Schuckman: This bracket is sure to bust, but Mizzou in final four will always be my dream


QUINCY — There are two rules of thumb I try to follow when filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket.

One, never write the name of the school to the west of Missouri on any sheet.

Two, try not to pick with your heart.

The first one I always accomplish. The second? I failed miserably this time.

Over and over again, I told myself not to take the University of Missouri too deep. The Las Vegas oddsmaker have the seventh-seeded Tigers listed as an underdog against 10th-seeded Utah State, so the prospects of Mizzou surviving the first weekend seem bleak to many.

I honestly believe the Tigers will win the opening-round matchup — and not just because I went to the nation’s oldest and most esteemed School of Journalism at Ol’ Mizzou. Under first-year coach Dennis Gates, the Tigers have the right ingredients to be a dangerous postseason team. They guard and defend at a high level. They are a senior-laden group, and experience often matters more than talent during March Madness.

So there’s hope, right? The Tigers could make this interesting beyond Thursday’s opener and potentially beyond the first weekend.

That’s kind of thinking comes from the heart, and I let my heart win as I filled out my bracket.

Yes, I picked the Tigers to win the opener. Yes, I picked them to survive the first weekend. Yes, I took them all the way to the Final Four. Yes, I know Mizzou has never been to a Final Four. Yes, I know my bracket will likely be busted before the weekend is through.

Sometimes, you go with your heart and you hope for the best. Black and gold runs deep in these veins. Forever will. Maybe these Tigers can find Cinderella’s slipper. If not them, someone will be the darling of this tournament and keep us captivated the next three weeks.

By then, I won’t care what my bracket looks like. I’ll simply be enjoying the games, but they would be so much more enjoyable if Mizzou finds a way to stick around as long as possible.

Mizzou-rah! Mizzou-rah! Tigers!

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