Let me introduce you to 2015 Final Four Most Outstanding Player...Amir Williams. Not possible? Probably not, but somewhat stranger things have happened recently: like having Friday the 13th's in back to back months or the work of Cardale Jones.
One of the greatest aspects of sports and sports fandom is the ability to suspend disbelief. And no event plays tribute to this better than March Madness.
If there was ever a year for Ohio State to believe magic is possible, it's 2015. The very first day of the year saw the Buckeyes, as a nine-point underdog, avenged an SEC problem and earn a trip to the national championship game with a third-string quarterback making his second college start. Twelve days later, this time as a seven-point underdog, the magic continued. The Ohio State University, left for dead week two of the season, won the national championship.
So maybe now it's the basketball Buckeyes turn. The big dance always saves room for a Cinderella or two. Why not Ohio State?
Despite a vocal minority of the fan base's criticisms, the Thad Matta era of Ohio State basketball has been an incredible success. While still very much a football school, trips to the Final Four, Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen have become the expected norm in Columbus - as they should be.
The 2015 version of the Buckeyes hasn't quite lived up to those lofty expectations so far, but that's not to say they are completely devoid of talent or ability. D'Angelo Russell has been amazing in what is likely his only season in scarlet and gray, Jae'sean Tate has been a ball of energy, and the senior class has been steady, albeit underwhelming in spots.
The majority of this team's shortcomings have to do with the lack of playing a complete 40-minute game rather than simply being out-manned. What better time than now to start playing their best basketball of the season?
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's note that going simply by seed this team is not supposed to survive Thursday. If they make it to the second weekend, it'd be just short of a miracle. Anything beyond that, break out the tin-foil hats because there's probably weird cosmic forces at play. But if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big, right?
OSU has had their fair share of amazing moments in recent tournaments (Ron Lewis vs Xavier, Craft vs Iowa State, Q vs Arizona), but for every moment of insane bliss there's a razor sharp let down hiding on the other side (Kentucky 2011, second half vs Kansas 2012, Wichita State 2013), that can deliver devastating knockout blows.
And that brings us to the most dreadful thought - what if there is no magic and just like last year this team is one and done?
A. Barlett Giamatti, although writing on an entirely different sport's conclusion, perhaps best captured the feeling of March Madness when he wrote, "It breaks your heart. It was designed to break your heart."
No matter the predicted outcomes there is an abruptness to the losing in the tournament that be especially painful. Once you enter the field of 68, be it as a David or Goliath, you are never more than 40 minutes from it being over for good. Shots rim out, time expires, and four-year careers are reduced to a three-second cameo in One Shining Moment.
So whatever karma, faith, voodoo you have left - now is the time to use it. It's time for the stars to align for Thad Matta's team. And if they don't, well, we've still got spring practice and that whole football national title thing to fall back on.
Go Bucks. Let the madness begin.