We're getting our fill of bracketology. Talking heads like Dick Vitale, Jay Bilas and Chris Dobberman have made their selections based on a combination of knowledge, intuition and just plain ballsy picks. However, there's just one talking head that I'm listening to this year. And it's a girl.
This girl, by the way, is not known by the "mainstream media" as an expert bracketologist. But her comforting face and superior intelligence has guided the way towards a Purdue national title, despite droves of college basketball fans picking Siena in the first round. Let's see why.
This fine looking lady, gracing our fine dollar coin, is known to the masses as Sacagawea. A Shoshone, she was instrumental in guiding the Lewis and Clark expeditions in the 19th century. What most people don't know about her, however, is that from beyond the grave, her guiding powers extend to the NCAA tournament. After channeling my inner Sacagawea (which I highly recommend that you do if you ever get a chance), I whipped out a 2000 Denver Mint Sacagawea coin. From there, I proceeded to flip the coin five times for each game. I knew that this Sacagawea coin would follow the normal coin flipping rules for NCAA tournament games (higher seed = heads, lower seed = tails, and Winthrop in the play-in game - the Big S is an Eagles fan - look at the back of the coin). What follows is Sacagawea's prediction for EACH and EVERY GAME in the NCAA Tournament. And if you like what you see, I may just consult her on the NIT. I followed the order of the games as posted in our Selection Sunday Mega Thread. Because that's what Sacagawea would do.
FIRST ROUND GAMES
(16) Lehigh over (1) Kansas, 4-1
(9) Northern Iowa over (8) UNLV, 3-2
(5) Michigan State over (12) New Mexico State, 3-2
(13) Houston over (4) Maryland, 3-2
(2) Ohio State over (15) UC Santa Barbara, 3-2
(10) Georgia Tech over (7) Oklahoma State, 3-2
(14) Ohio over (3) Georgetown, 4-1
(6) Tennessee over (11) San Diego State, 3-2
(1) Kentucky over (16) East Tennessee State, 3-2
(9) Wake Forest over (8) Texas, 3-2
(5) Temple over (12) Cornell, 4-1
(4) Wisconsin over (13) Wofford, 4-1
(2) West Virginia over (15) Morgan Sate, 3-2
(10) Missouri over (7) Clemson, 3-2
(14) Montana over (3) New Mexico, 3-2
(11) Washington over (6) Marquette, 3-2
(16) Winthrop over (1) Duke, 4-1
(9) Louisville over (8) California, 3-2
(12) Utah State over (5) Texas A&M, 3-2
(4) Purdue over (13) Siena, 4-1
(15) Robert Morris over (2) Villanova, 3-2
(10) Saint Mary's over (7) Richmond, 4-1
(3) Baylor over (14) Sam Houston State, 3-2
(11) Old Dominion over (6) Notre Dame, 3-2
(16) Vermont over (1) Syracuse, 3-2
(9) Florida State over (8) Gonzaga, 4-1
(12) UTEP over (5) Butler, 3-2
(4) Vanderbilt over (13) Murray State, 3-2
(2) Kansas State over (15) North Texas, 3-2
(7) BYU over (10) Florida, 4-1
(14) Oakland over (3) Pittsburgh, 3-2
(11) Minnesota over (6) Xavier, 3-2
A strong showing for the lower seeds in the first round, paced by three 16 seeds upsetting top seeds - Kentucky being the lone top team to survive. The East region stayed fairly chalk, with five single digit seeds winning. The Big 12 goes just 3-4 in its first round games, while the Big Ten goes 5-0. The 9 seeds go undefeated in the first round - which makes sense as 9 seeds typically are slight favorites over 8 seeds.
SECOND ROUND GAMES
(16) Lehigh over (9) Northern Iowa, 3-2
(13) Houston over (5) Michigan State, 4-1
(10) Georgia Tech over (2) Ohio State, 5-0
(14) Ohio over (6) Tennessee, 4-1
(9) Wake Forest over (1) Kentucky, 4-1
(4) Wisconsin over (5) Temple, 3-2
(10) Missouri over (2) West Virginia, 3-2
(11) Washington over (14) Montana, 4-1
(16) Winthrop over (9) Louisville, 4-1
(4) Purdue over (12) Utah State, 3-2
(10) Saint Mary's over (15) Robert Morris, 4-1
(11) Old Dominion over (3) Baylor, 3-2
(9) Florida State over (16) Vermont, 4-1
(12) UTEP over (4) Vanderbilt, 3-2
(7) BYU over (2) Kansas State, 3-2
(14) Oakland over (11) Minnesota, 4-1
The sixteen seeds stay hot as Winthrop and Lehigh power into the Sweet Sixteen. With only seven power conference teams winning in the second round, four of which populate the East Region, it looks like a good year for mid and low major teams. Georgia Tech produces our first blowout of the tournament, stopping Evan Turner
and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Only 5 single digit seeds survive, with only two teams having survived as far as they were supposed to - Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Purdue. Lower seeds go 11-5 in the second round.
SWEET SIXTEEN GAMES
(13) Houston over (16) Lehigh, 4-1
(10) Georgia Tech over (14) Ohio, 3-2
(9) Wake Forest over (4) Wisconsin, 3-2
(11) Washington over (10) Missouri, 3-2
(4) Purdue over (16) Winthrop, 3-2
(11) Old Dominion over (10) Saint Mary's, 3-2
(12) UTEP over (9) Florida State, 5-0
(14) Oakland over (7) BYU, 4-1
The lower seeds look good again, going 5-3 in the Sweet 16. The Cinderella run ends for both 16 seeds, Winthrop and Lehigh. Two of the three BCS schools outside of the East Region survive into the Elite Eight, while Oakland continues on as the new Cinderella story, dispatching of BYU. Conference USA has two teams moving on into the Elite 8 - which is more than you can say for the Big East, SEC and Big 12 - combined. UTEP and Houston provide two of the biggest Sweet 16 wins as it is.
ELITE EIGHT GAMES
(10) Georgia Tech over (13) Houston, 3-2
(11) Washington over (9) Wake Forest, 3-2
(4) Purdue over (11) Old Dominion, 3-2
(12) UTEP over (14) Oakland, 3-2
The Final Four is set with four nailbiting games. Paul Hewitt and the Yellow Jackets atone for an underachieving year by dispatching of Conference USA tournament champion Houston, while Washington proves that the NCAA did right by selecting the Huskies for an at-large bid with a win over Wake Forest. The Robbie Hummel-less Boilermakers don't miss a beat with a win over Old Dominion, and UTEP moves on past Oakland, giving the Final Four its only Mid-Major. Four teams from four conferences - the ACC, the Pac-10, the Big Ten and Conference USA.
WEST vs. MIDWEST
(12) UTEP over (10) Georgia Tech, 3-2
SOUTH vs. EAST
(4) Purdue over (11) Washington, 3-2
UTEP keeps the mid-major dream alive, one-upping George Mason's historic Final Four run with an upset of Georgia Tech. They find out that they will face the Purdue Boilermakers
in the National Championship, as Matt Painter puts the Huskies down in the second game. Which scenario is more far fetched - a double digit seed winning it all? Or Purdue doing anything at all?
(4) Purdue over (12) UTEP, 3-2
Most pundits around college basketball thought Purdue had no shot to even reach the Sweet 16 after Robbie Hummel's knee injury - and even fewer thought that they could win this game after UTEP jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But powered by tournament MVP Stevie Loveless (based on the strength of a random name selector), the Boilermakers stormed back to cut down the nets. Loveless scored just two points during the regular season - against SIU - Edwardsville - but he proved to be instrumental through the 2010 tournament run. Sorry, mid-majors, another year goes by where one of your teams is not crowned king of college basketball.
And a note to Coach Painter - I'm totally willing to FedEx this Sacagawea dollar to Spokane for you to surgically implant into Stevie Loveless, or, at the very least, to put in your pocket for good luck.