Tar Heels break Columbia bracket jam

Rabbi Yossi Feintuch was the only one of five to pick North Carolina victory.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:10 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three weeks ago, the Missourian asked five well-known Columbia residents for their predictions on this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Some went with gut instinct, others were more analytical with their choices. But in the end, it was all about knowledge and maybe a little luck.

Phyllis Chase, the superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, Rabbi Yossi Feintuch at Congregation Beth Shalom and Brian Ash, the owner of Bambino’s and 6th Ward Council Member, each were able to predict the championship game match-up between Illinois and North Carolina. But only Feintuch accurately predicted North Carolina to cut down the nets Monday after its 75-70 win against the Fighting Illini.

Feintuch’s wife, Judy, is a North Carolina alumnus, and he watched several of the Tar Heels’ games this season.

“I probably would not have predicted them to win just because of that,” Feintuch said “There is bias because my wife is an alumnus of North Carolina. She was there when Dean Smith and Michael Jordan were able to win a championship. It all went hand-in-hand with their performances this season I was able to watch.”

Feintuch said his prediction spurred from the Tar Heels’ ability to play as a team, and their ability to find ways to win playing the full 40 minutes. He was pleased with the outcome of the championship game.

“Roy (Williams, the North Carolina coach) coached under Dean Smith, and I liked that he wanted to restore the Dean Smith tradition,” Feintuch said.

Ash did better with his bracket than in previous years. The city council meeting took precedent Monday night for him, but he was able to catch some of the game. Although his championship pick, Illinois, didn’t win, he says he feels his approach will continue to work.

“I tried to be very analytical this year and really look at the numbers,” Ash said. “It worked better than in years past. Apparently, my gut instincts don’t work out for me, so I am going to try to keep breaking it down next year.”

And then there is Dane Pavlovich, the Stephens College women’s basketball coach. A native of Kansas and a Kansas State alum, he chose Kansas to beat Wake Forest in the championship game. Unfortunately for him, Kansas was upset by Bucknell in the first round, and second-seeded Wake Forest lost to West Virginia in the second round.

“I can’t get anything published again,” Pavlovich said. “I was picking with my heart instead of my head. Next year, I don’t even think I’ll fill out a bracket I did so bad. I’ll just look forward to being a fan.”

Whether it’s skill or luck, the tournament’s madness is always fun.

“That’s what’s so exciting about March Madness,” Rev. Jim Bryan of the United Methodist Church said. “In any given year, any team can just play extraordinarily well in any game. You just don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s why it is so exciting.”

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