Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bratkovic: NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament brackets evoke questions about every basketball team

March 18, 2008

So I have a lot of questions about this year's NCAA Men's basketball tournament.

Here is one: hypothetically, if I took my bracket to the Kansas City Zoo and had a chimpanzee fill it out would I have a better chance of winning a pool?

Some years, I don't know.

I wonder if Kansas fans will cheer for K-State fans and vice versa during the first-round games in Omaha. It will be interesting to see if two rivals come together for the good of the state.

I wonder if KU fans will finally get the rematch with Roy Williams that they have coveted so much since he left.

I wonder when the first upset will come in the tournament.

I wonder how many Big 12 Conference teams will win games to move on in the tournament.

I wonder how many last-second winning shots will occur, and who will hit them.

Locally, I wonder how much pressure Kansas will feel to win a national title. Is this finally the year? Can they get to the Final Four?

On paper, this team has good a shot as any. They are filled with talent and have a quality coach.

On a personal level, this tournament is fun for me. I have a legitimate team to cheer for. I am not sure that I have ever told you this, but I went to K-State and am a loyal Wildcat fan. I took a lot of pride this season when the Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks in Manhattan.

I also have grimaced along the way at the way K-State has done some things, like close out games, perform badly on the road and lack composure at times.

I am almost afraid to get attached. I keep feeling like the bubble is going to pop and I am going to wake up next year and see Manny Dies, Tony Kitt, Cortez Groves and Galen Morrison on the floor with Joe Leonard at center.

For those of you who don't know, those are some of the players who played in the futile years at K-State.

I hope better days are here to stay.

Yet, here is my biggest question: if K-State gets eliminated on Thursday by USC, and Michael Beasley and Bill Walker both leave, was it a good decision to hire Frank Martin?

After a season of deliberation on this topic, I believe it was a good decision, because the system didn't work otherwise.

K-State had failed since the days of Lon Kruger to establish a winner.

It fluttered under Dana Altman, who left, and then collapsed under Tom Asbury. Jim Wooldridge was a nice guy, but he never won enough close games.

The problem was the team never could recruit players like Beasley or Walker.

Even if it only lasts a season, it has been nice having a top player to cheer for.

Yet, I am afraid my question isn't going to be answered until next year.

Martin's biggest challenge will be can he continue to build a program? Numerous coaches have looked good in their first year coaching other peoples' players.

Honestly, there is a chance that K-State becomes a better team next year without Beasley and Walker. They might not have the same individual talent but might play better as a team.

Texas is a better basketball team this season than it was last year with Kevin Durant.

I hope that bringing the best player in America to Kansas for a season has a butterfly effect and raises the program to the next level.

K-State's basketball future is on the line this week.

The NCAA Men's basketball tournament is when careers get made and good ideas become great ones.

It is when gambles pay off.

Win a few games in the tournament and suddenly you are on cloud nine. Your program's resume becomes nicer, and emotional hires appear smarter.

While only a No. 11 seed, it would be nice to see KSU take that next step as a program this week. The Wildcats could silence a lot of critics with a few wins.

Yet, it is one of the many questions that will be answered in the next three weeks. Not the least of is who should I pick to win this thing? KU, Carolina, no, maybe the Bruins, who knows? It is still early I guess.

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