I love the term “Catamount.” At some point people got tired of trying to distinguish between various pumas, lynxes, cougars(?), and just lumped them all together. Mountain Cats. AKA, Catamounts. Do Bear-a-Poles exist? Anyway, Vermont, known for scenic mountain vistas, maple syrup, craft beer and long range three-point shooting has occasionally been a tournament darling, a popular upset pick. What happens is, a team scores one upset and that game is burnt into your memory for a decade, if not more. Oh, Vermont. I LOVE Vermont. There’s my upset pick, but this year the committee has heartlessly thrown Vermont into a 16 vs. 16 play-in game. The gall. The good news is, they’re playing Lamar, coached by Pat Knight. Pat has a little bit of the old general in him, and not long ago called Lamar’s seniors, “the worst he’s ever been around.” What’s that called in Texas? Motivation (Lamar is in Texas). What I’m trying to say is, this is the greatest play-in game in the history of the newly bastardized NCAA Tournament. Enjoy.
Getting on to the field of the 64, the teams not in the pigtail, here’s some random stuff I thought when I looked at the bracket for the 1st time…
1. Wichita State has a basketball team? And they’re a 5-seed? My only recollection of Wichita State is watching them in the College World Series recap videos from the 1980s that they used to show on ESPN. Good luck, SHOCKERS!
2. I’d imagine 1/2 the people who fill out the bracket are going into the process saying, I’m not going to pick Kentucky. Then, they see Duke as the #2 seed and that plan goes out the window. What I’m saying is, Baylor scored a lot of new fans at 7 pm last night. Go ahead, talk yourself into Baylor, but this looks like the committee did everything in their power to ensure Duke/Kentucky in the Elite 8.
3. Notre Dame a 7-seed and UConn an 8-seed. Down year for the Big East. Way down. By the way, I didn’t see Villanova anywhere? Did they get into the ECAC?
1. Murray State went 30-1. The Racers. Any chance we get Racers vs. Shockers in the Final Four? Is this AA baseball? The near-perfect season was rewarded with a #6 seed. Best win: Memphis? I’m not sure. They did knock-off what I like to call the Smoky Mountain hat trick, beating Tennessee Temple, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State all in the same season.
2. Michigan State has seven losses. Doesn’t that seem a bit high for a #1 seed? The Big 10 is a tough conference, but I think it’s safe to say the Spartans are the weakest #1 seed. That should open things up for #2 seed Missouri. The former Big-12 always has a team that you don’t quite trust. There’s glittering and gleaming Kansas and you look at Missouri and you’re tempted to give them a 2nd round ouster.
3. I’m expecting Davidson to be the popular upset pick in round one. People know Davidson because of Stephen Curry. They’ll pick that Davidson team, the one from a couple of years ago, to beat Louisville.
1. Harsh bracket for Vandy, no? They beat Kentucky and then get thrown into a 5/12 match against Harvard? This is a terrible match-up for Harvard as well, but Vandy has to go through Harvard, Wisconsin and Syracuse just to get to the Elite-8? They’d be better off as the #6 seed.
2. Gonzaga is the #7 seed. Gonzaga is starting to rub me the wrong way a little bit. How many at-large bids are we going to give this school? I know they play a decent schedule, but I’ve already read one article that said, “Gonzaga is always dangerous in the tournament.” No, they’re not.
3. Is Syracuse under the radar at 31-2? If a Big East team went 31-2 last year,or the year before they might have just cancelled the tournament, but Syracuse is no better than the 3rd choice this time around. All the talk seems to focus on a Kentucky/North Carolina dream final, which leaves Syracuse out in the cold. This doesn’t bother me, I’m still bitter about Syracuse’s run in 1997, I’m just throwing it out there. Why are NC and Kentucky considered a notch above the Orange?
1. First of all, it annoys me the NCAA has altered the compass. Where is North? South, East, West….Midwest. Ok. This bracket features the winner of the aforementioned Vermont/Lamar tussle facing off against UNC. The disrespect thickens. I assume the Tar Heels will be favored by 20.5? Does that sound about right? More?
2. Philadelphia likes to pat itself on the back as a great college basketball town, but this year Temple is the only local squad to make the tournament. Congrats to Coach Dunphy and the Owls, but where’s St. Joe’s? Drexel’s great regular season was ignored thanks to a schedule strength that ranked well into the 200s. Worst. Nova. Year. Ever. And, Penn couldn’t even win the Ivy. You don’t have to win to be a college basketball town, but come on boys, let’s rally the troops a bit.
3. Detroit is the #15 seed in this bracket and is facing Kansas. My question is, could the Pistons beat Kansas? Is this the Pistons? I’m not entirely sure.
Ok, after that you should be ready to make your selections. I went ahead and set up the pool again this year. This is the pool you play because you know you aren’t going to win the one at your office. No one that comes here regularly has what it takes to win a pool. Sorry, it’s true. I wish I could bet on that somewhere. But, in this pool, the one for the stragglers, the downtrodden, the huddled masses…you actually have a chance. I suggest you take that chance, and completely kick-start your self-esteem. Aren’t you tired of saying, “I never win those things?” You’ve got to join Yahoo, something you all did last year, but have now probably forgotten the fake name/password you created….
Group ID#: 52161
I’ll be revisiting the 1st round sometime Wednesday evening or Thursday morning to hand out some nice clean, winners. I’ve still got some loose change floating around from that Robert Rock windfall. Time to put it to good use.