Marken Madness: The Aftermath


I mean how else do you even describe this past weekend. Honestly, I’m having trouble coming up with the words to do so.

This is because I’m on the final psychological stage of processing a busted bracket. First it was shock, then denial, followed by the obvious 2020 hindsight, anger, and then a numbing feeling of emptiness. What I’m left with currently is the recycling question of “Now what?” which circles my head like a vulture.

My bracket wasn’t just busted, it was violated.

Obviously, I’m not the only one who feels this way. No one could have predicted that Oral Intercourse Roberts would erect from the shadows and beat Ohio State… and then Florida! If you were to look at the entire bracket as of now, you’d fall into a shock-induced coma. The madness is too much for that of a single human mind to comprehend. Thus, let’s take a look at the aftermath of the LEFT side of the bracket to see what we’re dealing with.

Maybe I can salvage some amount of credibility as a college basketball writer.

Where did I go wrong?

So as I conducted a search-and-rescue through my now ruined bracket for any survivors, I discovered that I was quite wrong about some teams. Thus, I’m going to eat my words for a minute. Let’s start with the obvious MISS from my previous blogs:

“If I had to support one team to make it out alive, I’d go with Texas. They can break teams down on defense, they can shoot the lights out of the gym, and they got an experienced coach in Shaka Smart. Hook em horns.”

Good lord, what an awful call that was. Those tramps traveled all the way to Indiana only to get bounced by Abilene Christian University, a tiny microscopic private Christian school located in… you guessed it… Abilene, Texas. They were the national champion in most of my brackets, and they couldn’t survive past FRIDAY. Thanks for nothing, Shaka. Horns down. 

Here comes another freezing cold take about a team that got rinsed in the first round:

“I think the toughest competition in their region isn’t Michigan or Alabama… it’s Connecticut. Look out for UConn; they are sneaky good. They are incredibly talented both offensively and defensively, and there’s a hot chance that they can give all the teams in their region, including Texas, a hellish tournament experience.”

Wait it’s not over yet, here comes the best line:

“I’m gonna say this right now so you heard it here first… putting UConn in your final four might be the most profitable decision you’ve ever made.”

Jesus Christ. So now, I’m not only unhirable as a college basketball analyst, but my career in wealth management is also a wash. The most profitable decision you’ve ever made? Who am I, Jim Cramer?

Soak me in butter and fry me on a pan.

UConn couldn’t buy a bucket against worthless Maryland, a team my Indiana hoosiers had no problem taking care of this year. 

Let’s see, what else do we got. Ah yes: 

“I smell a potential upset with the winner of LSU/St. Bonaventure beating Michigan this weekend.” 

Well no upset here, and something still stinks, so it looks like I should probably go to urgent-care and get a full check-up. I mean seriously, what was I thinking? Michigan is terrific and I should never have doubted them. These guys look amazing and are literally carrying the prestige of the Big-10 conference on their backs right now. 

Speaking of which, cue another line of writing that belongs in the dirt:

“The Big-10 is without a doubt the best conference in college basketball.”

Yeah and ESPN called saying they want me to have my own segment. 

There is not one conference that benefited from the circumstances of the pandemic more than the Big-10. They literally played an entire conference championship on the same floors that host March Madness only weeks before… and for whatever reason, it looked like they were re-learning the game of basketball while they played this past weekend. It was disgraceful to watch.

What went right?

As funny as it is to make fun of how much I got wrong… I actually made some very good calls and could possibly cancel all out of my lost credibility, and perhaps spring me out of the red and into the green.

For starters, I predicted that this March Madness was going to be among the bloodiest tournaments we’ve ever seen. Well, the NCAA stated that this year has the most upsets in tournament history. That sounds a lot like:

“It’s gonna be a goddamn blood-bath, like the Red Wedding on elephant steroids kind of blood-bath.”

Another call that I got dead right was Gonzaga. I knew they were elite on all fronts and that their road to the Final Four would be stress-free, and so far, it has been. My streak of great calls would continue as I accurately predicted the fates of Iowa, Kansas, and Virginia. I knew Iowa was a bust, the writing was on the wall ever since Indiana beat them twice!

To use my exact words in my favor I said, “Kansas holds the No. 3 seed, but those guys are flaccid,” and “Virginia holds the No. 4 seed, but they are more irrelevant than ever.”

Well, Kansas looked precisely flaccid as they got 30-balled by USC, making it the the worst tournament loss EVER for the Jayhawks, and Virginia was absolutely irrelevant against Ohio. I took Ohio with impunity.

I also said that Creighton, Florida state, and Oregon would all prevail. Here they are, many teams that I said I LOVED, still dancing, with almost an entire week to prepare for the next games. What’s even more precise is that every team (except for two) that I said I HATED are gone. I already apologized to Michigan, but the other team that I got wrong was Alabama. But I wasn’t wrong about them, I was wrong about their opponents.

I disregarded them as a Final Four contender because of how strenuous their journey looked before the tournament began. I admitted that they were hot, but I feared that they were in for a gauntlet of a conquest to the Final Four. Of course, all of those teams I pictured them playing were eliminated and now the only thing standing in between them and elite eight status is UCLA… who isn’t bad, but we all know that a team sporting orange and white should be there instead. 

Which brings me to my last point:

My Dark Horse Candidate and Accidental Greatness: UCLA

Okay, so remember when I made a long-shot prediction about Michigan State? How they have the firepower and experience to go deep in the tournament. Remember how I also said that my prediction becomes obsolete if they don’t even get past UCLA. 

Well, I was kind of wrong and right at the same time. If you listened to me before Michigan State played UCLA, you would have been greatly rewarded.

Technically, if you were to submit a bracket to have Michigan State to reach the sweet sixteen when I told you to, you’d look like a genius right now. That’s because the Michigan State/UCLA game acts like one team on paper. I made the prediction on Monday before their game on Thursday, and if you trusted me enough to send in a bracket before their game, and you had Michigan State going far… you would technically be getting credit for those wins. UCLA fills that spot, regardless if you intended for Michigan State to be there. So yeah, you’re welcome.

In conclusion, this tournament has lived up to the madness hype and I advise you to only expect more madness as it continues. Stay tuned for my predictions about the coming games. Whether you choose to ride with me or against me is another decision entirely. I’d argue for both at this point.

Happy March!

Written by Henry Marken

I lost my pinky finger at age 4, but then found it again at a soup kitchen when I was 15. Survivor of a wild turkey attack (2008). I went to the University of Phoenix before it was cool to do college online. Currently in a lawsuit with Crayola after a devastating purple crayon incident.

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