By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
You would think after last year's fiasco with my NCAA tournament picks and my second-to-last place finish in our Armchair Quarterbacks season that I would stay as far away from prognosticating as possible.
But hat just wouldn't be me, now would it?
Let's just review some of things I've picked wrong this year:
1. The Bobcat-Griz game. For that little mistake not only did I put my size 10 shoe in my mouth, but I also had to endure a night of covering a basketball game in a Bobcat sweatshirt that read, "Havre's No.1 Bobcat Fan," and wear a MSU hat. It was terrible and the sweatshirt gave me a rash.
2. I also said that the Super Bowl would be boring. It was far from boring and that's not even counting the halftime show, which I also said would be even worse. At least I won a recliner out of the deal.
3. And the worst thing, I picked the Boston Red Sox to make it to the World Series. I think we can safely say that was probably the worst pick of all. Being a bit of a Red Sox fan, I should have known that any optimism is a bad thing. Instead, the Evil Empire crushed my dreams and obnoxious Yankee fans throughout the world continued to be, well, obnoxious.
Are you starting to see a trend here?
So why would I want to make more picks and embarrass myself about my total lack of sports knowledge? Well, I guess it's because picking the NCAA tournament brackets has become a tradition throughout the country. And because the things that I would get right, like "Dawson's Creek" trivia, or identifying "Real World" cast members, shouldn't be on the sports page.
This year we've added a few newcomers to Bracket Ball and mixed some things up. There is really no rhyme or reason to who we selected, rather they were the first people available and willing to endure my mocks and insults.
So, I will end my mindless babbling about my own faults and get to knocking other people.
HDN sports editor
I should probably start with the easiest person to make fun of, which is myself. I timed myself how long it took to fill out my bracket - 39 seconds. It will easily be the fastest time recorded. To be honest, it was the sixth different bracket I filled out.
No, I'm not being "that guy" with 57 different brackets. It's just that with all the different on-line and local contests, you would be a complete moron to pick the same bracket for each contest. Hence, the different brackets.
Since, this bracket was the last one I filled out, I had a pretty good idea of who I was going to pick. That surely doesn't mean the picks are right. It just means they are pretty consistent.
After last year, I went a little conservative, only picking four first-round upsets - Manhattan over Florida, Western Michigan over Vanderbilt, Southern Illinois over Alabama and Dayton over DePaul. But I do have St. Joe's losing in the second round to Texas Tech and the hated Duke Blue Devils losing to Arizona in the second round.
Speaking of Duke, and I never usually speak well of it, there is nothing sweeter than seeing Duke lose. I enjoy it more than seeing the Bobcats or the Yankees lose. I don't know when they became the poster boys for college basketball or when Dick Vitale became their unofficial biggest fan, but I can't stand the fact the NCAA and referees seem to love to see them win.
The day a Duke player gets a charge called on him in a game is the day I marry Jennifer Garner from "Alias."
Sorry about the tirade, it's been building. My final four picks are Kentucky, Pittsburgh, North Carolina (was there ever a doubt?) and Connecticut. My loyalty to UNC goes only so far, as I have Connecticut defeating Kentucky in the final.
HDN Sports Writer
George has the honor of finishing dead last in last year's bracket ball pool which brings a smile to my face as I type those words. I'm not saying I like seeing George lose. Actually, I like seeing George lose badly.
He won't be losing much this spring. As the new Havre High tennis coach, George probably won't experience many losses with a stacked boys team and fast-improving girls team.
Even with his poor showing, George still considers himself to be college basketball guru. It could be because he logs more time watching games on television than most college coaches.
So with the hundreds of hours of time spent watching games, he should be a lock to win. Right? Slow down. I watch hundreds of hours of teen-age melodramas on television, that doesn't mean I will be appearing on the "OC" anytime soon.
As for his bracket, George went with BYU, Western Michigan and Louisville pulling off first-round upsets. In later round upsets, he has Georgia Tech knocking off Gonzaga, Wisconsin beating Pitt and North Carolina advancing all the way to the East Regional Finals, before falling to Duke. His Final Four consists of Kentucky, Duke, Connecticut and upset-minded Wake Forest with UCONN defeating Kentucky in the final.
Loyalty. It's something you look for in a dog, not in your tournament picks. But still, Harvey maintains his picks were done out of loyalty. They would have to be, since he has his beloved Arizona Wildcats, a No. 8 seed, winning the entire tournament.
While, I do think the Cats can knock off Duke in the second round, the odds of Arizona winning are about as good as the odds the New York Yankees WON'T have the highest payroll and baseball - slim and none.
Arizona is a solid team and Harvey has stuck by them all year, sort of. Still, you honestly wonder if Montana State (his other favorite team) was in the tournament would he have them meeting Arizona in the final.
Really, it doesn't matter to Harvey. His one shining moment came on that third Saturday in November when the Cats beat the Griz in football - who do you think was responsible for the awful sweat shirt I had to wear.
Harvey isn't limiting Arizona to his only upset bid, picking Richmond, Dayton, Western Michigan and Murray State as first-round winners. He also has Xavier, Providence and Texas Tech advancing to the Sweet 16. His Final Four consists of Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Arizona with Arizona defeating OSU in the final. If that happens, Harvey can get a me another sweatshirt that says, "Havre's No. 1 Arizona Fan," as well.
Armchair Quarterback champ
We had to put Wells in this because George wanted another shot at him. Wells beat George out for the Armchair QB title. George still maintains that I messed up his picks so Wells could win.
While I do love seeing George lose, I wouldn't cheat to help Wells win. I would cheat to have myself win.
Wells also went with his heart, saying that he went with who he wanted to win instead of who he thought would win. Obviously, he didn't do that enough during the football picks.
Still, I wouldn't be surprised if he wins this whole thing, or if he beats George, which would be even funnier.
Like his football picks, Wells stayed pretty conservative picking mostly "chalk" (higher seeds) with the exception of Manhattan, Southern Illinois and UNC-Charlotte in the first round. He stayed with chalk throughout until the Sweet 16 where he has Gonzaga and St. Joe's losing. His Final Four is Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Duke and Stanford.
Wells, staying true to his University of Montana roots, went with Stanford and former Griz coach Mike Montgomery to defeat Kentucky in the title game.
Bear Paw Credit Union
Another year, another dollar he won't make in NCAA pools. Actually, Gerry finished second last year in Bracket Ball, thanks to picking Marquette getting to the finals.
Still, if you look at his bracket closely, you wonder if he's losing his mind with his picks. The answer is, yes.
I have the perfect example. After blowing his Achilles playing hoops some years back, he swore off the game in pursuit of becoming the next Tiger Woods. But after two weeks of watching younger players play pick up hoops recebtkt, there was Gerry out there running, jumping and playing in his same "unique" style.
After undergoing two surgeries, about six months on crutches and painful rehab, no game is that important.
No one will accuse of Gerry of picking chalk games. His list of first-round upset winners includes: Illinois-Chicago, UNC-Charlotte, Manhattan, South Carolina, Dayton, Western Michigan, BYU, Louisville and Murray State.
He also has Alabama knocking off Stanford, Washington defeating Kentucky and Western Michigan defeating N.C. State in later games.
His Final Four is Georgia Tech, OSU, Mississippi State and Connecticut with OSU knocking off UCONN.
We mocked him last year and he finished second. Maybe there is a method to his madness.
Lights basketball coach
Last year, I teased Shawn, saying, "the slang term to describe picking the higher seeds is 'chalk'. The slang term for Huse's bracket is also 'chalk.'"
I wish I could write that things have changed, but they haven't. Shawn still picked more chalk than they use in an entire season of the World's Strongest Man Contests.
But he is improving. He did pick one upset with Oklahoma State knocking off St. Joe's in the Elite Eight. Other than that, it's straight chalk.
He does have Kentucky knocking off Stanford in the final, which could be an upset since Stanford only has one loss on the season.
Shawn calls his method, playing the percentages. I call it picking to not get made fun of. We all know that no one is safe from that.
HHS athletics director
Dennis finished his bracket in just under a minute which means either he had a good idea of who he wanted to pick, or his recent retirement from coaching has got him a new non-competitive zen state of mind. I think I'll go with the first reason.
Even if he is more mellow without hours of practice and film study, Dennis is still a basketball junkie and know splenty about picking the tournament.
He went with a few upsets, but his biggest is Texas Tech knocking off St. Joe's in the second round. His Final Four consists of Kentucky, Duke, Connecticut and Wake Forest with Kentucky defeating UCONN in the final.
HHS basketball and track coach
For the second year in a row, Mark took the longest to fill out his bracket.
Maybe it's because I gave him the bracket at the beginning of the first track practice of the year. You want to talk about hectic, it seems like there was 300 people there on that first day. That means all 300 of those kids were insane, because I have never understood what is fun about track, especially the running for fun part.
Really, I think Mark did some research on his picks by asking his twin daughters for their input.
Mark went with several upsets, including Pacific knocking off Providence and Texas Tech over St. Joe's. His Final Four of Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Stanford and North Carolina is much different than most. He went with OSU knocking UNC in the final.
We added an extra competitor this year to bring a younger flavor to Bracket Ball. Even by adding Jeremy, the average age is still like 35 years old.
After a successful year playing varsity for the Ponies and forcing me actually play defense in pick up games, we're going to see if Jeremy can do more than just play basketball.
Remember, there is no money involved in this so Jeremy's amateur status is not in jeopardy. But what is at stake is bragging rights and status. I know I don't want to lose to a high school kid and I am sure West doesn't want to lose to one of his players.
Jeremy had the right idea, saying, "All I want to do is make sure I beat West."
Looking at his bracket it may be tough. He picked a few upsets early, but it's in the later rounds where things get interesting. He picked Arizona to knock off Duke and Western Michigan beating N.C. State in the second round. He has Gonzaga rolling all the way to the Final Four along with North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. He has an all Big East final with Pitt defeating UCONN.