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Duke or Bust

Usually, I write about things people will be interested in. Not so today. Remember how much promise and hope and optimism we all had in our cleverly crafted bracket sheets a couple of weeks ago? Remember March Madness?

A lot of things have happened along the way to the Final Four. Namely, Kansas. And Kentucky and Georgetown and Syracuse and Maryland. It’s been whacky. Though in 1st place in my office pool for the first two rounds, reality set in and dropped me as low as 16th out of 30. But I’ve headed back up to 12th and now 9th and I am currently the only one of the contenders who has picked Duke to win it all.

It’s all about the Blue Devils now. If they win the national championship, I will be cutting down my own, highly local little net.

For a lot of folks, the Duke Blue Devils are the New York Yankees. This is their 11th appearance in the Final Four under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. They’ve won three national titles, including back-to-back in 1991 and 1992. They were runner-up in 1990, 1994 and 1999.

But this is also their first Final Four in six years so a lot of folks think Coach K and the Blue Devils have lost a lot of their luster. They’re like the ’78 Yankees, back in the thick of it after a long dry spell.

I will admit there are times when I have hated Duke as intensely as any good Maryland fan should. But even when I was rooting against them, I have always held a grudging respect for Coach K. I think he’s a class act. So leaving the fate of my bracket in his hands is kind of like dealing with a Doctor you trust.

They may not survive a really, really good West Virginia team. Michigan State has been to 6 of the last 10 Final Fours and has a great pedigree too. But after all that’s happened over the past couple of weeks, I still have a rooting interest in March Madness, both for the game itself and the potential $200 in office pool money and all the lobster and steak it can buy.

For that, I have you to thank, Coach K. Good luck, buddy. Go Atlantic Coast Conference!

Battered Brackets and We Soldier On

(Bullet-Riddled Bracket Sheet)

If it were a battlefield, the carnage would have been frightful. Georgetown, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin; the giants crumbling right and left while the likes of St. Mary’s, Cornell and Northern Iowa prove why March Madness is so rich and unpredictable. And poor Maryland. What a brave comeback against Michigan State and what an excruciating last second defeat.

So from a distance, here march the survivors toward work on Monday morning, with casts and slings and dinged body armor and bloody, torn and bullet-riddled bracket sheets. Kansas alone wiped out half the participants of most office pools.

At one point Sunday I had slipped from 1st to 11th. But alas, a 2nd round upset pick of Xavier and my belief in the professionalism of Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils has me back in a three-way tie for first. The number that matters now is potential points left. I have the third highest potential and the folks with more are 8th and 24th, so I’m feeling good about my chances.

My future rests with Ohio State, Syracuse, Duke, Baylor, and West Virginia. And here’s what I discovered about high-fallutin’ Pythagorean-based prediction analyses. They work. There are at least six games I would have lost had I not turned to psychopathic bracketologists.

I’ll take my 33-15 record and live on to fight another day.

As for those second-chance pools CBS Sports.com is offering up where you get to start all over with the Sweet 16; I have both my hands up making “L’s” with my fingers. There’s no crying in baseball and there are no second chances in the Bracketology wars.