So now the only thing that stands between America and the exposure of What Mom Used To Say is a (relatively) small Jesuit school from Spokane, Wash.
That would be Gonzaga, maligned as an imposter all season, now playing for the national championship tomorrow night. The Zags did it by matching grit with grit against a South Carolina team that never quits and makes you crawl over 10 miles of broken glass to beat it. Gonzaga did that, but only after the Gamecocks once again expended their last available breath.
And so on to Monday night, and the aforementioned collision with Mom's homilies.
One of which was always "Cheaters never prosper."
Prepare for that one to go up in flames.
That's because North Carolina survived Oregon's furious last-minute rush last night, twice collecting offensive rebounds after twice missing both ends of a two-shot foul in the dying seconds. The final was 77-76, and Oregon fans will forever point to Carolina's 17 offensive boards and the double-double of Kennedy Meeks, and wonder if injured big man Chris Boucher might have turned that around.
And so now we get Gonzaga against North Carolina, a school whose attorneys might well be the Tar Heels' MVP. That's because they've successfully lawyered the NCAA to a standstill in its attempt to get to the bottom of (and levy judgment on) an academic scandal widely regarded as the most egregious in NCAA history.
It's been two years now since the NCAA informed UNC it was investigating the scandal, which involved steering alleged "student-athletes" in mostly the money sports (football and basketball) into imaginary courses. Incredibly, this went on 18 years, during which the "student-athletes" were allegedly allowed to plagiarize freely on papers for which they received inflated grades, and to employ tutors to write papers for them.
And, of course, to get credit for courses that didn't exist.
Carolina has spent $18 million in legal fees to roadblock the investigation of that, and it's about to reap the benefits: Another NCAA title for its men's basketball team.
If you're with the NCAA, you've got to be the biggest Gonzaga fan walking right now. Even if you can't say so.
A Carolina win, after all, would once again expose big-ticket college athletics for what it is, a business venture that has little to do with a university's academic mission. At bottom, basketball at North Carolina is an industry with a corporate culture indistinguishable from that of any other industry. The school serves merely to provide it with a marketable identity.
But this is old news. A Tar Heels victory would only make it more glaringly obvious.
One Shining Moment?
If you're the NCAA, more like One Shiner Moment.