Forecasting the NCAA Tournament

It's time to go Dancing again, so Greg Hicks takes you out for his annual spin on the NCAA Tournament. It's a bit facetious and over-the-top, and only for entertainment purposes only, but it's not that far-fetched that some of this could come true...

One or two of these predictions may actually come true…

Midwest Region

Louisville opens up with TBA and it could be a tough match up for the Cardinals, as there is no information to be found anywhere on TBA (I looked). But we'll assume Pitino and crew can advance to the second round. Sienna knocks off Ohio State in the 8/9 game because there are way too many BCS schools in this field and we need some mid majors to advance in order to give this tournament some flavor. I'm paraphrasing from the top secret NCAA/CBS/Coach K memo I happened to come across. Ok, I'm not paraphrasing – that's what it said word for word. Arizona beats Utah when an NCAA bureaucrat can't decide if Utah is a mid major, mid major plus or high major only when Andre Miller is on the team. Wake Forest rolls over Cleveland State and West Virginia gets past Dayton. Kansas trounces North Dakota State and we have to listen to the annual bitchfest from the little guys calling for a salary cap and revenue sharing. Boston College takes out USC when Daniel Hackett is suspended for the game after biting Little Romeo's ear off. Michigan State blows out Robert Morris.

In the second round Louisville has six players come down with a mysterious case of food poisoning, they get totally screwed by the refs, Rick Pitino's lucky white suit goes missing and the Cardinals still manage to beat Sienna by 20. Wake Forest handles Arizona and after the game Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger announce they're turning pro (Hill to the NBA, Budinger to the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour). West Virginia upsets Kansas and Michigan State disposes of Boston College.

In the Sweet 16, Louisville presses Wake Forest, Jeff Teague sets an NCAA tournament record with 37 lay-ups and the Deamon Deacons advance. After the game, Rick Pitino buys a ten-bedroom house in Tucson for $47,500 and negotiates a new six-year $24 million contract with Louisville. I just noticed I put West Virginia in the Sweet 16. One of these years I'll try writing these predictions sober. Go Spartans. Ok, that's far enough – Wake Forest to the Final Four.

West Region

UConn wins a forfeit when the NCAA discovers "Chattanooga" is just a made-up name for a phony school created by two teenagers with really good Photoshop skills. BYU beats Texas A&M because there's a basketball hoop at every Mormon church. Northern Iowa is a mid-major – bye bye, Purdue. Washington fans turn the Rose Garden into Hec Ed South and Mississippi State is left wondering about the legitimacy of those 196 foul calls. This just in – Stew Morrill can coach. Utah State knocks out Marquette. Missouri has some ballers. Cornell doesn't. Advantage, Tigers. Jamal Boykin goes for 33 points and 22 rebounds as Cal routs Maryland (it's always the third vodka tonic that gets me in trouble). Memphis destroys Cal State Northridge because my friend took the Tigers giving 19.

Controversy hits the tourney in the second round when BYU advances as Jim Calhoun refuses to coach his UConn team after his paycheck bounces. Darnell Gant is a great kid and he hits the winning bucket in Washington's win over Northern Iowa. Stew Morrill works his magic in a win over Missouri. Memphis routs Cal, John Calipari buys three burritos from a Chipolte in Tucson and Federal Express gives him a $30 million deal to stay at Memphis.

In the Sweet 16, Washington's Isaiah Thomas takes 19 bad shots in the first half and his teammates tie him up in his locker at halftime. Jon Brockman goes to work in the second half and UW advances. Stew Morrill is a really good coach, but John Calipari has better players – Memphis advances. Washington and Memphis play an Elite Eight game so wild and out of control that President Obama threatens to shut down the sport. Memphis wins to advance to the Final Four.

South Region

Just for fun, North Carolina sends its JV team to beat Radford in the first round. Butler knocks out LSU as most of the Tiger fans stay home to attend a spring football practice. Illinois isn't all that great, but they're better than Western Kentucky. Gonzaga is actually guarding people a bit this year, which is bad news for Akron – Zags beat Zips. As a friend of mine said recently, James Harden looks like a ten-year NBA vet playing with college kids, which is one reason why the Sun Devils get past Temple. Jim Boeheim doesn't need a middle initial to beat Stephen F. Austin. Michigan beat UCLA this year and normally that might mean something. Not this year – Clemson rolls over the Wolverines. Oklahoma has Blake Griffin. Morgan State has a first round exit.

In the second round, North Carolina has no trouble with Butler and Gonzaga easily dispatches Illinois. Arizona State and Syracuse zone each other to death and it's 10-8 Syracuse at halftime. Harden scores or assists on every Sun Devil second-half basket and ASU moves on. Ryan Wright wonders why he decided to transfer to Oklahoma as Blake Griffin drops 30 on Clemson and the Sooners advance.

In case you hadn't heard…North Carolina doesn't always do a good job of guarding people. The Zags have plenty of guys who can put the ball in the basket and Gus Johnson goes nuts courtside when Steven Gray hits a three at the buzzer to win the Sweet 16 game. Oklahoma has too much firepower for ASU and the Sun Devils are knocked out. The Zags beat Oklahoma in a thriller to reach the Final Four. Arizona AD Jim Livingood offers to stock every swimming pool in the state with trout if Mark Few will take the Wildcat job.

East Region

Pittsburgh rolls over East Tennessee State and Oklahoma State nips Tennessee. Florida State remembers that it's a football school (sort of) and Wisconsin takes out the Seminoles. Portland State is a low-major, not a mid-major, and Xavier moves on. UCLA beats VCU because if they lose now you'll stop reading. Villanova beats American because the Bruins won't get that lucky. I'll be partying in Las Vegas on Wednesday night and the Texas/Minnesota game at 4:10 Thursday afternoon sounds like a good time for a nap. Uh, Texas. Duke gets a great draw in the first round, blowing out Binghamton (the first all-boys prep school from England ever allowed in the NCAA tourney).

In the second round Pittsburgh is from the Big East, Oklahoma State is from the Big 12 – ‘nuff said. Bo Ryan is a terrific coach and Wisconsin outlasts Xavier. UCLA beats ‘Nova because the drive home from Vegas will be a drag if the Bruins lose. Rick Barnes doesn't have Kevin Durant or D.J. Augustin on this Texas team – Duke routs the Longhorns.

Pittsburgh blasts Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 and Arizona offers Jamie Dixon $5 million a year plus the leftover operating budget from the Cactus Classic. Dixon says thanks, but no thanks. Alfred Aboya leads the Bruins to a win over Duke with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 19 charges taken. In the Elite Eight game, Pittsburgh plays Ben Howland basketball better than the Bruins and the Panthers advance to the Final Four.

Final Four

John Calipari spends the week extolling the virtues of Conference USA (Central Florida, East Carolina, Marshall, Carver High, etc.) and Wake Forest whacks Memphis. Prior to the other semifinal, NCAA officials tell Austin Daye that he can't play against Pittsburgh because DeJuan Blair might break him in half. The Zags still manage to put up a valiant fight, but Pittsburgh moves to the title game. Wake Forest has no answer for Sam Young and the Panthers win the championship. In a BRO poll after the game, 83% of BROs agree that Jamie Dixon should be the next coach at UCLA if Howland were to ever leave, 10% disagree and 7% don't get to vote because they've been banned from the message board for a week.


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