So, how’s your NCAA basketball tournament bracket looking?

What do you mean, you picked Kentucky to beat St. Peter’s? Are you nuts?

I planned to run this column a couple weeks ago, but had too many local sports stories to run, so this was shelved. I’ll say now, anyone with all of the final four teams playing this weekend might be a hoops genius.

After a few decades of filling out brackets, which included winning $400 in one about 20 or so years ago, I found the best way to enjoy the Big Dance: I didn’t fill out a bracket.

And, without a bracket, there’s a lot less angst and stress, knowing I don’t have to pull for any specific team to win, game by game. Not to mention, it’s embarrassing to have my girlfriend beat me.

I just sit back and enjoy the games, and I saw quite a few of them — the final 5-10 minutes or so of each — the past two weekends.

I saw the Aggies lose. I saw Texas Tech hold on. I watched St. Peter’s beat Murray State.

The St. Peter’s Peacocks? The only mascot less fearful than a peacock, in my mind, would be a hamster — beat Murray State.

And I angered my Michigan State-fan brother by hoping Coach K could beat the Spartans and maybe even win the title in his final season with the Blue Devils. I’m a big fan of Coach K, soon ending his legendary coaching career.

I wasn’t pulling as hard as usual for my regular NCAA favorite, the University of Michigan, having seen quite a few of their games in person while I was in college 11 miles away in Ypsilanti, Mich. Among my top college hoops memories, by the way, were seeing Rudy Tomjanovich play for Michigan, Spencer Haywood for the University of Detroit, and George Gervin — whom I got to interview at The Pit once – play for my alma mater, Eastern Michigan.

I stayed up later than usual on a recent Sunday night to watch Arizona win, which made my buddy AJ Bramlett happy.

In case you don’t know Bramlett, he was with the Wildcats when they won the 1997 NCAA title — after his glory days at La Cueva High School. He works with the New Mexico Activities Association now and proudly watches his kids play the game he loves.

And although it doesn’t seem like it’s been almost 40 years since the 1983 Final Four at The Pit made my “bucket list,” which didn’t exist back then, I can’t imagine a more satisfying Final Four to have attended.

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” NC State coach Jim Valvano later said, as he was dying of cancer.

Two remaining teams will be eliminated today (April 2), and Monday night, we’ll see the championship game.
I’m hoping for Duke-Kansas.

But it’s been stress free, knowing I didn’t have a dog — or a Peacock — in the fight

North Carolina State players and coach Jim Valvano (right) celebrate their 1983 championship, after beating Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” crew. (Herron photo)

This won’t make my bobblehead collection

Last month, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee unveiled an officially licensed Saint Peter’s Peacocks bobblehead. This marks the first Saint Peter’s bobblehead (no kidding) and celebrates those Peacocks, who captured the nation’s attention with their Cinderella run in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

With three consecutive shocking upset victories, the Peacocks became the first 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Elite Eight. The Saint Peter’s bobblehead is being produced by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, an official licensee of Saint Peter’s U.

The bobblehead features the Saint Peter’s Peacock in full strut, standing on a base bearing the Saint Peter’s name with the Saint Peter’s logo on the backing. Each bobblehead will be individually numbered and they are expected to ship in August.

I won’t be buying one.