13 hours later, it's over.
There are two things that make the NCAA Tournament exciting: good games and upsets. Today looked like we were en route for plenty of both early. Three of the first four games came down to the buzzer, with one of them being a massive upset of Louisville. By the end of the first half of games, only Pittsburgh and San Diego State had won in blowouts, and Richmond had joined Morehead State as double-digit seeds making the second round, with Kentucky narrowly avoiding allowing Princeton to become a third.
Then, it all got pretty boring. Chalk ruled the rest of the way. Florida and Connecticut both won by nearly 30 points, Wofford and Belmont fell apart after getting out to promising starts, and it took repeated missed foul shots by UCLA and a never-really-that-close comeback by Utah State to even make any of the evening games a single-digit affair.
Some of the winning performances were fun to watch, from Kemba Walker's near-triple double to Wisconsin's ruthless efficiency, but overall a flat day to start the tournament outside of the first few games.
But at least your bracket is intact, and it's only half over. Another 16 games tomorrow with all the chance in the world for buzzer beaters and upsets. Better teams winning also means there's a better chance of great games going forward.
Staff Pool Standings
- Perryman 12 (180 Possible)
- Griffin 12 (144 Possible)
- Ponting 12 (186 Possible)
- Code 11 (183 Possible)
- Fittz 10 (180 Possible)
- London 9 (175 Possible)
- Starkey 7 (173 Possible)
Everyone but J.P. managed to stay above .500 in first day picks, with three people getting three out of four right. For the most part, not too much damage was done in later rounds, either. Everyone lost either Vanderbilt or Louisville from the Sweet 16, so that evens out, while Liam and Christopher both lost Utah State from the Sweet 16, Brett and Liam lost St. John's from the Elite Eight, and Maurice lost Michigan State from the Elite Eight. Other than that, everything past this weekend is intact.
Oh, except I lost two of my Final Four. On the first day.
Learn from my mistake. Four number ones, or something close, was just too boring of a Final Four to stick with, so I decided to be different and edgy. I thought I'd go for the gusto and put a twelve seed (Utah State) in the Final Four, along with Louisville, instead of sticking with a Kansas team that seems to always let people down in March.
Instead of different and edgy, I got too cute. Cute doesn't win. I certainly don't regret picking Utah State and Louisville to win a game or two, and I would do so again if the tournament started over, but there is no way they were they most likely teams from their respective regions to advance to the Final Four. Trying to pick cool upsets and off-the-beaten semifinal teams is fun, but this is more likely to happen than being right. Heed this example the next time you're trying to find creative reasons to pick the team no one else is instead of just going with the obvious.
Another day coming up tomorrow. Think of a reason to get out of work and come back and root for either more close games or more big upsets (or both).