Hi, may name is Dave and I am a March Madness-aholic.
For the next three weeks I will be consumed by the closest thing we have to the perfect sporting event, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. There are no playoffs that drag on forever (see NBA, NHL), greater chances for upsets because it is one-and-done and not best-of-seven, and compelling drama.
With the recent losses by the Stamford and Trinity Catholic boys basketball, and Trinity hockey teams, I will be taking the next four days off….to sit in my living room and watch college basketball. Almost literally. I might make a run to the gym since there are TVs on the ellipticals, but the chances of someone getting me to go out one night — possibly one night, if it is to a sports bar — during the opening weekend is about the same odds as, say, a No. 14 seed beating a 3.
The NCAA Tournament has cost me one girlfriend, caused my family to rearrange plans and angered many friends.
What can I say….I’m hooked.
While this blog has been almost entirely dedicated to high school sports, we are going to be taking a break for a couple of days, though if there is enough interest I would be more than happy to type away from my couch with some March Madness thoughts.
Until then, here are a few predictions:
Final Four bound: Pittsburgh. The Panthers have all the ingredients to win the national title and will be well-rested after their early exit from the Big East Tournament. The key factor may end up being the officials: if the Panthers get involved in a game called tightly, foul trouble could derail them.
Keep an eye on: UCLA. VCU is a pool favorite after upsetting Duke two years ago, but besides point guard Eric Maynor it is not as strong. The Bruins are erratic but more talented.
Upset special: Portland State. The lowest seeded team I like in the first round, though that is really an anti-Xavier vote.
Final Four bound: North Carolina. This is assuming that the Tar Heels get a healthy Ty Lawson back. He is more valuable to the team than Tyler Hansbrough and keys their up-tempo game. If Lawson is not 100 percent, this region is wide open.
Keep an eye on: Arizona State. The Sun Devils fell apart in the Pac 10 final but have the talent to win a couple of games.
Upset special: Western Kentucky. This is not the same team as a year ago but Illinois is seeded too high and will be missing a key starter.
Final Four bound: Wake Forest. I was going too much with the chalk and had to pick a non-No. 1 seed. Wake has the talent to beat Louisville and anyone else in the field.
Keep an eye on: West Virginia. I like the Mountaineers to get by Kansas in the second round, USC in the regionals and make it to the Elite Eight.
Upset special: USC. If I really had the daring, I am so tempted to take North Dakota State to knock off Kansas. I’ll have to settle for the No. 10 Trojans.
Final Four bound: UConn. I’m not in love with the Huskies, but the tournament committee gave them a yellow brick road to Detroit. I really want to be different here and pick Missouri because with Mike Anderson as coach this is a different team, but the Tigers have a tradition of early exits.
Keep an eye on: Washington. The Huskies were a surprise team in the Pac 10 and, though they are counting on a freshman point guard, could give UConn a tough game in the regionals.
Upset special: Maryland. I have an affinity for No. 10 seeds this year, though the Terps are mercurial.
Final Four: Look for North Carolina to outlast Pitt in a war, while Wake Forest will be too much for UConn as the ACC sweeps the Big East.
National champion: North Carolina. When healthy the Tar Heels are the best team in the country. Their defense is a little suspect, but they have too many pieces to compensate.
Let the games begin!