— Garrison Keillor
March Madness is here and what an appropriate description for a time of year that the 90% of the world that never watched college basketball during the regular season turns on their TVs, tune in to cable channels they’ve never heard of, and drops out of work for a couple of weeks to soak in the glory that is sports entertainment at it’s finest. The madness is the excitement of throwing $10 into an office pool with Joe from accounting who actually graduated from Belmont and truly believes that they can be a Final Four team. It’s the fun of matching wits with your college roommates who are all still convinced they know more than Tony Kornheiser when it comes to basketball. For me, the true madness lives in fact that my one submitted bracket this March suggests an SEC rematch of epic proportions. The idea that the University of Florida can advance to the biggest game in college basketball isn’t all that far fetched. They were hands down the best team in the SEC this year despite the fact that they fell in the final game of the conference tournament, so it seems reasonable that they could pull this off for me. The more unlikely prediction comes from the left side of my bracket where I’m counting on the Rebels of Ole Miss to advance past the likes of Gonzaga and Louisville to get to their eventual destination. Maybe I’m upset that the SEC only fielded 3 teams in the tournament and I’m hoping to make a point. Or maybe I think that Ole Miss oddball Marshall Henderson is some kind of child of destiny who will lead his unlikely army to the promised land. When I was in college my favorite pro basketball player was Dennis Rodman. Back then the most dangerous carousing Rodman did was with Carmen Electra, not a Communist leader with nuclear arsenals, but I digress. I admired Rodman for a couple of reasons. One, his favorite band was Pearl Jam. So was mine. Second, he only cared about one thing when he played…rebounding. That was inspirational for a guy like me who never could shoot and for years thought that relegated me to the bench for a lifetime. For a brief window of time I was more than a witness because I could concentrate on defense and let somebody else do the scoring. It was ok, because I was the Worm of Tennessee Tech Intramural Athletics. Sure, I was still stuck on a third string team nicknamed The Clumsy White Boys, but I had a role and I embraced it. I see some of a modern day Rodman in the body of Henderson. He is unpredictable and in my estimation that will lead to one of two things: an early exit or a redneck Cinderella story. Maybe he’s more Eminem than Eddie Vedder, but the kid could be the story of this tournament. I can guarantee as long as he sticks around, this thing will be interesting. But the question is, can he? Did I mention who beat Florida to win the SEC? You guessed it.
Ole Miss tips off against The University of Wisconsin at 12:40 ET on Friday, March 22.
Follow Marshall Henderson if you dare @NativeFlash22
Follow me if you double dog dare @MoondogChuck