2010 NCAA Tournament: Put the Bracket Down and Enjoy the Madness
There are two themes running through the general public and media after the first day of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
"What a great day of basketball," or "Man, my bracket is totally screwed."
Yesterday featured four teams seeded No. 11 or lower coming out victorious, one double-OT game, two other OT games, and six other games decided by five points or less. It may have been the best single day of basketball in the modern era of the tournament.
But in a day where many basketball fans were thrilled, there was also a sea of unrest. All one had to do was log on to Twitter or watch ESPN this morning to hear the moaning of those who had the "misfortune" of taking Georgetown or Notre Dame to the Elite Eight, or only picked nine of 16 games correctly.
For those folks in the media, your job is to report on the proceedings and give your commentary. I don't care about your bracket. I do not need you to try to prove your knowledge of the sport by telling me, "I picked Old Dominion."
Because in the long run, you'll miss as many as you pick right. Remember Mr. Talking Head when you picked UTEP over Butler—how did that work out?
For the general populace, I expect random folks on Twitter to moan and complain, because the average fan has a bracket or 10 entered on various Internet sites or their local office pool.
But why go through the process and torment? I know people who spend multiple hours filling out just one bracket.
Who ends up winning the office pool? The secretary who picked Davidson because that was her maiden name.
Robert Morris was making many people sweat their picks, including President Obama, who picked Villanova to make the Final Four on his bracket. Many folks were probably rooting for Villanova to make a comeback to keep their bracket's chances alive.
A No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed upset has happened just four times in the 64-team bracket era. It hasn't happened since Hampton beat Iowa State in 2001.
Unless you are a Villanova fan, or maybe a fan of another Big East team rooting for Villanova out of conference solidarity, you should have been rooting for the team from the other side of Pennsylvania.
Rooting for the big Goliath schools is like rooting for Drago against Rocky in Rocky IV. These first few days are for the schools who aren't seen on TV every night to have their day in the sun. A Robert Morris win yesterday would have been as good as winning the national championship for most teams.
If you like the big schools, don't worry. Most of the "riff raff" will be gone by Sunday. The last two weekends are almost always the exclusive territory of the power six conference.
I didn't fill out a bracket this year, not even for fun. It's not the first year I haven't filled one out either. Let me tell you, it's a freeing experience.
You can root for every underdog without consequence. I was giggling like a schoolgirl watching Ohio U. run almighty Georgetown off the court.
I will be rooting like crazy for Vermont and Arkansas-Pine Bluff to make history and become the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed. It's not like I have Duke in my Final Four.
Give it a try next year. Enjoy the games for the sake of the games. After the first weekend, if you really can't watch the tournament without a bracket, I'm sure there will be a second-chance Sweet 16 pool you can get into.
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