What kind of picker are you?
Do you study every bit of information you can right up until the deadline? Do you choose by mascots or colors or coaches’ attire? Do you pick the team with the best fight song unless its mascot is disturbing?
Do you guess? Do you flip a coin? Do you look for bluebloods or teams in cities where you might have given blood?
Whatever your option for filling out a bracket, there are no wrong ones … until about 2:15 p.m. Thursday. ESPN will tell you at the end of the day how many brackets are perfect and I will tell you how many have been set on fire in waste baskets.
My method is simple — I watch as much basketball as I can and then go with my gut in a quick swipe-right frenzy. So you know this ballot is a mess before we get started.
At any rate, I present to you the official Pat Dooley bracket for entertainment purposes only. It’s a doozy.
But before I get to it, many people have asked me about Florida and what kind of chance the Gators have to advance. Have you not watched this team play all year? How could anyone have any idea what team will show up in Des Moines, Iowa?
For the record, I have Florida going out in its second game, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
EAST (Swamp) Region
First weekend: So here’s my deal with Duke. I know they should win it, but there is something gnawing at me that the Blue Devils won’t. Or is that my dog with my new shoes? ARCHIE!
Where was I? Yeah, so I have Duke and Virginia Tech in what could be a special game and LSU and Michigan State in the other Sweet 16. I’m struggling with LSU, but the team is too talented not to get to the second weekend.
Second weekend: The matchup that the Spartans have been grousing about is the Elite Eight game and coach Tom Izzo is the one who knocks Duke out.
WEST (Disneyland) REGION
First weekend: Most of us saw Gonzaga beat Duke back when we thought the Dukies might go unbeaten. And you probably haven’t watched many of their games since. I’ve got the Zags and the Semis and the Michiganders and Buffalo.
Second weekend: I want to pick Buffalo. And I’d like Gonzaga to beat FSU. But get ready for an FSU team in the Final Four. Too many scorers, too much length. I don’t think Florida State is the best-coached team in the tournament, but I’m not sure anyone has more talent. Michigan is the other Elite Eight team.
MIDWEST (Barbecue) REGION
Kansas City, Mo.
First weekend: I’ve lamented the Auburn case on my podcast and in print, but I also see the Tigers making 3s after everyone has gone to bed. The Tigers face North Carolina and Iowa State plays Kentucky in the other Sweet 16. Boy, that’s a lot of negative rooting.
Second weekend: You know it’s inevitable that Kentucky and UNC will meet for the right to go to the Final Four. You know it. You don’t have to like it, but you know it. I have a North Carolina T-shirt because they met two years ago. All the way with Luke Maye.
SOUTH (Everyone is out to get us) REGION
First weekend: We are all waiting for it, the annual Virginia collapse. Coach Tony Bennett is probably happy he’s not facing Florida in his bracket considering the spankings the Gators gave him in (71-45 in 2012, 65-39 in ’17). I think they get through the first weekend and so do Kansas State, Villanova and Tennessee. There are a lot of nervous picks in this region.
Second weekend: And it turns out the team that stops Virginia is Tennessee. I think the Vols will be rejuvenated by the tournament and I don’t know if there is a team in this tournament with more high-level guard play.
The Final Four, then, is Michigan State, Tennessee, FSU and North Carolina. And I have the Tar Heels winning it all. On one bracket.
I also have a special bracket that goes against all I believe in. Your bracket is your bracket. If you fill out multiple brackets, you don’t have a bracket. You have lottery tickets.
But I’m not stupid enough to leave Duke out.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.