March Madness at its maddest

Kate Hampson

In all the years I’ve been watching March Madness and filling out my brackets, this is one of the best I can remember.

I don’t have many allegiances to college teams (being from Fort Collins, Colo., Colorado State has never really given me anything to cheer about and I was trained to have hatred toward Colorado.) My one allegiance is to Gonzaga (used to live in Spokane) and I hoped for good things from them in this year’s tournament but wasn’t holding my breath.

This year’s tournament was impossibly unpredictable, seeing as there were NO correct brackets out of the over 5.9 million filled out on and only 2 that had the correct Final Four. My bracket is probably close to being one of the worst of the 5.9 million brackets. My strategy was to pick a lot of upsets this year but my problem was that I didn’t pick any of the right upsets.

I think having no chance to win my bracket pool from the horrible start I got off to made watching the tournament that much more enjoyable. I didn’t find myself cheering for a team simply because I had picked them in my bracket. I got to cheer for the team that I really wanted to win!

Seeing as 70 percent of brackets don’t have any teams in the Final Four, a lot of people are finding themselves in the same position as me. I haven’t yet decided which underdog I am going to cheer for. I know, that living in Kansas, most of the state is in a state of depression due to the recent loss by the Jayhawks. They were my only hope for not getting last in my pool of more than 100 people, so I feel a small part of their (probably your) pain.

The only decision I have made about the team I am going to cheer for in this Final Four is I am going to cheer for either Virginia Commonwealth University or Butler University in the National Championship game. Both teams have pretty unbelievable stories.

Who would have guessed that Butler would make two consecutive Final Four appearances? I’m thinking only the Butler players and coaches. When it came down to it, their parents might not have even picked them twice in a row. The Bulldogs have been nothing but clutch in this tournament, an irreplaceable ingredient to winning the championship.

Then you have VCU, a team that had to play an extra game just to get INTO the tournament. There were plenty of people upset when they were picked for the tournament and they have put the doubters behind them. With the leadership of head coach Shaka Smart, the Rams are in it for the long haul.

University of Connecticut and University of Kentucky are also surprises in the Final Four. UConn wasn’t even ranked at the beginning of the season and Kentucky hasn’t made a Final Four in over ten years despite high expectations. With both teams being from power conferences, they have the experience of tough competition and could be better for it.

Ok, I’ve made up my mind. I’m going with the Butler Bulldogs as the 2011 National Champions. They will win both games in clutch fashion as they have the entire tournament. But I think they have the perfect blend of athleticism, talent and heart to put an exclamation point on their two-season Cinderella story.

But has we all have come to find out, anything is possible in the month of March (or April.)