Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Welcome to my process.
Essentially, I've got two brackets - a smart bracket where I pick some targeted upsets early and then mainly chalk late - and then one where I go for it. The above is the latter. Prior to tip, I'll have clean, large copies of both on the glass table in my living room; for at least the last two decades, I've gone out the morning after selection Sunday and purchased two USA Todays; even now, when all of my research is done online and it may well be the only day of the year I physically buy an issue - I still look forward to taking my scissors to cut out my giant brackets. I'll be working during Thursday's early games, but save for the times when I'm with my lady type friend, you'll be able to find me on my couch, drinking canned diet lemonade (another Jividen tourney tradition) for much of the balance of the tournament.
If you're like me (I'm sorry) you get increasing pleasure out of feeling like yourself; part of its age, part life circumstance, but the experience of being me is increasingly foreign, I'm more estranged from myself today than I can ever recall being. So when I have a "hey, this is how it feels to be me" sensation - like seeing my giant brackets on my glass table, feeling the bitterness of the diet lemonade in my throat - it's comforting. I feel that same comfort on NFL draft weekend (we'll see what happens watching on DVR since I'll have work) and Wrestlemania; all coming right in a cluster over the next few weeks (not to mention Oscars last week and the fantasy baseball drafts, and then Opening Day - it's always a crazy flurry of paperwork at Camp Me) I always look at this time of the year as a bit of a mental homecoming. And I need it in a hard way.
Onto the brackets.
Let's start with the Midwest, it's the bracket in which I have the most confidence; all the way through, the only difference between my fun bracket (again, that's pictured above) and my more scientific bracket is Tennessee/San Diego St in Round One; that's what I think of as a good upset pick for a pool - because the upsets you want to avoid are the ones that cost you multiple rounds - if you take San Diego and they lose - you're only losing in that round, as neither team is getting past Georgetown over the weekend. Everything else is exactly the same, all the way to Kansas going to the final four.
The West is icky. My smart guy bracket, like my fun bracket has Syracuse and Florida St up top - and BYU/Kansas St on the bottom. But the middle of the bracket...the smart guy bracket has Butler and Vandy coming out of Round one; whereas the fun guy bracket has UTEP and Murray St - they both look like super close games to me, way closer than the seeds would indicate; and in a close round one game - why not root for the dogs? The problem is someone's gotta go to the Sweet 16; my fun guy bracket says UTEP - my smart guy bracket has Butler. Either will lose in the next round - as you can see, my fun guy bracket says they'll be losing to Florida St., who I have beating Syracuse in one of my more fun upset picks. And then rounding out the fun - take a look at who I have Florida St losing to in the Elite 8 - it's BYU, who I have beating Xavier in the Sweet 16 after X takes out Pitt. The smart guy bracket has Syracuse and Kansas St in that Elite 8 game (Kansas St to win) and I put K St over Pitt, Pitt over Xavier. I really like BYU, I really don't like Pitt - and that Florida St/Syracuse game is exactly the kind of matchup begging to go for the underdog.
On the other side - Kentucky, Texas, Temple, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia is the same in the first round of both brackets. Washington's in the fun bracket - Marquette in the bidness bracket. And then that leads to the only difference in the next round - New Mexico in the bracket above - Marquette in the smart bracket. The smart bracket's got Kentucky and West Virginia - but I do love me some Wisconsin, they're my East bracket version of BYU - and here's where I contradict the scan I'M CONTRADICTING THE SCAN! - I've got Wisconsin going to the final four (and not West Virginia, even though the bracket indicates otherwise) on the fun bracket - and - West Virginia on the business bracket. No Kentucky! No Kentucky!
Down South - the only first round differences are Texas A&M and ODU in the smart bracket, Utah St and Notre Dame in the fun bracket (I recognize I need to switch ODU and Notre Dame, I will) It's A&M in the sweet sixteen in the smart bracket - Utah St, as you can see, in the fun bracket. Everything else is the same - Duke beating Baylor in the elite 8, Baylor having knocked out Nova.
In every version of every bracket, I've got Kansas beating Duke in the title game.
I'm in a handful of pools - my most common final four includes Wisconsin and BYU. I also like Utah St. And if Florida St beats Syracuse I'll get my dance on. My typical entry looks more fun than smart. 'Cause it's March, and when I'm feeling the most like myself - I pick fun over smart.
That part's totally untrue, no one would ever, at any point in my life, have called me more fun than smart, but I was so hoping to be able to carry that all the way through.
Enjoy the hoops.