Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bracket Time

TigerBlog looked in the Trenton Times this morning and saw Mark Eckel's column on his NCAA tournament bracket and how he won a 1986 pool that TB apparently ran back in his newspaper days.

If you work in college athletics, there's no way that you don't realize that you can't participate in any kind of gambling on any sport that is sponsored by the NCAA. The messages that bombard you are too numerous for anyone to plead ignorance.

Here in the OAC, we always fill out brackets, though only for fun. There is no money at stake, and the winner gets no prize, not even a lunch from the rest of the office, which, because it has a value assigned to it, would be against the NCAA's rules.

TB just filled out his just-for-fun bracket, and honestly, if he had to do another one right now, only a few minutes later, he doubts he could recreate the one he just finished.

He's willing to go out on a limb and tell you that his Final Four would be Miami, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Louisville.

His championship game is Gonzaga and Georgetown. The winner? Georgetown.

Okay, maybe TB isn't quite being objective here. He's rooting for Georgetown and former Princeton head coach John Thompson to win it all, and so he picked them in his bracket. 

It's always been a uniquely Princetonian thing, by the way, to think of this John Thompson first when thinking of John Thompsons and Georgetown basketball coaches, rather than his father, or at least it was. Now, TB suspects, there is a large portion of the college basketball fan base that doesn't realize that John Thompson's father was the Georgetown coach as well.

Of course, this Georgetown team could make a run at it all. So can a lot of teams. This year seems to be pretty wide open.

Georgetown has a lot of what a team needs to go a long way in the tournament. There are multiple scoring threats, and the Hoyas are a great defensive team. They're not wildly deep, but you don't need to be for a six-game run.

On top of that, they have a star player, Otto Porter Jr., who is the kind of player who could carry a team a long way.

TigerBlog also thinks Gonzaga is pretty good, at least from what he's seen on TV. He's not completely sold on Louisville, the top overall seed, but he hopes that the Cardinals get out of their bracket. If not them, then Michigan State. Or, for that matter, anyone other than Duke.

There are a lot of people who think New Mexico can reach the Final Four, coming out of Gonzaga's bracket as the three seed (the two seed there is Ohio State). Hey, it's possible. Certainly the Lobos have a great record and came out of a league that seemed to be at an all-time high this year.

TB can't say much more than that, having never seen them play this year and being unable to name anyone on their roster.

New Mexico's opener is tonight at 9:40, in Utah. Against Harvard, of all teams.

Harvard is the Ivy League's representative, and as always, TB has the same question for Princeton fans: Are you rooting for Harvard as the league's representative or against them because you've rooted against them all year?

This is always a tough one for TigerBlog.

For instance, he knows the rest of the league has to be sick of seeing the Princeton-UCLA highlights from 1996. But were they rooting for Princeton on that night?

If it's New Mexico 61, Harvard 61 at the under-four media timeout tonight, will you be rooting for the big upset, or are you just physically unable to root for Harvard - or any other Ivy team?

There are some in the "root for our own" camp. There are some in the "no way" camp.

TB would say it's probably 25% for the first and 75% for the second.

Either way, you get your chance tonight to see if the Crimson can win, knock off the three seed as a 14, make the kind of history that Princeton made against UCLA that night.

Today is one of the great days of the year, with wall-to-wall opening round games starting just after noon and going until close to midnight. It repeats itself tomorrow, though TB assumes the ESPNU audience for Princeton-Yale men's lacrosse tomorrow at 5 wipes out the tournament in the ratings.

In all seriousness, there is nothing like the start of the NCAA tournament.

Oh, and what is wrong with calling the last two nights the play-in rounds and then today and tomorrow the first round, like any sane person would?

TB says Georgetown over Gonzaga when it's over.

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