It’s the most wonderful time, of the year…
Come on everybody, sing it with me!
Screw Christmas or the Fourth of July, for diehard hoopheads like me, Sunday was the glorious first day of March Madness, three weeks of non-stop college basketball that will leave me smiling from ear to ear and working that remote as feverishly as a teenager playing “Call of Duty.”
Selection Sunday was great, as usual, my Duke boys got the No. 1 seed they deserved, and the selection committee screwed up enough to have plenty of people outraged (Dayton barely gets in, and UCLA and Texas get in over Temple? That makes zero sense).
As usual here on the blog, I’m going to break down some of the early-round games and tell you which upsets I think you should pick, to give you the best shot at winning our office pool. Sure, I don’t get them all right, but last year I told you Harvard and North Dakota State would both score huge upsets, and they did! (Click here for proof of my Nostradamus-like forecast).
Some quick-hit thoughts to help you smash Ted from accounting:
First-round upsets you should definitely pick: No. 12 Buffalo over No. 5 West Virginia (Bobby Hurley’s Buffalo team is really good, and Bob Huggins-coached teams rarely do well in the Tournament); No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 Utah (Utes are sliding and playing terribly at the end of the year), No. 13 UC-Irvine over No. 4 Louisville (Louisville is very erratic and the Anteaters are for real).
First-round upsets that wouldn’t stun me but I’m not willing to pick: Harvard over UNC (oh man would I love to see Dukie Tommy Amaker and Harvard beat the Heels), Eastern Washington over Georgetown.
Sleepers to watch (lower-seeded teams that could go much further than anticipated:): No. 7 Michigan State (Izzo in March, need I say more?), No. 11 Dayton, No. 7 Wichita State.
Second-round matchups that would be awesome: Wichita State vs. Kansas (big brother vs. little brother in the state; KU refuses to play Wichita State); Gonzaga-Davidson (Davidson will absolutely give them a game, they play tough teams every year); Michigan State-Virginia (rematch of last year’s terrific Sweet 16 game; MSU’s not as good as last year and UVA is better, but Spartans are playing great right now and UVA’s limping in).
Is there any way Kentucky loses before the Final Four? Not really. In my heart I’d like to say Notre Dame and Maryland could knock them out, but the Wildcats got a pretty cake draw.
Can’t give you my Final Four picks yet because I haven’t studied the bracket enough. But Kentucky’s gonna be there. They’re not winning the title, but they’re at least making the Final 4.
Good luck in your pool; I’ll spend the next three days worrying about Robert Morris or North Florida (one of whom will be Duke’s first-round opponent. Hey, don’t laugh, my boys lost to Mercer last year and Lehigh two years before that; anything can happen.)
And that’s why I love March Madness so damn much: Because anything can happen. Maybe this is finally the year a 16 beats a 1 (Lafayette over Villanova, anyone?). Maybe some kid we’ve never heard of becomes instantly famous for a last-second shot.
Anything can happen. Can’t wait till Thursday.
**Finally today, I thought all of the unique marriage proposals in the world had been used up, but this guy’s was pretty great.
It takes a couple minutes to get going (you can skip to 2:30 and not miss much), but once it does I find it really sweet and charming.
And of course, she said yes…