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« AP: Criminalizing Illegality | Main | Painting the Map Red »

GMU Rescues the NCAA

George Mason is going to the Final Four. I grew up a couple of miles from GMU, at a time when it was still struggling to establish itself after breaking free from U.Va. It was fully accredited, of course. But because of its newness and its suburban setting, it always seemed at least a full step below Georgetown and Maryland, and the in the latter case, that was saying something, sort of one step above a community college.

Now, with the development of a first-class economics department, and this, Mason is putting my hometown on the map. Like it or not, sports success is one of the surest ways to national attention, so I'm sure that Rte. 123 will be crawling with sports "reporters" looking for human interest stories amid the institutional architecture. The joke's on them - Rte. 123 pretty much crawls at all hours, anyway.

With two #1 seeds playing today, I had pretty much resigned myself to a boring Final Four, with nobody to root for and a #4 seed having to pass for Cinderella. The last #11 seed to crash the party was LSU in 1986, and since then 42% of Final Four teams have been #1 seeds, and an outright majority have been #1 or #2. The only year with any spice was gloriously uncompetitive 2000, when a #5 and two #8s made it, and the games were all decided by 12 or 13 points. Over time, the difference between #1 and #4 seeds has been shrinking, while the difference between #4 and everyone else has been growing.

The good news is that Mason can still meet LSU in the Finals.

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  booklist

Power, Faith, and Fantasy


Six Days of War


An Army of Davids


Learning to Read Midrash


Size Matters


Deals From Hell


A War Like No Other


Winning


A Civil War


Supreme Command


The (Mis)Behavior of Markets


The Wisdom of Crowds


Inventing Money


When Genius Failed


Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking


Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude


How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?


Good to Great


Built to Last


Financial Fine Print


The Day the Universe Changed


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The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East


The Case for Democracy


A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam


The Italians


Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory


Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures


Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud