Locked Out

It's a dangerous thing to fill out an NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament bracket.

For one thing, there is immense pressure on sports columnists like myself to name their picks. Behold Dick Vitale blabbering away like a man struck with the brain fever. I've heard 'baybee!' enough times to vomit. Then there are the sports opinion profiteers who are convinced that there are two or three or 15 teams that should be in the Big Dance. This sounds a lot like sore-loserdom to me, but OK, on the odds that NCAA Tournament selection committee isn't infallible like the pope, I can see room for some argumentation. To this I can only say: take it like a man, baybee!

Then there is the risk of becoming convinced by other people's analysis. With all of this magical prognostication, crack analysis, dastardly opinion and mere speculation floating around, it's hard to fill out the NCAA bracket for the office pool without letting someone else's opinion flavor the more nebulous picks you can make in the tournament.

Carefully balanced against all of this is the allure of finally nailing it, making the grade, picking the Final Four, taking Cinderella's hand at the ball and filling in the hundreds of other clichés that exist about the Big Dance. There is also the possibility, however slight, that your anti-sports sports column picks could trump the knowledgeable boys on the sports desk and win you fame and renown throughout the land.

It's the burden we all live with.

So upon consultation with my voodoo specialist, several astrologers, two or three prognosticators and having sequestered myself in the living room of my apartment for a weekend to observe the actual basketball players and teams in questions, I came up with a list of Predictions of Note.

Item the first: Illinois won't win it all. Illinois will lose to Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight. The reason for this is simple; we have a president who is a cowboy. Hence, it's a good year for the Cowboys (my national champion pick).

Item the second: Washington will lose to Pittsburgh in the second round, throwing the Albuquerque region in to a turmoil that will result in a Galactic Civil War! Bwuhahahahahahaha!

Item the third: As North Carolina seceded from the union, so too will they secede from the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight. Kansas will take its rightful place in the Final Four.

Item the fourth: Duke loses to Kentucky. There's really not anything funny you can say about that.

This information, if the explanatory notes didn't make it abundantly clear, is entirely speculative in nature. Even if I had sinister mafia ties, I wouldn't be so dull as to put them into my sports column.

On the other hand, sinister Yakuza ties, connections to shadowy government agencies or close relationships with the devil, are all fair game.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 15 2005.,”Brian O'Connor”