Today, for example, the babbling Dick Vitale took the hype to a new level. Of course there was the usual allusion to "the power of prayer," as if the woman who didn't even pick her own team, Loyola-Chicago, to get past the Sweet 16 somehow has the ear of a supreme being. But Dick -- an annoying but knowledgeable college basketball analyst -- now says (hopefully jokingly) that he relies on her for "scouting reports" and even wants to cast his wife aside so he can "date" Sister Jean. And of course, Dick declares that she'll be a "major factor in the game" tonight against Michigan.
The only factor Sister Jean will play is that the camera will be on her as much as it will be on the players, and more than it will be on the coach and the cheerleaders. If Loyola-Chicago wins, it'll be because they're good at basketball. But I'm hoping Michigan crushes the underdog and puts an end to the incredibly boring chatter about Sister Jean. And if the three-seed Michigan can't handle the eleven-seed upstarts, then the Villanova-Kansas winner had better put an end to their Cinderella run in emphatic fashion.
On a positive note, even if Loyola-Chicago wins the whole ball of wax, that still wouldn't be nearly as bad for me as a Wisconsin Badger national championship would have been. Much like an asteroid passing too close to earth, that disaster was averted a couple of years ago thanks to the heroics of Duke's Grayson Allen.
And on another positive note, Sister Jean Mania has reminded me to pull a classic off my bookshelf: Christopher Hitchens' The Missionary Position. If Loyola-Chicago manages to beat Michigan, I can always spend Monday night reading Hitch instead of watching the title game.