Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In which the Meridian sucumbs to March Madness

"Duke sucks! Duke sucks!--That is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Image found here.

I see that my bloggy friend Ariel over at Bittersweet Life has surrendered his blog just about completely over to NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament blogging and is fearlessly posting all his predictions for the tournament (if you're interested, go here to see his picks). If he'd just get over that nasty case of Kansas Jayhawk-fixation, I could refer my basketball-obsessed reader(s) over to his place with full confidence. Alas, I must withhold that full confidence, seeing as I feel fairly certain he has his Jayhawks winning the tournament (as of this post, he's not yet revealed his entire bracket). Some day, either he or his brother will remove the log from his eye. But, that caveat aside, Ariel knows his stuff.

I don't, though. I've been a bit detached from college basketball this season for various reasons; but you know, when did knowing little or nothing about something keep a blogger from posting on something? Below the fold, then, my choices for the Thursday and Friday games (Saturday and Sunday picks to come tomorrow):

I have three guiding principles regarding my rooting interests, one of which you see proudly and loudly declared in the image for this post, the other of which is that Texas is always Good. (Side note: my other bloggy friend, Randall of Musings from the Hinterland, gets in touch with his inner lawyer in his list of principles that guide his rooting interests. This is fun to read, even if you could otherwise care less about this sort of thing.). The third is, When the other two principles don't come into play, root for the school with the better English department. Alas, when filling out a bracket, one must on occasion put aside rooting principles if one wants to produce a halfway-plausible bracket. But some other principles come into play, the chief one being that, below the #1 and #2 seeds this year, there is considerable parity among the teams in the tournament. Thus, as you'll see, I have more than a few lower seeds advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. But: thus far, a #16 has never beaten a #1, and that won't happen this year, either; also, only twice has a #15 beaten a #2.

Numbers in parentheses denote seedings.

Here we go:

EAST, 1st round:

(1) North Carolina vs. (16) Mt. St. Mary's/Coppin State. Tarheels may break a sweat.
(8) Indiana vs. (9) Arkansas. The Hoosiers accepted me to their grad program in English.
(5) Notre Dame vs. (12) George Mason. The Irish are too big for the Patriots.
(4) Washington State vs. (13) Winthrop. Winthrop, in my first upset pick.
(6) Oklahoma vs. (11) St. Joseph's. Oklahoma is overrated; the Eagles in another upset that really isn't one.
(3) Louisville vs. (14) Boise State. The Cardinals seem like the safe pick here.
(7)Butler vs. (10) South Alabama. A toss-up, really, but I'll go with Butler here.
(2) Tennessee vs. (15) American. The conventional wisdom is that a 2 seed is too low for the Vols . . . though I won't embarrass anyone here by naming the ONE TEAM that has beaten 2 of the #1 seeds and Tennessee as well. Anyway. This may be the Vols' year, which will please my friend Winston.

MIDWEST, 1st round:

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Portland State. Of course, it may be Kansas' year, too.
(8) UNLV vs. (9) Kent State. Kent State in a mild upset.
(5) Clemson vs. (12) Villanova. Clemson looks solid this year.
(4) Vanderbilt vs. (13) Siena. Despite having a fine English department, Vandy's poor road record bodes ill for them. Siena in the upset.
(6) USC vs. (11) Kansas State. USC has been the more consistent team.
(3) Wisconsin vs. (14) Cal State-Fullerton. Wisconsin also accepted me to their grad program in English. See how easy this is?
(7) Gonzaga vs. (10) Davidson. Davidson, in another upset that really won't be.
(2)Georgetown vs. (15) UMBC. Georgetown, some say, is seeded too high but should win this one.

SOUTH, 1st round:

(1) Memphis vs. (16) Texas-Arlington. Both play uptempo, but Memphis will win this one.
(8) Mississippi State vs. (9) Oregon. Mississippi State should handle the Ducks.
(5) Michigan State vs. (12) Temple. Though MSU beat Texas early in the season, they have played inconsistently. Besides: Temple has a pretty good English department.
(4) Pittsburgh vs. (13) Oral Roberts. ORU in the upset.
(6) Marquette vs. (11) Kentucky. Kentucky is finally playing decent basketball.
(3) Stanford vs. (14) Cornell. Two excellent English departments . . . what to do? Stanford is the safer pick here.
(7) Miami (FL) vs. (10) St. Mary's. The Gaels blow away the Hurricanes in the upset.
(2)Texas vs. (15) Austin Peay. Were y'all paying attention earlier? Texas. Duh.

WEST, 1st round:

(1) UCLA vs. (16) Miss. Valley State. UCLA.
(8) BYU vs. (9) Texas A&M. If the team that beat Texas shows up, then the Aggies. But then again, the team that lost to Kansas by 51 might show up, too . . .
(5) Drake vs. Western Kentucky. Teh Drake is really good.
(4) Connecticut vs. (13) San Diego. UCONN in this round.
(6) Purdue vs. (11) Baylor. Baylor won't win this tournament, but they are my sentimental pick, seeing as they have emerged as quickly as they have from the hell of having a team member murdered and a coach lying about the circumstances surrounding the player's death so as to cover up his own illegal activities. The Bears just might win this one.
(3) Xavier vs. (14) Georgia. As scrappy as Georgia has proven to be (4 games in 3 days to win the SEC tournament--the only way they were going to play anywhere this post-season), Xavier is the stronger team. But then again, Georgia literally wasn't supposed to be here, either.
(7) West Virginia vs. (10) Arizona. No Pittsnogle this year, but WVU will beat an Arizona team in disarray.
(2)Duke vs. (15) Belmont. Duke will win this one, it pains me to admit, but I predict an early exit from the tournament for them.

Here are my picks for the Sweet Sixteen.


Pam said...

I grew up in a 'Duke Sucks' household. Even recently, when I was home, Duke was playing somebody and my parents didn't care who, as long as THEY won and Duke didn't.

John B. said...

Pam, all I can say is, Your people raised you right. Or, as the Mrs. once famously said, "Hating Duke means never having to say you're sorry."