Monday, March 23, 2009

I Wish I Could Pick The Tourney Like An 8-Year-Old Girl.

I am currently sitting in last place in two bracket pools against friends, family (including my 4-8-year-old niece and nephews) and my wife. Sure, someone has to be in last place, but considering my profession involves me knowing something about sports, let's just say this is lower than I'd like to be placed.

I am confident that I will beat my nephews though because they already lost their Champs in USC and UCLA (apparently my brother and brother-in-law haven't explained that you can't just bet on your favorite team regardless of logic or odds). My niece could be trouble though. She has Louisville and Pitt with me in common, but she has UConn and UNC while I have Memphis and the Zags. She actually picked straight chalk all the way, except UCLA to the Elite 8, upsetting Duke and Nova (I had that pick too, actually).

If Connecticut goes further than Louisville, I will lose to my wife as well and that will probably not go well around my home and with my friends. So seriously, for the good of my marriage, root for Louisville and Gonzaga to beat UConn and Oklahoma. If the scenario from the video game photo above plays out, I am screwed.

I can still win the whole thing as I have six of my Elite Eight alive and all Final Four teams. As a runner, I always counted on my finishing kick to overwhelm people and kinda disregarded the starts of races (all driven by adrenaline anyway). So that's my plan in the tourney...pick some upsets early and then chalk late. Besides Gonzaga. I broke my #1 rule of Tourney Picking (Don't ever pick Gonzaga), and have them beating Carolina and The Blake Griffins.

Speaking of Griffin, is it possible that Donald Sterling had some sort of four year plan to get Al Thornton, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin on the court together?

If there is one thing that this Tourney has taught me so far, it is that the Midwest blows. I had that as my upset-bracket. I had BC beating USC and upsetting Michigan State. I had West Virginia beating Dayton, upsetting Kansas and beating BC to the Elite 8. And what happened? The 10, 11, 12, and 13 seeds all win in the first round, destroying my whole bracket.

And then what did all of those darlings do in the second round to follow up their masterful upset performances of Thursday and Friday? 10-USC played well but lost. 11-Dayton scored 43 points and got crushed. 12-Arizona wound up being the only Pac-10 team to advance to the S16. 13-Cleveland State scored 57 and got crushed. And in the East, the other upset that screwed me, 12-Wisconsin came back and scored 49 points and got crushed in the second round. Thanks a lot jerks. The least you could have done is win one more game and screw everyone else too.

My nominee for the moment of the first two rounds was the at the end of the Missouri-Marquette game on Sunday. In a tie game with 5.5 second left, the star player gets fouled in the act and gets two free throws. But he is injured and cannot shoot, so they get to bring in a shooter from the bench. Before you start shouting that this was a soccer-type cheap move, the injured kid is a 76% shooter, so I don't think it was gamesmanship. So who is the new shooter? A freshman playing for the first time all night. No warm up. No rhythm. The kid knocks down both shots without touching the rim. Ballgame.

Too bad Derek Jeter isn't that cool under pressure (seriously, what's he ever done?). I almost cheered for him last night at the WBC semifinals but when he airmailed an inning-ending throw to first and the Japanese went on to put the game out of reach, Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Brian McCann and basically everyone on the U.S. team but David Wright and J.J. Putz, returned to the list of guys I hate.

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