Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2019 NCAA Tournament of Art

As I wrote yesterday, the annual NCAA mens basketball tournament is practically a holiday in this country.  This week countless individuals will be filling out bracket predictions for the Tournament, which gets going tomorrow.  (need to work on mine tonight)  Some people will go beyond logic to throw their support behind schools that they attended, or the local schools they know.  Since none of my alma maters are in it this year, the biggest support at this Studio will go to my art schools, colleges that are part of the basketball tournament this year that are also schools where I have some kind of art connection, such as a past exhibition, or have my art in their collection.  Some years I have several.  This year just three, and a few of interest that I'll get to soon.

This year's schools are LSU (East region 3 seed), Villanova (South region 6 seed) and Syracuse (West region 8 seed).   Villanova (exhibition of 2 prints in 1997) has won the whole thing in the recent past, and having seen them play I know they are a dangerous and skilled team.  I don't know that they will win it, but I wouldn't count them out.  The national bias against teams from the northeast means no one is predicting them to go far.  And I don't really know much about the other two schools.  LSU (group folio exhibition in 2006) has a fairly high seed, which means at least some people expect them to win a few games.  Syracuse (exhibition of 3 prints in 2005) has a low seed for a power conference school, which tells me the committee doesn't expect them to get too far, but we'll see.

There were a number of schools that I have connection to that didn't quite make it.  Some were bubble teams that many expected to be in the hunt, but lost their tickets in recent weeks.   There's one school I have a deep connection to (attendance, exhibitions, collection) but I had no expectation that they would be part of it, so I was not surprised that they aren't.   The College of William and Mary has been a part of Division I in basketball since the division was founded, but is one of 4 schools with that long a history in the sport who has never been invited to the tournament.  A few times in recent years they have gotten far into their conference tournament, where a win would get them an automatic bid, but they never won that last game, and they would never be given an at large bid.

But they do relate to some teams of interest.  A few years ago VCU made a surprise run deep into the tournament and I wrote about them.  And they are in it again this year, an 8 seed in the East.  Not expected to go far, but then they weren't in the past either.  What made them a team of interest is that many Virginia based students used to ask me why I didn't go there, as it is the primary art school in the state, as opposed to the one I graduated from.  Simple answer- I didn't know of this reputation, and I had no plans to study art when I went to college anyway.   Later I did learn that VCU was once part of William and Mary.  It had been started as part of a Richmond school, and for about a decade was attached to the college in Williamsburg, before eventually being separated again and becoming an independent university.  But it's not now, or during my lifetime, and I have never even been to the campus or had any art there, so it's not one of my art schools.  More recently I learned that Old Dominion University (South region, 14 seed) was once part of the college of William and Mary, and in fact was founded that way.  It started life as the Norfolk division of the college (sort of a junior college in the state system), and stayed that way for a long time, gaining independence I think in the 1960's.  (this was never mentioned at W&M while I was there) Still, I'm not going to count that as one of my art schools.  As with VCU, I have never been to the ODU campus, nor has any of my art, and I don't count branches of schools in this tournament, only the main campus of the school which is where the basketball team is generally from.  So for now they just remain a school of interest, and not one of my art schools, so I only have 3 colleges in the tournament this year.

As in past years, I'll update the status of my art schools after each weekend has passed.


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