An Open Letter to My NCAA Tournament Bracket
To my NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket,
Every time I look at you, I cry a little inside.
Our relationship started off so strong, full of hope and confidence. I watched college basketball games all winter so we could brag about our friendship to family and friends.
You, however, broke my heart. This happens every year, so maybe I should just give up on us.
I have noticed you love when a lower seed beats a higher seed, but it’s hard predicting which upsets bring you happiness. I picked a few correctly, like No. 12 Oregon State over No. 5 Tennessee and No. 11 UCLA over No. 6 BYU, and then things went downhill.
The last time a 15 seed beat a 2 seed was 2016, so I should have seen that upset coming. Oral Roberts over Ohio State though? Cleveland State beating Houston would have done less damage.
I also must scold you for letting No. 7 Oregon, who didn’t play its first-round game, beat No. 2 Iowa. The Hawkeyes should have made an Elite Eight run. Having a pair of two seeds exit before the Sweet Sixteen just makes each subsequent loss more painful.
Surprisingly, No. 14 Abilene Christian sneaking past No. 3 Texas did not hurt too much. It was fun watching the Wildcats win their first NCAA tournament game less then 10 years after becoming a Division I program.
When No. 8 Loyola-Chicago knocked out No.1 Illinois, my national title runner-up, I wanted to be mad, but it was impossible. Sister Jean brings unlimited joy and senior Cameron Krutwig remind us the center position still has value in the modern game. Since the Oklahoma State-Brad Underwood reunion will not happen, I can accept the Ramblers going on a Final Four run similar to 2018.
Oregon State, of course, has stolen more than a bid at this point. The No. 12 Beavers have become a Cinderella story since winning the Pac-12 tournament, but I would rather have Sister Jean stay in Indianapolis another week.
Really quick, we need to talk about Syracuse. You are torturing me with the Orange. Sneaking into the tournament, shooting over 50% in two games and handing me two guaranteed losses in later rounds. That’s just mean.
I must acknowledge the Round of 32 went well overall. I selected 22 teams correctly, which might be my best result ever. Still, it doesn’t make up for the limited number of teams you left me in the Elite Eight and beyond.
I’m not asking for much now. If Gonzaga wins the national title and Alabama reaches the Final Four, we can still be acquaintances.
Normally I would have already left a relationship like this, but the competitor in me must overcome the madness. Find a way to work things out.
I will keep fighting until the bitter end and then unceremoniously toss you away in frustration.
Don’t worry, though. More tournaments lie ahead. Like those underdogs you love, we will eventually have our one shining moment.
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