It’s my bracket, and I’ll cry if I want to

At this writing, the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is only three games old, and my bracket is already busted.

Stupid BYU.

Picking the 10th-seeded Florida Gators over the 7th-seeded Brigham Young seemed like the right decision, given BYU’s 17-year drought. The Cougars last won a first-round game in 1993, with seven consecutive early exits since then. They chose this tournament to get off the schneid. Florida stretched the game to two overtimes, so it’s not as though they weren’t a viable pick.

On the positive side, my usually sound eye for March Madness upsets led me to choose 11-seed Old Dominion over #6 Notre Dame, and ODU came through big time. The Fighting Irish are always an iffy pick at the NCAAs, and this year proved no exception.

I was seriously tempted to take #15 Robert Morris over #2 Villanova. I didn’t pull the trigger on that one, but the fact that Morris took ‘Nova to overtime affirms that my spider sense about that game was justified.

Looking ahead, my Final Four forecast is — for the first time in recent memory — comprised of the top seeds from each of the regionals: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Duke. I’m climbing way out on a fragile limb to predict that Syracuse will best the Kentucky Wildcats in the championship game to win top honors for the second time this decade. It kills me to go all-in on a Jim Boeheim-coached team, but I’ve got a feeling about this one.

We’ll see whether that feeling is clairvoyance, or indigestion.

[DAY ONE UPDATE: Thursday, March 18]

The tournament’s first 16 games are in the books. I went 12-4 on the day. My picks are in boldface below.

Predicted correctly:

  • East Regional: #1 Kentucky over #16 East Tennessee State; #3 New Mexico over #14 Montana; #11 Washington over #6 Marquette.
  • Midwest Regional: #1 Kansas over #16 Lehigh; #6 Tennessee over #11 San Diego State.
  • South Regional: #2 Villanova over #15 Robert Morris; #3 Baylor over #14 Sam Houston State; #10 St. Mary’s over #7 Richmond; #11 Old Dominion over #6 Notre Dame.
  • West Regional: #2 Kansas State over #15 North Texas; #5 Butler over #12 UTEP; #13 Murray State over #4 Vanderbilt.

Predicted incorrectly:

  • East Regional: #9 Wake Forest over #8 Texas.
  • Midwest Regional: #14 Ohio over #3 Georgetown; #9 Northern Iowa over #8 UNLV.
  • South Regional: No misses. (Yay, me!)
  • West Regional: #7 BYU over #10 Florida.

[DAY TWO UPDATE: Friday, March 18]

My bracketology skills rocked today. I correctly predicted 15 of the 16 games on Day Two of the tourney. Bow before me!

Predicted correctly:

  • East Regional: #2 West Virginia over #15 Morgan State; #4 Wisconsin over #13 Wofford; #10 Missouri over #7 Clemson.
  • Midwest Regional: #2 Ohio State over #15 UC Santa Barbara; #4 Maryland over #13 Houston; #5 Michigan State over #12 New Mexico State; #10 Georgia Tech over #7 Oklahoma State.
  • South Regional: #1 Duke over #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff; #4 Purdue over #13 Siena; #5 Texas A&M over #12 Utah State; #8 California over #9 Louisville.
  • West Regional: #1 Syracuse over #16 Vermont; #3 Pittsburgh over #14 Oakland; #6 Xavier over #11 Minnesota; #8 Gonzaga over #9 Florida State.

Predicted incorrectly:

  • East Regional: #12 Cornell over #5 Temple.
  • Midwest Regional: No misses
  • South Regional: No misses.
  • West Regional: No misses.

Put it all together, and my record in Round One is 27-5. Not perfect, by any means, but pretty darned good.

I’m especially pleased to note that the Bay Area showed up in the first round, with both local teams that made the tourney — Cal and St. Mary’s — winning their initial games. St. Mary’s and Gonzaga also represented my alma mater conference, the West Coast Conference, brilliantly with their two wins.

Great tournament thus far. Bring on Round Two!

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