Game Time: "I've Done Some Pretty Bad Things"

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"I've done some pretty bad things..." -- Tiger Woods, 3.21.10

That makes two of us, Tiger. Of course, while the bad things you did were decidedly more kinky and homewrecking than my transgressions, it doesn't make me feel any less remorseful than you. Hey, by the way, saw your texts to Joslyn James; was it really necessary to ask a porn star if they've had a golden shower? A little like asking John Daly if he's tried a Jaeger bomb, no? Anyway....

The fact of the matter is that I have more love for my readers in my little finger than you will ever have for your wife, Eldrick, and the emotional, bracketorial, and (let's face it) financial wrongs I have inflicted upon them with my March Madness preview are unforgivable.

To be fair, I am not alone. The March Madness 2010 graveyard is full of blowhards like me proclaiming that we were smarter than everyone else and that somehow our set of criteria would spit out the correct answers to the test. And then Robert Morris takes Villanova to overtime before lunch is even served on the first Thursday and the bad dream begins. Four days later, you wake up hungover next to someone named "Ali Farokhmanesh" and you're wearing nothing but an Omar Samhan jersey and Cornell boxer shorts. "How in the blue hell did I get here???"

Yeah, it was a bad weekend. Many of you tweeted me as to just how bad it was for you bracket-wise. I'll share the best tweets in this space tomorrow. (It's amazing how creative people can be even with a 140-character limit; we are really advancing as a species!)

Before we examine just how bad it was, the positives for me (Trust me, this won't take long):

I didn't pick Kansas to win it all. Yes, amidst the bloody carnage that is my bracket, the one positive I can take away is that I still have a chance to do the one fundamental thing a bracket is intended to do -- pick a winner. Half the nation is out of the mix in that regard thanks to the aforementioned Farokhmanesh hitting the quintessential "DAGGUH THREE" (footnote, Mark Jackson) on the Kansas Jayhawks. Of course, my predicted champion (West Virginia) will likely have to knock off a Kentucky team that scored 190 points in its first two games, but whatever. I'm still alive!

I was slightly dubious of this version of Kansas' chops as a "great team." as I outlined in my preview, I thought they were the best team in this field, but indicated that they'd be underdogs to all but one, maybe two, of the champs from this past decade. As it turns out they were the one seed least prepared to advance to the second weekend of the tournament, let alone win the thing.

That's it for positives. See, told you it wouldn't take long.

The conference breakdown for the Sweet Sixteen looks like this:
Big Ten (3) - 2 Ohio State, 4 Purdue, 5 Michigan State
Big East (2) - 1 Syracuse, 2 West Virginia
Big XII (2) - 2 Kansas State, 3 Baylor
SEC (2) - 1 Kentucky, 6 Tennessee
ACC (1) - 1 Duke
Atlantic-10 (1) - Xavier
Horizon League (1) - 5 Butler
vy League (1) - 12 Cornell
Missouri Valley (1) - 9 Northern Iowa
Pac-10 (1) - 11 Washington
WCC (1) - 10 St. Mary's

As if the list including teams from the Ivy and Horizon Leagues isn't disorienting enough, to give you an idea of how wacky (Vitale word) the tournament has been, the 11 conferences being represented in the Sweet Sixteen are the most since the brackets went to 64 teams. Hell, even in the crazy 2006 tournament (George Mason Final Four run, Missouri Valley cracking the RPI-and-Sweet-Sixteen-code year), there were only nine conferences represented after Round 2.

What does this all mean? Well, the Big East probably got too much respect, as usual. The Big Ten was a little more solid than we thought. The ACC is Duke and everyone else, but we knew that. Above all else, anyone can beat anyone, and no one is immune. I could see a Final Four of three top seeds and Ohio State, and I could see a Final Four of Tennessee, Kansas State, West Virginia, and St. Mary's (two 2's, a 6, and a Cinderella 10).

On a side note, how pissed do you think the Mountain West Conference football teams are at their basketball brethren? "All this progress that we've made and you bastards go out and go for 0-4 getting teams to the Sweet 16. Assholes."

As for my predicted "Live seeds," let's put on our bio-hazard suits and go back and see how I did:

"LIVE" 16 SEED PREDICTION: Vermont
RESULT: Lost to Syracuse 79-56 in a game where the Orange steadily pulled away and were never really threatened.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN... Lehigh. Once again, none of the 16 seeds pulled off the first-round upset, but Lehigh actually jumped out to a 12-4 lead, made Kansas use a timeout, and was only trailing by six points at halftime. They went on to cover the spread with ease, losing 90-74. For a 16 seed, that's as live as you're going to get.


"LIVE" 15 SEED PREDICTION:
Morgan State
RESULT: Actually jumped out to a 10-0 lead on West Virginia, but eventually folded, losing 77-50.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Robert Morris. The other 15 seeds weren't even close to pulling off the upset of their 2 seed, but Robert Morris took Villanova to the final possession of overtime, and if it weren't for some shaky officiating, might have played St. Mary's in a 10 vs. 15 matchup Saturday morning.


"LIVE" 14 SEED PREDICTION: Montana
RESULT: Hung in with 3 seed New Mexico, falling late by a 62-57 score.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Ohio. The Bobcats got out fast against Georgetown, opening up a double-digit halftime lead and were never threatened in a 97-83 win. Honorable mention to Sam Houston for giving Baylor a tussle.


"LIVE" 13 SEED PREDICTION: Siena
RESULT: Lost to a Robbie Hummel-less Purdue 72-64.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Murray State. The first buzzer beater of the weekend came from Danero Thomas as Murray State knocked off 4-seed Vanderbilt. Honorable mention to Wofford for giving Wisconsin a scare, and to Tom Penders for managing to win his conference tournament, coach an NCAA tournament game, and get fired in less than a week.


"LIVE" 12 SEED PREDICTION: UTEP
RESULT: The Miners led Butler by six at halftime, and that's about the only good thing I can say. Butler decided to untie their right hands for the second half, cruising to a 77-59 win.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Cornell. Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one. Cornell has blown out Temple and Wisconsin in getting to the Sweet 16. They are one win away from making Jay Bilas look like Nostradamus. The Nard-dog approves...



" LIVE" 11 SEED PREDICTION:
San Diego State
RESULT: Lost a tight one to the Tennessee Headbands, 62-59.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN.... Washington. Came into the tournament as one of two perceived Pac-10 pushovers, and would up beating Marquette on a late Quincy Pondexter bucket after coming back from a 15-point deficit. Followed that up with an 82-64 thrashing of 3-seed New Mexico. They're now a threat to go the Final Four.


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