The madness

So while Ben Folds is playing The Rave tonight …

I’m home watching the basketball games.

I’d known about tonight’s Ben Folds show since it was announced several weeks ago. And for the first time in my life I said “Um, no, thanks.”

I did it partly because, in our current state, that was an extra $40 I didn’t need to spend. But there was another part of me that -- oddly and somewhat sadly -- had no interest in going. I’ve seen the guy play live so many times I’m starting to lose count (nine times, I think). The crowds are getting younger and more obnoxious, and the music, in my opinion, isn’t as inspiring as it used to be. For years I didn’t understand when I heard people say, “I used to love (insert a popular band).” I'd always think, How can you just let go like that?! Aren’t they always your favorite band!?

Now I’m starting to understand. I fear I maybe growing out of my lust for Ben Folds music. Not that his music will cease sounding oh so good to my ears or being so meaningful to me.

But …

Ben’s latest “Way to Normal” album fronts a little too much angst for my tastes at this stage in my life, and the barrage of cursing on it makes it appear as though he’s more interested these days in impressing a younger crowd loaded with rebellious teens and drunken frat boys. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope I haven’t seen the last of ol’ Ben, but those feelings weren’t happening as tonight’s date approached …

Then I read things like this and I get excited about him all over again.

Anyway. Bring on the basketball

I haven’t watched nearly as many games this season as I’d like to claim. But having Sportscenter on in the background as I’ve fed Phoebe and got her dressed every morning certainly helped keep my college basketball knowledge up to par. And I’ve heard and seen enough to know no team was strong enough this year to sustain more than a couple weeks atop the rankings.

Let’s face it. When this time of year comes around, filling out brackets is a total crapshoot.

Once again this year, I’m partaking in my office’s infamous pool -- which, for $2 a bracket, is open to all staff members, as well as their friends, family members, pets and beings imaginary, deceased, made-up or otherwise. My editor Dave takes great pride and pleasure in running it each year and, after each round, provides us with standing updates, as well as funny and amusing facts from the contest.

Basically, I think it’s the funnest office pool in the history of the NCAA tournament.

And once again this year, my mother is participating in the pool, providing good reason for a little fun competition and trash-talking between the two of us. (Mom’s picked all the No. 1 seeds for this year’s Final Four, and I’ve got to wonder where the heck her logic is in those picks. She picked all the No. 1s last year, too, and I chastised her for it because all the No. 1 seeds had never made it to a Final Four … Until last year. But seriously, Mom, you really think that’s going to happen two years in a row!?)

In my bracket, I’ve got Michigan State, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in my Final Four, with Michigan State beating Syracuse in the championship game …

Again, it’s a crapshoot and I don’t have the time to analyze every game by checking each team’s stats, records and head-to-head competition …

But I do think Connecticut and Pittsburgh have been the most consistent this season, and I had them pegged for my Final Four before the brackets even came out on Sunday. I also think Louisville and North Carolina are overrated and, with a little luck, they’ll be knocked out by the regional finals -- which paves the way for some good Michigan State and Syracuse teams. And if the fact that the Final Four is in Detroit this year isn’t enough motivation for Michigan State …

Then there’s Phoebe’s bracket …

As you’ll recall, she did quite well in last year’s pool. I referred to her bracket last year as my bracket “for luck.” She picked Kansas to win it all … And we all know how that turned out.

So I decided again this year that I’d fill out a bracket for Phoebe. And if there’s was any logical way to get Kansas into the Final Four, I was going to do it. And I did.

Phoebe’s Final Four is Kansas, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and North Carolina … Basically, it’s me picking the teams that I was second-guessing in my first bracket, along with some sentimental favorites.

As I said, I think Connecticut and Pittsburgh are the teams to beat. And while I think North Carolina is overrated, well, there still pretty darn good. … As for my theory on Kansas, I think they’ve shown enough this season that there’s a chance they could beat Michigan State to move onto the Sweet Sixteen and then beat the overrated Louisville Cardinals to move into the Final Four.

That would mark the end of the road for Kansas, though. In the Final Four, Phoebe’s got Connecticut beating Kansas, and North Carolina beating Pittsburgh. Then North Carolina beats Connecticut for the championship. Like I said, North Carolina may be overrated, but there still pretty darn good.

Let the madness begin.

Some good March Madness reads ...
a The Case for Hoopsteria
a One Who Did It Best Tells How to Pick ’Em
a Bracketphobia -- Why my tourney chart remains blank until after the games are played

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