[SPORTS] NCAA March Madness Preview 2010

They call it March madness for a reason. Even the guy in your office who cares nothing about sports probably gets excited by hearing those two words. March Madness is the term used as an alternate way of saying the men’s (and apparently women’s) NCAA basketball tournament that takes place in the month of March.

It’s called March madness because people seem to lose their minds during this time period. They call in sick to work (even though they don’t even follow college ball), they clear their schedules of any social engagements that don’t involve watching the games and they stare aimlessly at their tournament bracket(s) when their eyes aren’t glued to the T.V., the first round game between Baylor and Sam Houston State will become the most important sports event of their lives when it’s on T.V. and Whoever they picked to win on their bracket(s) will become their favorite basketball team of all time (for 40 minutes at least).

Clearly, betting on the bracket is the most important part of the tournament (for everyone other than the colleges, the players and the coaches). The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is one of the largest betting periods in sports in the U.S. Do you really think anyone outside of Tennessee would care about Vanderbilt vs. Murray State if there wasn’t money on the line?

I’m not knocking it though. I filled out my bracket (although I limited myself to one this year). And even though I’m a sports writer, I will not look back at this article and see how horrible my picks were. Last year, I did so well in the first round that it made perfect sense that none of my picks (besides champion UNC who I and everyone picked) made it to the final four.

Ok, enough about my gambling debts. How about we talk about the teams now?

The number one seeds are Kansas (32-2), Kentucky (32-2), Syracuse (28-4) and Duke (29-5) and they are clearly the teams to beat as they have been all season. Other teams on the fringe are Purdue, West Virginia, Ohio State and Kansas State. I left off New Mexico because I’m not convinced that they had that hard of a schedule. The best team they beat was BYU (twice) and I’m not even sure that they are all that great either. The Big East had the most members invited to the big dance (8) and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them won it all.

In my bracket, I picked Kansas, Georgetown, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Duke and Villanova to make it to the elite eight. But honestly, who really knows what’s going to happen? That’s what makes this tournament so exciting. There’s bound to be a #12 seed knocking off a #5 seed. Will it be UTEP over Butler, New Mexico State over Michigan State, Cornell over Temple or Utah State over Texas A&M?

Regardless, we’ll all grab a few beers and watch the games with friends (even if they are bar friends that we may or may not know). Just be safe about it and make smart choices. What I’m trying to say is this: friends don’t let friends picked #16 seed upsets.

Your best bet is to at least pick one #1 seed in the final (but never all four), choose a few #12’s over #5’s, pick every #9 over #8 (no matter what), throw in some #11’s over #6’s and stay away from being a homer for your favorite team. That’s why I only picked Syracuse to get to the final four (ha!).

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