The field of 64 has been narrowed down to two, and I couldn’t be happier. After all, not only did Kentucky lose to Wisconsin, thus ending its perfect season, but I still have a legitimate shot to win the office tourney pool. Even better than that is the possibility that I could win $300 in my friend’s bracket challenge as well.
And while the majority of my friends and co-workers might be rooting for the Badgers on Monday night, I will most certainly be in Duke’s corner. It doesn’t matter that Wisconsin represents the Big Ten, or they will more than likely be the underdogs. Also of little importance is that guard Traevon Jackson is not only from Ohio, but also happens to be the son of former Ohio State standout Jimmy Jackson.
(As a side note, while I would normally root for the Big Ten, even at the expense of my own bracket, when you wager $50 to win $300 in a winner takes all format, your perspective kind of changes.)The fate of my brackets rest on the ability of the Dookies (sic) to get Coach K his fifth championship, and his third in Indianapolis at that. Duke already defeated Wisconsin once this season, but this is not the same Badger team. It should also be pointed out that Duke is not the same team, either. Is it possible that team that beat both Michigan State and Wisconsin in the regular season by 10 points apiece has played even better in the postseason? Not only is it possible, it seems downright plausible.
So the million-dollar question then becomes, how did I end up picking the Blue Devils to win it all, when most everyone and their brother had the Wildcats? Is it because Duke is not only the one of my favorite teams(according to this blog), and unlike Ohio State they had a legitimate chance of advancing? I wish I could say that was the case, but my affinity for the Blue Devils had little if any affect on my decision. What about freshman sensations Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor? I must admit the blue-chippers, the former averaging 11.5 ppg and 3.5 apg and the latter averaging 17.5 ppg and 8.6 rpg, are a rare inside-outside combination. But alas, as I watched less than a handful of Duke games, I didn’t know much about the duo.
So how exactly did I end up picking Duke, when less than 20% of the nation even had them in the national finals? Let’s just say that like most other people who have won their tournament pools in the past, I went with my gut. While other people agonized from 30 minutes to several hours on their bracket, I filled out mine within 10 minutes. And although it’s safe to say my round-by-round performance isn’t stellar (I’m currently 44-18 through the final four), it doesn’t matter how you start, only how you finish.
Yet it is far from a given that Duke will win their fifth title tomorrow night, or that I will win my first tournament pool ever(in what I have estimated is over 25 years of filling out an entry of some form, whether it be for school or work or online just for fun.) This time around not only do they have to account for a fully healthy Sam Dekker, but if they are going to win they must do so without the services of junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon, dismissed from the team before the regular season had even ended.
A tall task for the Blue Devils (literally and figuratively), but my gut tells me they have one more win left in them. After all, in an imperfect bracket, they are the only team that has been perfect for me thus far.