Jump into the (March Madness) pool! I tell you the upsets to pick. And a gorgeous story about a boy with autism, helped by Disney


The Madness is here!
Yeah, as usual on the Sunday night of Selection Sunday, the day me and millions of other college basketball fanatics look forward to every year, I’m a little overcaffeinated tonight.
I’ve been poring over the NCAA Tournament brackets, trying to find winners, upsets, and surprises, as well as stuff I think probably will happen, to give you my expert analysis to help you with your office pool. For my full breakdown, I wrote up a bracket analysis for ThriveSports.com; click here to read it.

Do not pay any attention to the fact that in 2012 I got only one Final Four team correct, and last year I got (ahem) zero teams correct. This year I really know what I’m talking about, promise. Besides, who you gonna listen to, a guy like me who watches a ton of games every year, or Alice in Accounting, who picks teams by which mascot is cuter?

OK, here goes:

First-round upsets I like: Stephen F. Austin over VCU (both really good teams, but Austin hasn’t lost since Thanksgiving); Harvard over Cincinnati (the Smart Kids are really good); Providence over UNC; North Dakota State over Oklahoma (I’m a big Bison believer).
First-round upsets I think could definitely happen, but I’m too chicken to pick them because I always pick too many upsets: N.C. Central over Iowa State (Central is legit good); Mercer over Duke (yes, I’m a Duke fan who’s terrified of Mercer, they’re the real deal). I would love to put my Delaware Blue Hens in here, and against just about ANY other opponent, my blue and gold love would shine through. But they ain’t beating Michigan State. No way, no how.

Surprise Sweet 16 Teams:

— North Dakota State: They’re deep, have a ton of scorers, and their coach was hilarious when I interviewed him last week (hey, I never said this was scientific.)
— St. Joseph’s: If they play Villanova in the second round, it’d be an all-Philly affair, and when kids from the same city play against each other, all bets are off.

Sleepers who could make a Final 4 run:
 Iowa State: I know they’re a 3 seed so not really a “sleeper,” but they’re a streaky team that’s really good.
— Kentucky: I would root for the minions of hell before a team coached by John Calipari, but those talented freshmen just might pull it all together.

And finally, my Final 4 picks:
— Virginia. They’re just really, really good, and superbly well-coached. Great guards, great defense.
— Florida. I hate picking chalk but unless Kansas center Joel Embiid gets much healthier, no one in that region’s beating the Gators and Scottie Wilbekin (above)
— Michigan: I don’t feel good about this one at all. I think my Dukies have a shot, and so does undefeated Wichita State, but both are flawed in some way. So I have to pick somebody, so it’s the Wolverines.
— Wisconsin: The Badgers are way more athletic than usual, and they can take down Arizona if need be.
National champ: Florida.

Good luck everybody!

**Next up, this was good for a laugh. A local TV announcer in Arizona, Paul Cicala of KVOA in Tucson, was trying to show his viewers how fired up he was about the PAC-12 championship basketball game in Las Vegas Saturday night.

So to prove how excited he was about it, our friend Paul decided to sign off his broadcast by racing to the arena at full speed. Except, well… just watch to the end and try not to laugh uproariously.

Poor Paul. Gotta love that enthusiasm!


**Finally today, this story in last week’s New York Times Magazine was recommended to me by several people, but I finally got around to reading it over the weekend. It was fantastic; Ron Suskind’s son developed autism before he was 3, and the only thing that has helped him as he’s grown is an obsession with Disney movies.
They speak to him, he draws the characters and speaks their dialogue, and the author’s relationship with his son, and with Disney movies, is beautiful and heart-wrenching, but ultimately inspiring.

Highly, highly recommend this story.



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