Monday, March 12, 2007

61. Brackets

Hallmark has Mother's Day. The local florist has Saint Valentine's Day. Retailers have Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) - although the Saturday before Christmas is now the day they move from "Red" to "Black." Copy paper folks have today - the Monday (at work) on the day after the NCAA Pairings have been announced the night before. All across the Republic, and indeed anywhere basketball and/or gambling is a topic of interest - and being in Louisville, Kentucky certainly qualifies - reams and reams of copy paper will be used today to "xerox" the brackets. News stories will run about the number of hours consumed filling in the teams, and water cooler conversations will cover topics like "they're only an '8' seed," or "Rupp Arena is a neutral site?" It's called March Madness. And in Louisville it serves as a prelude to the Kentucky Derby Festival, which starts with Thunder three weeks after the NCAA Final Game is played April 2nd in Atlanta, Georgia.

Below are some very unscientific thoughts on the first round of this year's pairings.

In the East: Eastern Kentucky Colonels against North Carolina. It is bad enough that Louisville is a 6 seed, Kentucky an 8, and WKU didn't make it. Eastern is a 16 seed. Marquette-Michigan State, the first of four 8-9 seeded games, some of the most difficult to pick. Go with Michigan State. Look for an upset between USC and Arkansas. Texas is going far, and New Mexico State is only the first step along the way. Vanderbilt, the team you used to want to play your homecoming against is really a good team. Washington State defeats Oral Roberts. Another tough call is Boston and Texas Tech. We'll go with Boston. Georgetown looked impressive Friday night and Thompson III still has a few wins left this season.

In the West: Look for #1 Kansas to hold onto that title for a while. Kentucky v. Villanova should be Tubby's last win of the season. Villanova has fond memories of Rupp Arena, but not of Kentucky. Virginia Tech may go down in a close one to Illinois. That could set up a match with cross-state rival Southern Illinois, picked for another upset over Holy Cross. Then there is Duke. I'm from Kentucky, so naturally there is a place very deep in my soul which cries out against Duke no matter who they are playing or where or when. Thanks, Christian. I'll go for VCU. Pittsburgh dominates Wright State (I thought they were just Wright?). I'm going against close-to-hometown Indiana, choosing Gonzaga, who fifteen years ago no one had ever heard of. UCLA, as usual, yes.

In the South: Ohio State wins over Central Connecticut. Imagine spelling Connecticut with your band out on a football field. Brigham Young v. Xavier. I'll go with the Catholics over the Mormons. Long Beach State volunteers a win to Tennessee. Who is Albany? That's a new one for me. The plural Cardinals will travel ninety miles to defeat the singular Cardinal, who travelled 2400. Another Texas, A&M, is on its way to several victories. Creighton might not be favored, but I'm foing there over Nevada. As a Louisvillian, I shouldn't be for Memphis, but they should have no problem with the University of North Texas, formerly North Texas State, alma mater of former Kentucky First Lady Phyllis George Brown.

Finally, the Midwest: Florida and its band of thugs will go far. Old Dominion, out of Norfolk, will upset Butler. I wrote a few weeks back about the accident I had on my 18th birthday, the day UK played Butler. So, I cheer against them. Maryland over Davidson then pits them against Old Dominion. Cheers, Cheers for Old Notre Dame! Oregon should defeat the other Miami - but can you really cheer for the Mighty Ducks? Nevada-Las Vegas goes Chicago-style to defeat the Rambling Wreck of Georgia Tech. I remember the first time I heard Wisconsin's fight song. I said "They stole Durrett's fight song!" I had it backwards. I always pull for Wisconsin.

That's the first round. We may or may not revisit this topic. Here are some rhetorical questions. Why is the Midwest's #1 seed Florida, clearly a team in the South. Why is the West's #1 seed Kansas, obviously in the Midwest? Why is the South's #1 seed Ohio State, like Kansas, a midwestern state? North Carolina is arguably in the east if only because it is on the eastern coastline, but we all know it is a southern state.

Finally, if you haven't noticed, none of the preliminaries are being played in Louisville. Someday, when we have an Arena, we'll have a return of the NCAA to our fair city. Someday. And when we do have the Arena, thanks should first go to Steve Magre, Dan Johnson, and J. Bruce Miller. Someday.

1 comment:

Daniel S. said...

Georgetown over Florida in the finals with Pitt and OSU being the two other final four teams in the final four.

I love UK but I don't like the chances of going too far in the tourney.

I have VCU losing to Pitt in the second round.

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Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.