Whoa, baby!
It's that time of year, the time when Dick Vitale has a nightly coronary, when Jim Nantz gets to wax poetic about something other than azaleas in April and the time when even mild-mannered sports fans dabble in bracketology.
But as far as I'm concerned, you can drop the March Madness - during the NCAA Tournament I'm just plain mad. My upsets never happen, except when Richmond's in the tournament. My success when taking the Spiders is unparalleled, but otherwise I'm about as lucky as a black cat breaking mirrors under a ladder holding an umbrella indoors on Friday the 13th. All this is to say one thing - I suck at picking brackets.
I've come to terms with the certainty that everybody's girlfriend beats me in our tournament pool. I like to consider myself mildly in the know when it comes to college basketball; it's my job for crying out loud. Maybe I'd be better served picking by mascot or school colors. I'm at my wit's end.
So, since we've established the fact that when it comes to NCAA prognostications I'm about as clairvoyant as a toilet seat, I figure I might as well put my hapless powers to use. Surely someone can benefit from my March Misfortune. I urge you to strongly consider the following picks, and then CHOOSE THE OPPOSITE.
If we're on the same page with an upset, take the other guy. You'll be right, because I'm always wrong. But don't be mindless - I can pick the no-brainers like nobody's business. In all my years I've never missed a No. 1/No. 16 matchup, so you can trust me there. But all things considered, you'd be wise to diverge from my path as much as possible. So without further ado (or self-deprecation) I present my 2002 NCAA picks:
West Regional
No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 16 Boston - Puhlease. Bearcats win. Big.
No. 8 UCLA vs. No. 9 Mississippi - Don't bet against the Bruins in March.
No. 5 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 12 Missouri - Miami's a football school. Rock beats scissors and a Tigers takes an Ibus.
No. 4 Ohio St. vs. No. 13 Davidson - Buckeyes baby.
No. 6 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 Wyoming - The Zags are a joke as a six seed. Wyoming goes down.
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 14 UCSB - Arizona is tournament tested.
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 Hawaii - Hawaii wins in a (gasp) upset.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Illinois-Chicago - Sooners all the way.
Sweet 16 - UCLA vs. Missouri, Arizona vs. Oklahoma
Elite 8 - UCLA vs. Oklahoma
Final Four - Oklahoma
South Regional
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 Winthrop - Winthrop (just kidding).
No. 8 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Charlotte - Take the Irish.
No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 12 Utah - Indiana, a sentimental pick.
No. 4 USC vs. No. 13 UNC-Wilmington - USC can go a long way.
No. 6 Cal vs. No. 11 Penn - Quakers in an upset.
No. 3 Pittsburgh vs. No. 14 Central Connecticut State - CCS sucks. Pitt wins.
No. 7 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 10 Kent State - Kent State in an upset.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Florida Atlantic - Roll Tide.
Sweet 16 - Bama vs. Penn, USC vs. Duke
Elite 8 - Bama vs. Duke
Final Four - Duke
East Regional
No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 16 Alcorn State/Seina - If Seina wins the play-in, the Terps could be in trouble. Aw hell, who am I kidding?
No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 St. John's - Badgers win.
No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Tulsa - Marquette in a close one.
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Valparasio - 'Cats are too tough in March.
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 So. Illinois - Salukis say good-Knight to Tech.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Murray State - Go, Georgia Bulldogs.
No. 7 NC State vs. No. 10 Michigan St. - Izzo's boys win.
No. 2 UConn vs. No. 15 Hampton - Huskies all the way.
Sweet 16 - Michigan St. vs. Georgia, Kentucky vs. Maryland
Elite 8 - Maryland vs. Michigan St.
Final Four - Maryland
Midwest Regional
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Holy Cross - I refuse to pick this game on principle.
No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Western Kentucky - Hilltoppers topple the Cardinal.
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 12 Creighton - Creighton in the infamous 5/12 upset.
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 San Diego St. - Illini win.
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Boston College - BC baby.
No. 3 Mississippi St. vs. No. 14 McNeese St. - Bulldogs on a roll.
No. 7 Wake Forest vs. No. 10 Pepperdine - Westphal's boys win.
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Montana - Quack, Quack.
Sweet 16 - Pepperdine vs. BC, Kansas vs. Creigton
Elite 8 - BC vs. Kansas
Final Four - Kansas
National Championship
A 1991 title game rematch between Kansas and Duke. Gotta go with the Dukies, just like I have every time since I was 8 years old. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.