Bracketologists and the people who win their pools picking by uniform colors can unite this week as the NCAA tournament begins.
I’m with Dickie V on this one: it feels good to know March Madness is coming back after we had to take last year off.
I love the thrill of filling out my bracket, crunching the numbers and going with educated guesses to create something I always convince myself is nearly bulletproof. I love the suspense that comes with watching the games knowing the fate of your bracket depends on a school most people have never heard of losing to your tourney champion pick, which is a roundabout way of saying I still can’t bring myself to trust Virginia.
And when those lower seeds do win, whether it busts my bracket or makes me look like a psychic, I love the underdog story. As someone who dislikes pests and especially hates defenders who slap the floor, nothing in college hoops makes me happier than watching Duke get knocked out of the tournament earlier than most expect. If there’s anything disappointing about this year’s field, it’s that there’s not a clear-cut basketball villain like Duke in there to root against. It’s like pro wrestling in that every great feud is carried by a heel you love to hate.
I don’t even hate when Breanne Williams wins the Observer’s bracket pool picking teams with uniforms she likes, wishing all the while that USF would make the cut one day. I want so badly to let go of my old habits and make my picks based on something that has zero statistical value, but I can’t do it. I’m jealous of anyone who can.
And this year is even better knowing that Plant City will be represented in Indiana with Johni Broome, whose Morehead State Eagles will face West Virginia tomorrow night. I love a good underdog story and I think this could be the next one.
Sometimes all you need is to get hot at the right time, and Morehead getting on a seven-game win streak is exactly that. The last time I had an underdog team called the Eagles in the tournament doing well, it was Florida Gulf Coast putting in work captivating the nation with wins over Georgetown and San Diego State (whom Morehead could also run into in 2021) eight years ago. No shade to WVU, which has one of the best coaches in the sport, but I’m ready for Broome and the Eagles to put the field of 64 on notice starting Friday. I’m just hoping any of the major networks who cover the tourney don’t mention the Eagles’ top scorer and rebounder as hailing from Tampa.
Anyway, here’s my bracket for this year. I have high hopes and low expectations for it. Now don’t get me wrong: I want Morehead to be the next George Mason, but my brain is telling me teams’ experience levels get way more important for advancement the further you get in the tourney. That nagging voice in my head is the reason why I have that run ending in the Sweet Sixteen. I would like for the Eagles to prove me wrong and go further than that. I’m already rooting for them now and I’ll be an even bigger fan no matter how much they bust my above listed Midwest region.