March sadness


Sports Editor Mike Smith’s bracket might not look so good this week, but he still has hope for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Photo courtesy sports.yahoo.com

After the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, I have to say, I don’t hate my bracket. Sure, it’s pretty much busted to pieces, but despite all the schools I’ve already had to
cross out, there is some method to my March madness.

Let’s get it out in the open before we start: my picks were not, by any stretch of the imagination, good. In the “Review Championship,” a bracket I joined with several of my coworkers and some elected officials from the communities we cover, I’m currently in eighth place, and there are enough red marks in my Midwest region to make me think

I’m taking algebra all over again.

But all is not lost, at least, not yet. Given the large number of massive upsets that occurred, almost everyone lost a Final Four team or two. I, unfortunately, had Michigan State going to the championship game, only to see them toppled in the first round by that perennial juggernaut of a No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee.

But as bad as my Midwest region was—I picked only three of 12 games correctly—I have to look at the positives. My bracket in the West region, on the other hand, was perfect: a whopping 12-out-of-12 picks right. Small victories like that are enough to keep me going, and make me somewhat confident in my sports knowledge, even if winning the Review pool is all but impossible. I was smart, though. I hedged my bets.

One might look at my second-round loss for No. 2 seed Villanova as a big mistake. After all, Villanova is coming off a generally terrific regular season that even saw the Wildcats nab the top spot in the nation for a couple of weeks. Villanova has played to form in the tournament thus far, dominating UNC Asheville in the opener and crushing No. 7 seed Iowa in the second round.

But Villanova is the team I’ve rooted for since my elementary school days, so I played it safe. If I had them making a run to the Final Four, and then watched the Wildcats flounder in the earlygoings of the tourney—as they have done quite often in recent years—that’s a lose-lose scenario. My bracket would have been in shambles and the one rooting interest I had would have been eliminated.

This way, even though I may not be headed for a win in the office pool, I’ll still get to tune in with something on the line, at least for one more game, as Nova sets to take on Miami in the Sweet 16.

So yeah, my bracket’s a mess. I’m not going to win any money, I’m not going to have any office bragging rights, and honestly, with a showing this bad, I should be forced to vacate my position as sports editor at the Review. But, regardless of my picks, I still have a vested interest in the outcome of this tournament.

Well, at least until the Hurricanes win on Thursday. Then it’s on to baseball season.

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