Just as I finish mourning the end of football season, March rolls in and my blood starts pumping again. Yep, it is that wonderful time of year with the college basketball championship, and I love everything about it! I usually treat the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament as a personal holiday, taking off work to watch the first round all day at a local watering hole with my friends. There’s something about watching these potential Cinderella teams fight for the big upset in the first round. Sure, a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed, but a handful of #15 seeds have beaten #2 seeds! But at least one #12 seed beats a #5 seed. It’s crazy, I tell ya!
A few years ago I headed to Vegas to watch the games at a sports book. If you've never been, I highly recommend it! Back in 2003, I headed down to New Orleans for the finals. I saw my beloved Texas Longhorns loose to Syracuse Orangemen. Carmelo Anthony could not miss a shot and we lost 84 to 95. Though we lost, it was a blast and an experience I will never forget.
Typically, I play around three brackets and my picks are personal. I tend to pick teams that I like regardless of the seed. First and foremost, I always pick the Horns because of my alumni allegiance. Now the not so obvious picks. For example, a few of my cousins are KU alums, so the Jayhawks usually make it to my Elite Eight. My roommate from college did her residency at Duke, and so they usually make the cut. Both KU and Duke play great ball, so it’s pretty easy to justify my “personal” predictions. I also like the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Their program has come a long way in the last decade, now being included amongst the country’s elite programs. Moreover, I did some work in Spokane and could not get over how nice everyone is in that town. Other teams are hit and miss. If LSU makes it to the tournament I cheer for them because my husband went there. Better luck next year Tigers. Not even a NIT bid?
A couple of years ago I actually placed in a bracket! Pretty cool when it finally happens, right? Most years, I’m not so lucky, but I still make my predictions every year. One year, I got creative and thought I would draw names out of a hat--almost literally. It was actually a cup, and I was on a Southwest flight. I tore up napkins and wrote the names of all 64 teams in the big dance, and picked 32. My first round winners. The rest of the teams were out, and so I continued to dwindle it down from there. Because you never know what will happen, I thought I might actually have a chance. Well, my bracket was an utter disaster, and I finished in last place out of hundreds of entrants. The upside is that I did win my entry fee back, so the only thing I really lost was my dignity.
Well today(the day after “Selection Sunday”), it is that time to sit down, do some research and get my brackets ready. Some of you may spend countless hours doing your research to help you with your bracket. You may close your eyes and pick each team. Or you may even try the “mascot vs. mascot in reality” method. Either way, I can’t wait for Thursday and maybe this will be my year to win at least one of the brackets. As long as I don’t try the “hat trick” again…
Check out Southwest Airlines Bracket Challenge here. It is free and you have nothing to lose, just a chance to win great prizes. Enjoy!