It seems appropriate that March Madness, the best sports tournament on the planet (with no due respect to World Cup fans), wrapped up some 24 hours after Mad Men cracked the vodka-bottle seal on a sixth season of the best TV show on the planet (with all due respect to Breaking Bad fans). To commemorate the convergence, let’s head to Madison Avenue and put a Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce-like bow on the 2013 Big Dance …
Joan Harris Award: Goes to the Mountain West Conference, the biggest bust of the NCAA tournament. The league that had the highest RPI in the nation combined to go 2-5 straight-up and against the spread. Of the five teams that received bids, three (New Mexico, UNLV and Boise State) went one-and-done, while a fourth (San Diego State) got obliterated by 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in the Round of 32. Only Colorado State, which crushed Missouri 84-72 as an underdog for its first tourney win in 25 years before getting thumped 82-56 by eventual national champ Louisville, can walk around without a bag on its head.
Roger Sterling Award: Goes to Vegas bookmakers, who drove bettors to the bottle early and often. Of the 67 tourney games played, favorites went 33-34 ATS. Just as astounding, 33 games went “over” the total and 34 stayed “under” the total. Somebody pass the Advil … and the Johnnie Walker … and the number to Mr. Sterling’s new shrink.
Lane Pryce Award: Goes to both Georgetown and New Mexico, two squads that suffered shocking first-round exits, which sent millions searching for nooses to hang themselves. The Hoyas and Lobos—seeded second and third, respectively—entered the tournament with a combined 54-11 record, going 29-5 after mid-January. Hence the reason so many who filled out brackets penciled in both schools for the Final Four. Then along came Florida Gulf Coast and Harvard, two double-digit seeds (and double-digit underdogs) that took a blowtorch to those brackets.
Peggy Olson Award: Goes to Wichita State, the feisty upstart that climbed the corporate ladder against all odds. The Shockers’ improbable run to the Final Four included upsets against No. 1 seed Gonzaga, No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 8 seed Pittsburgh, plus a 14-point rout of 13th-seeded LaSalle. And although they came up about three minutes short of stunning Louisville in the Final Four, they easily covered the 10½-point spread, finishing a perfect 5-0 ATS.
Betty Draper Award: Goes to Gonzaga, the one-time innocent, dutiful, sexy housewife who turned heads everywhere … until she got tired of playing second fiddle, flipped the script and chose the domineering way of life. Much like Mrs. Draper, the Zags had no clue how good they once had it. And shame on all of us who bought into the new Gonzaga, whose best wins all season were against four teams—Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and St. Mary’s—that went 1-4 in the Big Dance. And, yes, I expect Zags coach Mark Few to pack on 30 pounds, dye his hair jet black and start treating his children like shit.
Pete Campbell Award: Goes to former New Mexico coach Steve Alford, the smarmy little weasel who was rewarded for that tank job against Harvard with a 10-year contract extension to stay in Albuquerque … only to bolt for UCLA some 72 hours later. (Much is wrong with the world today, but Alford moving into an office once occupied by John Wooden has to rank in the top 10.)
Bert Cooper Award: Goes to Amanda Marcum, the ex-model wife of Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield. Cooper deserves much more camera time than he’s received of late, and the same can be said for Marcum, who wasn’t shown nearly enough during her husband’s amazing run to the Sweet 16. Of course, this oversight figures to be corrected now that Enfield has flipped coasts and taken over at USC. That’s right: Marcum and Layla Kiffin are both part of the Trojans family—meaning USC’s basketball and football teams should never again fail to land a blue-chip recruit!
Don Draper Award: Goes to … yours truly. Love me or loathe me, I brought in big business this month. After going 4-1-1 last week—including a big pre-Final Four futures wager on Louisville to win it all—I capped March Madness with a 19-14-1 record, good for $505 in profit. After an absolutely ugly NCAA tournament showing last year, you’re damn right I’ll drink to that!