Posted on: March 28th, 2011 by Jen Mueller

Welcome to Championship Week and two matchups no one saw coming.  We’re talking about the NCAA tournament and Final Four matchups.  I saw a tweet yesterday that out of 5.9 million brackets filled out at ESPN.com only 2 correctly picked the Final Four.  That’s amazing and it also proves you don’t have to have all the answers to participate.

I guarantee many people studied the brackets and spent hours agonizing over the match-ups and the best way to win, while another segment of the population just picked names on a whim.   In the end, the majority ended up in the same spot – as bracket losers.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s part of the fun and excitement of March Madness.  Let it serve as encouragement instead that you can participate in bracket challenges, as a fan at sporting events and in sports conversations.  Here are a few topics and questions to get you started this week.

NCAA Final Four – For the first time ever in the history of the Tournament, there are no #1 or #2 seeds left in the Final Four pairings.  Butler and VCU (Virginia Commonwealth) will play in the early game Saturday.  UConn and Kentucky will play in the late game.  The winners of each game play for the Championship Sunday.  Who do you think will win?  How do you explain the success of the smaller schools like Butler and VCU?  Which outcome surprised you the most last weekend?

NIT Basketball –The NIT tournament is coming to a close as well.  That tournament runs concurrent with the NCAA tourney and involves teams that are arguably a step down from those you’ve seen in the NCAA tournament.  The NIT Final Four is being held in New York and includes a Northwest team in Washington State. What do you think of the Cougars chances to win the tourney?  Do you think the remaining NIT teams could hold their own against the NCAA Final Four teams?

MLB Opening Day – The long wait for baseball fans ends this week.  Opening Day of baseball season is Thursday March 31st, although many teams don’t play their first game until Friday April 1st.  Each team must trim it’s roster to 25 players roster by Thursday, so keep an eye out for any surprises later in the week.  How does your team look this year?  Any surprises on the roster?

MLB – This is a bonus topic because it will get you talking about something other than sports.  The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recently acquired a painting of pitcher Pedro Martinez.  He is an 8-time All-Star and 3-time Cy Young Award winner.  The portrait will be displayed in the “Recent Acquisitions.”  Have you ever been to the Smithsonian?  What is your favorite museum?

Note: This topic and these questions can be used any time throughout the baseball season so don’t try to force it into the conversation this week if it doesn’t work.

NLF – The lockout and legal posturing rolls on, but here’s a story that will get you talking about something other than the impending court date.  Denver back-up quarterback Tim Tebow signed a deal with Jockey to model underwear.  In his words “everyone wears underwear, it’s not like I’m doing something risqué.”  What do you think about his choice to model underwear?  If you were athlete or super star, which product would you want to endorse?