West Coast Convo Bracketology Competition Update


I thought it would be fun for the West Coast Convo writers to try our hand at bracketology without Joe Lunardi’s help. No, we all didn’t automatically pick Gonzaga as the National Champions, though all of us have enjoyed following Gonzaga all season and watching them clobber most of the teams we cover (except that one time when BYU won) during this season.

With most of the WCC teams that made the postseason exiting rather quickly, we have had a bit of time time to sit back and enjoy watching the tournament games without a post-game recap deadline to worry about.

Enter our bracketology contest! While we are playing mostly for bragging rights because I was not organized enough to formulate a rule for what the winner gets from the losers, I am rather shocked but mostly humbled to say that I was leading the West Coast Convo writers almost all weekend with my bracket picks until late Sunday afternoon when Andy Buhler raced up the standings to create a tie for first place. Yes, there is room at the top for both of us! To be leading or tied for first is something I would not have guessed correctly at the outset of the NCAA Tournament games this past weekend. March Madness indeed.

First of all, I’d like to say thank you to both Villanova and Virginia for busting the right hand side of my bracket. Next up for a round of applause is Michigan State who I have enjoyed watching play live in Spokane in past tournament games. I generally enjoy rooting for the Spartans, but was reluctant to believe that Michigan State could beat Virginia, the #2 ranked team in the polls leading up to the tournament.  Yes, Virginia, I was wrong.

After watching Oklahoma play in Spokane in their 2014 second round game and being completely unimpressed by them, I can’t quite believe they have won both of their 2015 tournament games. I was also wrong in my prediction for Louisville’s early exit. I hope Louisville Coach Rick Pitino won’t resent me for that.  Looks like I won’t get a private viewing of Coach Pitino’s tattoo celebrating the team’s 2013 National Championship. And like most of America, I did not predict the UAB win either.

Life was good on the left hand side of my bracket until Kansas lost to Wichita State. When am I going to learn that Wichita State is magic? Georgia State topped Baylor and Ohio State prevailed over VCU. Arizona survived to play in the Sweet Sixteen, so I’m pretty happy about that. And Kentucky is duh….winning. I only have one Final Four pick still in contention, and that is Kentucky.

My co-leader Andy Buhler has three of the Final Four teams still alive, his only blemish falling victim to Virginia as well. So he may race ahead of me to legitimately claim the top spot depending on how his other Final Four picks fare in the next two rounds. He has Kentucky, Arizona and Gonzaga picked to arrive at the Final Four. Like a loyal Bulldogs fan, he believes this is the year the Zags break through. Andy and I agree that Kentucky will be the national champion.

The right hand side of Andy’s bracket was marred by LSU’s loss to NC State, Villanova’s subsequent loss to NC State, Dayton’s win over Providence, and St. John’s loss to San Diego State.  The wins by Georgetown, UCLA, UAB, and Iowa also helped trash Andy’s bracket. The teams on the left hand side of Andy’s bracket were more successful. Wins by Maryland, Wichita State, and Xavier did not harm him too much.

The biggest shocker in our bracket game is that former West Coast Convo Editor Josh Horton is in last place in the competition. While he has also selected Kentucky as National Champion and has the same picks for the Final Four as Andy, the right hand side of Josh’s bracket looks like his strategy was to pick as many upset winners as possible. Banking on wins from Wyoming, St John’s, Eastern Washington, SMU, Iowa State, and Davidson did not materialize. Purdue, Texas, Ole Miss, and Baylor wreaked havoc on the left hand side of Josh’s bracket.

More from 2015 NCAA Tournament

Current West Coast Convo Editor Mark Kramer is in a four-way tie for 5th place. All four of his Final Four teams are still alive – Kentucky, Arizona, Michigan State, and Duke. He didn’t get beat up too badly in the first three rounds of the tournament , falling victim to the same teams that plagued the rest of us. Mark’s teams just held on a little bit longer.

On the right side of Mark’s bracket, he was hurt when Dayton exited in the first round after winning the play-in game. Picks for Villanova,  Northern Iowa, St. John’s, SMU, and Iowa State all flamed out in the second round. The left side of Mark’s bracket looked messier for the early rounds with losses by Purdue, Buffalo, Texas, Baylor and Indiana.  Hey Mark, did you not read the story about Eastern Washington beating Indiana earlier this year and USF beating EWU shortly thereafter?  Just saying! Mark is still right side up with many of the right teams heading into the Sweet Sixteen.

Because I have never truly understood the scoring system for the CBS Sports March Madness bracket games, I’m not sure how this competition will turn out. One thing is certain, it is a lot of fun to match wits with my fellow West Coast Convo colleagues and to compare our picks with the rest of the celebrities and the nation.

Stay tuned for more updates on our bracketology skills as the NCAA Tournament continues!