A funny thing happened during last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Breaking from my long-established record of futility, as prominently displayed in 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, I somehow bounced back from the one-year COVID tournament layoff to . . . win my pools? That can’t be right, can it?!?
Indeed, my 2021 bracket correctly predicted a national final of Baylor vs. Gonzaga, with the Bears winning.
And, for the first time since I was in high school(!!!), I won a pool. A couple of them, in fact. That ended a 25-year drought.
This time around, I’m fully expecting a return to (terrible) form. However, I will say that my approach turned out to be the same: I picked very conservatively this year, with mostly top-three seeds advancing past the first two rounds.
While this very likely means I’ll be playing catch-up because I won’t nail many of those tasty first-round upsets, it also means that, as the powers advance, I’ll gradually pull back into contention—and then ahead, if all goes well. Again, that’s unlikely, but I noticed after filling out this year’s bracket that the formula last year was in that same vein.
The only thing that’s a bummer is that my beloved Richmond Spiders got a terrible draw.
I couldn’t in good conscience pick them over Iowa, a red-hot team that won the Big 10 Tournament. I was really hoping Richmond would get some fifth-place team from a power conference that struggled at the end of the year—the ideal prey for the tough-to-handle Spiders.
Given their unprecedented (due to COVID rules) experience and challenging style of play for most teams, I really thought Richmond might be primed for an upset or two. But Iowa is both on a roll and matches up well against Richmond, with a typical dominating inside game and a dynamic scorer besides.
I really, really hope I’m wrong, though! I would gladly take a bath on my pool if it meant a deep Richmond run. No contest. To hell with my bracket!
Speaking of, here it is. The biggest dilemma, honestly, was Tennessee. I just don’t trust Rick Barnes to take them to the Final Four. If this bracket winds up otherwise decent, I think that will be the decision that is my ultimate undoing. Of course, I could just tank like I normally do, in which case—I’ll look forward to my next win (in 2046):