Ryan Chartrand

March Madness, anyone?

As I fill out my bracket, I find myself with all sorts of conundrums. Can I really put Winthrop in the Elite Eight? What’s Florida’s deal? Can Kevin Durant keep this up?

Then I get to that Tennessee-Long Beach State game. I mean, what do I do here? I mean, this team just shattered my dreams. Not including my rocking chair that was thrown against the wall, and some vintage souvenir Dodger baseball bat that’s now in two pieces in the middle of Hathway Avenue.

Long Beach State absolutely ruined my night, weekend, pretty much this entire month. I was so fired up to be in the NCAA Tournament, it was insane.

Then another team from Southern California decided to ruin my dreams. I have legitimately cried three times in the last five years and they have all been because of the Los Angeles area – Saturday night when Cal Poly lost 94-83 to Long Beach State in the Big West Conference Tournament championship game, 2005 when Matt Leinart decided to stay in school and forced the 49ers to take Alex Smith instead and 2002 when the Angels beat the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series (still hurts).

Seriously, do I pick Long Beach State just to make the Big West look better? No, I can’t. That should be the Mustangs instead.

But something inside is telling me that Long Beach State might have a little run in it. That No. 12 seed has been known to make some noise.

Next year is Cal Poly’s turn. I already have the Mustangs in the Elite Eight for 2008.

Back to the bracket.

Mark my words – Winthrop will be in the Elite Eight. You’d better watch out because for those who didn’t realize, this team is for real. It would have beaten Tennessee last year if it wasn’t for a last second 3-pointer, and played Gonzaga tough two years ago. The Eagles have three players who average more than 13 points a game. This team’s for real.

How about defending national champion Florida? Well, the Gators are favored by 29 points against scrappy Jackson State. I like Florida in the Final Four. It has the experience, players and attitude to get back to the championship game. But this is where the Gators’ attempt to repeat will fall a bit short.

I have Texas beating Florida for the national championship.

Even as a No. 5 seed, many consider Texas one of the most dangerous teams in the tourney, mainly because it has Durant (if you haven’t heard of this guy, you don’t deserve to watch the tournament.) This guy is a freak, straight up the greatest college basketball player I have ever seen. Granted, I have only been watching college basketball religiously for about 10 years, but still this guy is already a legend.

He won Big 12 Conference Player of the Year honors, averaging a cool 26 and 11. He also scored 30 points or more in 10 games this season. The NCAA Tournament is all about players rising to the occasion. There is no better player in the nation. This isn’t even an argument. I don’t care how young he is (18) or how deep the Longhorns are (not very). Durant can carry them for the duration of the tournament.

I read today that the U.S. is going to lose billions of dollars in lost production due to employees being caught up in March Madness. This could definitely lead to the unemployment line for some workers.

I can guarantee Cal Poly is going to lose one student come Thursday and Friday. Thank God Cal Poly can’t fire me, or I probably would have been gone a couple years ago.

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