Tarheels are sure to exit early this year

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By Mike Cote

Seriously, I don’t even know why I bother.
Every year, I go through the time-wasting trouble of filling out a bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Every year, I’m mathematically eliminated from any “friendly” competition I’m involved in by the final buzzer of the second round of the regional quarterfinal round. I think I’ve been alive beyond that round twice — by “alive” I mean if I won every remaining game and everyone else lost every remaining game, I might win the tiebreaker if I called exactly the score in the national championship.
I suppose I should apologize to the fans of North Carolina right now. I picked the Tarheels to win it all this year.
That pretty much guarantees they won’t be in contention for a national title for the next decade or so.
I’ve never picked the Tarheels to win before. In fact, that’s about the only rationale I used for picking them to win this year. Since I’ve never been in pool contention by studying the match-ups, doing a statistical analysis of player-vs.-player, and so forth, I didn’t see much point in robbing myself of any more precious Bejeweled Blitz time by going through it again.
Instead, I just went with my first instinct.
More honestly, I went against teams that have let me down in the past.
I’m looking at you, Syracuse, Arizona, Duke, Purdue, Gonzaga and Alabama-Birmingham — you know what you did, UAB Blazers, I don’t have to rehash it here.

The Studs of ’Spaña

Speaking of elimination basketball, congratulations are in order this week.
The Española Valley Sundevil boys basketball team finally extricated the 800-pound gorilla that’s been on its back, knocking off the Goddard Rockets 55-52 to win the Class 4A state championship last weekend.
In a basketball-crazy state like New Mexico, Española could well be the capital. Fans have been waiting a long time to see the Sundevils finally get over the hump.
The Sundevils have been knocking on the door for the last several seasons, but struggled to even get to the finals until last season when they suffered a heart-breaking loss at the hands of the Roswell Coyotes.
But Rodney Coles, one of the most gifted guards in the state, lived up to his moniker, “The Rocket,” in the last three minutes of the game and sunk the Rockets, who themselves had an impressive run through the 4A tournament as a No. 9 seed.
Special congratulations goes to Richard Martinez, head coach of Española Valley, who bore the brunt of most people’s frustrations over the last four years for his team’s not bringing home a blue trophy.
Martinez, a colorful character to be sure, but one of the most genuinely nice guys coaching in northern New Mexico today, has handled the criticism about as well as it could be handled.
And when his team finally hoisted the coveted trophy, Martinez can still say he won it his way, critics be damned.