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What I Don't Know.
March 19, 2004

by Bill Hogan

Posted Wednesday March 17, 2004


"Don't know much about history. Don't know much biology. Don't know much about a science book. Don't know much about the French I took." The great Sam Cook never claimed to be an "A" student (but he sure could sing).

Apparently he had trouble with algebra and trigonometry as well. Who didn't? Sam also professed to the music listening world that he didn't know for what a slide rule was used. I'm afraid I wouldn't have been able to help him out with that one either.


The 2004 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships starts tomorrow. Sixty-four teams will be divided into 4 regions, as is the custom. Except this year, for reasons unknown, the tournament committee in charge of making such decisions has taken a different approach to labeling each region.

It used to be East, West, South and Midwest. Easy enough to understand, even for folk like Sam and me who "don't know much geography." Now, the regions on my tournament bracket sheet are labeled East Rutherford, Phoenix, Atlanta and St. Louis.

I know Phoenix is somewhere out West and Atlanta, I believe, is in the South. And if I thought about it long enough, it would occur to me that St. Louis is in the Midwest. But that's the point, I don't want to have to think about it long enough to figure out that Kentucky is the number one seed in the region formerly known as the Midwest.

I've been to enough New York Giants games in my day to know exactly where East Rutherford is located. The average Joe in Peoria might have a harder time pinning down where St. Joe's will be playing if they happen to make it past the first two rounds.

I guess we should all consider ourselves lucky that the NCAA didn't choose more obscure venues for each of the four regional finals. If Duke were the number one seed in the Athens region, I'd have figured they got a raw deal having to travel all the way to Greece in order to reach the Final Four.

I know I'm slightly exaggerating, but anyone who knows me will tell you I don't like change. I'm a status quo kind of guy. Dinner's at six o'clock, dinner at eight doesn't work; I'm still trying to work through this designated hitter rule the American League concocted in 1973; and I was mortified when the producers of Bewitched suddenly switched Darrens in mid-series.

You shouldn't have to be able to qualify for Jeopardy in order to figure out where your favorite team is playing. Alright, so the contestants on Wheel of Fortune can figure out, within a thousand miles, where Phoenix is, West still seems to me to be the better option.

I can't speak for Sam Cooke, but I'm sure he'd agree. I wonder how Sam would have fared if he had to sit through a semester of Bracketology: The study of the NCAA tournament from Selection Sunday when the teams are seeded to the eventual champion.

When it comes to Bracketology, there are no "A" students. And there are no professors with a master text book containing all the answers. The final exam can only be taken after all the games have been played.

Oh, there are plenty of "experts" who will gladly sit in front of a microphone and give you their opinion; which teams will make it through each region to the Final Four; who will be upset early and who will be this year's Cinderella.

The problem is, most of the time, they are wrong. Otherwise, they'd be sitting in the sports book at the Mirage in Vegas during March Madness instead of behind a desk at the ESPN studios. The best these Bracketology professors can offer is an educated guess.

ESPN college basketball announcer and Bracketology Professor Dick Vitale is "guessing" that the number one seed in the - what we called in the old days Midwest - region will win it all. Kentucky has seven National Championships under its belt, a 26-4 record this year and is riding a nine game winning streak into the tournament, so that's quite a leap. Way to go out on a limb, Dick.

I would have been more impressed if Vitale had predicted that number four seed Wake Forest or number three Texas would be cutting down the nets in San Antonio on April 5th. But then, I don't know much.


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