It’s easy to pull for FAU in Final Four

by Gary Shelton on March 28, 2023

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

The cool thing about the NCAA basketball tournament is this: For once, we pull for the insects.

In most sports, unless we are influenced by geography, we lean toward dynasties. If your local team can't win it, you want the best team in the NFL to win the Super Bowl. You want to see the next Tom Brady, or the next Joe Montana. You want to see greatness.

It’s pulling for the fittest, the richest, the deepest. That's why there are so many Yankees fans, even now. And so many Lakers fans.

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But in hoops, we all look for a team we can fall in love with. Someone to beat the odds. Someone small and stubborn.

Oh, sure, there are Duke fans, and UCLA fans, and Kentucky fans. The country clubs of the sport.

But the NCAA tournament is the kind of little guy, teams that shock the big Boys on an annual basis. Usually, the disappear before things get serious, but they're fun while they last, and they're a reason to quote the movie Hoosiers until Gene Hackman calls and tells you to shut up.

You've seen them over the years. Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason, Richmond and Loyola-Marymount, Santa Clara and Butler. Year after year, these tiny programs from cramped gyms and small crowds stun the royalty of college baseball. while their rich fanbase look on and attempt to swallow.

And, man, isn't it cool?

This year, of course, the team you have to love is the screeching Owls from Florida Atlantic. Go team. (Full disclosure: my daughter is a senior there. I consider the student fees I pay the funds that put the Owls over the top).

You want to know how hard it is to get to the Final Four? Shortly after Dusty May, a former ball boy, accepted the job, back in '18, he broke into tears. This year, the Owls were picked to finish fifth in Conference-LSU.

Now, he is two wins away from a national championship.

And that is a great thing about this tournament, too. FAU has no shot at all in the world at the football national title. Nor would Miami or UConn or San Diego State.

In basketball, they're the last four teams standing.

No, they're not a dynasty. They won't sign the nation's top-rated recruit.

But remember this.

Cinderella only went to one ball herself.

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