Tired of Andy Katz/Jay Bilas/Joe Lunardi telling you who to pick in your bracket? Fear not, here’s Blake Hurtik to give you the same advice, but in a completely different way that focuses not so much on the “players” and “strategy” but on the all-important “intangibles.”
Here are my picks for the 2010 NCAA tournament with my bullet-proof reasoning. We’ll start with the Midwest and work our way through over the next day or so.
1 Kansas vs. 16 Lehigh
When picking teams, my first instinct is to go with which team has the coolest mascot. While this may sound like the same strategy the 54-year-old receptionist at your office employs that’s because, well, it is. And she always wins your pool right? Anyway, this one’s close in that department. Jayhawks vs. Mountain Hawks. While a Mountain Hawk sounds pretty intimidating, those Jayhawks sure know how to “rock chalk,” whatever that means. I just don’t think Lehigh has what it takes to become the first 16 to upend a No. 1. Kansas will roll.
No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa
The choice here is simple: which school has the better quarterback alum? The Runnin’ Rebels have the Michael Vick (without the dogfighting) of the early 1990s, Randall Cunningham. The Panthers have every one’s favorite grocery-sacker-turned-MVP Kurt Warner. While Warner loses points for wearing gloves regardless of weather conditions for the last years of his career, he–and Northern Iowa–still win.
5 Michigan State vs. 12 New Mexico State
Being a Texas Longhorn, my brain tells me to loathe all things Aggie, regardless of where they might actually attend school. This includes those poor saps out in Las Cruces. Michigan State will move on from this mere fact, not to mention the fact that they don’t teach defense at NMSU.
4 Maryland vs. 13 Houston
As much as I love going with Lone Star State teams to pull upsets, this one just doesn’t feel right. For the Cougars to win in the tourney, I need to know that they have some players that live up to the Phi Slama Jama standard. Sure Aubrey Coleman can score, but his name doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like Olajuwon or Drexler. Brings me back to my NBA Jm days… Pencil in the Terps.
6 Tennessee vs. 11 San Diego State
As charming as Bruce Pearl may be, this match up comes down to something much more basic: popsicle flavors? Cream Sicle vs. classic cherry. Cream-filled orange ice always sat the wrong way with my stomach, so your first big upset of the tournament if brought to you by cherry-red San Diego State. Plus, once in Cancun, Motezuma taught me never to screw with an Aztec.
3 Georgetown vs. 14 Ohio
One of my favorite childhood meals was Mac’n’Cheese, but I’ve learned something very valuable since that time. As good as MAC may be with cheese, it’s never as good in the tourney. The Bobcats are toast, not to mention the fact that the Hoyas shoot as well as anybody.
7 Oklahoma State vs. 10 Georgia Tech
My hatred for the state of Oklahoma can hardly be contained, so this is a tough pill to swallow. Stillwater does have a couple of redeeming factors, though. Eskimo Joe’s was legit and the hole in the wall across the street served the best canned Coors I’ve ever tasted. That and James Anderson are enough reasons to put the ‘Pokes into the next round, as much as I may hate to say it.
2 Ohio State vs. 15 UC- Santa Barbara
UCSB loses points simply because it isn’t UC-Santa Cruz. So similar yet so different. As cool of a mascot as a Gaucho is, it isn’t anywhere near the greatness that is the Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, a-la Pulp Fiction fame. That’s what it would take to upset the hot Buckeyes.
From there I’ll be brief:
1 Kansas over 9 Northern Iowa in the battle of the wheatfields.
5 Michigan State over 4 Maryland
3 Georgetown over 11 San Diego State
7 Oklahoma State over 2 Ohio State because I’m a Big 12 homer
1 Kansas over 5 Michigan State
3 Georgetown over 7 Oklahoma State because I’m not that much of a homer.
1 Kansas over 3 Georgetown because I’m still a Big 12 homer. And Collins/Aldrich and co. are bad ass.