Few days on the sports calendar are as exciting and fun as the first 2 days of the NCAA Tournament. The excitement and anticipation of the opening round of the tournament is just off the charts. They happen to be my 2 favorite days in sports.
Before the tournament last year, this blog featured a post about “How to fill out a Bracket”. It wasn’t about whom to pick in the tournament, just a few guidelines to help you in your pursuit of bracket perfection. But then, I’ve never been someone who was good at achieving bracket perfection.
You know the guy that thinks too much about the bracket? Second guesses himself, and changes things…and then changes them again? Yep, you’re looking at him. And you know how many pools that has won me? One. No more of that, just 5 simple rules to follow, and the headache is gone.
Let’s review the rules…
Simple Math, Lower seed divided by higher seed equals double digits?
If you take the lower seed (15) and divide it by the higher seed (2) and you get a double digit number, always pick the higher seed. And yes, there is only 1 matchup that this happens in the first round…
Pick by the colors...remember when in doubt, go with blue.
Look around, the teams with the "funky" uniforms, are usually the more obscure school...or should we say the "lesser" school. So a team with blue or red as a dominant color is usually a good bet. If a team is mauve or pink...just stay away.
Can a Musketeer beat a Tiger?
Simply picture the mascots from the 2 teams coming to life, and then battling to the death...which one wins? This can be hard if you have 2 teams with Wildcats are involved...and believe me it happens every year (Kentucky-Villanova)...or it can be pretty funny if you imagine a Wild hog beating the snot out of a Condom (Arkansas-USC).
When in doubt, go with the hottest cheerleaders rule
Here's the thing...if a school has hot cheerleaders...and a hot female population in general...well, don't you think they would have an easier time drawing the best young male athletes? Um, yeah, it never figured into my college decision. Never looked at the whole "male-female" ratio...nope. Trust me, if you've got Texas on one side, and New Mexico St on the other...um, yeah, go with the Longhorns...nothing against New Mexico...but Texas has sheer numbers.
Small children are a great choice
I would say use a drunken chimp, but trust me, those things are hard to find. Now small children, they're everywhere. If you don't have one of your own, go down to the local playground, and walk right up to the nearest kid eating sand and say, "Hey, who do you like in the Purdue-Arizona matchup? It's a 8-9 game, just drawing a blank." You'll either get the answer you want, or the kid's dad will punch you in the face and screaming "We're a Boilermaker family you son of a..."
Let’s put these in action, and see what occurs…
1 North Carolina vs. 16 TBD
This is a simple equation…16 divided by 1 is….16…just take UNC.
8 Indiana vs. 9 Arkansas
The math fails us here…and the uniform colors are almost identical…so we have nothing there…but then there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A razorback in a death match against a Hoosier. What’s a hoosier? A person from Indiana. So throw a Indiana resident in the ring with a razorback…my money is on the hog. Arkansas wins…and the poor Indiana resident is not doing well.
5 Notre Dame vs. 12 George Mason
No math…the colors are again similar…a Fighting Irish against a Patriot? Not a compelling matchup. Looking towards the hot cheerleader factor…once again, nothing clear. This one goes to the small child factor…turning to my daughter and asking “Norte Dame or George Mason?”
“I like Curious George, he’s a nice monkey.”
There you have it, George mason gets the win.
4 Washington State vs. 13 Winthrop
Math is dead, and both teams have red as the main color, so we move into the mascots…a cougar against an eagle? While it depends how big the eagles is, the cougar seems to have the edge here…a cougar walks in and drops a dead eagle on your couch…it’s a present from the little guy…how nice. Take Wazzu.
6 Oklahoma vs. 11 St. Joseph’s
Skipping to the mascots…a Hawk vs. a Sooner? Not a clear winner. While the Sooner would have the edge if he was armed, we’re not allowing any weapons into this ring. So we move to the cheerleaders…this goes to the Sooners hands down. The photographic evidence has been reviewed, the Sooners are the pick.
3 Louisville vs. 14 Boise State
The mascot battle is a Cardinal vs. a Bronco…boring. This is one of those fights that would last for ever…the Cardinal has NO fatal move, and the Bronco only has one fatal move…the back leg kick to the head. But you try landing that on a tiny bird that is flying all around. Moving to Cheerleaders…Kentucky vs. Idaho…Kentucky as a state has a higher population of attractive ladies, so the nod goes to Louisville.
7 Butler vs. 10 South Alabama
Both uniforms feature blue…so we’re into the mascot battle…a bulldog vs. a jaguar. The bulldog is the sentimental favorite in this type of fight, cause well, they’re cute with all that drool, and wrinkly face. But wrinkly and drooling is not going to win you many fights, so South Alabama is the winner.
2 Tennessee vs. 15 American U.
Here’s a matchup that gets dicey…the math doesn’t quite make hay…with the result being 7.5. But the colors are a different story. American U has red and blue…while Tennessee has bright orange. The urge is to say that the American U is the more obscure team…but the uniforms say differently. The 15-2 upset is not unheard of, and the rules say it happens this year…American U. is the pick!
1 Kansas vs. 16 Portland St.
The math is all you need here…Kansas is the team.
8 UNLV vs. 9 Kent State
The uniform matchup is pretty even…Red vs. Blue…can’t get more main stream than that. The mascot battle is just strange…a Running Rebel vs. a Golden Flash? Don’t even know where to start with that one. One reading could be a Golden flash in the sky, and the rebel runs away…but that seems lame. Let’s call that a draw…so we move to Cheerleaders. We have Sin City vs. Kent, Ohio…yeah; you have to go with UNLV. Yeah, it’s all silicone, but still, come on man!
5 Clemson vs. 12 Villanova
Orange and blue against blue and white…that’s a tough call. Blue and orange has a special place in my heart…(Think Monsters of the Midway)…but Blue and white is classic. You gotta go with the classic setup here, Villanova is the choice.
4 Vanderbilt vs. 13 Siena
Black vs. Green…not a strong color on either hand…no clear winner there. The mascot battle features a commodore vs. a saint. Is it wrong that the image in my brain is Lionel Richie fighting Archie Manning? Can’t see a clear winner there…although watching them fight to the death might be the highlight of the week…while they fight, let’s move onto the cheerleaders. Vandy is in Tennessee, but it’s more of an academic school…and Siena is in New York, but it’s a smaller school…so no clear winner. That means we throw it to my little girl…”Vanderbilt or Siena, honey?”
“No, Daddy, its Princess Fiona. What does Shrek say?”
Well, I guess Shrek says that “Vanderbilt is one of a kind”.
6 USC vs. 11 Kansas State
While I would love to see this one go to the mascot matchup…a condom vs. a wildcat…this one is over in the color matchup. Purple vs. Red? You gotta go with Red, it’s the proven color. The Trojans win…although that poor condom is not looking good.
3 Wisconsin vs. 14 Cal State Fullerton
Another Blue vs. Red matchup. No clear winner when those colors square off. So we go to the mascots…a badger vs. a titan. Now a Titan is a mythical being, that gave rise to the Greek gods…but all I can picture is a pickup truck and a pissed off badger tearing it apart from the inside out. So the pick is Wisconsin.
7 Gonzaga vs. 10 Davidson
The color matchup is red vs. red and blue….no clear winner there again. A wildcat vs. a bulldog? This is a good matchup…but once again this is a close call…no clear winner. The cheerleaders? Spokane, WA against Davidson, NC? North Carolina has an edge there…but once again it’s close. Only one way to settle this…
“Gonzaga or Davidson?”
“Daddy, I’m not your son…I’m your daughter!”
Um…looks like we gotta go with Gonzaga in a squeaker.
2 Georgetown vs. 15 Maryland-Baltimore County
Gray vs. Black…wow…boring. Moving to the mascots, we get a hoya (bulldog) vs. a retriever? Really? A retriever? Wow…retrievers are some of the most loyal dogs, but if you’re going to bet on a dog fight…speaking in the hypothetical of course, no animals were hurt in the writing of this blog…you gotta go with the bulldog. Georgetown takes this one.
1 Memphis vs. 16 Texas-Arlington
Math geeks unite! This one is straight forward again…although a Tiger tearing apart a stray cow (Maverick) also goes in Memphis’ favor.
8 Mississippi St. vs. 9 Oregon
For those that were looking forward to a Bulldog devouring a Duck…let you imagination run wild, but this one is over before we get there. Red vs. Green…you gotta go with Red. Mississippi State beats the Ducks.
5 Michigan State vs. 12 Temple
Once again, the mascot battle of a Spartan (picture King Leonidas from 300) against an owl is quite exciting…but the colors do this one in first. Red vs. Green…you gotta go with Red. Temple pulls the upset.
4 Pittsburgh vs. 13 Oral Roberts
Here’s a great matchup. They have nearly identical uniforms…blue and gold. And then we move to the mascots…panther vs. not an eagle, but a GOLDEN EAGLE. A golden eagle? Now if the eagle is made of gold, then this is no contest…but no, it’s the largest species of eagle. Still, you gotta go with a panther against an eagle…cat of prey beats bird of prey. Pittsburgh is the pick.
6 Marquette vs. 11 Kentucky
We have blue vs. blue…so nothing there. And once again we have the golden eagle squaring off with a cat…this time it’s a wildcat. Sorry, but a wildcat is a little too small to put up a fight against this large of a bird. The golden eagle swoops down, picks up the wildcat and drops him on a rock…Marquette wins.
3 Stanford vs. 14 Cornell
Okay, here is an intriguing one…red vs. red…nothing. A tree vs. the big red? They have a bear pictured, but the Big Red? Come on, a tree vs. the color red? Talk about boring fights to the death. Let’s move on…we have an ivy league school against the Harvard of the west…so no clear cheerleader edge. Looks like we need to turn this over to the little one…
“Stanford or Cornell?”
“Daddy, I don’t want corn, I want ‘nilla yogurt”
Well, that’s good, because corn is a pain to clean up when potty training…Stanford is the choice.
7 Miami (FL) vs. 10 Saint Mary’s
Thankfully, I don’t have to figure out what a “Gael” is…while fans of “The U” are not going to like this, but orange is trumped by blue, and that’s what St. Mary’s wears. So there was no need for me to determine how a Gaelic would hold out against a hurricane…St. Mary’s is the victor.
2 Texas vs. 15 Austin Peay
Man, who knew that two out of the four #2 seeds would have orange as their main color? And would go up against teams that are sporting blue or red? Well, in the uniform world, red trumps orange…so Austin Peay pulls the upset!
1 UCLA vs. 16 Mississippi Valley State
A bear vs a Delta Devil would be a great matchup…for some reason the image is of them meeting at a crossroads, and the bear selling his soul to become the greatest guitar player of all time…but it’s all a moot point…this one is over with the math. The Bruins go down to the crossroads and get the win.
8 Brigham Young vs. 9 Texas A&M
Blue vs. Red…seems a common theme. A cougar vs. an Aggie? The question is, what in the heck is an aggie? If you do a little poking, you find 2 definitions…
1. a playing marble
2. a person who attends an agricultural school.
We’ll assume that since Texas A&M is an agricultural school, that definition #2 is the correct one. So there is a cage match, in one corner a mean, hungry cougar….in the other a guy who’s learning how to farm. Yeah, my money is on the cat. BYU gets the win.
5 Drake vs. 12 Western Kentucky
If you’re guessing this is a blue-red matchup, you would be correct. That means we move onto the epic battle between a bulldog and….a dude on a hill. That’s right, the Hilltoppers, so named because the school is on a hill, are nothing more than a dude on a hill. While the hill would give him a strategic advantage if there was an invading war party, we’re talking about 1 dog. In this situation, the dog wins. Drake takes down the guy on a hill.
4 Connecticut vs. 13 San Diego
Well, this is an all blue game…so we’re not going to get any help here. Moving onto the mascots…a husky vs. a bull fighter? A bull fighter makes a living avoiding a charging bull; it would seem that he could avoid a dog. This seems to be a draw in the making. So let’s move onto the Cheerleaders…this is a blowout. As someone that lives in Connecticut, let me just say, San Diego, you are a bunch of lucky guys. The sun and weather gives you some gorgeous ladies, and that allows San Diego to take the game!
6 Purdue vs. 11 Baylor
This is an interesting matchup. There is a an urge to call this a draw based on colors…they both have gold as a minor color…but Purdue has black, and it would seem that black would trump green. Purdue is the pick in a blackout.
3 Xavier vs. 14 Georgia
Stifling a yawn, this is another blue vs. red game…can we tell these teams to shake up the color schemes a little bit? But this does offer an interesting mascot battle…a musketeer vs. a bulldog. Previously, there was a no weapon rule…but when the weapon is part of the definition of the mascot, you have to allow it. No matter how mean the bulldog is, a dude with a gun is going to take him down. Xavier shoots out the lights in this one.
7 West Virginia vs. 10 Arizona
All blue game…so this moves onto the next round. A wildcat (boring, what’s with all the wild cats?) vs. a mountaineer. A guy that climbs a mountain against a small wild cat….yeah, not seeing a clear winner there. But West Virginia, you really don’t want to move to the next round…seriously, you don’t. Arizona has sheer numbers in the cheerleaders’ area…so the Wildcats are the choice here.
2 Duke vs. 15 Belmont
Blue and white Duke, against Blue and Red Belmont, Round 1 is a draw.
When we get to the mascots, we have the second matchup of a devil vs. a bear. Well, the devil has no reason to go down to Georgia this time…only as far as Tennessee. And trust me, the devil with all his tricks, is no match for a simple bear. Duke wins, but how much did their souls cost?
That’s the first round in the eyes of the rules.
The other morning, my daughter and I were having breakfast. She was having some vanilla yogurt, her second bowl. She finished it, turned to me and said…
“Can I have some more ‘nila yogurt?”
“It’s all gone, sweetie, that was the last of it.” Which was the truth, but there was also the fact that she’d had enough yogurt, and needed some thing else. “How about some peaches, pears, apples or raspberries?”
“Daddy, I have an idea! I know what I want.”
“What is it sweetie?”
“How about some plain yogurt?”
When your child pulls a line like that, you have no choice but to laugh, and give them some plain yogurt.
And that’s the beauty of the NCAA tournament. No matter if your bracket is dead by the second game, or your team lost, or all the favorites are winning…there’s always more games.
When your pick to win it all is eliminated in the 1st round, don’t worry about, shake it off, cause there is always more yogurt. Besides, you have to get busy cheering against your buddies picks!
As a reminder, this Thursday, my regularly scheduled blog will be replaced with a Live Tournament Blog. Opening thoughts will be posted in the morning, and the blog will be updated as the day unfolds…and the comment section should be rolling the whole time. Hope to see you there!