Thursday, March 20, 2008


Chances are, you've been invited to participate in a March Madness pool, even though you haven't watched an entire college basketball game prior to March 1 in any season since John Calipari was still coaching at UMass.

This is not as big a problem as it might seem, since everyone's in the same boat; it's like the breakthrough you have in university when you realize everyone else also waits until the night before the due date to begin researching a term paper, let alone write the sucker. The real gift for March Madness prognosticating is being able to cross-reference every bit of useless knowledge you might have accumulated and put it to good use during the 72-hour window between Selection Sunday and the tip-off. This the most honourable way to do it., Sure, you could be a geek about it and take your cues from what's being said on the blogs and major websites.

Take 2000, perfect example. As you might remember, Michigan State beat Florida in the championship game. Michigan State was a pretty solid pick to win it all, but the reason for taking them was simply that they had a group of stalwarts from Flint, Mich., which is the hometown of Michael Moore and Roger and Me was a pretty funny movie back in the day, so that strengthened the case for taking Spartans. Florida was a solid but far from prohibitive choice to reach the Final Four, but they had a ginger kid, future former Raptor Matt Bonner, who was then an awkward freshman (instead of an awkward NBAer). Ginger kids typically bestow teams with all sorts of magical powers. So the Gators were the pick to go almost all the way.

However, it's all sporting and since no one

  1. Siena (13th seed, West Region): The school name brings to mind that Seinfeld episode where Jerry comments on one of George Costanza's girlfriends: "Siena. He's dating a crayon."

    Actually, on second thought, better take No. 4-seeded Vanderbilt. After all, their team name is the Commodores, and if it wasn't for The Commodores' music back in the '70s, you might not be here to read this post.
  2. Cal State Fullerton (14th seed, Midwest Region): The Titans might use their three-point shooting and quickness to upset Wisconsin, which seems like the typical overrated Big Ten team. Or they might be the pick for having produced the leading passer, rusher and receiver in CFL history, even though they dropped football several years ago.
  3. Boise State (14th seed, East Region): Hey, Boise State has basketball too? Who knew? Perhaps the school still has some magic.

  4. West Virginia (7th seed, West Region): Their first-round opponent, Arizona, is being coached by hyperkinetic Kevin O'Neill, who was one-and-done as the Raptors coach four years ago. It would be worth seeing WVU win on a controversial, late-game call just to see O'Neill try to keep his head from exploding.
  5. Villanova (12th seed, Midwest Region): The Wildcats are the Bret Easton Ellis of NCAA hoops, living off what they did in the mid-'80s. However, you know in your gut that at least one No. 12 seed advances out of the first round and 'Nova coach Jay Wright previously coached at Hofstra, which was the title of a classic Bill Cosby bit. Go Wildcats!

Again, any of this advice is for recreational use only. Enjoy March Madness -- or March Sadness, as it's known in the case of a Syracuse fan whose team is once again involved in the NIT (Not Invited Tournament).

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