Sunday, March 21, 2010


Of course! What was I thinking trying to actually predict the winner of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament? That was just silly. I should have known there'd be absolutely no point because I could never get the damn thing right.

Well, let's not say never. I've had a fair amount of success picking national champions and getting most of the Final Four -- though I've only gotten the entire Final Four once -- but after yesterday, it's official. My bracket has never been this dead this fast ever. In fact, I'd go so far as to say yesterday was the single most devastating day I've ever had in the NCAA Tournament.

So how did that happen?

Well, it all started with those adorable Gaels from St. Mary's who decided, "What the hell? Let's beat Villanova." And so they did, dumping one of my Final Four teams in unceremonious fashion as the Gaels played exciting, inspired basketball with a plethora of wild three pointers and 'Nova's Scottie Reynolds played basketball about as well as I do.

That's not a good thing.

I understand that taking the Wildcats to win that bracket may not have been the wisest maneuver on my part, but I simply didn't trust Duke to reach another Final Four and Nova was the next best thing. Whoops. The Blue Devils now appear to have a walk to Indianapolis, and after losing a Final Four team in the second round of the tournament I had assumed I was pretty much done.

And assumption turned into certainty when this nugget arrived. Yeah, that's right, the fighting Kurt Warners of Northern Iowa somehow managed to shock the University of Kansas, a team I and around 42.4% of the country expected to win the National Championship. In a matter of hours I had lost two Final Four teams and my National Champion. On Day 3 of the Tournament.

So, uh, I'm not going to win any of my pools this year.

I can accept this mostly because watching massive upsets like Northern Iowa's early win over the presumptive title favorite is part of what makes the NCAA Tournament so damn great. Early round upsets are plentiful, and while the usual suspects generally get to the late stages we sometimes have something wild and amazing to hang our collective hat on and get to witness the unbridled joy of David slaying Goliath. Yesterday, that is what we got.

What I can reassure myself with is that great minds must think alike, since Barack Obama suffered the same fate as me and will likely not be winning his pool either. Obama can always cling fast to his propensity for making strong choices in the Women's Bracket, where he's apparently 15-for-16 so far. Of course, if you ask me the real excitement lies in the Women's NIT, where my Wildcats, just four years after I covered them in the midst of a typically abysmal campaign, got their first postseason win in program history this week.

As for Barry, no longer having a chance in his NCAA pool will afford him more time to focus on somewhat more important endeavors. As for me, I'll be free to focus on some more important endeavors of my own over the next three weeks.

I'm calling it now. Apple gets knocked off by Pumpkin in the Elite Eight.

Meanwhilst, I believe there actually are more basketball games today, with what looks like a far more intriguing slate than we expected yesterday to be. It would be hard for this afternoon's set of games to match what happened on Day 3, but if Gonzaga, Mizzou or Cornell win I may eat my words again.

That is if I have any left.

Of course, you could also watch hockey. I don't know if anyone told you, but it's awesome.

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