Some years I've headed into the NCAA Tournament pretty sure of what Florida was going to do. For example, no one was surprised when Manhattan beat them in 2004 even though UF was the higher seed. This year's model of the Gators makes it impossible to have a clue. You tend to suspect the game will be within a couple of posessions with five minutes to go and then we'll see which way it goes, because that's been the pattern all year. Getting down fifteen early against BYU, as UF has made a habit of doing and then trying to dig out from under it in recent games, would be disastrous. This is an excellent free throw shooting team, led by a guy in Jimmer Fredette that was described to me by one of the staff yesterday as being a Lee Humphrey shooter with Taurean Green's ability to handle the ball. Talking to Kenny Boynton yesterday, he's looking forward to the challenge of guarding him but says there's really not anyone they've seen all year who plays like this kid. I'm really curious to watch this matchup. BYU's lost seven straight first round games - UF can not let them get a huge boost of confidence early in this one.
The game tips at 10:20 in the morning BYU time, which may help the Gators get off to a decent start. I expect BYU to have a decent number of fans there, but not enough to likely make a huge difference in the atmosphere at the arena. The Ford Center's a good facility, and I like that it's a basketball arena as its primary task rather than the seating being set up for hockey or the ridiculous dome arrangements. Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin are the key figures for this one - if Tyus stinks it up as he tends to do every few games, Florida is going to lose. Macklin has really impressed me with his development as the year's gone on, but Mississippi State showed you can take him away with doubleteaming if Tyus is not playing with his head in the game. UF's advantage is on the inside, and those guys HAVE to deliver.
I can't understand why the media insists on reporting nonsense stories around this time of year about how much productivity is supposedly being "lost" by workers watching the NCAAs. People will do their jobs. Instead of spending a half hour talking to somebody two cubicles over about the concert they went to over the weekend, they'll spend it watching hoops. The idea that normally workers focus exclusively on their jobs to the exclusion of all else and then "Fill in the Blank" sporting event distracts them and costs X dollars in "worker productivity" is total horse crap. In the same vein, if you're getting worked up because Obama does a quick PR hit with Andy Katz picking out his bracket then you really need to relax. Presidents of both parties have done stuff like this for decades. If you dislike Obama's policies, that's one thing. Attacking him for doing this is just petty.
I'd love to be daring and creative with my pick, but Kansas is the best team I've seen this year so that's who I'm saying should win. My Final Four has them meeting West Virginia for the title with Baylor and Kansas State the other two teams. That won't be right, of course, especially since I have three teams from the Big 12 in it - only the Big East in 85 has done that. I hate the West region - wound up with K State by default because I couldn't convince myself to buy in on anyone else in the high seeds there given the questions about Syracuse right now. Best of luck with your bracket if you filled one out - time for me to head to the arena.