In my 13 years here at WBKR, I have acquired quite a reputation for doing very well in the NCAA Tournament pool.  I have won the jackpot a couple of times and am almost always a force in the final weekend of action.  But, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end . . . and my run most certainly has! 

According to Dave Spencer's scoring methods (he's in charge of our office pool), I could have accumulated 64 possible points through the first two major rounds of play.  64!  You wanna know how many I have??  40!!  That's right!  40!  And I am the first to admit that 40 is PATHETIC!!

So, since we have moved onto the Sweet Sixteen, I have decided to throw out my scores and just start from scratch.  Yes!  I have chosen to ignore the past and pretend that last weekend never happened.  Call it "denial" if you want!  I choose denial!  And, I have decided to try and make some sense out of the field that remains and give this whole tournament-pool-2011-thing another go!.  I will now to try to predict what will happen this Thursday and Friday in the regional semis.


Ohio State vs. Kentucky-  Look, the Wildcats are lucky to be here after narrowly escaping Princeton in the first round.  Ohio State, on the other hand, has been clobbering everyone.  While I don't think Kentucky is going to get clobbered, I just don't see them beating what I truly believe is the best team in the field.  Winner-  Ohio State.

Marquette vs. North Carolina-  Charles Barkley has been griping since coverage of the tournament began that the Big East is overrated.  And, given the fact that 11 Big East teams started and just two remain, he may be right!  I highly doubt that anyone thought Marquette would be one of the two still standing.  I certainly didn't.  But, then again, I have scored 40 points in the office pool, so what the h-e-double-hockey sticks do I know?  Here's what I THINK I know . . . Marquette's run ends at the hands of Tyler Zeller and the Tar Heels.   Winner-  North Carolina.


Duke vs. Arizona-  I picked Duke to repeat as the National Champions, and in the first round they looked AWESOME.  Then, they let Barb Birgy's favorite team, Michigan, claw their way back into the game and nearly pull off a huge upset.  So, who knows?  As far as Arizona is concerned, they beat Texas to get to the Sweet Sixteen.  But who didn't beat Texas in the last month?  At the beginning of the season, a win over Texas would have been a huge upset!  Over the weekend, an Arizona win only upset me, because I was trying to hold out faith that Texas would make an unexpected run to the Final Four.  WRONG!!!  Winner-  Duke.

U Conn vs. San Diego State-  U Conn's incredible post-season run continues.  This team has truly come to life.  They rolled through the Big East tournament and clinched that title and now they find themselves in the Sweet Sixteen, where they will meet San Diego State.  The Aztecs have notched their first-ever NCAA Tournament wins and look to keep that momentum going.  This squad is on fire!  But I just have a hunch that U Conn has more forward momentum heading into this game.  Winner-  The U Conn Huskies (but they're going to have to work for it!)


Kansas vs. Richmond-  Well, Richmond has fully established itself as one of the tournament's Cinderella teams.  But the "coach" is about to turn back into the proverbial "pumpkin"!  The glass slipper is turning back into a Payless Shoe Source flip-flop!  Richmond may have beaten Vanderbilt and Cardinal-killer Morehead State, but they are not going to beat the Jayhawks! Anytime I have ever won an NCAA Tournament pool, I have done it with the help of Kansas.  The Jayhawks have made over a dozen appearances in the Final Four and I have a strong hunch they're going to do it again this year!  Winner-  Kansas.

Virginia Commonwealth vs. Florida State-  Well, make no mistake!  VCU belongs in this tournament.  And they have proven their muster with a solid win over Georgetown and the annihilation of Purdue.  Florida State is a 10-seed who posted a solid win over Texas A&M and then knocked the crap out of 2-seed Notre Dame.  This game's going to be a battle between two of the tournament's Cinderella teams.  This game could be a thriller but I give the slight edge to Florida State.  Earlier this season, they snapped Duke's 25-game win streak and handed the Blue Devils one of their only losses of this season.  There's something to said of being capable of a win THAT big.  I think it means they're capable of another win.  Winning a trip to the Elite Eight is THAT big.  Winner-  Florida State.


Butler vs. Wisconsin-  The Butler Bulldogs might as well change their name to the Energizer Bunnies!  This is the team that just will not quit!  Their win against #1 seed Pittsburgh over the weekend was the craziest thing I have ever seen in college hoops.  In fact, most of Butler's wins over the last two seasons have been crazy buzzer beaters!  If you recall, they nearly won the National Championship last year on a CRAZY buzzer beater!  10-seed Florida State is having a crazy tournament too!  First, they upset 7-seed Texas A&M, then just beat the lights out of 2-seed Notre Dame.  So, who's going to win this one?  I honestly don't have a clue!  But a little voice inside my head just keeps whispering, "Don't count Butler out!  Don't bet against Butler."  Winner- Butler (even though on my bloody bracket, I had Wisconsin "badgering" their way in the Final Four).

BYU vs. Florida-  Though many experts criticized the NCAA Selection Committee for naming Billy Donovan's Gators a 2-seed in the t0urnament, the Gators have played like it.  In the last round, they sank their teeth into UCLA and ate them for dinner.  Now, they get to square off with the Cougars of BYU, who are armed with the curly-headed force of fury, Jimmer Fredette.  This kid can play and so can his team of Cougars!   This game's going to be a toss-up!  I refuse to predict a winner, so I am going to ask Jaclyn since she's winning our office pool!  Hold, please . . . well, I just asked her and she said, "I forget what I put.  But who I put is who I think's going to win."  For real?  This is the genius who is winning our office pool?  Well, since she was no help . . . I'll have to go out on a limb.  Winner-  Florida!

So, there you have them.  My not-so-expert picks about who will survive the Sweet Sixteen to see the Elite Eight.  In years past, I would have about a 75% chance of being right on the money, literally and figuratively.  Today, we're looking at a 75 to 85% chance of failure.  OH!  THOSE BLOODY BRACKETS!!

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