"How's your bracket?"
I love the Friday after the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. We're coming off a 16-game marathon -- with another one coming imminently -- and there is more than enough information to know where you stand in the bracket. It's not enough to claim anything but temporary victory, but there's something to go on. I have infinite curiosity to talk about your bracket with you, and it's basically all I ask people. This is because I'm socially inadequate. But it's better than nothing.
My bracket was 11-5. I missed Louisville (like most, but happy to miss it), Mizzou (what was I thinking) and Michigan State (almost worse that they nearly pulled off the 23-point comeback) -- and then I got absolutely destroyed in the Kansas State/Utah State-Wisconsin/Belmont sub-region double-header last night. I'm kicking myself that I bought into the Belmont hype and picked against Wisconsin, a perennially tough Tournament out. (And I also bought into the Utah State hype. Why?)
Comparatively: The National Bracket went 12-4 (with the only true upset pick by the "crowd" -- Michigan State over UCLA -- being wrong). The "Chalk" method of only picking higher seeds would have gotten you to 13-3. If you followed President Obama, you would be 14-2. Not bad, Mr. President. There are like 7 perfect brackets left out of 6 million entries on ESPN.com. If you're one of those 7, we salute you.
As for the games themselves:
*It's hard to add much more to Butler, except to say that as amazing as you thought that play was, it was even better than that, on about a half-dozen different levels. Even if I get it wrong, I'm sort of loving that I took them to the Elite Eight. (Ugh: Quickie Jinx in effect for Saturday.)
*The ending of the Morehead State game was amazing, too, not because of that clutch 3, but because of that incredible defensive play made by Kenneth Faried at the end -- yes, "all ball," but that the ref didn't automatically blow his whistle PRESUMING a foul. The ref was the game's MVP, for letting star players do what they do best -- Morehead State earned that win. Amazing.
*You have to feel terrible for Princeton. It was so winnable. And you have to wonder how Kentucky can do much more than make the Sweet 16.
*The night games were mostly a dud, especially compared to the afternoon set. It was fun to see Michigan State make a run at it (or, alternatively, to see UCLA completely collapse), but maybe if MSU hadn't futzed around in the first half, they would have won the game. This was a fitting ending to a terrible season for the Spartans. They'll be back... yada yada yada... fin. (As for Florida's performance in Tampa, forgetting they were playing a 15-seed, I haven't seen them look that good since the 2007 national title game. Still reflexively waiting for the collapse.)
*I loved the games on separate channels. I thought I wouldn't appreciate the extra-staggered start times in the afternoon, but they were fine. The separate channels were amazing. Controlling your own TV experience during the Tournament is the best.
Looking ahead to Friday: Mmm...chalky.
*12:15 CBS: (4) Texas vs. (13) Oakland.
*12:40 TRU: (8) Michigan vs. (9) Tennessee.
*1:40 TBS: (2) Notre Dame vs. (15) Akron
*2:10 TNT: (8) G. Mason vs. (9) Villanova. Mason!
*2:45 CBS: (5) Arizona vs. (12) Memphis
*3:10 TRU: (1) Duke vs. (16) Hampton. Kyrie Irving!
*4:10 TBS: (7) Texas A&M vs. (10) FSU
*4:40 TNT: (1) Ohio St vs. (16) UTSA
*6:50 TBS: (1) Kansas vs. (16) BU
*7:15 CBS: (2) UNC vs. (15) LIU
*7:20 TNT: (3) Purdue vs. (14) St. Peter's
*7:27 TRU: (6) Xavier vs. (11) Marquette. Toss-up.
*9:20 TBS: (8) UNLV vs. (9) Illinois.
*9:45 CBS: (7) Washington vs. (10) Georgia
*9:50 TNT: (6) G'town vs. (11) VCU. Upset Special.
*9:57 TRU: (3) Syracuse vs. (14) Indiana St.
Not about the Tournament: Jim Tressel's self-imposed 5-game suspension... isn't enough. Not for what he did. Not for using players he knew would be ineligible for an entire season. Not for covering it up -- lying -- to the NCAA. He should be banned for the year, the same year he stole from every team that Ohio State beat last season. I don't understand why OSU fans wouldn't get why Tressel is indelibly tainted and demand the school go after the only coach in America who is a clear upgrade to Tressel: Urban Meyer.
And, finally, a very happy birthday to Mrs. Quickish (nee Mrs. Quickie), whose birthday always falls during March Madness -- and who won me over on our first date when she talked about her appreciation for offensive rebounding as an essential college basketball success metric. She's always got a perfect bracket in my pool.