For a moment there was no CAN'T in NC A&T—and then there was. After beating New Mexico, Ralph Waldo Emerson's alma mater (Harvard) lost to Kourtney Kardashian's (Arizona), 74--51. When a 15 seed "outta nowhere" beat Georgetown, half the country thought the first two letters of FGCU stood for Fried Grouper. The rest of us thought it was Frisbee Golf. Neither was entirely wrong.
But then Florida Gulf Coast beat San Diego State on Sunday, and the Eagles joined La Salle, Wichita State and Oregon as Sweet 16 Cinderellas. And so we keep flitting from underdog to underdog, filling each with our hopes, like a hermit crab moving from shell to shell until there are no more shells to be had.
Cinderella is older than she lets on. She's ancient. She's had work done. The Disney film was based on Charles Perreault's French story "Cendrillon," published in 1697. That work, in turn, was based on even-more-ancient folktales, told the world over. Nearly every people of every culture has required stories of instant transformation.
To be fair, Cinderella isn't the only story of March Madness. The tournament is a pointillist masterpiece, "One Shining Moment" comprising a million dots of paint. It even sounds better than any other event, a symphony for sneaker-squeak, Sousaphone and whistle. Are there more euphonious English words than barn burner, buzzer beater or bracket buster? These games are poetic—all those sideline-stalking Micks and Ricks, Thads and Tads, Bos and Buzzes. And they're onomatopoetic. Swish: A made basket. Swoosh: The Nike logo. Swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh: A thousand coaches in nylon tracksuits, walking through hotel lobbies at the Final Four.
There's no guarantee Cinderella will make it there. But she might. And in this event, that's enough.