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Posted at 05:25 PM ET, 04/06/2011

Arlington man, VCU grad narrowly misses ESPN bracket title

I know the rule about how no one cares about your NCAA tournament bracket. And I know the rule that no one especially cares five days after the tournament is over. I mean, people care more about spelling mistakes on Nats Park banners than they do about this.

But I’m making an exception and asking you to briefly care about Garrett Lyon’s bracket, for a few reasons.

* He does not like college basketball, and can only remember filling out one bracket in his life, that in 2007.

* He filled out his 2011 bracket with the assistance of eight or nine beers.

* He got three-quarters of the Final Four, and both championship teams, correct.

* His bracket finished tied for fourth among ESPN.com’s more than 5.9 million contestants.

* The only Final Four team he missed was VCU. Had he also gotten the Rams correct, Lyon would have won the ESPN.com pool and claimed $10,000.

* He’s a VCU grad.

“Which goes to show, don’t betray your team,” Lyon joked when we chatted this week.

It’s not not like the 28-year old isn’t a sports fan — he watches baseball, hockey and football, wrestled much of his life, and played football at Fairfax High, with The Post praising his “intensity, toughness and speed” during his senior year. But even though he went to a couple games at the Siegel Center during his time at VCU, he never got into the sport, not in high school, not in college and not since then.

Like, when he was watching one of the tournament games recently, he asked his roommates what a guard does.

So maybe Lyon’s explanation for putting Butler into the championship game — making him one of 881 people in ESPN.com’s contest to get the title game correct — aren’t entirely inspiring.

“I just kind of randomly went through, and by the time I had 8 or 9 beers, it looked about right,” he said. “I just remembered hearing [Butler’s] name. I don’t know, it just felt right. I remember hearing them doing well like a year or two back — I didn’t remember if it was last year or the year before. I saw that they were, what, an 8th seed or something? I figured there’s 16 seeds, so that’s kind of middle of the pack, anything could happen, and I’ll just kind of run them through.”

Right-o. Lyon had VCU losing in the Sweet 16, but the rest of his bracket was good enough that he kept rising in the standings. He got 27 of 32 first-round games correct. And as the tournament progressed, he rose in the standings from 1,300th to 27th to the top 10, the 99.9th percentile.

Of course, he had also filled out another bracket with fewer upsets, which he entered into his local pool. That one wasn’t very good. Which left him with one unbelievable but ultimately valueless bracket, which would have been just about perfect had he only believed in his alma mater.

“I felt like a complete idiot, like I kind of betrayed my school, that I should have had them at least going to the Final Four,” he told me. “But I was super excited. Once VCU started kicking ass, I almost didn’t care; I was just rooting for my team. Now I say I went to VCU, and instead of getting blank stares, people say ‘Oh, great basketball team’.”

Anyhow, Lyon wound up with zero cash prizes, but quite a bit of newfound basketball cred among his friends. He said he’ll probably do another bracket next year, so I asked whether he would again pick against VCU.

“Hell no,” he said.

By  |  05:25 PM ET, 04/06/2011

Categories:  College Basketball

 
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