Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday 3/22 (Very) Quickie: Tampa Rules!

Best. Sub-Regional. Ever.: Tampa wins! The site of Western Kentucky's miracle buzzer-beater, TWO 13-over-4 upsets (including San Diego's thriller over UConn and Siena's not-so-thriller over Vandy) and Villanova's 12-over-5 win over Clemson. Still...

I have blown a LOT of picks through the first 32 of the Tournament: 13, to be exact.

19-13 after the first round is my worst start ever. I am in the 9th percentile out of 600+ participants in the Daily Quickie Readers group bracket challenge. Yeesh: The bottom 10 percent! (Consider: If I had gone with the "National Bracket" consensus picks, I would have been 24-8, good for the 85th percentile. For the record, out of 3 million brackets, no one nationally in the Tournament Challenge was still perfect after Round 1.)

There were quite a few misses where, in hindsight, I'm like, "Of course I should have gone the other way!" How could I pick against Butler? Why did I not take a flier on Siena? Why did I believe in Gonzaga? Why was I so bullish on George Mason?

But that Villanova win bums me out the most, because I had it right -- on the record -- and changed it wrong. That's the worst kind of mistake.

In my initial "gut" pass through the bracket, I picked Nova over Clemson (and even took Nova to the Sweet 16) -- it's right there in my Wall Street Journal column! -- but changed my mind and knocked them out in Round One. Ugh: That stings. Obviously, I could have used it.

In addition to the upsets I didn't pick, there were the erroneous ones I did pick, egregiously affirmatively: Davidson, South Alabama, St. Joseph's, St. Mary's... hell, even 9-seed Oregon.

Again: All part of my personal Worst. First Round. Ever.

That said, I'm so satisfied right now: Given the choice between being thrilled by the results on the court (and being wrong on my bracket) or being happy with the results on my bracket (with predictable results on the court), I will take being wrong (and thrilled) over being right (and bored) every time.

That was the best First Friday of the NCAA Tournament that I can remember. And tomorrow in Tampa will match yesterday's dramatic results: TWO 12-vs.-13 games ensures that the Sweet 16 will have at least two Cinderellas, guaranteed.

All thanks to Tampa, a sub-regional site that will go down in legend as being one of the best ever.

Eight games today:

2 pm: West Virginia/Duke is the headliner (alone in the 2 p.m. time slot) and I picked WVU.

4 pm: K-State/Wisconsin offers another chance to watch Michael Beasley and K-State's fab frosh. And Purdue/Xavier is a toss-up, based on the 90 Purdue hung in the first round.

6 pm: Kansas/UNLV (the second round is where Kansas fans start to get uneasy about their annual Self-induced choke); Notre Dame/Wazzu is a 4-5 toss-up; Stanford/Marquette: It will be interesting to see what Marquette does with Stanford's size.

9 pm: Pitt/Michigan State will be a slugfest; UCLA/Texas A&M may not mean the Aggies are held to 29 points like the Bruins limited Miss Valley State to, but I see another blowout.

Just as Friday eclipsed Thursday, I am just looking forward to Sunday being far more exciting than Saturday.

-- D.S.

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