II'm a competitor.
With that being said, I hate to lose. Now, that doesn't mean I am not gracious in defeat. That's not true. I just don't like to lose.
That's why March Madness is turning into a rough time for me.
I'm learning a lot about myself and this addicting habit of finding the perfect bracket. The realization is simple. I have to take baby steps before I run to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I've already conquered one portion. I am pretty good at picking the national champ, although this year, that streak may be snapped.
Now, it's about getting every team to the Final Four.
Some pick by colors. Other go with mascots.
There are your researchers, your stat gurus and people that watch every single game of championship week.
Then, there is me.
I was going to go looking for advice on the picks from a sports expert, but my 3-year-old cousin was too busy watching her Tinkerbell movie and asking if I wanted to play Polly Pocket with her. I would ask her during the college football season if Team X or Team Y was going to win, and she - on cue - would answer, "Go Vikings!" Her father needs to teach her to say "Go Irish!" But he's a Penn State fanatic and I have a better chance of a place down under freezing over before that happens.
On to Plan B, I guess.
I was going to ask my mother, but she just laughs at me every year as she continually takes my sorry state of affairs behind the March Madness woodshed.
I hear the comment all the time. "You work in sports, don't you get sick of losing to your mother all the time?" she laughs. Parents are there to give you moral support, right? Maybe she should let me win so I feel better about myself.
That's not my style. I'm a competitor, and this is my year to laugh (or at least, that's the plan.)
On to Plan C.
Wait, I don't have one. Oh well, guess I am on my own again.
If it means anything, I would have picked Winthrop in the play-in game. Obviously, they lost by 17. I'm picking up where I left off from 2009.
If only I could pick between Tinkerbell or Polly Pocket in the national championship.
Anyway, here are my picks this year:
Sweet Sixteen: Kansas over Maryland, Georgetown over Ohio State
Regional Final: Georgetown over Kansas
My reasoning: It's simple. Everyone is picking Kansas to reach the championship game or win a title. I'm going to be different. It's the Hoyas or bust for me. And if you are looking for a regional with upsets, you might as well pick this one because I didn't see any. That means, there are sure to be some.
Upsets: UTEP over Butler, Murray State over Vanderbilt
Sweet Sixteen: Syracuse over UTEP, Kansas State over Pittsburgh
Regional Final: Kansas State over Syracuse
My reasoning: Honestly, I don't know if Syracuse beats Gonzaga. This is tough because if the Orange get crushed early and you take them far, you'll be in trouble. I can see an upset in every matchup here in the first round but Syracuse, Kansas State and Pittsburgh. I am big on UTEP for some reason, and I like Murray State as well. Xavier played a real tough non-conference schedule and could easily advance deep into the regional. This one, in my opinion, is up for grabs.
Upsets: Clemson over West Virginia
Sweet Sixteen: Kentucky over Wisconsin, New Mexico over Clemson
Regional Final: Kentucky over New Mexico
My reasoning: Three games were a problem for me. Texas could beat Kentucky. Marquette is just confusing, but yet, they win. And what to do with West Virginia? That's how I sum it up. Again, I see chalk all the way through for the most part. Cornell has a nice team, but I never pick the Ivy League since Princeton took a dump a few years back when it was ranked in the top 5. I haven't seen New Mexico play, so this is a shot out of the blue. And West Virginia? I can't figure them out at all. I don't think they are that good, but like Marquette, they always find a way to win.
Upsets: Utah State over Texas A&M, Utah State over Purdue, Old Dominion over Notre Dame, St. Mary's over Richmond
Sweet Sixteen: Duke over Utah State, Baylor over Villanova
Regional Final: Baylor over Duke
My reasoning: This is another regional where there could be an upset in every matchup but Duke, Nova and Baylor. I didn't pick Siena just because I was high on Purdue all year. I watched Utah State play, and they are deadly from deep. I think the Aggies have something to prove - along with St. Mary's. That's why I picked the Gaels. After my rant in the paper last year, I would look like a hypocrite if I didn't pick them. I picked Baylor just because of location. I think Houston for the regional will draw tons of fans from Waco, and it will be like a home-court edge. Plus, you got to love names like LaceDarius, Ekpe and Tweety.
Semifinals: Georgetown over Kansas State, Kentucky over Baylor
Final: Georgetown over Kentucky
There you go, I'm going out on a limb and taking the Hoyas all the way. Hey, everyone laughed a few years back when I took Maryland as a No. 3 seed to the national title. I think the Hoyas won't be challenged until the Sweet Sixteen and should be fresh enough to battle against the best. Hey, the Big East is no cakewalk and Georgetown proved its might in that tournament. Really, though, it's just a guess this year. My only real prediction: Expect the unexpected in the 2010 NCAA bracket.
Tom Fox is sports editor at The Express, a Duke and Gonzaga fan and will be teaching his 3-year-old cousin to say "Go Hoyas!" this weekend. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just remember, it's not nice to laugh at others.