Christmas In March

Hoops fans received the ultimate gift, their brackets, last night.

As if the three inches of snow falling outside is somehow necessary for the effect, Christmas in March occurred last night for hoops fans here in Wisconsin as the pairings for the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament were announced. Today, copiers and printers in offices all across the country are humming with multiple printouts of the soon-to-be-filled-in bracket sheets. Office pools are materializing, text messages an e-mails are going back and forth among friends and relatives as the proper payoffs for the ultimate basketball one-on-one wager are determined.

The Madness of March is upon us, and with more zeal and enthusiasm in year’s past, and rightly so. This edition of the 2013 NCAAA Tourney boasts a wide-open field that is littered with double-digit loss teams, number 1 seeds that could be 3′s or 4′s and 10-16 seeds that could easily wreak havoc on anyone’s bracket sheet.

Of the four number one seeds, Louisville appears to me to be the strongest, with Miami a close second and then Indiana and Gonzaga falling in line after that. If you believe the BIG10 conference is overrated, then its seven team field may wind up on the wayside earlier than most of the so-called experts would lead you to believe. Certainly that will hold true for Wisconsin, placed in the unenviable position of the 5 seed against SEC Tourney champ Mississippi. Should the Badgers continue their penchant for delivering 5-10 minute scoring droughts in nearly every game they play, Ole Miss will be an easy pick for those that like to take the underdogs early.

Other 5-12 upset specials include Oklahoma State versus PAC 10 Tournament Champ Oregon, another possible ‘dog in Ducks feathers that could deliver a surprise. One would think VCU can handle Akron in the South 5-12 pairing, but in the East region it’s a tough task for UNLV versus Cal, especially considering the venue the Runnin‘ Rebels will have to play in.

By my count there could be 26 teams with double digit losses in this years 68 team field, roughly 38%, a staggering number when more than nine losses would usually mean your team was looking at the NIT or worse in past year’s tournament selections. That’s not the case this year, and that just makes all the office pools and friendly wagers that much more interesting. So get out your dartboards, consult the cleaning people, ask your teenage daughter what she thinks or seek advice from the little old lady in front of you at the supermarket, they’ll all be worth the effort this year.

Anyway you slice it, Christmas has arrived for hoop fans everywhere, the brackets are here. For the record I’ll take the Cardinals of Louisville all the way, they play defense, have two great guards, and a very respectable cheerleading crew.

And For What

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