Ready for some buzzer-beating, bracket-busting basketball?
You better be.
March Madness is back, starting tonight with Winthrop meeting Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a game featuring two teams who figured they never would have the exclusive national spotlight. So what if the winner becomes cannon fodder for Duke on Friday? This is their turn to shine.
Besides, it's the little guys that make March Madness fun. It would be boring if the national powers won every game.
While they will win most of them, all it takes is for one Podunk State to topple a Powerhouse U. to get us all excited and to remind us that is indeed March Madness and that you or your favorite team can't take anything for granted.
It would be rather easy for fans of Ohio State University and West Virginia University - both No. 2 seeds - to assume their teams are going to roll to lopsided victories in the opening round.
After all, the Buckeyes are 17-point favorites over California Santa Barbara, the surprise winner of the Big West, while West Virginia is a 17-point favorite over Morgan State, the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. While Morgan State is the strongest of the No. 15 seeds, the point spread shows us just how big of a gap there is between No. 2 and No. 15 seeds.
Meanwhile, the other team of local interest in the tournament, Ohio University, is a No. 14 seed after winning the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats are scheduled to play No. 3 seed Georgetown, one of eight Big East teams in the field. The Hoyas are favored by 13 points.
So if the oddsmakers are right, the Buckeyes and Mountaineers will roll and the Bobcats will get rolled. But this is March Madness where stunning upsets lurk around every corner.
You want stunning upsets? I've got two double-digit underdogs I can see winning. One is the smallest school in the 65-team field, Wofford, which has just 1,350 students. Actually, Wofford is the second smallest school ever to participate. If you knew that the smallest school to make it was Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania, which had less than 1,000 students when it qualified in 1953, then consider yourself a basketball genius.
Back to Wofford, the Terriers are a 10-point underdog to Wisconsin. I can't figure out why. I've seen both teams play and I'm not sure a Wofford win would be an upset.
Ditto for Oakland - the Michigan version - knocking off 10-point favorite Pittsburgh in the first round.
The Panthers are a rock-solid team, but have been disappointing down the stretch.
My Final Four?
Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia and Villanova. Two Big 12 teams from the same state and two Big East teams.
If those four make it, I'm heading to Vegas for the final three games.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org