As much as football is the top priority here at Ravens headquarters, this weekend is somewhat of an exception. That's right… It's March Madness time, and the opening round of games is always a great day at work.
Of course, today – when my beloved UNC Tar Heels and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's Maryland Terrapins play (not each other) – we've got a press conference scheduled with linebacker Ray Lewis.
Unfortunately for him, the Miami Hurricanes did not make it to the dance.
Anyway, I scoured the locker room looking for some serious college basketball fans to pick their brains about their brackets, and I have to admit I was surprised at the lack of hoops nuts.
Sure, Mark Clayton is a noted scholar of NCAA basketball, but he is too biased about his Oklahoma Sooners. He's already talking trash about an imminent matchup between Tyler Hansborough and Blake Griffin.
Matt Katula is always good for some analysis and is a brother-in-Carolina-blue. And Jared Gaither gets into the tourney, too.
But this year, I wanted an unbiased opinion to help me break down my field of 64, someone with expert knowledge of all the teams, even Radford.
I found that man in tackle Joe Reitz.
The former practice squadder hasn't been playing football for long. When he came to Baltimore as an undrafted rookie free agent last summer, Joe was a 6-foot-7, 260-pound center fresh off the Western Michigan basketball squad.
Over a four-year career with the Broncos, Reitz is third all-time in scoring (1,713 points) and rebounds (939). He also averaged 15.0 points and 7.9 rebounds as a senior.
Many protein shakes and sandwiches later, Reitz is currently over 300 pounds and slated to compete for a spot at offensive tackle this year.
Anyway, I challenged Joe to a bet – my bracket against his. He is definitely a student of the game. When going over his bracket, he name-checked coaches he knew and some former AAU teammates. We'll see if he's right.
You can check out both of our brackets below.
Following the opening weekend of the tournament, Joe and I are going to break down the games and publicly shame one another on the BR.com Media Player for some of the bonehead picks we each made, so stay tuned for that.
The stakes? Well, if I win, Joe has to wear a UNC football shirt for an entire week during the offseason conditioning program. If I lose, I have to run a gasser, which is a dreaded timed run the players have to perform once or twice a week. Not fun.
Anyway, until next week, Ravens – and basketball – fans, let the games begin!
View Joe Reitz's Bracket
View Mike Duffy's Bracket