My 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Homer Brackets

>> Thursday, March 20, 2008

I miss two things about not working in a school/office anymore: stealing office supplies and running an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket pool. I really enjoyed those $5 pools where anybody and everybody entered--and practically everyone stood a chance of winning. March Madness is a happy time of year, and my favorite days of all are the first two, where the games come fast and furious from noon to midnight.

But now that I'm a full-time writer and work from home, I don't have anyone to play a bracket challenge with! (I know - cue the tiny violins.) This year I even debated not filling out a bracket at all. There was a part of me too that thought that perhaps this year, with my hometown school and alma mater Tennessee getting an unprecedented second #2 seed in in three years, I might just sit back and enjoy the tournament and root for Tennessee as a fan, not a bracketeer.

This is a big issue for me. I play a lot of fantasy sports, most importantly fantasy baseball, and I have to work hard to separate my fandom from my fantasy sports. There are some fantasy players who cannot separate the two and enjoy drafting all Atlanta Braves or all Chicago Cubs and riding their fortunes throughout the season, but to really win at fantasy sports you have to check your allegiances at the door an be willing to take players or teams that set your teeth on edge.

And so every year that Tennessee made the tournament, I would dutifully have them going out in the first or second round. And why not? Viewed clinically, there was no reason not to call it that way. They just were never that good. But of course each early departure from the tournament broke my heart a little--and one year the Vols went one step further than I had them in my brackets, and I felt unspeakable shame for not believing.

But this year is different. This year the Volunteers have Tyler Smith and JuJuan Smith and J.P. Prince and Wayne Chism and Duke Crews to throw down next to long-suffering and super-talented senior Chris Lofton. This year they have Bruce Pearl, who took Tennessee to number one in the nation this season for the first time ever. (Even if it was for just two days.) And this year the Vols got snubbed with the lowest of the #2 seeds, the eighth-best place in the tournament, after finishing the season ranked fourth in the nation. This year they have something to fight for, something to prove.

And this year, I believe.

So this year, without a bracket pool to compete in and without feeling the need to set my fandom aside, I present to you my hastily done, totally homer, 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament brackets: (Click to see it larger.)

Tennessee all the way, baby! I've shamelessly gone all out fan on this one, and I'm not embarrassed to say it. I go conservative in the East Region with UNC and Louisville and Notre Dame advancing--until they are all crushed under the might sneakers of the Tennessee Volunteers! Outside our region I give some SEC brethren a little love too, giving Vandy the win over trendy upset pick Sienna and Mississippi State a first round win over Oregon--although I couldn't go so far as to give Kentucky, Arkansas, or Georgia first round wins. (Kentucky mostly for spite.)

I also give dreaded Memphis (whom the Vols beat in the regular season, at Memphis, to claim their #1 ranking all for themselves!) three wins--until they run into a real team and get bounced from the tournament. That leaves Tennessee facing Kansas and UCLA taking on Texas in the Final Four, with Tennessee knocking off UCLA for the win. National championship, baby! Borrow Pat Summit's scissors and cut down the nets!

What can I say? It's a homer bracket. Like Woody Allen at the end of Annie Hall, when I get to write the story, I can make it come out any way I want to.

Go Vols - I'll be rooting for you.


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