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VOL. 127 | NO. 53 | Friday, March 16, 2012
Don Wade

Don Wade

Heart Same As Head In Picking Games

By Don Wade

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One of the beauties of the NCAA Tournament is the more you know, the less you know. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins knows more about the game than most of us could forget and he believes Kentucky will win this time.

“None of Cal’s other teams had the full package,” he said, referring to current Kentucky and former Memphis coach John Calipari.

Hollins believes the other No. 1 seeds – Syracuse, Michigan State and North Carolina – also will make the Final Four. But what mattered most was what he said next: that his opinion probably carried as much weight as the nearly empty plastic water bottle he was holding.

President Obama correctly picked North Carolina three years ago, but the last two went with Kansas and the Jayhawks lasted about as long as Herman Cain’s presidential run. So the president is back on the Tar Heel bandwagon, the closest thing he has in this field to an incumbent.

But upsets are more than an occasional happening in the NCAA Tournament. To put it in political terms: don’t trust the polls.

The bracket-busting upsets are what we love, yet when it comes time to fill out a bracket we all are faced with the struggle between head and heart.

Grizzlies guard Mike Conley played in an NCCA Tournament title game with the Ohio State Buckeyes. He wants to believe, but ... “They’re not looking too good lately.”

Guard O.J. Mayo’s alma mater, USC, didn’t even make the NCAA field.

But younger brother Todd is a freshman at No. 3 seed Marquette. So, go Golden Eagles.

In Memphis, there is a natural anti-Calipari sentiment and some people, including all three of my sons, refuse to pick Kentucky even though they agree with Hollins.

David Gross, avid Tigers fans and senior vice president at First Alliance Bank, is picking Kentucky. And he was even in San Antonio when the Tigers had the NCAA championship won – only to hand it to Kansas.

“It was a bad taste when it ended,” he said of Calipari’s tenure at Memphis, “but I don’t hold any grudge.”

Neither does Bank of Bartlett president and U of M diehard Harold Byrd, who was going to Columbus, Ohio, for the No. 8 seed Tigers’ game against No. 9 seed Saint Louis, and, he hopes, much further.

“I try to always be objective,” Byrd said. “I’m picking the Tigers.”

Don Wade is a native of Kansas City and a former feature writer for The Kansas City Star and sports reporter for The Commercial Appeal. His column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News.

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