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You don't have to understand basketball to watch
Pembroke Mafia (basket) League
The NCAA put out the March Madness bracket last week.

Quick, who won last year’s NCAA tournament?

Can’t tell me without looking it up?

I didn’t think so.

That’s because nobody - save a bunch of AAU coaches trying to keep from working real jobs - gives half a hoot about NCAA basketball. For real red-blooded Americans, college basketball season is that dull period between real football and spring football. It’s a time when most real-American Americans are out shooting helpless deer or arguing on football message boards until their nose hairs burn over whether the cottonbagger yankee athletic director should go back up or north or just go somewhere else.

He should, by the way.

Anyway, that’s why the Pembroke Mafia Football League is here to help the NCAA. We figure if we get involved and throw our support behind this effort, we can generate enough interest in college hoops to help the sport grow and maybe one day be as popular as, say, mixed league goat racing.

Hopefully, the NCAA will recognize our support with some nifty free swag. We hear the NCAA is good at that, as long as you give them lots of money first. That’s not my department, though. I’m on the deficit side of the business.

To get started, we figured we needed to give this thing a name. Somebody, probably B.J. Clark, who is retired Navy and therefore smarter than the rest of us, suggested we call it March Madness. That sounds good for two reasons. First, it’s alliterative, which is always kind of nice. Second, this tournament takes place in March.

Third, whoever thought up this tournament when they could’ve started up another football league is mad. Bingo. March Madness.

We thought about calling it March Mayhem, or March Mental Illness, or even March Not-Football-But-OK-If-You-Have-Nothing-Better-To-Do, but those didn’t have quite the same zip.

Anyway, let it be known that the NCAA tournament is now March Madness. And tell them you got that from PMFL founder B.J. Clark. He’s the one with the extra knee he keeps in a closet.

Then, we had to study up on basketball. Here’s what we learned. The best team ever to play is the Harlem Globetrotters. They have a lifetime record of 22,000-330, according to the website

It’s there we learned the Globetrotters also had their own cartoon in the 1970s, and even played themselves in a "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligans’ Island."

In this movie, a 4-star classic, the Globetrotters helped Gilligan and the Skipper and Ginger and Mary Ann and Thurston and Lovey and the Professor and some co-stars battle a team of evil robots to save the island from developers.

Yep, they had to save something from a developer, which sounds familiar. You can’t turn around these days without somebody with a pickup truck, a cell phone and plenty of cologne trying to develop something around here.

I guess now that we use digital cameras, there’s no film to get developed, so some people need outlets for that extra energy. I just wish they’d find something less bothersome to do, like adopting a road or voting Libertarian.

Anyway, the funny thing is, the Harlem Globetrotters have never been in the NCAA tournament. If you find that mystifying, join the club. Can Kentucky or Duke or UCLA or Louisville or North Carolina or Michigan or Dale Earnhardt Jr. match 22,000 wins and saving Gilligan’s Island, plus having your own Saturday morning cartoon?

I guess that’s probably the reason the NCAA won’t allow the Harlem Globetrotters into the tournament now known as March Madness, thanks to B.J. Nobody else would have a chance.

The Globetrotters would win every time.

Basketball diaries

A few other things about basketball you might want to take note of, if you’re like most of us and have never seen the game before. The ball is not football-shaped, it’s round and bigger than a golf ball, baseball and softball put together. It is also filled with air so it bounces.

The game is played indoors by five players to a team in swim trunks and tank tops and they take turns shooting the ball through an iron hoop at the end of each end of what is known as a court. To advance the ball up and down the court, players must either dribble the ball - dribbling is the basketball term for bouncing the ball on the court - or pass it.

Finally, there is no tackling allowed, which is why basketball will probably never get off the ground despite our best efforts.

The predictions

Now, it must be noted that the disdain for college basketball is such that some of our PMFL members opted out of playing, citing disinterest for the sport, and I can’t blame them.

Ernie Mitchell even said he’d rather eat bait shrimp than pick basketball games.

Noah Covington, the saintly, slightly young Santa-ish-looking bearded guy at Bryan County Commission meetings, didn’t say anything. He’s probably too busy measuring signs anyway. Anna Chafin, Development Authority of Bryan County CEO and all around smart person, said she’d rather learn how to house train dingos than pick a basketball game. Well, that’ sort of what she said.

What else? This tournament starts with something like 329 teams and eventually, over a period of what seems like 12 weeks, weeds itself down to what we’ve decided to call the Final Four (no charge, NCAA) and then a national title game that shows up on ESPN 14 or CBS or something.

But we made up for it by including one of the best basketball coaches we know - Mario Mincey.

Coach Mincey, as you probably already know, is head coach of the Bryan County High School Lady Redskins, who last month came within a game of advancing to the Class AA Final Four in the Georgia High School Association tournament.

Don’t know his lifetime record, but it’s probably pretty close to that of the Harlem Globetrotters. That’s why he’s now an honorary colonel in the Pembroke Mafia, which makes him eligible to receive all courtesies and considerations that such membership carries with it. All he has to do to get them is call B.J.’s house at 3 a.m.

As for the rules, here’s how we decided to do it. Each Pembroke Mafia member, who remembered to send B.J. their picks, chose the four teams they think will be in The Final Four (B.J. invented that term) and the one who will win it all.

We’ll start with Colonel Coach Mincey, brought to you by the GHSA. He tabbed North Carolina, Arizona, Villanova and Louisville to advance, with the Tar Heels winning it all.

Trey Robertson, sponsored by Bryan County Schools, picked Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Iowa State, with Duke to win it all. And he hates Duke. And Iowa State?

Mike Clark, sponsored by Real Hair Club For Men, picks Duke, West Virginia, Gonzaga and Baylor in the Final Four (B.J. invented Final Four), with Duke winning the whole thing.

And apropos of almost nothing, did you know the broadcaster Joe Buck was actually addicted to hair plugs? I didn’t even know you could smoke them.

Mark Rogerson, sponsored by Justin Beiber’s learner’s permit, picks Duke, North Carolina, Oregon and Kansas, with Oregon beating Duke in the title game for the win. Mark is like 9, I think. Just old enough to be driving.

B.J., who is sponsored by SuperBeets, selects Gonzaga, Southern Methodist, Kansas and UCLA in the Final Four with Gonzaga winning it all. Beets are good for you. Superbeets are super good for you. Tell ‘em B.J. sent you. And me?

I’m taking the Globetrotters.

ille and Notre Dame, with UCLA winning it all. But in my heart, I’ll be pulling for the Globetrotters to save Gilligans Island yet again.

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