But first, an obligatory bit of correspondence.
Dear Guy Who Picked Manhattan To Win It All:
Sorry about that.
Now, then. Where were we?
Well, not with the Jaspers, who lost the first play-in game.
(You there in the back, wearing the NCAA pin: Pipe down. Play-in games are what these are and it's what we're going to call them. You can call it the First Four if you want -- hell, shout it from the rooftops -- but no one's buying it).
So not Manhattan, and also not Hampton, the team that beat it. Hampton gets Kentucky now, so, thanks for playing, guys. Don Pardo is waiting backstage with your lovely parting gift.
Not Manhattan, not Hampton, and, while we're on the subject, not Lafayette, Coastal Carolina or the winner between Robert Morris and North Florida. Those are your 16 seeds. Someday a 16 seed will beat a 1 seed, but it won't happen this year. Not even when one of the 16 seeds (Coastal Carolina) has the completely awesome nickname of "Chanticleers."
(Although how cool would it be if Robert Morris/North Florida beat Duke? Just because, you know, Duke).
Not Manhattan, not Hampton, not the 16 seeds, and not Purdue, either. Look, I like the Boilers. I like A.J. Hammons. I like the fact they can bring another moose, Isaac Haas, off the bench. I like that Matt Painter has put a team on the floor that actually looks like Purdue again: hard-nosed, tough-minded, gets in your grill and stays there,
But except for Jon Octeus, none of them have played in an NCAA Tournament before. And the only teams they've beaten recently, they should have (Penn State and Illinois). And Cincinnati's no walkover.
Oh, yeah: And even if they beat Cincinnati, they get Kentucky in the next round. Thanks for playing ... Don Pardo ... yada yada.
So not Manhattan, Hamption, the 16 seeds, Purdue nor, while we're at it, any of the other schools from Indiana. The Hoosiers will excite their fans by hanging with Wichita State at halftime, then get smoked in the second half (or vice-versa). Butler, a 6 seed, could actually lose to 11-seed Texas in its first game, the former lovable underdog suffering the fate of all those over-dogs upon which it made its bones. And Valparaiso might cause a stir by taking down Maryland in the first round -- I'm telling you, it could happen -- but won't go much further.
That leaves Notre Dame. I don't think the Irish are going to win, either, because it's Da Tournament and the Irish never win in Da Tournament. But if there's any team that can knock out Kentucky before the Final Four, they're it. Unlike Notre Dame teams in the past, they're quick and athletic and they don't live and die at the 3-point line. Plus, they just won the ACC by throwing rotten fruit at its royal family, beating Duke and North Carolina back-to-back. So they can hang with anyone.
Plus, it looks like that kind of tournament this year. There's a lot of rickety there among the middle seeds, and a lot of imminent doom among the higher seeds. Look out for Eastern Washington, a 13 going up against Georgetown, a 10-loss No. 4. Ditto Ole Miss, an 11 taking on Xavier, a 13-loss No. 6. Ditto Wyoming vs. this year's Butler, Northern Iowa, just because I like Larry Nance Jr. and I have a bunch of relatives who live in Wyoming.
And then there's your obligatory 5-vs.-12 Look Out Specials, An Official NCAA Tournament Meme. This year's top picks: Buffalo out of the MAC, up against West Virginia; Wofford out of the Southern Conference, a yummy pick to erase Arkansas despite losing to The Citadel this year.
So, there you have it. All the people who are not going to Dance the last Dance. And who will?
"I picked Notre Dame to win it all," someone said to me the other day.
The Blob is not going to get that crazy. In fact, there's so much bad craziness being predicted already, it's tempted to do something really crazy and predict that Da Tournament, perverse animal that it is, will go straight chalk this year.
Which means Kentucky wins.
Or Wisconsin, maybe, because it has the best player in the country (Frank Kaminsky). Or Arizona. Or, I don't know, Northern Iowa, providing it can get past my Cowboys.
You heard it here last.