First things first.
Don’t ever let Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Chambers or anybody else tell you the ACC is the greatest conference in the history of college basketball.
The ACC started the NCAA tournament with nine teams. Five days and two rounds of the tournament later, only North Carolina remains. Duke, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, a few others, and Louisville, all dusted.
Since we are on the topic of Louisville falling to Michigan, I thought the public learned way back in November that overlooking the Midwest leads to disappointment. That is unless you’re from the Midwest. Then, you end up getting what you want, which, in the case of March Madness, is three teams from the “supposedly weak” Big Ten in the Sweet 16.
Third and finally, there is always a dark side to things. In past tournaments, predicting both No. 8 Wisconsin over top-seeded Villanova and No. 7 Michigan over second-seeded Louisville would have me celebrating like my beloved mother used to do after winning cash from the pull tabs at the local Eagles.
However, in past years I wasn’t in fourth place in the four-person Jones Bracket Challenge. That’s right. I’m currently behind “The Pumpkin Girl” (13), “YDJ” (9) and even 7-year old “YJ3.”
Actually, we are all trailing the youngest, but only the overall loser has to deal with the “public shaming” I’ve been dreading.
I think we’ve settled on our own cutting-down-the-nets ceremony for the winner and public admission of defeat via Instagram and/or Facebook Live for the loser.
Of course, we’re only half way through the tournament, which means I’m not ready to concede anything to those devious monsters my wife and I spawned.
Not to mention, in the Corvias/MeadeTV Bracket Challenge, I’ve still got seven of my Elite 8 teams alive (UNC-Wilmington scrubbed out) and all my Final Four – Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Kansas and UCLA.
Our friend and two-time winner, Raul Schuett, is in first place, while the aforementioned Chambers is bringing up the rear.
One perceived dilemma in both my Jones and MeadeTV Brackets is Kansas beating Michigan.
But let’s be clear: Assuming Michigan beats Oregon today, and Kansas advances against Purdue, I’m rooting for the Wolverines.
A few decades ago, in a sports book/Howard Johnson’s/IHOP right off the Vegas Strip, “Scruff” — an old gambler who lived in the back of a bus with his partner Diane — taught me the concept of “hedging my bets.”
“If you got a team you really like or a sure thing,” Scruff said through a dirty, gray beard and emphysema-induced hacks, “bet the other side. That way if things fall through, you still have a ticket to cash in.”
Now Scruff wasn’t the best gambler in the world. In fact, his lack of proficiency spurred my fear of living in the back of a bus, which ultimately motivated me to see the Army recruiter. However, the concept of hedging has stuck with me even longer than my memory of the old man’s beer-soaked breath.
So yeah, I really want Michigan to make the Final Four.
I’ll probably cry if they don’t, but thanks to the hedge, if Kansas does advance, at least I’ll have the pleasure of watching one of my kids make a video proclaiming my greatness as opposed to me having to trumpet theirs.