That NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was the worst I've ever seen, saved only by the hilarious reactions on Twitter.
Luckily, I spent most of it with picture-in-picture activated to watch Northwestern in a must-win at Penn State -- Northwestern hasn't had this meaningful (meaning: NCAA Tournament-impacting) of a game in the 20+ years I've been a fan.
Thanks to an iffy call at the end (the kind of call other programs get but I can't remember NU ever getting), Northwestern eked out the win to maintain its place inside the Bubble -- almost universally regarded by bracket pundits as one of the "Last Four In."
I've been saying this for a year -- but even more over the last month: I think Northwestern is going to make the field. I think they are going to be placed in that "First Four" play-in bracket that happens in Dayton the Tuesday before the tournament "really" starts.
They are going to make the field because they have never been in the NCAA Tournament before, and I think the Selection Committee will give that some value. All things being relatively equal among the "Last Four In"/"First Four Out" group of around 12-16 teams, I think the Selection Committee wants to see Northwestern in the field.
(And, if I may extend the conspiracy theory, I think that there is no better story the Selection Committee could put into the First Four round -- a round that started last year and is still looking for traction, despite being where VCU started its Final Four run -- than slotting Northwestern there against either a traditional power or a gutsy at-large team. Frankly, my nightmare is that NU goes into the First Four against... VCU.)
And so I spent last night gaming out the scenarios for Northwestern's final two regular season games:
*If NU loses to Ohio State in Evanston, but wins at Iowa, they are in.
*If NU beats Ohio State, they are in, no matter what happens at Iowa.
*If NU loses to Ohio State and loses at Iowa, they MUST win their 1st-round Big Ten game -- and even then, it'll be a reach for the Selection Committee to put them in.
I found myself firing up Expedia after midnight, pricing flights from DC to Dayton. Mind you, Mrs. Quickie and I are having our third kid two weeks earlier. (I'll only be gone for 24 hours!)
I found myself going to Google Maps to figure out just how far the drive was (not quite 8 hours, roughly the same time door-to-door as if I flew with one layover stop).
I found myself for the first time in the final days of February allowing for the idea that Northwestern might (just might) be going Dancing.
I know that the more likely scenario is "Whatever Is Most Heartbreaking" -- in this case, losing to Ohio State, losing at Iowa, then losing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
But for today, "Last Four In" is the most magical phrase I can think of.