Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My NCAA picks, and a few thoughts about brackets

My friend Michael Kruse, a Davidson grad who wrote a great book on the Wildcats' 2008 run to the Final Eight, isn't fond of March Madness brackets. "The thing is the thing. Your brackets are not," he says, meaning we should watch the games and enjoy them for what they are, not for whether some last-second shot means you rise or fall in the office pool.

Michael is almost always right, and he's right about this, too.


I'd just make two small observations:

1) For a lot of people, the brackets are the ONLY reason they watch. The St. Mary's-Purdue game is not naturally gripping to them because sports aren't naturally gripping to them. The brackets give them a reason to care. And maybe, along the way, the grip takes hold.

2) For a lot of other people, the brackets are a way to catch up on a regular season they've missed. I keep up with the major conferences, but don't watch nearly much college hoops as I used to. Is Wichita State really that good? Can Harvard make a run? The brackets start to organize the stories in our heads.

As I've said many times, the first two days of the tournament are my favorite days of the sports year, and maybe 10 percent of that is because of the brackets. I don't know many true fans who care more about their brackets than the games. I'll take a great finish over my pick anytime.

Having said that, I'd be fine with going 63-0.

I think you can find my full bracket under my name over at the Observer's contest, but I'll put the picks here, too. Upsets are marked with an exclamation point.

First round: Kentucky over W. Kentucky, UConn over Iowa State (!), Wichita State over VCU, Indiana over New Mexico State, UNLV over Colorado, Baylor over South Dakota St., Xavier over Notre Dame (!), Duke over Lehigh.

Second round: Kentucky over UConn, Wichita State over Indiana (!), Baylor over UNLV, Duke over Xavier.

Sweet 16: Kentucky over Wichita State, Baylor over Duke (!).

Elite 8: Baylor over Kentucky (!). Kentucky is the big favorite to win the whole thing, but Baylor is just as athletic and a little deeper. Baylor is one of those teams that could, on a given night, either beat an NBA team or lose in the first round. I've got a weak spot for those kinds of teams. Which means my bracket could be blown to bits by the weekend.

First round: Michigan St. over LIU-Brooklyn, St. Louis over Memphis (!), Long Beach State over New Mexico (!), Louisville over Davidson (I thought hard about this one, but couldn't pull the trigger...), Murray St. over Colorado St., Marquette over BYU, Florida over Virginia, Missouri over Norfolk State.

Second round: Michigan St. over St. Louis, Long Beach over Louisville (!), Marquette over Murray St., Missouri over Florida.

Sweet 16: Michigan St. over Long Beach, Missouri over Marquette.

Regional final: Missouri over Michigan St. (!)

First round: Syracuse over UNC-Asheville, Southern Miss over Kansas St. (!), Vandy over Harvard, Montana over Wisconsin (!), Cincinnati over Texas, FSU over St. Bonaventure, West Virginia over Gonzaga (!), Ohio State over Loyola (Md.).

Second round: Syracuse over Southern Miss, Vandy over Montana, FSU over Cincy, Ohio State over West Virginia.

Sweet 16: Vandy over Syracuse (!), Ohio State over FSU.

Regional final: Ohio State over Vandy.

First round: UNC over Lamar/Vermont winner, Alabama over Creighton (!), Cal/South Florida winner (I'm thinking Cal) over Temple (!), Ohio over Michigan (!), San Diego State over NC State, Georgetown over Belmont, Purdue over St. Mary's (!), Kansas over Detroit. Lots of upsets here.

Second round: UNC over Alabama, Ohio over Cal/South Florida winner (!), G'town over San Diego St., Kansas over Purdue. Ohio is my other big sleeper. I just want ONE team named the Bobcats to win a couple of games.

Sweet 16: UNC over Ohio, Kansas over G'town.

Regional final: UNC over Kansas in the Roy Williams Invitational.


Missouri over Baylor
Ohio State over UNC


Missouri 73, Ohio State 62

Let the mocking begin!


Anonymous said...

I went with Kentucky. Real original, I know. But you said on some nights Baylor can be a NBA squad or a team that can lose in the first round. Well, I counter that argument by saying that on *most* nights Kentucky can be a NBA squad, and even when they're off, they're still extremely tough.

Baylor is certainly capable of beating them, but they'll need to play some of their best ball to do it, and Kentucky will have to be off.

Smart girl said...

Vandy, nuff said

John said...

Hey Tommy,

Want a laugh? ESPN's website had an article on the White House releasing the President's picks and the moment people started questioning why he has so much time to follow college basketball with all the problems in the country, ESPN moderators started deleting all the posts!

With a bad economy, high cost of healthcare, high unemployment, a little thing called a war... sounds like a fair question to me!

GsOlDc said...

People can pick their brackets on the toilet!
Don't get me wrong, I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of that THUG who broke into the White House and costs us over $500,000 a year, but every being(human or not) has the right to read, play WWF, do a crossword or fillout a bracket while they drop a deuce.
Funny thing is, he will probably get more right than the people doing all the complaining.
I hope for my Tarheels, but think that this is the year of the Wildcats.
Ohio State? Really?
Put the pipe down and back away!

Tommy Sorenson said...

This confirms why you aren't on the Sports Staff, brother. Wear your baby blue sweaters in peace and joy while your ride on the bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

You IDIOTS who bring Politics into every article really need to GET A LIFE!!!