Somewhere, USF men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum is smiling.
After Conference USA’s UAB, the No. 9-seeded team in the St. Louis bracket, upset the No. 1-seeded Kentucky 76-75 on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, McCullum now can say that the Bulls lost two games to a team in the Sweet 16.
But hey, maybe McCullum isn’t smiling after all. He may be down after seeing his previous team, Western Michigan, a team he built, fall to Vanderbilt in the opening round in Orlando on Friday. Then again, he could still be frowning after USF’s 7-20 season.
And frowning is probably what the majority of the people in the nation (including myself) are doing, seeing their brackets turn to rubbish after the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament provided more upsets than a kid going through years of birthdays waiting for one of those damned Power Wheels only to keep getting sweaters knitted by granny.
Listen up. If your bracket isn’t completely destroyed right now, then I want to talk to you. I want to know who picked it for you. And don’t give me that garbage about picking which mascot would win in a fight, or letting your girlfriend pick it by the prettier colors on the uniform, or finding the person who knows the least about college basketball and letting them fill it out. Even that stuff wouldn’t have worked this year.
If your bracket isn’t done yet, please speak up. I’ll be the first to offer congratulations for outsmarting all the so-called expert analysts, who told me that Illinois-Chicago would upset Kansas in the first round. What the hell were they thinking, and better yet, what the hell was I thinking?
I thought I had it down to a science. I watched more basketball this year than most people, and I had seen almost every team in this year’s tournament play at least one game.
But I was in the gutter after the first day.
Screw Manhattan, even though the Jaspers beat the Gators, which I’m sure most people at this university didn’t mind witnessing. Hell, I don’t particularly like the Gators either, but that loss hurt the bracket.
And where did Nevada come from? Not only did the Wolfpack oust Michigan State, they upset No. 2-seeded Gonzaga to get to the Sweet 16. I had Gonzaga losing to Kentucky in the Elite Eight. So much for the St. Louis region.
Am I the only one that smells something foul in the air coming from Vegas?
I, like a lot of people who love college basketball, went to ESPN.com to play the Tournament Challenge. And after the first two days, I went to the leaderboard because I was curious to see if anyone’s bracket was remotely in the area of being perfect.
And low and behold there was one. This guy, or gal, picked 31 of the 32 opening round games correctly. The only one he/she missed — Utah over Boston College. And this person actually picked Gonzaga to lose to Nevada.
Ah, but the supremacy didn’t last very long. The Atlantic Coast Conference bias, or state of North Carolina bias, bit him/her in the rear end. N.C. State and North Carolina, two of the Final Four teams in that bracket, are both gone, including the Wolfpack, the eventual champion in the bracket.
And that’s how most people are sitting right now. If all four of your projected Final Four teams are still in the tournament, you, my friend, deserve to be a guest expert analyst when the tournament cranks back up Thursday.
I have three remaining, but those three are about the only teams left in my bracket.
So in order to make myself feel better, I’ve now transformed into the official bandwagon fan of the no-chance champions remaining in this year’s tournament. I’m jumping on the train with Nevada, Xavier, Alabama (which I had beating Stanford in the second round) and St. Joe’s, even though they were given a No. 1 seed.
I mean come on, if you picked St. Joe’s to win the national championship then it must have been a practical-joke entry.
The only way I’ll get some satisfaction from my bracket-bust this year will be to see the seeds of the teams in San Antonio in April look like a sure-fire Fantasy Four lottery winner — 10, 6, 1, 4 — or something along those lines.
At least then I’ll have another way to try and win back the money I lost trying to pick the winners in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Contact Oracle Sports Editor Adam Adkins at firstname.lastname@example.org