Breckenridge/Devon O’Neil " Who’s your national champ? |

Breckenridge/Devon O’Neil " Who’s your national champ?

The NCAA basketball tournament represents many things ” possibility, Luther Vandross, spring break, among others ” not the least of which is the chance for no-nothing sports fans to one-up the pundits who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be right.

That’s what I love most about March Madness. Everyone takes a stab, but more often than not, it’s the girl who picks winners based on a team’s uniform colors who ends up winning the pool.

As a male who ranks sports almost embarrassingly high on a priority scale, I dig the anticipation leading up to Thursday’s opening games. But I dread the time when I inevitably will abandon any hope of my bracket’s winning, as I have had to do every year I’ve ever played.

For instance, I’m pretty dang sure UNC and UCLA are going to make deep runs in this year’s tournament. Memphis too. And Kansas. Which means I have all four No. 1 seeds in the hunt.

So what happens when lovable little guy Drake ruins the Bruins’ party? I’ll tell you what happens. The cheerleader from Iowa who picked the Bulldogs because her brother went there is suddenly a genius.

Silly? You bet it is. But only because I won’t be picking Drake to beat UCLA. …

More tournament thoughts: Great to see Baylor in the field five years after one teammate killed another and then the coach covered it up. The Bears have a deserved new stamp on their program … When it comes time to decide which of two deserving teams gets to Dance, no way the team (Arizona) that lost to the other team (Arizona State) twice should get the nod … The RPI is a lame factor to rely on so heavily in the selection process. …

Tough call on the national champ, as it always is. For some run-n-gun reason I believe in Tennessee. And UNC. And UCLA. And UConn, my streaky sleeper. Then there’s Kansas, rock chock full of veterans, as usual. But I’m picking Memphis, which I believe to be the most talented team in the nation. …

The happiest club in baseball last week was the Red Sox who, with the Yankees and upstart Rays twice skirmishing on the spring-training diamond, can sit back and watch their division rivals beat each other out of the race come summer. …

Twenty-two straight wins for the Rockets? Sorry, NASA, but Houston ain’t got no problem. In fact, as our Stat of the Week (actually a whole paragraphful of stats, courtesy of the Associated Press) will tell you, “The Rockets have won 26 of their last 27 games and 31 of their last 34. They’ve won 15 straight at the Toyota Center, 10 straight since Yao Ming went out with a broken foot and 11 of their last 13 games by double digits.”

Perhaps most importantly Houston ” whose streak is the second longest in NBA history ” has shot to the top of the Western Conference standings. Next up: a date tonight with the Celtics, the best team in the league. …

Balance, defined: The Nuggets scored a remarkable 168 points in a victory Sunday (including 48 in the first quarter), but not a single player finished with more than 26. …

Headline of the Week, from “Roddick to skip Olympics to prep for U.S. Open.” Booooo! …

From a man who knows a thing or two about pathetic actions, John Daly’s missing his tee time at Arnold Palmer’s tournament last week was pretty gross. The lamest part was that Daly gushed later about how bad he felt for letting Arnie down. …

In parting, you gotta love an NFL coach who can fire the general manager, as Mike Shanahan did to Ted Sundquist last week. There have been whispers for years that Shanahan is unremovable as long as he’s working under Broncos owner Pat Bowlen. If Denver doesn’t turn things around now, that theory will be tested once and for all.

” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at

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