I watch way more college basketball than the average person. Maybe more than is healthy, but I love, love, love it.
Which is why I think the first two days of the NCAA Tournament should be declared national holidays, and we should all get it off while sitting at a bar eating and drinking with our heads on a swivel, watching all the action.
But since the government hasn’t yet declared that, I’ll just have to be happy watching it all for you.
Since I know you’re all in bracket office pools, let me give the lowdown on which upsets I think you should pick, which to stay away from, and who’s going to the Final Four. (The selection committee did a really good this year, except for screwing over Oregon (terrible to get a No. 12 seed) and Miami (absolutely should’ve been a No. 1 over Kansas).
And oh yeah, my Duke boys got stuck in the toughest bracket.
Still, I’d ask you to please forget that most of my upsets from last year didn’t pan out (except I DID have Ohio beating Michigan), and that I only got 1 of the Final Four right last year.
This has been a crazy season in college hoops, with upsets and surprises galore. The tourney should be no different.
This year, trust me, take these to the bank (a piggy bank, probably):
First-round upsets I feel confident you should pick:
No. 11 Belmont over No. 6 Arizona (Belmont’s got great shooters and Arizona’s on a downswing);
No. 13 South Dakota St. over Michigan (Wolverines have lost 2 straight, and S.D. State is a veteran team with a great player in Nate Wolters);
No. 14 Davidson over No. 3 Marquette (Davidson hasn’t lost since mid-January and is a tournament veteran; they won’t be scared of Marquette).
No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma State: (Ducks got royally screwed with seeding, and though OK State is good, Oregon’s better).
First-round upsets I’m not picking but wouldn’t be surprised if they happen:
No. 11 Bucknell over No. 6 Butler (Bucknell’s really good and have a giant-killing rep in the NCAAs)
No. 11 Middle Tenn. State over No. 6 Memphis: (Lot of people question MTSU being in, this would be an emphatic rebuttal)
No. 13 Montana over No. 4 Syracuse: Just have a feeling about this game; Syracuse was very erratic this season and could be ripe for the taking.
Surprise Sweet 16 teams:
— North Carolina: It kills me as a Duke fan to pick the Heels, but they’ll beat Kansas in the third round.
— Butler: I guess not so much of a surprise, but I like them over either Marquette or Davidson, if they survive Bucknell)
Best first-round games to watch:
— Akron vs. VCU: Two really fun teams to watch, up and down, great defense, really good stuff.
— Temple-N.C. State: I have no idea what to expect from State, because I’ve watched a lot of their games. This could be a 20-point blowout either way, or a great game.
— UNC-Villanova: Two teams playing great going into the tournament.
My Final Four picks:
EAST: Michigan State (I hate to pick against Duke, but the draw is too tough. And Louisville is overrated)
WEST: Ohio State (almost by default, this region is really weak and I don’t think Gonzaga is ready for a Final 4 run)
SOUTH: Georgetown (Kansas will lose early, and I don’t like anyone better than the Hoyas here)
EAST: Miami (Should’ve been a 1 seed, and I think they take down Indiana in a classic Elite 8 game to reach the Final 4)
NATIONAL CHAMP: Miami (pictured above). Best, most experienced team, with a guard named Shane Larkin who, if you haven’t heard of him yet, you will very soon.
Good luck jumping into the pool, everyone! Can’t wait till Thursday.
**So this story sounds made up, like a Hollywood fairy tale done by Tim Burton or something (hat tip to my future mother in law for the heads-up on this story). In Cambridge, N.Y., a burgh I have been in several times, an 89-year-old woman named Gwen Hendrickson (above, left) died last month.
Gwen was married to Norman Hendrickson for 65 years, and when she died, he was naturally heartbroken.
So heartbroken that on the day of Gwen’s funeral, Norman was found unresponsive in the back of the limo when it arrived at the funeral home.
According to this story, Norm had a “do not resuscitate” order on file, and so he was allowed to pass away at the funeral home, while mourners came in to pay their respects to Gwen.
Norm and Gwen’s daughters asked the funeral home director if they could put Norm in a box in the room where Gwen’s funeral would take place.
And then the kids posted a sign on the front door of the funeral home, saying “Surprise, it’s a double header!”
“Those who knew Norm say he also appreciated a good bargain.”
I can’t decide if that was a sweet gesture by the kids or a really bizarre one. At the very least, it was courteous to the mourners, who now no longer had to schlep back there for Norm’s funeral.
But still … that’s kind of creepy, isn’t it?