March Madness: Not the Dance I Planned On

Once again, my beautifully constructed bracket was foiled by the ides of March, a.k.a. David and Goliath this time. I thought I had it this time, and I definitely didn’t think I’d not have a single team left standing come the Final Four. For the first time I can remember, I failed (miserably, shamefully, foolishly) to correctly predict even one eventual Final Four team. In doing so, I also ended my personal streak of picking 6 out of the last 7 national champions. Damn Villanova. It wasn’t even George Mason’s fault; I brought this hell upon myself. It wasn’t the first round that did me in. I concede each year that I’m more than likely not going to pick every game correctly, but as long as I get more than 24 games right, that’s OK. I don’t pride myself on picking every game accurately, not quantity but quality. I’d like to think that my basketball knowledge is ample enough to pick out the final four teams and the eventual victor, but this year I looked like a rube. First Round: 23 right, 9 wrong. Only three of my final four remain. Then the second round took the craziness to a different level. Iona? They never made it to the second round, so it was impossible to win in the second round. Kansas, Michigan State? They suffered the same fate as the Iona Gaels. I almost forgot, credit for knocking out Michigan State (one of my Final Four participants) does indeed go to the overachieving Patriots of George Mason. Part of what became my theme for the month, adding insult to injury; Ohio State didn’t live to see the Sweet Sixteen because they were knocked off by Georgetown. Second Round: 9 right. I’m barely above average, still my big three are holding strong. I’m pretty sure it was the Sweet Sixteen that did me in. UCLA, with the ghosts of their 11 previous national championships, John Wooden (in the flesh), and former hippie Bill Walton (also there, regrettably), managed to knock off national Player of the Year Adam Morrison and Gonzaga in a barn-burner. Duke, led by long-range bomber J.J. Redick, was successfully pummeled by LSU (Big Baby and Co.). On the same night as the Gonzaga-UCLA game West Virginia got sniped by Texas at the buzzer, down goes yet another of my Elite Eight teams. Damn it. Third Round: 2 right. Villanova, my national champ, remains out of my ill-fated final four after playing a great game to defeat Boston College. So, by now, my bracket has been shot all to hell. I stare at the sheet of paper, pock-marked with pen scribbles, x-outs, and a few choice phrases, in disgust. One team left out of what I thought to be a bulletproof Final Four. As it turned out either my armor was tin foil or my enemies (LSU, UCLA, Florida and George Mason) were using some new kind of ammo I’ve never before had to deal with. Fourth Round: 0 right. I choked, big time. The only reason I watched the Final Four with any enthusiasm was in hopes that George Mason, an 11-seed (tied for the highest seed to make it to the Final Four, and only the second double-digit seed ever) would defeat Florida and play for the national championship. As they stood prior to Saturday night in Indianapolis, George Mason had pulled off the most improbable tournament run in history. Nobody has ever made it that far coming so unheralded, so unexpected at any point during the season. A Final Four that couldn’t have been more unexpected (only 4 out of the three million people posting brackets on ESPN.com accurately predicted the cast) or unwanted (at least for me). Needless to say, George Mason finally fell to Florida who has managed to run over everyone thus far. In the second semifinal game LSU lost badly to UCLA, who has played disappointingly great just like Florida. I did worse than mediocre. My performance was atrocious, appalling, abominable. I’m so disgusted by my ineptitude I probably won’t be able to stand to watch Monday night’s final game. This damn March Madness has officially driven me crazy. Sign me up for the asylum.