Okay, let’s see a show of hands. When you filled out your NCAA brackets, how many picked Villanova and Michigan State in the Final Four? Anybody? I see a couple of hands, but not many.
I was breezing along, having a pretty good tournament. Sure, I had made a couple of mistakes, such as vastly overrating the ACC. But, for the most part, things were going pretty well. 14 of my Sweet 16 predictions made it. Then came last weekend. Yikes!
By the time the dust had settled, my brackets resembled Atlanta after Sherman. It wasn’t too bad by Saturday morning, as I still had 6 of 8 standing, with Duke and Memphis the early casualties. Then they got nuked.
Late Saturday afternoon the first domino fell when UConn advanced to Detroit. That the Huskies knocked off Missouri wasn’t entirely unexpected and would not have caused much consternation were it not for the fact that I had picked Memphis to win the West regional. Oops! It seems to be hard to win when your team ain’t playing.
Then came Villanova and Pitt. They staged one of the great tournament games that I thouroughly enjoyed right up until the point the Wildcats won, which had me reaching for the tequila. My picking Pitt meant half my Final Four teams were gone.
Things could have been worse, I kept telling myself Sunday morning. After all, half my Final Four teams were still alive, including the tournament’s #1 overall seed, Louisville. I was still in good shape. A few hours later, things did indeed get worse.
For once I root for those Louisville bastards, and look at what happens! You just can’t trust ‘em. The Cards, who had spent the year frolicking through the Biggie E, the Bestest Conference Ever and had treated Madison Square Garden as a practice facility during the Biggie E tournament, proceeded to stink up all of Indianapolis as Michigan State proved you can go home again to play basketball. Sure, there was some satisfaction gained from reading the Loons of Louisville bitterly blasting their lousy coach, denouncing their players as a collection of stiffs and declaring that the no-coaching Pitino would never win more than 30 a year, but that did my brackets little good.
By the time the Carolina- Oklahoma game rolled around, I held out little hope for my pick, the Tar Heels. I was resigned to my fate, which was that Blake Griffin would go off for about 50 and provide vivid evidence as to why Tyler the Good was at Carolina this year instead of the NBA. I would be 0-for-the-Final Four.
Well, the younger Griffin got his, but Ol’ Roy’s crew did manage to shut down the rest of the Sooners. To my mild surprise, Carolina won and will join the Spartan home boys and the two Biggie E teams [only two? Tough luck, Mikey] this weekend at the Final Four. An even bigger surprise comes from my noticing that despite missing 75% of my weekend picks and having my Final Four disappear like Amelia Earhart over the Pacific, I somehow continue to lead my pool. Imagine that. I am surrounded by an even worse collection of pickers. At least I got one right in a pool that had some miss all four. I am not the only one pondering what happened. There are reasons this is called March Madness.