Monday, March 18, 2013

the world's longest ncaa picks post, 2013 edition ...

"The ball is tipped,
And there you are.
You're running for your life --
You're a shooting star!

And all those years,
Noone knows,
Just how hard you worked?
Well now it shows!

(In) One Shining Moment,
It's all on the line!
One Shining Moment --
Frozen in time ...

But time is short,
And the road is long.
In the blinking of an eye?
The moment's gone.

And when it's done?
Win or lose?
You always did your best,
'Cause inside you knew

(That) One Shining Moment,
You reached deep inside?
One shining moment, you knew
You were alive ..."

-- "One Shining Moment".  What, you thought I'd pick something else for this post?  (dana wright voice) For.  The.  Love!  It's only the second greatest sports theme song of all time, behind only the musical interlude that welcomes us to Augusta for four magical days in early April ...


Let the fun begin!

Yes, it's time once again for "The World's Longest NCAA Predictions" post, a (usually) sixteen plus page effort* that praises the greatest sport of them all, serves as the Official Stevo Primary Bracket**, and as always, offers up as many tasteless, crass, absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary cheap shots at Duke as I can come up with on the fly.  (And as always, the comments section is wide open, for you to share your tasteless, crass, absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary cheap shots at that fine academic institution, as you want to launch.)

(*: this year’s effort checked in at twelve pages in Word … and contains 13 14 individual Duke jokes, plus a slew of cheap shots at Kansas State, Rick Pitino, and the dumbest man to ever hold the office of the Vice Presidency.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just called me dumb!  A three letter word -- dumb!)

(**: and as always, this is my greatest gift to you, the gambling public -- you'll know exactly who I am picking to win, so that you know who not to bet on.  Although I would remind you, I nailed the 2010 champion (winning my primary gambling pool), and I am the drunken moron who picked the Dallas Mavericks to win the 2011 O'Brien Trophy two months before they actually did it.  The lesson?  Damned if I know.)

So let's get started ... by thanking John Calipari for failing to qualify for this year's tournament.  At least we now know this year's champion, won't be forfeiting their trophy within the next five years due to recruiting violations and/or violating numerous other NCAA rules and regulations.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  Sh*t's 'bout to start gettin’ real up in here!  A three letter word -- real!

Midwest Regional (Indianapolis):

First Four Round:

* 16 North Carolina AT&T over 16 Liberty.  I don't have many rules in life, but I do try to follow this one: anytime you can cheer against a school founded by Jerry Falwell, that employs Phill Kline?  You cheer for them to lose, like all of humanity's existence depends on their defeat.  Which, if you think about it, probably has an element of truth to it.

* 11 Middle Tennessee State over 11 St. Mary's.  Kudos to the committee for taking four mid-majors, as the Last Four In this year, and for giving 11 of the 37 at-large berths to the non-power 6 conferences (4 to the Atlantic 10, 4 to the Mountain West, 1 to the Missouri Valley, and 1 each to West Coast and Sun Belt conferences, which are the two teams in this matchup).  I'd much rather watch a team that went 19-1 in its conference, and a team whose only conference losses were to Gonzaga, than watch a crappy Alabama team, or a Baylor team that didn't win consecutive games over the last five weeks of the season.

Round of 64:

* 1 Louisville over 16 North Carolina AT&T.  This is how good Louisville is -- Saturday night, at the under 16 timeout, Syracuse led 48-35.  Louisville won 76-58.  Yes, they went on a 41-10 run, in the final sixteen minutes, in a game Jim Boeheim wanted more than possibly a second national championship (Syracuse's final Big East tournament game).  Mr. Boeheim may be a lot of things, but one of them is most assuredly "damned good coach".  And he was clueless, how to stop Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, and company.  41 points, against (arguably) the best defense in the game (Boeheim's 2-3 zone that every coach in America has ripped off in some form), in less than 16 minutes.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  This team is damned good!  A three letter word -- good!

* 8 Colorado State over 9 Mizzou.  Fun fact -- if (ok, fine -- when!) Mizzou fails to reach the Final Four this season, they will tie BYU for the most appearances in the NCAA tournament, without a Final Four appearance, at 27.  It must suck to root for a school, with zero, zip, nada chance, at on-court success.  I wouldn't know -- I'm a KU and Syracuse fan.  All my schools do, is win.

* 12 Oregon over 5 Oklahoma State.  Anyone who makes the argument that the Pac 12's champion is underseeded at 12, obviously never watched a Pac 12 game this year.  Having said that, Oregon is (dusty voice) grousely underseeded.  It's criminite.  It's Zues in nature.  (Pause).  Oh come on, it's been nearly a year since I hauled that one out!  (Pause).  No, I don't care if that pisses him off!  If I gave a sh*t what he'd think of it, I wouldn't type it!  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He doesn't give a sh*t!  A three letter word -- sh*t*!

(*: technically, if you don't count the * as a letter ... Mr. Biden is right.)

* 4 St. Louis over 13 New Mexico State.  This tourney just isn't going to feel right without "Fat" Rick Majerus and his (jim j bullock voice) "too close for comfort" sweaters on the sideline.  I'll be sure to have an extra rib or three in your memory, sir.

(And rest in peace, Ted Knight, as well.  One of, if not the, greatest comedians of all time.)

* 6 Memphis over 11 Middle Tennessee State.  Early front-runner for "best game of the round of 64".  Sneaky good matchup between two really good teams that nobody watched, other than last week during Championship Week.  Love this Memphis team.  By the time this tournament is over, the "is Josh Pastner actually a good coach" question will be more than answered -- not with a "yes", but a "oh hell yes he is!"

* 3 Michigan State over 14 Valpariso.  In the bastardized words of Rick Pitino: "Bryce Drew ain't walking through that door!"  Oh.  Wait.  He is.  Let me rephrase that.  "Bryce Drew ain't walking through that door wearing a Valpo uniform*!"  There, that's better.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He ain't walking in the door!  A three letter word -- door!

(*: I was actually at this game, as my alma mater was the second game of the day in Oklahoma City, and KU played the evening cession.  (Pause).  TCU got stomped by Florida State three hours after the shot by Bryce Drew, and KU crapped out against the Lamar Odom led Rhode Island Rams two days later.  NOT my favorite weekend of basketball, that's for sure.)

* 7 Creighton over 10 Cincinnati.  Did you think, as recently as three months ago, that Creighton, not Cincinnati, would be the Big East school in 2013-2014 in this matchup?  Me neither.

* 2 Duke over 15 Albany.  Normally I'd say "this has no chance to be a competitive contest", but ... oh, wow, gee ... uuh, how to put this delicately ... *cough LEHIGH cough*.  Wait, no -- I meant *cough CHOKE ARTISTS cough*.  (Pause).  Well of course I know Duke players are choke artists!  They should just change their name from "Blue Devils" to "Deep Throats" (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  Duke players love to suck!  A three letter word -- suck!

Round of 32:

* 1 Louisville over 8 Colorado State.  If -- and obviously, I don't think it's going to happen -- but if this is Mizzou against Louisville, Upset Watch kicks into full alert.  Mizzou could win this matchup.  Colorado State can't, and won't.

* 12 Oregon over 4 St. Louis.  I ask this with all seriousness: is there ANYTHING worth liking or respecting, about St. Louis?  Crappy beer?  Check.  Horrific rappers?  Check.  Insanely high crime rate?  Check.  Birthplace of the Dred Scott decision, in which the US Supreme Court ruled that people of color had the legal rights of a dresser drawer?  Check.  Most arrogant, obnoxious baseball fans walking the planet?  Check.  Racist black folks who accost people in a gas station's bathroom due to the color of your skin*?  Check.  There's nothing redeemable about St. Louis.  Nothing.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He doesn't like anything involving St. Louis!  A three letter word -- like!

(*: this actually happened, heading home from the 2001 (don criqui voice) Governor's Cup Trophy Game.)

* 6 Memphis over 3 Michigan State.  For as great of a coach as he is (and for my money, he's been the best in the sport over the last fifteen years), every so often, Tom Izzo's team craps the court in the tournament.  He's failed to reach the Sweet 16 10 of his 15 appearances in the tournament.  (On the other hand, if he gets there, look out -- he's 7 for 10 at reaching the Final Four, if he gets through to the second weekend).  Under my theory that "the only thing worse than watching a Big Ten (plus four) team attempt to play basketball, is to reward them for their efforts", I'll take Memphis in the slight upset here.

* 2 Duke over 7 Creighton.  I still maintain the most shocking, stunning, absolutely jaw-dropping unbelievable revelation in Duke student Karen Owen's "F*ckbook", is that her subjects, were all dudes.  I was unaware any male students at Duke, even knew women existed, let alone desire them.

Round of 16:

* 1 Louisville over 12 Oregon.  Since the regional's in Indy, and since we're barely two months away from my favorite day of the year, I'll ask it -- who gets better odds on the "has sex on a table in a downtown Indy restaurant" wager: Rick Pitino, or Al Unser Jr?  Admit it, it's a tough call, isn't it?  I'd probably lay the $20 on Pitino, just because he actually has had sex on a restaurant table with a shapely coed ... but man, Unser Jr. is tough to pass up as a proposition.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  No, I meant as a gambling proposition, not a proposition for sex!  For God's sake, I didn't go to Duke!  (keyshawn johnson voice) Come on man!

* 6 Memphis over 2 Duke.  On behalf of America, I'd like to thank you ten days in advance, Josh Pastner, for you and your squad sparing the American people an ordeal none of us wants to endure: a season in which the Duke Deep Throats Blue Devils are our defending national champions.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just picked Duke to lose!  A three letter word -- lose!

Regional Final:

* 1 Louisville over 6 Memphis.  If you're looking for a reason why the Big East has imploded so epically as it has, consider this: these two teams, are fellow conference members, next year.  Neither was in the Big East, when this century began.  That about sums it up.

Midwest Regional Champion: 1 Louisville Cardinals.

West Regional (Los Angeles):

First Four Round:

* 13 LaSalle over 13 Boise State.  LaSalle's first trip to the tourney in 21 years, ends with at least one happy ending.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He said it ends well for LaSalle in the first four!  A three letter word -- ends!

Round of 64:

* 1 Gonzaga over 16 Southern.  For the record, Miami (FL) should have been the fourth one seed.  But I'm not bent out of shape, over the honor going to Gonzaga.  They're good enough to justify it.

* 9 Wichita State over 8 Pittsburgh.  An incredibly good first second round matchup.  Whoever wins, will give Gonzaga all they can handle on Saturday afternoon.  Both of these teams are more than capable of reaching the Elite 8.

* 5 Wisconsin over 12 Ole Miss.  First team to score 29 wins?  These two teams combined, score as often on the court, as I do off of it (rimshot!)  Two utterly unwatchable, absolutely boring squads that you'll regret spending two hours of your life watching.

* 4 Kansas State over 13 LaSalle.  As a resident of Kansas City, and a proud one at that, allow me to offer up a few pointers for our friends from the farm, as they have to spend a second straight weekend here in our fine city.  Those thingies that hang over the street, and have the colors red, yellow, and green on them?  Those are called stoplights.  It's how us city folk, handle traffic patterns and flows.  If you want to spend some time in more familiar surroundings, with cows and sheep and hay and tractors and inbred cousins?  You need to head either a half hour south, or a half hour north, of where you'll be staying.  That porcelain thingy in your bathroom, that has a handle?  It's called a toilet.  It's how we relieve ourselves when nature calls.  No need to sprint for the wooden shack and squat into a bowl -- we have things called sewers and plumbing that deal with the waste for you.  You're welcome, Wildcat fans.  I'll have a few more pointers for ya, in the next section.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just gave help and advice to KSU fans!  A three letter word -- help!

* 11 Belmont over 6 Arizona.  How in the name of God is Arizona the highest seeded Pac 12 team?  How?  They just lost to Utah for crying out loud!  And Utah ain't exactly Rick Majerus' (joe pesci voice) Utes nowadays! 

* 3 New Mexico over 14 Harvard.  This regional has a chance to show off some really good mid-major squads.  New Mexico is damned good.  So is Harvard.  This could be an Upset Alert candidate.  (God, it better not be ...)

* 10 Iowa State over 7 Notre Dame.  Total coin flip game.  Either team is capable of winning, either team is capable of making a run and reaching the Elite 8.  Should be a good one, if not a great one.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just mentioned a coin!  A three letter word -- coin!

* 2 The Ohio State University over 15 Iona.  The Ohio State University is that rarest of things: a watchable, fun Big Ten (plus four) basketball squad.  You can count the number of those teams, on two fingers. 

Round of 32:

* 1 Gonzaga over 9 Wichita State.  I am not sold on this pick at all.  Every year, at least one regional is a total train wreck -- major upsets across the board, "what the hell?!?!" regional finalists, shocking defeats, out of nowhere victories.  I happen to think that regional this year, will be the East.  But if Wichita State springs the upset here (which they are more than capable of doing), this might be our Thomas the Train Memorial Regional for 2013.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just said the East Regional will be the trainwreck!  A three letter word -- East!

* 4 Kansas State over 5 Wisconsin.  OK, a few more helpful pointers for you Wildcat fans, because I'm nice like that.  Don't bother to ask what the speed limit for tractors in our town is, because we don't drive tractors to get around.  Having sex with your sister or your cousin is not legal, so don't bother to ask.  We buy our liquor at the store, not distill it in our barn.  Most everywhere in the city is a wi-fi spot, so there's no need to connect your desktop tower to a landline, in order to surf for clown porn.  Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: we pay for things here using the United States dollar, not store spec or sheep.  Again, you're welcome.

* 3 New Mexico over 11 Belmont.  Love this New Mexico team.  Fun to watch, extremely well coached, more than capable of reaching Atlanta.

* 2 The Ohio State University over 10 Iowa State.  Will not be even remotely competitive or watchable.  And since it's been a little while: how many Duke graduates does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  The answer: none -- they only screw in ... well, you know (rimshot!) 

Back to the picks!

Round of 16:

* 4 Kansas State over 1 Gonzaga.  In all seriousness, Wildcat fans, I hope you realize just how amazing of a sports year, you all have had.  As a KU fan, I've only had one year even remotely approaching what you all have gotten to enjoy these last nine months, and that would be 2007-2008 (KU Football won the Orange Bowl, KU Basketball won the national title).  Serious congratulations to you guys.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He was just nice to KSU fans!  A three letter word -- nice!

* 3 New Mexico over 2 The Ohio State University.  Man, I really hope this matchup materializes.  This could be an epic contest that gets looked back on as the best game of the tournament.  Or -- excuse me, (hootie johnson voice) toonumunt.

Regional Final:

* 3 New Mexico over 4 Kansas State.  Once again, in yet another sport, KSU comes up one victory short, of playing for greatness.  Aw.  That's tough.  Aw ...

West Regional Champion: 3 New Mexico Lobos.

East Regional (Washington DC):

First Four Round:

* 16 Long Island University over 16 James Madison.  Really?  Like this matters?  Like I care?  I picked Long Island because a long island tea sounds pretty damned tasty right now.  (homer simpson voice) Mmm.  Long Island tea.  Mmm.

Round of 64:

* 1 Indiana over 16 Long Island University.  Should be your typical, every day, run of the mill 85-50 1 vs 16 pole-axing.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just said Long Island U will get pole-axed!  Two three letter words -- pole, and axed!

* 9 Temple over 8 North Carolina State.  (horshack voice) Ooh!  Ooh!  Ooh!  Mr. Kotter!  Ooh!  Man, this is a great matchup to kick things off on Friday.  Really looking forward to this.  And since I've failed to do this before, a sincere Stevo's Site Numero Dos condolance to the family of the late, great Ron Palillo, who played Horshack on "Welcome Back Kotter", only the most sneakily funny and entertaining sitcom in television history.  The world is a worse place, without Horshack in our lives.

* 12 Cal over 5 UNLV.  Oh God, the train just ran out of coal!  It's starting to accelerate approaching the cliff ...

* 13 Montana over 4 Syracuse.  Uh oh, the bridge is out!  This is not looking good!  

On a serious note, if this is Jim Boeheim's final game, and if I had to wager every cent of my future earnings, that $3.27 would go on "yes" as the answer to that question, then sir, thank you for one helluva run, for placing Syracuse basketball where it rightfully belongs -- amongst the elite teams in the sport.  And I forgive you for that first Monday in April in New Orleans ten years ago ... provided you finally admit Hakim Warrick fouled Mikey Lee on his three point attempt to tie the national title game.  Deal?  Deal.  Done and done.

* 6 Butler over 11 Bucknell.  Ooh!  Another sneaky good first second round game that not only could go either way, the winner stands a reasonable chance of still being in this thing come the middle of next week.

* 3 Marquette over 14 Davidson.  Has it really been five years since Stephen Curry and Davidson scared the sh*t out of me in the Elite 8?  Has it really been five years since I reacted exactly as Coach Self did when Curry's final three point attempt to win the game bounced off the back of the rim -- kneel down and smack the floor in a relief / excitement dual emotional moment?  Man, time flies when you have nothing meaningful going on in your life!

* 10 Colorado over 7 Illinois.  The Pac 12 team that got royally screwed in the seeding process, wasn't Oregon or Cal, it was Colorado.  This is hands down one of the 25 best teams in the country, and the committee seeded them as the 40th.  (judge judy voice) That is outrageous!  Absolutely outrageous behavior, tournament committee!

* 2 Miami (FL) over 15 Pacific.  And since I have nothing to say about this utterly unappealing, non-competitive matchup, Duke jokes time!  Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and a heterosexual Duke basketball player walk into a bar.  Who gets served first (rimshot!)?  (joe biden voice) Folks!  That's good!  A three letter word -- good!  (rimshot!)  I swear to God, there are times I literally believe the only thing keeping us 53 percenters sane, is Joe Biden's utter and total and complete stupidity.  (And hilarity.)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just claimed to be sane!  A three letter word -- sane!

Round of 32:

* 9 Temple over 1 Indiana.  Screech!!!!  No, not the awful Dustin Diamond, the sound a train makes as the brakes are slammed to avoid a disaster.  Let the wrecking of said train begin in five ... four ... three ...

* 12 Cal over 13 Montana.  (good ol' jr voice) My God, the carnage*!  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He just quoted Jim Ross!  A three letter word -- Ross!

(*: you'll want to click on this one.  It's awesome.)

* 6 Butler over 3 Marquette.  Yet another matchup of soon to be conference mates.  I mean, that just about sums up how whack the NCAA's realignment is, does it not?  Three years ago, nobody had even HEARD of Butler.  Now, they're in the Big East!  Unreal!

* 10 Colorado over 2 Miami (FL).  My sleeper begins to make its move ... and since it's been a whole section, a Duke student and a North Carolina student enter the restroom together and take care of business.  Upon finishing, the Duke student washes his hands, and notes to the Tar Heel that "at Duke, they teach us to wash our hands".  The North Carolina student responds "at North Carolina, they teach us to not pee on our fingers" (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  It's funny, 'cause it's true!  A three letter word -- true!

Round of 16:

* 9 Temple over 12 Cal.  Wow, I just realized that all the Sweet 16 teams in this regional, are either in the A10, or the Pac 12.  That's kinda cool.  I know I'm the only one who would notice that, or find it neat, but I did, and I do.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  This guy is nuts!  A three letter word -- nuts!

* 10 Colorado over 6 Butler.  I love this Buffaloes team.  They are scary good.  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Oh, sure!  No problem!  Three Duke students take a weekend trip to a ski resort.  The only room available has one bed in it, so the three Duke students agree to share the room and the bed.  The next morning, the Duke student on the right wakes up and says "I had this crazy dream last night, that I was getting a handjob!"  The Duke student on the left says "that's funny -- I had the same dream!"  The two Duke students then ask the third Duke student in the middle, how his night was.  The third Duke student says "guys, I had a weird dream too, but in mine, I was skiing!"  (rimshot!)  (Pause).  Oh come on, that was at least somewhat funny!  OK, ok, fine, let me try a different one.  What stops a Duke cheerleader from going to Jenny Craig?  The door frame (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He's trying hard here!  A three letter word -- hard!

Regional Final:

* 9 Temple over 10 Colorado.  You know who's been to not one, not two, not three, not four, but five Elite 8's in the last 25 years?  (sarah palin voice) You betcha!  Your Temple Owls!  In 1988 (L Duke), 1991 (L North Carolina), 1993 (L Michigan), 1999 (L Duke), and 2001 (L Michigan State), they came up one win shy of finally reaching the Final Four.  In every year but 1988, their seeding projected them out of the tournament before the first weekend was over (10 in 1991, 7 in 1993, 6 in 1999, 11 in 2001).  Every year for the past three years, some regional winds up a trainwreck with a (brian griffin voice) "what the hell?" champion.  Don't believe me?  (peter griffin voice) Then check out that side boob!  No, wait -- I mean, check out these facts and figures:

2012 West Regional Final: 4 Louisville over 7 Florida.
2011 Southwest Regional Sweet 16: 1 Kansas, 10 Florida State, 11 VCU, 12 Richmond.
2010 Midwest Regional Sweet 16: 2 Ohio State, 5 Michigan State, 6 Tennessee, 9 Northern Iowa.

We know one regional is going to be pure chaos, pure trainwreck, pure ... madness.  My pick is that it's the East ... if only to complete the symmetry, of each regional being an epic clusterf*ck over the last four years.

East Regional Champion: 9 Temple Owls.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He picked the Owls to win the East Regional!  A three letter word -- Owls!

South Regional (Arlington):

First Four Round:
none.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  A three letter word -- none!

Round of 64:

* 1 Kansas over 16 Western Kentucky.  I know they're the Hilltoppers, I know Bobby Petrino is their football coach, and that barring an act of God, they're going to lose 93-57 to open the tournament.  Other than that?  (jose voice) I got nothing, yo.

* 8 North Carolina over 9 Villanova.  For the first time in ten years, I will be rooting for the Tar Heels, to win a game in the tournament.  For purely selfish reasons, mind you ... but Go Heels Go!

* 5 VCU over 12 Akron.  This is Shaka Smart's best team yet ... which is a frightening prospect, for every KU fan.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He thinks VCU is a good team!  A three letter word -- team!

* 4 Michigan over 13 South Dakota State.  This is one of the few picks, that will be different, on a second bracket.  South Dakota State absolutely can win this game.

* 6 UCLA over 11 Minnesota.  Minnesota is a trendy pick to spring the upset, at least according to various sites I've read today.  Guys?  They ain't winning this game.  Frankly, they shouldn't even be in the field -- Tennessee was much more deserving of a spot, and would have at least put up a fight in this spot.  UCLA is going to roll in this one.

* 3 Florida over 14 Northwestern State.  Yawn.  Hey, heard this one before?  Coach K had just finished speaking to freshman orientation, and decided to give the new Duke students an oral exam.  Upon completing the exam, Coach asked if the freshmen had any questions.  One did, and asked him "Coach, why are you on your knees?"  (ed mcmahon voice) Hey yo!  You are correct sir!

* 10 Oklahoma over 7 San Diego State.  As Lon Kruger not only becomes the first coach to take five different schools to the tournament, he becomes the only coach to win in the tournament at five different schools (KSU, where he reached the Elite 8 in 1988; Florida, where he reached the Final Four in 1994; Illinois, where he reached the second round three times; UNLV, where he reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2007; and now Oklahoma).  That's impressive.

* 2 Georgetown over 15 Florida Gulf Coast University.  As I noted Friday night on Facebook: "Yo!  John Thompson Senior?  NOW it's over!"  (joe biden voice) Folks!  Syracuse got over in the final showdown with Georgetown!  A three letter word -- over!

Round of 32:

* 1 Kansas over 8 North Carolina.  I ask this in all seriousness: if this matchup does come to pass on Sunday afternoon, what is the asking price for a ticket to the Sunday cession going to be?  $500 / apiece?  $600 / apiece?  The most I've ever paid to attend a NCAA tournament game is $250, in Oklahoma City ten years ago (both OU and KU were playing at the Ford Center that day).  I'm guessing resale prices start at at least double that amount, if it's KU / UNC.

* 5 VCU over 4 Michigan.  Should be a wickedly entertaining game, that I am highly looking forward to watching.  Hey, speaking of wickedly entertaining, what's the difference between a rooster, and a Duke basketball player?  The rooster says cock-a-doodle-doo, the Duke basketball player says any-cock-'ll-do (rimshot!)!  (verne lundquist voice) yes sir!  (Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Another?  Sure!  A young lad was walking home with his friend from school, when his friend is attacked by a rabid dog.  The young lad successfully saves his friend from the dog's clutches, and succeeds in killing the rabid dog before it can hurt him as well.  A newspaper reporter happened to witness the scene, and ran up to the boy.  After hearing the boy's story, he writes "Wolfpack fan saves friend from vicious animal attack".  Horrified, the young lad lets the reporter know, he's not a NC State fan.  "Oh, then you must root for the Tar Heels then!"  "No", the boy replies, "I'm a Duke fan!"  Upon hearing this, the reporter changed the lead of his story to "Duke fan kills beloved family pet" (rimshot!) 

* 3 Florida over 6 UCLA.  A Duke professor was giving a lecture, and asked his students if any of them had ever had sex with a ghost.  To his surprise and astonishment, one of the Duke students in the back of the lecture hall raised his hand to indicate that yes, he had had sex with a ghost.  Baffled, the professor called the student up to the stage, and again asked him "you've had sex with a ghost?"  The Duke student, now understanding what the professor was asking, apologized for raising his hand, noting "I'm sorry -- I thought you said goat!" (rimshot!)  Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week.  Tip the veal and try your waitress!  (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He's on fire!  A three letter word -- fire!

* 2 Georgetown over 10 Oklahoma. A Duke student excitedly enters a bar shouting "I made the team!  I'm a man now!"  A group of old timers looked at him, and informed him that he wasn't a man, not until he downed a pint of whiskey, took advantage of a pretty girl, and wrestled a Grizzly bear.  The Duke student, anxious to prove his manhood, downed the pint in one swoop, and exited the bar.  About an hour later, he returned, all black and blue, his clothing torn to shreds, and asks "ok, now where's that pretty girl I'm supposed to wrestle?"  (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  These jokes are all about Duke!  A three letter word -- Duke!

Round of 16:

* 1 Kansas over 5 VCU.  This is a horrible matchup for VCU.  Seriously.  Because VCU's success depends on forcing teams that don't like to rush or play up-tempo, to rush and play up-tempo.  KU not only doesn't mind it; I'd argue they're at their best, when they don't think, don't get into a set offense, just react to the game situation of the moment.  KU won't be fazed by the havoc VCU unleashes.  (Pause).  What's the different between a Duke girl and a toilet?  A toilet doesn't follow you around two weeks after you are finishing using it!  (rimshot!)  (joe biden voice) Folks!  It's true!  Duke girls are easy!  A three letter word -- easy!

* 3 Florida over 2 Georgetown.  I ask this with all sincerity: is there a more underrated coach in America, than Billy Donovan?  In the last twelve years, he's gone to three national title games (winning two), four Final Fours, seven Elite Eights ... I mean, that's just wicked good.

Regional Final:

* 3 Florida over 1 Kansas.  Everyone by now has heard of KU's nearly unprecedented run of success over the last decade, either tying for, or winning outright, nine straight conference titles.  This is Bill Self's tenth year in Lawrence.  He is 10/10 at making the tournament, has made 5 Elite 8's (L 2004 to Georgia Tech; L 2007 UCLA; W 2008 Davidson, L 2011 VCU; W 2013 North Carolina), has made 2 Final Four's, and 2 national championship games.  That's impressive, to say the least.  What impresses me even more than that though?  KU has been at least a 4 seed every single year under Bill Self.  Meaning every single year, KU has been a protected seed.  (john davidson voice) That's incredible!  I mean, Duke has slid to a 6 once (losing in 2007 to VCU).  North Carolina has missed the tourney, and is an 8 this year.  Kentucky has missed the tourney twice.  Indiana has missed it three times, and cycled through three coaches.  UCLA has missed the tournament, and is a 6 seed this year.  Michigan State has been an 8 (in 2007), Florida has missed the tourney, and Syracuse has missed it twice.  The "blue bloods" of the game, all have had at least one season, where things were down.  You can argue that Bill Self's worst year at Kansas ... was his first, when the talent drain of the back to back Final Four teams really hit (no more Gooden, Collison, Boschee, or Hinrich).  That's beyond incredible.

South Regional Champion: 3 Florida Gators.

Final Four:

* 1 Louisville Cardinals vs 3 New Mexico Lobos.  Ooh.  Ooh.  Ooh!  Man, this would be an insanely entertaining matchup.  Both clubs love to run.  Both clubs can shut you down defensively if they need to.  Both of these teams are extremely well coached, supremely talented, and won the two toughest postseason conference tournaments (Big East for Louisville; Mountain West for New Mexico).

So before I give my prediction (mainly because I don't know who I'm picking), let me once again take the time to thank CBS Sports and Turner Sports, for once again, giving us THE best announcing crew in the country.  It only happens four days a year ... but they are magical, magical days, when Verne Lundquist dusts off the mic, brushes the dust off the chair ... and partners up with Bill Raftery.  Thanks guys.  You two ARE the best!  Cannot wait to tune in and listen four times in the next two weeks!  (joe biden voice) Folks!  He loves Verne and Bill!  A three letter word -- Bill!

1 Louisville 76, 3 New Mexico 72.

* 9 Temple Owls v 3 Florida Gators.

Somehow, I'm guessing if this is the matchup, this is your 5:23pm CT tip-off.  I know, I know -- Captain Oats*.  Still, needs to be said.  And having said that, a Duke fan named Thomas, and a Carolina fan named Scottie, both applied for the same open position in the Duke admissions office upon graduating from college.  The hiring manager interviewed both Thomas and Scottie, but couldn't make a decision on who to hire, so he gave a written test to both applicants.  Upon completing the test, the manager thanked both men for coming, and announced that Scottie had the job.  Incredulous, Thomas questioned the hiring manager why Scottie, a Carolina grad, had gotten a job at Duke.  He pointed out that both of them were over-qualified for the position, they both had gotten 9 out of 10 on the quiz, and hey -- I graduated from here!  The hiring manager concurred, but noted "the reason we went with Scottie, is before for question 5, he wrote "I don't know", and you wrote "neither do I" (rimshot!)  (joe biden** voice) Folks!  Duke graduates are dumb!  A three letter word -- dumb!

(*: Captain Oats was Summer's toy horse on "The OC", for those of you who have no idea who or what Captain Oats is.  And yes, it's been six years since "The OC" ended, and I still miss it not being a part of my Thursday nights.)

(**: admit it, you're loving the Joe Biden running gaffe.  OK, fine, I know I am.  I may (bill clinton voice) loathe and despise his boss, but I love Vice President Biden.  (joe biden voice) Folks!  I feel the love!  A three letter word -- love!)

3 Florida 68, 9 Temple 54.

National Championship:

* 1 Louisville Cardinals v 3 Florida Gators.  If this is how the 2012-2013 season ends?  How awesome will this be!  Two of the most successful programs of the last 25 years.  Two of the best coaches in the sport's history, who not only are extremely close friends, but one (Billy Donovan) played for, and coached under, the other (Rick Pitino).  Two really good backcourts, two capable front lines. 

I genuinely and honestly believe, 15 teams are capable of winning the national championship:

* ACC: Duke, Miami, NC State*
* Big East: Georgetown, Louisville
* Big XII: Kansas
* Big Ten: Indiana, The Ohio State University, Michigan
* SEC: Florida, Missouri*
* Atlantic 10: VCU, Temple
* Mountain West: New Mexico
* West Coast: Gonzaga

(*: I am fully aware both NC State and Mizzou are in the 8/9 game, and I have each losing its first tournament game.  But the talent is there for either of these schools to go on a deep run and shock the sport.  This Mizzou team reminds me so much of the 2002 squad that was the last at-large in the field, yet cruised to an Elite 8 appearance, that I'm contemplating going back and changing my pick from Colorado State to Mizzou.  Mizzou single handedly won me the Transamerica pool in 2002.)

In the end, I believe that you dance with the girl, you brought to the dance.  I've been saying for five months that Florida is going to win the national championship.  Three weeks from tonight, I believe they'll be the last team standing.

3 Florida 81, 1 Louisville 74.

National Champion: Florida Gators.

(joe biden voice) Folks!  Dig the Madness!  A three letter word -- dig!  (Pause).  Hey, folks!  That word does have three letters!  A three letter word perfectly describes that – cool!

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