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Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's March Madness time

If you're a pure sports fan like I am, then the next two days are simply the best days of the year.

How can you do any better than watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament for 12 straight hours in each of the next two days? I don't care if you don't like basketball at all, you're bound to get caught up in March Madness beginning this afternoon right around the lunch hour. You can literally go from lunch to a midnight snack and never take a break from the action.

I remember in my younger days going to the neighborhood sports bar, because it had a satellite feed and they had all the games on. So I could go from TV set to TV set with Heineken in hand, watching all the games and losing money with each passing game.

Now, I don't gamble anymore and I don't have to leave my living room, because all the games are on broadcast television. I just have to make sure I know the differences between CBS, TBS, TNT and Tru-TV.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Tru-TV? What in God's name is that? And where is that on the dial? I have to get ready.

I also have to get ready for Charles Barkley offering insightful analysis of the games _ and Good Ole Chuck doesn't know a single player on the teams. He just rolls off the team's name, talks about some certain style he thinks the team plays, and makes it seem like he knows what he's talking about.

Every announcer under the sun is working this weekend. My friend Jim Spanarkel, who I saw Monday morning after he called the Atlantic 10 final between Rhode Island and Virginia Commonwealth in Pittsburgh on Sunday, will be in Buffalo calling those four games today.

Buffalo does such a wonderful job hosting the first round of the tourney there. The people of Buffalo embrace the visitors with such vigor. The food in Buffalo is delish. The drinks flow. It's a great time. I always loved hitting Schwabl's for "Beef on a Wick" and of course, the Anchor Bar for chicken wings, but I can't handle the Buffalo wings that are way too spicy for a weak baby like me.

Anyway, Spanarkel told me that he got stuck in an elevator for more than two hours Saturday with two other people and he had to be hoisted out of the elevator. Now that's some feat for someone who stands 6-foot-5.

I hope the elevators run well in Buffalo. He does such a great job calling the games. I loved him with my buddy Ian Eagle, but CBS has now paired Spanarkel with the legendary Verne Lundquist and they do a great job together.

Part of me wishes I was in Buffalo.

Another part of me wishes I was in Greenville, S.C., where Duke, North Carolina, Seton Hall and my beloved alma mater Marquette are all playing tomorrow.

There was a part of me that was packing up today and driving to Greenville, but thought about it some more and decided to stay home and capture that Madness in my living room. I would have loved to see all those teams in action in the same venue. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But the snow threw a white blanket over any travel plans I might have had. Since my illness in 2013, I have to worry about simply getting around. Walking is now a major chore. And falling down is the biggest fear of all. I fear going down with every step I take because if I go down, it's going to take the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir to get me back on my feet.

And tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. There was a time in my life that St. Paddy's Day was the most important day of the year. Well, maybe the day of the Jersey City parade, followed by St. Paddy's Day itself.

The parade day this year was way too cold for this old man's bones. I'm just not the same beast I once was.

So anyway, without further ado, here's my entire selection sheet, down to the champion


I like Villanova over Mount St. Mary, although watching Junior Robinson against the Wildcats will be fun; I'll take Wisconsin over Virginia Tech (sorry Buzz) and Virginia over N.C. Wilmington; I'll take East Tennessee State over Florida (upset special) and SMU over USC; I'll take Baylor over New Mexico State and I'll take some Midwestern Jesuit school in Milwaukee over South Carolina (OF COURSE, IT'S MARQUETTE, RING OUT AHOYA) and Duke over Troy.

Continuing in the East, I'll take Villanova over Wisconsin and Virginia over East Tennessee; I'll take SMU over Baylor and (ut oh) I'll take Duke over Marquette. Did I just pick against the Golden Eagle Warriors?

OK, in the East, I'll take Villanova over Virginia and Duke over SMU and then the Blue Devils heading to the Final Four with a win over Villanova.


I'll take Gonzaga over South Dakota State and Northwestern (Go Wildcats!) over Vanderbilt (whose nickname is the Commodores and I think right away Lionel Richie). I'll take Notre Dame over Princeton and West Virginia over Bucknell. I'll take Maryland over Xavier and I'll take Florida State over Florida Gulf Coast in a game where the first team to get to 100 wins. I'll take St. Mary's over VCU and Arizona over North Dakota.

Moving on, I like Northwestern over Gonzaga (Go Wildcats) and Notre Dame over West Virginia. I like Maryland over Florida State and I'll take Arizona over St. Mary's.

I like Notre Dame over Northwestern (see ya Wildcats) and Arizona (go Wildcats) over Maryland.

And Arizona goes on to the Final Four in its home state.


I'll go with Kansas over UC Davis (sorry Bill Herenda and Ken O'Brien) and Michigan State over Miami (Izzo never loses a first round game). I like Iowa State over Nevada and Purdue over Vermont. The Vermont fans party like there's no tomorrow and they like Ben & Jerry's there. I might have some Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie in honor of the Catamounts. I like Rhode Island and my buddy Danny Hurley (go Scott Bucks) to beat Creighton and Oregon to knock out Iona. I like Michigan to knock off Oklahoma State and Louisville to beat Jacksonville State.

Moving on, I like Kansas to beat Michigan State and Purdue to beat Iowa State. I like Rhode Island (I've always been a Rams fan) to beat Oregon and Michigan to eliminate Louisville.

I like Kansas to beat Purdue (what a great game that will be) and Michigan to end Little Rhody's miracle run. And then Kansas to beat Michigan to head to the Final Four.


I like North Carolina to beat Texas Southern and Seton Hall to beat Arkansas (GO PIRATES!). I like Middle Tennessee to upset Minnesota and Butler to beat Winthrop. I like Cincinnati to beat Kansas State and UCLA to beat Kent State. I like Wichita State to beat Dayton (sorry Aggie Murawinski and Dennis Bergin) and Kentucky to beat Northern Kentucky.

Then North Carolina beats Seton Hall and Butler beats Middle Tennessee; UCLA beats Cincinnati (sorry Darren Savino) and Kentucky beats Wichita State again.

Then Carolina beats Butler and UCLA beats Kentucky and Carolina goes to the Final Four by beating UCLA (sorry Vigg).

We have Duke, Arizona, North Carolina and Kansas in the Final Four

Duke beats Arizona and Kansas beats Carolina and the national champion is Kansas.

OK, let's see how close I get

Thanks for reading

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