So, how’s your NCAA basketball tournament bracket looking?
What do you mean, you picked Kentucky to beat St. Peter’s? Are you nuts?
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 this month.
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.
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 – over the weekend.
I saw the Aggies lose. I saw Texas Tech hold on. I watched St. Peter’s – really, the 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 wasn’t pulling as hard as usual for my regular NCAA fave, 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 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 NMAA now and proudly watches his kids play the game he loves. (“No. 42 on your program, No. 1 in your heart,” I mumble, when I approach him.)
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.
And St. Peter’s and 15 other teams are saying that as we approach the “Sweet 16’s” start on Thursday.
If I had a bracket, I’d probably only have about 6 or 7 teams still alive anyway.
I’ll watch a few more games this week, hoping Duke, Arizona or those Peacocks can go all the way.
But it’ll be stress free, knowing I don’t have a dog – or a ’Cat – in the fight.