Here on the Island of Seth Curry Saves Duke!, our palm trees are swaying lightly, blown by the first winds of a wonderful month-long hurricane that's mere days from wreaking glorious havoc across our beaches and forests. There's a heavy, overcast feeling to the air, and the birds have notably stopped chirping. Children venture to the water line, only to be summoned back to their homes by shrill cries from anxious mothers. The fishermen survey the horizon, and decide that tomorrow morning, they won't be venturing into the deep. They drag their boats onto land, safe from the capricious sea. The jungle cats are growling in their caves.
IT'S MADNESS, CITIZENS! The winds will keep blowing throughout the day, and the heavy rains and thunder will pick up tomorrow with the Big East quarterfinals. Then, on Friday, all hell breaks loose as every major conference holds important games starting at noon. It continues throughout the weekend, right up to the selection show, and then there's nonstop buzz leading up to Thursday and the start of the four greatest days in sports.
I'm going to sort of loosely track my picks here as I reveal them over the next couple days. Yesterday, I got 2 of the 4 Big East opening round games right. St. John's shocked everyone by beating UConn, and my Rutgers over Cincy pick didn't quite pan out; the Bearcats scored a narrow 1-point victory. And how about that Seton Hall-Providence game? 109-106? Damn.
The second round should be reasonably fun, with Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, and Notre Dame trying to avoid upsets in their first game. But tomorrow will be a real blast. Those four teams, plus Syracuse, Villanova, Pitt, and West Virginia will be squaring off in a wild quarterfinal round. What a conference.
Moving on, here's my predicted bracket for the Big 12 tourney.
As you can see, I have Kansas going down to A&M in the semi-finals. I almost picked them to lose to Colorado, but held off at the last second. The reasoning behind this is historical precedent. At least one very good team goes down early in the conference tournament every year, almost to the point that you suspect their coach doesn't really want to win, and would rather rest for the big dance. Last year, UNC fell to FSU by three, and then looked unbeatable on a national title run. If that game really mattered, would they have lost to the Noles? Doubtful. Kansas also lost to Baylor last year, although they went on to lose to eventual finalists Michigan State in the sweet 16.
Anyway, I think Kansas is due for a loss, and I think A&M or Colorado will provide it. On the other half, I have a hot Baylor squad taking down Kansas State in the semis, and then beating A&M for the title. In a stretch, I also have Iowa State beating Texas in today's first round. The Cyclones just dealt K-State a loss, and Texas is fading about as much as you can fade without becoming invisible, so we'll ride the trends on that one.
Last night, Oakland, Butler, and North Texas all earned tournament berths by winning their conference championship. A very good night for places in our country where you would never, ever want to live.
That'll do it for now. More later today, including Pac-10 picks. As a heads-up, I'll be live blogging every Duke game this weekend. Could be one, could be three. So there may be an extra Saturday and Sunday post. FUN!