Thursday, March 15, 2007

Let the Games Begin

March Madness...Awesome!
Even more fun when I was a bum

If there is ever a time when being gainfully employed gets in the way of life, it's this time of the year. The first few years after college, steady work was not a constant in my life. That was a bonus during March Madness. I took on the responsibility of getting to the sports bar of choice by 10am and reserving countless seats for my friends to join me for the basketball festivities throughout the day. Usually by noon I would be joined by my life-long friend Steve, who would get out of work early, so not to miss the start of the first game. My girlfriend at the time, who later became Mrs. brilliant blogger, would also get to the bar early, but the time would depend on when the Indiana game began or when the Miller Lite special started.

By mid-afternoon the bar would be packed and the crowd would be cheering for their Alma-Mater, which in Chicago was usually a Big Ten school. Your brilliant blogger would easily spend 12 or 13 hours in that establishment, enjoying every minute of it. After all of that fun and excitement, I would get up the next morning and do it again. There was just as many games on Friday as there were on Thursday.

These days the games are still watched with the same passion, but the environment has changed. Today I will wake up at 7am to the words of my oldest son,"daddy I want to watch SpongeBob!" I will slowly awake, kiss my boy, grab the remote and put on Nickelodeon. Instead of getting ready for a day of booze and ball games, it will be cooking breakfast for my boys and making a strong pot of coffee for myself. The television won't be filled with NCAA pre-game talk on ESPN, but SpongeBob on Nickelodeon and Elmo on Sesame Street.

Don't you worry about me, I will still get my fill of NCAA Hysteria. When tip-off time draws near, my oldest will be placed in front of the computer, left to the safety and security of the Internet. My youngest will be taking a nap, tired or not. I will then place my big ass on the couch and enjoy whatever game CBS Sports decides to air in the Chicago market. My biggest challenge will be when I start work at 3pm. Don't you fret, I have television access and a hold button on the multi-line phone system. Did you know that when I'm not writing brilliant commentary, I answer emergency 9-1-1 calls?

Who will win?
Georgetown, Ohio State, Maryland & UCLA

The first game features Maryland (4) and Davidson (13) and the Terrapins (MD) should easily win this one. A few minutes later Bobby Knight's Texas Tech (10) will take on the Eagles of Boston College (7). The coaching legend is always hard to bet against, especially in the first round. Look for Texas Tech to defeat BC. Knight's Red Raiders are capable of playing spoiler in this tournament. Their second round game should be against Georgetown (2), who I believe will win the whole tournament. However, if there is any team and coach capable of knocking out the Hoyas early, it's Texas Tech and Bobby Knight.

Every tournament since recent memory a 12Th seed has defeated a 5Th seed. This year may feature multiple 5Th seeds going home early. I believe Arkansas (12) will send USC home early (5) as well as Illinois (12) packing the bags of Virginia Tech (5). I will also throw a third game in the mix. Old Dominion (12) will end the historical season of Butler (5).

Another notable game for Thursday viewing is Virginia Commonwealth (11) vs.Duke (6). I expect a great game and a Duke victory, but it appears that I may hold a minority opinion. After discussing the game with many bracket players, including a Durham native and Duke loyalist, it seems that nobody has faith in the Blue Devils. Your brilliant blogger hates betting against coach K, especially in the first round.

The truth is that all the games are worth watching. When the madness begins, all records are out the door and it comes down to who can play the best basketball for 40 minutes. Expect another fantastic three weeks of NCAA hoops. What a wonderful time of the year. I feel like Bill Clinton in a sorority house.

Paulie





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