The NCAA Tournament always has YKI thinking back to one of my favorite All-Time NCAA Tournament/Bracket memories. . .from the year 2000, ALSO in Indianapolis. . .
In 2000, while Tim, Denicke & I were scratching our respective journalistic itches at the Daily Bruin, pursuing ‘careers’ in Sportswriting, there was a watershed moment; a moment that would be forever regaled, revered and relived.
It was a quintessentially Los Angeles type of evening. Dave Denicke, Tim & myself were returning to Denicke’s illustrious & infamous Apartment on Levering, after a hearty group coverage session on a UCLA Women’s Karate team practice. The
NCAA Tournament pairings had just been released, and our employer was providing us a forum for gambling & discussion; as we left the scintillating event, both brackets and the notion of a ‘tournament pool’ were handed our way.
The walk back to the apartment was replete with Tourney Talk, our picks, our schools, our Final Fours, etc. It was at the end of a hearty recap of the South bracket – specifically UConn (5 seed) vs. Utah St (12 seed) – that Denicke made an interesting suggestion.
Why don’t we simulate the Tournament on EA Sports Playstation NCAA Basketball 2001 and submit a bracket with those results?
Tim & I, both easily suggestible & open to new ideas, resoundingly vowed to support Denicke, firing back with the emphatic, “Sure, why not?” and the rousing, “Go for it.” So long as Tim & I could smoke bowls – conveniently enough, Jared was Denicke’s roommate, thus adding to the intrigue, knowledge base, weed intake and decibel level of the situation – and Denicke would do all of the ‘setting up’ and bracketing, we were attentive. . . at least until three hours and many beers later, Denicke announced that the NCAA Basketball 2001 Final Four consisted of:
First-Seeded Michigan St.
Eighth-Seeded North Carolina
To recap, that’s TWO Eight (8) seeds and a Five-Seed. There had only been one Eight-Seed in the Final Four in NCAA HISTORY up to that point, and to include two – plus a five seed – was universally deemed “utterly ridiculous.” As a collective, we decided to crumple, shred, douse and immolate that bracket, without submission in the pool.
A month and many nail-biting finales later, Denicke marched over to the apartment shared by Tim & myself, where Jared was joining us for the afternoon. Denicke literally kicked in our front door, re-assembled & laminated bracket in hand, and announced. “Here was our winner, boys.”
My response was a Lance-esque, “What the?” while Tim’s was a more pointed, collected ” Denicke, did you really need to destroy our door?” Jared cackled relentlessly between coughing sessions, repeatedly pointing at Tim & myself.
“YES,” answered Denicke. “This bracket would have won the Dainly Bruin Pool.” For the next hour-and-a-half, Denicke mounted what is still being considered the most compelling, influential, ground-breaking dissection since Oliver Stone’s Jim Garrison in the film JFK.
As Tim, Jared & I witnessed the PowerPoint presentation, a forty-minute video conference with two NCAA representatives and one from EA Sports moderated by Denicke, and a guest appearance from Tournament MVP Mateen Cleeves, we realized that our non-submission of this bracket – This Bracket that had the entire final four correct – was the moment that would forever impact our futures. It was at that very second that Tim & I made a pact to never disrespect the predictional capabilities of a computer, machine, or least of all – a Playstation.