Today, as we survey the wreckage of the first and second rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, 2010 version, which has destroyed nearly everyone’s brackets, including mine, it is wise to remember the words of one of the seven sages of Ancient Greece, Heraclitus, who noted that “everything is in flux,” or more modernly, “everything changes constantly.”


Since today is GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY, everything I write today will really be about GREECE and the incredible influence GREECE and GREEK THOUGHT has had upon modern life. Specifically, I will show you how GREECE & GREEK THOUGHT have had a major influence on MARCH MADNESS AND THE NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT. You won’t even believe it, but it’s so.


Today marks the 189th anniversary of the birth of the modern Greek nation-state and the uprising against the Ottoman Empire by the ethnic Greeks and Greek-speaking majority of Roumeli against their Ottoman overlords on March 25, 1821. After nine long years, that struggle resulted in the creation of the modern Greek state. And of course, we who are Greek-American have to celebrate it, since the actual Greeks in Greece are temporarily on strike against government austerity measures. Hey, I wish I could retire at 41 with a full salary and benefits too, but as one of my Harvard economics professors once noted, TANSTAAFL “THERE AINT NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.” (actually, that phrase was coined by sci fi giant Robert A Heinlein, 1907-1988, if you grok me). Frackin’ great line, though.


Many, many effects of that revolution can be seen here in America.

1) The very idea of athletic competitions and tournaments is Greek in origin. The Greeks invented the Olympics in 776 BC. They had them on a four year rotation, along with three other games, the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games, the four being known as the “Pan-Hellenic Games.” The point is the Ancient Greeks had an athletic competition to determine a winner in each event every year. This is exactly what the modern NCAA does. The logos of the NCAA even use Olympic/ancient Greek style laurel wreaths on some of their publicity and trophies, and even up to the present day, the concept of AMATEURISM, the notion that an athlete should not be paid for participating in sports, is uniquely and completely ancient Greek in origin, as the Romans customarily paid their Olympic and other athletes, or compelled them to compete through slavery. It was the Ancient Greeks who prided themselves that competition should be amateur and free of payment, and participated in by free citizens of city-states only for the glory of the competition. This very concept is what animates the entire notion of the NCAA and of college sports; its entire spirit and animus are Ancient Greek in conception and thought. The Ancient Romans had no such distinction; to them, athletes were paid the same as anyone else. Moreover, the concept of colleges today relate closely to the concept of ancient Greek city-states. There are many more parallels, but you get the idea. Winning at sports was the sine qua non of excellence in Greek culture. Note that Christianity for many years discouraged athletic competition—it was a modern development with the rediscovery of humanist thought, and the rediscovery of Greek thought, that athletics made a comeback in modern society. The Greek notion of athletic competition heavily influenced the Romans, who made stadiums, chariot races and gladiatorial combat part of their culture. Consequently, it is very clear that the very notion of having an NCAA tournament every year is nothing if not Greek in origin.


2) Many colleges and college nicknames are Greek in origin. For example, Michigan State is in the Sweet Sixteen. Their nickname is the “Spartans.” They were nicknamed, largely, in tribute to the Greeks of the Greek Revolution of the 1820s, largely due to Philhellenic (Greek-loving) feeling. Most Americans were sympathetic with the Greeks, 1) because the Greeks were struggling for democracy against autocracy 2) because the Founders were largely influenced by Ancient Greece in their models for what a democracy like America should look like and 3) because the Greeks were Christians struggling against the Turkish Infidels, which is what we used to call Muslims in the 19th Century before PC discourse deconstructed plain language and speech sometime in the past 20 years. In fact, Turks used to be called “the Terrible Turk” by people like no less than Prime Minister Gladstone, and the Ottoman Empire, after the Greeks won, used to be called the “Sick Man of Europe,” and the question of how to carve up the fading Ottoman Empire was called the “Eastern Question.” It wasn’t settled finally until World War I, and not really finally until 1923. But that’s another story. So I like Michigan State. Didn’t you watch “300”? “We are SPARTANS!!!”


3) U. Tennessee remains in the Sweet Sixteen. Vanderbilt is in Nashville, Tennessee, where they have an actual full-scale replica of the Parthenon built which you can go see today. It is complete and accurate to the last detail. In fact, throughout the South, there is more Greek Revival and neo-classical architecture than almost anywhere in the US, especially on college campuses. This is certainly true at Vanderbilt, at Duke, at Kentucky, at U. Tennessee, at U.Va certainly, and many of the other schools left in the Sweet Sixteen.


About the Parthenon

The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville’s premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

Originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon also serves as the city of Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

The Parthenon is open year round Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 – 4:30. Additional hours during June, July & August: Sundays, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. The Parthenon will be closed on July 4, Labor Day, the Thursday & Friday of Thanksgiving week, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: Members free; Adults – $6.00; Children 4-17 – $3.50 (under 4 free); Seniors 62+ – $3.50. Phone number 615-862-8431.

See? And you thought you had to travel to GREECE to see the Parthenon? Nope, you can go to NASHVILLE, TENNESEE AND SEE IT! AND THIS PARTHENON ISN’T IN RUINS!!! (No Turks or Venetians to blow it up in a meaningless war in the 17th century). Oh–and they have some pretty darn good music there, too–and hey, Vandy and U. Tennessee are pretty darn good schools.

4) Many of you have probably watched the show “GREEK” on TV, which details “GREEK” or fraternity/sorority life on campuses around the country. What you probably don’t know is that fraternities and sororities have their origins with the Greek War of Independence. So many college students were in sympathy with the Greeks and their War of Liberation from the Turks during the 1821-1830 period, that many of the campuses and universities founded societies named after Greek letters such as “Phi Beta Kappa” or “Alpha Chi Rho” to celebrate their “fraternity” and “solidarity” with the Greek cause of independence, liberty and freedom. So, if you’ve ever been a fraternity or sorority member, you actually have pledged fraternity, sorority, brotherhood and sisterhood, to the nation of Greece and its sacred causes for liberty, democracy, Christianity, and its ongoing fight against the Turks. Thus the “GREEK” show really is, in actually, about Greece. It even takes place at fictional “CYPRUS-RHODES UNIVERSITY.” Hey, I’ve been to Rhodes, that island rocks, every single hotel opens out to a private beach, and every bar is open all nite long. And Cyprus, even though only half of it is open (the other half is still occupied by a muslim country from the north starting with “T” and ending with “Y”) is the hottest tourist and banking destination in the Middle East. Plus, Garo Ypremian is from Cyprus, and he once kicked a touchdown! He told me so 18 holes in a row at a pro-am golf tournament. “where else but in america could a 5 foot 7 cypriot find work in the NFL as a professional kicker?” he said. To his credit, he was a great golfer.

The very origins of sorority and fraternity life are from the Greek Revolution and Greek War of Independence, and Philhellenism among American college students. In fact, many of those students went to Greece and fought for the Greek cause. In the NCAA tournament, it’s obvious that frat and sorority and Greeks are the main hoops fans. Thank you Greece and Greek culture, again. And here’s to our favorie fraternities, Kappa Tau Gamma (ΚΤΓ), Omega Chi Delta (ΩΧΔ), and our favorite sorority, Zeta Beta Zeta (ΖΒZ). May we all be Greeks forever!


5) Syracuse is a heavy favorite to get to the final four. Syracuse University and Syracuse, NY are named for the ancient Greek city-state of Syracuse. Syracuse was the richest and most famous Greek city-state of the ancient world. Situated on one of the three corners of Sicily, Syracuse was as powerful in its heyday as Rome, Carthage, Athens or Persia, and made a play for hegemony against Rome and Carthage during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Unfortunately for Syracuse, despite being neutral in the 2d Punic War between Carthage and Rome, Rome decided to lay siege to Syracuse in order to plunder its enormous stores of gold. Rome simply needed the money. Archimedes, the most brilliant mathematician and scientist of ancient times, was a native of Syracuse. He famously designed siege defense machines which pulled Roman ships out of the water and crashed them against the rocks, other machines which focused the light of the sun on Roman ships and set them on fire, etc. You get the picture. The Romans were kept out of Syracuse for years by the high walls of Syracuse and Archimedes brilliance. When they finally breached the walls, the Romans were instructed to bring Archimedes alive to the Roman commander, but of course they got it wrong and killed Archimedes by mistake. The Romans plundered billions of dollars in gold, silver and other treasures from Syracuse. P.S. Italy owes that money back to Greece, today, with interest, under international law, in my view. Syracuse was neutral at the time. Also, indemnity for Archimedes’ death is independently owed by Italy to Greece. One supposes that would sort of cancel out any debts owed by Greece to the EU. In fact, one might suppose that Italy should just hand over the deed to, well, Italy, since the interest has been piling up for 2,400 years or so on that loan. Or have I just lost my Elgin Marbles? (many thanks to my good friend the brilliant Mike Reiss on that line).




The philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.122) is the author of a series of double biographies in which he compared Greeks and Romans, and tried to explore the nature of some type of man. They contain much historical information. The following text is taken from his Life of Marcellus, and describes how this Roman general captured Syracuse during the war between the Romans and the Carthaginian general Hannibal. During the siege the famous scientist Archimedes (287-212), was killed. The translation was made by Walter Charlton and appeared in the Dryden series.

Marcellus now was a third time created consul, and sailed to Sicily. For the success of Hannibal had excited the Carthaginians to lay claim to that whole island; chiefly because, after the murder of the tyrant Hieronymus, all things had been in tumult and confusion at Syracuse. Therefore, the Romans also had sent before to that city a force under the conduct of Appius, as praetor. […]

At this time Marcellus, first incensed by injuries done him by Hippocrates, commander of the Syracusans (who, to give proof of his good affection to the Carthaginians, and to acquire the tyranny to himself, had killed a number of Romans at Leontini), besieged and took by force the city of Leontini; yet violated none of the townsmen; only deserters, as many as he took, he subjected to the punishment of the rods and axe.

But Hippocrates, sending a report to Syracuse that Marcellus had put all the adult population to the sword, and then coming upon the Syracusans, who had risen in tumult upon that false report, made himself master of the city. Upon this Marcellus moved with his whole army to Syracuse, and encamping near the wall, sent ambassadors into the city to relate to the Syracusans the truth of what had been done in Leontini. When these could not prevail by treaty, the whole power being now in the hands of Hippocrates, he proceeded to attack the city both by land and by sea.

The land forces were conducted by Appius: Marcellus, with sixty galleys, each with five rows of oars, furnished with all sorts of arms and missiles, and a huge bridge of planks laid upon eight ships chained together, upon which was carried the engine to cast stones and darts, assaulted the walls, relying on the abundance and magnificence of his preparations, and on his own previous glory; all which, however, were, it would seem, but trifles for Archimedes and his machines.

These machines he had designed and contrived, not as matters of any importance, but as mere amusements in geometry; in compliance with King Hiero’s desire and request, some little time before, that he should reduce to practice some part of his admirable speculation in science, and by accommodating the theoretic truth to sensation and ordinary use, bring it more within the appreciation of the people in general.
Eudoxus and Archytas had been the first originators of this far-famed and highly-prized art of mechanics, which they employed as an elegant illustration of geometrical truths, and as means of sustaining experimentally, to the satisfaction of the senses, conclusions too intricate for proof by words and diagrams. As, for example, to solve the problem, so often required in constructing geometrical figures, given the two extremes, to find the two mean lines of a proportion, both these mathematicians had recourse to the aid of instruments, adapting to their purpose certain curves and sections of lines.

But what with Plato’s indignation at it, and his invectives against it as the mere corruption and annihilation of the one good of geometry, which was thus shamefully turning its back upon the unembodied objects of pure intelligence to recur to sensation, and to ask help (not to be obtained without base supervisions and depravation) from matter; so it was that mechanics came to be separated from geometry, and, repudiated and neglected by philosophers, took its place as a military art.

Archimedes, however, in writing to King Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this. Hiero being struck with amazement at this, and entreating him to make good this problem by actual experiment, and show some great weight moved by a small engine, he fixed accordingly upon a ship of burden out of the king’s arsenal, which could not be drawn out of the dock without great labor and many men; and, loading her with many passengers and a full freight, sitting himself the while far off, with no great endeavor, but only holding the head of the pulley in his hand and drawing the cords by degrees, he drew the ship in a straight line, as smoothly and evenly as if she had been in the sea. The king, astonished at this, and convinced of the power of the art, prevailed upon Archimedes to make him engines accommodated to all the purposes, offensive and defensive, of a siege. These the king himself never made use of, because he spent almost all his life in a profound quiet and the highest affluence. But the apparatus was, in most opportune time, ready at hand for the Syracusans, and with it also the engineer himself.

When, therefore, the Romans assaulted the walls in two places at once, fear and consternation stupefied the Syracusans, believing that nothing was able to resist that violence and those forces. But when Archimedes began to ply his engines, he at once shot against the land forces all sorts of missile weapons, and immense masses of stone that came down with incredible noise and violence; against which no man could stand; for they knocked down those upon whom they fell in heaps, breaking all their ranks and files. In the meantime huge poles thrust out from the walls over the ships sunk some by the great weights which they let down from on high upon them; others they lifted up into the air by an iron hand or beak like a crane’s beak and, when they had drawn them up by the prow, and set them on end upon the poop, they plunged them to the bottom of the sea; or else the ships, drawn by engines within, and whirled about, were dashed against steep rocks that stood jutting out under the walls, with great destruction of the soldiers that were aboard them. A ship was frequently lifted up to a great height in the air (a dreadful thing to behold), and was rolled to and fro, and kept swinging, until the mariners were all thrown out, when at length it was dashed against the rocks, or let fall. At the engine that Marcellus brought upon the bridge of ships, which was called Sambuca, from some resemblance it had to an instrument of music, while it was as yet approaching the wall, there was discharged a piece of rock of ten talents weight, then a second and a third, which, striking upon it with immense force and a noise like thunder, broke all its foundation to pieces, shook out all its fastenings, and completely dislodged it from the bridge.

So Marcellus, doubtful what counsel to pursue, drew off his ships to a safer distance, and sounded a retreat to his forces on land. They then took a resolution of coming up under the walls, if it were possible, in the night; thinking that as Archimedes used ropes stretched at length in playing his engines, the soldiers would now be under the shot, and the darts would, for want of sufficient distance to throw them, fly over their heads without effect. But he, it appeared, had long before framed for such occasions engines accommodated to any distance, and shorter weapons; and had made numerous small openings in the walls, through which, with engines of a shorter range, unexpected blows were inflicted on the assailants. Thus, when they who thought to deceive the defenders came close up to the walls, instantly a shower of darts and other missile weapons was again cast upon them. And when stones came tumbling down perpendicularly upon their heads, and, as it were, the whole wall shot out arrows at them, they retired. And now, again, as they were going off, arrows and darts of a longer range inflicted a great slaughter among them, and their ships were driven one against another; while they themselves were not able to retaliate in any way. For Archimedes had provided and fixed most of his engines immediately under the wall; whence the Romans, seeing that indefinite mischief overwhelmed them from no visible means, began to think they were fighting with the gods.

Yet Marcellus escaped unhurt, and deriding his own artificers and engineers, “What,” said he, “must we give up fighting with this geometrical Briareus, who plays pitch-and-toss with our ships, and, with the multitude of darts which he showers at a single moment upon us, really outdoes the hundred-handed giants of mythology?”

And, doubtless, the rest of the Syracusans were but the body of Archimedes’ designs, one soul moving and governing all; for, laying aside all other arms, with this alone they infested the Romans and protected themselves. In fine, when such terror had seized upon the Romans that, if they did but see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out, that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled, Marcellus desisted from conflicts and assaults, putting all his hope in a long siege.

Yet Archimedes possessed so high a spirit, so profound a soul, and such treasures of scientific knowledge, that though these inventions had now obtained him the renown of more than human sagacity, he yet would not deign to leave behind him any commentary or writing on such subjects; but, repudiating as sordid and ignoble the whole trade of engineering, and every sort of art that lends itself to mere use and profit, he placed his whole affection and ambition in those purer speculations where there can be no reference to the vulgar needs of life; studies, the superiority of which to all others is unquestioned, and in which the only doubt can be whether the beauty and grandeur of the subjects examined, of the precision and cogency of the methods and means of proof, most deserve our admiration. It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearances, easy and unlabored results. No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required. And thus it ceases to be incredible that (as is commonly told of him) the charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science. His discoveries were numerous and admirable; but he is said to have requested his friends and relations that, when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained. Such was Archimedes, who now showed himself, and so far as lay in him the city also, invincible.

While the siege continued, Marcellus took Megara, one of the earliest founded of the Greek cities in Sicily, and capturing also the camp of Hippocrates at Acilae, killed above 8,000 men, having attacked them whilst they were engaged in forming their fortifications. He overran a great part of Sicily; gained over many towns from the Carthaginians, and overcame all that dared to encounter him.

As the siege went on, one Damippus, a Spartan, putting to sea in a ship from Syracuse, was taken. When the Syracusans much desired to redeem this man, and there were many meetings and treaties about the matter betwixt them and Marcellus, he had opportunity to notice a tower into which a body of men might be secretly introduced, as the wall near to it was not difficult to surmount, and it was itself carelessly guarded. Coming often thither, and entertaining conferences about the release of Damippus, he had pretty well calculated the height of the tower, and got ladders prepared.

The Syracusans celebrated a feast to Artemis; this juncture of time, when they were given up entirely to wine and sport, Marcellus laid hold of, and before the citizens perceived it, not only possessed himself of the tower, but, before the break of day, filled the wall around with soldiers, and made his way into the Hexapylum. The Syracusans now beginning to stir, and to be alarmed at the tumult, he ordered the trumpets everywhere to sound, and thus frightened them all into flight, as if all parts of the city were already won, though the most fortified, and the fairest, and most ample quarter was still ungained. It is called Achradina, and was divided by a wall from the outer city, one part of which they call Neapolis, the other Tycha.

Possessing himself of these, Marcellus, about break of day, entered through the Hexapylum, all his officers congratulating him. But looking down from the higher places upon the beautiful and spacious city below, he is said to have wept much, commiserating the calamity that hung over it, when his thoughts represented to him how dismal and foul the face of the city would be in a few hours, when plundered and sacked by the soldiers. For among the officers of his army there was not one man that durst deny the plunder of the city to the soldiers’ demands; nay, many were instant that it should be set on fire and laid level to the ground: but this Marcellus would not listen to.

Yet he granted, but with great unwillingness and reluctance, that the money and slaves should be made prey; giving orders, at the same time, that none should violate any free person, nor kill, misuse, or make a slave of any of the Syracusans. Though he had used this moderation, he still esteemed the condition of that city to be pitiable, and, even amidst the congratulations and joy, showed his strong feelings of sympathy and commiseration at seeing all the riches accumulated during a long felicity now dissipated in an hour. For it is related that no less prey and plunder was taken here than afterward in Carthage. For not long after they obtained also the plunder of the other parts of the city, which were taken by treachery; leaving nothing untouched but the king’s money, which was brought into the public treasury.

But nothing afflicted Marcellus so much as the death of Archimedes, who was then, as fate would have it, intent upon working out some problem by a diagram, and having fixed his mind alike and his eyes upon the subject of his speculation, he never noticed the incursion of the Romans, nor that the city was taken. In this transport of study and contemplation, a soldier, unexpectedly coming up to him, commanded him to follow to Marcellus; which he declining to do before he had worked out his problem to a demonstration, the soldier, enraged, drew his sword and ran him through. Others write that a Roman soldier, running upon him with a drawn sword, offered to kill him; and that Archimedes, looking back, earnestly besought him to hold his hand a little while, that he might not leave what he was then at work upon inconclusive and imperfect; but the soldier, nothing moved by his entreaty, instantly killed him. Others again relate that, as Archimedes was carrying to Marcellus mathematical instruments, dials, spheres, and angles, by which the magnitude of the sun might be measured to the sight, some soldiers seeing him, and thinking that he carried gold in a vessel, slew him. Certain it is that his death was very afflicting to Marcellus; and that Marcellus ever after regarded him that killed him as a murderer; and that he sought for his kindred and honored them with signal favors.

Q.E.D. Archimedes was brilliant, the Romans stole all the Greeks’ money, and Syracuse was a neutral city whose neutrality was blatantly violated by the Romans in the 2d Punic War. And the Romans did it for the money. Plutarch is pretty much a reliable source.





Of 32 first-round picks, I only got 19 right, for barely a 59% percentage. That looks good until you realize by flipping a coin I’d get 50%, so basically that’s a 9% winning percentage. Not very impressive. The only two brackets I have reasonably correct are the East, where I have Kentucky meeting West Virginia in the Regional Final, which can still happen, and the South, where I had Duke meeting Baylor in the Regional Final. Of those, I had West Virginia upsetting Kentucky in my original bracket and going to the final four, and Duke beating Baylor to get to the Final Four. In the East bracket, I was totally busted as I had Kansas hitting Georgetown in the regional. Oops! Can you say University of Northern Iowa? In the West, I had Syracuse hitting Pitt. From there I had Kansas and Pitt in the final four, and Pitt v. West Va in the finals, with West Va winning. Well, that clearly was wrong. I did pick Villanova to lose in the second round, although it was to Richmond, and not to St. Mary’s, but I’ve never thought much of Jay Wright as a tournament coach, much less an NCAA coach. He had a good run last year, but usually ‘Nova has done poorly in both the Big East and the NCAA tournaments. Temple, by contrast, has usually done well in A-10 and NCAA tournaments, and Fran Dunphy has coached many fine teams not only at Temple, but at Penn and LaSalle before that.

In light of the first two rounds, I’d have to revise all that. In the East, I think Kentucky-West Virginia, first of all, is sort of the championship within the championship. Second, I believe Kentucky will win. I am also assuming that Kentucky will beat Cornell. West Virginia will beat Washington. In the South, Duke will handle Purdue, while St. Mary’s dance will end at the hands of Baylor, although that’s a bit more of a flip. It doesn’t really matter, since Duke will beat the winner of that game and advance to the final four. So it will be Duke v. Kentucky in that bracket. At this point, Kentucky will beat Duke in a good game, but John Wall is simply better. Also Calipari is a match for coach K.

The Midwest is tougher. Of course, I love the Spartans, and they will beat UNI. Ohio State is still a #2 seed, and they should handle Tennessee. That leaves an interesting Big Ten match up of Mich State v. Ohio State in the Regional Final, which I have to like Ohio State, but then again, Tom Izzo is a terrific coach, so really, it’s a flip. I have to favor Ohio State, but Michigan State has the coaching. Then again, the Spartans will be without one of their key players due to injury. Finally, in the West regional, I like Syracuse to beat Butler, although Butler is good and playing well. I also like Kansas State to beat Xavier, although again, Xavier is good and playing well. Neither will be easy games. That leaves Syracuse against Kansas State in the regional final. Here you have a #1 against a #2, and a real dogfight. I like Syracuse, but both teams are talented and well-coached. I like Syracuse to go to the final four. Out of that bracket, then, I like Ohio State v. Syracuse, and in that match up, I actually think Syracuse has an easier game against either Ohio State/Michigan State than they did against Kansas State, and Syracuse advanced to the final Round.

The final round therefore will be Syracuse against Kentucky, and this will be a terrific game. I like Kentucky here, but it will be a terrific game.

After notes: I was stunned to see Cornell beat an outstanding Temple team, but Cornell is legit—they have a 7-footer with hands who can pass, rebound and shoot, and they’ve surrounded him with a good point guard and several excellent three point shooters who can bomb it from way downtown. So you can play inside-outside all day long, and Temple was stuck double-teaming low or pressing on the perimeter, and getting burned on both ends. Cornell put up 78 points on Temple—and Temple allowed no more than 50 something in the A-10 against great teams like URI and Richmond, and shut down Xavier defensively in the regular season. And Cornell then went out and destroyed Wisconsin for good measure. No wonder Cornell has been on the front page of the WSJ for like a week straight.

Did I mention that Cornell is in ITHACA, NY? You remember Ithaca–that’s the place ODYSSEUS or as he’s known in latin, ULYSSES was from. He was a pretty famous king who went to TROY (another city in NY and also a famous kingdom in ASIA MINOR) to fight the TROJAN WAR, then got lost on the way back.

ULYSSES story of how he gets back to ITHACA is told in the screenplay and movie, “O WHERE ART THOU BROTHER?”, which of course is based upon the novel ULYSSES by James Joyce, which of course is based upon a famous old poem in decapentasyllabic metred Homeric Ancient Greek by an old blind goat named HOMER, called the ODYSSEY.

In ancient times, everyone was required to not only read this book but to memorize and recite it. ALEXANDER THE GREAT so loved the book, he kept a copy of it under his bed, along with the ILIAD.

So yes, even CORNELL has ties to ancient greece, in fact, their very town is the embodiment of all things greek–didn’t they read the poem by Cavafy about returning to Ithaca at Jackie O’s funeral???? Isn’t that in the last collection of poems by her daughter??? Everyone knows what HOME is–it’s ITHACA.


And right across from Cornell is ITHACA COLLEGE–alma mater of my cousin–and of course, the setting for ROAD TRIP, one of the ten greatest films ever made about college life. And yes, everyone has been with a girl like Amy Smart once in their lives. Not. But if you’re Odysseus, you can spend five years with a hot siren, and chalk it up to mental defect or the effect of some goddess like nectar, and still plead the fifth to your wife, who remains faithful for yeah, 20 years.

Cornell is the best basketball team I’ve seen with four white guys on the floor since maybe the Boston Celtics of Bird-McHale-Ainge-Rick Robey-Parrish of the early 80s. Those Celtics had four white guys and they could flat out play. Of course, they got better, NBA championship better, when they got rid of Robey and got Dennis Johnson, who could flat out PLAY, plus he could shut down Andrew Toney, the Boston Strangler and ever-underrate Sixers sharpshooter, as Simmons points out in his recent fantastic book.

–art kyriazis, Philly hoops guy
March 25, 2010