Finito

Did you watch the game last night?  Whatever your answer, I can’t say I blame you. 
What does that mean, anyway, "can’t say I blame you"? I watched, using it as a good reason to stay up and eat jellybeans, until nine minutes remained in the second
half.  Reminded me of the time my good mutt
Tony was
surprised to find himself sniffing around in tie-up-reach of two German
Shepherds, double-surprised when one took him in its jaws, and surprised yet
again when the beast shook him around like a rag doll and tossed him up in the
air like a UNC jump shot in the first half of last night’s drubbing. T.
scamperlimped away and hid under some neighbor’s deck.  By association, it
comes down to this: I’d have been happier if the Spartans won and I’d have been
more interested if the game was ever close.

The pool
is complete, and the victor is Julie M. with 145 picktelligent points. What
stands out to me the most about JM’s impressive finish is that last year she was 12th; this
year she was 1st.  Guess who was 12th this year? Yours truly. This can only
mean that next year I am due to join the elite company of EWM Tournament Pick’em
Champs.

2009  Julie M.  (1 of 24)
2008  Billie H. (1 of 18)
2007  Jason L.  (1 of 17)
2006  Chuck T.  (1 of 11)
2005  Mike J.   (1 of 7)
2004  Jeff R.   (1 of 7)

Reason #7

Local sports columnist Bud Poliquin shared his “20 Reasons Syracuse Will Make The Sweet 16” in yesterday’s Post-Standard. I’d already picked the Orange to win their first couple of games in this year’s tournament: no surprise, then, that I was nodding along with Poliquin’s twenty reasons.

I paused on No. 7, however:

7.It’s been 1,825 days since SU has won an NCAA Tournament game, which was on March 20, 2004. Or before anybody heard of Hannah Montana, before Alex Rodriguez played a single regular-season contest for the New York Yankees, before that airplane on “Lost” crashed in the South Pacific. That’s a long time.

A long time, indeed. In fact, it’s exactly five years ago, and it’s just about the time (within a couple of weeks, anyway) I committed to SU for a doctoral program of study, just about the time I said “Yes” to Syracuse. A long, long time. Long. Time.

Of course, the latest developments on Lost throw a wrench into this; that Jack et al. are now on the island in 1977 tinkers with time-space decorum ever so slightly, but, alas, it does not change the fact that the Orange have gone 0-for-the-NCAAs since I moved to town.

That will change later today, right?

Hunches

The tournament
pool
is up to a record 20 participants. Over the past five years,
participation has gone from 7 to 7 to 11 to 17 to 18. Now 20. It’s still
your option to

fill out a bracket
through noon tomorrow.

I have listened to the ESPN gurus tell me who they like: #13 Cleveland State
over #4 Wake Forest, #13 Mississippi State over #4 Washington, #11 Utah
State over #6 Marquette. Surprises, upsets, these. In years past, I
let this chatter seep into my thinking about who to pick. Wake Forest was
awful late in the season; Washington…the only thing I know about Washington is
that they wear purple and yellow; and Marquette is down a senior guard. In other
words, these are upset picks that seem reasonable to me, which means they’ll
probably be wrong.

So, I look for other unexpected teams to advance to the Sweet Sixteen because
1.) I have not noticed them and 2.) I am not picking them in my bracket: #10 USC,
#14 American, #11 Temple. These teams are invisible to me. Are they in the
tournament? Seems so. Thus, even though I have not picked them, I have come to
expect that one such team will arrive in the Sweet Sixteen. Why not
American?

I have eight first-round upset picks and two second-round upset picks. My
hunch is that it would be cowardly to have fewer and reckless to have more.