Where was I? Oh yeah, the brackets. Make sure you take good notes.
We start in the Midwest and top seed Louisville rolls over TBD (To Be Defeated). Colorado State squeaks by Missouri because the Rams, not the Buffaloes, are the best team in Colorado this season. I love Dominic Artis's future, but not as much as I like Marcus Smart's present, so Oklahoma State takes out the Ducks. What would Freud say about it taking me three times to spell Ducks with a D and not an F? I'm not kidding. Marvin Menzies could sell ice to an Eskimo, but I don't think that helps him against St. Louis and the Billikens get past New Mexico State. Memphis gets the winner of Middle Tennessee/St. Mary's. I'm saying St. Mary's wins both games. I could just go with the chalk and say "Go Tigers," but I'm actually going out on a limb with the Gaels. How ballsy is that? That was rhetorical, as the correct answer is obviously "not ballsy at all, Greg, because nobody will remember your picks two minutes after reading this story." Michigan State knocks off Valparaiso, of course, because Tom Izzo is undefeated for his career in the NCAA tournament. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott picked up the tab at lunch for my scouting friend and I last summer and, for that reason (not the play of his son Doug), the Bluejays advance past Cincinnati. I'd love to pick Albany over Duke but, unfortunately, I can't.
Louisville beats Colorado State in the next round since the Nuggets, not the Rams, are actually the best team in Colorado. Oklahoma State gets past St. Louis and we have to endure the CBS/ESPN/TruTV/Bravo/Food Network/Nickelodean/Spice Channel talking heads coming up with (not so) clever wordplay involving Marcus Smart's name. None of which will be anywhere near as good as what you'll get on a daily basis from moonbruin on the BRO board. We've already established that Tom Izzo, like a certain part of the female anatomy, is undefeated, so the Spartans knock off the Aussies of St. Mary's. Duke, much to the nation's chagrin, gets past Creighton.
In the Sweet 16 Oklahoma State takes out Louisville. Five minutes after the game, Rick Pitino's wife is spotted in Brentwood looking at houses. And everything's going great until she spends the next week eating at Santa Monica restaurants and sees what the average hostess/waitress looks like out here. Michigan State plays Duke and we've finally got a team I can pick in good conscience against the Evil Empire. Go Spartans. Then it's on to the Elite Eight and I know you're wondering how much longer I can go with "Izzo is undefeated." At least one more game, as Michigan State gets past Oklahoma State to advance to the Final Four.
Kansas is the top seed in the South and the Jayhawks have slightly more trouble with Western Kentucky than they would with the real Kentucky. North Carolina has to beat Villanova just so we can see the next round match up with Kansas. Akron upsets VCU and the BRO nation decides it wants Chaka Khan instead of Shaka Smart. South Dakota State is pretty good, but not good enough to beat Michigan. Minnesota is up ten at the half on UCLA and a BRO poll shows Tubby Smith out-polling Stevens, Donovan, Popovich and Lombardi. The Bruins rally to get the win and Tubby falls back behind Chaka Khan in the poll. Florida beats something called NW State and I honestly have no idea what school that might be. Where's the Hooters girl when you need her? There aren't many good teams in the west, so we better go with San Diego State to take out Oklahoma, while Georgetown handles Florida Gulf Coast easily.
The Kansas/UNC matchup is a great one for college basketball fans because, win or lose, Roy Williams cries. Rock Chalk. Michigan easily dispatches Akron and Florida, appropriately enough, ends the Ben Howland era at UCLA. Georgetown gets past San Diego State in a game that goes down to the wire.
In the Sweet Sixteen, Kansas' experience is the difference in a win over Michigan, while Georgetown ends Florida's season and starts the Billy Donovan to UCLA talk in earnest. 53% of BRO poll respondents say that they want Donovan as the next coach at UCLA, but only if he starts going by Bill. Kansas then nips Georgetown to go to the Final Four.
Gonzaga blows out Southern and Wichita State sends Pittsburgh home. Jamie Dixon signs with USC the next day, which means the Trojans are no longer going to be an afterthought in hoops. The Bruins better get the next hire right, because it won't be "just SC" for much longer. You could combine Ole Miss with Ole Mr. and they still ain't beating Wisconsin. Kansas State defeats the winner of BSU/LaSalle, another one of those "First Four" games. For some reason, that slogan hasn't quite caught on yet like the Final Four. Somehow I don't think my friend and I are ever going to say, "You know what, let's skip the Final Four this year. Instead, let's go to the First Four!" Arizona loses to the Bruins for the fourth time this season and New Mexico crushes Harvard. Iowa State plows through Notre Dame, while Ohio State has no trouble with Iona.
In the next round, Gonzaga narrowly averts Heartbreak City, the sequel, with a tight win over Wichita State. I once saw Bo Ryan at a coaching clinic and he was impressive. Reason enough for the Badgers to beat Kansas State. On Wisconsin. New Mexico has no trouble with Belmont, but Iowa State upsets Ohio State to reach the Sweet 16.
Remember when Gonzaga used to be referred to every year as "Cinderella?" Times have changed. The Zags blitz Wisconsin. Iowa State assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger (also known as The Deputy Mayor) is a friend of mine, so now you know why the Cyclones take out New Mexico. Sorry, T.J., that's where the run ends. Gonzaga to the Final Four.
Indiana spanks the winner of LIU-B/JMU (are those real schools?) and North Carolina State handles Temple. UNLV isn't very good (5 seed? Really?), but they're better than Cal. Syracuse cost me money a few times this season (thanks for that epic tank against Louisville, fellas), so we're going with Montana to take out the Orange. Bucknell defeats Butler, just so Brad Stevens can turn down the UCLA job as quickly as possible. Marquette plays in the Big East, while Davidson plays….somewhere else. Golden Eagles in a walk. As much as I like Tad Boyle, Spencer Dinwiddie and the whole Colorado crew, the Pac-12 just isn't very good. Illinois takes down the Buffaloes and Miami cruises past Pacific.
Victor Oladipo might be my favorite player in college basketball, so Indiana obviously takes out North Carolina State. UNLV still isn't very good, but they're better than Montana, so the Rebels reach the Sweet 16. Marquette is really athletic and Bucknell is really smart. Go Golden Eagles. Miami has a talented, veteran team, while Illinois has, um, really bad weather in the winter. Hurricane season.
UNLV still isn't very good and Indiana is very good. You do the math. Miami knocks off Marquette , which sets up a great Elite Eight match up of Indiana vs. Miami. As a rule of thumb, you generally want to stay away from the pasty white kids when you're doing your basketball prognosticating. But Cody Zeller is one talented pasty white kid. Hoosiers advance to Atlanta
Indiana takes on Kansas, while Michigan State battles Gonzaga. Kansas is very good, but Oladipo and Zeller are better than anyone on the Jayhawks squad. Tom Izzo's perfect NCAA tournament record finally comes to an end as Gonzaga advances to the title game. Gonzaga is on the West Coast, sorta, so we'll take the Zags to win it all over Indiana.