For the first time in its history, this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament will include a Cosmetology School. The Elegante College of Beauty snagged an invitation to the big dance by dominating the Hairstyling Division for the entire year. Although they are 16th seeded in the Chicago Bracket, they are still expected to give first-ranked Illinois a run for their money.
The NCAA has faced intense criticism for several years for not including cosmetologists and nail technicians in the tournament. But the Fighting Aestheticians racked up a perfect record without getting a single hair out of place. "We're by far the best coiffed team in the nation," said head coach Tony Pelo, "and we deserve to be in the tournament."
The most crucial tournament fan group, Las Vegas oddsmakers, were highly critical of the selection. Since Elegante's games were not televised or covered by sports media, the background information needed to set meaningful odds is lacking. "This could threaten the integrity of the entire NCAA tournament," said one expert at the Bellagio Sports Book. The NCAA is standing by the selection, however, in hopes that it will expand the fan base for the tournament. NCAA President Myles Brand praised the inclusion. "I always get my hair done at Elegante, and it drives the chicks wild," he said.
Many fans are charmed by the small-time school's lack of pretense, and officials estimate over $4 billion in office pool bets are riding on Elegante. "It's about time the NCAA recognized the Beautician Colleges," said hoops fanatic Mary Starkes. "I'm putting my money on Elegante, and I'll meet you in St. Louis!" Many fans also hope a Cinderella team with perfect skin can finally make it to the Final Four.
Though Elegante lacks size, they may be able to confuse opponents with their knowledge of exfoliation, hydrotherapy and depilatories. As a precaution against overconfidence, Illinois is reportedly requiring all players to get professional haircuts and manicures prior to the big game.
Elegante hopes the exposure brought by the nationally televised game against Illinois will lead to more admissions and a hefty increase in their paltry endowment. As Elegante President Richard Booty put it, "We want the world to know we're more than just a pretty face."