When it comes to the making my bracket picks I am like anyone else. I have my rituals. Like most sports fans in America today I spent most of my free time looking at the brackets and trying to decide which teams to pull off upsets and which ones to take to the Final Four. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 I have pretty much followed the same routine in making my selections I know will show my friends I am the ultimate expert when it comes to college basketball.
My procedures on National Bracket Day include:
- This actually happened Sunday night after the brackets were officially announced on CBS: I go through quickly as I look at the games and go off the cuff at how I see the tournament breaking down.
- The last couple of seasons, I have watched the “Bracket Breakdown” show and began reading my favorite writers and coaches to get their thoughts.
- I take a look at the RPI and also Jeff Sagarin’s College Basketball Ratings. I mentioned Sagarin’s Ratings throughout yesterday’s post. If you look at the RPI compared to Sagarin the way the committee set the field it was closer to the MIT grad’s rankings than what everyone thought the committee uses with the RPI. I take Sagarin’s ratings and make pick’s based on which team is ranked higher. I usually do this during breakfast.
- Mid-morning I will have read my favorite writers and coaches again. I will also study what some of the basketball pontificators I have never seen eye-to-eye with think about the brackets as well. This is when I begin putting together my upsets and bracket busters.
- Around noon, I’ll go to lunch at Arby’s. Always Arby’s because after I eat I will order two jamocha shakes. I will then go to my barber, Bud, and we will discuss the brackets while drinking the shakes and him giving me my annual pre-tournament haircut. He always tells me he’ll give me a bad haircut if I take a certain team to the Final Four or to win it all. I have gotten my haircut by Bud on National Bracket Day for 26 of the last 27 years. I even would drive from Butler down to his shop to get my haircut on Monday after the teams were announced. The only year I didn’t I lived in Northridge, Calif. I was the sports information and marketing director for the Cal State Northridge baseball team.
- After my haircut, I’ll go back home and go into my office. I will look online for the latest news. Yesterday news of Chris Obekpa not playing for St. John’s was huge. I don’t think it changed the Red Storm’s seed, but it does affect whether or not I will have them advancing into the Round of 32. Tonight during the CBS Sports Network Bracket Breakdown show Jon Rothstein reported Cliff Alexander would not be available for No. 2 seed Kansas. More information you have on the teams the better you can make precise picks. These can also be ones that help you with those tough picks of 10 over a seven, nine over eight and, of course, the which 12 seed will knock off the five in this season’s tournament.
- Once I have contemplated the discussion with Bud, read the articles and taken another look at the Sagarin Ratings I finalize what I consider my selections to end National Bracket Day.
I will watch tomorrow’s play-in games between Manhattan and Hampton and Mississippi and Brigham Young. Let’s face it whoever wins the first game between Japers and Pirates is nothing more than a sacrificial lamb Thursday night against overall-top-seed Kentucky.
The second game though the winner between the Rebels and Cougars could make things interesting for Xavier. As I typed last night I think Xavier is in an interesting predicament of playing against the winner of the play-in game. Recently the winner of one those first four games has parlayed it into a very successful first week of the tournament and advance to at least the Sweet 16. There’s talk the winner of Ole’ Miss and BYU could give the Musketeers a significant battle. Several of the pontificators are predicting BYU to win tomorrow and beat Xavier on Thursday.
As much as I am not a Xavier fan because it is Butler’s biggest rival, I want to see them do well because they are in our conference. Despite being ranked as the No. 2 conference throughout the season, the revised Big East Conference has not been shown much respect by the national media when the brackets were announced Sunday night.
Several have Villanova as the first No. 1 seed eliminated – most saying North Carolina State will do the honors on Saturday. Per usual most also are saying Butler will lose to Texas. A majority are taking Eastern Washington over Georgetown some basing it solely on the Hoyas recent lack of success in the tournament. St. John’s is a nine seed expected to not “upset” an eight in San Diego State. Some are even predicting Providence to lose to the winner of Boise State/Dayton or at least Oklahoma in the Round of 32.
Tonight I left my bracket on National Bracket Day with a Final Four of Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia and Duke. My national championship game – Kentucky vs. Duke. As for a winner – I’ll leave that to your imagination.
My upsets by region and round
Midwest – Round of 64: Valparaiso over Maryland; Round of 32: Valparaiso over West Virginia; Wichita State over Kansas. I have Butler beating Texas and I am trying to let history dictate that Round of 32 match-up with Notre Dame and taking the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16. It’s still fuzzy.
West – Round of 64: Oklahoma State over Oregon, Wofford over Arkansas, Ohio State over VCU. Round of 32: I don’t have any. Sweet 16: None. Elite 8: Arizona over Wisconsin
East – Round of 64: UC Irvine over Louisville. Round of 32: Providence over Oklahoma. Sweet 16: None. And you really can’t count Virginia over Villanova in the Elite Eight.
South – Round of 64: SF Austin over Utah, UCLA over SMU, Davidson over Iowa – though as discussed last night not nearly the upset you think it would be based on seeding. Round of 32: SF Austin over Georgetown – the Lumberjacks experience from last season will pay off with this win. Sweet 16: Iowa State over Gonzaga.
This most likely will change again tomorrow as I am able to think more about it at work and then read more articles.
You can be like the one person in your office or friends who has no idea about basketball but does the bracket for the fun of it and because everyone else is doing it. I’d rather listen to Sherlock and do thorough investigating of the teams.
Before I go to bed note of the night: Pete Rose has sent a formal request to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball for reinstatement. As a Reds fan I am not sure why I walk the fence on this subject. I just do. It’s a post for another day, but I am glad to see the wheels turning. It’s been 26 years. Baseball’s All Star Game is in Cincinnati. I believe “Charlie Hustle” has served his sentence.