The brackets weren't released even 24 hours.
Not even one full sunrise and sunset.
The taunts started. Someone asked me when my picks would be put in the paper because they loved to pick opposite of what I say.
I hate to admit it, but it's good reasoning.
When I first started to put my bracket in the paper about five years ago, it was a joke between myself and members of the Central Mountain baseball team. They asked who my champ was. I told them to read the paper.
Each year, I am laughed at, picked on and whatnot. Good thing I have pretty thick skin because my picks haven't been up to par.
Each year, I pump myself up. This is March Madness. The time of the season when Dick Vitale, not Santa Claus, squeezes his catch phrases down the chimney.
I used to have my little cousin Tori smack me on the head and yell "get pumped." In all actuality, I thought it might knock some sense into me. Unfortunately, that little ritual is out the window. She hits pretty hard for an almost 5-year-old, and one of these days, will probably knock me unconscious.
I'll admit. I don't have a strategy.
I used to watch almost every game of Championship Week. That didn't work.
I used to study numbers, statistics and every glaring tidbit I could gather. Again, right in the dumper with that one.
Heck, I even asked my little cousin to pick teams for me. That, remarkably, was somewhat successful but she only wanted to pick two or three games before going outside in my backyard to run around.
My mother picks colors. She wins each year. I tried to watch the selection show with her on Sunday as she wrote in her notebook teams that sounded good and had nice uniforms. When I tried to peek at her picks, she asked me if my house had a television. Real encouraging parent, I'll tell you. No help there.
Ah yes, I'm going to have my day in the spotlight.
This year, I am confident. Unfortunately, I say that quite often.
Here is a cliff notes version of how my bracket works.
I always pick the national champ, with the exception of Georgetown a few years back. And yes, my text message inbox blew up as they were upset in the first round. Thanks for the reminder that my bracket was soon to be landing in the Taylor landfill.
My issue? I can't bring anyone along with my champ to the Final Four.
I love upsets. I'll admit. And that's my downfall. I don't score points in the opening rounds.
My bandwagon this year?
Long Beach State. Again, I love high-powered offenses. Again, another one here. The thing I fell in love with was LBS played so many tough teams in the non-conference. Pittsburgh. Louisville. Kansas. North Carolina. Xavier. Kansas State. Creighton. I don't honestly think New Mexico is going to scare them.
The old West Coast Conference. Forget BYU. I'm talking about Gonzaga and St. Marys. While they each have matchup concerns, I'm just feeling them.
Memphis. This is my risky pick. I have the Tigers in the Elite 8. I watched Memphis blow the doors off Marshall in the Conference USA title game, and they are about as athletic as it comes.
Of course, I'll root for Notre Dame and Duke the entire tournament. I won't let fellow Notre Dame fan, Joe Walker, down.
Without further ado, here is my picks for the winning bracket:
Sweet 16: Kentucky over Wichita State, UNLV over Duke.
Elite 8: Kentucky over UNLV.
Sweet 16: Memphis over Long Beach State, Missouri over Marquette.
Elite 8: Missouri over Memphis.
Sweet 16: Syracuse over Wisconsin, Ohio State over Florida State.
Elite 8: Ohio State over Syracuse.
Sweet 16: North Carolina over Michigan, Kansas over North Carolina State.
Elite 8: North Carolina over Kansas.
I went with Ohio State over North Carolina in one game, and I keep flop-flopping between Kentucky and Missouri. On this specific bracket, I went with Missouri. In the end, I believe "The" Ohio State University will chop down those nets come April 2 and march around Bourbon Street with the national title.
Remember, though, I still have until 12 p.m. Thursday to submit my final brackets.
You know, just in case I want to brush up on statistics.
Or take a few slaps from my cousin to "get pumped."
Tom Fox is sports editor at The Express. He would probably pick Lock Haven University if the Bald Eagles were in the Division I bracket, still loves Notre Dame and Duke, and will win his pool one of these decades. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, it's not nice to laugh at other people's brackets so be gentle.