Thursday, March 16, 2006

Last Minute Bracket Notes

I was hoping to post my bracket to the world today, since unlike a lot of people out there, I’m not secretive about my picks. Unfortunately, after a lot of hard thinking, and even some brief tips via email from my tech-savvy friend Haddon, my head is still too hard to figure out a manner in which to deliver my picks to you in a PDF format. So in lieu of that today, some final thoughts on my key NCAA picks, and other bracket-related thoughts.

1) Honestly, even before it became the hot thing to say that Memphis-Oral Roberts may be the best chance we’ve ever seen for a 16-seed to beat a 1-seed, that thought was already bouncing around my head. In the span of just 4-days, though, the idea has become completely played-out and I want nothing to do with it. So just win your first round match-up, okay Memphis? I still think you’re probably the weakest #1 seed I’ve ever seen (did the world completely forget that Conference-USA has roughly 2.5 legit teams?), but I don’t want to go though the next few weeks hearing people tell me that they “totally called that one.” If a 16 ever falls, I want it to be something that no one expects, like Duke dropping it’s first game.

2) Every year it seems that I’m filling out my bracket, and the two teams that I think have the best shot at a national title end up in the same region. So I can’t put them both in the Final Four, and I have a ridiculous epic battle that I can’t decide on in the round of eight. This year, that would be Duke vs. Texas. I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out, but I picked Duke to advance, and then win it all. But another two minutes of thinking, and that could have been Texas in my national championship.

3) I’m picking Wichita State to win their first round match-up solely because their nickname is “The Shockers.” Heaven help us if they get to the Sweet Sixteen, because jokes about their nickname will immediately become more played-out than the theory about Memphis losing to a 16-seed.

4) I’ve got six Big East teams in the Sweet Sixteen, and no Big Ten teams. To say that the Big East grew on me during conference tournament week (when I actually took the time to watch them play) would be an understatement. Of course, it should be noted that I’m picking Marquette to get to the Sweet Sixteen largely because I’m a tremendous homer, and because I laugh every time I see the stupid goatee of UCLA’s Jordan Farmar. It should also be noted that even I don’t understand why I’m picking Georgetown over Ohio State in the second round, seeing as I don’t think Georgetown is very good. Sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut, though.

5) My risky pick of the bracket is Pitt for the Final Four. It’s risky because if they get to the second round, they likely collide with Kansas, a team that has some momentum coming into the tournament, and could easily end Pitt’s season on the first weekend. But I love the Panthers, and the thought of the possibility of making Gonzaga my “safe” Final Four pick out of the Oakland region just seemed too absurd.

6) Right now people are either way too excited about Syracuse, or are completely dismissing the concept that the Orange have any chance of winning a game. Consequently, I have no idea what to make of Gerry McNamara and company.

7) I know very few things with regard to this tournament, but I know that U-Conn will falter and drop a game at some point, pissing a lot of people off.

8) I’ve heard many people talk about how great a match-up Arizona and Wisconsin will be in the first round. I don’t know–I still can’t see why the most disappointing Arizona team in years playing against the most inconsistent team of Bo Ryan’s tenure is all that intriguing. My theory is that lots of people hate Wisconsin and Arizona and just want to see them suffer. Either way, Villanova’s the team that I’m 3rd most excited about coming into this tournament, so nether Wisconsin or Arizona should be around very long.

9) I caught a brief snippet of UWM’s coach Rob Jeter at his press conference last night, where he detailed the fact that Oklahoma has about 30 years more head-coaching experience on its staff than UWM, which has 11-months. Kind of an interesting fact. (There, I officially know something about Oklahoma). I can’t wait to eventually see this game (which I’ll be recording today while I’m at work).

10) The potential match-up that I’m most looking forward to? Iowa vs. West Virginia. Obviously, this will be an exercise in contrast, with the three-point-happy Mountaineers trying to launch shots on the Hawkeyes, a team known for its defense. It will also be an endurance contest, with me seeing how long I can last watching Kevin Pittsnogle and Greg Brunner, two of the more bizarre looking players in college hoops, in high definition before I’m forced to retreat in a frightened manner to a safe room

11) I’m only in one pool this year, but I’m guaranteeing a win. This might seem odd, given that the last time I won a pool was back when I was in middle school. That year I swept the three pools I was in based largely on a hunch that I had about St. John’s, and an informed guess about the success of a George Washington team that trotted out Yinka Dare as its starting center. If I had to rank my knowledge of college basketball that year, aside from my brilliant analysis of the Dare (who went on to record something like 3 assists in his handful of years in the NBA) situation, I didn’t know all that much. This year, my intense focus on in-state teams means that while I was off watching, say, Carroll College, I was completely missing what was going on around the nation. I think that bodes well for me, because as you know, the person who wins your pool is almost always someone with a maddeningly small knowledge of college basketball. Though it may not seem that way with me, I assure you my picks are closer to those of the uninformed average joe than you might think.

And, two final notes, unrelated to the actual brackets:

1) Well, the Journal Sentinel is following the lead of the New York Times, and has quoted me in a piece about workers trying to deal with the distraction of the NCAA tournament. As you can see, I’ll be doing my best to strike a balance between work and basketball, but basketball may be somewhat dominant over the next two days.

2) For those of you not from Milwaukee, we’re expecting a small snow storm here today. I’ve heard up to seven inches may fall by midnight. To my surprise, there was no snow on the ground when I awoke this morning. Nonetheless, when my clock-radio went off today, I heard a list of about 15-20 schools and businesses that were closing for a snow day. Either the people that run these institutions are the most overly cautious people in the universe, or there are some basketball fans in positions of authority around here. Either way, I’d like to take this opportunity to officially salute the leaders of any school or business that have called for a snow day on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament before a single flake os snow has even hit the ground. I’d like to also thank nature for giving these brilliant administrators the perfect excuse to close down for tournament time.

Enjoy day one, and know that I’ll be feverishly checking scores along with you all day.


At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Katie Wood :) said...

Riiiiight....Marquette better buck up in the 2nd half or I am going to be unhappy.

And, just for the record, in my 'if the world were a perfect place' bracket, I have Southern beating Duke.


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