Monday, March 21, 2005


March Madness

I do not follow basketball at any level. I like to play, but I can't get into it as a spectator. This all changes at this time of year, as my favourite time on the US college calendar, March Madness, goes into high gear.

For the two people out there unfamiliar with the format, 64 teams are entered into the tournament. These are the winners of various conferences and a handful of "at-large" bids. The 64 are broken into 4 regions and seeded 1-16. On the opening 4-day weekend, 48 teams go home in a series of single-elimination games. So, on Thursday and Friday, there were 16 games per day and another 8 per day on Saturday and Sunday. The surviving 16 meet this Saturday and the winners play this Sunday to create the Final Four. These teams meet April 2 and the winners play Monday, April 4 to determine a champion. It's frantic, anything-goes pace guarantees upsets and rewards consistency. It's also awesome TV, as students from the competing schools make the trip to the games and help create a super hot crowd.

Having watched bits and pieces of about 10 games this weekend, I am now officially rooting for Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Any team that plays that hard deserves a little glory. My game of the tournament is split between NC State-Connecticut (a great finish and an underdog upset of the defending champs by State) and Wake Forest-W. Virginia (another upset of a no.2 seed as W. Virginia won in a thrilling double OT). I have yet to see Duke (my favourite team) play, but of the four #1 seeds, they have been least convincing in their wins thus far. North Carolina is whomping so far, having won by 28 and 23 points so far, but they should get a stern test in the Sweet 16 against Villanova. Washington looks OK and, if they get by Louisville, should roll to the Final Four. Illinois looks good, too, but they have Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the 16 and I smell an upset.

My final 8:

Chicago Bracket - Wisconsin-Milwaukee v. Arizona
Albuquerque Bracket - Washington v. Texas Tech
Syracuse - UNC v. NC State (That'll be a ring-a-ding-dong dandy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Austin - Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Back with a final four next Monday. Also coming 2005 Baseball Picks. Don't miss 'em.

Also, for those with a taste for controversy, I'm not done yet with spiritual v. political, same-sex marriage and Brian McLaren/emergent.

It won't be dull.