Archive for the ‘Bradley's Bracket Fiasco’ Category

Pick the Final Four! Win fabulous prizes! It’s another Fiasco!

BradleyTopper

Pretty cool graphic, wouldn't you say? You'll be utterly shocked to learn that I had nothing to do with it.

Our story begins in 1987. I had, as was the custom even then, made my Final Four picks in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, and they turned out, as was and remains the custom, not so hot. And I got a letter — anyone remember letters? — from a reader saying, “You obviously know nothing about basketball.”

That sentence stuck in my mind, such as it was/is, along with another, this one spoken by then-AJC copy editor Gerry Overton, who said: “I really haven’t followed college basketball much this year, but it’s every red-blooded American’s duty to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket.”

And that, one year later, was what I did: Took two thoughts — one from a snippy reader, one from an esteemed colleague — and decided the guy who obviously knew nothing about basketball should have a little contest to see who did. Thus, in March 1988, was Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco born.

It …

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Staring at the Madness: UGA’s all but in, Hewitt’s almost gone

Don't say it couldn't happen. It happened on Tech's court. (AJC file photo)

Don't say it couldn't happen. For Dennis Felton and UGA, it happened on Georgia Tech's court. (AJC file photo)

We’re 20 days from Selection Sunday, 22 days from the beginning of an NCAA tournament. By the Ides of March, we’ll know where Georgia’s going to play in the Big Dance, and we’ll know if Georgia Tech is in the hunt for a new coach. And if you read on, you might even have some inkling as to who’s going to win it all in Houston.

Best team at full strength: Duke, with a caveat. The Devils haven’t been at full strength for 2 1/2 months and mightn’t be again. They lost point guard Kyrie Irving to a toe injury, and coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t expect the freshman to return this season. (And if Irving doesn’t return to Duke this season, he won’t. Toe or no, he’ll be among the first five players drafted in June.)  Duke can get to the Final Four without Irving, but winning an NCAA title without his biggest talent might be beyond even the great Krzyzewski.

Best team if Irving …

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College basketball 2010-2011: Will these Dawgs really hunt?

Is there a lid on how high Trey Thompkins and UGA can climb? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Is there a lid on how high Trey Thompkins and UGA can climb? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

With the season almost here, our thoughts naturally turn to that bastion of college basketball — the University of … Georgia?

Speaking of which, will the Bulldogs be as good as some people seem to think?

Florida coach Billy Donovan suggests Georgia could be the conference’s best team. The Bulldogs’ Trey Thompkins, already projected as an NBA lottery pick, was voted the SEC’s preseason player of the year. And here we pause to wonder: Is all this too much too soon?

Reality check: The Bulldogs were 14-17 last season. They finished last in the SEC East. They were 0-11 on the road. For all the good work done in Mark Fox’s first season — beating Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida — Georgia operated without an ounce of pressure. Fox’s second band of Hounds is expected to reach the NCAA tournament. That’s at least 16 ounces of pressure.

For Georgia, the cheery news is that the …

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The NCAA title tilt: And now it’s Gordon Hayward’s turn

I’m still at the ballpark, having witnessed the wonder wrought by Jason Heyward. But I’m about to head home, whereupon I’ll be chatting live off the NCAA championship game. And I’m asking: If Jason Heyward can hit a three-run homer on his first major-league swing, can Gordon Hayward sink the shot that delivers the national crown to the Butler Bulldogs?

I don’t think so. I think Duke will win. But I haven’t picked much of anything correctly this spring — I managed to whiff on both semifinals — so I wouldn’t put much stock in anything I write. But I would be mighty tickled if you’d join me a little after 9 p.m., and we’ll keep going until one team has its “One Shining Moment.”

Yeah, I know. It’s a corny song. But it chokes me up every time. Give me a half-hour to drive home, and then we’ll see if Duke can do the deed.

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The 2010 Final Four: Butler and ‘Hoosiers’ and Huggy Bear

Mike Woodson is a Hoosier. He grew up in Indianapolis and played at Indiana. Before his Hawks met the Lakers on Wednesday, Woodson had one question: “What about Butler?”

There are four stories at every Final Four, but at this Final Four there’s really only one story: Butler, a school based in Indianapolis with an enrollment of 4,200, will be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is 5 1/2 miles from home. Butler, which through the magic of Hollywood has come to symbolize the righteous underdog. Butler, as coached by Brad Stevens, who’s 33 but who could pass for one of the rosy-cheeked players at the (fictional) Hickory High in “Hoosiers.”

As we take the measure of the 2010 Final Four, we start … guess where?

“Hoosiers” Hysteria: The movie’s climactic scenes were filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Butler Bulldogs play home games. Hinkle Fieldhouse, then known as Butler Fieldhouse, was the site of the 1954 Indiana state championship game, in which Milan’s Bobby Plump hit a …

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Shocker! An actual basketball coach wins the Bracket Fiasco!

Your new Bracket Fiasco champion. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Koudele)

Your new Bracket Fiasco champion. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Koudele)

In the first 22 years of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco, we’d had an actual rock star — Mike Mills, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist for R.E.M., 1999 — win our contest but never anyone who makes his living coaching basketball. In Year 23, things changed. Our new champion and recipient of the coveted Final Four sweatshirt is Ryan Koudele (pronounced Koo-DELL), and he’s the boys’ basketball coach at North Springs High in Sandy Springs.

Given the permutations of this NCAA tournament, it makes sense that our winner had inside knowledge. Koudele, who’s 36 and who just finished his third season as the Spartans’ coach, served as a student coach at Kansas State, from which he graduated in 1996. He worked under head coaches Dana Altman and Tom Asbury and alongside a young assistant named Mark Fox, who has since found gainful employment in Athens, Ga.

The Fiasco drew 5,376 entries. Not one contestant picked the correct Final Four. …

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The Madness moves onward in this March of the mid-majors

It wasn’t enough to see Ohio — not Ohio State, but Ohio U. – trash Georgetown. Nor was it enough to watch Cornell dispatch precise opponents in Temple and Wisconsin. Or even enough to stand back in wonder as Ali Farokhmanesh of Northern Iowa raised up against Kansas and scored the most brazen three points of any NCAA tournament ever.

Even as we seek to process the wonders wrought in Week 1 of the Big Dance, we must ponder what could be. A Final Four of …

Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa and Saint Mary’s?

You know you’ve got a tournament when there are as many No. 12 seeds remaining as Nos. 3 or 4. You know you’ve got a tournament when the odds-on favorite goes belly-up in Round 2. As the Sweet Sixteen commences, we must ask ourselves: Has the madness subsided, or has it just begun?

The most intriguing matchup of the millennium: Cornell versus Kentucky (East Regional, Thursday 9:57 p.m.) It’s the Big Red against the Big Blue, and the two would seem to have nothing in common. Yet …

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Tech leaves us wondering how much it might have done

D'Andre Bell's postmortem: "We were just inconsistent." (AP photo)

D'Andre Bell's postmortem on his Yellow Jackets : "We were just inconsistent." (AP photo)

Milwaukee – Elbows on knees, a scowling Iman Shumpert bent forward in his chair. Someone asked if Ohio State was better than Georgia Tech. “Not at all,” Shumpert said.

So: Was Tech better than Ohio State? Said Shumpert, almost spitting the words: “A lot better.”

Judge these teams 1-10 and there’s no comparison. Brad Sheehan, Tech’s 10th man, was pressed into service Sunday and contributed a three-point play. Ohio State deployed only seven men, and its two reserves worked a total of 13 minutes. (Brian Oliver, Tech’s eighth man, played 16.) But college basketball isn’t a draft lottery, and it isn’t a beauty contest. It’s a matter of what coach can take talent and mold it into a team.

Paul Hewitt spoke this season of his Jackets having a “high ceiling.” They altered our perception of them as rank underachievers with a stirring run in the ACC tournament and a Round 1 NCAA dismissal of …

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Live from Tech-Ohio State: Guess who’s getting a feeling?

The Georgia Tech players ready for the task. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Sunday, 12:27 p.m. CDT: The Georgia Tech players ready for the task. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Milwaukee – It’s eerie. In 2004 Georgia Tech entered as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional, only to see second-seeded Gonzaga lose to Nevada (Mark Fox was a Wolfpack assistant coach) on Saturday of the first weekend and then No. 1 Kentucky lose to UAB a hour after Tech had dispatched Boston College on Sunday in the Bradley Center.

Here we are, six springs later, and seeds Nos. 1 and 3 in the Midwest are gone, and the Jackets can unhorse the second seed themselves. Should they get past Ohio State, they’d head to St. Louis with as good a chance to reach the Final Four as any opponent they’d find. Tennessee is nothing special. For all the stunning work it has done this season, Northern Iowa isn’t apt to win four times in this event. The final qualifier will be either Maryland or Michigan State, and Tech just beat one of those.

If you’re asking, “Are you having one of those Bradley …

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By beating Ohio State, Tech can turn haters into bee-lievers

Gani Lawal is among the reasons Tech has an inside edge. (AP photo)

Gani Lawal is among the reasons Georgia Tech has an inside edge. (AP photo)

Milwaukee – For no apparent reason, a Georgia Tech fan stood in the Bradley Center on Friday and, during pregame warm-ups, exhorted the Jackets by yelling, “History!” Turns out the guy was just premature.

History wasn’t on the line in Round 1 — No. 10 seeds oust No. 7’s all the time — but it will be Sunday. And it’s not history of the NCAA tournament factoid sort; it’s history as in memory, in legacy. If the Jackets lose tomorrow, we’ll recall them as a team that flirted with its potential but didn’t quite deliver. If it wins, everything changes.

If the Jackets win, we won’t much care that they were 7-9 in the ACC and were swept by Florida State and finished the regular season with consecutive losses. We’ll see them as a team that took its time learning how to play but one that, at the last possible moment, aced the final exam. We’ll see this as the second-best team of Paul Hewitt’s tenure, the team …

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