Thursday, March 19, 2009
My Final Four
I always get pretty excited about the NCAA tournament, and I love filling out multiple brackets, even though, as far as I can remember, I have never won one.
Usually my problem is that I get a little too crazy for my own good. I pick multiple 12-seeds when only one is advisable, and I always throw in a 13 and a 14 seed for good measure. My Final Four typically consists of only one top seed and three surprises. (Even when I hit these, as in 2004 when I correctly predicted Georgia Tech to reach the final, my first-round zaniness kills my chance at winning the pool.)
So I was shocked when I finished my bracket this year. My Final Four is the same favorite-heavy quintet as the one selected by our President: UNC, Louisville, Memphis and Pitt. My first round picks feature only two real upsets, the Northern Iowa Panthers defeating Purdue, and the Utah State Aggies beating Marquette.
I must admit I was tempted by other games, especially NDSU over Kansas and Cleveland State over Wake Forest. I chickened out in both cases, and several others. I think part of the problem is the structure of this year's tournament. The committee eschewed for the large part the mid-major at-large bids, which means that instead of St. Mary's or Creighton scaring a large conference team we get Wisconsin and Arizona as 12-seeds. The committee seems to forget that people watch the first round for Cinderellas, the idea that a team filled of people they've never heard of can beat Kansas or Duke.
There is also an overwhelming mediocrity in college basketball this season. Throw in the fact that a bunch of seventh-best-in-their-conference teams are filling out the tourney and you get the formula for the few teams that are really good to reach the Final Four.
Anyway, I wanted to get my Final Four on public record, so you can all laugh at me when Michigan State beats Duke in the final and I'm last in my pools.