It's time. Have you filled out your third, sixth or tenth bracket already? I'm working on my fourth. I'll even slap a pink bracket together before the women's tourney gets underway.
In years past, I've fared well in my office pools. My secret? Knock out OU, OSU and ORU early. Sorry TU, it's been too long.
Entrants participate who know zilch about college basketball. Don't lose to them.
Just do the opposite. Take your time with the picks. This year may be tricky. TU and OSU aren't dancing. Picking OU to make a dramatic run would be akin to betting your money on a positive, issues-based presidential campaign by the Republicrats.
Oral Roberts is an enigma. They lost their two best players from a year ago. Coach Scott Sutton's team is ballin' at a higher level.
They could be the Cinderella team leaping into the Sweet Sixteen this year. They may also lose in the first round by 15.
The Golden Eagles (24-8) earned a well-deserved 13 seed. They were rewarded with a scorching 4 seed in Pittsburg (26-9). At least the NCAA selection committee showed respect to the Summit League standard bearer with a decent seed. They battle this Thursday in Denver.
We are all enamored with superstars.
The "experts" picked ORU as a sleeper team the past two years based on Caleb Green and Ken Tutt. This year, the Eagles are unknown outside of Tulsa.
If America is looking past ORU, then maybe the Pitt Panthers will do the same. The problem with this thought process is Pitt may be good enough to engage cruise control and still beat ORU.
The "New Age Microwave" comes off the bench for ORU. The electric Robert Jarvis plays in the same vein of the Pistons "Bad Boy" Vinnie Johnson.
Snipper Moses Ehambe must bring his A+ game. Another 0-fer in the NCAA like he dropped in Summit League tournament spells disaster for the Eagles.
Who will Coach Sutton unleash defensive stopper Yemi Ogunoye on? Ogunoye may guard three or four different players by games end. Will it be enough?
The Big East is a physical conference. They enter eight teams into the 65-team field, the most by far. Pitt captured the Big East tournament crown by defeating the Georgetown Hoyas. The Panthers are peaking at the absolute perfect time.
The Eagles match up with Pitt all right. The strength of the Panthers is the swing position with Sam Young and backcourt with Levance Fields. The inside presence is anchored by 6-foot 7-inch DeJuan Blair. They aren't a tall team but they are thick and deep.
Keys to an Eagle upset? Know who to foul, know who to guard on the perimeter, stay out of foul trouble and have Robert Jarvis catch thunder in a bucket. Coach Sutton is one of the best in the nation but I cannot envision a scenario where this squad upends the Big East Champs.
The Oklahoma Sooners (22-11) pulled a 6 seed out of their rears. They face the Atlantic 10's Saint Joseph's Hawks (21-12). The tip-off is Friday in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Sooners thrive behind freshman sensation Blake Griffin and senior stalwart Longar Longar. The Big Dance is a different animal. It's guard driven. The Sooners will go as far as Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson let them.
Check out these names. Taurean Green, Raymond Felton, Ben Gordon, Steve Blake and Jason Williams. These are the floor generals who recently led their respective teams to NCAA championships.
In 2004, OSU progressed to the Final Four behind John Lucas III. In 2002, OU advanced to the brink behind the stellar play of Quannas White and Hollis Price.
You get the idea. Solid ball handling and smart decision makers trump all in the tightly contested tourney-style games. Are you putting your bracket on the line behind the duo of Crocker and Johnson?
The Sooners ace up its sleeve? Jeff Capel. He's tournament tested. He controls the tempo of games. He is coaching for a new contract with either OU or South Carolina. Expect him to throw the kitchen sink at the Hawks.
I give major props to CBS's Seth Davis. He is the only analyst who gets it. Every single "expert" not named Davis puts his personal agenda ahead of the tournament.
Recently semi-retired Bob Knight spent his newfound ESPN airtime politicking for a 128-team tournament. More is better!
Hubert Davis made sure to remind the viewers that he watches the games. Digger Phelps reminded viewers he used to coach the game. Their intelligence is far superior to yours. Just ask them.
ESPN spent the first 20 minutes of the Bracketology breakdown whining, complaining and talking about the great Arizona State. I realize you have two hours of TV time to kill but going through the same shtick every year is older than Chris Berman's comb-over.
These guys earn a pretty penny for sure. Here is what they came up with. Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps predict all four number 1 seeds will advance to the Final Four. Bob Knight and Hubert Davis selected three of four number 1 seeds will make the Final Four. Thanks for the insight fellas.
History shows different. You know how many times in the history of the tournament all four number 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four? None. Only twice since 1979 have three number 1 seeds made the Final Four. But hey, what do I know? If I ever turn into a sheep, just punch me in the gut. Hard.
Finally some props for TU. The Golden Hurricane did the unthinkable and almost pulled off the impossible. The Hurricane dispatched East Carolina, UAB and UTEP before stumbling in the C-USA championship game.
They were rewarded with an invite to something called the College Basketball Invitational. A new 16-team tournament. Tulsa hosts Miami of Ohio in the CBI at the Reynolds Center on March 19. I'm not really sure about the CBI but I'm glad the guys have at least one more game together.
If Tulsa can put a full season together next year, we may be breaking down their long-time coming foray back into the Big Dance.
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