Sunday, March 27, 2011

So You're Saying There's a Chance

Last week as the buzzer sounded on Pittsburgh losing to Butler, I resigned myself to my fate. I had been previously bounced from the playoffs in all of my fantasy football leagues and now, just a year after getting it right, I got it oh so wrong, picking Pittsburgh to win the whole thing.

What I did not account for, however, was how truly mad March gets...and in particular, this March. With teams like VCU, Richmond, and Butler advancing to the sweet 16, the potential for more upsets still remained. Going into the sweet 16, I still had three of four final four teams left.

And then, it happened...

Butler Beat Wisconsin, and Florida (and some questionable officiating in the Florida game).

UCONN up ended SDSU (they were jerks anyway) and Arizona.

VCU continued an improbable run with wins over Florida St. and #1 seed Kansas.

And Kentucky took out Ohio St. and UNC, the #1 and #2 seeds, respectively.

With Kansas, Duke, Ohio St., UNC, SDSU, Florida, and Notre Dame all out of it, many people's brackets are busted. I managed to get two teams into the final four...and if anyone but UCONN wins the whole shootin match, then I will win the bracket I put $10 (a $600 reward). 3/4 odds isn't bad at this time of year, but you just never know...but I'm saying there's a chance!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Better Luck Next Year

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Either way it's okay...

One year removed from getting it right, I very clearly and very loudly got it wrong. Like I said last year, there's nothing quite like making a prediction and getting it right, then coming back to pat yourself on the back.

Likewise, when you make a bad prediction, you've got to come back and own up to your poor predictions. So here I am, owning up to it all.

I think my first mistake was that I didn't see Butler getting out of the first round. They'd had a decent season, but nothing to write home about and with Gordon Hayward gone, I didn't see them advancing very far. That, and I have a man-crush on ODU's Blaine Taylor. I love the toughness that his teams play with. I've hoped that he would be in the mix at Utah for its vacancy, but I'm not sure they'll go that direction. So yeah, I didn't take Butler very seriously, and it cost me, big time.

My second mistake was overvaluing Pitt's size, experience, and conference affiliation. They were the best team in the regular season in the Big East, a league that got 11 bids (though only 2 remain, both of which knocked out fellow big east teams to advance to the sweet 16) and looked pretty strong going into the tournament. Little did I know that their big man was actually as soft as Charmine and their defense and decision making was awful. Combine that with Mack (Butler) having a career shooting night and it created the perfect formula for an upset.

As for the calls at the end of the game, I guess as an official you have to make those calls. The first one was a little more egregious than the second in my opinion only because the foul had an impact on the out come. A guy runs down the court and gets bumped out of bounds, I mean you have to call that. Now, a rebound with 1.4...not so much. But, I think the refs felt compelled to make any call they could in that situation simply because they'd done it to Butler just a few minutes earlier so in that regard, Bravo.

I did make some decent upset picks in the first two rounds that came to fruition. Most notably, Florida St. beat both Texas A&M and Notre Dame. Had I still had my champion in the hunt, that would've helped me, as would Arizona's win over Texas, which I don't think many people had. So, I sit here today with 8 Sweet 16 teams, 5 Elite 8 teams, 3 final four teams, and no champion, which means my bracket will likely slip further and further down the standings for this year.

So, who will I be cheering for? My boys from Virgina, of course!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bracket Runs Through It

Eventually, all teams merge into one tournament...and a bracket runs through it.

And so begins the 2011 NCAA Tournament...

Experts have called this year's tournament one of the most wide open they've seen in years...yet many of them have all or most of the number one seeds advancing. Will it happen? Only time will tell.

Last year, I picked Duke, Georgetown, West Va. and Syracuse in my final four and I had Georgetown knocked out on the first night of the tournament when the then 3 seeded Ohio Bobcats absolutely took it to the Hoyas. I thought my bracket was busted, but some savvy Sweet 16 picks kept me getting points and staying on top. One by one, the popular picks fell until Duke was left standing and I was left as the Champ (and with a few dollars in my pocket).

Before I unveil my 2011 bracket picks, I'll share a little bit of strategy that I've both used and that I've taken note of as I've seen the experts picks.

Many of the experts pick what they call "chalk." This basically means that they pick many if not all of the higher seeds to advance in the tournament. The problem with this strategy is that if one or two of the top 4 seeds in each region loses, you might be in trouble. It also doesn't really factor in upsets, which are typically rewarded in many pools. For example, if you pick a 12 seed to beat a 5 (happens almost every year) then you would get the point for the pick and some amount of bonus points for picking the upset. So, it behooves you on some level to pick upsets. Which takes us to my general strategy.

The only way to really keep yourself in it points-wise, is to pick upsets. There is an obvious risk-reward element to picking upsets and if you can hit big, then you can really help yourself out. For example, last year I picked Old Dominion over Notre Dame and St. Marys over Richmond. Both were picks that few others had and really gave me a leg up going into the second round. What you can do and probably should do with upsets however, is hedge your bet a little bit. So, for example, if I have the winner of Clemson/WVU losing to Kentucky, and I think Clemson could beat WVU, then I am going to pick Clemson. Sure, I don't get the point if they lose, but if they win, then I hit it big. You can't do that every time, but I found it to be effective last year and I'm giving it a shot this year again.

And now, the picks:

My Final Four Are:

Noteable Upsets:
Round 1:

12 Clemson over 5 West Virginia
9 Villanova over 8 George Mason
11 Missouri over 6 Cininnati
10 Michigan St. over 7 UCLA
11 Gonzaqga over 6 St. Johns
13 Belmont over 4 Wisconsin
10 Florida St. over 7 Texas A&M
12 Richmond over 5 Vanderbuilt
9 ODU over 8 Butler

At the end of the whole thing, the team that will cut down the nets in Houston is:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcoming Back the Madness!

Outside of the first weekend of college or pro football, for me, this is absolutely the best time of the year.

If you've been reading my blog for a year now, you'll remember that last year I boldy predicted that Duke would win the whole thing, and I got it right!

Last year, I had one of my final four teams bounced on the opening night of the tournament when Georgetown fell to Ohio, but because of my other picks (and obviously getting the NC winner right) I was able to hold on.

This year the bracket is as wide open as ever, and I suspect we'll see a lot of brackets busted before the end of the first weekend.

Stay tuned for my bracket tips, as well as my bracket.

Enjoy the madness!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No...I'm Not Scared....

A little over 10 years ago, I tuned in to a new show on FOX. It was called 'Beyond Beleif, Fact Or Fiction?' I used to love this show. It was hosted by Star Trek the Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes. The former number 1 of the Starship Enterprise was the perfect host. With his deep baritone voice and trusting beard, he made you as the viewer feel as though he was telling the truth when he told the stories featured in the show.

The stories that were told on the show ranged from conspiracy theories, to ghost/paranormal activity stories, out of body experiences and the like. One of my favorites featured a runaway  plane that was apparently piloted by the pilot's deceased father, who died in a plane crash. Another good one was a lady who dreamed about a house she was supposed to buy and when she went to buy it, the owner said "you're the lady that has been haunting my house for the last month."

For me, the show was always kind of a fun show to watch. A modern day Unsolved Mystories or Ripley's Beleive it or Not. It would usually recount 5 stories and at the end tell you whether or not they were true. Some of the classic lines that Frakes would say at the end were: "Is this story true? I'm afraid not!" and "So, is this story based on true events? Or is it just the work of our writers? Not this time!"

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, the show is back on TV in the form of reruns...and every single time I get sucked into it. The problem is, I'm a grown man and should not be scared of stories filmed 10 years ago with really bad acting...but somehow these stupid vignets get to me. I used to shower in the dark when I got up in the, I have to shower with the light on because of one of the shows having a personage show up in a mirror. Ugh! Also, the ghost stories freak me out...I don't want to go in my basement at times. In 10 short years, it has gone from a fun show to something that haunts me.

What the heck happened to me?