Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kentucky above the Field

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kentucky above the Field

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

The selection committee (a.k.a. my editors) is going out on a limb inviting me back as an NCAA bracketologist. Perhaps they have short memories because my RPI -- Reliable Picks Index -- based on last year's tournament is no higher than Rick Majerus' vertical jump.

Forget the controversy over letting Auburn and Alabama into the Big Dance. How about me being asked to again provide an entertainment-purposes-only forecast after getting only seven of last year's Sweet 16 correct and three of the Elite Eight?

With that kind of batting average, I was clearly on the bubble. Word has it that what got me in was a combination of three factors: picking Maryland to win last year's national title, hitting on six of the final eight teams in 2001; and, most importantly, fellow columnist Mark Woods' daughter isn't old enough to make the picks for him.

It's only fair to warn you in advance that my brackets, when used improperly (i.e. plagiarized for the office pool), can produce unwelcome side effects: anxiety attacks, high blood pressure, hair loss and Gonzaga-rhea.

What makes the NCAA Tournament the greatest sports spectacle is the unpredictability of it. You know the upset wave is coming that first week, but from which region and what school that you didn't even know had a basketball program.

In filling out my dance card, here are some rules that history has proven to be worth following -- (1) Don't trust a team to go far without either superb guard play or adequate defense of the 3-point shot; (2) Cinderellas can be good dance partners, but usually just for the first two rounds; (3) Your Final Four teams should be top-heavy as 79 of the 96 participants since they began seeding in 1979 were No. 1 or 2 seeds.

The toughest part of this selection process is identifying which one of those No. 10-13 seeds is going to crash the Sweet 16 party. It's hardly a rare occurrence. In the last six years, 18 double-digit seeds have made it to the second week. A No. 10, 11 and 12 won at least two games each of the past two years.

But who to take? …

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