Saturday, April 06, 2013

Final Four Weekend

Wandered into Final Four weekend, in college basketball.  It's been a fun tournament, Kevin Ware's gruesome legbreak aside.  Took the first four days off, burning a personal day, and spent them largely reading and watching basketball.  Watched more basketball that weekend than I probably had in the previous two seasons combined.  It's one of my favorite sports times of the year.  I've got a thing for single-elimination tournaments, anyway, and for that Thursday and Friday, you've got 32 games, all of which are of moderate importance.

Dig heading out someplace with a million TV's to find a vantage point where you can watch as many as possible all at the same time.

And, of course I play a couple of brackets.  I usually never get close to winning--my pick set is usually decimated by the end of the first weekend of the tournament.  This year was some different--I wandered into the second weekend with 6 out of my 8 Elite 8 teams still active, and all of my Final Four, in the bracket where I picked with my heart.

And by "picked with my heart" I mean I rocked back on my season's worth of basketball expertise, which usually meant catching a Tennessee basketball game once a week or so (valuable, considering they and most of their opponents in the SEC did not make the field of 68), a smattering of a WAC or a PAC-12 games when I was getting home at 11:45 PM from work.  Those, combined with the highlights on SportsCenter were the extent of my knowledge in this or any other season, of late.

I was thinking about that, thinking I'd do just as well to flip a coin for every game.

Well, I put my money where my mouth is, with that thought.

I paid another $5 and loaded up another bracket.  For every contest, I flipped a coin (a nice shiny, relatively new 2012 model honoring Alaska with Denali on the back).  My method was:  Top seed got heads, Low seed tails.  The whole process took maybe nine minutes.

And in all actuality, it didn't pick that laughable a Final Four, at least at the outset.  Those picks:  Duke, Wisconsin, Kansas and Syracuse.  Of course, Wisconsin was upset in the first round by Ole Miss, but 2 of the 4 made it the Elite 8.  And of course, Syracuse made it to the Final Four.

Now, the bracket I picked with my heart, using all that knowledge culled from minutes upon minutes watching basketball?  Like I said, it didn't do badly.  But it was blown up last weekend.  I had picked Miami to win it all, and Marquette ended that dream.  I also had Florida heading to the championship, and Michigan stopped them.  Likewise, I had Ohio State coming out of the Bloody West, a quarter of the bracket where I picked almost nothing right.  Wichita State continued their run there.  The only Final Four participant I picked correctly was Louisville, who, if I pick with my heart, will win it all.  They just seem to be playing the strongest, and most consistently.

The Coin Flip Bracket, however, did something that nobody else in the Money Bracket did.  And that's pick Syracuse to win it all.

Most picked Louisville.

So, it seems I've got a chance to actually win a bracket.  If Wichita State upsets Louisville, and then Syracuse downs Michigan, and goes on to win the thing, I win.

A nice feat, considering that at the moment of this writing, my Coin Flip Bracket sits in dead last, owing to the whimsical nature of its early round picks.  I had Southern picked to beat the 1 seed Gonzaga--something that wasn't nearly so far-fetched when the game was actually played.  For 38 minutes, Southern gave the Zags everything they wanted.  There were also 3 15-seeds picked over their 2 seeds.  Not wise picking, traditionally, though the coin did foresee Gulf Coast upsetting Georgetown.  Likewise, the coin picked Harvard.

Still, there weren't a lot of correct picks in the first or second, or even the third round.  It just happens that, through chance, I find myself rooting for Wichita State and Syracuse, and wanting the Orangemen to win it all.  All so I can take home the princely sum of $185.

Be a good way to start off a vacation.

Anyhoo...heading down to Atlanta for an evening of Cubs & Braves baseball with Shyam.  Have a good weekend, folks....


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