Many people can claim their NCAA Tournament brackets are trash. I, however, can back that up.
According to the ESPN Tournament Challenge, my second bracket ranks in 5,732,547th place, leaving me in the bottom 3.23 percentile. Sure, I’m not in actual last place, but I’d hate to see the people who are worse off than my second bracket. I likely lead only the likes of People Who Intentionally Picked All the Top Seeds to Lose in the First Round; People Who Died Before Filling Out a Bracket and Therefore Have Zero Points; Monkeys/Chickens or Other Animals Who Select Winners; and Aaron Saylor.
Actually, that last part is not true. Aaron and I are tied for 5,732,547th place, and since neither of us can score any more points, we are doomed at the bottom together.
This marks the first year in recent memory (and perhaps even ever) that I’ve failed to get at least one Final Four team picked correctly in my brackets. I had a bad feeling from the beginning, looking over the tournament field and not seeing any possible way any of the 68 teams had any chance of winning it all. Did I really think Pittsburgh would make the Final Four? Not really, but when you consider the other options, I didn’t see much choice. (I’ve addressed this before, going so far as to dub it The Syracuse Conundrum).
In our ESPN group, those diehard University of Kentucky fans are gathered at the top, their blind faith paying huge dividends when it comes to bragging rights. I’d really like to know how many of them actually believed UK would win and how many just always fill out their brackets with UK advancing (I’m guessing it’s about a 15-85 split). Either way, I doff my hat to them, despite knowing some, if not most, of them were calling for Coach John Calipari to be fired midway through the season.
UK’s run has been quite incredible, with gut-wrenching wins over Princeton, West Virginia, Ohio State and North Carolina, and I definitely hope it continues with a semifinal victory over UConn. UNC and OSU take slots two and three on my list of Most Hated Teams, but there is a monstrous gap between the second spot and the top spot. UConn, of course, holds that spot.
Yes, UK has had a tarnished past when it comes to questionable recruiting practices, and the school has deserved its reputation for being a program to watch when it comes to violations. UConn seems to get a free pass, despite accomplishing a long list of scandals in a relatively short amount of time. Coach Jim Calhoun has created an environment that puts the con in UConn and has made the Hall of Fame while doing so.
My brackets are ruined. There’s only one way to salvage this mess, and that’s for UK to destroy UConn (and, of course, to finish things off against the Butler/Virginia Commonwealth winner).
Can it happen? Yes.
Will it happen? I certainly think so, but really, what do I know – I’m in 5,732,547th place.