Almost everyone fills out an NCAA bracket in an office pool, social circle, or pagan potluck. Even if they don't follow college basketball! After all, brackets are cool and have pretty numbers and symmetrical lines that would make any OCD contestant giddy. The secret is to "know nothing," for over-thinking is the folly of the college basketball tournament analyst, and no matter how hard one tries, those 13-over-4 upsets will always sully the perfection one "tries" so hard to reach.
But for those hardcore sports fans — by which I mean gamblers — there's only one thing you need to know about women's tournaments: don't count on any surprises. After last year's feminine goofiness (read: moodiness), the tournament has resumed acting all ladylike with the favorites advancing through the tournament with grace and beauty.
Now, when all goes according to plan in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, nothing is left in the round of 16 except the 1-through-4 seeds. (Of course, this never happens except in Billy Packer's dream world.) This year, the major surprises on the mens side are 7th-seed West Virginia, 10th-seed Davidson, 12th-seed Villanova, and 12th-seed Western Kentucky.
Then there's the women, whose Sweet 16 was finalized on Tuesday night. Pardon the chauvinistic jab (you've done admirably so far, no reason to get in a tizzy at this point), but since when do they get to use logic? All 1- and 2-seeds survived. Their highest seed remaining in the Sweet Sixteen are No. 6s (George Washington and Pittsburgh). That's quite the contrast from last year's women's tournament, when four teams higher than No. 6 made it this far (#7 Ole Miss, #7 Bowling Green, #10 Florida State, and #13 Marist).
Stepping back a few days, the men's tournament had six 10-or-higher seeds win their first round game. On the gals' side, only two such squads advanced. The men even had those near-monumental wins, such as plucky 15-seed Belmont's 71-70 loss to 2nd-seeded Duke. Among the one-through-four-seed women's teams, only 4th-seeded Oklahoma had a remotely close game, beating Illinois State 69-61. The other 15 games were decisive double-digit blowouts.
It's difficult to get excited about the women's tournament most years, especially when one hears that the University Tennessee has never ever ever ever holy Christ never missed a Sweet 16 in tournament history. It's those early round shockers — like UConn finally making a first-round exit — that make the tournament fun. Not once did the Volunteers ever skip the party to stay home washing their hair.
And have you ever noticed how men can remember who won every game in every NCAA tournament dating back to 1962, but always forget birthdays and anniversaries? What's up with that?