Let the March Madness Begin
Gregory Shamus Getty Images sport
64 teams are in the NCAA bracket as play starts today.
48 teams will be turning in their gear by Monday. I suspect there won’t be a lot of work done unless the NCAA on line video is blocked by your employer. I see where the NCAA site now has a boss button in case you need it. One of the great things about my job is that watching the games is part of the job description. At this desk, watching the games IS considered a productive use of time.
I’m a more or less neutral observer this year. This was a tough year all around where I have rooting or professional interests. Missouri spent the season digging out of the hole created by Frank Haith before he bailed out and went to Tulsa. Better days are ahead at Mizzou Arena. Tiger fans might want to look in on the Hampton-Kentucky game tonight. Hampton’s Quinton Chievous (pictured above) is the son of former Tiger Derrick Chievous. Be sure to look for a band aid somewhere among his tattoos. Tipoff is at 8:40 central time.
My alma mater is Bradley. They haven’t been in the NCAA field since 2006. It was an unpleasant, injury riddled season for the Braves. As Brooklyn Dodger fans used to say… “Wait til Next Year!” Saint Louis University was fun to watch for the last couple of years, but they also had their problems during the 2014-2015 season. Illinois was close, annoyingly close to getting in. One more good game here or there and they nail down an at large bid. Injuries didn’t help there either.
With no major rooting interest, I’ll sit back and enjoy. I’ll watch to see if Duke takes an early tumble again. I expect Kentucky to win the whole thing. I want to see Wichita State and Northern Iowa do well even though I’m a Bradley alum. No mortal enemies in that league like Missouri-Kansas used to be or like Alabama-Auburn football in the SEC.
I’m especially looking forward to a potential Sunday matchup between Wichita State and Kansas. The Shockers present some problems for Kansas. They’re not much different from the team that went to the Final Four two seasons ago or the team that lost a squeaker to Kentucky last year.
Kansas has also had plenty of trouble with Missouri Valley Conference teams in March. Northern Iowa shot the Jayhawks out of the tournament in 2010. SIU came within an inch of getting Kansas in 2007, Bradley sent them home in 2006 and also in 1950 and Wichita State beat ‘em back in the days of Ozell Jones, Cliff Levingston and Antoine Carr in 1981. It says here that this edition of Wichita State continues a great Missouri Valley Conference tradition by sending the Jayhawks back to Lawrence. Of course, former MVC member New Mexico State could spoil Sunday’s party along the Kansas Turnpike on Friday.
My Final Four is Kentucky, Wisconsin, Villanova and Gonzaga. And like almost everyone else, my bracket that looks so solid an hour before the first game will probably be a mess by the end of play on Sunday.