A city editor’s first crack at a March Madness bracket

Tim Sampson and Tim Sampson

For the first 21 Marchs of my life, I’ve always managed to stay sane and avoid ‘the madness.’

Maybe I’ve spent too many hours in the newsroom or too many nights studying, but for some reason I’ve never taken the time to indulge in the perennial male rite of passage: filling out an NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket.

Some might say the reason I’ve never filled out a bracket is because I know nothing about basketball.

It is true that the only reason I ever watch ESPN is to see reruns of ‘American Gladiators’ (because, frankly, the new episodes on NBC just don’t cut it), but don’t let my complete ignorance of sports fool you; I’m more than qualified to publish my tournament predictions. After all, I am the holder of several elementary school basketball camp certificates of participation, and I recently covered a Harlem Globetrotter game for this very newspaper – so I think I know what I’m talking about.

But I am entering the bracket process at a considerable disadvantage – mainly that I haven’t seen a single NCAA men’s basketball game this season. So rather than relying on skilled analysis of past game-play and athletic performance, I will be basing all of my decisions on a bizarre combination of superstition, nonsense and coin-flips.

I’m not going to lie, the guiding principle of my first, second and third round picks was which school had the shorter name. I’m a busy guy – news doesn’t just stop while I fill out my bracket – and I didn’t have time to write out long, hard-to-spell school names like Villanova or Mississippi Valley State. That’s why I’m predicting an acronym-heavy Sweet 16.

But the choice became a bit more difficult when I got down to the elite eight. Likewise my reasoning became a bit more erratic.

In case it’s not clear by now, I’m a geek. So I’m looking to Cornell to pull-off a revenge of the nerds and prove to the world that you can spend all your time studying and still be good at sports. But unfortunately, I see these guys getting knocked out in the fourth round. Hey Cornell, if you want to do better next year, maybe you should put down that copy of ‘War and Peace’ and start running some layup drills!

I’ve also got another odd reason for one of my picks. But if Kansas, the basketball team, is anything like Kansas, the 1980’s rock band, I predict big things for these guys. Carry on my wayward sons! Carry on all the way to the Final Four!

But don’t think my reasoning is completely without logic. There’s a definite home-state bias that runs through my picks. Born in southern California and raised in eastern Pennsylvania, my home-state pride has led me to predict a UCLA/Temple match-up in the semi-finals. But obviously Temple will prevail, feeding off of all the greatness that emanates from the City of Brotherly Love. After all, it was Philly that also gave us Ben Franklin, the Bill of Rights and cheesesteaks.

But when it comes to the championship, the petty allegiances I hold to my native states must give way to my overriding love of this country. I say American University all the way!

Despite warnings from The BG News sports editors that American actually sucks, their team is still my pick to go all the way this year. I mean, how can you be against America? If you don’t pick American to win the tournament, you might as well go with Al-Qaeda Tech!