West Coast Convo Writers Bracketology Competition Update


Comparing and contrasting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight is like comparing a low-cost buffet in Las Vegas to a white tablecloth dinner at a fine dining establishment. One leaves you full from overindulging on the vast array of offerings. The other leaves you full from savoring every bite more slowly, course by course.

The basketball on display from every region in the NCAA Tournament was something to be savored. Our West Coast Convo bracketology leader at the end of the weekend was Gonzaga writer Mitch Krmpotich. Mitch correctly picked Michigan State’s advance to the Final Four but wasn’t ready for Duke to advance over Gonzaga. Duke wasn’t a surprise to the rest of us in their win over Gonzaga. Mitch also ended up with Kentucky and Wisconsin finishing first in their respective regions.

I dropped to second place (Silver medal status) behind Mitch (and at one point was, gasp! in fourth place) but rallied back. The Louisville vs. Michigan State matchup cost me points for not picking those two teams, and Kansas losing to Wichita State cost me even more.

Andy Buhler, who was in the lead on Saturday, dropped down to fifth place at the end of the weekend selecting Villanova, Virginia, and Gonzaga to advance and losing points in the battle when they didn’t.

James Pigott, the basketball wonk who covers BYU, landed in eighth place after being victimized by picks favoring Villanova, Northern Iowa, Providence, Virginia, Iowa State, Maryland, Arkansas, Baylor and Arizona.

David Thompson, intrepid Portland Pilots writer, is currently in third place after what can be considered an ugly but effective run through each region to end up with three of the Final Four teams. Virginia was the lone exception.  Thanks Tony Bennett.  Pilot ’til he dies, David is.

Our Editor Mark Kramer zoomed up the standings to fourth place in another display of ugly but effective bracket picks. Mark had the presence of mind (or a darn accurate Magic 8 ball) to pick Michigan State as a Final Four team, but stuck with Arizona over Wisconsin to his detriment. Fourth place is a better finish than the San Francisco Dons had this season.

I am nationally ranked at #248,549 currently, though CBS doesn’t say how many people have submitted brackets so I don’t know what percentile that might be. If I were playing professional golf, that might be enough to land me a new pair of socks.

It was fun watching Gonzaga advance to play Duke, especially after their dazzling game against UCLA. The game was a clinic on how to win like champions with Przemek Karnowski allowing teammate Domantas Sabonis to dazzle with not one but two behind the back bounce passes in the key that Domantas converted into seemingly easy buckets. The film from both of those plays will be replayed into perpetuity on ESPN if CBS will part with it. You could hear the cheering from Lithuania for Domantas and Gonzaga.

Wisconsin was more than Arizona could handle. Kentucky bobbled a little bit allowing Notre Dame to get close, but even Pope Francis couldn’t get the Irish a miracle and change the outcome as Kentucky advanced.

The Final Four games match up Michigan St. against Duke and Kentucky against Wisconsin.

Standings after Elite Eight:

  1. Mitch Krmpotich
  2. Mary Harvill
  3. David Thompson
  4. Mark Kramer
  5. Andy Buhler
  6. James Stapleton
  7. Josh Horton
  8. James Pigott

Seven out of eight of us have picked Kentucky as the National Champion. The only naysayer is James Stapleton who picked Wisconsin. He will look like a basketball genius if Wisconsin is able to overtake the Wildcats by winning the semifinal game on April 4th, which would avenge Wisconsin’s 2014 semifinal loss to Kentucky in the process. Kentucky showed a bit of vulnerability last weekend in the Notre Dame game after blasting West Virginia like a mountaintop fracking operation.

More from West Coast Convo

For our crew at West Coast Convo, we are all proud of what Gonzaga was able to accomplish this season in their run to the Elite Eight and in the process, showing the rest of the nation what is going on in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga is a force. And with any luck next season, a few more WCC teams will be invited to dance too. That password is closely tied to strength of schedule.

In the meantime, we will keep a close eye on the rest of the nation’s teams as they meet up with our WCC teams in the 2015-2016 season. We want to be ready to intelligently make our picks for the 2016 tournament in keeping with the year-long efforts of our fellow sports-writing brethren who pick the nation’s best teams on a weekly basis for the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches’ Top 25. It also helps us be the most interesting men (and lady) at the party in case the question of college basketball comes up.