It's that time of year again: Join our 8-years-and-counting ESPN.com Tournament Challenge group. Here's the link (or just search for group name "Quickish." It was a nice run, "Daily Quickie Readers.")
We are into full-on NCAA Tournament mode, with the end to college hoops' regular season for the big conferences and the heart of the small-league tournaments. A few notes:
*UNC beats Duke: I think this probably marks the high point of how overrated UNC is (and how down folks will be on Duke). UNC has no shooters and Duke is badly missing Brian Zoubek, who in hindsight was the MVP of their NCAA Tournament run a year ago.
*Congrats to UNC-Asheville which went into Coastal Carolina and beat the Big South's No. 1 seed to earn the league's NCAA bid.
*Belmont needs a friendly seeding and a decent match-up, but they are looking interesting as a first-round upset pick a week from tonight. (Selection Sunday is a week from tonight.)
*If my "BYU is going to win it all!" from last Monday was the biggest Quickie Jinx of all time, my preseason prediction that Michigan State would win the national title has to be close behind. Yikes. Sorry, Spartans fans.
*I know Pitt is good. I see their resume and find it so impressive. And yet I just can't pick them to win 4 straight in the NCAA Tournament. Maybe this is an example of me over-thinking or being held back by old biases where Pitt has choked on the bracket before.
(Staying in the Big East, I feel the same way about Notre Dame, which had a HUGE win at UConn -- at the end without star Ben Hansborough -- but I just can't see them winning 4 straight.)
*I was nudging toward picking Purdue as a team that could make a run to the Elite Eight... right up until they lost to Iowa. It's going to be hard to forget that one.
(I know, I know: You'd think after a few days with folks who are stats-oriented, I would know better than to use tiny sample sizes and know better than to give in to confirmation bias.)
*Here's how I feel about the teams on the Bubble like Michigan or Clemson or (not really anymore) Virginia Tech or Georgia -- I'm not picking any of them to survive the first round, anyway. (Although if they are in the "First Four" round, as the teams on the very edge of the Bubble will be, I may be picking them to win THAT game -- but, still, probably not -- before losing when the field is cut from 68 to 64.)
Today: Bulls-Heat, which -- given the Heat's struggles against the Magic and Spurs this week -- feels like a must-see for NBA fans.
If the NBA is going to play games overseas, you can do a lot worse than triple-overtime. (You can do much better than Nets and Raptors, however.)
Big milestone: Danica Patrick became the first woman driver to have a Top 5 finish in a Nationwide racing event and her 4th-place finish was the highest-ever for a woman driver in a national race event.
I'm going to try to do a post about the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference for next week, but suffice to say it was a terrific event put on by the MIT MBA students, full of terrific conversations and the chance to see some old friends -- and meet tons of new people (and tons of people I had previously only known through Twitter or reputation).
Enjoy your Sunday!