Most of you know that I'm a huge basketball fan, so it should come as no surprise that the three-week stretch known as March Madness is my favorite time of the year.
March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, has everything a sports fan could ask for - great stories, upsets, stellar performances and last-second heroics.
So far, 2004 has had all of that and more.
There's no doubt that most office pools were destroyed by Mo Finley's clutch jump shot that propelled the University of Alabama-Birmingham past Kentucky last weekend.
And I'm pretty sure that few people had Nevada penciled into the Sweet 16.
UAB and Nevada are two big surprises, and they each staged their magic in the same regional (St. Louis).
In the Atlanta regional, Xavier was a seven seed, but just a few weeks ago, the squad wasn't even expected to make the tournament.
After pounding St. Joseph's in route to winning the Atlantic 10 crown, Xavier made the field and proceeded to whip SEC power Mississippi State to advance to the Sweet 16.
And who would have guessed the SEC East and West champs, Kentucky and Mississippi State, would be out of the tournament, while Alabama and Vanderbilt are still dancing?
For all of those conservative types who simply pick the highest seeds to win, the East Rutherford, N.J., bracket has probably kept you from pulling all of your hair out.
In this bracket, the top four seeds (St. Joseph's, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State) are all alive.
For everyone who had Stanford, Kentucky, Gonzaga and Mississippi State picked to advance to the Final Four - my condolences.
Fortunately, my Final Four selections are still around.
I picked Duke, Georgia Tech, Connecticut and Oklahoma State to make the Final Four, although it was a coin flip to go with Oklahoma State over Pittsburgh or Wake Forest.
Still, I must admit that I picked only eight of the Sweet 16, compared to 11 of 16 last year.
It's far from certain which squads will get to the Final Four in St. Louis, but the tournament has provided plenty of thrills to this point, with more fireworks sure to come later this week.
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