This week I have written about how I was going to try a new way of picking my NCAA Tournament Bracket, because I have always been terrible. I have never won any money; not even close. This year I was determined to show great improvement by putting much less thought and analysis into it. I was going with my gut, or how a certain game felt to me. The results are in: Of the sixteen games on Thursday’s schedule, I picked nine correctly, and missed seven. If I had actually played in an office pool somewhere, even in the zoo against the chimpanzees, I would be near last place. I just can’t pick NCAA Tournament Basketball.
My son Davey, was 13-3, and he is very happy with his opening picks. He also had a huge laugh at my expense. So did everyone else. I realize now what I did wrong (again) I still picked too many games with my heart. I had tabbed St. Mary’s to upset Memphis and if a last second shot attempt had gone in, they would have won. Thinking back, I chose St. Mary’s because they were very impressive in beating my alma mater, MTSU in the play-in game. I wanted them to win, so I picked them. They lost and now Memphis faces Michigan State in the round of 32.
I also had Davidson upsetting Marquette, and the Wildcats led by six, with a minute to go. Coach Bob McKillop’s team also led by three with twenty seconds left and had the game sewn up. The “victory cake” was ready to come out of the oven. But, someone must have informed the Marquette bench late in the game that I had picked them to be upset, and they hit their last three, 3-point attempts to close to within a point at 58-57. After a Marquette miss, Davidson got the ball but turned it back over with six seconds left. Vander Blue streaked to the bucket and laid in the winning shot with a second left, lifting Marquette to a 59-58 win.
Those were my two biggest upset picks on opening day and I missed them both. I also tabbed Oklahoma State to do as expected and win over Oregon. They didn’t; they lost by thirteen in a big upset. Harvard also upset New Mexico in another outcome, I just didn’t see coming. It seems as if I pick a team to win in a big upset, it becomes the “kiss of death.” I would imagine if teams knew I was picking them to win, they’d send me an email, saying, “no thanks.” I even jinxed the SEC, tabbing Missouri to beat Colorado State. They didn’t. (I obviously can’t pick the NIT either. Don’t tell Coach Martin but I also picked Tennessee to beat Mercer this week. They didn’t.)
In my own defense, I have always been much better at picking the teams to advance to the Final Four, and getting the national champ correct about half the time. Don’t tell Coach Pitino, but I still like his Louisville team to win it all.
So, after going just 9-7 on opening day, it’s time to regroup. Time to prove that yesterday was just a fluke. Time for redemption in the Smith household. Go Gators!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).