The Madness is near

-A A +A
By Greg Woods



March is here. There is one weekend of regular season college hoops to go. After that conference tourneys, and then… it’s March Madness time!

This year may be one of the most exciting in a long time if you can get past the fact that our Cats probably won’t get too deep into this year’s bracket. That aside, this year’s tournament has several contenders… too many really to list in this column.

The number one ranking has been a hot potato all year. Finally, after weeks of teams choking with the number one ranking, Gonzaga gets its chance this week. If they win their conference tourney the Zags are likely to get the top seed in the Big Dance.

After that it is a crapshoot. Indiana and Duke are also likely to get top seeds in the tourney, while the local favorites in blue will be lucky to get better than a 10 seed if they get in at all.

But our other local favorites in red will be at least a 2 seed if they win out going into the tournament. That is a big if. They still have to finish out the regular season on Saturday and then win three games in the Big East tournament.

Who knows, with an impressive enough showing over the next two weekends the Cards might even get a one seed. That would take a few other teams falling along the way though.

We will again have our Henry Hoopla contest. This will be my first time running the show but I have plenty of experience with running bracket pools. In my former place of employment I took care of the brackets several times over the years and look forward to doing so again for the Local.

Speaking of the old job and brackets, it used to drive me nuts when certain fellow employees would do well in our contest by randomly picking teams based on school colors or knowing someone from a particular school.

I have to say though that this year may be one of those years where a random method may work. There are no clear favorites. Not even two or three teams stand out. Maybe the best method this year will be to throw darts at a map or draw names from a hat.

Or maybe we should have field bets like in horse racing. The Big Ten looks like the strongest conference, so the odds are good if you pick that conference. Or maybe you should go with the mid-major field. Butler has come close and Gonzaga is now the tenuous favorite. VCU is back in the polls this week. I saw them play during ‘Feast Week’ and I love how hard they play. They look like another contender to pull off big upsets in the tournament.

If you are feeling blue about the chances of the Big Blue and are looking for a Big Blue connection to follow in the tournament look no further than Oklahoma State. Travis Ford has his team hitting on all cylinders and they have risen to number 13 in the latest poll. Maybe Big Blue nation will get on the former Cat’s bandwagon after UK flames out of the tournament.

Whatever happens, I’m sure the tournament will have its share of upsets and dramatic moments as it always does.

I’ve been told that the Local staff always has 100 percent participation with nothing more than bragging rights on the line. With that being said, I hope to get those bragging rights in my first year. There is nothing like a rookie upstart coming into the game and taking the big prize!

The brackets for the Henry Hoopla contest will be in the March 20 issue of the paper and you will have only a couple of days to get your brackets together and deliver them to the office. So make sure you pay close attention to who is hot and who is not over the next couple of weeks. It may mean the difference between bragging rights over the whole county and another year as an also-ran.

As for me, I like a challenge, so I will be running updates on my bracket so that everyone can see how they do against the resident ‘expert’. It will be fun pitting my prediction skills against the whole county instead of a few co-workers at HCHS or the Local.