DETROIT - Over the next 17 days, millions of college basketball fans will be fixated on their NCAA tournament brackets, cheering for teams they picked to advance and comparing every game’s result with their friends and colleagues.
The Detroit Red Wings aren’t any different.
The Wings filled out brackets for a team pool Thursday, and while Kansas was the favorite to win the National Championship, a few underdogs surfaced as well.
“I have Western going all the way in one of them, that’s my upset bracket,” said Danny DeKeyser, who attended Western Michigan University. “And then I have Kansas in another one.”
Jimmy Howard, Brendan Smith and Luke Glendening also picked the Jayhawks, although none of them really knew how Kansas ended up at the top of their brackets.
“I have Kansas,” said Howard, who grew up a Syracuse fan. “Don’t ask me how I got there, I just pretty much flipped a coin. When it comes to bragging right within the room you gotta pick carefully.”
Smith echoed his goaltender’s reasoning.
“I’m going on a limp, and it’s a heavy limp because Florida is really good, but I think Kansas has a chance to pull it out,” Smith said. “It’s a weird choice but I’m going with it.”
Although five Wings players attended schools that are playing in the NCAA tournament, Drew Miller was one of the few that stuck to his roots.
“I got Michigan State winning it,” Miller said. “That’s all that matters, Michigan State.
“For the most part I think they’re healthy right now and ready to go so I think they’ll be hard to beat.”
Many other people across the country tend to agree with Miller after the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament in a convincing fashion, including President Barack Obama.
“I think it was a wise choice,” Miller said of the president’s decision. “I think he must know basketball pretty well then.”
Luke Glendening, a Michigan graduate, wasn’t so quick to agree.
“I guess everyone has their own opinion,” Glendening said.
The center doesn’t have the Spartans advancing far in his bracket, but neither is Michigan.
“I don’t know why, I feel kind of bad saying it out loud but for right now that’s what I have,” Glendening said of picking Duke to defeat the Wolverines in the Elite 8.
“Definitely not Michigan State.”
With players who attended Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Western Michigan in Detroit’s dressing room, there’s bound to be banter back and forth as teams advance and fall in the unpredictable NCAA tournament.
“It’s a little bit,” Smith said. “Abby and I got back and forth about Wisco and State. Glennie isn’t as vocal but he will be about Michigan. Everybody is saying that State will win, so that’s interesting. I think that’s cool as a fourth seed that a lot of the analysts think that State is going to win. Funny thing is me and Abby don’t think that. But we do think the Big Ten schools will do well.”
Only time will tell who, if anyone, will hold the bragging rights when the NCAA tournament champion is crowned.
Follow Andrea Nelson on Twitter @Nelson_Andrea