For me, the NCAA tournament is the sporting event of the year. Sure, the NFL has the best product in American sports, but the Super Bowl generally ends up an overblown disappointment.
College basketball, on the other hand, stays low-key most of the year, and then explodes in early March with conference tournaments and really culminates with the first weekend, and especially the first two days, of the Big Dance.
Perhaps even more exciting for geeks like me are the three days of filling out brackets between Selection Sunday and the noon games on Thursday.
So this week is key. We see teams that had to win their conference tournaments to make it in. Right now, some of the scary teams from among this group are Siena, VCU and Butler. All of them have tournament experience and have made some noise as underdogs in the past few years.
But sometimes these teams are traps. The "can't-miss underdogs" will almost certainly miss. With that in mind, I'm glad that right now George Mason won't be in the tournament, and Davidson is also an unlikely at-large bid. Recent history would make me want to pick these guys, and that would probably bite me in the butt.
Another one that has me wiping my brow is that Cornell once again won the Ivy League. Now, before last year, Penn or Princeton had been the only winners of the Ancient Eight for like 20 years. For some reason, I was always a sucker for picking them. I think it had something to do with Princeton upsetting UCLA in the mid-90s or Michael Jordan (not that Michael Jordan) leading Penn on a small run several years back.
But the fact of the matter is that the Ivy League champ is usually a whipping post for someone who finished second or third in a major conference. So, if it's Cornell in the tourney, I won't be screwing it up by picking them.
So I'll keep watching. Maybe I'll learn something, but it's more likely that next week I'll be choosing blind just like every amateur and "expert" around the country. In a one-and-done tourney, anything can happen, and those who tell you they know what's going to happen are most certainly wrong.
So let's just sit back and enjoy the ride. The odds are, most of aren't winning our pools. Just have fun watching some good ball anyway.