I am a master of constructing the fatally flawed bracket.
A connoisseur, really.
I suppose one could track it back to the five years after Arizona won the national title in 1997 when I truly, truly believed they would win it again. Keep in mind, I’m not particularly fond of Arizona — They, for whatever reason, just had me convinced.
In all things not Red Sox, I’m an eternal optimist. And I’m infatuated with the underdog.
This leads to some very, very bad brackets.
All final four picks very rarely make it out of the first weekend. I’ve once or twice lost my national champion on the first day. THE FIRST DAY!
I get so enamored with finding the Cinderella that most years I wind up writing names like Davidson, UNC Wilmington, North Central East Texas and Western Truck School into my Elite Eight.
That’s a problem.
I’m doing things sensibly this year. Or as sensible as I can be.
My final four actually has a foot in reality – Kansas, Oklahoma, Xavier and Michigan State (with Michigan State eventually winning out). And I picked only three or four real upsets in the first round – none of whom, if I’m wrong, should get any further than the second or third round.
And that’s what’s making me uneasy.
This is the wrong year to be sensible. The parity displayed during the regular season and the lack of a true favorite or favorites leave the landscape wide-open for upheaval.
This is the type of year where a Vanderbilt or a Wichita State goes from play-in to the Final Four. Or where Gonzaga, for as good as it was last year, finally finds a way to put it all together at the right time and rides an unbelievable storybook run to the championship out of the 11 seed.
But that’s the optimism winning out, once again. It’s really the type of year where a Kentucky wins out of the four seed or a UCONN wins out of the nine seed. Teams with proven track records who played inordinately tough competition during the regular season thrive in wide-open tournament fields like what you see this year.
So even when I play the bracket straight, I have a strong feeling that I’m wrong.
Time will tell.
But, then again, it’s not too late to change some picks …