Looking for a bracket buster? It would be me

BILL MARTIN BILL MARTIN This is the 25th year that I have filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket. This is also the 25th year that I have wondered why I do it.

Now, it has been well-documented in this space that college basketball is my favorite sport to watch and this is without a doubt my favorite time of year along with the high school state tournament.

I have had such little success at bracketology, it makes me wonder if I’m a glutton for punishment or some kind of masochist.

In 25 years of doing this, I have picked the national champion exactly four times (Duke-92, Kentucky-96, Duke 01, UConn-04).

Not a very good batting average.

I watch the selection show. I study. I read everything I can get my hands on. I learn every team’s strengths and weaknesses. I pick the 9 over the 8s and keep an eye on those pesky 12 over 5 upsets.

Every year, there seems to be another sure-fire method to help you win your office pool.

I have never been to a Final Four, despite the fact that it has been played in San Antonio and will be again in the future.

I have been to several regionals however and will attend the one in Austin this weekend.

Martin Stroman and I were sitting right behind the basket when Arkansas’ U.S. Reed hit his 3/4 court shot to beat Louisville at the buzzer at the Superdrum.

That clip remains a television favorite to this day.

Despite the fact that we were sitting right smack dab in the middle of a swarm of Razorback fans, we were pulling for Louisville.

When Reed made that shot, those Hog-hatted maniacs let us know about it in no uncertain terms including a barrage of back slapping.

Was sitting right there when Rick Fox of North Carolina hit a last second jumper to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma in Austin.

First of all

In that first bracket (which was hand written) way back in 1988, I chose Syracuse to win the national championship.

They were beaten in the second round by Cinderella that year, Rhode Island, coached by an unknown Tom Penders.

A couple of weeks later, Penders was hired as the new coach of the Texas Longhorns.

The first question I asked him at his first news conference was, “Do you know that you cost me $500 in the office pool?”

He reached for his wallet to a round of guffaws.

Kansas, coached by nomad Larry Brown and led by Danny Manning, won it all in 1988, by beating Oklahoma.

I had them losing in the first round to 11 seed Xavier.

In 1995, I had Kerry Kittles and Villanova penciled in as champion. They lost to Tulsa in the second round.

No. 1 seed UCLA took the prize that year. I had them losing in the second round to Indiana.

In 1999 I had the right teams in the finale (Duke, UConn), wrong team winning (UConn won).

This year I have decided that on Wednesday evening, I am going to sit down with pencil and paper and just pick the bracket whole all at once.

No studying, no analyzing. Like a blind hog searchin’ for an acorn. Can’t do any worse.

The 5ive

Here are the five best offscreen television characters:

1. Sarah, the telephone operator (also Barney’s sometime girlfriend Juanita)—The Andy Griffith Show

2. Vera, Norm’s wife— Cheers.

3. Maris, Niles’ wife—Frasier

4. Carlton, your doorman— Rhoda.

5. Sparky—M*A*S*H*.

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