As happened to many, my bracket went up in flames way back in the round of 64 when my pick to win the sucker -- Michigan State -- dropped their first game against Middle Tennessee State. Meanwhile on the other side of the bracket I managed to pick two Final Four teams correctly (Villanova and Oklahoma), and thus by necessity have wallowed just a bit in “what if” scenarios as a result.
The pool I’m in has about 60 entries, and of that bunch just two folks picked three of four region winners correctly. Meanwhile getting two of them was above average, as only a little over a third of the entries got that many. In other words, over half got none or one.
Of course, most of us who got two also had Michigan State getting through the Midwest (only one picked Syracuse to do so), and a lot of folks had Kansas topping the East and not UNC (I had Xavier). In truth I needn’t bother too much with wondering “what if” MSU hadn’t faltered as they did, as I would’ve probably still been stuck in the middle of the pack even if they had won a few games.
Having hit with ’Nova and the Sooners is a bit of a tease, though. Like hitting your flush on the river only after the board paired on the turn to give your opponent a full house.
It’s a little like a game in which your team gets down big early, remains behind by 15 with eight minutes to go, then stages a pseudo-comeback to get within a couple of possessions before time runs out. (In contrast to what Syracuse pulled off yesterday when they managed to wipe out a 15-point deficit in less than five minutes against Virginia to grab the lead for the endgame.)
My (virtual) first-round knockout from the pool this year makes me long for the pool I used to enter back in the day, the one for which you picked round-by-round and thus were never out of it -- at least not until the end of the second weekend. (I discuss the scoring and rules for that pool in this post from a few years back.)
Then again, looking at the four remaining teams (UNC, Syracuse, Villanova, and Oklahoma, it’d be hard to say who I’d pick on Saturday and then in the final. One less thing to think about this week!