Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs This is supposed to be the best time of the year.
That is, unless you’re a fan of the University of Colorado. The Buffs’ recent snub to the NCAA tournament left me down. I hate the NCAA, and I hate March Madness right now.
The only bracket I intended to fill out was an NIT bracket. For the record, I have a final of Colorado and Oklahoma State.
But then I remembered the challenge I issued one year ago to Rebecca Nicholson’s third-grade class.
The great part about March Madness is there is no exact science. Each person thinks he or she is an expert — how Colorado got left out is a mystery to most of us experts — when inevitably the least likely person wins the office pool.
Last year, through my tried and treasured approach, I was able to beat Mrs. Nicholson’s third-grade class.
That should have been expected. Shouldn’t a sports reporter be able to beat a bunch of third-graders?
Absolutely — unless, of course, it’s March Madness.
Last year, Nicholson’s class used the bracket as a lesson. They learned democracy and learning to vote. They did a Venn diagram.
I was again going to use the same method. Go with guards, coaches and big-time conferences. Of course, when Colorado didn’t get in, I decided my method this year would be to do my bracket in less than five minutes. No thinking. That gets me in trouble.
Nicholson’s class changed its methods a little bit. Democracy still was in full effect. But before the research the third-graders did, they liked Ohio State, Illinois and University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Then they got to work.
They watched videos of teams. They read about teams. This year, they didn’t let their teacher’s affiliations with schools cloud their judgment.
Nicholson graduated from Indiana State and loves Purdue. This year, however, the third-graders’ approach — as well as mine — seems to be working.
My Final Four: Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Kansas.
Theirs: Ohio State, Duke, Purdue and Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, of course, lost to everyone’s underdog favorite, Butler, and its coach with the pin head and way-too-big glasses.
Throughout the first two rounds, I held a slight advantage. I had eight Sweet 16 teams left and hit on 24 of 32 first-round games.
The third-graders aren’t far behind. They still have six Sweet 16 teams left and hit on 20 first-round games.
The next two weekends are where it will be won.
I have Kansas winning it. They had Pittsburgh.
Why? I like Kansas’ depth and coach Bill Self. They picked a Pittsburgh-Ohio State final because both teams are on television a lot.
I feel confident I’ll win, but that’s the beauty of March Madness.
This time in a couple of weeks — should Duke and Ohio State make the Final Four — my knowledge could mean nothing. Third-graders could be drubbing a sports reporter, relegating Colorado and me to NIT games.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com