Whelp, it’s that time of year again.
The field of 68 is set, the brackets are hot off the presses, and sportswriters all over the nation are starting editorials with the sentence, “Whelp, it’s that time of year again.”
Three things are going to happen over the next month or so. First, you’re going to fill out a bracket. Regardless of your degree of college basketball knowledge, you’re going to convince yourself that you’re a modern-day Nostradamus. Next, the tournament will begin and your bracket will go up in flames, like within an hour. Despondent, you’ll proceed to back every person you come in contact with into a corner and engage in the “March Madness conversation.” You know the one.
Like a husband exiled to the local dive bar after a fight with the ol’ ball and chain landed you in the dog house, you’ll search for someone, anyone who will listen to your struggle.
“I’ll tell you what, Larry, Villanova really screwed me last week,” you’ll say, to some stranger not named Larry. “My Final Four is a mess!”
Let’s get one thing straight. No one gives a rat’s ass about your bracket. Not your friends, not me, not Larry — nobody.
Yet for some reason, we feel the need to cram our March Madness woes deep down into the throats of anyone in our general vicinity. March Madness turns us into monsters, into evangelical missionaries, spreading the good word of shared disappointment. We’ll stop at nothing until everyone knows our pain.
The alternative is even worse. Occasionally, you’ll multiple-guess your way to a respectably accurate bracket. You’ll have six of the Elite Eight teams and all four of the Final Four teams still alive, and as a result, you’ll walk around with an upturned nose, lording over all the peasants who listened to that idiot Jay Bilas.
But in reality, the NCAA tournament is a crap shoot. Even head coach of top-seeded Kentucky John Calipari acknowledged this.
“I think I have the best team and the best players,” Calipari told ESPN. “Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t.”
A team of grindy, white, four-year starters can come out and hit 100 three-pointers over five games on their way to a Final Four appearance. We’ve seen it happen before, and I’ll bet you anything it happens again.
If you just so happen to hit a vein with some hot-shooting mid-major team like VCU or Wichita State, it says nothing about your college basketball knowledge. If anything, it says more about your lack of it. Basketball is a weird sport where anything can happen. Kentucky’s All-American forward Willie Cauley-Stein might pick up four fouls in the first half of a game. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky could trip and twist both ankles, rendering him as unathletic as his pasty complexion would suggest. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor could get exposed to a chemical explosion and lose sight in his left eye, who knows?
No one knows. So your predictions, be they spot-on or wildly inaccurate — don’t matter.
With that said, here are my predictions for this year’s NCAA Tournament. Keep in mind, I know just as much about college basketball as I do about scented candles. The following predictions are based solely on things I think I remember people saying one time.
n No. 1 Kentucky over No. 12 Buffalo Why do all teams from Buffalo have a mascot that resembles some sort of Buffalo? We get it, your city is also the name of an animal.
n No. 3 Notre Dame over No. 10 Indiana I think I heard that Notre Dame had a good offense? I don’t know.
n No. 1 Kentucky over No. 3 Notre Dame Apparently Kentucky hasn’t lost any games this year. It’s amazing what a few $1,000 handshakes can accomplish.
n No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 13 Harvard (Down go the Crimsonites!)
n No. 2 Arizona over No. 11 BYU Ending the century’s-old debate over sex before the big game.
n No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 2 Arizona (HOT TAKE OVER HERE)
n No. 5 UNI over No. 1 Villanova (Ali Farokhmanesh lives on.)
n No. 2 Virginia over No. 14 Albany (Albany is the capital of New York!)
n No. 5 UNI over No. 1 Villanova This has absolutely nothing to do with being a UNI fan.
n No. 1 Duke over No. 4 Georgetown I have no idea why Georgetown is here. I literally just picked a random team.
n No. 3 Iowa State over No. 7 Iowa (Only because this would be awesome.)
n No. 3 Iowa State over No. 1 Duke (Eat your heart out, coach K.)
n No. 1 Kentucky over No. 1 Wisconsin ($20 says Frank Kaminsky cries.)
n No. 3 Iowa State over No. 5 UNI Is this really my Final Four matchup? Jesus Christ…
n No. 1 Kentucky over No. 3 Iowa State
Final score: Kentucky ∞, Iowa State 46
I think I nailed it.