Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

Let the Madness Begin

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I’m currently somewhere over Nebraska. But in just under three hours, I will be on the ground covering the NCAA Tournament in Seattle, WA. This is a dream come true. Getting all the emails this past week as an official part of the media team has gotten me bursting with excitement for being there. And that doesn’t even include my excitement levels for the basketball.

Today, my plan is to check into the hotel, monitor the end of the first set of games while figuring out a way to eat something, then head over to Key Arena for an afternoon of practices and press conferences. Among the things I’m most excited for is getting the chance to watch the open practices up close. I want to see the differences between a Rick Pitino practice and a Bob McKillop practice. I want to see Kyle Wiltjer and Seth Tuttle and the work they put in to be great.

Tomorrow, I get to cover four games, beginning with Wyoming and Northern Iowa at 10:40 am and ending with the Gonzaga-North Dakota State game in the late slot. I’ll have a full article about Davidson-Iowa of course (I”ll probably also have a preview of the game tonight), but I’m not sure yet what content will look like for the rest. At the minimum, I”ll be tweeting about the games, so follow me (@Klaus_Faust) for that. But I will have my labtop on me and will watch as many games as I possibly can. After Davidson’s open practice finishes up around 6:30 (Pacific Time), I’ll make my way back to the hotel to watch the Arkansas game.

I’m strangely not that worried about this game. Being familiar with Wofford from Davidson’s time in the SoCon, I just don’t see how they’ll be able to match up with Arkansas. I think they’ll have trouble with the pace, and they shouldn’t be able to cover Bobby Portis. He needs a big game to restore his confidence after an abysmal SEC Tournament offensively. What makes me more comfortable with this team than past Arkansas teams is their poise. Ky Madden has become the Mr. Cool and Anton Beard seems unaffected by momentum. Should things go poorly, those two guards along with Michael Qualls can get the Hogs back into the game. My prediction is a 15-point win.

The game I’m most excited for today other than Arkansas is Butler and Texas. I went back and forth on this pick all week. Originally I had Butler, but now I’m with Texas. The matchups are quite intriguing here. Isaiah Taylor might struggle against Alex Barlow, and Kameron Woods should be able to counteract some of Texas’s size advantage with his defensive rebounding ability. But ultimately, I think Texas will get enough looks close to the basket that it will stay close. And the final minutes, I wouldn’t want to be Butler trying to navigate with such poor free-throw shooters on the floor. That’ll be the difference.

Other games I’m especially looking forward to are LSU-NC State, EWU-Georgetown and UNC-Harvard. But of course, I’m excited for them all. It’s the best time of the year. And as I’m about to run out of time on the Wi-Fi, I must finish this up now.

My final four is Kentucky, Arizona, UVA and Gonzaga, with Kentucky over Gonzaga in the final. My goal is to be 95th percentile or better this year – it’s also to beat my brother who’s notoriously good at this. Enjoy the day, and may the madness begin.

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