There’s bracketology. Then, there’s hairology.

The NCAA has too many rules. Head coaches micromanage. It’s one of the last avenues of creativity for players.


It can be glorious – and it can be heartbreaking. In all likelihood, the latter is the sentiment for the Illinois State Redbirds, who shared their regular season Missouri Valley Conference championship with Wichita State, but lost in their conference tournament finals to their co-champion, 71-51, this past Sunday. W State coach Gregg Marshall was feeling it after the victory, telling an interviewer that his team is capable of winning “several” tournament games. Marshall is refreshingly bold.

An at large NCAA berth doesn’t appear to be in the cards for the R Birds and their star point guard Paris Lee, who was the MVC POY. Lee has the name and the game to match. Against Wichita State, he did everything to keep his brethren in the game, scoring 18. W State was just too much.

And Lee has great hair, a circular bowl of dreads with red tips that sway back and forth. Why the red tips? He’s a Redbird of course. Lee’s hair is March Madness ready, but it looks like he’ll be taking it to the hole in the NIT. Illinois State has not been to the big Dance since 1998.

Sadly, no one dances in the NIT.

As for W State, and their hair, well, things won’t ever be quite the same since Ron “Bergundy” Baker graduated. That kid had and still has hair.

Jon Hart
Jon Hart is the author of Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures,