Tom Sorensen

NCAA tournament: Everybody’s out of the pool, but there are still reasons to be happy

The Kentucky Wildcats and guard Mychal Mulder (11) were one of the two teams in Tom Sorensen’s Final Four not to suffer a shocker.
The Kentucky Wildcats and guard Mychal Mulder (11) were one of the two teams in Tom Sorensen’s Final Four not to suffer a shocker. TNS

If your Final Four is intact, I salute you. Only two of my Final Four picks survived the first weekend – Arizona and Kentucky.

Villanova and Louisville chose to betray me. I always pick Kentucky, and I know not why. I have the (Kentucky) Wildcats in the picks I made for the Observer, and in a pool I’m in.

The pool is interesting. We have eight individual drafts. We begin by drafting one of the 15-16 seeds, and then one of the 13-14 seeds, and work our way up to the 1-2 seeds.

There are eight of us, and we draw cards to determine where we pick in each of the drafts. Those that draw high cards and draft late in the early rounds are rewarded with lower picks in the latter rounds.

I have three teams alive: Kentucky (which I picked sixth in the final round), Butler (which I picked second in the next to last round) and my beloved Gamecocks (which I picked with the next to last pick in the round with the seventh and eighth seeds). It was them or Northwestern.

I love the NBA and NFL playoffs. But no sport offers the consistent drama the NCAA men’s tournament does. The best game I’ve seen might be Wisconsin-Villanova, but so many have been so good.(Kudos to the Charlotte Hornets’ Frank Kaminsky, incidentally. Wisconsin is his school. Kaminsky celebrated with five assists Monday against Atlanta.)

Interestingly, my beloved Kentucky Wildcats are a 1-point underdog Friday against UCLA. The biggest favorites: North Carolina and Arizona are 7 1/2-point favorites, the Tar Heels against Butler and the Wildcats against Xavier.

To advance to the Final Four, the Tar Heels have to beat a very good Butler team and then the Kentucky-UCLA winner.

I can write this without being accused of being a Tar Heel homer, right?

No top seed has a more difficult draw than North Carolina.

But you can live with it. Look out the window. We have basketball, spring training and spring. Great time to be alive, don’t you think?

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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