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Let The Madness Begin

March 15, 2010 - Al Stephenson

It is a special time of year.  The NCAA hoopsfest is about to kick off and companies throughout the country are about to experience a decline in their efficiency.  While workers (the term is used loosely here) are watching scores on their computer or in a bar if possible, 65 teams are hoping for peak efficiency to make their seasons last as long as possible.

It will be compelling theater for the next two weeks as the top teams will try to avoid the upset.  There will be some, there always is.  I'll throw a couple at you before I'm done.

First, let's set the record straight.  For those of you who are lamenting the fact that you're team got screwed by being left out - forget it.  This tournament has never been for the BEST 65 teams in the country.  If that was the case the smaller conferences would not have automatic representatives.  I wouldn't change a whole lot about the selection process though.  You have to have those little Goliath slayers.  It's what makes the upsets so cool.  Unless it is your favorite team that gets beat.

There are three teams that I will be following closely this year and I will tell you why.  The Winthrop Eagles are going to compete in the play-in game, which begs one to wonder why there is a play-in game in the first place, and why is it always played in Dayton?  So why am I interested in Winthrop?  My brother-in-law took a job in Rock Hill, S.C. a couple of years ago.  The last time I visited him he took me for a drive around the campus.  Besides how can you not want to root for a team called Winthrop?  If they win the play-in, they will face Duke.  Not great odds, but oh my what an upset that would be.  Keep in mind that no 16 seed has ever beaten a #1.

I will also closely follow the Ohio Bobcats as they take on Georgetown.  A #9 seed in the MAC tournament, the Bobkitties clawed their way to the crown and the automatic bid.  If they could win two games they could face the Buckeyes in an all-Ohio shootout.  Then again if they had gotten the 15th seed instead of #14 they would play OSU right off the bat.  My daughter graduated from Ohio and was in the pep band for home games.  I saw a few and am a little partial to OU as a result.

Like most Ohioans I am rooting for the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Do they have enough to get to the Final Four?  Absolutely.  Will they get to Indianapolis, the sight of their Big Ten tournament heroics?  Probably not.  It will, however, be fun to see how far they can go.

They have perhaps the best player in the country in Evan Turner.  David Lighty did some special things in the conference tourney as did William Buford.  Having a local player like Jon Diebler to pull for is great.  

The shortage of a bench could spell trouble for the Bucks as could a lack of size.  The biggest obstacle could be having to face the overall #1 seed in Kansas to get to the final four.  We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

There is always a 12-5 upset and this year will be no exception.  Try UTEP against Butler, or Utah State against Texas A & M.  One of those will happen if not both, mark my word.

The view from my seat suggests that it is time to bring it on.  Here's to the buzzer beaters that are bound to happen.

Work can wait.  Let's play basketball boys! 



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