Monday, March 26, 2012

A Meteoric Rise, NCAA Pool-Wise

A meteor strikes“The thing about NCAA brackets is they result in an unhealthy number of people basically praying for several precision meteor strikes.”

So tweeted @absinthetics late yesterday afternoon as the last of the regional finals was playing out to set up next weekend’s Final Four. Kentucky will play Louisville in one semifinal next Saturday, while Ohio State and Kansas will meet in the other with the winners vying for the title on Monday.

I identified strongly with the sentiment expressed in @absinthetics’ tweet. I mentioned last Monday how I’d mostly stumbled through the first two rounds in my pool to find a spot near the bottom of the bunch. However, I did make it through those rounds with a shot at getting six of eight correct in the regional semifinals, and all four of my Final Four teams were still alive as well.

“I’m not sure if I’m mathematically eliminated from winning the whole thing or not,” I wrote. “Gonna guess I probably am, although if somehow I’m not I assume I’ll have to go perfect from here on out.”

As it turned out, I was still alive to win the sucker, although essentially was praying for something along the lines of what @absinthetics was describing. As the games tipped off Thursday night, I mentally noted I was beginning what amounted to a 13-game parlay, needing all six of the Sweet Sixteen games I had a shot at to go my way, then all four of the Elite Eight ones to break correctly, then somehow get the two semis and championship game correct, too.

Damned if I didn’t get lucky and get all six of my Thursday/Friday picks, and then somehow all four over the weekend, too. No shinola. Pretty sure it is the first time I have ever nailed the entire Final Four in one of these things.

Put myself in an uncomfortable spot late Sunday, being a lifelong UNC fan and having picked Kansas over UNC in that last regional final. (“Emotional hedge” was my explanation of that one when asked.) I’m considering my getting that pick correct a consolation prize following a bummer of a season finale for the Heels.

Now I’m tied for the pool lead, and have a shot at winning the sucker, although I will need Kansas to beat Ohio State in the semis for that to happen. Even then I think I’ll come up short if Kansas wins and then beats Louisville for the title. (I have Kentucky beating Kansas in the championship.) There are a bunch of different scenarios to sort out. I think I make the cash (top four) in most of them, but there might be a combination in there that will cause me to bubble.

Am actually near the leaders in Phil Hellmuth’s ESPN pool, too, in which 1,351 entered. However, there I don’t think I have a shot at winning.

Much harder to defend this sort of thing as a “skill game” when compared to poker. No matter how informed the decision-making might have been a couple of weeks ago, too many goofy plays, strange calls by refs, and other weird bounces have determined how it all has gone thus far.

Never mind the fact that like with those meteor strikes, we have no control over how any of this goes.

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