Greetings from the Booth!
So, is your bracket busted yet?
The Madness of the NCAA Basketball Tournament has begun, and as of this writing we’ve already had some bracket-busting games, namely the stunning wins by Buffalo (over 4-seed Arizona) and Loyola-Chicago (taking out Miami from the ACC) on a last-second buzzer beater. The latter contest was a prime example of the sheer jubilation of the winners and the utter disbelief of the losers as they realize their season is over. That is what the NCAA Tournament is all about.
However, if you’re looking for upsets, these usually take place in the opening rounds, but the cream eventually rises to the top. A team has to win 6 games to cut down the nets for that “one shining moment” at the end, and it’s really hard for an underdog to make a sustained run through higher-seeded teams. The blue-bloods may get a scare in the opening round, but the tried-and-true programs like Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky are usually around when we get to the Elite Eight and the Final Four.
Still, it’s great to see teams like Buffalo get to the next round. On the Selection Sunday Show this past Sunday (a horrible production by ‘TBS, by the way), co-host Ernie Johnson couldn’t even get the name of the team right, calling them the “Buffalo Bills.” The Arizona Wildcats certainly know who Buffalo is this morning. And hooray for the Radford Highlanders, who won a “First Four” game earlier this week. Their reward was to play number-one seed Villanova, and as expected, were unceremoniously given the heave-ho. Still, getting a Tournament win was a major accomplishment for the small Virginia school.
The so-called “12 versus 5” games are also breeding grounds for upsets. I will be watching nervously this afternoon as my WVU Mountaineers (a 5-seed) take on 12-seed Murray State. 2 years ago a West Virginia team that many thought was Final Four material was given an embarassing opening round exit by Stephen F. Austin. I’m hoping we don’t get a repeat of that later on today…
Then, there’s UVA. The old saying that “defense wins championships” will be tested in the next few weeks, because no one plays defense like the Cavaliers, who are the Tournament’s overall seed. If you like games in the 40’s and 50’s, UVA is the team to watch. The team that can get the ‘Hoos into a game in the upper 60’s and 70’s (like WVU did early in the season) may have a chance. Good luck.
In the interest of full disclosure, after day one I am a respectable 13-3 with my picks, missing only the Virginia Tech-Alabama game, the Seton Hall win over NC State, and the Buffalo stunner over Arizona. Looking forward, I see UVA, Michigan (I just have a feeling about the Wolverines), Duke, and WVU (a sentimental pick, for sure) going to the Final Four, with Michigan beating Duke in the National Championship Game.
One thing is for sure. You have a better chance of winning the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot than you do of having a perfect bracket, so you may want to head to your nearest convenience store. Oh, and if a fellow employee tells you this week that he’s multi-tasking, it just means that he’s watching more than one game.
Here’s to the upsets, buzzer-beaters, the joy and the heartbreak, and your bracket staying out of the trash can, at least through the weekend!
Until the next visit from the Booth…enjoy the Madness and
GO HORNETS! RW