Dayton Flyers Move Forward

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Dayton Flyers Move Forward

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As selection Sunday for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament approached I was pessimistic about my chances of producing even a respectable bracket that I could display without shame.  After all, my misfortunes of the previous year were still all too fresh in my mind; Florida Gulf Coast running roughshod over my Final Four team Georgetown and Marquette flattening my National Champion in Miami had left my bracket in ruins.  I promised myself that I would never again go through the pain of taking a red X mark through my bracket.

Indeed this year’s March Madness was electrified by Warren Buffet’s promise to give a billion dollars to anyone who could make a perfect bracket. Even though the odds were beyond astronomical I decided to take a shot at glory and set forth with making my picks.

There were many important games on the opening day of the tournament but my focus was on the earliest one: #11 Dayton vs. #6 Ohio State.  My bracket is heavy on upsets so I felt that if Dayton could pull off the win then the rest of the games would fall my way.

Ohio State was obviously a heavy favorite; 80% of ESPN brackets had the Buckeyes moving.  I picked Dayton not because I had complete trust in the Flyers but because of my deep seeded distrust in Big 10 basketball.  This game was personal, Ohio State’s conference mates had ruined my brackets in the past and I couldn’t live with myself banking my bracket on their success.

There was no understating how important this game was for my bracket’s fate. If I was wrong it would be another mediocre March.  The pressure was getting to me; in culinary arts I was so distracted by the looming showdown that I botched the apple turnover crust.

I spent 2nd period tracking the score on my phone, and amazingly, Dayton was hanging in.  But of course it couldn’t last; after all, no teams I handpick to score an upset ever follow through.  With just over 10 seconds remaining Dayton trailed by just 1 point when Dee Sanford drove to the basket and scored to put the Flyers ahead for good.  When Aaron Craft failed to score on the other end for Ohio State the upset was complete and millions of brackets were busted. But not mine.

The euphoria of the win carried me through the rest of the day: the sky seemed clearer, food tasted better and I gleefully teased my friends for having Ohio State in their final four.  My good day would get better in 3rd period, #12 Harvard finished off an upset of #5 Cincinnati and my bracket remained perfect.

But like death, taxes and congressional gridlock the busted bracket is inevitable.  At 6:30 I watched helplessly as #10 St. Joe’s squandered a late lead to #7 Connecticut ending my short lived bracket perfection and shot at the billion dollars.  For seven glorious hours I had defied the odds, but March Madness spares no one, not even the luckiest of upset predictors.

I may not have won the billion dollars, but seeing Dayton topple Ohio State and burying my demons of bracket’s past was as close as I was going to get.

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