Friday, March 22, 2013

03/22 (Harvard) Quickie

Harvard: Wow.

The essential tension of the NCAA Tournament is between "Wow, do I want to see an upset!" and "Wow, do I want my bracket to be right!"

Two sides of that yesterday, which I lead today's Morning Win with:

Davidson: How could you not want to see a 14-over-3 upset? Argh! Well, what if you have Marquette to the Elite Eight, like I do? And so I'm resigned to Marquette losing, then jubilant when they break Davidson's heart. It felt horrible, but only until I looked at my bracket.

Harvard: How could you not want to see a 14-over-3 upset? Agreed! Especially if you think New Mexico was going to lose in the next round anyway, like I do? So it is virtually costless for me if the Lobos don't win, relative to the excitement of seeing Harvard pull off one of the most stunning first-round upsets in NCAA Tournament history?*

* - Let's unpack that for a second. First of all, nothing beats a 15-over-2. There have been six of those in history - they are sacrosanct. Next up is the 14-over-3 - there have been 16 of those heading into yesterday. In the column today, I ranked the Top 5 14-over-3s and put Harvard over New Mexico at No. 3, behind '86 Cleveland State over Indiana, which was the climax of "Season on the Brink," and '05's Bucknell over Kansas, because... it was Bucknell over Kansas. So even if you count the 20-some 13-over-4s, that puts Harvard '12 in the Top 20, which ain't bad.

Otherwise, yesterday was notable for Southern hanging with Gonzaga until the finish (which, for a 16-seed, offers about as much March immortality as you can get -- consider that people still remember 16-seed Western Carolina nearly beating 1-seed Purdue in 1996); the two Pac-12 12-seeds KO'ing 5-seeds (a fairly amazing "eff you" to the Selection Committee); and the vicious blowouts, including Syracuse, VCU... and Wichita State just clobbering Pitt.

Today's best? Wisconsin versus Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss is the most intriguing game of the day, at the start of the slate, and UCLA-Minnesota -- by far the most popular upset pick of the first round -- which is the final game of the night and only worth staying up for to see if the wisdom of the crowds (and pundits) is right.

How's your bracket? I went 11-5, and I suspect that most people were right around the 10-/11-/12-win mark. The bigger question is how damaging were your losses? Did you have New Mexico going to the Sweet 16? How about UNLV? The National Bracket went 11-5. President Obama went 10-6. My 4-year-old son, who picked his own bracket this year, went 12-4 to lead the family pool standings.

Enjoy the day and weekend! No Morning Win on over the weekend, so check back here for shallow, quick-hit goodness!

-- D.S.

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