Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is It Too Late to Pick Middle Tennessee?

The best team I saw in college basketball this season was, hands-down, Miami. Of course, I didn't see them play Wake Forest. Or Florida Gulf Coast.

The President of the United States made out his NCAA tournament bracket and picked Indiana to win it all. He must not've seen the Hoosiers play Minnesota. Or Wisconsin.

The tournament selection committee made Louisville the first overall seed. Then it slotted them in the regional with the toughest two, three and four seeds. This indicates a certain lack of institutional confidence in that body.

Hard to blame them. Handicapping the 2013 NCAA tournament is a stroll through a minefield while blindfolded and drunk. The form chart is what more accurately be termed the lack of form chart. There isn't a team in the event without at least one perfectly hideous loss on its resume, and usually more than one, or some glaring weakness you just know spells bracket-demolishing doom. Worst of all, this applies most of all to the chalk choices.

Kansas? Lost to TCU. Lost by 23 to Baylor. Duke? Megapoint loss to Miami. Losses to Maryland and Virginia. Georgetown? Offensively challenged, to be kind. Louisville. Can't shoot threes. The prosecution/craven forecaster rests, except to note that when commentators say, and I've heard more than one "as many as 20 teams could win this tournament" they're really saying "I think all 68 teams might lose it."

There are two ways to deal with that situation. One is to boldly embrace uncertainty, say to hell with it, and pick a Final Four of, oh, Davidson, San Diego State, Oregon, Creighton and Ole Miss. You'll go oh for four, OK, maybe one for four, but with style.

The other is to remember than even when the percentages suck, they remain the only percentages you have. The average number of one seeds to make the Final Four is like 2.something, so pick either two or three. Picking anything under a three to get there makes the superfecta look like a prudent investment. Hunches are all right, if they're for nothing lower than a four.

As near as I can tell, Ohio State, which has lost its share, has avoided embarrassment while doing so. So give them the West regional.

Being the best team I saw has to mean SOMETHING, doesn't it? Miami for the East regional.

Have to pick at least one top seed. Make it Kansas in the mushmelon soft South.

Boring as it is to pick Louisville, picking either Duke or Michigan State would be even more soul-destroying. So we'll give Rick Pitino another opportunity to stir fond memories in Celtics fans.

And there you have it. A forecast bland enough for Jim Nantz. Safe, sound, sensible and doubtless screwed.


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