Two fantastic days of skipping work, freaking out over last second shots, eating all varieties of food extremely not good for you, being bad boyfriends/husbands and hanging out in bars way earlier than normally socially acceptable. Welcome aboard a 32 game rollercoaster filled with thrills, chills and spills.

Add into the equation that this is Shamrock Shake and Girl Scout Cookie season… March is rather magnificent.  By this time you’ve read the USAToday as well as your local paper (Washington Times was highly underrated when they had a special insert thanks to d1scourse’s Patrick Stevens) 17 times and can remember 15 pointers– most of which conflict.  That’s why I’m here to cut through the minutiae… delivering the highly uncalled for Bold, Fold and Gold NCAA Tournament picks.  

Bold?  As in which lower seeded team should you watch out for.

Fold?  As in which team’s stock to sell before it crashes.

Gold?  Who’s going to be cutting down the nets next weekend (unless Indiana decides to cut the nets down after a loss like they did against Ohio State).

EAST– Indiana gets the #1 seed despite losing 3 of its last 6 games… while Miami settles for a #2 after winning the ACC regular and postseason.  One loves the bracket-buster round of 64 matchup between Butler and Bucknell… while consistently uneven Syracuse is in San Jose (hopefully they know the way– they miss Dion Waiters in that regard).  Bold– California is a #10 seed and plays in San Jose.  Reminds me of 1990 when Virginia was a #10 and played in Richmond.  Fold– I’m supposed to like Marquette, really.  #12 RPI, #13 SOS, their coach’s resemblance to a slimmed down Curly…but  they’re going to survive a designed for upset four-pack of Butler, Bucknell and Davidson?  Bold– California is a #10 seed and plays in San Jose.  Reminds me of 1990 when Virginia was a #10 and played in Richmond.  Gold– it’s tempting to take Jim Larranaga’s senior laden bunch on the court of his 2006 GMU triumph…but Indiana will cut down the nets for real.

SOUTH– over the years this has been the Mideast and Southeast Bracket, so forgive any self-consciousness.  Kansas is the top seed despite the weak Big XII- (only ten schools to boot)…while Georgetown tries to get past the first weekend for the first time since 2007.  They were a #2 seed that year as well.  Fold–  Florida is 26-1 in games decided by 10 points or more…and 0-6 in three possession games.  I have a feeling they’ll see more of the latter than the former–and that can’t be a good thing.   Bold–VCU plays a frenetic style that makes them a tough tight turnaround matchup…and schools not ready for the frenzy will melt.  Gold– Georgetown plays disciplined defense, aggravating offense and has the regions best player in Otto Porter, Jr.  And Markel Starks is a nice second option.

MIDWEST– No team is playing better than Louisville right now… while no player is more of a difference maker than Duke’s Ryan Kelly… and no coach is scarier to face than Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.  I guess it’s time for the “dartboard” system.  Fold–Memphis is your classic 30 win team that played nobody during the regular season…the Tigers have minimal time to prepare for St. Mary’s…and their coach looks like he spends way too much time on his hair.  Bold– St. Louis under interim coach Jim Crews is playing for the memory of their late coach Rick Majerus.  They play a stifling defense.  Opposing fans spend way too much time chanting “What’s a Billiken?” to effectively jeer their players.  Gold–Duke is back at full-strength. With time for Ryan Kelly to rest.  Facing teams unfamiliar with them.  Plus, nothing would give Blue Devils assistant Chris Collins a bigger shot at the Northwestern job than more halftime interviews that Coach K refuses to do.

WEST– Gonzaga is the #1 seed and #1 team in both polls, but not the overall #1 seed  So Cinderella gets to keep her complex even after being declared royalty.  Fold– Wisconsin plays uglyball better than anyone in the country… and they have a kid who looks like Ralph Malph/Carrot Top/Seth Green/obnoxious red-haired kid here.  But while two left feet can get you through the Big Ten…it’s tougher in the big dance for Bo Ryan’s bunch. Bold– Wichita State is the sisyphus of college hoops.  Good coach arrives, builds a program with bigtime upsets and then leaves for the bigtime.  Rinse and repeat.  Gold–Arizona has been under the radar all season… Sean Miller doesn’t have to take his team east of the Rockies… and I’m just not sold on Gonzaga, Ohio State, New Mexico or Kansas State.

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