If you have been keeping up with my record of predicting the outcomes of the 2014 Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament at home in our daily publication partners, The Lowell Sun and Sentinel and Enterprise, it is not very good. But I like to think that I am not alone as ESPN and Yahoo Sports both reported that there are no perfect brackets in existence.
That is unless, of course, you filled out a handwritten bracket and did not enter it in an online contest -- in that case, shame on you. And, well, congratulations, your bracket is not busted. But how do we know; you didn't pencil in the winners as the outcome of the games were decided?
College sports are finicky games to predict, when you have amateur athletes cast into the limelight of national television and the print media.
Let us reflect back to last Thursday when the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament opened in unprecedented fashion with not one, but three games decided in overtime. Upsets have always been part of the thrill of the tournament for us fans.
Everyone folds a couple of upsets into their "perfect" bracket recipe.
Fans love to see a mid-major program upset a much more established bigger school on the game's grandest stage. Dayton, a decisive underdog out of the Atlantic10 Conference, upset in-state rival Ohio State, 60-59, in the opening game of the Second Round.
The local newspaper in Dayton, The Dayton Daily News, took a stab at its in-state rival with its headline, "THE University of Dayton" in response to Ohio State's reference to itself as "The Ohio State University."
Then there was local darling, Harvard, out of the Ivy League. The boys from Cambridge gave the No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats a shot to the jugular with a 61-57 win. Harvard, seeded No. 12, moved on and fell in its third round match-up with Michigan State.
In one of the later games in the East Region, I had No. 10 St. Joseph's in a upset win over UConn. But the Huskies were out to prove me wrong. UConn battled back late in the second half to force overtime, eventually winning, 89-81.
After day one finally concluded, I looked down at my 5-3 record and thought, I didn't do too bad, all things considering. But by the end of day two, Mercer University, out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, had me second-guessing a lot of my choices. Mercer shocked the world when it ousted perennial basketball powerhouse Duke, 78-71, in its own backyard in Raleigh, N.C.
A one-and-done for the star-studded Blue Devils, who would've predicted that? Judging by my Twitter following, a couple of folks did.
This year's tournament also had the story of a perfect season hanging in the balance for Witchita State, a blue collar bunch of players who in recent years have been climbing up the NCAA totem pole. Their strength of schedule was not as impressive as some would've liked to see, but you can only play who is put in front of you and the Shockers won all of their games.
A perfect season was not in the cards for Witchita State (34-1), as it was clipped by perennial Final Four favorite, Kentucky, 78-76, in the Round of 32.
With the Sweet 16 tipping off yesterday, another basketball season comes to a close, which can only mean one thing, spring is almost here. Yes, this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has been tremendous, but I am ready to witness some great local spring sports action under the warm sun.
Good news, temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s today and tomorrow. We're getting warmer.