By: Jim Szoke
We don’t actually know that I have the winning bracket, but I believe in being optimistic at the onset of the NCAA Tournament.
As I write this on Friday morning, I am actually off to a strong start with 15 of 16 correct picks.
Of course it helps that there were a limited number of upsets and I happened to get a few right, like, (12) Middle Tennessee State knocking off a Big-10 team for the second consecutive year, while avoiding the tempting pick of (12) UNC-Wilmington which played well but lost a close one to Virginia.
Middle Tennessee State was personal for me as they essentially ruined my brackets last year when they upset (2) Michigan State in the first round when the Blue Raiders were a 15-seed.
It basically ended my tournament right there as I had the Spartans in my title game and set the ball rolling to what was easily my worst year of picks ever.
Out of spite from last year, I have Miami beating MSU today in an 8-9 match-up.
Moving forward, I like (11) Rhode Island to reach the Sweet-16 along (6) SMU and a pair of (5) seeds with Iowa State and Notre Dame.
I also have a pair of (10) seeds winning a game with Wichita State and Marquette.
My Final Four has Duke, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina getting to Phoenix.
In the end Duke beats Kansas, which shows I am picking with my head and not my heart as “Dook” is a bad word in our house with my wife going to UNC and a son to N.C. State.
However, I admire the way the Blue Devils rolled through the ACC Tournament becoming the first team to win four days in a row.
That seems more improbable to me than winning two games a week in this tournament. Health-wise between their players and Coach K, everybody is back.
It now seems like they are more of the pre-season number-one team that people anticipated than the 5th seed of the ACC Tournament as they are playing their best basketball of the season right now with their freshman stars maturing.
Of course, everybody sounds smart now, and by the end of the tournament I will likely be ripping the paper brackets into shreds but looking forward to a few weeks of the best sporting event on the planet!