Mule Madness - Bracketology
Mule Madness – The Galgano Challenge - Bracketology and the Crystal Ball
Mike Bruckner, Vice President of Public Relations
Whining and trash talking from Haas and the Life Sports Center? It must be Mule Madness. The track and field and cross country teams are the defending champions, but they needed huge bonus points to pull out the victory. The football team won the trophy in 2013 and finished second in 2014. The softball team finished third last year, but the squad might have won the overall title but for a weak bonus pool.
The brackets for Mule Madness are out and…
First round match-ups: Women's basketball takes on women's lacrosse and golf takes on men's lacrosse. The men's basketball team will battle the women's tennis team and the volleyball and softball teams will tangle. Football and men's tennis are matched up in one division with men's soccer and field hockey in the other match-up. To me, that's the best first round matchup. The final match-ups are wrestling versus women's soccer and baseball takes on track and field. Both wrestling and baseball are upstarts with bright futures, but they got very difficult first round draws. Things will get interesting if these two teams can make it through Round One.
Sleeper pick: The crystal ball did not fail the Swami in 2014. Last year I picked the track and field and cross country teams as the sleepers and Brad Hackett's teams pulled off the victory. This year, I don't think the wrestling team can go from last to first, but I believe the wrestlers will significantly improve on a 16th place finish. New coach Sean Lally has energized everything about this squad, so why should Mule Madness be any different? Swami says top 10 for the wrestlers. My big sleeper pick is women's basketball. I'm taking the hoopsters to go from 10th to a top three finish.
Upset Alert: Last year, I picked the golf team for the upset. It fared well early and then pulled a Tiger Woods, "crashing" and limping to a 15th place finish. This year, I like the baseball team to pull the upset. Tod Gross has things going well on and off the diamond. Maybe his squad can pick off a first round victory. Coaches Corner: The veterans Mike Donnelly and Brad Hackett are tough to beat. And, Marisa DiStasio's softball team always puts in a strong effort in the Galgano Challenge. The Swami is hoping Alexa Keckler's volleyball team will see a spike in donors, along with newcomers Tod Gross (baseball) and Sean Lally (wrestling).
The real deal: While it is quite early and the NCAA Selection Sunday is many days away, the crystal ball has some thoughts. Kentucky will run the table, dominate the SEC tournament and get to the NCAA Final Four … and lose. For those of you old enough to remember UNLV and Larry "Grandma" Johnson, UNLV was undefeated and dominated the entire season and lost to Duke in the NCAA Final Four Tournament. I predict the same fate for the Wildcats. Hard to pick before the brackets are out, but I think Gonzaga is FINALLY going to make it to the Final Four. Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina are thoroughbreds and will grab two of the other four spots in Indianapolis. Virginia will fall before the Final Four, as will Notre Dame. I am rooting for Villanova and one of the greats Jason Donnelly '00, but I see an Elite Eight and not a Final Four for the "other Wildcats" this year. Watch out for my sleepers Utah and Northern Iowa. But, being a bracketologist without seeing the brackets is a tough gig.
Final thought: Can the track team defend its title and overcome all of the hurdles en route? Will the football team re-assert itself? Will the golf teams ace this year's campaign in the Mule Madness tournament? Will the basketball teams press their alumni into giving? Will the lacrosse teams “man-up?” How about the softball team? Is it ready to “squeeze” out a big victory and make a pitch for the #1 spot? Stay tuned. Mule Madness Bracketology will return on a regular basis.