Where Smart Picks Go to Die
Where do I begin?
I should have known this was coming. I even wrote about my doom and gloom attitude going into this NCAA Basketball Tournament season (Click here to read). But things can change so quickly when you’re on top.
Our show has a bracket challenge, and Andy and I have a bracket wager. I won’t go into too much detail about either one since you can hear more about that on the show. (look us up on Spreaker). Also, for a more in-depth look at our picks you can check out our pick’em at funofficepools.org.
My start to the tournament wasn’t perfect. I missed the same games everyone else did (LaSalle over KSU, FGCU over Georgetown, Harvard over New Mexico), but I picked just enough upsets that came through to give me a pretty comfortable lead (I’m up 10 points on Andy).
Speaking of comfortable leads…let’s talk a little bit about the Kansas Jayhawks. This might sound selfish and slightly mental, but I think everyone in the Kansas organization has a personal wish to see me fail. For those of you who don’t know, I picked Kansas to win it all (stop laughing). To quote myself, the reasons I gave were because, “…this is a veteran team who doesn’t always look pretty, but really knows how to win the close games” (seriously, you are going to have to stop laughing). The irony is not lost on me.
To recap the game, Kansas was up 14 with 7 minutes to go in the game. Michigan made a little bit of a run and brought it to within 10 with almost 2 minutes to go. And that’s when the wheels fell off. Michigan drew within 3 and then sent Elijah Johnson to the line with 21 seconds to go. Elijah Johnson (a 76% Free Throw shooter this year) did what many expected. He drained two free throws, both touching nothing but net.
So everyone is clear, Kansas is now up 5 with 21 seconds remaining. Michigan gets a wide open 3 look from Tim Hardaway Jr. and it looked like game over. But then Glen Robinson III snagged the loose ball and put in a reverse layup to bring the Wolverines to within 3 again. Again Michigan fouls Johnson to send him to the line for a 1-and-1 with 13 seconds on the clock.
Elijah Johnson on the line to win it. Sounds like a sure thing. Remember him? He’s the one who just made 2 free throws nothing but net. He’s the one who has shot 76% from the line this year. Surely he can make at least 1 free throw and put this game away…right?
Wrong. Johnson misses the front in of the 1-and-1 and Michigan rebounds. Trey Burke gets the ball and moves up court. Then this apparently bionic human hybrid hits a three pointer from at least a quarter of a mile away. Tie ball game.
Unbelievable. I was 13 seconds away from having an great 2013 bracket, one I could be proud of. But now, overtime will decide my bracket’s fate.
The lead went back and forth. I was afraid Michigan had too much momentum for Kansas in overtime, but Kansas held their own. So when Trey Burke had his shot blocked and Mitch McGary couldn’t sink the put back, I was elated that Kansas had the ball with 10 seconds only down by 2.
And then the worst decision in Jayhawk history was made. Elijah Johnson (you remember him right? 3 turnovers in the last 3 minutes of regulation. Clutch free throw missed. That guy) collected the ball and drove a WIDE OPEN LANE with a PERFECT CHANCE for an EASY LAYUP to TIE THE GAME AND GO TO DOUBLE OVERTIME!!! (sorry, it still stings a little).
Johnson, instead of taking the easy layup, inexplicably throws it out to a semi-guarded Naadir Tharpe who missed an off-balance 3 pointer. Game over.
Maybe my bracket will hold up and I’m over reacting. Maybe I shouldn’t hate Elijah Johnson for what he did to me. But I am no longer in control of either of these things. My bracket will be what it is. My hate for Elijah Johnson will linger, maybe forever. This just re-affirms my belief that the NCAA Basketball Tournament exists so that I can have my hopes and dreams dashed.
P.S. I hope Louisville loses by 30 tomorrow. If I can’t pick a champion, no one should be able to pick a champion. GO SYRACUSE!