You probably came here looking for incisive commentary and biting wit on all things college football. Check the calendar, dude. As much as we all love God's Sport, no sporting event on earth can match the awesomeness of the big dance.
On top of that, you can't gamble on spring football. (That I know of – if you are aware of an exchange that does offer odds on things like "Who is most likely to win the third-string right tackle job?", please don't hesitate to point me in that direction.)
Here are my favorite plays of the first two rounds of this year's tournament:
Cincinnati (-2.5) vs. Harvard
Last year, a bunch of scrappy underdogs from Harvard upset New Mexico in the first round, and the Crimson stole America's hearts in the process.
-Some East Coast Sportswriter, I'm sure
I'll never understand the romanticism that abounds around the Ivy League squads at this time of year. Pulling for Harvard against a team like Cincy or New Mexico is like rooting for the dude who just sold your grandmother a reverse mortgage to buy a new jet boat. Send the White House a letter in favor of a preemptive bank bailout while you're at it.
The pick: Sean Kilpatrick and the Bearcats show the Crimson what a true market correction is.
UCLA (-8.5) vs. Tulsa
Speaking of embarrassments, the Bruins threw Ben Howland under the bus last year in a 20-point blowout loss in the first round to Minnesota. And speaking of embarrassments, have you seen Steve Alford's record in the tournament? That's a lot of embarrassment in Westwood.
I love seeing the Golden Hurricane back on the right path under Danny Manning. Closing out their fleeting stint in Conference USA with a trip to the dance gives the program a nice kick start on the way into a new conference. That's a pretty good year.
The pick: UCLA by double digits.
North Carolina vs. Providence (+4.5)
Lobbying on behalf of the ACC might have inflated the selection committee's opinion of the league, but it takes more than Coach K's hot air to sneak teams like UNC past me. The Tar Heels are just aren't that good. They closed the year on a nice run, but that primarily consisted of the league's lightweights – Clemson, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, etc.
Ed Cooley's Friars are damn tough. Frankly, they're just better than UNC.
The pick: Providence outright.
Baylor vs. Nebraska (+3.5)
If I'm Scott Drew, I wanted to play this game on Monday. His Bears got hot down the stretch in the Big 12, which carried over into the conference tournament. But for playing four games in four days, they might have taken down Iowa State in the title game.
Now, here comes trouble. The Cornhuskers made the tournament for the first time in something like 37 years and should be fired up for this one. Nebraska also happens to own a decided coaching edge.
Look for Nebrasketball to score a couple upsets en route to the Sweet 16.
The pick: Once again, Baylor leaves everyone wanting.
Other thoughts on this year's draw:
*I've come across approximately 1,283 versions of the "Guide to Filling Out Your Bracket" in the last couple days. They're all different! Whom to trust?
*The Dino Gaudios of the college basketball world have to fill so much air time in the build-up to the start of actual play on Thursday that essentially any game besides the match-ups between the 1-16 and 2-15 seeds become potential upsets. The consensus usually coalesces around a couple chic underdogs.
Go the opposite way.
*Speaking of which, everyone seems to think Oklahoma is in real trouble in the first round against North Dakota State. Hearing all week about how they're going to get bumped off has to work in favor of the Sooners. OU should be motivated, too, after an early exit a year ago versus San Diego State.
The Bison actually do have a really strong squad, so I do get the love for NDSU. It's the only thing keeping the Sooners giving 2.5 from being one of my favorite plays.
*Michigan State supplanted Florida yesterday as the betting favorite to win the whole shebang. That stock is a sell.
Sparty was in the Iz-zone in the Big Ten conference tournament, which marked the first time this team has been healthy this season. Does that really override a body of work that is generally pretty "meh" in its entirety? Not to mention, why assume that a team that hasn't been healthy all year will stay that way now for six straight games?
The Spartans may find themselves cutting down the nets in a couple weeks, but the pendulum of public opinion has swung way too far in their favor. (You could say the same for Louisville.)
*Lastly, I'm a buyer on Wichita State.
The bitching about the Wheat Shockers' lack of competition is legit. No way they'd be undefeated at this point in the year if they played in a different conference. None of that changes the reality that WSU also laid waste to that watered-down schedule.
It's essentially the same team that reached the Final Four last year, except the growth of Fred VanVleet at point guard has only made it better. The Shockers do everything well: shoot, pass, defend, rebound. Watching them this year has been awesome: No team plays with better chemistry and rhythm. And I can't say I've seen anything that would make me feel like the pressure of being unblemished is getting to them (yet).
I'm picking all the top seeds to make it to JerryWorld and I'll roll with the Shockers to complete the dream season, beating Florida in the championship game.