As one who normally can't predict what I'm having for lunch, much less pick basketball winners, I must admit to considerable respect for this year's NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
If only I had filled out my bracket the way the committee did. But nooooo. I had to do it my way.
Besides, only disinterested secretaries and sycophants pick all No. 1 seeds.
Nevertheless, the committee should take a bow. It appears its 10 members really are doing more than just eating pizza and watching movies in a hotel suite. For the first time, all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the men's Final Four. UCLA, Kansas, Memphis and North Carolina are the last teams standing. Which leaves me wondering why someone doesn't just hire the Selection Committee to do something really important, like lower gas prices or clear the national debt.
Right now its stock is as high as Google's.
So Lynn Hickey, Jeffrey Hathaway, Stanley Morrison, Gene Smith, Dan Guerrero, Laing Kennedy, Chris Hill, Michael Silve, Jonathan LeCrone, and Tom O'Connor should be applauded for a job well done. They didn't just get it right, they slam-dunked it. Looked like Tyler Hansbrough on a breakaway. If this were football, they'd be moonwalking in the end zone. If it were baseball, they'd be tipping their caps on the dugout steps. If it were figure skating, they would be blowing kisses. And if it were politics, they'd be delivering their acceptance speeches, looking humble and successful at the same time.
They probably didn't foresee Davidson coming within a basket of the Final Four, but that just made them look smarter. It kept our interest until the big boys arrived.
Meanwhile, the Final Four teams did exactly what they were supposed to do — they dominated. North Carolina won its four games by an average of 25 points, UCLA by 18 and Kansas and Memphis by 15. That's not competition, it's human sacrifice. Kind of makes you wonder what all the other games were about. The committee could have saved itself some expense by holding a four-team tournament and calling it good.
Memphis had a scare against Mississippi State, Kansas barely edged Davidson and UCLA had trouble with Texas A&M. But overall it was no sweat. They were only pausing to gas up. If there was a flaw this year, it was in giving Duke a No. 2 seed, but that's excusable. Duke always gets a high seed, sometimes for no clear reason, just like Paris Hilton always gets on the A-list for parties.
Otherwise, the committee was pretty much infallible. I'm thinking of calling Hill, the athletic director at the University of Utah, to ask if it would be smarter to buy a hybrid car or stay with a gasoline model. He and his friends seem to have all the answers.
There have been a few other times when the Selection Committee was close to perfect. In 1993, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Kansas were in the Final Four and seeded 1, 1, 1, 2.
Had Kansas not stopped Indiana in the quarterfinals, it would have been a matched set. In 1997, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Minnesota were 1, 1, 1 and 4. And in 1999, Duke, Michigan State and Connecticut were top seeds, with Ohio State a 4 seed. But those were as near as it's come since the seeding system began in 1979, until now.
There has also been an occasional year when the seeds didn't live up to billing. The committee missed entirely in 2006, with 4, 2, 11 and 3 seeds ending up in the Final Four.
Still, the NCAA handbook says the objective of the committee is to select the 34 best at-large teams, seed them along with the other 30 teams, and place them into a bracket. It did all that. But this year it went far beyond the call and scored a perfect 10. All the while making the whole process look as simple as counting one, two, three and four.