Xavier lead over Georgia is 8.
2:12 p.m.: Xavier scores 7 consecutive points to increase its lead to 15. CBS cuts away from Xavier game to Michigan State-Temple game. MSU leads 19-15 with five minutes to play.
2:13 p.m.: U.S. gross domestic product surges by 18%, as workers recoil in horror from computer screens giving the play-by-play of the MSU-Temple game and return to their duties. Game announcer Sean McDonough abandons all pretense of promoting the intrinsic excitement of the game, and instead shifts to a tone of broad sarcasm that culminates in his on-air reference to Jay Bilas as "almost certainly the guy who assaulted that stripper at Duke."
2:14 p.m.: Score bug notes that Xavier lead over Georgia is now 8.
2:20 p.m.: Ivy League-educated live blogger notes Temple coach Fran Dunphy used to coach at Penn. Indignant midwestern commenters note that MSU coach Tom Izzo used to coach at Northern Michigan, which probably educates its students every bit as well as those fancy east-coast schools, who anyhow wouldn't know a decent ACT score if it was beer-battered, deep fried, and served to them smothered in grilled onions. Further discussion on the subject is unedifying.
2:24 p.m.: The final buzzer sounds and Kansas is the first team in the second round, with a 96-61 win over Portland State, who dozens of single and attentive bloggers decide have surprisingly attractive cheerleaders. Despite Xavier-Georgia and Temple-MSU both being single digit games with under 5 minutes to go, CBS inexplicably jumps to the tip-off of Marquette-Kentucky, where Dick Enberg is waxing poetic about Patrick Patterson's roommate. Color analyst Bilas fails to inform Enberg that Patterson is out for the tournament with a broken foot.
2:25 p.m.: Every live blogger makes joke about Kansas' victory having busted his bracket.
2:30 p.m.: Thirty-one second-half fouls later, Xavier beats Georgia by 8. CBS cuts back to the studio, where Seth Davis lambastes the existence of conference tournaments and their socialist automatic bids and openly weeps about Illinois State's exclusion from the tourney. Gumbel hastily throws it to commercial, where Pizza Hut is selling yet another fake-cheese laden product to fatten up the western world.
2:37 p.m.: Temple falls to Michigan State 28-26, prompting coaches everywhere to praise the tenacity of the Big Ten and the rest of the world to cringe at the thought of the upcoming Wisconsin game. Meanwhile, Enberg appears to be under the impression that Adolf Rupp is still the coach at Kentucky, while Bilas blatantly ignores him and prattles on about the virtues of the 1-3-1 zone trap.
3:00 p.m.: Back to the studio for the first wrap-up of the day. Kellogg attributes Kansas' win to having "better ath-eh-leets". Gumbel calls the upcoming slate of games "intriguing."
Enjoy the dance everybody, and may all your brackets survive day 1.