With the Cats out of the Big 12 tournament, there hasn't been much other than pundit chatter to read. So I'm going to make this your hub for reading what they are saying about the Cats' chances this afternoon. While pretty much everyone says we are in, I can't get the gut-punch of last year out of my mind, and we have again given the committee a reason to leave us home. Granted, it would be a screwing of Ron Jeremy-esque proportions if we did get left out, but the pessimist in me can't get it out of my mind.
Lunardi has the Cats at a 9-seed in the West Regional, which assuming a win in the first round would mean a second-round matchup with UCLA. Most importantly, I guess, he doesn't have us among his last four teams in.
ESPN's Bubble Watch sounds fairly confident in the Cats' chances to get in, but with Texas A&M's 'run' in the Big 12 tournament, they are certainly ahead of us in the pecking order, whereas nobody knows what to do with Baylor.
Good ol' Bob Lutz thinks we're in, and is tired of hearing about it. We're tired of you, too, Bob. While we're talking about local columnists, Joe Posnanski thinks we're in, too. New traditional-media blogger Austin Meek of the TCJ has an interesting analysis of the bubble spots available and the teams competing for them.
This has no relation to K-State and the NCAA tournament, but if you're a Kansas Citian or just love the City's history with Big 8/12 basketball and major basketball in general, settle in and read this outstanding Joe Posnanski column. Columns like this are the reason Posnanski wins national writing awards. And then, just for a little compare-and-contrast, read this debbie-downer column from the TCJ's Rick Dean.
To me, Dean's view is too narrow. Yes, KC was promised big events, big teams, and it built for them. But a downtown entertainment district can be sustained, at least for a while, without those anchor tenants. The people of KC and the Midwest in general have become blinded by their misconception that "Downtown" is a dirty word. Downtown to Kansas Citians is a place where you go to work and then get out of as soon as you can. Downtown is a place where you park your car and hope to God it doesn't get busted up. Downtown means crime, homeless people, traffic.
You'll notice I said Midwest, because this attitude is not limited to Kansas Citians. Look no further than Omaha, where fierce opposition to a downtown baseball stadium may end up kicking the city's golden goose--the College World Series--to Indianapolis.
It doesn't have to be that way. Other cities have realized that if you encourage business in Downtown, it can become a destination rather than a hazard. My temporarily adopted city of Houston has figured this out. It has Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center downtown. It has become a place to be, before and after the games. But more than that, it has become a place to be even without games. Those bars and restaurants downtown can steal some of the after-work happy hour crowd, which will help them get through the non-event days. But on top of that, Posnanski's article mentions there will be more than 150 events at the Sprint Center this year. So on nearly half the days this year, there will be an event going on downtown. Finally, once the people of Kansas City learn how to maneuver downtown and how to park downtown, it should become another destination for eating and drinking, similar to the Plaza or Westport.
For the people reading this from Houston or Dallas or San Antonio, it may seem absurd that a "little" event like the Big 12 tournament could cause such consternation among the residents of a city. But that's why KC is made for the Big 12 tournament, and it should be here permanently. KC embraces this event, loves it, nourishes it, works to develop it. In Dallas, it's a blip on the radar screen, not worth another credit-card charge in a city built on credit. In Houston, it wouldn't even be as big as the rodeo.
Kansas City will be one helluva fun place today, and it will continue to be that place as long as the optimists outnumber the skeptics.
Updates here later in the day. Leave any observations about the day's events in the comments section.