dirty-dawg Thoughts

March Madness 2024 - The Secret to Success

By the Cold Hard Truth

Well here I am again - beginning the process of filling out my bracket. Unlike my wife who fills out her bracket in about 5 minutes, my bracket will take hours of research and careful evaluation of all pertinent parameters, and then and only then will I pick all the #1 seeds to advance to the next round.

I like to print out Ken Pomeroy Ratings. Each year I print out the complete list of 362 teams. Teams that make the March Madness field are highlighted in a light red color, and each year when I print this list out, no colors actually appear on the printed copy, rendering it nearly useless. Also,due to printer formatting issues, I occasionally will lose a team at the bottom of each printed page. This annoys me, but I realize that no matter how much data I have, I never win the contest. It just makes me feel better when I look at all this cool data. Also, I look at the Kenpom "Luck" column and I always ask myself,"What does that column really mean?" This year, I see that Oklahoma had a luck ranking of #251. That must explain why the committee left them out of the tournament? However, on the next line up I see Texas A&M and they were ranked #254 and made the tournament - I have no idea? A&M fans suffer from what they refer to as "Battered Aggie Syndrome" "BAS" and always expect the worst, and their opening round game is against Nebraska, the only Power 5 school to never win an NCAA tournament game. It is a good bet to expect Nebraska will win that contest and make history at the expense of the Aggies.

This looks to be an extremely difficult year to pick a winner. I completely missed how good UConn was last year. After losing two players to the NBA, they reloaded and are having an even better year at 31-3. They are #1 in the Kenpom and look poised to make a run at a second consecutive title. What about Houston? They went 30-4 and have the #2 ranked defense in the country. They beat Kansas by 30, but the other night, Iowa State (the #1 defensive team) held the Cougars to 41 points and 27% shooting. How about Purdue? Are they good enough to win it all? They have developed a reputation for losing early, but Zach Edey came back to college to prove something. Is he ready to prove that he can put this team on his shoulders and take them to the Final Four? When I look at the Kenpom rankings, I see 12 teams that could make a legit run to the Final 4. I see another 15 teams that could mess up my bracket, so I know I will never win this. Look at #26 St. John's. They have a real shot - oh that's right - they didn't even make the tournament. But we were lucky enough to watch #73 ranked Virginia embarrass themselves last night against Colorado State. Once again, the Selection Committee got it wrong in my opinion. I would gladly volunteer to help them. I am a self-proclaimed expert who consistently has printer issues and my favorite team lost 19 games in a row to end the season. So what I am saying is this is an impossible task. Even if the committee got it right, there will always be a St. Peters or a San Diego St. or a Florida Atlantic who gets hot at the right time and makes an improbable run. Each time that happens, millions of brackets are tragically destroyed.

Could the real secret to success be just skipping filling out the bracket? It would be less stressful and take less time. However, avoiding a challenge is never the right answer. I commend a team like Indiana St. who was left out of the Dance with a 28-6 record and a #43 ranking. They won their first round NIT game tonight and opted to compete, while teams like St. John's, Oklahoma, Pitt, Memphis, Ole Miss, and Indiana all skipped the NIT because they value themselves more than the enjoyment of playing the game. This is a sad trend for this great sport.

So here we are - the 2024 CBCC is here! You probably won't win it, but it sure will be fun watching all these great games. There will be great stories of leadership. There will be historic moments that we will talk about for years, and eventually there will be a champion. Best of luck to all the CBCC competitors!

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