Let the Madness Begin

It’s March — one of my favorite months, for a few reasons. Best holiday (St. Paddy’s day); Spring begins; I’m usually traveling (this year is no exception); and March Madness!

I wanted to post some of my picks, but won’t go through the whole bracket for sake of time.

My final four picks are: North Carolina, Georgetown, Pitt and UCLA
In the final game, I want to see Georgetown & UCLA duke it out, with Hibbert & co. prevailing. I love the thought of matching up Hibbert and Love in the post and letting those two go to battle with a title on the line. (So does this guy) I read a USA Today story about Georgetown, and its leaders Hibbert and Wallace, last week en route to Florida, and thought it captured the spirit of those two men, and their teammates well. I think they’re poised and ready to go deep into the tournament, and surprise a few people on the way.

As a former sports reporter, I like to find the potential story-line matchups, and that’s evident in my picks. In the West bracket, I have UCLA and Duke matching up in the Elite Eight. It’s the Oregon connection — Kevin Love and Kyle Singler. Just doesn’t seem like a basketball season without that match up, whether it was in the Oregon HS state championships or now in the NCAA Tourney. Might be the last season us Oregon basketball fans get to see it, if K-Love does go pro after the season.

Pitt v. UCLA in the Final Four. I know that picking Pitt might be a long shot, having to get out of a bracket ahead of Texas, Memphis and Stanford. UCLA, as long as they stay healthy, should be fine to win the West. When these two teams go head-to-head, the story line will shift to the coaches — the master, Ben Howland, vs. the protege, Jamie Dixon. This story previewed their first coaching matchup, last year in the Sweet 16 (UCLA won, 64-55). The coaches started together at Northern Arizona (my alma mater, go Jacks!), and coached at Pittsburgh together before Howland went west to UCL. How can I not hope for another rematch?
Even though I like Georgetown in the tourney, I’m not exactly sure what I’m cheering for when I say “Go Hoyas!” That is, until I found this guide to NCAA team nicknames. I’ll keep posting links to good stories and thoughts during the tournament. Make sure to do the same in the comments as we go.

Check out my bracket on Facebook and let me know if you agree, or disagree, with any of my picks.

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Let the Madness Begin