Obviously, my bracket is a mess. I had Villanova losing in the 2nd round to UCLA. I had Michigan State losing to West Virginia. I had UNC losing to Syracuse. I had UConn losing to Memphis.
So I have the freedom -- the clarity -- to look at this weekend's games in today's SN column without the baggage of a bracketed rooting interest.
But I still carry my same old baggage: An overreliance on previous performances.
For example: I look at the way Villanova beat Pitt and have no worries that they can survive a date with Tyler Hansbrough -- they survived DeJuan Blair, didn't they? And Nova's guards are skilled enough to control Ty Lawson, right?
Or I look at the way Michigan State imposed itself on Louisville -- my pick as champ and a team that was playing better than any other in the Tournament heading into the Elite Eight. And the Spartans just stifled them. Why couldn't they do the same thing to UConn, arguably not as good of a team as Louisville? How will Thabeet anchor the low post -- the key to UConn's defense AND offense -- if Goran Sutan is pulling him out to the foul line?
These are reasonable arguments, if perhaps discounting the strengths of the overwhelming favorites, UNC and UConn. But it is how I am justifying picking Nova and Michigan State to win. (Quickie jinx in full effect, sadly.)
I love the way Villanova is playing. I love the way Michigan State beat Louisville. I have talked myself into picking them -- just like I talked myself into the rest of my picks this year.
When I do the Tournament post-mortem next week, that over-emphasis on past performance (taken to an extreme, in the case of UCLA) will prove to be my undoing, perhaps with a lesson to be learned for next year.
Complete SN column here, including a bunch on Cutler to the Bears. The Bears paid steeply, but Cutler is a 25-year-old franchise QB. We'll see how he does without Marshall and those WRs.
More later, including an ode to the Fab Five coming at noon ET.