I'm pretty sure that March Madness is my favorite time of year. At the very least, spending 16 full hours watching mostly-crappy college basketball during the first two days of the NCAA Tournament is my favorite Thing That Leaves Me Feeling Tired and Bad About Myself.
All right, maybe it's not even the Tournament that I love so much, but the pre-Tournament excitement. I'm speaking, of course, of bracket-filling-out. You know, the annual office activity that leaves you saying, "Guys! Marnie the secretary is filling out a bracket -- and she doesn't even like sports! Oh, Marnie!"And then, without fail, Ignorant Ol' Marnie wins the office pool every single year.
Like our imaginary friend Marnie, I'm not the sharpest tool in the college basketball shed. I do like sports -- I love sports, want to marry them in fact, but really, I'm more of an NBA basketball and World's Strongest Man Competition guy. So when it comes to the bracket, I do it like everybody else -- vague recollections from previous years and unfair judgments based solely on the schools' names! Or, as Malcolm Gladwell calls it, "Blink."
So let's do it! Here are my arbitrary, unfounded, and joke-laden predictions for March Madness 2012!
ROUND OF 64
1. Kentucky Wildcats over 16. Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils/Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
As a general rule, I always root for whichever team Ashley Judd is rooting for. (Especially Team "Moms Looking for their Kidnapped Children" on the new drama Missing, ABC this May!)
9. Iowa State Cyclones over 8. UConn Huskies -- UPSET!
Yes, UConn is the defending champ. On the other hand, Iowa State has really turned it around ever since they fired that coach that liked to hit up frat parties with students. Man, college used to be FUNNN.
5. Wichita State Shockers over 12. Virginia Commonwealth University Rams
Shockers vs. Shaka! This is one of those games that everyone secretly hopes no one will win because, really, we all get pretty tired of white walk-ons linking arms on the bench excitedly after, like, Round 1.
4. Indiana Hoosiers over 13. New Mexico State Aggies
Watch this video. Listen to the music. Get inspired. And, yeah, I know I just told you that I was tired of white benchwarmers in nut-hugging shorts clutching each other, but, um, I take it all back. I defy you to not pick the Hoosiers.
6. UNLV Runnin' Rebels over 11. Colorado Buffaloes
The Runnin' Rebs will Buffalo the Buffaloes Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo.
(When in doubt, pick the players that are getting paid.)
3. Baylor Bears over 14. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Because I'm terrified of Brittney Griner.
10. Xavier Musketeers over 7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish -- UPSET!
Xavier always seems like a super-boring pick but then goes way far. There's just no way the Fighting Sean Astins can compete.
2. Duke Blue Devils over 15. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Another one of my many rules in life: never pick a college with the same name as the main character from Dear Mr. Henshaw. Seriously, what the hell -- Lehigh?
1. Michigan State Spartans over. 16. Long Island Blackbirds
Prediction: the Spartans will go up 30 early and the announcers will spend most of the game talking about Coach Tom Izzo's wife, "The lovely Lupe." This happens every year.
8. Memphis Tigers over. 9. Saint Louis Billikens
I love Memphis because every year they're super-athletic and swaggadocious and absolutely terrible at free throws (and appropriately so. As everybody knows, making your free throws is the least swag thing ever).
(Also, fun fact: a "Billiken" is a small elf statue! For real. The More you Know.)
12. Long Beach State 49ers over 5. New Mexico Lobos -- UPSET!
Lobos guard and 8th grade phenom Demetrius Walker once starred for an AAU team that beat my roommate Jake's AAU team by like 80 points. Only now, a few years later, poor Demetrius and Jake are like the same height. And I wouldn't exactly pick Jake to win an NCAA Tournament game... (sorry dude. We cool?)
(Are you even reading this?)
(No? Okay. Great.)
4. Louisville Cardinals over 13. Davidson Wildcats
Sorry, Davidson. To paraphrase Louisville coach Rick Pitino, "Former Davidson legend Steph Curry isn't
6. Murray State Racers over 11. Colorado State Rams
I'm partial to colleges that share their names with old Jewish lawyers.
3. Marquette Golden Eagles over 14. Brigham Young Cougars/Iona Gaels
Brigham Young is generally a safe bet because you know all their players are like 28 years old (and battle-tested post-mission-to-third-world-country). But, call me crazy, I'm feeling kinda Jesuit this year.
7. Florida Gators over 10. Virginia Cavaliers
Whenever it's the names of two states matched up against each other, everyone always just picks the state they like better, right? (In my case, I'm picking Harry Potter World/Nickelodeon Studios over Colonial Williamsburg. But just barely.)
2. Missouri Tigers over 15. Norfolk State Spartans
Don't believe me? Just ask my good buddy, Don Draper/Dick Whitman.
1. Syracuse Orange over 16. UNC-Asheville Bulldogs
The real secret to Syracuse star Fab Melo's success? His name is just two adjectives from the 60s. Imagine
how good at bball "Groovy Bitchin" would be.
UPDATE: Fab Melo was just announced to be ineligible for the Tournament (probably for academic reasons). Heavy Downer! That harshes my Melo!
8. Kansas State Wildcats over 9. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
If I don't pick Kansas State, Coach Frank Martin (aka "Lt. Surge" from Pokemon Red/Blue) will eat me.
5. Vanderbilt Commodores over 12. Harvard Crimson
Stupid Harvard. Stupid stupid stupid. I think I'm just bitter. Making the NCAA Tournament and having an Asian-American Palo Alto native take the world by storm was supposed to be MY alma mater's thing. Wah. Wah wah wah.
13. Montana Grizzlies over 4. Wisconsin Badgers -- UPSET!
Wisconsin's team is always filled with slow redheads. This has to be the year that that weirdly effective
strategy finally fails, right?
6. Cincinnati Bearcats over 11. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida State Seminoles over 14. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
10. West Virginia Mountaineers over 7. Gonzaga Bulldogs
I once found myself in Spokane, Washington, home of Gonzaga, and I happened to read the obituaries section of the paper there. Every single bio -- I kid you not -- every single one, said something along the lines of, "He really loved his Zags basketball" or "his dying words were, 'Go Zags.'"
What I'm trying to say is...despite those dead peoples' wishes, I think Gonzaga's going to lose. Sorry for depressing you all.
2. THE Ohio State University Buckeyes over 15. Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds
Ohio State is "this year's team that I watched play once while on a plane flight and that I now think is way better than they probably actually are." The former holder of this title: the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels over 16. Vermont Catamounts/Lamar Cardinals
From North Carolina's perspective, "Vermont/Lamar" probably sounds about as intimidating as
8. Creighton Bluejays over 9. Alabama Crimson Tide
"Crimson Tide" has to win the team name award for "Most Health Class Giggles." Never a good sign.
5. Temple Owls over 12. Cal Golden Bears/USF Dons
4. Michigan Wolverines over 13. Ohio Bobcats
Everyone's gonna turn this game on thinking it's Michigan-Ohio State, right? And then be massively disappointed? Sort of like going to the video store in an Armageddon mood and then coming back with Deep Impact instead.I know you all can relate.
11. North Carolina State Wolfpack over 6. San Diego State Aztecs -- UPSET!
This is San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. He's not exactly at peak college basketball coaching age anymore. He's more like, "performing at the Super Bowl halftime show" age.
14. Belmont Bruins over 3. Georgetown Hoyas -- BIG UPSET!
Remember when I said I was feeling kinda Jesuit before when I picked Marquette? I TAKE IT ALL BACK. I'M ACTUALLY FEELING KINDA GIRLS' SCHOOL THIS YEAR.
(Belmont is an all-girls' school, right? The Wellesley of the South? I've always assumed this for some reason.)
7. St. Mary's Gaels over 10. Purdue Boilermakers
Gotta pick the Gaels over the Boilermakers in the Battle of Things That I Don't Know What They Are.
2. Kansas Jayhawks over 15. Detroit Titans
I have to go Rock Chalk Jayhawk on this one, and not Chalk...lines High Murder Rate Sadness.
ROUND OF 32
1. Kentucky Wildcats over 8. Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State head coach Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg is a good, small-town Midwestern boy.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, like, buys players for a year, gives them cool shoes, and then puts all of them in the NBA. Mmm...cheating...
4. Indiana Hoosiers over Wichita State Shockers
Indiana corn fields are SO MUCH BETTER than Wichita corn fields. AGRICULTURE BURN.
3. Baylor Bears over 6. UNLV Runnin' Rebels
Picking UNLV always seems like fun until I realize it's not 1991 anymore. When that happens, I also have to scratch "Kuwait" and "Alf" off of my bracket.
2. Duke over 10. Xavier
Fun match-up, because "Xavier" seems like a name that some douchey sophomore at Duke would have.
1. Michigan State Spartans over 8. Memphis Tigers
When Michigan State beats Memphis, the announcers are gonna be all, "HEART WINS OVER TALENT." In reality, it's more like, "A lot of talent plus marginal heart beats a lot of talent plus no heart plus phenomenal amounts of swag."
12. Long Beach State 49ers over 4. Louisville Cardinals -- CINDERELLA STORY!
"Long Beach Cinderella" = great idea for my next young adult book???
3. Marquette Golden Eagles over 6. Murray State Racers
All right, fine. I'm feeling kinda Jesuit again.
7. Florida Gators over 2. Missouri Tigers -- UPSET!
Another battle of the states! Oh, nice Arch, Missouri. Very cool. WHAT'S THIS? CAPE CANAVERAL PLUS ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S HOUSE PLUS THE SET OF LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE ON THE NICKELODEON LOT AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS ORLANDO? BAM! GET SOME, FLORIDA!
1. Syracuse Orange over 8. Kansas State
Orange vs purple...you guyyyys...this game is so appealing from a chromatic perspective...you guyyyss...
5. Vanderbilt Commodores over 13. Montana Grizzlies
It's the last name of rich people born in the mid-20th century versus the first name of rich girls born in the early 2000s!
3. Florida State Seminoles over 6. Cincy Bearcats
If you're in a pickle, choose the team with the Politically Incorrect Indian Tribe name. (Shhh! It's lucky!)
2. Ohio State Buckeyes over 10. West Virginia Mountaineers
I like how Ohio State's Jared Sullinger decided to come back for his sophomore season and everyone was like, "Great! A talented player didn't leave for the NBA after one season! America's back on track!"
1. North Carolina Tar Heels vs. 8. Creighton Bluejays
I would probably be willing to stake my life on UNC winning this game, and if that doesn't happen, then that's still fine, because I don't think Satan reads my blog.
(Unless he's the one that found this site by Googling "Barney and Baby Bop go to the doctor"...)
4. Michigan Wolverines over 5. Temple Owls
The Maize & Blue are gonna knock off everyone's favorite Jewish College.
11. NC State Wolfpack over 15. Belmont Bruins
I mean, how far can an all-girls' school really advance?
2. Kansas Jayhawks over 10. St. Mary's Gaels
Kansas boasts an All-American named Tom Robinson, who, though he should not be confused with the similarly-named character from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, is sure to bust up St. Mary's defense...like a chiffarobe.
1. Kentucky over 4. Indiana
On December 10th, 2011, Indiana's Christian Wofford hit this incredible buzzer-beating shot to give the Hoosiers a thrilling victory over Kentucky.
And when the teams meet up again in March, Christian Wofford will probably get fouled a bunch of times, punched in the head, and concussed. Followed by Kentucky giving him a swirly.
3. Baylor over 2. Duke
I love the fleeting glee I experience every year when Duke gets bounced. For one small moment, I feel like I really understand the appeal of the whole Tea Party thing.
1. Michigan State over 12. Long Beach State
(Yes, of course the above is a link to the Youtube of Casper the Friendly Ghost whispering "Can I keep you?" into Christina Ricci's ear. What do you take me for?!)
7. Florida over 3. Marquette
Natchurlly, I'm picking the team with the electrolyte-heavy sugary beverages on their side. (And not just holy water. LATER, JESUITS.)
1. Syracuse over 5. Vanderbilt
A few years ago, the Vanderbilt band director, drove all the way to my friend David's high school (David is a Tennessean) on College Decision Day in order to beg David, a highly-prized tuba player, to choose Vandy (and its award-winning band) over Stanford (where David actually went). The dude even went so far as to try and buy David off with a Vanderbilt hat.
The guy probably never thought that this arbitrary anecdote would factor into some random blogger's Sweet 16 pick years later, but this guy was wrong.
2. Ohio State over 3. Florida State
When two football schools are competing, pick the one that has been more recently disgraced by recruiting/academic violations, which thereby force said school to care marginally more about its basketball program. In this case, Ohio State.
1. North Carolina over 4. Michigan
When this match-up inevitably happens, poor Chris "Time-out!" Webber is going to have to hide under his bed for a long, looooong time.
2. Kansas over 11. NC State
Because I feel bad for this poor guy/bird bait.
1. Kentucky over 3. Baylor
1. Michigan State over 7. Florida
2. Ohio State over 1. Syracuse
I didn't want to have too many number 1 seeds in my Final Four!
2. Kansas over 1. North Carolina
I don't know! I don't know why! Leave me alone!
1. Kentucky over 1. Michigan State
When you Google Michigan State star Draymond Green, the first query that pops up in the little box is "NBA," because people aren't really sure whether his heart and toughness will transfer to a higher level of basketball.
When you Google Kentucky star Anthony Davis, the first thing that shows up is "unibrow," because people are terrified of his terrifying unibrow.
Like Bert and Frida Kahlo before him, I'm picking Anthony Davis as a SCARY UNIBROW CHAMPION.
2. Ohio State over 2. Kansas
The one time I watched Kansas while on a plane, they lost to Duke. The one time I watched Ohio State while on a plane, they ravaged Duke. THESE THINGS MATTER.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
1. Kentucky over 2. Ohio State
Because unless you are George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or that little Chinese guy who could fit inside a box, Las Vegas is smarter than you.
And now, finally, as a post-2,500-word-blog-post-treat, some of my predictions as to what this year's Jim Nantz Championship Pun* might be!
*Jim Nantz Championship Pun = a pun that CBS broadcaster/animated wax figure Jim Nantz makes up for the winning team of the Tournament and that he says in a breathless voice just as the confetti is falling for said winning team in their moment of glory. Recent examples include "Just when you think you can't...U CONN!" when UConn won it, "Simon says...Championship!" when Arizona (and star Miles Simon) captured the crown, and, my personal favorite, "Juan Shining Moment!" when Maryland (and star Juan Dixon) brought home the 'ship.
So, here are my guesses...
Kentucky: "Winner, Winner, (Kentucky Fried) Chicken Dinner!"
Ohio State: "You can unfasten your seatbelts, because (Jared) Sullinger just successfully landed the plane that birds flew into the engine of!"
Michigan State: "H to the Izzo, C to the hampionship!"
Kansas: "Toto, I don't think we're not in Kansas anymore!"
Marquette or Georgetown: "The Jesuits were right!"
BYU: "The Mormons were right!"
Temple: "The Jews were right!"
Yayyyy! Wooooo! Have a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad March, everybody!