Up in smoke

Flames! Flames on the side of my bracket!

Down goes Georgetown! Down goes Kansas State! On to the second round goes a play-in winner and a No. 15 seed!

And hey, thanks, Florida Gulf Coast. The next time TV talking heads need to mention a 15 seed beating a two, they won't have to bring up my South Carolina Gamecocks gagging it against Coppin State. Uh-gin.

In a span of a few hours, LaSalle, which had to beat Boise State on Tuesday night to make the official NCAA field, sent No. 4 seed Kansas State packing. That was the shocker of the day, right up until Florida Gulf Coast, a Division I school for all of six years and a college for 22, summarily dismissed the tradition- and pride-laden Hoyas, 78-68.

It only took two days for the madness to begin in earnest. Havoc, indeed.

That smell engulfing the country is burning brackets, plumes of smoke rising high and fast. And I love it.

Harvard, winning its first NCAA game last night by dispatching trendy Final Four pick New Mexico, turned out to be just the start. Who knew? It's maddening. It's unforeseeable. It's glorious.

All I can say at this point is: Goooooo Hilltoppers! If there was ever a night for a 16 seed to win, it's tonight. And if there was ever a fraudulent, process-of-elimination No. 1 seed, it's Kansas.

Didn't happen, although Western Kentucky came oh-so-close. I do hope that after all this insanity, we don't end up with four of the weakest No. 1 seeds in memory in Atlanta. That would be an insult to the madness. And it would mean the guy who never watches hoops but was talked into filling out a bracket by his sports-savvy wife still has a chance to win the office pool.

Before the evening went haywire, it was an underwhelming afternoon, save for the Marshall Henderson show. Dude pretty much single-handedly lifted Ole Miss to a 57-46 win against Wisconsin, shaking off a 1-for-13 start to pour in 19 points - which I'm pretty sure is more than the Badgers average in the first half.

Should take a lesson from Henderson. His confidence, evident in his wide-eyed gesticulations, apparently never wavered one bit, and his green light to shoot any and everything never even seemed to flash yellow. Nobody needed to tell him to keep shooting, or to keep his head up. You go, then - into the second round. 

Didn't pick Ole Miss, but I did pick Wisconsin to lose in the next round, mainly out of self-preservation. Bo Ryan is unquestionably a good coach, but who wants to watch that game after game? When the Badgers' grind-it-out game doesn't produce points at the interminable end of the shot clock, like today, it makes one eye the nearest sharp object with bad intent.

And sadly, bad Pack showed up against Temple.

An N.C. State team that put the "N" in inconsistent lollygagged through its first-round game, waiting until the game was nearly over to find some fight. If the Wolfpack had showed as much effort in the previous 38 minutes as it did in the final two, then maybe. But too little, too late in a four-point loss.

The Wolfpack mystifies me. More talent and less heart than any team in the tournament. They can't string together back-to-back good possessions, much less games. And it's the same team, and the same coach, that made such an exciting, unexpected run last year. Maybe it was the early season expectations. Who knows? But it's disappointing, just as a college basketball fan. A lot of players would give a lot for C.J. Leslie's skill set. From the neck down.

Another team from the Tar Heel state, the Tar Heels themselves, kept my bracket safe from the match. UNC, an Elite Eight pick, handled Villanova. The tournament will be less pretty without Jay Wright, but life is full of loss.

Just ask Kansas State. Or Georgetown.