Something disturbing happened
The idea remains the same: I pick the 63 NCAA Tournament games in 64 seconds. The reason? Well, for one thing, I believe in
So, anyway, let's get to it ... a tournament bracket destroyed in 64 seconds. And, go:
As always, I move the top two seeds through ... they almost never lose. Well, the No. 1 seeds have never lost*, and the No. 2 seeds have lost only four times. None of the No. 2s feel vulnerable to me, though Villanova has been getting beat up lately. Every other year or so, a No. 3 gets beat ... and I took an extra second to think about that Oakland (Mich.) game against Pittsburgh. Oakland has won 20 of its last 21, not that I knew that when I considered picking them (nor did I know their nickname was the Golden Grizzlies). In the end I stuck with Pittsburgh.
A 4 seed usually loses, and I'm going with the obvious upset choice, picking Purdue to lose to Siena. You have to feel terrible for Purdue having lost
More upsets: No. 11 Old Dominion beats Notre Dame; No. 11 Minnesota, led by
My bracket is disintegrating. I'm picking too many upsets. This is a mode I get into when I start running out of time and panicking. I should pick the No. 1s through to the Sweet 16 ... but I can't help myself. I pick Louisville to knock off Duke. It's too perfect --
All the twos go through, though I see Oklahoma State scaring Ohio State, with the winner getting to claim for a year that it is the true OSU (poor Oregon State, being out of the tournament, is automatically disqualified). I have a couple of No. 3 teams getting upset ... like I say, I'm picking too many upsets. I have Tennessee beating Georgetown. I know Georgetown is the darling of a lot of prognosticators, but when that Tennessee team is good, they can (and have) beat anybody. I also have Marquette beating New Mexico because, well, I don't know. I think I got confused there.
And rounding out the Sweet 16, I have No. 5 Michigan State beating No. 4 Maryland; I have UTEP upsetting No. 4 Vanderbilt, I have No. 11 Minnesota beating Pitt, and I have No. 5 Texas A&M knocking out Siena.
Too many upsets. And I'm taking too much time.
I don't have time to mess with things, so I try to fix my bracket by having order restored and the favorites winning. The only upset I pick is No. 9 Louisville over No. 5 Texas A&M -- I don't even LIKE this Louisville team. You ever have that happen to you in a bracket? You keep picking a team you don't particularly like because, well, the momentum has already started.
Interesting games in my bracket include Kansas against Michigan State ... a semi-rematch of last year's tournament game, though not really. College teams fluctuate way too much for there to be a true rematch. Either way, it's hard to take out a team coached by
Villanova has been pretty mediocre lately, but I expect Villanova to be pretty tough to beat in the tournament. They have a great backcourt with
I take one second for each pick. That's probably not enough because I think each of these games has a chance to be epic. I think Ohio State's
I think the Syracuse-Kansas State game has chance to be the game of the tournament -- two intense and tough teams. I think people still don't appreciate just how good Kansas State is ... when Kansas State coach
Well, he is successful. And he is a terrific story. Martin's great ability is to get his players to play preposterously hard -- not surprisingly this is also the great ability of the guy he coached under,
Of course, after all that, I think the Syracuse zone will be too much and Kansas State will lose.
On the other hand, I'm picking a related upset: I'm taking Huggins' West Virginia team over Kentucky. I have a long and somewhat tortured history with Huggs going back to the days when I wrote newspaper columns in Cincinnati, columns that (it's fair to say) he did not always agree with. And we all know about Huggins' various troubles. Still, I'm not sure that people appreciate this: He's one heck of a basketball coach. His teams play ferociously. And this West Virginia team is probably the best example of a true Bob Huggins team that I have seen since his early days in Cincinnati. They have trouble shooting, and they don't have a lot of size. But man oh man will they clamp on some defense, and they will get every loose ball, and they will get so many offensive rebounds that teams lose themselves in frustration. Kentucky is terrific but young; I've got West Virginia going to the Final Four.
And finally, I have Villanova ending that Louisville run that went on way too long in my bracket. I should have had Duke play through.
I take two seconds on Kansas beating Syracuse. No offense to Kentucky, but I think that's a matchup of the two best teams in America. The thing I've seen with Kansas, though, is its ability to adapt to different styles and beat teams different ways. I think the Jayhawks win this game.
And in the other bracket ... Villanova vs. West Virginia. Whew. How did I lose control over my own bracket? I'm picking Villanova.
OK, so, you probably knew a while ago that I am picking Kansas to win the national championship. The thing everyone understands is that the tournament can go so many different ways. To win six games in three weeks under intense pressure ... so many things can happen. A team can hit 15 three-pointers against you and just shoot you right out of the tournament. And your team can go ice cold and not be able to hit any open shots. A certain style can baffle and frustrate your team. As Kansas coach
So, I'm picking Kansas because I think the Jayhawks are the team best built -- because of senior leadership, depth, shooting ability, defensive intensity -- to handle the various challenges. But I also know that I might come up with a different answer if I had another 64 seconds.