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Xavier Smith: March Madness continues

Xavier Smith • Updated Mar 22, 2017 at 1:00 PM

This time last week, we all thought we were geniuses and were destined for the first perfect NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket in who knows how long. 

We all knew it was destined for us to win the office bracket pool, especially after the upset we endured last year when the person who couldn’t tell you the difference between the MTSU Blue Raiders and Duke Blue Devils won the entire thing. 

Now, the days following the first weekend, we are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror with the same confused face as we did last year and ask, “What happened?”

The good news with my bracket (because I know you’re curious) is that three of my Final Four teams are still in the field. Villanova let me down, but, thanks to my better judgment, I didn’t have the weekend’s biggest upset – Duke – in my Final Four. 

My Cinderella pick of Florida Gulf Coast University didn’t pass the challenge in Florida State, while my other sleepers – Cincinnati, Rhode Island and Bucknell – failed to make it to the second weekend, but not without valiant efforts. 

I took a gamble on Vanderbilt, which, as I’m sure you all know, didn’t pay off. It’s difficult for me to place all or most of the blame on Matthew Fisher-Davis, who infamously fouled with 15 seconds left while leading, which ultimately led to the Northwestern victory. 

The reason I can’t fully blame Fisher-Davis is because in that situation, which wouldn’t have been possible without Fisher-Davis and his second half performance, the players should be aware of the situation, which is the coach’s responsibility. Also, if Vanderbilt hadn’t dug itself a hole in the first half, the game might have turned out differently. 

Two of my three overrated picks – Dayton and Creighton – fell in the first round, while Gonzaga continues to battle its way toward a Final Four. However, a loss in the Sweet Sixteen would still be considered lackluster for the program many people had winning the whole thing. 

This weekend is huge for my North Carolina Tar Heels. I don’t care about what happened the last two games because the object of March Madness is to survive and advance, which is what they did. 

However, they will be tested this weekend in Memphis as they face a confident Butler team and, if they win, the winner of the Kentucky and UCLA. The Kentucky and UCLA matchup could easily be a Final Four-style battle, which leaves me to believe there may a little bit of exhaustion when either of those teams faces the Tar Heels, who push the pace as good as anybody in the country. 

Elsewhere, Arizona and Oregon are still alive, which means my National Championship game prediction of Arizona and North Carolina is still alive. 

My first weekend surprises: Wisconsin, South Carolina and Michigan.

For some, the chance of winning is still there. Good luck this weekend.

Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

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