It’s that time of year! And with our Fighting Illini back in the mix again, we will be following this year’s NCAA Tourney with the kind of relentless commitment that will make the wife sigh and roll her eyes. Speaking of the wife: she’s agreed to fill out a bracket this year and attempt to get into it a bit. She probably hasn’t watched more than one or two basketball games all year (and then only begrudgingly in the background). She will probably beat me like a drum.
I’ve really kind of given up trying to be all analytical and stat-driven about the tourney. It never seems to work. I also have to admit that I don’t watch as much college hoops as I used to, so my sample’s not as large. I have watched a lot of Big 10 ball, though (ugly as it may be at times), and that’s one of my themes.
We’re all about the the themes. This year it’s ‘B1G is legit’. In past years it’s been ‘B1G is underrated’, etc. I always pick too many from the conference. I always pick against teams with coaches I don’t like. I always pick some crazy upsets (sometimes it works). So this year, I’m embracing these traits and themes.
I don’t have a single Big 10 team losing in the first round, even though Minnesota makes me nervous. I have six teams from the B1G in the Sweet Sixteen. How about some upset specials: I got St. Mary’s (a play-in) over Memphis. I almost picked play-in #2 over K-State (hello, Coach Weber), but not quite. My true upset special is #13 Montana over #4 Syracuse. The Orange are good for a tourney faceplant every few years, and I almost went to school at Montana (if only they would have guaranteed my assistantship…). Besides, they’re called ‘the Grizz.’
Yes, I got five B1G teams in my elite (Go Illini!). And my Final Four: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State, and Louisville. Take that, non-Midwest basketball! But here, I break form a bit. Louisville over Michigan in the championship. Pitino gets another one.
Do I think my picks are all that clever or accurate? Not really – but hey, at least I’m true to my themes. And you can bet that if by some strange chance I end up getting it mostly right, I’ll be back here to crow about it.