I was in serious trouble by the time Thursday night’s games were complete… and then Friday happened and I lost all hope of crushing the county with my ‘expertise.’
In fact, after the first week of March Madness I am not even winning the office pool. I’m actually losing to a wonderful lady who has not watched a single game of basketball all season. It gets worse – I’m last in the office – if you don’t count the news reporter who refused to take part in the fun. I guess I could rationalize that he is last since the boss said it was mandatory to enter.
To top it all off, I am not even winning in my own home. My wife, who has watched parts of about three games all year, is ahead of me by two points. That tiny gap is bridgeable, but I have only two teams of my final four picks who are still in the tournament.
I wouldn’t mind losing to my wife except that she used criteria such as: “Oh their coach is a little cutie pie, I am going to pick them.”
In my defense, I did state in a recent column that random picking might be the best approach this year because the field is so wide open.
On the other hand, I picked Wisconsin to make the Final Four, which in retrospect seems pretty random and ridiculous. As I filled out my bracket, I kept looking at their matchups and thinking that the teams they would face would struggle against their style of basketball. I had them playing Ohio State in the Elite Eight and I had watched them play Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.
That game came down to who had a slim lead late in the game. A basket here or there could have changed the outcome. Ohio State got a four-point lead late and did a good job of putting the game away. If Wisconsin had the four-point lead late, they could have been Big Ten champs, I reasoned.
My other Final Four pick to bow out early was Georgetown, which doesn’t seem so bad, since only one person in the entire county-wide contest picked Florida Gulf Coast to defeat them. That person picked a lot of upsets in the first round and is not even close to the lead, but at least they can say that they picked the biggest upset in the tournament.
My 38-point performance over the first week of games puts me squarely in the bottom portion of the middle of the pack. With ten teams in the Sweet 16, I have some hope of moving up to respectability and I could actually have six of the final eight teams correct if everything goes my way this week.
But in a tournament full of upsets that is a big if. After watching Michigan dismantle VCU, I am now very afraid that they will knock off Kansas. I thought they had one of the best performances of the round of 32.
And Indiana has looked slightly overrated. Syracuse is a talented but inconsistent team that could easily knock off the Hoosiers, if they continue to play the way they did in the first two rounds.
That would put me down to four Elite Eight teams and finish me off and I haven’t even mentioned that I have Marquette upsetting Miami, and Duke has not looked like the world beaters they were supposed to be since that got Ryan Kelly back in the lineup. The always tournament tough Spartans looked very good against both Memphis and Valparaiso.
About the only three teams to meet my expectations are Louisville, Ohio State and Marquette. I figured the Golden Eagles would will their way this far and they have, but picking them for the Elite Eight was a roll of the dice. I hope their strong will can take them past one more talented team.
As I sit here and try to rationalize my poor performance, I can’t deny the fact that I have performed poorly this year with my brackets. It’s pretty embarrassing sitting here as the ‘sports guy’ in an office of casual basketball fans and hearing the snickers and feeling the eye rolls behind my back.