Through ESPN and the old-fashioned click and print, I managed to fill out five brackets. To those reading this and not familiar with March Madness, this may seem like a lot. However, I personally know one person who fills out 10-15 brackets per year. The reason? To achieve the Holy Grail of NCAA basketball bragging rights- filling out a perfect bracket. The odds of completing such a task are 150 million to 1. So this season, I gritted my teeth and filled out five brackets assuming that this would be the year I filled out a perfect bracket. It wasn’t, but so far I am happy with my brackets. Here are some of the picks I am proud of, and some that I blame bad coaching instead of my assessment:
Arizona (12 seed) ? Coming into the first round, this Arizona team barely squeaked into the tournament. Armed with one of the best zone defenses in the tournament, many people dismissed their chances in the first round against Utah (5 seed) let alone whoever they would have to play if they “lucked out.” Two rounds later they had defeated Utah and Cleveland St. I had picked them to beat Utah and Wake Forest, a weak team if you remember I highlighted last issue. All hail that zone defense and great outside shooting- produces a SWEET outcome.
Michigan (10 seed) ? If you remember correctly, last issue of the Free Press I highlighted Clemson as a team to save your bank on. And, just as I expected, they let down a lot of people. Coming into the tournament as a 60-1 shot to win it all, it was the perfect bet to make- bet $3.50 to win $200. Yet, I will keep my $3.50 and buy a new pair of gym socks. They were a weak team in the second half of the season, and they allowed Michigan to prove me right. I agree Michigan, I agree whole-heartedly.
Oklahoma State (7 seed) ? Matching up against a tough Tennessee team in the first round, many people went with Tennessee, however, I enjoyed OK State riding momentum from the end of the regular season and wining two games- Tennessee and Pittsburgh. No, I am not joking. And I wasn’t too far off. Deep into the second half of the Pitt game they were winning and had the game in control. However, they basically gave the game away. When I choose a team, especially a 7-1 upset in the second round, I expect performance. I got none in the second part of the second half and Pitt moved on. Unreal.
Western Kentucky (12 seed) ? Coming into the first round again this season as a 12 seed, it was not a stretch to see this team do the unthinkable again- winning two games in the tournament. I had them winning two games- Illinois and Gonzaga. They got the first done, outshooting a very weak Illinois team that was beaten by Penn State in the regular season (maybe more deserving of a tourney bid than most). Mendez-Valdez, point-guard for WKU shot well, and the team was able to move on against Gonzaga. I had them wining that game, but after tying the game with 7 seconds left, WKU failed to play defense and let a Zag run the length of the floor and scored unattested with only 0.6 left. Unacceptable.