Let’s start by getting one thing out of the way. My bracket went down in flames. We’re talking overall number 1 seed upset by a 16 seed flames. For a person that takes filling out a bracket even somewhat seriously, it was a bit embarrassing. Still, I didn’t lose any money (I’m not a huge gambler) and I’m chalking the lack of success up to all the attention I devoted to three massive NCAA preview blogs in the span of one week leading up to the tournament.
Speaking of those blogs, you’re welcome to anyone who heeded the mid-major advice. George Mason, Morehead State, Butler, Richmond and Temple all won at least one game in the tournament, and overall my mid major preview teams have gone 9-7 so far. Of course I didn’t heed my own advice in some cases (Morehead State) or chickened our way to early (Richmond and Butler). I also touted a Belmont team that mostly no showed against Wisconsin, and completely missed on VCU, a team I once predicted to upset Duke in the first round on a whim (which they did).
Still, I’d say it was a reasonable success for my first go at publicly predicting some semblance of success (or non-success) in this thing. Here’s a break down of some specifics from my humiliation:
- It didn’t start out terribly when I picked 23 of 32 games correctly in the first round (regardless of how good VCU has been I refuse to recognize the Fringe Four teams as an actual round). Of course I went with St. Johns to go to the Final Four before they lost to Gonzaga in the Sultry 64 (they all get names now!), thus beginning the nasty outcome from my over-estimation of the Big East (which was actually conservative by some estimates). Gonzaga then helped propel BYU to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1981. Speaking of BYU, is there a more impotent (no seemingly inappropriate honor code related joke intended) NCAA team that has had this many opportunities in the big dance? They’re 12-28 all time in 25 tournament appearances, meaning they managed to lose twice in three tournaments when there was still a third place game. Unfortunately those third place finishes came before the Final Four was an actual part of the tournament so the Cougars are o-fer all time in terms of Final Four appearances. Yeesh.
- I was 8 for 16 in the second round, which was actually better than Texas’ free throw percentage for the season (ok ok, they shot a whopping 65%). Unfortunately I picked half of those correct Sweet 16 picks to end their run there, even though two of those wound up advancing (Florida and Kentucky). In a bit of silver lining, three of the other four I chose to go to the Sweet 16 and advance wound up making it to the Elite Eight…
- …But that was where the wheels completely came off. After years of Duke hatred (and a lot of success picking against them in the past decade) I decided to ride the Blue Devils to what I thought would be an epic Final Four match up with UNC. In spite of touting Derrick Williams’ individual ability (he wound up biting me in the ass on two occasions in this tournament) in my Pac-10 preview and consistently flaying the ACC for being a weak conference (thus inflating Duke’s numbers) I still went with the Blue Devils. This carried over to UNC, who actually made it a game further than Duke only to be taken down by John “This Final Four Will Be Vacated by 2013” Calipari and his band of merry…seniors? That’s right, Calipari got Kentucky to its first Final Four in a Wildcat eternity on the backs of actual upperclassmen. Needless to say, NCAA investigators are, at least momentarily, not quite sure what to do with themselves. This idleness will subside in 3, 2…Finally, a Jayhawks team I thought would finally help me out for once managed to yet again fail in the Elite Eight under Bill Self (where he’s 1-5 during his career). Not that I wasn’t thoroughly happy with the VCU victory. For one thing their win guarantees that another national championship game will involve a mid-major. For another, I was in the Austin-Bergstrom airport when the victory was sealed. If there was a silver lining for the ‘Horns fans this basketball season, I’m guessing that victory was it.
So there you have it; Kentucky, UConn, VCU and Butler. Blue blood versus blue blood. Mid-major versus mid-major. All to set up another “David and Goliath” match up in 2011. In the words of Dicky V (I’m paraphrasing here), “it’s a freaking bonanza baby!” I can’t wait.
That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for; “Kansas wouldn’t really fire a coach whose won 83% of his games with them…would they?”, “Why is that 18 year old on the gym floor yelling at the Butler players?”, “No coach in the history of the Final Four has ever had a better name than Shaka (and a guy named Wooden used to win the thing every year)” and “The UConn-Kentucky game: So that’s why the NCAA opened up a field office in Houston this week.”