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As a veteran of The Wilson Times Bracket Challenge, Vince Edwards had a plan this year and it paid off for the self-described North Carolina fan who won the grand prize by correctly picking Virginia to win it all.
By the time the Cavaliers faced Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament championship game on April 8, the 49-year-old Elm City resident had already won the Bracket Challenge and the $100 grand prize.
“You can’t really pick your heart. You have to pick who you think is going to win,” Edwards said.
“I looked at it and I thought they had the best team,” he said of Virginia. “They only lost two regular-season games. They lost in the (Atlantic Coast Conference) tournament but they only lost two regular-season games.
“They had the weakest 2 seed, in my opinion, in Tennessee.
“I felt like that my odds were good by picking a team that was good, a weak 2 seed and nobody was going to pick ‘em!”
Edwards said Virginia being the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament also factored in his belief the Cavaliers would cut down the nets for the first time in program history this year.
But Edwards, who has played in the Times Bracket Challenge each of the previous nine editions and whose mother, Edna Edwards, finished third last year, knew there was a bonus to picking Virginia.
“Everybody in this area was pretty much going to pick Duke or Carolina,” he said.
Edwards said that he didn’t think UNC was going to win it all, in fact, taking Kentucky to dispose of the Tar Heels in South Regional finals. He also said he didn’t believe Duke, one of the most talented teams ever assembled by head coach Mike Krzyzewski, was championship worthy.
“I thought Duke had the most talent but I thought Coach K would mess it up — and he did,” Edwards said with a grin.
While Virginia was the only team in the Final Four that Edwards correctly forecast, he took the prize once the Cavaliers survived the national semifinals game against Auburn, the second straight miracle finish for UVA, and Texas Tech ousted Michigan State. One other contestant had the Spartans but nobody picked the Red Raiders to win it all.
Edwards had Gonzaga, which lost to Texas Tech in the West Regional final, beating Duke in the Final Four and losing to Virginia in the championship game.
“I really thought that Gonzaga was going to make the run,” Edwards said.
Edwards said that he didn’t really think Duke would make the Final Four but, “it wasn’t worth the risk not putting them in the Final Four because everybody would and i would lose those points.”
He likened his strategy to Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election in which he lost the popular vote but won the electoral college.
“It’s the way Trump won, although it might be a poor analogy,” Edwards said. “He didn’t get the most votes, he won the right states.”
Edwards wouldn’t admit to being a Virginia fan once his Tar Heels were eliminated in the Sweet 16, but he did allow that he was glad that the Cavaliers finally won a championship. Mainly, he just wanted to see exciting basketball being played.
“I’m a good game fan,” he said with a grin. “I like to see good games, although I like to see Duke go down!”
Edwards joins previous winners Drell Webb in 2018, Sam Cohen (2017), Mark Greeson (2016), Chris Proctor (2015), Rikki Bizzell (2014), Melissa Proctor (2013), Teresa Tucker (2012), Michael Evans (2011) and Ken Krodel (2010).