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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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March's maddening experience

Last Modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 5:44 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

It all starts today, before lunch even.

Just after your breakfast has settled, hoops will begin.

To some the NCAA tournament already began, but those four play-in games — called the first round, officially — are nothing more than just a small appetizer.

The feast begins today.

A three-weekend run of drama will be played out on television sets and desktop computers all over the country.

Roars will follow silence in one cubical to the next as office workers steal glimpses of games they normally would care nothing about.

March Madness begins with early tip-offs today as the college basketball championship tournament begins.

This is the tourney that matters, the one when brackets are filled out by wildly crazy fans and those who pick the schools by their mascots.

A Blue Hen, even if it’s Fighting, has no chance against a Spartan, so why would anybody pick Delaware to upset Michigan State?

But on a basketball court those unknown Blue Hens do have a shot. And with that one shot, they can kill a lot of brackets and set off more than a few moans in those cubicles.

It’s the upsets that make the madness in March.

The thrill of watching a 15 seed knock down a 2 seed, as long as it is not the 2 seed you have winning it all, brings smiles to more than a few people who consider themselves underdogs.

Where else but the tourney would a Duck be favored to beat a Cougar?

The tournament has also become a great lesson in geography for more than a few.

Last year we found out not only does Florida have a Gulf Coast, but it also has a pretty good basketball team from that area.

This year, Florida Gulf Coast University is on the outside looking in, left to play in the NIT.

It’s just not the same, the NIT. Sorry LSU fans.

Those NIT brackets just aren’t the same.

And that is what the NCAA tournament is really about: brackets. Your picks, your hopes.

A year of bragging rights, or even a few extra bucks if you get in the right pool.

Who to pick, what upsets to choose. A Final Four dilemma that begins when you put the first name to your sheet.

During the next few weeks we will have to sweat through buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and more than a few upsets.

This has become the greatest running sports show and most folks want to be a part of it.

Since that is the case, I can’t help but reveal my own picks.

It should be noted that the past four years have seen my national champion ousted before the first round was over.

Early exits make you look foolish.

But like all dreamers, we try again.

Florida is the top seed overall in the tournament, but I don’t see the Gators getting very far. One win and done is all I see for Florida, opening up the South Regional for Kansas.

The Jayhawks, healthy by the tourney’s main action, are heading to the Final Four.

There they play the East champ, Michigan State. Also getting healthy, the Spartans were the No. 1 team in the preseason and they beat McNeese. That should fill anybody’s résumé.

In the West, Wisconsin wins a fairly easy bracket, as top-seeded Arizona is gone early.

I have Duke being the team that knocks off Wichita State and make it to the last weekend.

As for a winner, I’ve got Michigan State over Duke.

So you can kiss the Spartans goodbye, maybe even against those Blue Hens.

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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