So you’re ready for some upsets. You want to ID Cinderella. You want to splash some madness over that bracket.
Define glass slipper.
Mid-major over major? Not anymore. Small school in Final Four? Nope. Lower seed over higher seed? Good luck.
Number one or two seed upset in first game. OK now.
Other than those extremes, there are no upsets anymore. Not when Gonzaga has a No. 1 seed. Not when Pac-12 tourney champ Oregon is a No. 12.
Which is too bad, in one sense. The NCAA tournament as we know it, and love it, was built on the underdog and little guy getting his shot on the big stage, unlike the sport with big burly guys you see in the fall.
But a month without true upsets doesn’t mean no madness. It means a tourney that anyone can win, and the majority have a chance, and any game can go any way.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The best part is, you can be as ornery and wacky with your bracket as you want and it’s not necessarily wrong. Even when it probably is.
For instance, my 2013 attempt:
Homer pick: Creighton over Cincinnati, thanks to Doug McDermott getting loose.
Crazy upset: Mizzou over Louisville, second round.
Less crazy upset: Colorado over Miami, Fla.
12 over a 5: Oregon over Oklahoma State (no upset):
Don’t call them mid-majors: VCU in the Sweet 16, Gonzaga, New Mexico and St. Louis in the Elite Eight.
Must-see first-rounder: Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss, otherwise known as Big Ten vs. Big Mouth. Can the Badgers stuff a sock in Marshall Henderson?
Tables turned: Last year the committee sent Creighton to play in North Carolina’s backyard for the McDermott-Harrison Barnes storyline. This year, Roy Williams and the Tar Heels are sent to KC for a potential matchup with KU. (That’s more observation than pick.)
Clothing line pick: Kansas in the Final Four, thanks to the inspired play lately from big man Perry Ellis.
Annual Final Four intruder pick: St. Louis, out of the Midwest, led by the spirit of Rick Majerus.
Final Four: St. Louis, Kansas, Gonzaga, Indiana.
National championship: Indiana over Gonzaga.
My apologies to Hoosier Nation. I’ve never gotten one of these right.
>> So when will the Big East announce its lineup? Lot of buzz that it will either be this Wednesday (before the NCAA tourney starts) or after the tourney’s over (April 8). And now this: The seven Catholic presidents have apparently hired former Big 12 commish Dan Beebe as a consultant on how to set this up. Which means you can expect Texas to join the league in 2014.
>> A move to the Big East wouldn’t have to mean foreign recruiting posts for CU. It would be the perfect time for Creighton to re-establish recruiting hubs in Chicago and Milwaukee, which used to be very, very good to the Jays.
>> Bo Pelini was right. The NCAA backed off the idea of letting non-coaching staff personnel get involved in recruiting. No player personnel director, no scouts doing the legwork. But the unlimited phone calls and text messages to recruits are still on the table. Those should be eliminated.
>> Did the UNO hockey Mavs underachieve or overachieve? Maybe both. The Mavs had NHL signees to replace and were picked to finish eighth, but actually led the WCHA for a weekend. They teased everyone, then had an inexplicable collapse. I didn’t expect Dean Blais (who’s taken UNO to the NCAA tourney) to contend for a national title by now, but make the WCHA tourney? You bet.
>> I think UNO’s hockey arena will be good for the community. I’m interested in seeing how aggressively UNO markets it and brings in other events to fill dates, and compete with Ralston.
But what’s the revenue potential of college hockey? (Blais has told me he thinks UNO could make $2 million to $3 million a year by keeping its arena revenues.) Should college hockey be the rainmaker for a Division I athletic department? Like most rainmakers, you gotta win.
Hockey does not move the needle in Omaha. And yet, UNO averaged 7,233 fans this year, great for college pucks, and fourth in the league behind North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. A 7,500-seat arena looks just right. Could it be too small? Too big? Blais and Trev Alberts will have something to say about that.
UNO has some loyal fans who aren’t treated to much postseason play. Would Alberts test that loyalty and raise ticket prices in a 7,500-seat barn? Will fans keep coming without regular postseason play, in a sport where the NCAAs are hard to make? Can Blais turn this thing into a champion or deep NCAA threat? This will be an interesting story to follow over the next five years.
>> Tim Miles doesn’t need to be coaching in the CBI right now. He needs to be out recruiting so the letters CBI never enter the conversation again.
>> Mystery team of the year: Iowa Hawkeyes. This young, exciting bunch is a turbo-charged car that goes 80 for 35 minutes and then runs out of gas or loses the map. If they figure out how to close the deal, big days are ahead. Let’s see how Fran McCaffery and crew handle heartbreak.
>> This one’s for the Iowa State readers in our area. No, we haven’t forgotten the Clones. Fred Hoiberg has put together a nice group, and should have a KU pelt on the wall. I like ISU to beat Notre Dame. Don’t like ‘em to beat Ohio State.
>> Did Jim Delany really say (to Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated) that the Big Ten would consider moving to Division III sports (pay for play) if Ed O’Bannon wins his case over the NCAA (giving athletes a cut of revenues)? What’s the old lawyer up to now? I want to see that come up at the next Big Ten meetings.
>> Congrats to Nebraska and Creighton women’s hoops. I like the Huskers to go farther in the tourney. I think they make the Sweet 16.
>> I’m not a jersey guy, but sign me up for a Danny Woodhead San Diego Chargers jersey. Love that move by the Bolts. Welcome to our nightmare, Danny.
>> One more and I’m outta here: I absolutely love the Creighton baseball commercial. Coach Ed Servais looks like somebody just told him he’s moving to the Big East.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1025, email@example.com, twitter.com/tomshatelOWH