Stories indexed with the term ‘March Madness’

Column: Michigan Thanks Buckeyes – For Now

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

The Big Ten basketball experts knew exactly what was going to happen this season before it even started. Michigan State would battle for another title, while Michigan would be stuck in the middle, fighting for a tournament bid.

And that’s exactly how it started. The Spartans jumped out to first place, and had it all to themselves with just two games left. The Wolverines spent most of the season in the middle of the pack.

The experts were looking pretty smart – until Michigan started mastering head coach John Beilein’s unconventional system. The Wolverines beat Michigan State at home by a single point, then knocked off sixth-ranked Ohio State – just two of Michigan’s 15 straight home victories. With just a week left in the regular season, the Wolverines had a chance to win their first Big Ten title since 1986 – the longest drought in school history. [Full Story]

Column on Hoops: Basketball, Civics

On Tuesday, a capacity crowd packed a local Ann Arbor venue to watch a five-person team do its work. Part of the color commentary included talk of game-changing players, and speculation about who had the best center of all the conferences. Everyone knew that whichever team prevailed on Tuesday would not win the whole tournament – it would just advance to the next round.

Ann Arbor West Park basketball hoop

The basketball hoop on the south end of the court in Ann Arbor's newly renovated West Park. (Photo by the writer.)

Here’s a highlight reel of how events unfolded on Tuesday. Play opened with a disputed call, and one of the fans nearly got tossed out of the venue. There was a guy with a red sweater, reminiscent of those favored by Bob Knight when he coached the Indiana University squad, even though he was not the guy in danger of getting tossed. He was actually prepared to do the tossing.

Early on, the coach told the team about the “four corners” – which some older sports fans might recognize as a stalling style of basketball made popular by legendary University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith. And the team managed to hold the ball for one final shot, which it made. The cheerleaders cheered. The victors were valiant … hail, hail, etcetera.

The venue? It was the fourth floor meeting room of city hall. And the five-person team was the committee charged with evaluating proposals for use of the city-owned Library Lot. That’s the parcel atop the Fifth Avenue parking structure currently under construction.

Who says local civic affairs isn’t at least as interesting as NCAA basketball? Well, actually, most readers would say that, I’m guessing.

But here’s something I think we can all agree on: Fans at basketball games get to cheer or boo as loud as they like … within certain parameters. The parallel principle for public meetings, like the one on Tuesday, is that members of the public should be allowed to address the group during its meeting.

The city of Ann Arbor’s stated written policy on this is actually quite clear: Even entities that are not public bodies under the Open Meetings Act should, to the best of their abilities, conform with the spirit of the OMA – which includes a provision for public participation at meetings. [Full Story]

Column: Don’t Mess with March Madness

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

March Madness is one of the best sporting events of the year, every year, on a very short list with the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics. But March Madness is the most inclusive – and, in some ways, the purest.

The tournament’s 65 teams came from 31 states this year. Schools like Gonzaga and Winthrop, Lehigh and New Mexico State all got to play.

What separates March Madness from the other events is that we get to play, too. Every office runs a hoop pool, and the winner is never the ESPN-addicted sharpie in sales, but the receptionist who picks her teams based on her favorite colors. It’s a beautiful thing. [Full Story]