By Dan Pool, editor
Oh cruel fates. How clear in hindsight our many, many failings, our utter ineptitude to see what should have been so obvious. How could we have stood by, like a slack-jawed gapping fool, while ignoring what was certainly to be?
What was I thinking picking Louisville to win it all again.
Nobody ever repeats as the Final Four Champion -- except Florida, Duke and UCLA a whole bunch of times, but that was back when the players wore really short shorts and had sideburns.
When it comes to March Madness, what a philosopher really meant was, “Does anything in nature despair except man [who picked Providence to upset North Carolina and knows his NCAA basketball bracket is doomed on the first round of the Big Dance]?
Why do we trust our gut feeling and ignore the inexplicable stats showing that teams who dress in blue almost always win the championship? Why did we squander so many hours watching college students play basketball and studying bizarre stats with a false but confident hope that our Final Four bracket might be perfect and bring not only the billion dollars offered by investor Warran Buffet, but also the admiration of our own local college basketball prognosticators when we successfully foretold not only the champion, but the entire final four, nay, nay the entire Elite Eight, because it all looked so clear – before the first game started. Syracuse faced such light competition and yet…
Lost, all is lost and it wasn’t just Louisville (a team coached by someone with an I in their name, which odd stats show is ubiquitous among final four teams).
But lo and behold, we saw so little. So many surprises, so many foolish gambits gone to naught.. Somehow we failed to see that lowly Dayton would rise up and crush us along with Ohio State in the very first game of the tournament – and yes, those of us who pick brackets take it personally.
At no time does an old man feel so foolish as when the facts come to light and he has hung his hopes on a false star. Really? North Dakota State to the Elite Eight? What was I thinking? Sure they were the best shooting team in the field, but my gosh you don’t put a college that has never made SportsCenter that deep into the NCAA tournament.
There are times in life when we all get blindsided, unforeseen tragedy comes out of the dark and torments you. Damn you Mercer Bears, even if you are a home state team, at a 14th seed you don’t knock out the mighty Blue Devils from Duke at #3 seed. You defied not only mathematical logic, but sports history. Sure, everybody hates Duke, but we also count on them to roll up some serious bracket points, before failing in a late round and then, and only then, becoming the object for vilification.
Other times in life those we count on the most let us down utterly. Kansas, I know you had troubles of your own (big injuries) but when we needed you to get by a lowly Stanford team. Where were you? I mourn your loss, but mostly I mourn that others correctly foresaw the Stanford victory.
I will take heart knowing, my own failure joins more than 11 million other faulty brackets at ESPN and up to 15 million more at Buffet’s billion dollar bracket contest without one single perfect bracket – misery does love company and we’ll all be back next season.