First of all, go join the Daily Quickie Readers group over at the Tournament Challenge.
The National Bracket already has some statistically significant results: America picks UNC to beat Louisville for the national title, with the Final Four a repeat of last year -- all No. 1 seeds advance.
(The Elite Eight is all 1 and 2 seeds, which you KNOW ain't gonna happen.)
Most contentious N.B. picks: UConn-Memphis, which was predictable... Syracuse-Oklahoma... one other notable result so far: Florida State over Xavier by a 60-40 margin. Surprising, given Xavier's recent proven excellence in the NCAA Tournament -- and FSU's lack of it.
So here's my dilemma: Back in November, I picked Louisville to win the national title. Do I try to maintain epic integrity and pick them to win it all this year?
(I did that last year with UCLA, and fell short -- it wasn't the reason my bracket sucked last year; that was all the OTHER wrong picks.)
Here's the thing: I'm naturally disinclined to pick the No. 1 overall team to win the national title -- certainly not this season.
That said: I like the idea of maintaining my pick from November til now. I just had figured that Louisville would finish the season as a 2- or 3-seed and I'd be making a novel bracket pick, not picking the damn No. 1 overall team in the field.
I'm also nervous about Louisville winning too many close games -- scoring margin should be a big factor in picking winners to go 6 straight. Close games means too much is left up to random chance. (And, as Pitt fans reminded me, L'ville played a much easier schedule than Pitt.)
So: Do I get ANY credit for picking Louisville in the preseason to win the national title if they do go on to win the national title -- but I have picked another team (say, Pitt) to win it all on my actual bracket?
My suspicion is that you all would say: Umm...no. No credit at all. You can't have it both ways. (And you'd be right, as much as I hate to say it.)
And so I'm torn: I actually do think that Louisville COULD win the national title -- I give them as much of a shot as Pitt (and an even better shot than UNC, who I think will fold early this season...again. Of course, Pitt has its own tradition of choking in March.)
But I really do hate taking the paper favorite. It seems so uninspired.
And, more importantly, feels like it will be inevitably wrong.
(Also: I'm absolutely sick to my stomach about UCLA-VCU in the first round -- I very well might have picked both to the Elite Eight... if not further. I still think UCLA has all the ingredients to be a Final Four team...yet again. And I think VCU is good enough to make a 2- or 3-game run. Of course, either will have to play Villanova in Philly -- again, WHY SELECTION COMMITTEE WHY?)
Just filed my column to Sporting News. Hope to have a URL for you shortly.