Thursday, March 17, 2016

Who do you think will win this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament?

Like a lot of people, I found myself filling out a NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket on Monday morning, and as I write this on Monday afternoon I know beyond doubt that it’ll be full of more holes than a block of Swiss cheese in a week’s time.

I’ll spare you game-by-game predictions of the first three rounds by saying that I look for Kansas, Villanova, Oregon, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Xavier, Virginia and Michigan State to make it to the quarterfinals, that is, the Elite Eight Round. I predict that Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan State will make the Final Four, and that the championship game will feature Kansas and Michigan State.

In the end, I look for Kansas to win it all. Not only are they a No. 1 seed, but they also enter the tourney with the best overall record, 30-4. On the way to this year’s title, I look for them to collect 
wins over Austin Peay, UConn, Hawaii, Villanova, Oregon and Michigan State.

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As of today, March 17, we’ve only got about 2-1/2 weeks left to go before the start of the Major League Baseball season. Opening Day is on Sunday, April 3, and fans will get to enjoy three games on that day – the Cardinals at the Pirates, the Blue Jays at the Rays and the Mets at the Royals. The Mets-Royals game, which is scheduled to be played that night, should be especially fun to watch as it features the two World Series teams from last year.

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I had a few people ask me this week about when the Alabama Sports Writers Association planned to release its first high school baseball and softball polls of the season. As chance would have it, the ASWA plans to release the first polls of the season Wednesday evening and those polls should appear in newspapers statewide this morning (Thursday). A number of baseball and softball teams in Southwest Alabama will likely be ranked in the initial poll, especially teams like T.R. Miller, Opp and J.U. Blacksher.

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Those of you who missed the NWTF banquet Friday night in Evergreen missed a fine event. Despite heavy rain, a sizeable crowd attended the banquet, enjoyed some good food and fellowship and helped raise money for a good cause.

My son, who is just seven years old, tagged along with me on Friday night and on the way home he asked if we could go to the banquet again next Friday night. I explained to him that they only have banquets of this type once a year, and he basically said that that’s too bad because they ought to have them more often. Friday night’s banquet introduced him to the concept of a “door prize,” which is why I think he was looking forward to the idea of another banquet next week.

Friday night’s banquet was so well done that you could tell that a lot of planning and preparation had gone into it. Hats off to the folks who were in charge of organizing this year’s banquet. If you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to buy a ticket for next year. You won’t be disappointed, and you might even win a door prize.

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