Bumptious: Diving into the pool and dancing the big dance

Every year I enter into two or three March Madness pools in which I might finish in last place, so as to remind myself that I am truly bad at gambling. Last year, I placed my faith in the Catholic Church and created a bracket that led to six Catholic school teams in the elite eight and four in the final four. Needless to say, after landing last place in the pool and getting the “thanks for playing” look from the commish, I became an atheist. I’m just kidding. Right. But, this year I’m continuing my tradition, selecting eight teams to make it to the elite eight for the most right of reasons. . .

The Exceptional Eight

Disclaimer: Pick like this and face utter humiliation. . .

Kansas Jayhawks

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Holy Cross, Stanford, San Diego St.

Why I chose them: Kansas is working out of the easiest bracket this year. With a mascot like the Jayhawk, they have to have a lot of insecurities about their masculinity – such anger is well manifested on the court. Drew Gooden has held onto the number zero for his basketball career, and while it went out of style in the eighties, one can make the argument that it is one better than number one.

Why not to choose them: Lost to Oklahoma on Selection Sunday.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Wyoming, Arizona, Oklahoma(1)

Why I chose them: I grew up in a household where the East Coast style of calling it Gonzaga was seen as blasphemy. My father’s alma mater looked like they were going to get some respect come Selection Sunday. Apparently the selection committee didn’t realize it was a holy day – such disrespect often leads to an invigorated spirit for the Bulldogs. Their most opportune moment will come in their vengeful victory over Arizona, who defeated them to open last year’s season. Also, Tony Lehman S.J., team chaplain, died within the past week; such tragedies often lead to victories.

Why not choose them: Lute Olsen, Oklahoma.

Missouri Tigers

Road to the Elite Eight: Def. Miami (FL), Ohio State, Ole Miss

Why I chose them: The uncle of head coach Quinn Snyder lives down my street. Snyder won a state basketball championship for the public high school of my hometown. Stokes has the coolest haircut ever. With the italicized “Mizzou” across the chest, victory is in the bag. Besides, the Tiger is an awesome mascot.

Why not choose them: They’re a team that had reached the top 10 during the season and has since fallen out of the top 25. Cincinnati should knock them off.

Boston College Eagles

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Texas, Mississippi State, Pepperdine(2)

Why I chose them: Jesuit connection. Eight friends of mine attend Boston College and claim that it “kicks [expletive removed so that this article gets published, unlike my last column].” Troy Bell leads what some, including Dickie V, had called the best backcourt in the nation. A tough conference left them with a meager record. Last year they went far in the tourney; I’m looking for them to do the same again.

Why not choose them: Texas, lackluster season, choked last year.

St. John’s Red Storm

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Wisconsin, Maryland(3), Marquette.

Why I chose them: First of all, St. John’s has the best mascot ever. Would you screw with a storm? Now how about a red storm? I didn’t think so. Pure fear will lead to Maryland not showing up at game time. Take into account Maryland’s embarrassment at the hands of North Carolina State and St. John’s tourney experience, and recognize the Red Storm.

Why not choose them: Maryland, Marquette, common sense.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat So. Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina State

Why I chose them: The media will fix every game, pay off every official, and post all incorrect scores to ensure that Bobby Knight goes far in the tournament. Knight’s players will fear another spanking like the one Knight inflicted after they were embarrassed by 40 points in the Big XII tournament. Red Raiders is the second best mascot in the tournament. Tech victories ensure a red match-up for the final four, Red Storm v. Red Raiders. Interesting. . .

Why not choose them: UConn, Georgia. Players may beat Knight to death if he screams again.

California Golden Bears

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Penn, Pitt, Oklahoma St.

Why I chose them: High school classmate is red-shirting for the Golden Bears this year. After their miserable football season, Cal is looking to regain some national attention. Sunshine leads to better basketball. I had originally picked Oklahoma State, but I am tired of the Midwest.

Why not choose them: Alabama, Oklahoma State, Pac-10 is an easy conference.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Road to the Elite Eight: Defeat Charlotte, Duke(4), University of Southern California(5)

Why I chose them: I’ve been an Irish fan most of my life. If they defeat Duke, there is nothing to stop them. Poor season leaves them poised to explode in the postseason. Fight song is the best ever and Irish are the best in every sense of the word.

Why not choose them: Duke, USC, common sense.

Post-Scripts:

1. Oklahoma is a quality team, and the match-up will be extraordinary. Give it to the Zags on a hunch, though. By my own experience, I don’t mess with Jesuits.

2. I’d pay to see Pepperdine play Boston College, that game will be the best of the tournament. Pepperdine knocked off USC, UCLA and Gonzaga. The Wave is a quality program.

3. Maryland will destroy St. John’s.

4. Duke will destroy Notre Dame.

5. Recall when picking your brackets that the University of Southern California does not lose to Notre Dame without a fight ever. Also, recall that Morty used to be a dean at USC – I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that will play into this year’s tourney.

The Final Four:

Unknowingly, in writing this article, I recognized that I’d done it again. My bracket is resting on holy ground.

1. Gonzaga

2. Boston College

3. Notre Dame

4. St. John’s

Final Score: Gonzaga def. Boston College 64-58 in the battle of the S.J.’s.

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