I picked Kentucky to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last season, but that was like picking LeBron James to be NBA MVP. This tournament is more challenging.
You know the drill. At 7 p.m. Sunday I began to fill out my bracket, which at the moment is pristine and beautiful, and pick the winner of every game -- starting with the second round.
I wake up Monday morning and say, “What was I thinking?” Or maybe, “What was I drinking?”
But no matter how many pools I enter, my picks never change.
Second round: Winners are Louisville, Missouri, Oklahoma State, St. Louis, Memphis, Michigan State, Creighton and Duke.
Third round: Louisville beats Missouri, St. Louis handles Oklahoma State, Michigan State beats down Memphis and Duke beats Creighton 87-83 courtesy of two late three-pointers by Seth Curry.
Sweet 16: Louisville beats St. Louis and Duke roughs up Michigan State. I know the Blue Devils aren’t supposed to, but that’s what they do.
Elite 8: Louisville outscores Duke by 11 in the second half and advances to the Final Four.
So I pick Louisville, a one-seed, to beat Duke, a two-seed. If I keep this up I should buy an SUV.
Second round: Winners are Gonzaga, Wichita State (never underestimate head coach Gregg Marshall), Wisconsin (barely), Kansas State, Arizona, New Mexico, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Third round: Gonzaga outlasts Wichita State, Wisconsin decimates Kansas State, Arizona upsets New Mexico and Ohio State blows out Notre Dame.
Sweet 16: Gonzaga beats robotic Wisconsin – robotic is not a criticism; the Badgers are good robots and Madison, Wis., is a fine town – and Ohio State beats Arizona in overtime.
Elite 8: Ohio State beats Gonzaga and advances to the Final Four.
That would be another No. 1 and No. 2 seed. How much do SUVs cost, anyway?
Second round: Winners are Kansas, North Carolina (by four), Virginia Commonwealth, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgetown.
Third round: Kansas versus North Carolina in Kansas City is extraordinary. Remember how, after Roy Williams’ Tar Heels were blown out by Kansas in the Final Four, he put a Kansas sticker on his shirt before the national championship? Terrible mistake, but Williams is loyal. Loyalty doesn’t win games. Ol’ Roy’s old team beats Ol’ Roy’s new team by eight.
Michigan-VCU is an overtime thriller, the game of the tournament thus far. The Wolverines win by three. Florida beats Minnesota, which loses the right way. Georgetown tries to fold against Oklahoma but fails.
Sweet 16: Michigan blows out Kansas, and Florida beats Georgetown.
Elite 8: Florida, a lowly three seed, beats Michigan, an even-more-lowly four seed, and advances to the Final Four. I get to keep my car.
Second round: Winners are Indiana, N.C. State, UNLV, Syracuse, Butler, Davidson – Davidson 60, Marquette 57 – Illinois and Miami.
Third round: N.C. State plays well and gets 21 from C.J. Leslie. But the Hoosiers win 74-70. UNLV upsets Syracuse and Butler wears down Davidson. Miami gets a huge scare from Illinois, especially from guard Brandon Paul, but moves on anyway.
Sweet 16: Indiana dominates UNLV and Miami beats Butler by 11.
Elite 8: Miami clearly is superior to Indiana, wins by five and advances to the Final Four.
Three of my Final Four coaches are tied to Providence – Rick Pitino coached there and Jim Larranaga and Billy Donovan played there. I have no connection to Providence other than once eating a great Italian meal in a low-lit old-school restaurant downtown.
Louisville beats Ohio State and Miami beats Florida.
Miami, a 4½-point underdog, trails by seven with 11:30 to play. The Hurricanes win by three. They are your national champion.
They’re mine, anyway.