Saturday, March 22, 2014

3/22 Mercer Mania Quickie

*Mercer over Duke is a quintessential NCAA Tournament result.

*I tweeted this right after the game: There is nothing quite like the "Duke first-round NCAA Tournament loss." It's a national celebration of schadenfreude, transcending basically everything.

*If I had to rank my most desired outcomes every year in the NCAA Tournament, they rank "My team wins the national title," then -- a close second -- "Whenever Duke loses (ideally right away)."

*My 5-year-old son Jonah, who was watching the game with me, appreciated my enthusiasm over the upset-in-progress and the ending, but really didn't like when I said that I "hate" Duke.

And he's right. "Hate" is not just a bad word to flaunt in front of a kid (who can't grasp the nuances of the word) but inelegant. The reality is that I love seeing them lose.

(Post-script: Astutely, he asked what I would do if HE played for Duke. Would I "hate" them/him? I sheepishly said I would be rooting like crazy for him to win.)

*The glorious Mercer win eclipsed everything else that happened over the First Thursday and Friday. Let's give SF Austin a shout-out for knocking off a VCU team that -- if we're being honest -- choked.

*Looking ahead to today:

(1) Florida BETTER win (FWIW: Pitt has had a LOT of trouble with elite defenses this season)...

(2) Your Everyone-Should-Be-Rooting-For-Them team is North Dakota State, in a very winnable game vs. San Diego State...

(3) My Upset Special (it's on my bracket, so it MUST be right) is UConn over Villanova.

I went 27-5 in the first two days, which is OK (I'm in the 92nd percentile nationally) but certainly not spectacular. More importantly, I lost two Sweet 16 teams: Duke (like almost everyone else) and VCU.

-- D.S.

Friday, March 21, 2014

3/21 Tournament Friday Quickie

*What an entertaining First Thursday -- from Dayton at the very start to Harvard's upset (or "upset") to the slew of terrific endings/chokes last night, a great day.

*Luke Winn nailed it: It's not just enough to have an elite defense -- you have got to be able to score efficiently, too.

So here are the teams that are Top 10 in adjusted D and Top 20 in adjusted O: Florida, Louisville, Wichita State. (UVA is on the cusp, and Arizona, Kansas and Michigan State are Top 40 at least.)

*I was 12 out of 16 yesterday -- same as my 5-year-old, for what it's worth. I missed Harvard, Texas, Saint Louis and Dayton. My 7-year-old was 14/16.

*My favorite stat: 80% of billion-dollar brackets were busted after the very first game of the tournament. (I kind of love that people are focused on the billion-dollar bracket, despite its absurdity.)

*Today's best games: Duke-Mercer right at the top of the day, Oklahoma State-Gonzaga at 4:40, SF Austin vs. VCU in the early-evening and Kansas State-Kentucky in the late-evening set.

Enjoy it.

-- D.S.

Monday, March 17, 2014

3/17 Selection Monday Quickie

A few thoughts about the bracket:

*"Championship or bust" for Florida: It's one of the greatest things in sports -- "title or fail." Those are the stakes for Florida this year. I'm all-in on the Gators winning it all.

*I have never seen a bandwagon as strong as the one carrying Michigan State from the 4-seed (underseeded, to be sure) to the Final Four (and, in the case of ESPN's experts, all the way).

*OK, I'll bite: I have Michigan State upending UVA en route to the Final Four. (However, I am NOT on the Louisville bandwagon -- if they didn't have to play Wichita, I'd be more bullish.)

*Match-ups giving me the most pause: Wisconsin-Creighton and the VCU-UCLA sub-region. And tons of teams that are seemingly clear favorites scare me as probable underperformers.

I think the guts of the bracket -- 64 to 8 -- are as murky to predict as any in recent memory. That's a good thing (if not so great for my chances at picking a bracket successfully).

-- D.S.