Let the Madness begin!!
By DYLAN MALONE
The stage is set and the field is down to 64 once again! If you’re not glued to your television or constantly checking your smartphone for score updates then you’re a better citizen of the world than I am.
This is the most entertaining part of the sports year in my humble opinion. It’s the chance for the little guy to shine. For the big programs to dominate. For the borderline program to get a signature win that will put them on the map for the next ten years leading to a number one seed eventually...Gonzaga.
It’s hard not to notice the hubbub.
This year’s field should make picking a winner extremely fun. Last year I had an overabundance of Kentucky voters who were not disappointed leaving about a dozen people left in the race with their brackets all picking the Wildcats to win it all.
There are a lot of good teams in the field but no clear cut winner from the onset. This year it will truly be whoever goes on a roll for the next six games.
I’ve been blessed with a lot of support for this year’s “Beat the Pros” challenge and have come up with 11 solid prizes for the top 10 brackets. The 11th prize will go to the best upset pick this year...and there will be upsets.
Anyone who went chalk on their bracket this year (picking the higher seed for each game) will be sorely disappointed. I’m afraid there are just too many teams this year who feel like they can win it.
I’d like to take this time to reveal the prizes and thank the providers for their generosity.
Pizza Hut has provided half of my prize field with five free large pizzas up to three topping or any specialty. Who doesn’t like free pizza?
The Back 40 Junction has donated $20 for dinner as a prize as well as $10 from Spring Gardens as a gift certificate.
Villa Lanes/Molly’s Place have offered up a few goodies as well including two prizes for bowling and another prize for two free dinners (drinks not included). The bowling packages are a $70 value that include an hour free in the private bowling room.
My last prize, which will be the best upset pick winner, is a $35 gift certificate to Quik Stop that can be redeemed for any service needed for your vehicle.
The other ten prizes will be first come, first serve. If you are the tenth place bracket winner and the free bowling is all that is left, then put on your bowling shoes and enjoy. If you don’t like bowling just give me the prize back and I’ll go! I can’t win a prize after all (that would look pretty suspicious).
That’s alright. The only prize I’ll want to win is the pride of being right. As the sports editor and a self-proclaimed “pro” in this contest, I should at least finish in the top third. In this field, however, that is about as likely as 16-seeded Western Kentucky winning it all.
I’ve tallied the total brackets together and there are 147 total entries into the contest this year. Thanks to all who filled out a bracket and entered to win. With the good response once again this year I can ensure we continue doing this contest next year.
Hopefully I can continue to be blessed with supporters for prizes as I have twice as many prizes this year as I did when I did this contest for the first time last year. Also, if any other business wants to get their name on the prize list for next year (or even this year) I would gladly take more donations for the cause.
The updated scores can be found on the Democrat website daily. Log on to www.decaturdailydemocrat.com  to view the scores.
Also on the website periodically throughout the contest I will be posting the leaderboard and who is ahead compared to the Pros.
Not surprising, a majority of brackets had Indiana winning it all. I hope you’re right, contest or not. I like the enthusiasm and I understand not rooting against your team.
I struggled with that as well with my Tar Heels. I have North Carolina upsetting Kansas in the second round. A bit ambitious but upsets will be happening it’s just a matter of guessing the right ones!
Upsets in college basketball should not be surprising to people. I know the analysts get caught up in just how good teams are or aren’t but to me it’s a matter of age.
At the college level you’re dealing with kids who are 18-23 years old. Throw in the limelight with this over-publicized tournament and you get a crop of young men who are sweating profusely and not just from playing hard.
Some call that choking. I prefer to call it being normal. Anyone put in a stressful situation can be overwhelmed and in turn, under-perform. Will a 16-seed beat a one this year? Probably not. It would be a huge shock to me though. Good luck in the tournament!