Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why do you love the Tourney?- Jerseys Anyone?

For many, the pageantry of college basketball is the binding force that keeps us excited about March Madness year after year.

Just like college football, the colors, jerseys, pep bands, cheerleaders and all of the hoopla that CBS and ESPN can throw at you keep me and millions of basketball fans tuned in from the early season moments of Midnight Madness to Selection Sunday and all the way through the Final Four.

This year, like any other, I have filled out two brackets.

The first is based on which teams I actually feel will win and is not particularly unique from the millions of others being filled out.

But my other bracket is chosen based on the most beautiful uniform that is playing in the game. Michigan’s classic navy jerseys that they seem to have been wearing for twenty years take the cake over Clemson’s Nike horn pattern, for example.

In filling out my uniform bracket this year, I came across some interesting tidbits that I found worth mentioning. I have divided the observations into the four regions.

Midwest Region

It always seems strange when teams have the All-American look going strong on their jerseys. The red, white and blue has become synonymous with the flag that represents our country but it typically doesn’t have the same aesthetics on a basketball court.

This region has three teams, (Kansas, Dayton and Arizona) that sport the red, white and blue although there is some variation in each team’s shade of blue. I am particular fond of Dayton’s and have them advancing all the way to my Uniform Final Four, although I wish that the Flyers would wear this jersey more often.

What a thing of beauty this matchup would be...

Stumptown Sports Hook has noticed some striking similarities between Cleveland State and our homegrown Portland State squad. The school’s share a mascot--Vikings-- but also share colors and there are some striking similarities in the mascots...

Cleveland State vs. Portland State.

You decide...

Boston College
and USC both seem to sport a similar color palette but the Eagles are the lone representative in the tourney sporting Reebok gear.

Uniform Picks: Arizona, Wake Forest, Dayton, Kansas, Michigan State with Arizona and Dayton advancing to the Elite Eight. Like we said before, we like Dayton...

Best first round matchup: West Virginia vs. Dayton Best potential matchup: Dayton vs. Arizona

West Region

While pouring over the West region we came across one abnormality that the people from the state of Utah have likely debated before. Both Brigham Young and Utah State seem to be running off the same jersey with the same basic colors of Navy and White. Interesting....

The West region features an interesting brand matchup with Maryland (thankfully the only Under Armour team in the tourney) meeting Cal (one of only two teams clothed by Jordan). We like the Golden Bears.

Memphis, after their embarrassing (uniform) in the national championship last year switched to Nike and the swooshers from Beaverton gave the Tigers something special for their inaugural Nike season.

Someone might want to remind John Calipari that special arrangements haven’t worked out so well for the Ducks.

We would be remised if we didn’t bring attention to the Marquette jerseys, not only the most original and most bold in the tourney but also our overall favorite. The Stumptown Sports Hook is headed to Boise to watch Portland State take on Xavier but don’t blame us for wanting a close look at the Golden Eagles, who also will head to Potato country.

Uniform Picks: Marquette, Marquette, Marquette... But if you horizontal stripes aren’t your thing, check out Cal, Washington (minus the annoying shoulder thing and UCONN, just not the silver jerseys)

Best first round matchup: Washington vs. Mississippi St. I don’t usually have an affinity for purple so I’ll hope that the Huskies will go with the white or gold.
Best potential matchup: Connecticut vs. Marquette

East Region
Besides boasting our own Vikings of Portland State, the East region has one of the more unique uniform matchups of the tourney. When Oklahoma State takes on Tennessee, the orange on orange battle will reign supreme.

I am partial to the creamsicle of the Volunteers but since I can’t stand watching the academic juggernauts that Bruce Pearl deploys, its hard to root for them.

The East has a staggering 12 of the 16 teams dressed in Nike apparel. Included in that bunch is the beautiful jerseys of Villanova, the classic (up until the ACC Tournament) Duke blue’s and the busy, busy black jerseys of Florida State.

For all the talk about VCU defeating the history-rich tradition of UCLA, I just don’t see their jerseys pushing the Bruins around one bit.

Uniform Picks: Tennessee, Villanova, Duke

Best first round matchup: Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
Best potential matchup: UCLA vs. ‘Nova

South Region

For some reason, I have a hard time getting excited about the aesthetics of this bracket. Outside of Gonzaga’s patented number font and Carolina’s argyle on the shorts there isn’t too much to care about.

Of course, then I saw that Syracuse is in the bottom half of the bracket and my pulse jumped a bit. Maybe it’s the way they play, or the 2-3 defense or the fact that they always seem to have a white guy that annoys the crap out of opponents.

I personally think that its the orange jerseys... I am praying that the Orange advance all the way to the Final Four, only so I can see those jerseys in primetime a few more times.

For a sleeper pick in the South, check out Akron who apparently gets some special benefits from Lebron James, the King of preferential treatment. James’ high school coach is now the coach of the Zips...

Uniform Picks: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Michigan

Best first round matchup: Arizona St vs. Temple
Best potential matchup: Michigan vs. Syracuse