This year, I am going to give you, the valued blog reader, a unique opportunity.
I will let you follow along with my NCAA Tournament brackets as they either A) lead me to my second Gazette office pool title in three years or B) pull a Hindenburg.
You can follow along through all the triumph, tragedy, consternation, tragedy, nail-biting, tragedy, swear words, crumpled brackets in the bottom of a urinal at BW3, and tragedy.
Or my greatest moment ever.
Use these picks to bet on anything, and I will see to it that you are branded a complete and utter moron for the rest of your life.
I now set the stage with my picks for the Round of 64:
Play-in game: Hampton over Monmouth.
Reasoning: No idea why. Hampton won a game as a 15 seed a few years back, I guess.
(1) Connecticut over (16) Albany
Reasoning: It's a 1-16 game. I'm not going to outsmart myself like that.
(8) Kentucky over (9) Alabama-Birmingham
Reasoning: Ever since that whole Tayshaun-Prince-is-too-skinny-to-make-it-in-the-NBA movement blew up in everyone's face, I never bet against Kentucky when they are the favorites. UAB could be playing a bucket of KFC and I wouldn't bet against the chicken.
(5) Washington over (12) Utah State
Reasoning: The dreaded 5-12 matchup. Once again, I'm not going to attempt to outsmart myself. Which means I'm probably outsmarting myself by attempting to not outsmart myself. Which means I'm screwed. Or not.
This was the last first-round game I filled in on my bracket. I'm serious.
(4) Illinois over (13) Air Force
Reasoning: My mind was polluted by way too much Clark Kellogg and Jim Nantz on the CBS selection show. After hearing "How did Air Force make it in and Cincinnati didn't?" for 60 minutes, I can't in good conscience pick Air Force to win a foosball tournament at the moment.
(6) Michigan State over (11) George Mason
Reasoning: Last year I equated Big Ten basketball with White Castle as the stoner food of college sports. No nutritional value whatsoever. Wisconsin and Michigan State made me pay dearly for my arrogance. Not this year.
(3) North Carolina over (14) Murray State
Reasoning: I absolutely cannot pick the defending national champs to get bounced in the first round. Having said that, I have a bad feeling.
(10) Seton Hall over (7) Wichita State
Reasoning: Like I'm going to pick a baseball school in a basketball tourney. That's like picking Argentina to win an Olympic gold in basketball ... What's that you say?
(2) Tennessee over (15) Winthrop
Reasoning: I can't help but contemplate the athletic superiority of Tennessee against a school with a name that suggests they serve strawberries and cream at sporting events.
(1) Villanova over (16) Hampton
Reasoning: You twisted my arm
(9) Wisconsin over (8) Arizona
Reasoning: See Michigan State above
(5) Nevada over (12) Montana
Reasoning: Let's play "Which State Has Less To Do?"
Nevada: blighted landscape
Montana: vast stretches of wilderness
Nevada: Legalized prostitution and casinos
Montana: Horse poop and anti-government wackjobs
(4) Boston College over (13) Pacific
Reasoning: If Boston College loses to Surf U., I don't want to be Boston College when they get off the plane at Logan International. Bostonians won't let that ride.
(6) Oklahoma over (11) Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Reasoning: Wisconsin-Milwaukee used to make Cleveland State their bitch on a regular basis. So they can go home and dig their cars out of snow drifts as far as I'm concerned.
(3) Florida over (14) Southern Alabama
Reasoning: this pick is for Urban Meyer. It's also blatantly obvious.
(7) Georgetown over (10) Northern Iowa
Reasoning: Do we all remember Jimmy Chitwood's magical 60-point game for Northern Iowa in the '56 Tournament? As soon as we figure out a way to go back in time and splice fiction with reality so that game actually happened, I'll pick Northern Iowa to win.
(2) Ohio State over (15) Davidson
Reasoning: I am a shameless homer. Scold me.
Up next: the Atlanta and Oakland brackets.