Before you lose your money…


by Tommy Gimler

We’re three days away from the biggest Thursday in American sports, and the only thing we know for certain right now is that Dick Vitale has the longest running case of laryngitis in the history of broadcasting. 

As we speak, millions of Americans are filling out their brackets for the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Instead of listening to Mr. Thurin’s lecture on George Washington’s battle with dysentery, little Billy Horner is on his iPhone taking in Vitale’s Final Four picks for this year. Somewhere at an insurance office in Omaha, Francis McMichael and her fractured pelvis are waiting another four minutes while her agent Stan Goodson is trying to comprehend how in the hell Vitale has Florida State getting out of the East.

But should Billy and Stan really be putting their coin on the picks of one Richard J. Vitale? Last year, Vitale had Ohio State, Duke (surprise), Pittsburgh, and Louisville in the Final Four with Ohio State winning the whole thing. The actual Final Four consisted of VCU, Butler, Connecticut, and Kentucky with UConn making the unbelievable run to the title. In fact, not one of Vitale’s picks made the Elite Eight.

The previous year Vitale took two #1′s (Kentucky and Kansas) and two #2′s (Kansas State, Villanova) with Kentucky beating Kansas for the championship. The actual Final Four? Michigan State, Butler, Duke, and West Virginia. Imagine that! The one year Vitale doesn’t take Duke to get to the Final Four, and they win it all.

Obviously, there is no science to filling out a winning bracket. I didn’t have any of those Final Four teams last year either. But keep these facts in the back of your dome before you hastily mark Kentucky and Syracuse in for a date with destiny:

1) In the last three years, at least one #3 seed or lower has made the Final Four.

2) Before you fill out your Final Four with LBSU, New Mexico State, Montana, and Belmont check this out:

The number of double-digit seeds to make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the last five years:

     2007 – zero

     2008 – three

     2009 – one

     2010 – three

     2011 – four

But the number of those teams that have made the Final Four: one (VCU in ’11).

3) Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis at ESPN picked every single #1 seed to go to the Final Four. The last time that happened was 2008. Before that? Never.

4) Since 2007, nine #11 seeds have won their opening round games. Of those teams, only three have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (two last year).

5) The last two times Michigan State was a #1 seed they have gone to the Final Four (2000, 2001).

6) The Big East Conference has sent five teams to the Final Four in the last five years, two more than the Big Ten and ACC (3 each).

7) The Big Ten has not won a national championship since 2000 (Michigan State).

8) The Pac-12 Conference is just awful. How bad? Washington won the regular season title and missed the dance. But at least one team from the conference has made the Sweet Sixteen since 2005. Colorado and California are the only representatives this year.

9) Only two #1 seeds have not made the Sweet Sixteen in the last seven years.

10) Enter The Daily Upper Decker Bracket Challenge. If your bracket beats everybody else AND you like our facebook page, you win $100! Enter by clicking this link:

Now do you know who to pick? Probably not, but I have to get back work…

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