If I had to guess, I would say I've been involved in March Madness pools for over 20 years. My first taste was a five dollar, informal, pre internet, having to hand check all the scores, bracket with college friends who shared my gambling problem. It was organized by a good friend who nearly had his thumbs broken by a bookie years later when he couldn't pay off his debt. That's not even a joke. I had to loan him the six hundred dollars before bad things were going to happen.
As a rough estimate, let's say I've filled out 23 brackets in my life time.
Not once have I ever had a perfect Final Four. Not once. 0 - 23 in Final Four perfection.
Then comes this past weekend. I enter the weekend in third place.
Then Kentucky wins. One out of four.
Then Ohio State wins. Two out of four
Then Louisville wins. Three out of four.
Oh, yeah.....Come on, Tarheels!!
Sidenote: I would like to apologize to Jum for rooting against his Jayhawks, but four for four (Fo fo fo, as Moses would say) is something I've been shooting for a very long time now. I should also point out that I really wasn't into it. I can't stand Roy Williams. I have nothing against UNC (always enjoyed the Dean Smith era), but I can't even stand the sight of the weasel Williams. I get angry just looking at his stupid mug.
Obviously it didn't happen, but man, I had images of perfection for about 48 hours. It was a tantalizingly brief glimpse of glory.
While we're here, some past highlights from my personal Madness.
- Hitting three out of the Final Four at least five times now. Wait, six with this year
- Correctly guessing 15 of the Sweet 16 teams four jobs ago. Alas, I came in third by the time all was done.
- Winning 700 bucks a few years back when upset after upset nearly destroyed everyone's brackets. It was a win by default and I was so far ahead that the final game didn't even matter. I believe that was the year Syracuse won with Carmelo. I used to like Carmelo back then. Or maybe I just associated him with large sums of money coming my way.
- Setting up my office with three monitors and streaming every game live for the two opening days. I have never been so popular at work.
- The joy of simply playing.
Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of lowlights. One year I was done by the time the Sweet 16 had been decided. Made for a boring last weekend. Another year, I was head to head in the Finals only to have my team lose horribly.
I would say my main goal is to simply have a chance heading into Final Four weekend. I certainly have that this year. I'm still in third place, but the two people ahead of me have North Carolina and Michigan State winning it all. Whoops!
However, there are several Kentucky people lurking close behind me. For the record I have Ohio State (yup, will be rooting against Kansas again, Jum) and Kentucky meeting in the Finals with Ohio State winning it all. I know, Kentucky looks impressive, but there are three things I've learned over the past two decades:
1: Roy Williams is a weasel.
2: Anything is possible in this tournament. Just ask Villanova and Ed Pickney.
3: No matter how talented on paper, John Calipari teams find a way to lose. Then have their Final Four appearances voided by the NCAA due to violations.
Head's up Kentucky fans.
Today's distraction: Some Calipari quotes that show how masterful he is at speaking without really saying anything. Not noted: His calling a New Jersey reporter 'a fucking stupid Mexican' even though that's probably his most honest and entertaining quote ever.