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Plenty of self-loathing to go with busted NCAA brackets

The Michigan State bench watches during the final moments against Middle Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Middle Tennessee shocked the second-seeded Spartans 90-81. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The shame! The ugliness! The folly of man!

A quick scan of the political landscape? No, I’m sifting through the ashes of my brackets.

The carefully reasoned choices, using the best data available. The hunches based on conference-tournament performances. Oh, I was going to dominate the competition. That was certain.

All of it up in smoke by the end of the first weekend.

I had UNC-Wilmington beating Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for a very legitimate reason: I despise Duke and everything it stands for. But that doesn’t explain sticking with UNC-Wilmington to beat Yale in the second round, which is what Mr. Dominate The Competition did. It doesn’t explain choosing a school I just now had to Google in order to find out its nickname. That would be the Seahawks. No, funny guy, I didn’t have to look up where UNC-Wilmington is located.

I had Purdue getting to the Sweet Sixteen because I thought the Boilermakers looked strong in the Big Ten Tournament. No. 12 seed Arkansas-Little Rock beat fifth-seeded Purdue in the first round because, at tip-off, the news that No. 12 seeds always beat No. 5 seeds hadn’t reached the Morrissey residence by Pony Express.

Last week, I wrote a column telling readers that they could do a lot worse than picking Michigan State to win the tournament. I did not pick the Spartans to win it all in my bracket, though. Why didn’t I practice privately what I preached publicly? Even though Michigan State had won the Big Ten Tournament, I had a vague sense that this was a team with one very good player in Denzel Valentine and a dropoff in talent after that.

I did have the Spartans winning the Midwest and losing to North Carolina in the Final Four. Brilliant. Second-seeded Michigan State lost to 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee, making most of the country looking like basketball knuckleheads. There’s a big smear of blood on the lower right side of my brackets. Thanks, Sparty.

More self-loathing: I had Seton Hall beating Gonzaga, Dayton beating Syracuse and Texas beating Northern Iowa. What will it take for me to ever believe in Northern Iowa? An intervention?

I’m writing this late Sunday morning. More pain is coming. Despised Duke is still alive.

I hate me. And seeing as how you surely have done better than I have in the tournament, I don’t much like you either.