HW Basketball Logo2002 HWCI NCAA Pool Update
Tuesday, April 2, 2002
Issue # 18.6.3 "Closing thoughts..."
Scott gives some random thoughts on how to pick a champion

EL SEGUNDO/CERRITOS, CA (smt)-- Duke was supposedly given the easy path to the Final Four but was upended by Indiana in the Sweet 16. Maryland, however, had to beat the top seeds in each round (#16-Siena, #8-Wisconsin, #4-Kentucky, #2-Conn, #1-Kansas) before meeting the Hoosiers. The Terrapins, after blowing a 22-pt lead to Duke in last year's semifinals, vowed to recover and ended up with the school's first-ever NCAA national basketball championship. The tournament seemed to exist on hype: a Duke-Maryland final matchup, a resurgent Gonzaga team, a watch-your-back improved USC team that could beat Duke, a different and better Cincinnati team that wouldn't choke in the 2nd round. None of it happened. But we did get to see a fun Oregon team, Cinderella magic in Kent St. and Missouri, and UCLA, er, Steve Lavin, redemption.

So without further ado, my thoughts on the tournament:

BONEHEAD PLAY I: Dane Fife (Ind) fouling Duke's Jason Williams on a 3-pt attempt with a 4-pt lead and seconds remaining. Williams made the basket.

BONEHEAD PLAY II: Williams missing the gift free throw to tie the game and send it into overtime.

GREATEST MOMENT: Terrell Talyor's (Creighton) incredible 3-pt basket with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime to give the Bluejays a 83-82 win over Florida.

SOUREST MOMENT: Florida coach Billy Donavan claiming that it was possible to go the length of the court and score with 0.2 seconds left and that the celebratory Creighton bench players should've been assessed a potential game-tying technical. You couldn't do it if the only 10 guys on the court were on your team.

POD SYSTEM: New "home-court" advantage regional setup may have given injury-plagued Pittsburgh and sixth-seeded Texas easy rides into the Sweet 16. Both lost their next game.

STATE QUARTERS: Of the 8 teams in the Elite 8 (quarterfinals), seven are known by their state name (IN, MO, OK, MD, CT, KS, OR)- Kent St. being the exception.

COOLEST NICKNAME: Southern Illinois Salukis.

WORST NICKNAME: Kent St. Golden Flashers, I mean, Flashes. See?

ROAD TO FINAL FOUR: Both Maryland and Kansas had to play the top seeds in each round while, if we exclude #1-Duke, #5-Indiana faced #12-Utah, #13-UNC Wilmington, and #10-Kent St.

WORST TV COVERAGE: Don't you hate monopolies? CBS leaves two tight games in closing seconds to show either a commercial or the non competitive local game of the day.

BEST RADIO COVERAGE: KMPC 1540 LA. While CBS was dallying around, KMPC played both tight games right after each other as they happened.

AMAZING COMEBACKS: Though they lost, USC's 19-pt late 2nd half comeback to send the game into overtime was exciting. Indiana's 14-pt 2nd half comeback to beat Duke. Kansas almost overcoming a 20-pt with 6 minutes to go vs Maryland would've been historic. No big lead ever seems to be safe in college basketball.

FREE THROWS: USC and Florida would still be alive had they hit their free throws.


NO OVERTIME, PLEASE: Lower seeded teams were 4-0 in OT.

BEST HAIR: Wesley Stokes, Missouri.

And my thoughts on the pool:

CONGRATS: Scott ($400), Jeff ($200), Ann ($130), and Paul ($70).


AMAZING PICKS: Catrina (YUDANJA) and Jon (WHAT LUCK) both had Indiana going to the Final. Unfortunately, neither had Maryland making the Final Four. Three picked Kent St. and 2 picked Missouri to make the Elite 8.

BIZARRE PICKS: Craig (BOW'S) had Hawaii winning it all. Gabriel (GOBAY) had St. John's in the final. Dan (HENDO) had Stanford in the final and NC St. making the Final Four. GOBAY also had Holy Cross beating Kansas.

OUCH: After first 7 games, Cliff (CMT ONE) was 7-0 and Beth (STRUMER) was 1-6.

HARD TO PICK?: Getting half the games right seemed like a given. So why did 8 entries go below .500? Dan H's (HENDO) 22 wins over 6 rounds were LESS than what 33 people got just in the 1st Round. Conversely, Jeff H (RANDOM PICKS) got 46 right, one more than champion Scott T.

WELL, AT LEAST HE GOT THIS ONE RIGHT: Robinson C's FLIP FIGHTERS is only the 3rd entry to pick the correct champion and not reach 100 pts (99).

And finally, thoughts on my picks:

Several have joked they were going to copy my picks for next year. I don't know, it's taken me 8 years to win this thing. Truth is, this was the worst feeling I've had picking teams. Usually, I try to read up on stuff Tuesday-Wednesday and read the paper early Thursday morning before submitting my picks. This year, due to the vast amount of entries we had to sift through, I didn't have much time to read anything except what I heard on the radio and was so tired I submitted my picks late Wednesday night. But in the interest of science, here are my $400 random thoughts on picking this year's field:

1) Ignorance. I don't watch any college basketball except for maybe one game and maybe a couple of the conference tournament championships just to get in the mood. I feel paying too much attention during the regular season biases you... plus I don't have time.

2) Hype. Maryland was primed to erase last year's loss to Duke. Thus, a Duke vs Maryland final. So I had them going all the way (yes!). Duke had an easy route so I had them going to the final (mistake). Cincinnati should not have been a # 1 seed so I had them going early (though not early enough). Oklahoma deserved #1 seed so I had them reaching the Final Four (they did). Kansas was a team that wouldn't choke like prior teams so I took a chance and had them go to the Final Four (they did). Alabama was a trouble-plagued team, so despite a #2 seed, I didn't have them reaching the Elite 8 (they went out 1 round earlier). Kent St. was underrated so I had them winning over OK St (eerily, in another pool I had them going to the Elite 8) only.

3) Paths. I didn't think Oregon deserved a #2 seed but there didn't seem to be any resistance until they played Kansas (they did). The Pod system, placing teams close to home, allowed me to take injury-plagued Pitt team (playing in Pittsburgh) and a sixth seed Texas team (playing in Dallas) to make the Sweet 16 (they did). Same for Illinois but they were already a #4 seed (they did).

4) #1 seeds. At no time have all 4 #1 seeds made the Final Four. Oklahoma was my lone #2 seed.

5) #8 vs #9. These are the games that can make or break you because you'll get a split vote for each. I went 3-1 missing Stanford's win (4-0 with my FREE FABONE entry).

6) Favorites. Generally, the seedings work. Unless there is hype (see above) to contradict something, I usually go with the higher seeds. The exception is...

7) Hometown or Biases. Picking Hawaii (my parents were born there) could've cost me. I almost picked Pepperdine as well but I heard something on the radio about Wake Forest being the sleeper team (I chose Pepperdine for my FREE FABONE entry). And I hate Duke so I wasn't going to have them win it all even if they were favored to win (worked in 1999, killed me in 2001). It all comes down to...

8) Luck and Hunches. I don't know why UConn is a #2 seed. But I like UConn (picked them in 1999 and won 2nd place) so I sent them to meet Maryland (they did). I thought Bob Knight would inspire Texas Tech's first tourney in a while into the Sweet 16 (lost in 1st round). I also have this fondness for Ohio St for some strange reason and had them go to the Elite 8 (lost in 2nd round). Gonzaga got robbed on their #6 seeding so for the first time in a while, had them lose in the 2nd round (they lost in the 1st).

As you can see, all of the above is just mumbo-jumbo. It seems to work but maybe if I paid more attention during the week, I may have talked myself out of some picks and end up finishing 5th. Of course, one thing has remained constant: 144 for total points!

On to New Orleans...
Scott HW

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