Maurice Clarett is still a detriment to our society. Thank God I can continue that sentiment.
Prior to the start of the NCAA basketball tournament, I was so steadfastly positive that Xavier couldn't beat Ohio State that I'd advocate that Clarett get out of prison early were the Musketeers able to pull off that amazing upset.
As XU held on to a 9-point lead with less than three minutes to play, and as freshman giant Greg Oden fouled out of the game, I was nervously picturing hours of studying Ohio's laws on firearm possession and Grey Goose consumption in the presence of police officers.
That's right around the time that Xavier's senior guard Justin Cage misfired on his second free throw that would have put the Musketeers up four points with :09 left on the clock. Instead, the Buckeyes zipped down the court, put the ball into senior Ron Lewis's hands, and deadbolted Clarett's jail cell for the remainder of his sentence.
Lewis's desperation 3-point basket sent the game into overtime, but an Oden-less Ohio State team took that momentum and manifested it entirely into freshman guard Mike Conley, Jr., who netted 11 of OSU's 16 overtime points to pull away from 9th-seeded Xavier, 78-71.
It's an odd feeling rooting for Xavier, knowing full well that such a win would lacerate my bracket beyond recognition. I had the Buckeyes advancing all the way to the championship game. But a miraculous victory would more than compensate me being wrong — as much as I hate it.
Instead, Lewis — the man who transferred from my alma mater Bowling Green for redder pastures — kept forward the disappointing status quo of Cinderella teams failing to close out games late. Xavier now watches the tournament from the stands, right next to Illinois, Miami University, Creighton, Oral Roberts, Holy Cross, Davidson, and even 15th-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. All teams had a chance for big upsets. All are now scratched from the tournament.
If this tournament continues top seed dominance — no way all 1-seeds make the Final Four, right? — then perhaps it will make us better appreciate previous and future tournaments where a 10-seed, 12-seed, 13-seed, or 14-seed wins a game. (Two 11-seeds, Winthrop and VCU, "predictably" upset Notre Dame and Duke.)
Or maybe I shouldn't have penned an article hours before the tipoff of the Michigan State-North Carolina game, a matchup I tabbed as the best chance an 8- or 9-seed had to advance past the second round. But I don't want to make any bold predictions. I'd hate to forever say that John L. Smith did the right thing by slapping himself in public.