Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bracket Talk

Tomorrow begins the most wonderful weekend of the basketball year. Sure, the whole tournament is fantastic and all, but when basketball starts at noon and goes till midnight for 4 straight days, there's something to be said for that level of excitement. Even more so, this is the weekend where upsets happen, Cinderellas are born, and favorites fall. The games played now prove the theory that on any given day, any team can beat another. We may not see a team like Southern (at 7 sextillion to 1 odds of winning the title) upset Duke, but there will be something that very few people expect. That's what makes the tournament the greatest of any post-season event in any sport. I'll take this weekend over the NFL Playoffs, MLB Playoffs, or whatever else you want to put out there. Sure, this opinion changes slightly as we move closer to the Final Four itself, but that's expected.

Add to all this, everyone fills out a bracket somewhere. How can you not? People get caught up in this excitement and it's the only event that can create this kind of buzz. As a result, you see people cheering for teams they know nothing about, rooting for players they've never heard of, all for the sake of "pride" (loosely translated, pride means money). These early round games are where pools are won and lost. Most people get the later games right because talent usually prevails in the end. But where do you look for these upsets? Here are my thoughts. Note: didn't pick all of these, but this is where I'd look for them to happen.

In the Minneapolis Bracket:
--South Alabama over Florida. Why? Florida blows it in the tourney every year. Why would this be any different? Add to that, they failed in crunch time regularly this year. If the Jaguars keep it close, the Gators fall.
--Montana over Nevada - The classic 12 over 5. And because I know nothing about Nevada outside that one foreign kid with the name I can't spell.
--UW-Milwaukee to the Sweet 16 - They did it last year, why not this year?

In the Washington D.C. Bracket:
--Winthrop over Tennessee. Tennessee is a week 2 seed at best and Winthrop has played and beaten big time competition.
--Murray St. over UNC. A stretch, but Murray St. plays a 40 minutes of hell style of hoop that could give Carolina fits.

In the Oakland Bracket:
--San Diego St. over Indiana and then to the Sweet 16. Indiana has the lame duck coach and stumbled down the stretch. SDSU has an experienced coach and 2 senior starters. As for beating Gonzaga in round 2, look at Gonzaga's recent tourney history. That said...
--Xavier over Gonzaga. But Adam Morrison won't let them lose.
--Oral Roberts over Memphis. No one has Memphis getting out of the Elite 8 for the most part, so why not take a chance here? Win-Win situation. You look like a genius if you're right, but won't screw up your bracket too bad if you aren't. A 16 has never beaten a 1, but Memphis is a weak #1 from a weaker conference. There's a chance...

In the Atlanta Bracket:
--Texas A&M over Cuse. 12 over 5 theory at work again, but A&M didn't play the competition in league that Syracuse did and no team is hotter.
--Northwestern St. over Iowa. Steve Alford tends to fall asleep at the wheel in the tourney and a game like this is just that chance. Northwestern St. gave Oklahoma fits on the road this year, so they know the level to play at.
--Southern Illinois over West Virginia. When WVU isn't hitting threes, they lose. They're best chance to stumble is when a team has time to prepare. But the Salukis won't sneak up on anyone this year, not after the Sweet 16 run they made.

Enjoy the games and work on the excuses for not coming in tomorrow!

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