Friday, March 12, 2010

03/12 Quickie: Bracket Already Busted

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Last March, I set a new low for worst bracket performance of my life -- it was epically bad. Heading into this year, my feeling was: Well, at least things can't get worse!

I find new ways to undercut myself: This year, I have been extremely bullish on Syracuse winning it all -- partly because I can't resist avoiding taking the two big favorites, Kansas and Kentucky. And partly because I really do think Syracuse can win it all.

Then yesterday, they lose their 2nd straight -- but lost Onuaku to a knee injury that will probably not prohibit him from playing in the NCAA Tournament, but certainly combines with the losses to shake my confidence in taking Syracuse all the way. Cripes, I can't catch a break on this.

Nevertheless, I'm totally locked in to college basketball right now -- with three days until Selection Sunday, you probably are, too. Today's SN column starts with my Syracuse debacle, but then gets into some serious nitty-gritty at the periphery of the Bubble.

My favorite part of today's schedule: De facto "play-in" games, in which if a Bubble team wins, they're in, and if they don't, they're out. The classic: San Diego State. But put Illinois in there, too, along with Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

After last night, I think Florida is in (even if they lose to Mississippi State). Memphis is out (and I think St. John's should break the bank to try to lure Memphis coach Josh Pastner to NYC), as is UAB. Arizona State is probably out, too, after losing to Stanford in the godawful Pac-10. (Anyone else totally want to see UCLA run the table and win the league's auto-bid?)

Here is one other thing: I never would have believed that Northwestern could reach 20 wins in a season and not even REMOTELY be in the Bubble discussion. Not even a pity mention. The sorry part is that if they had gotten back even a single win from the four combined losses to Iowa, Indiana and Penn State (twice!), they would definitely be in the discussion.

I have a personal rooting interest today: Lafayette over Lehigh, because Lafayette starts Mike Gruner, who was the point guard on my high school's state-title winning basketball team five years ago (long after I was gone, but a huge source of pride).

I get this sense that even though I'm immersed in college hoops, the lead story of the morning probably should have been Tiger reportedly returning to golf for the Masters, which will be the most-watched tournament (and biggest s#!t show) in the history of golf.

Plus: If I get any say in the matter, can LaDainian Tomlinson come to New York?

Finally: I am actually bummed that Gilbert Arenas is changing his number from 0 to 6. "0" came to define Arenas as much as any number has ever defined a player. It was his brand. That things are so bad that he has to abandon that is sad. And even if he IS going to change his number, why change it to the number that LEBRON is changing his number to? Agent Zero: Stick with Zero.

Complete SN column here -- it will get you up to speed on everything college hoops, and more. More later.

-- D.S.

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