- Chris Sprow, ESPN Insider
An annual tradition, we're again walking through the brackets with Bracket Predictor. We take full responsibility, however, for interpreting his endorsements. While the predictions are the stone-cold serious work of our Insider's robo-prognosticator, we decided to dress up the answers with a little human warmth.
You have to feel bad for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Consider this situation: A team is clearly the best over the course of the regular season. It's cruising through the season-ending tourney. Then one night, the second-leading scorer has maybe his worst game of the season. His team loses.
But the team isn't Ohio State. It is also the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, perhaps the best basketball team ever constructed. They went 72-10 in the regular season, were on a playoff roll, but lost Game 4 of the NBA Finals when Scottie Pippen went 4-of-17 from the floor. Against Kentucky on Friday, OSU's William Buford, the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer, went a Pippenesque 2-of-16, and a season in which the Buckeyes were probably the nation's best team was over.
The Bulls lost the next game, too, before hanging on for the title. It's a good reminder. Whereas the NBA is immune to killing off its best because of a single bad game -- after all, a single game can mean anything -- college hoops is not. It's what makes the NCAA tournament perhaps sport's greatest spectacle, and both the most democratic way to choose a champion, and in some ways, the absolute worst. Congrats on the great season, now enjoy the obstacle course.
This is not to diminish Kentucky, a team grossly under-seeded by the selection committee.
And Wildcats fans are just a year removed from their own random ending: They endured an Ohio State-like exit in 2010 when the Cats shot an unthinkable 4-of-32 on 3-point attempts in a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers. The tournament is really six one-game tournaments. Anyone can fall -- even Bracket Predictor. His only crime is that he knows too much to be subjected to such randomness. But, with his algorithms intact, we're finally ready to project a champion. We won't miss.