And the March Madness winner is…

Patrick Newell

And the winner of the 2010 Evening Sun March Madness Contest is…me!
Okay, so I am a so-called “professional,” and employed by the company that offered this money-making opportunity for NCAA men’s basketball enthusiasts. Employees of Snyder Communications and their family members were not eligible to enter, but I, like so many other people, filled out a bracket before the tournament. I had a side bet with my stepson in which I would give him a sleeve of brand-new golf balls if he had more correct picks. If I won, he would be his mom’s helper around the house for at least one hour at his mom’s discretion.
I assured “Joseph” that college basketball is not my expertise, and rarely have I put together a decent bracket. This year seemed no different. I had a respectable first round – better than President Obama – and was red-hot in the West Region. As that region played out, I had the entire bracket correct up to the regional finals. There, I made my lone mistake with Butler upending Kansas State.
In the other three regions, I had a fair amount of missed calls, but managed two of the four Final Four teams – West Virginia and Duke. I missed on that Final four semifinals game picking WV, and Duke, of course, went on to win the national title Monday night.
I tallied up my final record: 42-21 (excluding the play-in game between Winthrop and Arkansas-Pine Bluff). When going through the 80-plus tournament bracket entries from our readers, I used my entry as a litmus test. As soon as someone had more than 21 wrong, I tossed the entry aside – but not in the trash.
One by one, I piled up entries in a “losers’ pile,” and in the end, ALL of the entries were heaped in one big stack. I had no clearcut winner, although I remembered a handful of entries that seemed fairly close to my effort.
Wednesday, I ran a notice in our sports section that the results of the March Madness Contest would appear in the Thursday, April 8 edition. It was my personal bail-out to go back through and re-check every single entry to find a winner.
How could this be? My pedestrian 42-21 mark (well below any previous year’s winning total) was superior to contest prognosticators who surely knew much more about college basketball than yours truly. I confess to my strong affinity to Syracuse and the Big East Conference. Outside of the Big East, the extent of my men’s college basketball knowledge is not nearly in the vicinity of experts such as Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale, and Jay Bilas. I am a typical layman who catches a few tidbits of wisdom on ESPN every so often.
If I was such a fantastic prognosticator, why do I struggle so mightily in our Evening Sun Football Contest each fall? This year I’ll cling to my ephemeral basketball wisdom, and rest assured that occasionally a lifetime of sports knowledge sometimes rears its head.