was rather surprisingly bounced from the NCAA Tournament last night by Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen. I won't get into the peculiarities like how it could be fair for a No. 1 seed to host a school from Tuscon in Anaheim, or how Duke could have seemingly forgotten to play basketball in the second half when the Wildcats went on a very impressive run.
But I will say this. I was not betting against the Blue Devils. In fact, I was betting on them. And after letting me down the one time I was actually rooting for Duke, it could be a while before I do it again.
As I alluded to in my last entry, I was in a survival pool for this year's Dance in which I fared far better than my actual bracket -- which I haven't even looked at in days -- did. In fact, after a wild Sunday night, I was one of just five people remaining, and I had assumed that of the games Thursday night, Duke was the one sure bet to win. And so, with the chance of winning a $700 prize on the line, I put my hopes with the Blue Devils and watched.
And then that happened.
So yeah, I was out of the running for $700, and even the considerable silver lining of "But Duke lost, which makes everyone happy" wasn't going to comfort me.
See, if anyone advanced to Friday I was done completely, but if the five remaining participants all lost in one night, we would have a five-way tie and a split pot. I wouldn't quite be getting $700, but a take of $148 wasn't too shabby, and my decision was made despite the overwhelming temptation to cheer for a team that would offer a basketball scholarship to Christopher "Kid" Reid of the early 90's hip-hop duo Kid N' Play.
Fortunately for me, Butler answered the call in a win that really was never in doubt until Wisconsin made a late rally, which led me to two conclusions, a) While it wouldn't be quite as satisfying as a $700 take from this year's pool, I still managed to win an extremely satisfying $148 -- my best take from a March Madness pool ever, and b) Butler probably shouldn't really be an eight seed.
At this point, seedings aside, I can't see how one wouldn't give them a fighting chance at knocking off Florida Saturday and landing in their second consecutive Final Four. And once they're there, playing like they are, all things are certain. All I know is that from now on, when I watch, I won't be doing so with so much anxiety.
After all, despite losing, I made my money. It's almost like playing for the Mets.