For those who may have missed it, my wife and I are squaring off against each other in picking the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments. Let’s call it the Harden Family Bracket Challenge.  There are fabulous prizes (snooty coffee drinks) on the line here, so this is a big, big deal. We’ll start with our men’s tournament face-off. Before I recap the highs and lows of our respective picks, and with apologies to Kai Ryssdal, let’s do the numbers:

Men’s Tourney:

  • Darrell – 52 points
    • First Four – 3-1, 3 points
    • First Round – 27-5, 27 points
    • Second Round – 11-5, 22 points
  • Darrell’s Wife – 34 points
    • First Four – 2-2, 2 points
    • First Round – 20-12, 20 points
    • Second Round – 6-10, 12 points

If the numbers told the whole story, I’d be dancing in the streets right now after a stellar first-round performance. I called Hawaii, Wichita State (not that that’s really an upset), Northern Iowa, Stephen F. Austin, and Gonzaga (not that any of us are surprised by a Gonzaga win as a double-digit seed). Nonetheless, my bracket looked like this after the first round:


Also acceptable: Burning couch

I needed help from to help me capture the state of affairs. Only two little things went wrong: Yale and MTSU. The first four-letter word, Yale, upended Baylor, who I thought had a decent shot of making a run to the Elite Eight. As for MTSU … well … it’s hard to be upset about seeing a 15-seed pull off arguably the biggest upset in tournament history. That said, many of my friends also watched their brackets go up in flames when MTSU capped off their historic win.

Friends like Kevin Paul.

And my wife.

Her clever “methodology” left her brackets in not-awful shape, except for the loss of her title winner. She’s managed to keep six of her Elite Eight, too, and all six of them are not in the scorched-earth Midwest Region. Yale did good work for her in taking out Baylor. Badgers have served her well, too, just as they always do. She’ll definitely be hoping for Wisconsin to keep playing well, given that she has the Badgers in the Final Four.

On the women’s side, here are the numbers:

Women’s Tourney Update

  • Darrell – 37 points
    • First Round: 21-11, 21 points
    • Second Round: 8-8, 16 points
  • Darrell’s wife – 39 points
    • First Round: 21-11, 21 points
    • Second Round: 9-7, 18 points

Unlike the men’s bracket, I am still feeling very confident despite the fact that I’m losing by a couple of points here. I still have my entire Final Four intact, and six of my Elite Eight are still alive; by comparison, my wife is down to five of her Elite Eight, and she had Michigan State winning the whole thing, while I still have UConn carrying my standard. To her credit, she’s called a few upsets on which I didn’t pull the trigger, including South Dakota State winning their opener, and Washington and Tennessee making the Sweet Sixteen. Did I mention that I still have UConn? I feel like I can fall a little bit farther behind so long as the Huskies keep winning.

dumpster fire

By now, most March Madness brackets look a lot like this…