When it came to tournament action, Thursday was mediocre at best. That's the only way you can describe it when you win 75% of your bets. You're ahead, but certainly not out of the woods.
It was the same on the next day. I won 12 of 16 again, but on Friday things began to turn ominous. As anyone who has played the tournament can tell you dropping a game here, or there in the first round isn't that bad so long as you've bet against your loser in the next game. In other words, that poor schmuck from Vanderbilt who forgot his team was ahead and mistakenly committed an intentional foul against Northwestern--ultimately costing his team the victory--wasn't a back breaker. That's because I had Vandy losing their next game. It was what we, on this side of the river, call a small money set back.
However the same couldn't be said for that clique of big spenders from SMU. I had them making it to the sweet 16. By by late Friday night they were back in Dallas, drinking heavily over on Dyer St. at The Green Elephant.
It turned out the SMU debacle was just a preview of the disasters to come on Saturday and Sunday. Villanova went first, losing to those bratwurst and beer swilling grinders from Wisconsin. I don't know why I was surprised. Over the years Wisconsin has proven itself to be deadly in the tournament. They are a pack of plodding bulldogs who invariably make speedy, up and down the court high flyer types, look like they're playing ankle deep in one of those inky pools at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Then on Sunday came the Louisville nightmare. The Cardinals blew an eight point half time lead and were taken out by a Michigan team who has been literally living and playing on the edge for nearly two weeks.
Suddenly my Final Four, which had looked solid as a rock was cracked and the entire 2017 venture was in a tailspin.
The ignominious coup de grace came later that evening when Duke played South Carolina.
My terrible history with the Dukies is well documented. Over the years they've destroyed my brackets no matter how high, or low I pick them. It is as if that vile little cretin, Mike Krzyzewski is listening in on the phone as I lay out my March strategy so he can plot the exact moment to screw up everything I'm counting on.
This year the moment was last night. Yes, he and his cold blooded enforcer, Grayson Allen, along with the rest of that band of unabashed tweakers, choked mightily against South Carolina. After leading by 10 at the half the entire Duke defense decided to take the rest of the night off.
Well why not? After all, the poor clod in Oklahoma City should know better by now. South Carolina scored 65 points in the next 20 minutes of play and I was--once again--fucked.
The situation is dire. It's no longer a matter of winning, but rather slowing the outflow in order to minimize the damage. I'm down to two Final Four teams, but at least my winner, Arizona, is still alive as is Kentucky. In addition I can make up limited ground next weekend with Purdue and North Carolina.
Of course it is all a risk. Even the best in the business can't predict some things. You know, like the meaningless three point shot Oklahoma State drained at the buzzer Saturday. In a breathtaking instant the final result of the game didn't change, but OSU covered the two and a half point spread against Michigan and untold tens of thousands of dollars swung the other way. Indeed, attempting to predict the outcome of any contest isn't for the weak hearted. No matter what the odds, or how much time is left there is always a chance the results can turn ugly in the blink of an eye.
Just ask those of us who put money on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
sic vita est