THINGS THAT MADE ME LOOK REALLY SMART:
1.) The West Region: After two rounds (and the play-in), this is the ONLY region in my bracket that is 100% perfect, including picking Arizona over Texas, which I'm feeling rather smug about. ;)
2.) Picking George Mason over Villanova (sorry Wildcats, but dropping the majority of your last few games was NOT convincing for me)
3.) Picking Richmond over Vanderbilt (The Spiders were hot, Vandy typically doesn't fair very well in the tourney)
4.) Picking VCU over USC, even though it didn't count in my bracket.
5.) My Final Four teams are still alive! As I've learned from past years, this is crucial.
THINGS THAT MAKE ME LOOK LIKE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT: (unsurprisingly, there are WAY more of these...)
1.) The Big East: It looks like I picked the wrong side (aside from UConn, thank goodness) of which teams would win/lose: I had St. John's, West Virginia and Louisville in my Sweet 16, Syracuse and Notre Dame in my Elite Eight, Marquette losing in the first round and Pitt--Well, Pitt is SO special they get their own number.
2.) PITTSBURGH: Okay, here's my deal. I like Pitt. Always have. I respect Jamie Dixon, I think they have tough players, they crash the boards, they're physical and they always play hard--in short, my favorite kind of team. However, from watching them play the last several tournaments, they've never made it past the Sweet 16. Because of that, I didn't WANT to put them past my Sweet 16 this year. But I looked at the bracket and said, "this road is DESIGNED for them to get to the Elite 8. It just is....I REALLY don't want to do this, but I don't see any other way." Yup, should have knocked them out. CURSE YOU PITTSBURGH!
3.) I underestimated both the Jimmer and Butler. I had BYU losing to St. John's and Butler out against Old Dominion. While the BYU choice was pure ignorance, the Butler choice was sheer bitterness. And yes, I AM in fact referring to last year's Final Four. I knew Butler struggled through most of the season and hit their stride toward the end--yet I chose to ignore this key fact. I let my emotions cloud my better judgement--emotions that have less to do with the actual team and more to do with my experience at the Final Four last year.
(Allow me a tangent to explain: when I go to games as a fan of my school, decked out in my MSU gear, I am NOT a trash-talker. I don't ever want people to walk away from me thinking anything negative about MSU fans. That's not to say I don't get fired up and cheer or yell at the refs on occasion if I think there's a bad call, but I keep it to my own team and I DON'T make derogatory comments about other schools or players. On the whole, I've always had positive experiences with most fan bases. The ribbing is always good-natured and at the end of the game everyone goes on their merry way. There are always obnoxious fans at every school, even MSU, but 99% of the time, I don't come away with a negative feeling....except Butler fans. I have been to 3 Final Fours and almost every Big Ten stadium or arena for football or basketball. I have NEVER, EVER experienced the rudeness and classless behavior my friends and I received from Butler fans...and it wasn't one or two. It was most of them. As such, I no longer root for Butler as "the underdog.")
~Does it seem to anyone else there have been a LOT of these first games that have come right down to the wire? I don't remember the last time there were this many close games--say it's parity, say it's mediocrity, who cares!?! The first weekend was AWESOME.
~Does it also seem that the refs across the board are determined "to officiate until the end of games" after the Big East tourney debacle? The Pitt-Butler game, the MSU-UCLA game, Texas-Arizona, Kansas St.-Wisconsin to name a few all had HUGE calls at the end that essentially decided the outcome. I almost feel bad for them--they call something and everyone thinks they should have swallowed their whistles, they don't call something and everyone asks "How can they not call that?!?!" Yikes. REALLY glad I'm not a referee...I'm starting to think they may be under more pressure than the teams.
~I shouldn't admit this, but I was REALLY impressed with the fact that Michigan took Duke right down to the wire. When Duke was up 10 with about 6 or so minutes left, I thought they would FOR SURE put Michigan away with ease...not so! They fought back hard and came so close to a major upset. The Wolverines are a young group and an experience like that is HUGE for next year. Call me crazy, but I think they actually have a shot at winning the Big Ten next season. Yikes!
~I can't help it, but watching senior players hit the bench in tears gets me EVERY TIME. At the end of the day, I'm a huge softie and seeing guys like Curtis Kelly, Jacob Pullen, Kalin Lucas and Mike Davis unable to control their emotions over playing their final game absolutely breaks my heart. After hearing all the negative things about how players don't care, that they only see college as a step to the NBA, etc., it's just so endearing (and awesome) to see how much they REALLY DO care.
And now, your turn--I want to hear about YOUR favorite moments from the weekend!