There were roughly 20 million brackets filled out on ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo, according to NCAA.com, and none of them perfectly predicted the results. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In that article, I predicted who would reach the Final Four and ultimately win it all. Before I say anything else, I’d like to point out the obvious fact that I know nothing. Yes, 50% of the teams I chose are still in it (Alabama and Gonzaga), but my Big Ten teams, Illinois and Ohio State, lost. And yes, I had to look up where Oral Roberts University is located, because I had no idea.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, we will know who is in the Final Four. By the end of the day on Tuesday (or now), you all have permission to make fun of me for my picks that failed miserably.

While we can all laugh at ourselves realizing we’re all far from bracketologists, I know I have enjoyed this tournament. There have been lots of upsets, lots of close games and most importantly, other than VCU having to leave the tournament because of coronavirus issues, every team has remained healthy and we have had a fairly smooth tournament.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia in me from not having March Madness last year and longing for college basketball and normalcy to come back. But I have always felt that there’s nothing like the three weeks in March that this tournament is played.

Particularly, in 2021, after everything that this country and world has had to deal with for the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, this tournament has felt extra sweet as we head into the Sweet 16 games this weekend.

— Travis Devlin can be reached at travis@athensnews-courier.com.

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