For the first time in the 20 or so years that I have been filling out a bracket I have all four Final Four teams. I should be proud of that, but all it really means is that I am a chalk-eating weenie. I did the ultimate newbie thing – take the number one seeds and put them all the way through to the end – and it paid off. That makes me feel like a need to shower for a week or so. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll spend the money if my luck keeps holding. It just seems wrong that something so unimaginative and boring would be the right way to go.
So how did I end up as one of those people that I have always made fun of in the past? How did I end up making pitifully lame picks? I’m not sure, really. I tried hard to talk myself out of it in every region (I didn’t try to hard with Memphis – that was the one that seemed surest to me), but I just couldn’t find a way that I could conceivably feel good about their chances of getting beat. That’s really the story of this tournament to me – for the first time ever we have four number one seeds in the Final Four, each one looked like the best team in their group, and each one proved that to be the case with resounding authority (or something approximating that in the case of Kansas). I am particularly intrigued that this gap between the great and the merely good came in a year in which it seemed for a long time like there were an abnormal number of elite teams and that parity was rearing its ugly head in college basketball.
The big question now is what happens next. These teams have all showed how much better than everyone else they are, but will two of them prove to be prove to be significantly better than the other two, and will one blow out the other? I could make my case for at least one blowout in the next round, but the problem is that I could also make a fairly convincing case for all four teams to win it all. This is going to be a great week of turning these games over and over to figure out what will happen.
Don’t worry, you didn’t miss it – I don’t really have a point. I just think that it is interesting how this turned out, and how notably uncompetitive the games were this weekend. The tournament finds a way to be unique and fascinating every year, and this is certainly no exception. I also find it interesting that the selection committee could be so right with the number ones, yet it seems reasonably clear that the number threes were mostly stronger than the number twos – the clarity only went so deep, it seems.
Tomorrow we’ll take our first look at baseball in honor of the real opening day, and then we’ll spend the rest of the week finding ways to analyze next weekend’s games to death.