For this sports fan, few events offer a prolonged and sustained period of sports enjoyment than the NCAA Men’s Championship Basketball Tournament, affectionately referred to as “March Madness.” As exciting as this annual pilgrimage through the brackets is, we usually find ourselves starting at fearsome foursome of at or near top seeds during the Final Four weekend. Not so in 2011. Salute the infiltration of the Mid-Majors to the Final Four.
This weekend’s games are comprised of the #4 seed Kentucky Wildcats playing the #3 seed Connecticut Huskies (Saturday, 6:09PM EST) and the #11 Virginia Commonwealth Rams playing the #8 Butler Bulldogs. When I watch the tournament every year, after rooting for my local interests, I secondarily have a secret crush on the underdogs. Yeah, I’m telling you that my ultimate wish would be to see four #16 seeds make it to the Final Four and set the bracket right on its ear.
Every year I get another chance to make my picks for the NCAA Tournament, and every year I think my brackets are the best. And then every year (or at least last year) my champion gets knocked out in the 2nd round to a team nobody but my fellow Iowans have even ever heard of.
I’ve used a number of tactics through the years to make my picks. A few of my favorite include flipping a coin, throwing a dart, or picking the meaner mascot. The results are usually the same…by the end of the first weekend I’ve lost half my final four and by the end of the Elite 8 I’m mailing checks to all the bracket managers because (like the Royals on May 1) I’m already mathematically eliminated.
That being said I have experienced a sprinkling of success here and there, most notably in 2008 when I rode my Kansas Jayhawks to a Ruby’s Pub Bracket Challenge victory, ending a lifelong bought of literal madness in March.
Here are my top methods for guaranteeing success when making your picks in your bracket this year…
Where would you rather go on vacation?
This is usually a pretty easy decision unless you’re male and picking between Louisville and Morehead State. I don’t actually know where Morehead State is, but brains full of all the testosterone I’ve lost since I turned 20 will only be thinking one thing, and it won’t have anything to do with Kentucky. Saint Peter’s vs. Purdue falls into this category as well.
This year’s toughest pick using this criteria is the Southeast Region’s #2 vs. #15 game, Florida vs. UC Santa Barbara. Which is a better vacation spot…Gainesville, Florida or Santa Barbara, California? Being allergic to the sun as I am, I would choose neither, which leads us to my second method…
Thank god for high definition television broadcasts; although, the twin peaks behind Bobby Knight’s head would’ve been noticeable even if they were in black and white. This little gem of a picture was seen during the Kansas/Oklahoma State beatdown. After the glorious low-cut Kansas shirt was observed, the first instinct was to take a screenshot, but then you realized 30 FPS was on it, and so you can just sit back and enjoy the view.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be filled with love and happiness, but for two women’s basketball teams, it prompted a good old-fashioned hair pulling, kicking, screaming, girl fight.
Actually, it was just a coincidence that the fight occurred on Valentine’s Day. Nine players total were suspended from Maryland-Eastern Shore and Bethune-Cookman schools. What happened was this: Bethune-Cookman (B-CU) left by 11 points with 16:22 left. B-CU’s Cleniece Roberts reportedly “committed a clean foul on Maryland’s LaKendra Wilkerson. Then the players got tangled.”
Once that happened all bets were off. The benches cleared, and frustrations were let loose with slapping, hitting, kicking and whatever else. Some blood was even shed before security, police, and even the athletic staff tried to pull everyone apart and stop the madness. Despite this, no major injuries occurred.
Both schools issued statements talking “how unfortunate” the whole thing was, and the conference is now working to try and reschedule this game. (Which really should be a sellout after all this).
A multitude of suspensions have come down, so all the girls’ wrists have been sufficiently slapped. I think this just goes to show that girls are just as passionate about sports and winning as the guys are. And good for them! (Well, not the fighting but the passion. Keep the play clean, ladies!)
With no disrespect towards Kemba Walker, the best scoring guard in college basketball’s Q-rating is soaring to “off-the-charts” levels as more and more people gain exposure of Jimmer Fredette’s sweet-shooting ways. Fredette, while leading his BYU Cougars — currently 20-1 thanks the beatdown of San Diego State — is taking the nation by storm, albeit, it’s slow-burning one.
Some of us knew about him before this season, but I digress.
Leading the way for the Cougars against previously-undefeated San Diego State was, of course, Fredette, who scored 43 points, thanks to an efficient 14-24 from the field, including 5-8 from behind the arc. Oh, and he was 10-11 from the free throw line, emphasizing just how good a shooter he really is. If that doesn’t do the trick, perhaps his NCAA-leading 27.4 points per game average will.
Look out below, there, Antonio Ballard, because there’s a Kansas Jayhawk-themed Mack Truck by the name of Marcus Morris — he of the Morris twins — heading directly for your head. Oops, too late. Ballard, like the rest of the Miami of Ohio Redhawks, got absolutely destroyed by Morris and his band of merry Kansas Jayhawks. The beating was so severe, the Miami players believe Kansas is a better team than the Duke Blue Devils.
Granted, with Duke’s freshman sensation Kyrie Irving on the shelf with a foot injury, coupled with how well the Jayhawks have been playing, it’s easy to see why people are taking a shine to Bill Self’s latest edition of Kansas basketball; and as long as the Jayhawks avoid three-point bombs from Ali Farokhmanesh, they should be fine.
Maybe the lowpoint for Louisville on Tuesday night came via Drexel coach Bruiser Flint, who told FoxSports.com’s Jeff Goodman after the game how he motivated his team.
“I told them, ‘We’re not playing against Kentucky,’” Flint said. “‘We can win this game.’”
Granted, as my buddy Jim pointed out (@BigBakedBean), Flint’s comments were probably referencing last season’s Drexel game against Kentucky, the one that resulted in UK’s 2000th win, but nevertheless, and intended or not, it’s still a blast most Louisville fans would rather do without.